Archive for Mugwug

HDMI to Composite Converter

Our recent CCTV DVR upgrade had a hitch, I misread the spec sheet when ordering the device and “assumed” that it had a composite output. When it arrived I discovered that the only video outputs on this DVR were VGA and HDMI.

While not a deal breaker, this makes it difficult to push the signal out onto the home CATV system. After some research I decided to buy a View HD HDMI to Composite converter. The reviews (both on amazon and youtube) were positive.

View HD HDMI to Composite converter

It was simple to set up, and appears to work flawlessly – no distortion on the video and no issues I can find. Well worth the money at approximately $60.

CCTV to CATV – An overview

We have always had our CCTV system fed into our cable so that regardless what room of the house you are in you can simply turn to a specific channel and see what the cameras see.

This is accomplished by taking the composite video signal from the CCTV DVR (usually a quad screen split or some such), feeding it through an agile modulator (a device that converts a signal from a composite source into a designated frequency specific to a cable television channel) which is then combined into the CATV line for the house (a notch filter is used to block a specific channel range so there is no interference on the channel used by the modulator).

CATV distribution system

1 – CATV feed from cable company.
2 – Signal is split – one line goes to cable modem to minimize drop loss.
3 – Cable signal is fed through a ‘notch filter’ which eliminates a specific cable band (channels 72-78 are deleted).
4 – Cable signal and CCTV modulated feed (set on channel 75) is combined, then fed to various locations.

Hey presto, your cameras are now easily accessible from anywhere in the house and you can check what goes ‘bump’ in the night by simply changing channels.

1972 CB350 – Ride Report

With a shiny new licence plate attached I could not resist the opportunity to take her for a ride around the block, followed by a few more laps.

Initial impressions are positive – the clutch problem has mostly worked itself out, if still a bit bumpy while letting it out in first (adjustment required).

The bike has some pep, feels light and nimble and was quite pleasant to ride. It’s noisy as hell compared to the Bonneville, an while I am not a fan of loud pipes I’ll admit that there is a nice throaty rumble to these ones.

Am looking forward to a real ride, but this has been a treat after 2 years of wrenching.

’72 Honda CB350 – Street Legal

778 Days.

When I started down this path the thought was that a project like this would give me a better understanding of how motorcycles work, give me some more confidence when wrenching on bikes I own and be a little fun into the bargain.

As such I’d justified the cost of this project as “tuition” rather than just a restoration/renewal.

1972 Honda CB350 K4

It’s been a long road but attaching the plates to the bike feels like a shift from “project” to “motorcycle” for the bike, and a step down the road from “motorcycle rider” to “motorcycle owner” for me.

’72 CB350 – Clutch Problems?

So – The bike is now running on both cylinders (a little fine tuning still required) I happily went to install the new chain and two things immediately became apparent.

1. The chain I ordered (530-93) is too short, leaving a full inch gap. New chain ordered 35 seconds later.

2. The clutch doesn’t seem to do anything.

I found #2 momentarily disturbing, but conventional wisdom on the old bike forum was to bump around on the new bike and let the clutch plates shake loose. I did, and they did.

1972 Honda CB350 K4

The CB350 is now insured, and merely awaits its safety inspection before I can plate it and give it a try running around the neighborhood properly.

1972 Honda CB350 K4

She does look pretty nifty in the photos, but up close her scars are visible. Can’t help but feel I have some more asthetic work to do when this administrivia is finished.

Media Player – MyGica (XBMC)

I have still not found a media player that is more reliable or robust than our Boxee Box(s), but I’ll admit that obsolete technology doesn’t exactly inspire confidence and I’ve started looking around for the next media player we’ll adopt.

Recommended to me was the MyGica ATV520E media player. This is an android based box running XBMC, which seems to offer all the bells and whistles we’ve come to expect from Boxee – initial impressions were positive.

MyGica ATV520E Media Player

The Box: This is an android system set up to run XBMC Frodo. The usual bells and whistles are present, and with a google account the play store awaits.

I had zero interest in this except for installing some VPN and autostart apps so XBMC would start immediately.

Media stuffs: XBMC is pretty robust, and this system seems to offer all sorts of options for customizing the way your media is presented. There were some false starts here, and I had to restore everything to factory defaults once or twice before I got things right.

The interface still lags a bit when scrolling through options, and this may be the box itself or just that I’ve selected a skin with too much overhead.

It works, but I still prefer Boxee.

Home Automation Integration: XBMC allows the display of network messages (like the Boxee) from our Home Automation system, so I just have to configure the HA system to send the messages formatted correctly.

luup.inet.wget("http://user:pass@IPAddress:Port/jsonrpc?request={%22jsonrpc%22:%222.0%22,%22method%22:%22GUI.ShowNotification%22,%22params%22:{%22title%22:%22Motion%22,%22message%22:%22Front%20Porch%22},%22id%22:1}")

Works just fine.

..in the end: MyGica still doesn’t seem to run as smoothly as the Boxee, but allows us much of the same functionality. Maybe I just need to buy an android media player with a faster processor and more memory.

I’ll continue to monkey around with this system, and see if it doesn’t grow on me.

’72 Honda CB350 – 2015

It’s been just over two years since the CB350 came home with me. It’s been an education, and as the weather has improved to the point where I can spend more than 15 minutes at a time in my garage I thought I’d try and start the bike.

It’s a bit smokey, it’s only firing on the one cylinder, but it’s a definite start.

Let’s see if we can’t get her on the road this year.

Stopping Robo-calls

Over the last few months we’ve seen an increase in recorded telemarketing calls, nightly fax machine calls and as we normally received between “few” and “bugger all” calls on a weekly basis this started driving me a little nuts.

I was being continually bothered by robots on the phone. The solution seemed simple, get my own robot to counter their robots!

Based on reading I had done on a forum I frequent I set up an IVR (Interactive voice response) on our home phone that prompts callers to press ‘2’ if they are a human, any other number pressed or 20 seconds of inactivity results in the special information tone indicating a disconnected line being played, followed by the call being disconnected.

This was surprisingly easy to set up using the options available from our VoIP provider (VoIP.ms).

Voip.ms

A whitelist allows known numbers to automatically bypass the IVR altogether (although with shift work and all that whitelist is rather small).

It was immediately effective at screening the annoying robo-calls, and thanks (I’m guessing) to the tone played our number appears to be slowly being removed from the robo-callers databases (or at least we’ve seen a substantial decrease in these calls).

This was so effective that when I started receiving these same calls on my cellphone I set up Tasker to automatically forward my cell to our home number whenever I was home (more on that later).

I can, if I so desire, happily peruse the call logs through VoIP.ms and see how many calls we’ve been missing, and although robo-calls cost me approximately $0.005 each I can confidently say that I would pay much more than one half of a cent to not have to deal with these calls.

Eyez-on Envisalink EVL-3

I purchased a DSC TL-150 card for my alarm system ages back. It is designed to allow IP monitoring of an alarm system, and as an added bonus allows local (or remote) access to the system via http or through smart phone apps. It was this last item, the remote arm/disarm feature that appealed most to me.

When I began monkeying with Home Automation I learned that the company the manufactures the TL-150 for DSC also makes the EVL3 card for Envisalink. This card is functionally the same as the TL-150 card, but is tailored towards the Eyez-On self monitoring service.

Eyez-On offers a free internet gateway to interact with the EVL3 card and your connected DSC or Ademco system, including network supervision and text message/email notification of alarms.

Eyez-On also offers ULC listed alarm monitoring at the most economical price I have yet to find ($8.99/mo, $8.50 a month if you’re prepared to prepay two years at a time) through their Envisalarm service.
» Read more..