uMesh – A self-contained, battery operated ESP32 module

Jarrett published a new build:

I’ve been working on an ESP32 module. Part of the problem I’ve been seeing with inexpensive IoT dev boards, is that the design around the power system hasn’t been very good. Here’s my attempt to fix that. This is a battery-ready module with a proper lithium battery charge circuit, lithium battery protection circuit, power supply, and antenna, all in a 1 inch by 1 inch package.
The goal is to have a tiny, inexpensive module that can immediately accept a battery and be deployed in the field, along with 30 of its mates.

See the full post on his blog.

Vintage headset conversion

IMG_9670-600x709-600

Quinn Dunki wrote a great article describing the conversion process of a 1980s-era Earmark into a bluetooth headset:

The obvious thing is to convert it to a bluetooth headset for modern use, right? As I previously warned, converting a 1980s-era air traffic control headset into bluetooth headphones is probably the most hipster thing possible. Normally, I don’t allow projects like this around here. But look at these headphones. They are amazing and I love them and I want to use them so I am going to make them bluetooth also shut up. If I have to punch myself as result of now being a hipster tool, so be it. I set out to do this in a non-destructive way that was reversible, at the very least. I wanted to respect the original hardware as much as possible.

Via Blondihacks.

App note: HT66FB574 single colour independent light streamer USB keyboard

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Another app note from Holtek this time about their HT66FB574, a USB keyboard device that can support single color LED streamer. Link here (PDF)

The video gaming industry is seeing continual increasing demand for multi-feature keyboards. These can include features such as keys with an individual LED which can display different graphical effects along with variable illumination levels. With each key having an illuminated surrounding area effect along with multiple colour and pattern changes, this allows for a more colourful and stimulating gaming keyboard.

App note: HT66FB574/572 colour effect USB mouse

an_holtek_AN0483E

App note from Holtek on using their HT66FB574/572 to develop color effect mice. Link here (PDF)

Demands from the video gaming industry for different types of gaming mouse continue to expand. Adding a large number of RGB LEDs to the mice can produce different colours and brightness changes creating a range of visual special effects. This enhances the colour and stimulating effects of gaming mice. For example, having multiple RGB LEDs to form an outer ring on a gaming mouse can produce a colour changing waterflow effect. These are known as colour effect USB mice.

Tutorial: Git with Eclipse

egit-with-eclipse

A detailed tutorial on Eclipse with the EGit plugin by Erich Styger:

There are things which are game changer in the world of software development: one such event was when I started using a VCS (Version Control System): it changed for me how I keep and store my projects and settings. It even changed the way how I deal with non-software related items like documents or other valuable things: I started storing them in to a VCS too.

Via MCU on Eclipse.

Tutorial: Adding the SSD1306 OLED screen to an Arduino logger (without a library)

SSD1306 OLED screen on a DIY Arduino Based Data logger

Edward Mallon writes:

While I loved the Nokia 5110 LCD’s readability in full sun, the pressure sensitivity was a real problem for the underwater units. So I started noodling around with some cheap OLED screens from eBay.
With the exception of the init & XY functions (which are more complicated on the 1306 controller) the rest of the code ported over from the Nokia screen with no changes at all.  My guess at this point is that the shift-out method will work with most of the other cheap OLED screens, provided they don’t exceed the pin current limits implied by my method.

More details on Underwater Arduino Data Loggers blog.

SmileyBox – Statistics, the old fashioned way, upgraded

sb-top

Vagrearg published a new build:

Lies, damn lies and statistics.
You have a high school science fair and want to know how your project was perceived by the visitors. Modern online behaviour will direct you to “taking the online survey”. That requires an extra step for the visitors, usually by taking hold of their mobile device and fiddling with a small screen.
One problem you will encounter is designing good computer interaction and a proper look and feel on the tiny screen. It is a lot of work. A second problem is the distraction of using the mobile device with respect to the project being surveyed. The visitor will concentrate on the mobile device and that will diminish focus on the project for a moment. A third problem is anonymity and proliferation of data. Do we really need to be online and spread all that information one’s device sends?

Project info at vagrearg.org.

