Monday, October 02, 2017

HCS II revisited

In addition to modern 'smart' technology, I collect older computers. Mostly stuff I grew up with, roughly 25+ years or older. I have my original, very modified, Atari 800xl (Omnimon XL and custom 256K upgrade), an Atari 800 I modified with Omnimon, several CoCos (a 2 and a 3) and a whole lot more. So I'm very much into the vintage computers. I also have a collection of several vintage HA systems and one of my first, and favorites, is the Circuit Cellar HCS II. I bought it as a kit, soldered it up and ran it for several years. I actually have all the source code, various tools, libraries and several HCS IIs, BCC180s, an RTC180 and a SpectraSense 2000. Heck, I even have the Jack Ganssle's book on the HCS II's RTOS (The Art of Programming Embedded Systems). In 2001, Steve Ciarcia shared the HCS II source code and Ed Nisley's Comm-links source with the HCS community and it has been preserved here and on the Circuit Cellar's back issues. I even have some of Bob Morrison's early HCS_C boards, though I really don't understand them and I think I lack most of the code for the HCS_C. Between Circuit Cellar, the HCS II Source Forge page and William F. Sotomayo's HCS II pages we have pretty much have everything covered. But good luck trying to make sense of it all. I'm hoping to change that with an update to the HCS II pages on Source Forge (and a local notes page). Yup, I'm kind of putting the project in maintenance mode. It's end of life will be when I can no longer kudge a repair on the system. ☺ That doesn't mean I won't use it, just that most of the softare developed for my home automation will be for integrating the HCS II into my existing systems and possibly taking advantage of the newer technology.

On the HCS II Source Forge page I intend to clean it up and remove a lot of the broken links. On my HCS II Notes pages I hope to put all my notes on how to assemble, compile and rebuild the HCS II, SpectraSense and BCC180 into working systems. It will require some DOS emulation, I'll be using dosbox and dosemu under Linux. I'll try to make sure that part works with FreeDOS. I really doubt there are too many folks using these systems as they're 25 years old and sorely missing some modern amenities. But I have them and it could be an interesting project. And before anyone gets any ideas that it will be strictly retro, I intend to add a few things to make the information accesable via MQTT and possibly a web interface.

Finally, I'm putting up an HCS II Github Page. I will be the Super project for all the other HCS II github projects. I hope this will make it a bit easier to grab what you need and compile/assemble the relvent code (and not the while thing).

Sunday, September 17, 2017

And a Cherry on top ...

Okay, so it's not a great pun to follow up the previous post but lots of things working is a cherry on top (and I being on top of things, is a "Cherry" on top of things ;-). told you it was a bad pun). I have managed to get my exim4 setup working properly to the internet, so I can now properly forward email. I have my crontab backup file and I'm restoring all the cron jobs (need to reconfigure a few things). I've also restored the main printer from the backups (odd I can't find the other printer). Nagios is again monitoring various things around the house (dang I really need to get a bunch of new batteries ... ). So overall I'm a very happy camper. Still need to work on a better backup strategy but I've decided a lot of my projects can be put in git (Github, Gitlab, Atlassian, etc) so I'll save those there. I'm also keeping rync backups to smaller sets of file groups.

I've stared working on the Broadlink-RM3-MQTTBridge.py python script which will listen for raw IR commands from the Broadlink RM3 (the Blackbean) and publish to an MQTT topic. It seems that the raw strings are not exactly the same twice so I need to learn to properly decode those raw strings. Still needs lots of work but the basics are working now and I can update the code as I get a better grasp of the IR protocols. I'll focus on the NEC IR protocol as the main remote I'll be working with is a Tivo remote.