Sunday 23 December 2018

Unable to read an SD card on Linux: SanDisk ExtremePro 64GB 95MB/s

For at least the last 10 years I've considered Linux to be the gold-standard operating system when checking memory devices.


If a drive could not be read on Windows, I'd test it on Linux to see if it had really failed.

But Linux didn't respond to an SD card recently, although the card was clearly working OK.

Friday 14 December 2018

the Dodotronic UltraMic: first impressions

I just splashed out £225 on this USB microphone.

Initially I just plan to experiment & compare it with my home-made analogue bat recorder.

If all goes well this may turn into yet another bat detector/logger project.

Thursday 6 December 2018

Bats, Hogs & Hibernation

I used to think that 'hibernation' meant 'sleeping through the winter' in the sense that an animal went to sleep in November and woke up at the end of March.

Maybe this is why my tortoise died.

I stuck him in a cardboard box when I was 7, and only went back to wake him up in April.

Saturday 1 December 2018

KitchenPi: adding a watchdog

Although KitchenPi has been running well for over two and a half years, I do get the occasional blip.

A recent issue caused the system to fall silent.

But this turned into an opportunity to do a couple of simple software modifications.

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Fixing my Pentax K-30 exposure problem: #4 more details on solenoid

I spent a jolly day thinking about the exposure solenoid and doing a few checks.

Everyone has a theory about why the green solenoid is problematic.

I've tried to work out how it operates...

Tuesday 20 November 2018

Fixing my Pentax K-30 exposure problem: #3 one problem leads to another!

Having reassembled my K-30 with the replacement solenoid, it was time to test it.

Unfortunately it failed the test, with all photos underexposed.

I think my problem was due to a truly stupid mistake.

Fixing my Pentax K-30 exposure problem: #2 let's do it!

My new JIS screw drivers arrived from China a few days ago.

Following on from an earlier post, I needed these to fit the tiny JCIS screws on my camera.

So its time to strip down both my K110D and K-30 Pentax cameras to see if I can repair my K-30.

Monday 5 November 2018

Fixing my Pentax K-30 exposure problem: #1 prep

The exposure problem on my Pentax camera has been gradually getting worse.

It is now more likely to produce underexposed images than correctly exposed ones.

So its time to open it up and have a go at fixing it.

Sunday 4 November 2018

Hedgehogs don't like slugs!

Its very easy to plant ideas into peoples minds, but very difficult to remove them when they are wrong.

And the internet only makes matters worse due to the ease of content "copy & paste" operations on already incorrect information. 

Monday 29 October 2018

Thunderbird "Download the rest of the message" is not working

Another feature of Thunderbird that I suspect has just been broken in version 60.x is the "Fetch headers only" option.

For as long as I can remember, this has been my setting of choice, but now its broke!

Has Thunderbird lost its Calendar?

A recent Thunderbird update on Debian/Ubuntu systems has resulted in the loss of the Calendar.

As it is the only calendar that I use, I'd be lost without it.

So what's the fix?

Tuesday 4 September 2018

DSLR optical path: where is that spec of dust?

After a recent trip to Hurst Castle we noticed dirt spots on the photos from 2 cameras.

While giving them a clean, it occurred to me that there are quite a few places where dust and dirt can be a problem.

Sunday 26 August 2018

Thunderbird on Peppermint OS: invasion of the giant emojis

Another annoying quirk I found during my recent evaluation of Peppermint OS (V9) concerns the email client Thunderbird.

But this very minor issue has a number of easy fixes.

Friday 24 August 2018

Peppermint OS: fix those dreadful File dialogs in LibreOffice

I've been playing around with Peppermint OS and found an issue with the LibreOffice file dialogs.

The LibreOffice File > Open, File > Save dialogs don't include useful things like mounted USB memory sticks, network links or any bookmarks that you would find in the system file manager.

You get the same dreadful dialogs in Lubuntu if you set the "Use LibreOffice dialogue boxes" option in LibreOffice.

Wednesday 22 August 2018

The end of the line for gksu?

It was only recently that I upgraded my Lubuntu laptop to 18.04, and then found that some of my .desktop launchers had stopped working.

