Monday, August 31, 2020

Playing with new (virtual) toys

 Over the last weekend, I spun up a few virtual servers and installed some toys.

First, there is osTicket.  It's a helpdesk ticketing system to replace my old one.  The old one was RT by Best Practical.  It was running on Ubuntu 14.04, and I could not get the OS to upgrade without breaking anything, so I left it alone for quite a long time, as it worked.  

Well, osTicket has replaced it.  It's got a more friendly UI, and still does everything I require from a ticket tracking system for the family.  It's running on Ubuntu 20.04, and should not be a problem to migrate to a newer OS if the in-place upgrade should fail like it did with RT.

Second, I installed Zabbix.  It's nice to have real-time data on my server and network infrastructure.  Initially, I only really wanted it to track the availability of my Minecraft servers, but the thing is so insanely useful that I have started putting other servers in it.  I've got 20 put in, which puts me near the half-way mark.  I like that it reports on more than just service availability.  I've already seen alerts for high CPU use, high memory use, and it's even reported that one of my DNS servers is running low on drive space - which I still need to correct.

Third, I've build an Ansible system.  With all the servers I have to manage, going from one to the next to install patches and updates was getting too time consuming.  With Ansible, I should be able to write playbooks to update everything with a single command from me - and so much more.

Last, I set up on OpenVAS box.  I'll use it to to vulnerability scans on the network, and hopefully be able to be a bit more proactive about keeping things secure.  I've used OpenVAS in the past, and am quite familiar with vulnerability scanners as part of my career, so this isn't really that exciting.

So, that's how I have spent this last weekend.  Now, I get to go to YouTube university and find how to make the most of my new toys.  

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Adding another hobby to my list of hobbies.

I've decided to try and learn to play the guitar.

I was hanging out with a couple of my work buddies, and one of them, who I have known for the last 15 or so years said 'You remember when you used to bring your Guitar Hero into the office and we would jam?  I miss that, can we get together and play again?'  So, I dug out the game and the controllers, and we jammed.  Then, I remembered that last time I played the game, I told myself that rather then get back into the plastic guitar, I was going to learn to play a real one.  So, It's time.

I went and picked up a cheap guitar from Amazon.  Nothing fancy, just a simple 6 string electric, and some accessories.  Between the guitar, cables, picks, strap, and stand, I'm in about $100.

My goal is to be able to play at least one song well enough that it can be recognized, and to do so within 60 days.

I've purchased Rocksmith on Steam to assist me in learning, and will augment that with GarageBand.

The guitar arrived today, about half an hour after I got off work, and I have played for about an hour and a half already.  My fingers are so sore it hurts to type. 

I'll do my best to keep this blog updated on my progress.  Also, I think I'm going to do some progress videos.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Bought a house.

The Cat and I just bought a house.  Signed all the appropriate paperwork yesterday.

We're pretty excited.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Bottle cap sign.

So, I completed my WiFi enabled, LED back lit bottle cap sign.

The code is currently really ugly.  I'm going to clean it up and then I'll post it here.

On the Home Assistant side, I simply added this code into my 'switch' section of the configuration.yaml file:

  - platform: mqtt
    name: "Beer Sign"
    state_topic: "home/beersign/setpowerpub"
    command_topic: "home/beersign/setpower"
    payload_on: "ON"
    payload_off: "OFF"
    optimistic: false
It works really well, and I am quite pleased with the outcome.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Quick projects update.

Quick projects update:

The Home Assistant home automation setup is working quite well.  I have it communicating with a couple z wave devices, and a half dozen arduous and whatnot.

The bedside table lamp prototype was mostly successful.  The code and the electronics are good, I just need to attach the LEDs to a more rigid structure.  Something that can help dissipate the heat.  Aside from that, it shows as a switch in my HA,and I can use it in automations.

The prototype for the holiday lights was also successful.  I am using an ESP8266 to control a string of LEDs.  The color can be controlled per led, which allows for some interesting animations.  It's entirely functional, so now it is time to scale up to the real thing.

The prototype for the automatic plant watering system is coming along nicely.  It is currently running on an Uno with an Ethernet shield, because I'm out of 8266's. It has a soil humidity sensor and an LED at the moment.  The soil probe reports back to the HA server with the moisture data, and if it falls below a certain threshold, the server sends the message to turn the water on, and the LED on the arduino comes on.  Once the 'wet' threshold is reached, the water turns off.  I still have not settled on how I"m going to deal with the water.  I was going to use a pump, but I think I might just connect to the house water supply, and have the water turned off via solenoid.  Either way, Instead of just an LED, I'll probably have to drive a MOSFET, or a relay, or something.

Anyway, that's where I am with all that.

Videos will be coming soon.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The GIANT pack! 1KW (nearly)

This is a giant.  108 individual cells, with a capacity averaging 2500 mAh per cell, in a 3s36p configuration.  That's 90,000 mAh at 11.1v nominal.  999,000 Wh, by the numbers.

Yeah, that's what one KW of electricity looks like, in a package you can hold.
That's it with the traditional duct tape and cardboard motif.

Here's a shot with the 2 previous iterations:
Shown with my 20 port USB adapter.

Here's the smallest of the 3 before the cardboard and duct tape.  Was made from 18650 cells with mAh ranges from 1400 to 1900.  Is a 3s8p configuration.  The tabbing was welded onto the cells with the spot welder I made previously.

This is the mid-sized battery, minus the c&d.  Was made from cells ranging from 1900 to 2400, IIRC.  It's also 3s, this time 10p.
Unfortunately, I don't have good shots of the GIANT pack without c&d.  By the math, it should take 90 hours to discharge it at 1A, and 18 hours to charge it back up at 5A.  Give or take.

Once I have the time to devote, I'll do a complete charge discharge cycle.  We'll see what the meter says.  I hope it goes high enough.  I have an odd feeling that it caps out at 20Ah.

We're heading off for a 5 day camping trip, and I'm hoping that this giant can keep the party rocking the entire time.

Now I need a 20A solar charging solution for it.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Magic Mirror build

When I started on this project, I intended to have a tablet PC behind a 2 way mirror.  After mocking it up, I realized that it would be too small.

I just happened to have a 22" IPS display handy and the size was right, so I took the screen out of the plastic housing and measured that for a mirror and a frame.

I ordered the mirror from a place called TAP plastics.

I then cut pieces for a frame that would hold all the electronics and the mirror.

I used 1"x3" pine for the box that holds the screen and whatnot, and 1/2"x3" pine for the facings.
Cutting by hand is tough work.
Frame construction finished.  22.5" tall, 16" wide. 

I used glue and countersunk brads to hold the facings to the box.

The corners weren't perfect. 

So I filled them with sanding putty.

The Raspberry Pi 2 that runs the software for the magic mirror.  It's mounted on a 3d printed holder.  The blue, yellow and green wires at the top go to a thermal motion sensor, and tells the screen when to go in and out of low-power mode.  Also, if you look really close, you might see 2 air holes drilled into the box above the pi. There are more on the bottom of the box, for air circulation.
 Bit of a bodge for the power adapter.  Hot glue is fantastic stuff.
 All the parts installed. You can see the circuit board for the motion sensor at the top.  I got a 25 foot extension cord and cut the end off, splicing it into the power supply for the Pi, and a plug for the monitor.

It verks!  The software I went with is called Magic Mirror 2.  There many add-on modules.  Loads more have been added since I built this mirror, and add functions that will be interesting to play with.