About Me

I've been taking things to bits, and making things ever since I can remember, starting with dismantling knackered alarm clocks and watches and helping my dad fix the car. Now I have a well-equipped workshop and have aquired lots of new skills, so I can make better stuff. When they first appeared, I became involved with personal computers, and these and developments in electronics have increased the scope of the things that I can do. Just recently retired, so O yes, now I can make all sorts of stuff.....

Saturday, 26 November 2011

New router part 2

Finally managed to crack the last few issues, so the new box is now fully working and running my internet connection from both wired and wireless PCs. Its a bit fussy about DHCP, but I think its because you can't configure the PC with a default gateway unless you set a static address, do this to 'register' the gateway and then switch back to dynamic addressing and all is well. I also realised late in the day that my old router was still plugged in and probably still trying to serve up addresses and act as the gateway, even without the ADSL line connected.

Either way, all machines are now tickety-boo, just need to check that the phones connect as well and re-configure the internet radio and the IP camera to hook into the new wireless network and we're all done. Ten quid well spent, I think, lets see if this solves my connectivity issues.

Friday, 25 November 2011

New router!

Blimey. I have been having ongoing problems with my broadband connection, lots of drop outs for no reason. I think its the BT line, since I've changed the filter and the switch, and tried various different PCs, with no improvement. Before I get on the phone to my ISP (Zen, and highly recommended) I need to make sure that its not the router, so off I goes to ebay.

I find a Speedtouch 585v6 for ten quid with free postage, so I'm in like Flynn. Box arrives three days later, and sho' nuff its a new router and although with euro plug it also has a UK adaptor.

I plug it all in and check it out. No connection to anything, no great surprise there, so I go for the set up wizard. Ah. The menu is all in Spanish, although if you put the wrong thing in a box it complains in english (very much like my trips to Spain, in fact), and there are very few options available - PPPoA or RFC1483 - and it seems that manual configuration is not possible, the wizard has to do it. Ah well, its off to the web to get more information.

Several hours later, the best advice comes from the zen web site, who advise replacing the user.tpl file (this seems to be what drives the setup wizard) in the router with a new one which offers more in the way of options. Long story short, I now have a working router although it only works if I make my IP address public and don't use NAT - this requires me to configure each of my PCs with a public IP address (I think) and I'm not sure how that will complicate my life.

However. I have a new working router for a tenner, and will spend a bit of time experimenting with NAT and other stuff. Stay tuned

Friday, 11 November 2011

Arduino home control part 2

Well, the enthusiasm for this project has been dented a bit over the past week. I received my radio modules from the good folks in China, and set to work hooking them up to the Arduino using some breadboard. I also downloaded all of the software I could find that had any application to controlling the Home Easy kit and set to work. BTW, I'm already tired of typing Home Easy, so from here on its HE, OK?

The system needs a bit of code to do a 'one off' exercise first. This code listens to the radio receiver and when a button on a HE remote control is pressed, the software reads the incoming transmission and decodes the following key items of information:-

- the address code for the remote control unit (this is needed since all devices need to be paired with a one or more remotes, and won't activate otherwise)
- the address code for the target HE devices - if you don't know the code for the device, how can you switch it on?

The receiver software collects other stuff in the incoming package as well, but these are the only bits I am interested in.

The whole process fell in a heap at this point. Some of the Arduino software that I downloaded threw up loads of compile errors, possibly because not all of the required libraries are available. Other software uploaded to the Arduino OK, but then just sits there blank with no indication of what (if anything) its doing. Out with the breadknife and hacked the code around a bit to discover that -

- the radio module receives a fair amount of random noise traffic, to be expected I guess
- I get no change to the random noise when the button on the HE remote is pressed.

Tried a second receiver module in case the first was duff, but no change. Switched to several different input pins on the Arduino, no change. I have two different HE remotes, a HE200 and a HE300, no difference regardless of which one I used. Hmmm.

The HE remote is supposed to send a preamble sequence of high and low pulses to alert the target device that a live transmission is coming, and then sends a data package. The software that I have downloaded is supposed to look for the preamble and then capture the data. So, I have the following possible causes for my non-capturing:-

- the remote is sending a completely different bundle of preamble and data to that which the software is looking for
- the radio module is faulty
- I've connected the module wrong (unlikely, there's only three wires plus an antenna)
- the Arduino is reading the wrong pin
- the software is not reading the pulses on the input pin properly (I really hope its not the software as a) cleverer people than me have written the code, and b) although I can code simple stuff, this is a lot more complex and its going to take me ages to learn to write my own.)

I need to rule out the radio module first, so the first task is to hook it up to 5v power from a separate power supply (in case the Arduino output is too low - its already running a bunch of LEDs around the house - and look at the data output with an oscilloscope. If I get output from it, the next stage is to see how it changes when the HE remote is pressed next to its ear. A positive result from this means the radio is OK, so I then need to look further.

I'll hook up the 'scope over the next few days and see where we are then.