Many Linux distros have now decided to drop gksu as they feel it is unsafe to launch GUI apps as Root.

Well whoopy-do!  Safe or unsafe, I still want to do it.

Friday 17 August 2018

Solid Conservatory Roof Conversion

Our conservatory has been a great asset for the last 15 years, but there were one or two issues we needed to address.

In addition, the crazy high temperatures during this summer have made it a no-go area during the hottest hours of the day.

So a couple of months ago we started thinking about refurbishment options.

Thursday 26 July 2018

Entroware Triton laptop: broken mouse button

I was quite upset a couple of days ago to find that my nice Entroware Triton had a broken right mouse button.

I've only had this laptop 14 months, and its been brilliant in every way ...until this happened.

So I certainly wasn't ready to give up on it and shell out for a new computer!

Monday 2 July 2018

Patio WiFi: extending wifi range

Its been dry and very hot down here in Sunny Southern England during the last couple of weeks.

Great weather for gardening or for doing other jobs outside, except for a couple of hours either side of midday when it is just too darn hot!

So that's the time to retreat down the garden to our pergola-shaded-patio and check out BBC News, or scan FaceAche, or waste a bit of time on Twatter.

Saturday 16 June 2018

BatGuru: a British bat ID helper

My BatGuru is a program written in Gambas which helps me identify British bat species based upon echolocation call data.

It simply saves me having to juggle the key parameters in my head as I scan the charts in my reference book.

But identifying bats from their calls is tricky due to the wide variability of their calls.

Sunday 3 June 2018

BirdBox2018: our mixed species nest

Its been a very interesting season watching how the story unfolds in our mixed tit species nest.

The chicks have now left the safety of the box to take their chances in the big wild world.

So this post just reviews what we observed and what I think may have happened.

Friday 18 May 2018

BirdBox2018: Blue Tits hatch in Great Tit nest

All 6 of the blue tit eggs hatched by the 15th May.

By my reckoning it was almost 5 weeks from the time the first egg was laid until the last had hatched.

Saturday 12 May 2018

Common Pipistrelle Feeding Buzz

Bat echolocation is all about catching a meal.

After all, if bats could safely feed during the day, they wouldn't bother to stumble around in the dark of night. 

So its good to catch the occasional ultrasonic recording of bats catching their prey.

Saturday 28 April 2018

the Hog is back!

After an absence of 4 or 5 years, the hedgehogs have returned to our garden.

Well, one hog, at least that's a start.

So now we need to give this little guy a helping hand.

Thursday 26 April 2018

BirdBox2018: The Great Tit Takeover

Things were going well for our resident blue tits.

They had spent weeks checking out the nest box on our maple tree before building a nest and laying a few eggs.

Then the great tits rocked up!

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Bat Call Logger: more on call analysis

Following my last post I have had some time to analyse a few more bat recordings and consider how to streamline my work flow.

Until recently, I've been carrying out all file operations using Audacity.

But there are a few things I can do via the command line, which I've pulled together in a Gambas GUI program.

Saturday 7 April 2018

Bat Call Logger: full-spectrum analysis

With the recent step change in the weather, I was able to run the system last night and capture bat calls for the first time this year.

It looks like my modifications to the system are paying off.

I'm now getting full-spectrum (ultrasonic) recordings which are much easier to analyse than the previously used Frequency Division recordings.

Saturday 31 March 2018

Radio Caroline: visiting the Ross Revenge

Over the Easter weekend of 1964, the M.V. Caroline dropped anchor a few miles off the Essex coast and started broadcasting popular music.

A certain 12 year old, super-glued his ear to the family wireless, and within 3 weeks was joined by 7 million other listeners. Within a year, there were over 20 million of us.

Who would have thought that 12 year old would still be listening to Radio Caroline 54 years later?

Friday 23 March 2018

BBC Radio iPlayer: download & convert to MP3

If I'm going on a long drive, I like to be able to listen to radio "plays" to ease the journey.

As BBC PodCasts give way to iPlayer Radio, this is becoming increasing difficult.

So now I have to use get_iplayer to download a programme, and ffmpeg to convert it to MP3.

