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John Alexander's Blog

105 posts

I admit it ain't too creative but I really wanted to know if the purple flames from my accidental destruction of a Tantalum cap was a fluke.

I saw in Wikipedia that the flame test for tantalum is in deed blue so fancied a go at it and also it was an excuse to do some slow mo on my GoPro Hero 4( only 4x slow down though!). is Christmas after all

Had an email from XMOS yesterday advertising their latest competition.

Rules are simple.. Create a Christmas orientated project using the XMOS device  get it video'd and up on Youtube/Vimeo and  do it before the

19th of December. Short notice I know but if you have already got a project that can be co-opted for the festive period then you may be up for a winner.


Good luck


Here's the instructions on how to enter


Hacking IP cameras

Posted by Problemchild Top Member Nov 12, 2014

Just had a read of this guys post who has some good advice and basic information on hacking those Linux in a can IP cameras which all seem to have the same design I think?


Any way he gets to the serial port on the PCB and uses a USB-Serial adaptor to gain access through what is more of a side door than a back door(let's call it a tradesman's entrance)



Well done blog post deserves to come over to E14...Any way over to him!

Well unfortunately he didn't get down and dirty on the details of his optical table Jason Sapan gives a good feel on how and what a Hologram is and what you can do with them.

You can go to the site and see more they do visits and even internships which sounds  great for those who have the bug to do such a thing.



Either way a nice 13 min "nerd out" hope you'll enjoy .... John


OSCAR Catchup

Posted by Problemchild Top Member Nov 9, 2014

Just thought I would catch up with you all with the OSCAR Display port Board and Panel.


Still not perfect but a lot better. everything lines up at the front:



Rear now gives access to the board to allow you to get to the Controls



The stand is now separate making it easier to get the cables in also this makes the whole thing more flexible in as far as you can now mount it anywhere and now you can assemble one with out the other getting in the way !



No doubt I'll change it again but I'll live with this for a while whilst getting some good ideas on how to improve it ..


Any and all suggestions are always welcome BTW..Cheers

Jim goes into his Electric Bike collection and how he's pimped them up with some interesting mods and exotic chemistry battery packs!



I can't believe it's been nearly 5 years since we were going on about these devices , nice to see they are still going well

OK.. I can't take any kudos for the design as my friend John2 ( )  did this himself with minimum interaction from me.

Any way figured you would like to have a look at work so far!




A few faults that need to be worked on but other wise excellent first effort!

A few months ago on Kickstarter I spotted OSCAR a device which allowed you to put an iPad screen on to a conventional PC with a Displayport adapter.

Rather than some proprietary signalling the iPad panel supports Displayport directly and you could just wire it up to a cable if everything wasn't just so small also there is a small problem of power and control as well.

This is where the OSCAR board comes in it has connectors for the Displayport 12V input and the iPad flat flex connector as well as basic control buttons. The onboard arduino  can be reprogrammed via the micro USB but I think that most will stick with stock functionality.


About a month ago my order from Oscar arrived, it had both the PCB and an iPad panel for £110. I didn't buy the plastics as I wanted to do that my self.


Any way here's my unboxing ..Enjoy!


The quality is amazing BTW .


I'll be doing another video with the case build when I've got round to it ...


The little WIFI device that can is certainly causing a stir amongst those folk including the IOT intelligentsia.




A new SDK has been released as well as a Lubuntu based VM so you don't have to go through the bother of compiling the environment your self

Or risking your desk top.


Now that such devices are available to everybody at a ridiculous £3-$5 I can't wait to see what people produce next with it !

The ESP8266 is an exciting new WIFI device. It's suddenly become so popular because of an influx of cheap (£3) modules been made available on EBAY.

So obviously you have been able to get USB WIFI devices for this price for a while but now they even have all the processing and even some GPIO on board so all you require to access them is a serial port and a few AT commands. This makes WIFI practical for any Arduino/PIC/uC application  that has at least one serial port which is a very low bar indeed!


Any way Just seen a YouTube vid of some guys doing some impressive tests of the range of this device which in free line of site was over 400M!!


Take a Look:


OK I'm ripping off my mate Jim again, sure he won't mind as he really can't be bothered to do the Blog posts


This week he's taken  the nichrome wire out of a toaster and making a couple of nice new toys namely an Acrylic Bender and Hot wire Polystyrene cutter.


Murder a toaster and have fun today !!!

Subscribe to his channel if you like the vid ...Cheers

Ok Just another quick one. My mate Jim has been hacking away building switch gear for his Hydroponic  set up.

Anyway  cheap ebay timers and a nice box to mount them in and some basic mechanical building to make them safe.


Take a look and enjoy


Shropshire Linux User Group(Yeah SLUG!!) had a stand at the local Radio Rally(TDARS) on the 1st.

We had a 3D printer,QSSTV decoding images from our visitor operated "SSTV Selfie Cam" running on a Raspberry Pi and FLDIGI  busily decoding data from the attached radio. Around 1000 visitors came through the doors so we had our work cut out demonstrating and showing all things Linux to the  Radio crowd!


Well a few weeks ago now I actually got down to Wuthering Bytes Open Hardware Meetup @ Hebden Bridge, UK once again.

The meet up was excellent as usual and now extends over 3 days including the Sunday Workshop. Having a single track  over two days made it easier to see all the talks with out compromise. Talks varied from designing space capable rockets to flood warning systems and the future of microprocessors .£10 per day with some food represented excellent value!


Thanks again to the organisers for all your work, I for one are looking for Wuthering Bytes £15


Want to see more videos, there's plenty more here!!

Still with Jim and his Vids around 4 years ago we purchased an old carriage for use as a robot base.

Jim had over a period of a few weeks reverse engineered the control protocol for the attendant pendant which allows for a carer to completely control the chair. That way he was able to robotically control the chair without destroying it in the process the result is PIP.


Watch PIP chase his beloved Apples ......Subscribe if you want to see more