Wondering how to add an SDS011 air quality sensor with Tasmota to Domoticz? Here is a step by step guide how to do it.
First, we need to start with the Tasmota configuration. In addition, let`s just assume that we have a hardware sensor like this built. Above all, now we need to configure it.
Flashing ESP8266 with Tasmota Firmware
It is easy so I`l make it as short as possible…
Here are a flasher and 7.2 version bin if you want to start right now. 1. Connect ESP to your computer, figure out what com port is it using and configure Tasmota flasher accordingly. 2. Press taster for entering flashing mode and then press the reset taster on the ESP dev. board. 3. Release the reset taster, and then release the first taster on ESP. 4. Select the tasmota-sensors.bin in flasher and then send it to the device.
Further, after flashing just do a regular reset and you are ready for initial configuration. Therefore you need to connect to Tasmota via WiFi as it now acts as a hotspot. For instance, you could use your smartphone to scan for available WiFi networks and you should see one with “tasmota” in a name. Connect to it and it will show you “sign in” message. Click on sign in and it will open Tasmota configuration site. Here are screenshots in a gallery.
When flashed and configured, here is how Tasmota web interface looks like. Just find its IP address on your DHCP server (it will be shown as tasmota-ACB or something like that) and enter that IP address in your browser. It is nice to make a reservation (or static assignment) on DHCP so the address stays the same. On that interface, you can basically read values from the sensors and configure, backup or upgrade Tasmota.
Configure Tasmota Module for the sensors
This should be easy. SDS011 is connected to the Rx and Tx ports of the ESP board. Above all, remember that Rx and Tx need to be crossed (Rx goes to Tx, and Tx goes to Rx). Imagine it like talking. When You talk (Tx)then I Listen (Rx), and vice versa. We are talking about wire connections right now. Now we move to a logical connection. For TX (GPIO1 serial Out) chose from the drop-down menu SDSx1 Tx(101), for the (RX GPIO3 Serial In) chose SDS0x1 Rx (70). In this example, I connected more sensors. It means more pins need configuration. For more info about wiring go to this article.
Configure Tasmota to send data to Domoticz
First of all, Tasmota is not gonna talk directly to Domotics. Therefore you need to have an MQTT broker up and running. Moreover, in most cases, it is a Mosquito and it is installed on the same machine as Domoticz. Under this assumption, we will continue configuring Tasmota. On the MQTT menu, you only need to edit the first field named Host(). There you enter the IP address of your MQTT broker. If it is installed on the same machine as Domoticz than IP address is the same. If you left everything on default values during Mosquito and Domoticz setup, no need to do anything else here.
Configure Tasmota and Domoticz in pairs
This part can be a little tricky if you do not know how MQTT, and Domoticz work, but I will try to make it clear and in pairs, so it is easier to understand it. First, we will deal with SDS011. Since it has readings of PM 2.5 and PM 10 we will need to create two virtual sensors. Moreover, since the process is the same only one will be shown here. You go to Domoticz website- Setup menu in the top right corner then hardware, and after that chose “Create virtual sensor”.
Then you name it PM 2.5 since it will be for that sensor data, chose “Custom sensor” from the drop-down menu, and add “μg/m3” as axis label as these are the units that sensor actually measures.
This virtual sensor is gonna display data from the SDS011 physical sensor. Meanwhile, next thing to do in Domoticz is to go to Setup/Devices and check the “idx” of the newly created sensor. You can find it at the end of the list or by searching for its name.
It`s time to follow this setting in the Tasmota Domoticz menu. Idea is to configure tasmota`s predefined value (in this case Sensor idx 7 Voltage/PM2.5 with idx of the newly created virtual sensor named “PM 2.5” in Domoticz. So we enter the value of 192 to that place.
Configure Tasmota for Domoticz
Further, I will explain the creating and mapping of a Temp+Hum+Baro virtual switch. Proces is the same, create virtual switch but this time chose like this:
Again check the idx of the virtual sensor on Setup/Devices menu
After that, we go back to the Tasmota page and into Domoticz menu and this time set the value of the ” Sensor idx 3 Temp,Hum,Baro” to 148. This has to be repeated for every sensor added, on both sides!
How it looks in Domoticz
If you find this article interesting maybe you should check on this one also. Once more, thank you for reading, and if you have any questions or need help, just post a comment. I’ll get in touch with you asap.
Some time ago I purchased a Solarstorm DX4S diving flashlight. Price was very tempting and I decided to give it a try. Got mine for 40 $ from Banggood. I must say I was quite skeptical since this was no proven manufacturer like Scubapro or Halcyon, but figured out that I needed a strong lamp for camping anyway so, I decided to order it and then inspect it a little bit. If it looks like it could actually survive high pressures underwater I would take it scuba diving. If it doesn’t look like solid built (no o-rings, plastic instead of the tempered glass protecting the reflector etc.) I would keep it as a home/car/camping lamp. So it would be a win-win experiment.
Some useful info about the Solarstorm DX4S
The flashlight is powered by two 26650 or 18650 batteries. If you are going to use 18650, you have to put them into supplied adapters (yes they come in a box with the flashlight). It is a quite big flashlight and it fits the arm great. The switch is big enough, well placed and easy to operate even wearing 5mm neoprene gloves. It just slides up and down. One time up it is on, one more up the flashlight is off. If you hold it pulled up for a moment it will change mode. The flashlight has 3 modes, High, Low, and Blinking or Strobe mode. I have no equipment to measure output lumens. Only judgment was my subjective visual experience and from that part, I`m more than happy. When you turn it on in a room at night, it scares the shit out of the dark, and the light level is almost like regular lights are on. At first, I could not believe that handheld lamp is producing so much light. The beam is not too wide, and yet not to narrow. It is perfectly balanced and I like it both underwater and on land.
At the bottom, there are two o-rings that take care of the keeping water out of the lamp. They do a perfect job since I never saw even a single drop of water between them. It means one ring is enough, the second one is just a safety precaution. Bottom cap has a gold plated contact spring, and I never had a problem with batteries losing contact. When operated on dry, it heats up much after few minutes of working so I think that it is ok to use it on short terms, but it should not be on for a long on dry because there is no water cooling it that way. It is definitely an underwater battery and should be treated that way – with respect.