Thursday 22 March 2018

BirdBox 2018: time-lapse video

For 2018 I thought I'd try to gather periodic snapshots from my Maple tree bird box.

The idea is to make a series of time-lapse videos.

I'm hoping to capture nest building and maybe show the chicks growing from tiny naked blobs to fully feathered birds.

Saturday 17 March 2018

Hantek 6022BE on Lubuntu 17.10: OpenHantek

My Hantek USB oscilloscope was supplied with Windows software, but how can I run it on Linux?

There are a couple of FOSS options for Linux including OpenHantek and Sigrok.

I have tried both Sigrok (with pulseview) and OpenHantek, but I much prefer OpenHantek.

Thursday 15 March 2018

Radio Caroline on 648kHz: great coverage with just 1kW

When I first heard about Caroline's plans to transmit on the Medium Wave, I was skeptical.

I couldn't see the point in running a community type radio station on just 1kW of power to cover a limited coastal region of East Anglia.

But I've changed my mind   ...Now I get it!

Sunday 4 March 2018

Bat Camera: just a wild idea!

What if I triggered a camera from my bat detector?

I'm not looking for prize winning bat photos, just a possible aid to identification.

Would the system capture anything recognisable?

Friday 2 March 2018

ZeroLiPo: Pi push-button battery power control

The ZeroLiPo is a Lithium-ion Polymer battery power manager for the Raspberry Pi from Pimoroni.

It does not handle battery charging, it simply converts the LiPo 3.7Volts to 5Volts, and provides a low voltage alarm.

Although I've had one of these for ages, I've only just considered using it, possibly for my Bat Call Logger.

Monday 26 February 2018

Nature with Tech 2018

Although we have had some very bright, sunny days during February, it has also often been very cold.

And it looks like we have some seriously cold days to come during early March.

However, there are still some signs that our garden birds are thinking about nest building...

Tuesday 13 February 2018

Bat Call Logger: implementing pre-capture

My bat call logger uses a very simple/crude means to trigger recording.

This seems to work, but a few recordings are blank, as if the triggering signal has stopped before the recorder kicked in.

By having a pre-capture function, I should be able to capture a sequence before the trigger takes affect.

Wednesday 7 February 2018

Bat Call Logger: Wolfson audio card frequency response

Having got my Wolfson Audio card working happily with a Raspberry Pi 2, I decided to try and check the frequency response.

As this card is described as a 'audio card' and the only figures I've seen relate to the audible range, I didn't have high expectations regarding its use in my Bat Call Logger.

Anyway, to find the answer, it was just a question of setting up some test gear and running a few checks.

Thursday 1 February 2018

Bat Call Logger: recording ultrasound

My bat project has been on the back-burner for the last few months, as I understand that bats don't venture out much during the winter.

However, the Weather Man on BBC's Winterwatch did say he had seen them flying around on a few mild evenings during January!

So maybe its time to do a bit more work on my Bat Call Logger and check if there are any out there.

Sunday 14 January 2018

Putting Radio Caroline back on 199 metres

Having refurbished our Bush VHF 54 valve wireless to a point where it is now a working radio, I have discovered that the Medium Wave band is a bit of an electromagnetic desert.

The strongest station in our area is something called Talk Sport, which mostly features two guys talking utter cobblers.

So if this old wireless is going to be more than just a piece of furniture, I need to establish my own radio station.

Thursday 11 January 2018

Bush VHF 54 refurb: some new valves

A few spare parts arrived this week, so I made some progress with refurbishing this wireless.

Its now a working set, although there is a lack of sensitivity on all wavebands.

However, I can tune in stations on all three wavebands and the tuning scale is now nicely illuminated.

Tuesday 9 January 2018

Browser Hijack:

I recently came across a smart phone in the throws of a browser hijack.

The user was stuck with a message on the screen and couldn't seem to back out of it.

But as far as I could see, there was a simple way out.

Saturday 6 January 2018

Ethereum: Help! I've been mugged!

So in the early hours of 27th December I was mugged, and the assailant got away with goods worth over £5,000.

The good news is that I was fast asleep at the time, and nobody was harmed.

However, I probably need to back-track and work out what went wrong with my security measures.