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Stewart's Blog

Stewart Watkiss website to the world ...

(Children, computing, first aid and other ramblings ...)

Upgrade to Ubuntu 22.04 – DisplayLink – Firefox with SNAP – performance issues?

May 1st, 2022

This video provides an introduction to Ubuntu 22.04 Jammy Jellyfish.

It has some information about the upgrade process, some fixes that I needed to apply (including Re-installing Display Link drivers) and some of the new features.

I have switched back to X.org instead of Wayland so that I can continue to use Simple Screen Recorder which I used to create my videos.

One of the best new features is the new screenshot tool which is create for taking simple screencaptures, although not so good for creating video screen casts.

The upgrade was successful and I’ve not experienced any major problems with the upgrade or running it so far since.

More Linux Information

For more about Linux, please see my sister channel Penguin Fortress:

Protect your password from hackers

April 29th, 2022

The password is often the key component keeping a system secure.

Users are often told that you need to follow certain rules when creating their passwords which may include using capital letters, numerical digits and sometimes special characters. Rules normally also set a minimum number of characters, which may be as low as 6 (not recommended), more commonly 8 or sometimes 12 or more. But why are those rules in place and do they really make your password more secure?

In this video I look at different techniques that are used to crack a user’s password. This includes guessing simple passwords, using personal information (spidering), dictionary attacks and brute force attacks. The video explains how your choice of password can help protect against these different types of attacks.

For more details see Password Security page at Penguin Fortress.

Pixel Server – updated for new Raspberry Pi OS default username removal

April 17th, 2022

As the Raspberry Pi OS no longer uses the default pi username I’ve had to make some changes to some of my software so that it still works correctly. This video goes through the changes I have made to my Raspberry Pi Pixel Server software so that it works without the default username of pi.

In this case I’ve changed some code and the installation instructions to use the /opt directory instead of using /home/pi. This shouldn’t break any existing installs as it’s only the systemd configuration files that have changed, but means that new installs will not have to make any specific changes to reflect their username.

For more details about the project see Raspberry Pi Pixel Server project page.

More about username security

Also see the video below, which is on my new Penguin Fortress YouTube channel. This goes into more details about how effective (or not) it is to change the default username.

Please take a look at my new Penguin Fortress YouTube channel.

Penguin Fortress – guide to the Raspberry Pi OS username change

April 15th, 2022

I’ve created a new YouTube channel called Penguin Fortress. This is created as an spin-off of my Penguin Tutor channel which will concentrate on IT security / cyber security.

The first video is on the recent Raspberry Pi OS change which means that Raspberry Pi OS no longer requires the default pi username.

The reason that I’ve created this on a different channel is because I’m wanting to create more of a focus on IT security and I don’t want to risk turning away makers who are the prime focus of Penguin Tutor.

I hope to cover user level information, technical details for those looking to defend against hackers and crackers, and high-level strategies for those with management responsibility. I plan to leverage my past experience as an IT security professional, my university studies from my MSc in Computer Science and my current studies preparing for the CISSP certification exams.

Please take a look at my new Penguin Fortress YouTube channel.

Upper Arley Circular Walk – Worcestershire Severn Valley

April 9th, 2022

This route is based around the Upper Arley Circular Walk. This is a Worcestershire way marked route which takes in amazing views of Trimpley Reservoir and spectacular Victoria Bridge which carries the Severn Valley Steam Railway over the River Severn.

Trimpley Reservoir

There are some issues with the way-marked route. I was unable to walk along a section of the route where the stiles have been removed / marked as private and even what appears to be 6 ft high electric fence. This appears to be a section that is marked as a permissive route and is not shown as a footpath on the Ordnance Survey Maps so in this case I believe they were legally entitled to (unlike some of the other routes where farmers appear to have deliberately blocked parts of a public footpath).

To avoid that section if following the route signs, when you reach Arley Lane instead of following the signs to the right, instead turn left walk along the road for a short distance and turn right into Lion Lane. After you pass the Memorial Wood then you will rejoin the route and sign-posts from there.

I have removed that section from my map, but instead added a short walk to Arley Station where, if you are lucky (or have the patience to wait) you can see steam trains passing on the Severn Valley Railway. I originally walked the route in reverse, but as the signs are only in one direction (anti-clockwise) I have reversed the route to show the signs.

Distance: 4.5 miles

Upper Arley Circular Walk
Click the map for a larger version

Circular Walk in the Severn Valley - Victoria Bridge with Diesel preservation train from Severn Valley Railway

Walk over the River Severn, Severn Valley Railway Arley Station

Upper Arley Circular Walk, Path closed and electric fence

The route is also available as a GPX file for handheld sat nav systems.

Wifi on the Raspberry Pi Pico with the Pimoroni Pico Wireless backpack

March 27th, 2022

The one feature that is missing on the Raspberry Pi Pico is networking. Whilst there are some projects that don’t need to connect to a network it vastly increases the usefulness of the Pico.