The flashlight has four CREE L2 U2 emitters, each rated at 2 W, and that would be total 8 W of power. L2U2 has a working voltage of 2.85 volts. If we take in the calc that four of them is 8W / 2.85 V we will come to 2.8 A. Later I will display what I measured, and it will prove that all numbers are ok and real.
Solarstorm DX4S Diving LED Flashlight 60M
1h53min,4h20min,7h10min (26650 battery)
2 x 18650/26650 battery (not included)
Magnetic resetting switch (change the modes)
body side of the flashlight
Impact-resistant glass lens
Metal smooth reflector
60 meters underwater.
374 g without battery
214mm x 55mm x 34mm(length x head x tail diameter)
Its declaration says that it is 60 meters water resistant, and I took it to 58 meters. It survived so the manufacturer did not lie. I personally think that it can survive more than 7 bars of pressure but let’s be realistic here, what do you want from a 40 $ flashlight? 60 meters is deeper than most regular users will ever dive, and at that depth, you are entering the technical diving area so you need another kind of equipment. I have it now for two years, used it in APNEA and SCUBA diving, and in general have all positive experiences.
Underwater light performance
Here are a few pictures and video showing how it looks to dive with this lamp. There are pictures from day and night diving, so you can experience how much light it produces, how big it is in the arm, and what do you get underwater in general.
How to carry it underwater
Title of this paragraph may sound stupid and absurd, but on the sea bottom there are plenty masks, knives, lamps, and other objects that belonged to people that “knew how to do it”. I use a double-sided diving carabiner to secure the flashlight. One side I secure to battery hand strap and the other side to my wing`s harness. So it is locked near my right shoulder, and it has enough cord to freely use it, and move around. When not used, or in hand I just put the battery under the belt so it is not just hanging below me, hitting the bottom or making any other type of mess. It`s kind of DIR philosophy and makes a perfect sense.
As mentioned before it can be powered by two 26650 or 18650 batteries. As logical 26650 are bigger and can have the larger Ah (Amper hours) capacity so they are the first choice. A good thing about 18650 cells is that you have them in every laptop battery.
Maybe you can remove some of them from an old or damaged battery pack of a laptop computer. Usually, there are 6 or even more cells in a package, and one or a few of them is destroyed, but the rest is working and has the excellent capacity. You only need two of them so you have great chances to get lucky. I scavenged one nonworking Asus battery pack and got 5 out of 6 in working condition. They are in the picture above.
If you have any decent charger, it will do the job for you and test batteries. What I want to say is that if charger start and after some hours finish charging process, the cell is ok. If it displays any type of error, it means the cell is damaged, and you should throw it away and try the next one.
And remember, there are marked places where it is ok to dispose of the batteries. Anyway there is one thing to be aware, or so to say beware, and that are scum batteries. There are many brands claiming insanely big capacities for just a few bucks. If it sounds too good to be the truth then in most cases it is not, so avoid buying the cheapest batteries. The same thing is a with a charger. I personally use this Nitecore Digicharger D2 ( D4 version has 4 batt slots) and it is a great charger. If you want the best for your batteries this charger will do a great job. Back to the lamp now.
What I measured on high setting is 2.7 A. On the low setting it is 0.86 A. It means that with 18650 cells you can get around 50 minutes of light at full power or a little bit over a 2 hours an low power mode. For 26650 battery type, with 4.2 Ah capacity, it is a little bit more than 90 minutes at high power mode or near 5 hours of light in low power mode. In both cases, it is quite ok for regular dives especially for day open water dives where you do not keep the lamp on the whole time.
Solarstorm DX4S construction error
I noticed there is something wrong with the flashlight after having it for a few days. I would charge the batteries and put them into the flashlight. It worked like a charm. Then I would leave it be since it is not something I use on a daily basis. After a week or more, when I needed it there was no light coming out. I started to investigate what is wrong. Batteries had no juice. So I taught that I got junk batteries. Shit happens, right? I charged the batteries again, and everything looked fine. But this time I would not fall for the same trick again. I did some measuring and here is what I discovered.
When turned off, the lamp takes about 12.89 mA from the batteries. It must be a driver problem or a construction error, but I did not want to disassemble it. Now that I knew what the problem was it was possible to fight it. So basically it will drain 0.3 A / Day from batteries if you put them inside. For regular 18650 cells, it is draining around 13% of capacity per day. If you charge batteries just a few hours before the dive (and that is the best thing to do), you won’t feel the difference, but if for any reason you can’t do it that way, you need to do something about this problem.
Construction error workaround
The trick is to screw the bottom cap completely and then unscrew it for approximately one turn. When you try to turn it on it will not work, until you screw it back so it won’t drain batteries. Good thing is that at that position of the cap, both o-rings are actually covered inside the cap so water can`t get in. So you have something like safety switch and little more to think about, but it does the job. It is really not a big deal to do it. This is the only objection that I have found for DX4S.
What`s in the box
The flashlight has no hard case or carrying bag, it comes in the cardboard box, with two spare o-rings, adapters for 18650 batteries, and some kind of manual on one piece of paper, and in a Chinese language only. So, you can throw away manual, it is pretty much useless if you don`t eat plenty of rice every day. Let’s just say that it comes packed well enough to survive postal services and that is it. You do not buy a thing like this for its packing, so it`s not so important at the end. English manual would be a nice upgrade, but let us remember, it is just a lamp :). Just one more recommendation at the end. Get some silicone grease and put it on the o-rings. It is a good thing to do once in a while. Summa summarum, this is a great flashlight and you get decent quality for your money. Remember, wherever there is light, there is also something to see, and there are only two things that should come out to the surface from a dive, (except a diver of course 🙂 ) bubbles and photos. Happy diving 🙂
or domain name system. I`m quite sure that you would be delighted to type something like 18.104.22.168 in your browser’s address bar to open google.com. Well, without DNS you would need to. DNS is a service that translates names to IP addresses and vice versa. So, in fact, when you type a website address (for example tehcestigate.com) in your browser and hit Enter, your computer goes to another computer on the Internet, called DNS server and asks a question like: do you know what is the IP address of the techestigate.com? DNS server then searches its internal record list and if it finds the record it answers. If the record is not found internally the same question will be passed to another DNS server on a higher level. Having an answer DNS server passes it to your computer. The answer can be either the IP address of the domain or statement that the domain does not exist. In the first case, your browser will try to open the website, and in a second you will get a message like “This site can’t be reached” from your browser. This is a simplified explanation of DNS. Now to the subject of this article, ME TLD or Top Level Domain.
