A 5 1/4″ floppy drive connected with USB?

Yup…that’s a 5 1/4″ Floppy Disk Drive, connected via USB to my computer. This board called a Greaseweazle reads the raw flux transitions from a floppy disk and recreates them as disk drive image files for modern computers. I just found disks full of music, sound files, and BASIC source code that I haven’t heard or seen since 1991, lost deep in formatted-over disks on an obsolete media that was impossible to read. Until now…If you have any IBM-PC formatted 5 1/4″ disks that might have some memories on them, I’m your guy.

Next, I need to work on reading old Apple ][ disks.

Display Systems 19S-8 Vintage Eggcrate Display Clock

There was a reason that CBS and other television networks used these type of displays on game shows when they had bright studio lights to contend with. The light is piercing from these!

Tonight, I got 22 wires soldered on 22 pins to mate with a Molex connector on the back of each display. Both digits are now directly connected up to the relay board. The software I developed can display an arbitrary 2-digit number, and then count up or down from that number until it reaches 00 or 99.

This has been a cool project! I’ll probably try to make a more detailed video in the future on the parts I selected and how all this works together.

Check out how this display worked on “Classic Concentration” hosted by Alex Trebek in the late 1980s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1izUPd87wmw

A relic and mainstay of all classic 80s gameshows…

Initial Test of a Display Systems 19S-8 Vintage Eggcrate Display (Light Bulb Matrix), common to television game shows of the 1970s-1990s.

This is one of two Display Systems 19S-8 eggcrate displays that I purchased from Surplus Sales of Nebraska. I plan to integrate both into a working count up/count down timer powered by a ESP8266 microcontroller module and a couple of relay boards.

This eggcrate display uses a common 28 volt DC power source on one pin. Then, depending on which pin the ground is connected, will light each of one possible digit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0 and $. It’s also possible to display strange characters by connecting multiple grounds between pins.

I plan to use a single 150 watt 12 volt DC power supply to power dual boost controllers that will output the needed 28 volts. The 12 volts is still needed for the relay boards. The ESP8266 module will be connected to a 5 volt DC output from the relay board.

In both displays, I only needed to replace one lamp upon receiving them. The lamp is a common 1820 mini-bayonet style incandescent.

Homemade Solar Tracker

It was a bright, sunny day, so why not build a homemade solar tracker? Solar trackers help solar panels always point at the sun as the sun moves from east to west across the sky. They slightly improve efficiency of panels connected to them.

We took an old “C-band” satellite rotator and controller, and soldered some wires up to the “east” and “west” movement buttons to give us a couple of dry contacts that we could control with electronics. We chose (2) X-10 Universal Modules which momentarily close the dry contacts when a signal for it comes down the powerline (which a computer can control). One module for east, one module for west. The contacts short for about a second and a half with every ON command. Starting at the east-most side, 18 WEST ON commands make it go to the extreme west-most side.

After verifying the modules worked properly, it was then time to start writing code! After calculating the number of possible minutes of sunlight after subtracting the Sunrise time from Sunset time, we took the result and divided by 18 to find out how many minutes between ON commands. It is this interval (45 minutes right now) that the rotator will move west. At the end of the day when the rotator is at its west limit and the sun sets, the rotator will turn all the way back to the east limit to prepare for the next day.

This was a pretty fun project to conceptualize and put in to operation in a single day. The jury is still out on whether or not the extra energy produced will offset running the rotator, especially on non-sunny days.

MisterHouse control for a Samsung Smart TV

UntitledAnother piece of my home, now automated. With assistance from a thread on the Samygo forum, I created a module for the MisterHouse Home Automation System which allows it to control a network-connected Samsung Smart TV. For instance, when you leave the house for more than 10 minutes, it could turn the TV off for you. It could also switch the TV automatically to match your favorite show schedule, or switch to an HDMI input to monitor a surveillance camera if motion is detected on your property. It’s available right here for free:  https://gist.github.com/hollie/ed1fa39871e93e36e24e. It’s written in Perl so it’s cross-platform or can be adapted for other uses.

I’ve tested this with my Samsung UN40EH5300 and it works well. It should work on pretty much any Samsung TV that has an open port 55000. The code is based off of another Perl/HTML program from http://forum.samygo.tv/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=1792 created from some Wireshark traces.

To use this code, you’ll have to modify a few things:

– Change the IP below to your own TV’s IP Address.
– Change $myip to your MisterHouse server’s IP Address.
– Change $mymac to your MisterHouse server’s MAC Address.