Automated channel switching with Motorola GM3x0

Automated channel switching with Motorola GM3x0

With the integration of POCSAG/DAPNET features into the MMDVM/MMDVMHost I came to think about if it would be possible to combine an MMDVM repeater/HotSpot with a DAPNET tranmitter. The advantage in Germany is that there is a single coordinated frequency for POCSAG tranmissions on UHF. 439.9875MHz is used for fixed-frequency pagers which are modified to receive on that frequency. With latest hand-programmable pagers (e.g. AlphaPoc) it would basically be possible to set them to the repeater frequency but that wouldn’t work while one is en route.
In the programming software for Motorola GM3x0 radios I found an interesting GPIO setting called “Channel Steering”. Some line of the help function revealed that it would exactly do what I expected. You can trigger a GPIO and the radio switches channels.

Via Notizbl0g.

Check out the video after the break.

Shenzhen to Hong Kong on High Speed Rail

excitement

Even though Shenzhen and Hong Kong are basically the same city on opposite sides of a border, it’s still a frustratingly long trip to Hong Kong Central for a Reuben at Morty’s Deli. The new high speed rail line linking downtown Shenzhen to downtown Hong Kong makes the trip in just 15 minutes. A lot of frequent travelers are hoping it just got a lot easier to eat delicious pastrami on a whim, but with all the formalities of Chinese rail will it really cut the travel time? We jumped on to find out!

futian-station-2

Futian Railway Station is two metro stops from the Huaqiangbei electronics market, in the Futian Central Business District. It’s always empty, despite being several years old and absolutely massive. Unlike most Chinese rail stations, it’s actually in the middle of the city.

futian-tickets

It usually takes less than 10 minutes to collect tickets and go through the security checks. Shenzhen North station is on the same high speed rail line, but it’s so busy that it often takes more than an hour to get into the station. Foreigners can’t use the ticket vending machines, so we had to go to the window and hand over our passports to buy tickets from a human.

futian-security

Security checks make Chinese high speed rail more like flying out of an airport. Identity check, baggage x-ray, metal detector, and finally a manual pat-down. This is where Futian station really shines – it’s so empty that security takes less than a minute. Security in Shenzhen North can take 30 minutes or more.

boarding

Everyone riding the train was super excited. It was the same atmosphere as when the A380 was a new and exciting airplane to ride. Lots of pictures and selfies.

cover

This train has the Hong Kong MTR logo on the side, and seems to serve only Futian and Kong Kong stations. There were no other passengers on the train from stations further north when we boarded.

business-cabin

Second class tickets are around $9, first class is around $15. About the same price as taking the metro.

This is the first class cabin. Some trains also have a tourist class or business class with lay-flat seats, but at $50 it seems a bit too posh for a 15 minute train ride.

speed-display

Maximum speed was around 180 km/h. The entire trip is in an underground tunnel so there’s not much to see. The WIFI didn’t seem to work, but there was 4G mobile data during the whole ride.

border

In Hong Kong there’s a joint border crossing for both Hong Kong and China. After getting off the train you go through immigration to leave China, walk a bit, then show your passport to get into Hong Kong. Chinese immigration does a customs check on the way out, every bag of any size has to go through an x-ray machine.

kowloon-west-station

Kowloon West Station is magnificent, but also a bit of a chaotic mess. It’s also not really anywhere useful, it’s a ten minute walk through malls to find a metro to Hong Kong Central.

kowloon-west-ticket-windows

Returning to Shenzhen is much less convenient. The line to purchase tickets is super long, like the line for the Hong Kong Airport McDonald’s. The line to pickup tickets purchased via apps is more reasonable, like the line for the Hong Kong Airport Popeye’s. As in China, foreigners can’t buy tickets at the vending machines. After seeing this mess we decided it would be faster and more pleasant to catch the metro back instead.

Takeaways

From our door to Morty’s Deli in Central usually takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes using a cross border bus or the metro. It took about 1 hour and 15 minutes using high speed rail. A half hour faster isn’t bad, but it also takes a lot of planning. Tickets need to be purchased in advance, timing at the station needs to be just right, and West Kowloon isn’t exactly a useful location in Hong Kong.

Coming back to Shenzhen from Hong Kong seems like it could take even longer than a bus or metro. There’s huge crowds picking up tickets for destinations all over mainland China, so ticket collection takes forever. That means arriving early to get the tickets, then extra waiting around for a scheduled train. It’s so much easier to step onto the next metro back to Shenzhen and enjoy the ride.

Even if high speed rail is consistently faster, the experience of doing it requires all the focus and planning of catching a flight at an airport. We’ll take it from Shenzhen Futian to Hong Kong in the future, but with so much planning involved it’s always going to be easier to take the metro back.