Some legislative facts about .ME
Montenegro was assigned the ISO 3166-1 two-letter code “ME”, which was allocated by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in September 2006 (most other possible abbreviations of Montenegro (MO, MN, MT, MG and MR) and its Montenegrin name Crna Gora (CG) having already been taken). Source: Wikipedia article.
In September 2007, ICANN delegated the .me domain to the Government of Montenegro, with the former .yu domain to be operated temporarily by the .rs domain registry (Serbian National Register of Internet Domain Names) until its eventual abolition on or before 30 September 2009.
The delegation of root name servers was approved by IANA, establishing .me. The .me domain extension became active on 24 September 2007 and a “Public Invitation for selection of the Agent for domain registration under the national Internet domain of Montenegro” was posted on 14 November. doMEn d.o.o.—a Montenegro-based joint venture whose partners are Afilias, GoDaddy.com, and ME-net d.o.o.—was selected as the new registry operator.
.me is the Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Montenegro.
Some reality facts
The .me country-code top-level domain name (ccTLD) is an extension that represents both Montenegro and you. (Godaddy definition that can be seen here.)
.ME is about YOU. You are one step away from owning the domain name of your dreams. Personalize your blog, business or website. The possibilities are endless. Get creative! (http://domain.me, http://domen.me (local language) definition that can be seen here.)
In March 2016, .me surpassed one million domain name registrations.
Most registered domain names have nothing to do with Montenegro as a country. Registrations have been done mostly due to the meaning of “me” in English.
More than 99% registrations of .me domains happened thru registrars outside of Montenegro.
Most people don’t even know that .me stands for Montenegro.
Big brands like WordPress, Facebook, and PayPal adopted the extension.
Montenegro gained well recognized digital product with global demand and monetized it greatly. In 2015. revenue from .me domain reached around 2 % of total export of Montenegro.
Money always finds the way. The .me domain is definitely being advertised as a personalized domain. Montenegro may be selling its digital heritage but in its own unique way, this actually turned into the win-win situation for everyone. New, short and fun domain extension is out there, registrars are making money. Montenegro is making money. Just keep in mind that this is not the only case of using the language coincidence to monetize domain extensions. The Pacific Ocen island of Tuvalu is another example. Their .tv extension is advertised as domain names for broadcast media. There is also the island kingdom of Tonga with a .to extension used like where.to or go.to.
Some interesting information regarding domain names and extensions
IANA is the organization that takes care of the domain names. List of the top level domain names (those are the extensions with only one . before the name . like .com, .net, .org ) can be found at this link.
mydomain.com is the domain name and in that name .com is the domain extension
Around 100.000 domain names are registered every day.
Domain name registration was free before. In 1995 Network Solutions got the permit to start charging for domain names.
There are no more free three character domains.
The most expensive domain name publicly reported was insurance.com, it went for 35.6 million US$.
Symbolics.com is the first domain ever registered. Date of registration was March 15. 1985.
Fun with domain names 🙂
At the end as Shaldon would say: “Fun with flags.”
Here is the list of the most stupid domains ever:
swissbit.ch The name of the company is Swissbit, but tld is a bitCH here 🙂 it is turned off now, and the company changed the domain name to swissbit.com.
blackhatebook.com It’s not a Ku Klux Klan manifest, it is a Black Hat eBook. People did not want to read it. The new domain is blackhatseo.com.
ladrape.com It has to something with bedspreads but the name is definitely not encouraging.
lesbocages.com Again, the problem with a different meaning in different languages. It looks like even owner managed to figure it out.
budget.co.ck Budget car rentals on the Cook Islands. The company was getting weird contact messages over the website for unknown reasons. The owner closed it and after reported mental problems disappeared in central Bosnia.
powergenitalia.com Use your imagination or simply find about Power Generators in Italia. For now, it waits some better times. Parked it is as Yoda would say.
I hope that this article was interesting and that it provided some fun and useful information. At least next time when you see some of the mentioned domains, you will know what they really stand for and even how do the flags of the originating countries look like.
It’s been more than a decade that “cloud computing” as a modern term is around us. I think that the technology was available and in use for much more time. The example is the good old web hosting. You were able to purchase a domain name and hosting by nothing but a few clicks and a credit card long before anyone even mentioned Cloud computing?! When the industry needed a new racing horse, entrepreneurial marketing gurus and CEO`s seized the opportunity. They made a sounding name and started selling it as a separate and unique technology.
I would make a bold statement and say that cloud computing has its roots in engineers laziness. I mean we do not like repetitive tasks, don’t we? So we started working on automatization in a way that it would do those tasks for us. When enough automation happened, there was a possibility to pack it and sell it as a product or set of products, labeled as Cloud – something. There goes another bold one. Virtualization was and still is foundation pillar of cloud computing. It made enough difference and free time so smart people were able to do more creative things than just the usual work.
If we talk about the date of origin of the cloud computing as a term in modern days it would be August 9, 2006, when Google CEO Eric Schmidt introduced the term to an industry conference.
What is the “Cloud computing” anyway?
