Cleaned the Garage out

I spent a week vacation and cleaned out the Garage. It’s not totally cleaned out but a lot has been done. It would of been totally cleaned and A/C vents installed but I had to turn my Formal Dining Room into another Bedroom. Yep had to frame and drywall and it looks god awful.

I was going to wait for the old tax return to install the A/C vents but Uncle Sam decided to change my $4,000.00 return into $850.00. So I get another hot spring and summer in the heat. At least my Grand Daughter has her own room so I can’t complain too much.

Before I cleaned up the place I did a little CAD drawing to layout the big stuff in the Garage. The program I used was Sweet Home 3D.

It’s not totally to spec but close enough.I think the garage is bigger by a few feet. I also really like that CAD software.

I plan to finish the Garage cleanup next weekend.

Control Panel 2.0 – For the Rack

So I have been putting together a panel for the rack that has a bunch of LEDs and Monetary toggle switches. I also have a Raspberry Pi Zero-W mounted to it as well.

The purpose for the Control Panel is to of course control stuff in the Garage from turning ON/OFF stuff such as Test Equipment, Lights and even Power Tools. I am even thinking to add a couple of Rotary dials to control the Volume to the AV System I have out here as well.

All of this is mounted on a 4U blank plate so I have plenty of room for expansion. So far I have twenty switches and LEDs. I also just finished a eight Relay Board but the Relays are for 12 volt use. To make it work with 5 volts I decided to use a ULN2003 Transistor Array to have it switch a 5 volt trigger to switch 12 volts. This will only let me control seven of the eight relays but I plan to use the 8th relay as a Keyswitch Control for the power for the control panel.

To power it I will use a 5 volt power supply and a boost converter to get the 12 Volts for switching the Relays. For the Software I plan to use Room-Assistant and some custom scripts. The I/O is filling up quickly so I might have to toss in a NodeMCU or some GPIO expanders.

I’ll take pictures as I progress more on this. At the moment I am waiting on parts for the Coffee Table project.

IP Camera Systems and Storage

This covers pretty much all IP based CCTV systems. There is a lot of misleading from what I have seen on YouTube. I attend to watch Security Camera reviews and in the comments I see a lot of people asking about SD Cards and storage so this is to clear things up.

This really depends on the Camera. Higher the megapixels, frame rate recording, Analytics and how it’s deployed impacts storage.

SD Cards
Most Cameras cap off at 128GB or 256GB for SD Card storage. They are not meant to be used as primary use for recording. They are used as redundant storage and sometimes used for any analytics the Camera uses. They wear out kinda fast too. A SD Card can only be written onto so many times before it gives up. For a example when I did my house I did the SD Card route and they lasted six months before I got a NVR. I swapped out the SD Cards to be used as a redundant storage solution. It doesn’t matter if you use H.265, dial down the FPS and change the video quality to save space. If anything you’ll gain a day of record time but the SD Card will still wear out. Not to mention you’ll only get anywhere from 1 day to 5 days of record time before it writes over it. This is also why you don’t see a NVR using a SSD, they wear out also.

NAS (Network Attached Storage)
These work fine but you need to use drives that are labeled for CCTV use. You have to remember a Camera is always rolling 24/7 and it is writing to that drive or drives.

NVR (Network Video Recorder)
Avoid buying a NVR that doesn’t come with a hard drive. Few reasons, you’ll be spending the “savings” for a CCTV style hard drive. You’ll have warranty issues. I’ve heard of Amcrest not honoring warranty because a person used a cheap hard drive. Try and match the NVR to the Cameras. So for a example you want Reolink Cameras then get a Reolink NVR as well. You can mix up different Cameras with different NVRs but it’s not simple plug and play most of the time and you need to make sure the NVR and Camera both support ONVIF.

Smart Coffee Table – LED Array

I kinda screwed up a bit on selecting the LEDs. I bought a bunch of WS2812B LEDs that come populated on tiny round PCBs that have solder pads on the bottom. The point of this was to have very minimum soldering.

Besides that little mess up I put together a schematic for the Array. Each Array will have twelve LEDs with two touch sensors. Each sensor controlling six LEDs. Everything is SMD except for the main filter cap and some headers.

