Friday, March 31, 2017

TCF 2017 Presentation went okay, I guess ...

I again did my Trenton Computer Festival (TCF) HA Presentation (2017-03-18) and I again stayed up until 3AM the night before fiddling with it. This time it was mostly for the better. At the end of the presentation I was able to start to demo the actual working Sonoff Basic and 4CH. Unfortunately, during the presentation, the WiFi router didn't cooperate and I ran out of time, so the partial demo was brief. I figured out all the issues the following day at IXR and found out I wouldn't have figured it all out during the presentation. Many people have told me it was a still a good presentation. It was just not what I intended, oh well.

Now, the night before, I built everything to work with a Raspberry Pi 3, the TP-Link 703N (nice device), the Sonoff BASIC and the Sonoff 4CH. I set the Sonoff devices up with the arendst/Sonoff-Tasmota Arduino firmware, found on Github. Then setup the router to feed DHCP to all the devices. I hard-coded the device's IP to their MAC addresses and even rebooted everything to make sure it worked. What I didn't count on was my router restarting the next day and not keeping the hard-coded addresses. It was important that I demonstrate the use of DHCP and wireless to show ease of use. But at the same time I needed easy to remember (hardcoded) IPs to run scripts for the demo. Also it seems I left out screen shots of some of the Arduino code, the compile and upload screen shots (grr). Then there wasn't even time for first start up of the Sonoff devices. Showing how easy it was to configure it the first time and then updating its information to the MQTT. Of course I'll do this all again next year but in the mean time I think I'm going to turn this into a set of classes that I can present at IXR.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Retro computers

I started with computers in 1978 when we had a teletype in our high school and it accessed the mainframe in Princeton. We really didn't learn too much about computers but we were introduced and I got the bug. In College, the engineering departments used the Unix machines on the PDP11 (BASIC) and on a SBC 8085 (assembly language). I helped start the college's PC support and repair center. We supported IBM PC and Apple IIs. For my first computer, I purchased an Atari 800xl so I had a lot of background in different systems. And I spent a lot of time in the library (the internet before the internet) reading every computer magazine and book I could get my hands on. My first job I worked for an engineer firm and I learned about Microware OS9 (LI and LII), Flex and embedded computers. My next job, I worked network support and learned about a lot more computers (PCs, Unix and Mainframes).

So jump forward to the present. I've collected a lot of computers and I've given most to VCF at InfoAge in Wall, NJ. Now I've got a few more that I'm going to mix modern parts with the vintage to allow these machines continue to run. I've taken a liking to the Raspberry Pi W and Linux as the intermediary for the other computers. The older parts are getting harder to find, like floppies. I have plans to give at least one OS9 computer to VCF. OS9 is a multiuser, multiprocess, Unix like OS for the 6809 (and 68K). The good news is that I can get a connection to a Linux server instead of disk drives. I think I've found a way to do the same with my Atari ATR8000 with CPM, and I know I can do the same with the Atari 8 bit computers. I intend to share this with VCF so we can keep more systems running. I want folks to see and play with these computers. It will be a few months before I can get that far but I'll add it to the work pile.