It would be using ICT resources from within the organization, or from somebody else’s platform, (typically Storage, Memory, CPU, Networking, OS, and Applications) with a few practical advances. Those advances are: Easiness of use, Self-service, Scalability, Anytime anywhere access, and Pay per use. Cloud services could be divided by type into Public, Private or Hybrid. Next type of classification is by form. There is Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Software as a Service or IaaS, PaaS, and Saas. I will not write about those into much details, there are plenty of articles around, so if interested, just Bing it or Google it or research however you prefer. Just a few definitions in the next paragraph.
Cloud computing by type
Cloud computing solution in which organization, in this case, Service provider, offers resources like virtual machines, applications, network or a storage for third party users, like general public typically over the Internet.
Cloud that organization hosts on-premises, for itself and its users. It delivers same advantages of cloud computing like self-service and scalability.
Hybrid cloud is the environment which uses a mix of on-premises, private cloud and third-party, public cloud services with automatic orchestration between the two or more platforms. Regarding user experience, it is a single platform.
Cloud computing by form
Infrastructure as a Service or IaaS
It is a form of cloud computing that provides computing resources for free or for rent over the Internet. In this model cloud service provider hosts hardware, servers, networking equipment, storage, software and other infrastructure equipment in order to provide infrastructure service for its users. It is a usually base foundation for other forms of cloud computing like Paas and SaaS.
Platform as a Service or PaaS
In this form of cloud computing cloud service provider has hardware (it would be Iaas) and on top of it some software tools, usually needed for application development, and it provides it to its users as a service over the Internet.
Software as a Service or SaaS
Is a cloud computing model for software distribution. It means that cloud service provider hosts applications and makes them available over the Internet. Again IaaS is the foundation and software sit on top of it.
The word technology comes from two Greek words, τέχνη, techne, “art, skill, craft, the cunning of hand” and λόγος lógos, “account, explanation, narrative, word, utterance”, the way of saying something. So, literally, technology means words or discourse about the way things are gained and in most cases, it is a consequence of science and engineering. It has changed its meaning many times through the history, especially within last 200 years. Nowadays, Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionarymay offer the best definition: “The use of science in industry, engineering, etc., to invent useful things or to solve problems”.
All about Technology
In the essence simplest examples of technology are basic tools. The discovery of how to create and control fire increased the available sources of food. The invention of the wheel helped humans to transport goods, travel and later shape and control their environment. Thruout, the historical development of the printing press, the telegraph, the telephone, the radio, and the Internet, overcame physical barriers to communication. It means that humans are now capable to interact on a global scale. Did we all become one great hive? Is there a Queen? Those are not questions for this article.
SET – Science, Engineering, Technology
There is a thin sometimes even invisible line making a distinction between science, engineering, and technology. I like to say that from a case to a case, where one ends another one starts, or they even flow together.
By definition, science is systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.
Engineering by definition is the application of physics, mathematics, and other scientific branches of knowledge to invent, innovate, design, build, maintain, research, and improve structures, machines, tools, systems, components, materials, processes, solutions, organizations and much more. On the SET Triangle, or as I like to call it Triangle of progress it is possible to see the relation of those three.
Triangle of progress
In modern days it would mean the way of using a mind, creativity, and skills to shape and combine some resources in order to create something that makes life easier, helps make progress, speed up something, create new or better way things are done. Science uses it, engineering uses it, and it is created as the result of science and engineering. At the end, it is a triple win situation resulting in opportunities for a progress of the mankind. I intentionally did not say that it necessarily leads to progress since it does not. Using the Technology in the wrong way is unfortunately often. For example, explosives are the piece of technology. Using them for mining may be progressing while using it for killing seems like at least a moral regression. A wise man said: “Fool with the tool is still a fool”.
Not long ago I wrote an article about how technology can help during rough times like war. Technology created destruction driven by war, and at the same time, it helped to survive it. So there is an obvious paradox there and I would say that humanity these days more than ever should seek decency more than anything else including the technology.
I was ten years old when I noticed that people around me started talking about us and them. I remember clearly a few situations when some older men asked me: “Kid, what are you?” It was at that time confusing and creepy question for me since I did not understand it. In most cases, I would ignore the question or just answer: “Human being”. When it happened a few times, I asked my parents to explain to me what is the trick with older people asking that weird question. (Later I figured out it was a question about religion). They said that people always try to find reasons to divide among each other and that both my answers were correct. Very soon people became divided by other ways. For example, there were those with electricity and those without it. It was wartime.
Life in a city without electricity and heating
I lived in a city that had at the time around a quarter of a million people. Infrastructure was ok, for example, there was a big heating plant providing everyone with heating and warm water. I lived on the eighth floor of the building with around 50 apartments. Just try to imagine how it looks to walk to the eighth floor by the staircase without any light! Yes, the building was designed that way, and it was not meant for living in the stone age and without electricity. It had an elevator, but then again it also needs electricity to work. At first, we had some flashlights, but soon we were in a situation that there were no batteries in stores to purchase. Very soon there was no money for them anyway so the first problem could be ignored….. It was wartime.
First of many problems – heating
The building had very bad insulation. It was hell during summer, and it was a fridge in winter. Without electricity, the fire was the only way of heating. Now that I`m thinking about it, it was the only way of cooking and heating water. So, in time when most of mankind progressed at warp 9, we were solving problems from the like stone age. The parents bought us a wood cooker.
It looked just like this and even had an oven. Our greatest and only home appliance that actually worked. It provided us with heat, enabled us to cook and to heat up some water for bathing. We were almost ready to survive.
Of course, the building did not have a chimney so we drilled a hole in an outside wall and put smoke pipe outside at the building facade. It was the only way, and everyone did it. Soon building with white facade became almost brown, black and gray. It would actually look great in a cheap post-apocalyptic movie. The whole city looked that way…. gray smoke and dark everywhere. But as I said before, now we got ourselves means of heating, cooking, baking bread and producing some hot water. If you would put big enough pot of water on a cooker and heat it near the boiling point, and then empty it in a bathtub and add some cold water, you could almost get a decent bath. In a great necessity, human ingenuity can be limitless.