A sample circuit board sample. If I was to have some boards made they would have black solder mask.

Do not trust the Autoroute!

Just for the example I used the Autoroute feature that of course screwed up the power rails putting the 0.1uF caps randomly on the rails instead to where they need to go. A matter of fact I should tie the ground side of those caps to the CONTROL pins.

Much better!

How the circuit works is kinda simple. The LED Array is connected to the main board and Power Supply from H1. While a WLED scene is running and when the touch sensor activated the circuit completes by moving the CONTROL pin to an active low IE Ground and the LEDs will light up. The only way I was able to get this to work right is adding a Hex Inverter from the TTP223 signal Q pin to the ground pin of the WS2812B LED. If I didn’t use the Hex Inverter the LEDs would be constantly on and when the sensor is triggered it turns the lights off. If I forced the touch sensor to toggle the other way around the LEDs would still be on but dim. If I tried to control the VCC with the sensor the LED would still be on but very dim, not to mention a lot of current would go through the sensor when it would be activated. I also tried using MOSFETs and Transistors with just failure after failure.

Smart Coffee Table – gathering parts

So last night for giggles I built a six LED array and hooked it up. I ran into a few issues and this is why you need to read up on the documentation before hand. The Data line was freaking out so I tossed in the recommended 470ohm resistor and it fixed that. Then the LEDs had a slight flicker and adding a 2200uF cap cleaned that up.

I ordered 200 more WS2812 LEDs and went hunting in the horde of parts and found a Meanwell LRS-100-5 power supply, a sheet of Masonite, One way mirror film and I do have a broken 50inch TV I haven’t taken to the dump yet. Wonder if I could use the LCD as a diffuser or play with the lens sheets to spread out the light some.

For the table itself I do have two Coffee Tables in the Garage that have turned into “catch-alls”. One is made from real wood and the other is made from particle board. I’m honestly a n00b when it comes to wood working. I can do it but I don’t have the proper tooling to make it look good. Then again I can just build one from 2x4s and plywood. That way wood filler and paint can hide my mistakes.

Smart Coffee Table – Breadboard

I loaded up WLED to a NodeMCU and configured it to work with a single WS2812b LED and then started to figure out getting the Touch Sensor to work with it.

The MOSFET idea let me down. When the Touch Sensor was activated it would make the LED super bright and when not activated it made it dim. The Touch Sensor has little pads to make it work HIGH or LOW but my solder has too much flux and couldn’t bridge the pads so I tossed in a 74HCT04 Hex Inverter into the mix.

At idle it consumes around 114mA and when triggered it lowers to 104mA. The whole thing runs at 5V so I dona’t have to worry about additional voltage rails. The 74HCT125 is acting as a Level Shift for the NodeMCU. I need to figure out a way to add a delay but I doubt I will need it.

Here is a snippet of the progress.

2021 review for Camera Systems

Yes it’s 2022 but I gave the whole year of 2021 a chance to test and review Camera systems.

Dahua/Amcrest
Total garbage honestly. The way they newer Cameras mount are not very secure and you have to mount them on a very flat surface. The Dahua DMSS app works half of the time. Hard drives constantly screw up out of nowhere. If you call up Dahua they always say “We never got complaints like that before” or “We will pass it onto our engineers”.

Hikvision
The Hik-Connect app isn’t on the Google Play store so you either have to fight the customer’s phone to use third party software since you can download the Hik-Connect app from Hikvision’s App Store. However you can use apps such as HiLookVision and Alert360 Video that is Hik-Connect but a OEM version that has a different name. The IP Cameras they offer are totally fine but if you have to adopt say a DB-1 Video Doorbell you will have to fight it. I found it best to put the phone into Airplane mode, turn WiFi back on then program/adopt it in.

Honeywell
I honestly haven’t been able to play with Honeywell Cameras but the Honeywell branded Skybell is garbage as well. They drop off WiFi very easily and the cloud it uses is super slow. The number one complaint I hear is when they get a notification when some one rang the door bell and when they answer the person isn’t there. If they go on the playback the person is there. In other words by time the customer gets notified the caller has left. Anywhere from three to ten minutes. The two-way audio is terrible as well. For some reason the Alarm.com branded Skybell works a lot better and has gotten me to realize it’s the cloud service.

