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USB Volume Control using Adafruit Rotary Trinkey

USB Volume Control Thumbnail

USB Volume Control

USB Volume Control
Adafruit Rotary Trinkey Thumbnail

Adafruit Rotary Trinkey

Adafruit Rotary Trinkey

Adafruit Rotary Trinkey is a cool, 30-minute DIY build project. And having a nice tactile USB volume control knob on your table is very convenient.

Also, I dig Circuit Python development approach: the device is recognized as a USB drive. To program it, you just edit code.py file using any OS/editor. Changes applied immediately on save. Outputs on serial console. No development environment setup is needed! Nice, easy, and very refreshing.

  • Just enough circuitry for volume control
  • Computer sees device as HID. Simulates pressing keyboard media keys so compatible with any OS
    • Also can simulate mouse, for example for a scroll wheel
  • Play/pause on click
  • Extra touch button (for example for next track)
  • Fits in Airport Tick Tac box
  • Multi color RGB LED which you can use for current volume indicator or system notifications
  • Put in laptops USB port, USB hub, or using an extension cable to get gadget in convinient location
  • Source Code using (Circuit) Python is short
  • Requires tiny bit of soldering

Overall I had a lot of fun with this little gadget. Totally recommend!

Cable management tip: make them coiled

coiled cable diy Thumbnail

coiled cable diy

coiled cable diy

Every wired device comes with a 1-2m cable. Like why do I need a 2m cable for the mouse? It is not like pc located on a different floor. Laptop's USB port is 10cm from the mouse, and all modern displays have USB hubs1. And cable hanks are ugly. Usually, people address ugliness by replacing cables with Bluetooth/RF/Wi-Fi, but meh. Coil whine, interference with other devices, random disconnects, dead battery in the moment you need it the most... So much unnecessary problems. I'm old, and I like my computer peripherals to have wires2 of reasonable length. Previously I've even resoldered some USB cables to make them shorter.

Recently I found an ultimate solution from The Mechanical Keyboards community - DIY coiling cables. It is not necessary for detachable cable aesthetics, the method works on all peripherals, even with a cable attached. Each coil shortens the wire section π times! And by leaving part of the cable uncoiled you can get the exact length you need. And it looks neat. Requirements: a hairdryer, stick, and 10 minutes. Genius! Check the tutorial on YouTube.


CyberBadge activated!

Sometimes I look at the ordinary things and just see Raspberry Pi inside. Of course, in real life, there is no Pi inside, so I need to build it in there myself. Recently I found a minimalist wallet (or badge) and transformed it into an eInk CyberBadge!

With eInk display Thumbnail

With eInk display

With eInk display
Original wallet/badge Thumbnail

Original wallet/badge

Original wallet/badge

To me, the wallet looked like a perfect sci-fi themed frame for an eInk display. Resulting in some kind of smart badge.

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OpenWRT vs DD-WRT vs Tomato in 2021

Sadness

Disclaimer: this post is full of sadness, and contains a very subjective opinion

The router is a crucial part of your infrastructure. And there are two things wrong with modern routers. First routers are rarely getting security updates because manufacturers are busier with releasing new products than supporting old ones. So if you have an older router you are at risk of becoming of part of a botnet or your data stolen. Or in other cases, manufacturers themselves can sell your data for their benefit. And I'm speaking about trusted brands, not even about shady ones.

The obvious solution would be installing some open source firmware. The most known ones are Tomato, DD-WRT, and OpenWrt.

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Low Power eInk Weather Gadget

Weather Gadget on LilyGO T5s V2.8 Thumbnail

Weather Gadget on LilyGO T5s V2.8

Weather Gadget on LilyGO T5s V2.8

Taking a glance at the weather when leaving your cozy bunker is a very useful thing. It allows you to prepare for the ever-changing conditions and select protective gear according to the situation. You definitely need one!

To achieve that, of course, you can use your portable computing device (aka smartphone). But trust me, it is much more convenient when a nifty screen describing current and predicted weather condition resides on a shelf near the exit airlock. And it much simpler to build one then you might think.

As information is rarely updated, the natural choice for display is e-ink technology. A lot of engineers are using Raspberry Pi to drive it. But even Pi Zero is too much overhead for the simple task of downloading JSON file and presenting it on the screen (and I'm not even speaking about bringing node.js to the equation). It is like using a sixteen wheeler for door-to-door pizza delivery.