Acquire firewood in the middle of the city
So the next problem was providing firewood, and stockpiling it somewhere. Well, we had a small storage room in the basement of the building and a decent balcony, so some of the problems were solved. The next one was to buy firewood. It was very expensive, and there was little or no money at all. Anyway, very soon a new type of job and market arises from this trouble. There were horse wagons patrolling the city and selling firewood. Yes, I`m talking about 1993. year, it was not some western movie :). My parents would buy a wagon of wood and we would unload it in front of the building. Then, the fun would start, since it would need to be carried up to the eighth floor. We would start packing woods in a bags and carry some in the basement and some up the stairs. Great recreation huh?
Off and On ratio
At 1993. we were at the point where we would get electricity from the power grid for a few hours every….. 45 days. Yes, that was the on and off ratio. At least for us unlucky enough not to live in the same building with a politician or military officer. Those with that kind of neighbor did not have any power restrictions. Most of the people used candles, and candle market was expanding one. Imagine the whole city in the complete dark, and few scattered buildings shining like a Las Vegas in the dark. It was already possible to conclude that this situation will not end up well. People were leaving their homes and going somewhere. I think it is the first time that I heard word refugees.
How did technology help in a wartime
The first and most common solution that did not involve light sources based on fire was a car battery (if you were lucky enough to have one) and a 12V light bulb. With a bulb from the car main light you would get very good light, but not for a long time, since it was 50 W lamp and that would give 2-3 evenings of light with a standard car battery. It was ok for the beginning of power restrictions when there was no power for a few days. If you had a good charger you could recharge the battery in a few hours and it would do the job. But as it was getting worse and there was no power for a week, the main light bulb was not an option anymore, so the tail light bulb was more appropriate. It was 10 W, and it could last on a single charge for a week or more. It was a time of saving, and energy was the currency.
The neon tube as a life/light saver
Then came the best, most practical and greatest piece of technology of the ’90s – 12 V Neon tube driver, or 12 V CCFL inverter. It would make a standard neon tube shine on a 12 V with acceptable power consumption. Usually, it would drive 10 – 20 W tube, and it would produce much more light for the same amount of current than an ordinary filament bulb. Another great thing was that the neon tube did not need to be in normal working condition. The ones that did not work on normal 220 V surrounding due to the broken filament, would work like a charm on this type of device. It was because of the different way of electrical gas discharge. Now you could create a decent amount of light for a current consumption around 1 A. There were many variations and sizes of these CCFL inverters, The smallest I made worked on 6 V and took 200 mA to drive a small 10 cm neon tube. It was great for the bathroom! I also made some big ones that drove 1,7-meter tubes at their full intensity. Big ones consumed up to 1.5 A but could produce enough light for a very big room or even a cafe bar.
How it was made
Most of the necessary parts could be salvaged from the old BW TVs. Remember, it was wartime and it was not possible to go to Radio Shack and by components. Transistor and ferrite were the most crucial parts and both could be found inside a TV, and suddenly it was a great thing to have one that you did not throw away. Regarding ferrite, I experimented with stick shape, U shape, even pot shape. All worked, but the best was the U shape.
CFFL Inverter schematic
“U” shaped ferrite
Two of the U shapes were in high voltage cascade of the BW TV. I remember that we stripped CuL wire by unwinding old transformers. Capacitors and resistors could be scavenged by disassembling all sorts of electronic waste. Of course, there was improvisation also, the right values were often created by combining multiple elements in series and parallel. You had to put all your ingenuity to work :). The casings could be made out of anything, from food cans to a wooden box.
Device creation could be a piece of cake. Only the transformer took time due to the big amount of windings in the secondary coil. And like always there is a “but” at the end. Soldering iron did not work without electricity either. There were some that could work at 12 V but there was not even enough power for the light so soldering iron had to consume something else to get hot. My father is ingenious as he is used one big old soldering iron in a very specific way. He would put its tip in a fire (we all ready had a wood cooker in our living room) to get it hot enough for soldering, then clean tip a little bit and use it to solder a few wires or joints. Then back to fire again for heating up. That way he was able to create, repair and fix many devices even without electricity.
I wanted to create one for the means of this article, but I made or helped in the creation of so many of them as a kid that I almost puked even on the idea of winding a transformer again.
There is a great passion for electronics in my heart and joy of creating things, but that “survival mode” was a little too much. I think that we created more battery chargers, and CFF drivers than the small factory would do in a year. We traded them for food, wood, money, whatever possible. There is no such misery as the one in a city in times of crisis. When you live in the countryside and have some land, you can at least produce some food. Grow some vegetables and have some animals. On the asphalt and concrete in your 50 square meters, you can`t do anything but starve.
Radio over faucet 🙂
In a time like that even listening to radio would help, and I was trying to find a way to power it.
I tried to create a little generator that would use water flowing from the faucet, but my great idea turned up not to be so great when finally it came to me that someone has to pay for that water also. I was so occupied with that project that I overlooked that fact. So, it was back to the drawing board again.
Radio over phone line
The next “great” idea came to me one time when the phone ringed in the dark. Yes, we had a phone, and it worked most of the time. I still wonder why, but phones worked. They let us use the phones, although you could call only the territory controlled by “ours”. Anyway, I asked my father, how the phone works, when there is no power almost anywhere, and he explained to me that in telecom, they had very big batteries, and generators, so their equipment is always powered up. I measured the voltage on the phone line and it was 9 Volts. The situation was promising! I figured out that I could drain up to 15 mA and the telephone would still work. Great, I had a little radio that worked on 4,5 volts, found 3 AA NiCd accus, connected them in series and idea was to charge them from the phone line, and to let radio work taking power from them. That little radio could work with 10 mA current if it was on very low volume. 25 mA if it was decent volume. And I got to charge accus 24/7 so it would give me buffer to listen to the radio for let`s say 14 hours. Great, it would do the job. One time I was holding phone line wires in my hand and something very unpleasant happened. Somebody called us! It means that some 90 Volts or something like that ended up between my fingers. It was really a nasty feeling, and I threw everything away for a day or so, pissed off for what happened. Those days, the phone would ring once a week or something like that, and it had to happen while I had stripped wires in my hands! Murphy’s law! That is when I learned how telephone works, and rings 🙂 . Anyway, I ended up with that high voltage problem, and I think I used some Zener diodes and resistors to overcome it, but I can`t remember the details anymore. I used my great achievement for a while and enjoyed the radio until parents started wondering why no one is calling us ever. The phone worked, and you could call, but it just did not ring. I knew it was my “genius” device and immediately went to guerilla mode. I would connect a device during the night to recharge my batteries for a little bit, and disconnect it in the morning. This worked, and although I had to make some compromise, I actually had a few hours of music every day. A little bit of happiness in dark times. You know that special feeling when something is taken away from you by force and you finally get a piece of it back. That was it.