Reolink
This is still the best bang for the buck. However programming the Cameras to be used on a different brand NVR is a pain. You have to connect the Camera directly to a network either with a PoE injector or a 12volt power source. Create a Admin password and download any updates then you have to plug it into the NVR and adopt it in for ONVIF. Keep in mind you only have to do it once, after it’s been registered to Reolink it will work just fine.

Sadly those are the only brands I have gotten to play with during 2021. Don’t take this with a grain of salt. I dealt with all of these brands almost everyday. So if you’re in the market for a new Camera system and if you’re a DIYer then go with Reolink. If you’re looking for a professional to supply the equipment and install it for you then go with Hikvision.

Smart Coffee Table – Idea

Ever seen one of those nifty motion reactive coffee tables? They have LEDs in the table top and when something moves over it or even sits on it the LEDs turn on. It looks pretty cool and futuristic.

Anyway, if you look at on how to build one it’s honestly a bit much for something so simple. So I went on a quest to find an easier way to do it so you don’t have to send hours of soldering and end up with a cable nightmare.

The setup is simple with addressable LEDs such as the WS2811, WS2812 and the SK6812 varieties. There is also a open source project called WLED that uses a ESP8266 or ESP32 Micro Controller to control them. Best of all it works in Home Assistant.

Now how to control the lights for Motion or when something sits onto the table surface? A PIR sensor wouldn’t work too well and the IR LED trick deals with too much soldering. How about a TTP223 Touch Sensor? Sure!

The TTP223 is switch. Requires power and you can have it send a HIGH or LOW signal. Works with 3.3v and 5v. If you use the whole sensor breakout board you can increase the sensitivity by removing some of the soldermask and attach a wire. This way you can have the board sit much lower out of sight and have a little whisker of a wire near the glass top of the table. But how do I include this into the micro controller? Simple, have WLED run a constant scene say a twinkle or something and have the touch switch control either the ground or positive rail. Could also add a capacitor to add a delay when the switch disconnects the circuit. I haven’t breadboarded this up yet to test it. I only thought about this and it seems solid enough to work.

If anyone wants to try

For this to work however you can’t just have one touch sensor. You have to create a array basically and have a touch sensor interact with multiple LED segments. I would think four to six segments at a time or more depending how close or far away you have the LEDs to each other. An option for having little modules plug into each other like Legos is an idea and would have a nice clean look. Another option depending if LED strips are used a single PCB to hold the controller and have a bunch of the touch sensors glued to a substrate and use jumper wires.

For myself and as a cheap option and since I have most of the parts on hand I plan to do point to point and use bus bars for power and wire for the signals. Have the glass top tinted with a one way mirror film and it would look amazing. A simple box with legs made from Pine and painted would do just fine.

Gigabyte GTX 1080 D5X 8G renewal – Complete

The Silicone Thermal pads showed up and I went to work. I had already taken the whole card apart and cleaned all of the dust out. I didn’t get any pictures of it but to give you an idea here is what the inside of the power supply looks like.

One dirty SOB

Here is what it looked like with the old thermal pads and grease.

Here is with the new thermal pads and some Arctic Silver 5 grease.

I ordered a assortment pack of the pads that came in different thicknesses. On the rear plate I had to double up on the pads and the top under the cooler I used the super thin ones for the RAM and the medium thickness pads for the power side. The idea is to have the part push into the pad, not crush it because you’ll either end up hurting the components or cause the pad to tear through and create a hot spot.

Gigabyte GTX 1080 D5X 8G renewal

My Son decided to build a new computer for himself and he gave me his old GPU and Power Supply. I was told it was a NVIDIA 1080 TI but it’s not. Still the GTX 1080 packs a punch todays standards, at least for me since I am currently sporting a Radeon RX 550.

Anyway, my Son didn’t take care of his computer and was filled with a bunch of dust. So much I had to take the card completely apart. I went as far as opening up the fans and oiled them up. Sadly I can’t use the card yet because when I took the heatsink off it tore apart the Silicone Thermal pads so I had to order new ones.

I just hope this card still works. I find it kinda odd my Son gave it to me before even buying a new computer and he lives and breathes on the computer.

When the Thermal pads show up I’ll take before and after pictures.