Much more suitable for the job is ESP32 system-on-a-chip. Recently I've discovered awesome boards from LilyGO. It has an 2.7" black/white/red e-ink display and wifi/bluetooth. Boards are programmable from Arduino IDE without shady software. Could be powered from literary everything: power bank, battery salvaged from your old mp3 player, LIR2450 coin cell battery... As it refreshes once in an hour you will get months of runtime - so combined with wifi - no wires on your shelf. Also, it has an sd card reader, 4 programmable buttons and pins for the speaker and microphone, in case you want some extra functionality.

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How to create your own web stats in the age of GDPR and Ad Blockers

WebStats CLI

In the days of the Old Web, getting to know your visitors was simple. You just throw some web counter code on the page, wait and see. After some time you would get some insights if your writings are actually read by anyone, or you should move on next project. These days are long over. Nowadays, there are ad blockers, bots, and other stuff. Any popular analytics tool is very inaccurate. And also there are murky GDPR laws.

For example, on this blog counter shows exactly zero visitors per day, Cloudflare Server Side logs shows hundreds of visitors, but the reality is somewhere in the middle.

Recently Cloudflare released their own Client Side Web Analytics. But they called their script beacon.js. Cmmon, scripts named *beacon* are usually first to be ad-blocked.

If you have your own server, you can get real data using GoAccess.

If you host elsewhere, your only option is to roll your own analytics. Because there is a very small chance of your uniq solution being blacklisted by ad blockers. Just be creative!

Let me share a way how to homebrew super-simple analytics for free.

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About Raspberry Pi Laptop I'm building

Raspberry Pi Laptop and other militarish stuff Thumbnail

Raspberry Pi Laptop and other militarish stuff

Raspberry Pi Laptop and other militarish stuff

Let me tell you about that Raspberry Pi Laptop (or Cyberdeck) project I'm working on for quite some time. Let's call it Militarish Pi. At this stage, build took around 6 months (≈10 hours of prototyping, ≈20 hours of searching for the right parts, ≈4350 hours of waiting for parts to arrive). Now waiting for more parts, so before it takes another 6 months I probably need to write something about it.

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Best games for your Retro Gaming Device

What to play on your WaveShare GameHat after you install RetroPie, Lakka or RecallBox? Usually, people search for shady places on the internet where one can download ROM files. But Nintendo will hate you for that, even if you "legally" owned these games on cartridges.

Did you know that there are games for retro console emulation systems that you can enjoy without violating any laws?

  • Of course, you can buy new games (for example "Tanglewood" and "Xeno Crysis") that are developed for vintage platforms.
  • Some games have copyright expired or lost. Check Abandonware. You will be surprised how much popular old-school titles are now free.
  • Ton of games was created by enthusiasts and released for free. Retrobrews tries to keep track of most of them.

So there is a lot of free games. Let me save you a bit of time and recommend a couple of titles, that are actually good.

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Random

Hey Kids, today I'll teach you something useful. If strangers or shady websites ask for your name or email, never give them the real one! Or they spam or phish you later. So open your textbooks shell rc files and type this 3 functions:

  • Use this to get a random name. How about Helen Lovick? Roger Rice? Betty Warren anybody?
  • When BugMeNot is not available. Use random email for registration on random websites. Generate random email in one of Mailinator subdomains and get a link to so you can check it right away. Get a new identity and email in seconds!
  • And of course don't forget to generate strong random password!

Bonus tip:

  • Don't know how to name file/project/branch/file? Out of ideas? Make the name memorable! Use this to get Docker-like aliases: thirsty_mahavira, boring_heisenberg...

Disclaimer:

  • Please only use this for good purposes! Don't try to fool the good guys. Trick only the bad guys!


Browsing web with keyboard

Before Firefox decided to throw away it's main advantage, there was an awesome plugin that allowed to browse the web without mouse — Vimperator. Now it is impossible with current API but there are several extensions12 that try to bring back some of this functionality.

Some very basic keyboard navigation exists in Firefox by default. If you press ' or /, quick find will allow you to search link by text. Then press Enter to navigate - no mouse needed. But because Firefox does not allow to change hotkeys - this feature is pretty annoying, as / is usually reserved for search on many sites.

There was also my favorite uzbl browser (seems abandoned) and Next browser (looks very promising).

For the experiment, me show how to achieve basic keyboard navigation in almost any browser with 3 simple commands!

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