Washing machine bath trick
One more tech trick for wartime. If you live in a building without warm water, and without a water heater, you can use the washing machine to heat up some water for you. Here is my father`s genius solution:
Do not put any laundry in the machine.
Do not put any detergent or softener in the machine.
Take the drain hose and put it in your tub.
Set machine for the highest possible temperature program.
When it spins up and gets the water out, you will get much hot and clean water, just add some cold, and there is your bath, great huh?
Once every 45 days we would get those 3 hours of power, so it was a hurry to do what can be done, recharge some batteries, and of course, enjoy almost a real bath 🙂 .
No battery can last for 45 days
It was obvious that you can`t have a battery big enough to provide you with enough Amps to last you 45 days even just for a light.
This battery pack was a lifesaver and I must dedicate a few sentences about it.
This was 10 NiCd cells pack for the RT-20 military mobile radio unit. There is a great site about them at this link. So this battery pack was 12 V, 7 Ah and it was small enough to carry. Father worked at the local radio station as a broadcast equipment specialist and since they had a diesel generator working 24/7 he would take the battery to work with him, recharge it there and then bring it back home again. Sounds crazy from today`s point of view right? Well, this worked, and we had a light problem solved. This was 4-5 Kg, 15 x 35 cm package, so it was not so hard to carry it around. I must say that these were the most durable, rechargeable batteries I ever encountered. They were made for the military by factory “Krusik” in Valjevo, Serbia. Indeed they were a military-grade technology.
Other handy things
There were a few more helpful things in the DIY department.
Alcohol stove made of a can was great for cooking coffee and tea, and even boiling some eggs. Soon there was no coffee and no alcohol for the stove. So it did not last much 🙂 .
The DIY candle was another useful thing to create. You put some oil in a glass and use a piece of cotton as a wick. Wick would go through a bung and piece of metal over it so bung does not burn. Great DIY candle, but it smells bad as it burns.
Eggs of war
I don`t know precisely why, but there is some special connection between wartime and chicken eggs. Sounds crazy? Well as soon as the city was without electricity egg market expanded rapidly. Why? I suppose it was because they are cheap and easy to transport, and do not require much energy to prepare. You could boil an egg even over a candle. It means you would not starve. Eggs were being sold in front of the already closed stores, on the sidewalks, on improvised market places, literally anywhere. I ate so many eggs in those years that I can not look a chicken in the eyes anymore :). So if you ever notice that eggs are selling rapidly around you, it`s time to run away. Try to leave your country and do not look back. War is coming, or it already came. And if you want to be a normal person ever again, then it is not a surrounding for you to be in, or you may end up writing articles like this 🙂 .
Money for nothing
We also had our own currency, and it was something to tell about. What better way to enslave citizens than to take control of the money. How to do it? Invent your own currency and print it yourself. That way you control how much money is out there, and how much does it actually worth. That is also a great way to exchange worthless paper for stable foreign currencies that you will need when you take everything you can and leave the country for some far-away place without an extradition treaty. All that you can do if you are a government or in our case a few man show. Another great thing was inflation. If by any case you would get some money you would need to run to buy something for it or change it to foreign currency asap. Why? Literally, overnight, you would need one more zero for it to be as worth as yesterday.
Our Monopoly money from 5000 to 500 million.
For example today 1 DM (Deutsche Mark, most popular currency of the time) would be exchanged for 5000 Dinars (Our new patriotic money was called “Dinar”), but tomorrow one Mark would be 50000 dinars. I remember that one time my mother got her monthly salary in those dinars and she could buy a box of matches for it. At that time she at least still had a job. It was real-life Monopoly money, or as Dire Straits would say Money for nothing. Unfortunately, the technology could not help here, but at least we used it to stay in a connection with the rest of the normal world.
I started writing this article in the hope to evoke some old memories regarding my early electronic projects. I also shared some stone-age ideas and memories. Necessity created them, nothing big, great or revolutionary. They made life a little bit easier. Now I`m thinking what would I give at that time for one of today’s led`s? Well, time was different and darkens did not come from the lack of technology but the lack of sanity and humanity. And if you notice that eggs are being sold everywhere, and whenever you see a bill, you begin thinking about Dire Straits, it may be a time to found yourself a new country, because yours may be coming into a war.
You don`t want to waste your money on a new smartphone ? And you like to have all those great new features? In this example I will show you way to convert Samsung GT-N 9005 aka Note 3 into the SM-N930F aka Note 7 (also called fire starter 🙂 ). Manufacturers like us when we behave like a good consumers. Whenever they launch a new model, we should hurry up and buy it , right? Well, I don`t know about you, but I think it is a waste of money, and resources. I said resources on purpose, since they need materials and energy to make a phone, and they produce waste and pollute the environment while doing it.. So try to have some ECO awareness and generally buy better quality things that you will be able to use for a longer time, rather than the crap that you will have to exchange frequently.
So, I have a Samsung smartphone GT-N 9005 aka Note 3 for few years now, but Samsung stopped upgrading OS of this model in 2015. It means I was stuck with android 5.0 and that would not be so big deal if some strange things did not start to mess with my everyday use. It is interesting that few months ago I had software update package from Samsung that was little less than 60 MB and show starts from there. My smartphone started working slower. I also noticed problem with turning on the Wi-Fi. When turned on, icon does not become fully green, and phone will not connect to any network for a long time. Only way for Wi-Fi to start working is to turn on mobile data, and than WI-Fi gets connected. Weird huh?
I`m not a good consumer
I`m talking about Samsung flagship smartphone model with Snapdragon 800 quad core cpu, Adreno 330 gpu and 3 GB ram. This hardware is stronger than in most middle class smartphones that are on the market today. Logic says that it should be able to have a descent performances for everyday use. It worked like a charm, until this last update. So, i figured out that something is fishy with this whole situation. Phone with this kind of hardware has to work like a charm. And it was until this last so called security update.I decided to do something about it and looked up to the Internet for a help.
Choice was made
I found the article about installing ported ROM from Note 7 to Note 3 at this link. The guys there were talking about almost same functionalities and performances like on real Note 7. I decided to give it a try. I also found the great video @ youtube, that shows the full procedure. The only two things that I did different is that I used CWM instead of TWRP, and for rooting, CF – Auto root. I decided to try out DarkLord ROM for Galaxy Note 3. It is basically a ported Note 7 rom, so when installed, you get everything that Note 7 has on your note 3. That includes 4 K Video capability for the rear camera.
Tools for the job
First of all backup everything that you do not want to lose. This is also a great rule for everyday situations.
Install Dark Lord rom from CWM recovery, you have a video guide link above in the text .
Do not reboot after install .
Install Dark Lord Rom Kernel .
Reboot and wait , first boot takes around 20 minutes .
That`s it, you can start your initial configuration, and use your new Note 7.
If you don`t like what you see, or have any problems with this rom , it is easy to change it now. Just start at the step 4, install different rom. I had a few weird things with Note 7 rom. NFC did not work, but that is well known. The other thing is that if torch aka flashlight was turned on from integrated launcher, it was impossible to turn it of. Only way I managed to do it, was to reboot the phone. I noticed that sometimes, phone just disconnected from carrier network, so it was showstopper. I went to try out another rom. This time i used Official LineageOS. You have download link and guide here. It is the latest Android 7.1 with Google Pixel launcher. I`m still on this rom , and it works like a charm. Even i`ts camera is great and it supports 4 K video.
If your smartphone is sim locked, unlock it before you install any rom other than official. You may not be able to sim unlock it later. I mean you will need to get back to official firmware, do the sim unlock and than back again to custom rom of your choosing. It happened to me, so this advice may save you few hours. In general all of this can be applied to many other devices, just take a great care to match your exact device type with it`s custom rom. And to repeat myself once more, backup everything that you do not want to loose.
I had a many hours lost but I got a great device at the end. Phone is now on latest Android version, and it works almost without any glitches. Only one I noticed was with sd card access. When I try to access it by the File Manager app , i get “This operation requires elevated permissions. Try changing to Root Access mode”. It has root permissions, and I did not get nerves to dig deeper into problem, but just installed ES File Explorer from playstore, and it works great, no problem accessing sd card. Other than that, device is fast , menus are great, and new Android looks and feels wonderful.
Microsoft introduced Start Menu with the Windows 95 , and NT systems. To be exact it was the August 15, 1995 when Windows 95 RTM (Released to manufacturing) was introduced. It was the great step up from its predecessor Win 3.1.1, and it came with a central launching point for computer programs and performing other tasks. The one and only “Start Menu”. Besides Desktop it is the most visited place due to its usability and ease of access. As name suggests it was the start point for so many different tasks and tools. Most of all it was so easy for a user to rearrange it , and sort it that everyone loved it and considered it as a vital part of OS. That is from the user’s point of view.
Time traveling with Start menu
Windows XP Start
So, it came to us with 95, it stayed pretty much unchanged with 98, Millennium, and Windows 2000. Than it landed on XP in all of its magnificence and it became a standard. I think that if it disappeared then, most of the users would not know what to do with the computer. Programs, Administrative Tools, Run, Control Panel, Shutdown, it was all there few clicks away. Why would you take it away without offering a better solution?
Well it stayed a little bit more, but some wise guys in expensive suits that never spent a night in front of CRT were already thinking how to screw up as many people as possible and make it look great in company reports.
Time of the Kraken
Then in November 2006 Kraken came to haunt the computer hardware. It was called Windows Vista. Like usually Microsoft had a great idea, no time to finish it and they released it anyway. That memory eating monster required state of the art hardware to work decently, but was a game changer comparing to its predecessors. Then it was visible that major changes are happening at Microsoft, and that OS course is changing. Many differences and many great things came by, and fortunately some good stuff stayed , like the Start Menu. After Vista came 7 in July 2009.
The good times
It came as a finished, polished and mature OS, and of course Start menu stayed again. It had great driver support and worked well on average hardware. Users had no problems getting used to it, and it caused no trauma to them. It really was one of the greatest Windows ever! This time guys from Redmond really hit the bull’s eye.
How it all went wrong…
You know that situation when everything is like it should be…….. and then something terrible happens. That is when Windows 8 came in August 2012. It created mess and confusion among the users. Touch screen OS that run mainly on non touch screen devices. A cyborg like Vista that made more problems than it had solved. This one really disappointed me. Main reason was lack of the Start Menu and it tried to make me change 17 years old habits. Was it necessary ? Was there a chance to leave it be as an option? No, great guys in Microsoft said that now you have a tiles and you can go to right end of screen for additional options. Options for Search , Logout, Restart, Shutdown……. What the hell ?!
Screw users big, screw Admins bigger
And if that was not enough there was something for the IT professionals also called Windows Server 2012. In peak of virtualization era in IT industry, some great geniuses created server OS for touch screen. You seen many VMs with touch screen? 🙂 Great, no Start Menu, if you want any basic things put your cursor to the right, near the end of the screen. In case many installed programs you can use search to find what you need. That is if you know the name of app that you want. I ended up with browsing thru both Program Files directories. It was easier to find and open app that way. All hail Windows 8 and Server 2012.
They heard us
Microsoft figured its mistake in Windows 8 and tried to heal the wound with 8.1. Someone finally noticed users unhappiness and we got our Start back with last Windows versions. Windows 10 , Servers 2012 R2 and 2016 are proof that Start Menu is still a good concept. Unless something radically new happens, Start may be modified, but basic concept stays. And guys, please take a notice that Servers are not for great looking. As their name suggests they serve some purpose, so stop changing names of the tools, and locations of things. Use that time and effort to make useful improvements like you did by adding pause coping option in Win 8 or PowerShell in Server 2008 or SDS in 2K12R2 and 2K16.
I chose Start menu as an example. These days vendors will do just about anything in order to grow and keep users and customers. Sometimes they do just the opposite, and that would not be the problem if it would be noticed and corrected ASAP. But like in this example we had to wait some years until wrong people at the right positions come to their senses. We can only hope that big guys will start using methods and tools they so much advice for us and therefore be informed about users needs and habits. We all know that habits can be really hard to overcome. At the end both of the worlds need to exist together in symbiosis and harmony, but world of producers needs to make the first step.
How will your vision shape the way we move in the future?
Next visionaries is joint venture of BMW i and TED as a global discovery project that seeks and engages innovators, change-makers and other unique visionaries due to Earth`s needs I supose. The goal? Preparing for the future by creating it, due to visions about what lies ahead in thirty, to two hundred years.
Today VS Tomorrow
How to get involved?
If you belong to the visionaries, than visit https://nextvisionaries.com/ . Great intro video await`s at landing page and watch it carefully because it can shade some light on the project topic. Two brands. One pioneering spirit. That is so to say motto of this great endeavor to seek for the Holly Grail of mobility. Idea can be submitted by following a link , and it`s best to browse thru the whole site`s content first. There is no special requirements for participation. Anyone older than 18 can enter. The deadline for submissions is on July 17. 2017. Submission takes three steps. Step one is strongly presenting your idea in 140 characters and possible add on of short video. Second step consists of adding more details, blueprints, images or scribbles to it. Final step is basically filling up contact details, and chosen entries will be published on site.
Why participate ?
You get a chance to influence history, and network with like-minded people. The best ones will get the opportunity to work with the mentors, BMW i and TED experts who will help further more evolve the ideas and with some luck turn them into reality do to the project goal and power of it`s owners. The selected one will give a TED Talk on their vision for the future of mobility live. So if you find yourself in any of this, take a shot it may change your life or the life’s of those around you.
Message in a bottle
This is a general guide for those who consider submitting: “All we ask is that you dream big, push the boundaries and explore the possibilities of mobility and what exciting changes civilisation may face as we race ever faster towards the future.” So, if you have some great idea, join up The Next Visionaries and be a part of the great story.
I hope you like the idea, and kindly ask you to spread the word. There are undiscovered visionaries among us, and now we need them more then ever.
I got myself at the biggest ICT conference in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 19. to 21. April. Local Microsoft office organized the conference in the city called Neum located on the shore of the Adriatic Sea. From MSNetwork 1.0, it was a practice for a conference to be in a different city each year. Now, the MSNetwork was happening for the third time in Grand Hotel Neum. It was due to the fact that it is the only adequate complex in the whole country with the necessary capacity for an event that grows this much. I’m talking B&H standards big, and that is around nine hundred participants for this year`s MSNetwork.
MSNetwork, few facts
Conference run in few parallel tracks: Digital transformation of business, Development, Databases, Infrastructure, Security, Case study. Speakers were local and from nearby countries and the most spoken word at the conference was Azure. Most of the presentations contained subjects somehow related to Azure, and that is due to global cloud-related madness. They suppressed every other topic in favor of Microsoft Cloud and that is the key pointer of what the future brings. MSNetwork had a #nasedmomnebu or translated to English it would be #atsevenheaven.
I`m not saying that Azure is not a great topic, but I do not like the fact that all other great products from this giant’s kitchen were so much disregarded. Still, it was possible to hear a great startup story from the area and to get priceless advice from the startup owner.
Here I would mention Mr. Bruno Omerovic and his “Koola – startup Success Story”. He presented his experience in following his dream and succeeding in startup hell. Also, it was revealed that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a “No-No” to any kind of business. If interested, more can be found about “Koola” at http://koola.io. It is a great idea that saw the light of a day due to this man’s great effort and hard work.
There were also some other great guys sharing their knowledge and experience and I would mention Mr. Aleksandar Nikolic, Mr. Catalin Gheorghiu, Mr. Andrej Radinger and Mr. Luka Manojlovic. Mr. Nikolic had a great story about Azure automation, and he is also co-author of the PowerShell magazine so if you are into automation, I suggest you visit it. Catalin was talking about IoT Circus, and Microsoft vision of IoT trends, with some great examples. Radinger`s lecture was about starting a startup and adjusting to the market`s needs. It was more like a great guide with key pointers for anyone thinking about a startup. Mr. Manojlovic hit the bullseye with his story about great new technologies built-in Microsoft Windows 2016.
It happened on the 20-th evening, starting at nine and lasted too little bit later than 2 am. There was a decent band playing with an even better guest Ms. Amina Hamzic. She really is a great singer and entertainer, and it was a pleasure listening to her singing. I would probably say watching was also a pleasure but I would have a better view from Kamchatka than from the place I was standing. The party was starting at 9 PM and we got there at half-past eight. There was a surprise. Blank reservation cards were on all descent spots. The case is that two-thirds of visitors reserved tables, but the irony is that there was no official way to make a reservation for a table at the party. So, that was also spoiled and corrupted like most things in B & H.
Grand Hotel Neum
Google Earth View
The place is ok, but probably self-rated as a four stars hotel. It tries to sell itself as a noble and luxury place, but it can`t distinguish itself from its origin. The same goes for most of the staff. There is no parking for a guest unless he has some “connections” or maybe some under the table money to suddenly create a free parking spot. Younger staff are great, kind and helpful, but there is some gray and white-haired waiters that are almost wiping the guests. It is very expensive considering all the above. If well managed it may become a great place in about 20 years.
“Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone.”