In earlier videos I’ve shown how you can add networking through pairing with a Raspberry Pi or through using a Arduino Nano RP2040 connect which includes Wi-Fi onboard .

In this video I show how you can use the Pimoroni Pico Wireless to add WiFi to the Raspberry Pi Pico. As well as wireless networking the Pico Wireless also includes an SD card reader, RGB LED and pushbutton.

In the video I show how you can use the Pico Wireless backpack to add Wifi capabilities to the Pico and how it can be programmed using MicroPython. In the examples I show how you can have a web server running on the Pico which can be used to configure the colour of the RGB LED and also how you can use the cheerlights API to set the colour of the RGB LED.

The video also explains about what pins are used on the Raspberry Pi Pico and how you can use the remaining pins using a Pico Omnibus, Breadboard or the minimum pins for designing your own PCB.

Raspberry Pi Pico with Pico Wireless on a Pico Omnibus from Pimoroni

Review of the Pokit pro – smart phone multimeter, oscilloscope and data logger.

March 3rd, 2022

Pokit pro - smart phone multimeter, oscilloscope and data logger

The pokit pro is a nall-in-one multimeter, oscilloscope and data logger. It is a probe which connects to a mobile phone using bluetooth. So no need for bulky screens or to carry a laptop around with you.

This was a Kickstarter from 2019. Originally due to be delivered in 2020 these are a little under 2 years overdue. There has been a global pandemic and some technical issues that had to be resolved and fortunately we were kept updated about the progress.

In this video I go through an unboxing of the pokit pro. I then go through the steps to pair it with a phone (including firmware update) and then some examples of it working. I first use it as a multimeter to measure the voltage of a battery and then connect it to a microbit to monitor a PWM signal using the oscilloscope function.

There are apps available for different mobile phones. The Android app is available from the Google play store and the Apple app from the app store.

All in all I’m very impressed with the product. A useful tool for any maker wanting to debug a simple electronics circuit. It was well worth the wait.

Testing with a MicroBit

In the video I measure the PWM signal from a microbit. Below is the code that I used to provide a variable pwm output based on the in-built buttons.


from microbit import *

pwm_value = 0

while True:
    if button_a.is_pressed():
        pwm_value -= 1
        if (pwm_value < 0):
            pwm_value = 0
        sleep (300)
    elif button_b.is_pressed():
        pwm_value += 1
        if (pwm_value > 9):
            pwm_value = 9
        sleep (300)
    display.show(pwm_value)
    pin0.write_analog(1023/9 * pwm_value)

More information on pokit

See the Pokit pro website for more information.

Screenshots

Here are some screenshots showing some of the features

DC voltage multimeter
pokit displaying DC voltage

Oscilloscope showing PWM with frequency, period, peak-to-peak and duty cycle
pokit displaying PWM with frequency, period, peak-to-peak and duty cycle

Oscilloscope showing PWM with RMS and duty cycle
pokit displaying PWM with RMS and duty cycle

A 10 year adventure with Raspberry Pi

February 27th, 2022

The Raspberry Pi is now 10 years old. It has had a significant impact on my life, defining my hobbies, my study and opening up new volunteering opportunities. I’ve created the video below showing a quick look at the

Getting Started with Raspberry Pi

Pirate Chest Raspberry Pi case

PA Consulting Raspberry Pi Competition

Raspberry Pi Bee Box

Raspberry Pi Magician Robot

PyconUK

Raspberry Pi Haunted House

Environment Monitor (Temperature and Humidity Sensor)

Robot Arm GUI

Pumpkin / Jack-O-Lantern

Soldering headers on the Raspberry Pi Zero

Disco Lights and NeoPixel workshop

Raspberry Pi Factory Tour

The MagPi Magazine

Learn Electronics with Raspberry Pi

Wearable electronics with Pi Zero

STEM Network Challenge

Christmas House with smoke effect, lights and NeoPixel snowman

Pygame Zero for Makers

T-200 robot chassis with tank tracks

Beginning Game Programming with Pygame Zero

Model railway train automation

Meccanum Robot

Raspberry Pi LED matrix

Raspberry Pi Pico Train signal lights

Waterproof case for Arduino RP2040 (uses Raspberry Pi RP2040 microcontroller)

Radio control Pico with I-Bus

Click here for more of my projects

Raspberry Pi OS 64-bit – new official release of the RPi OS with Netflix and Disney+

February 6th, 2022

The Raspberry Pi OS (formally Raspbian) has traditionally been 32-bit. The 64-bit version has been in beta for a year now, but has become and official release. In this video I take a look at Raspberry Pi OS 64-bit official release and how it compares with the 32-bit version.

The 64 bit version of the Raspberry Pi OS has now taken the next step towards becoming the mainstream operating system for the Raspberry Pi.

In this video I’ll explain why this is important, why this has taken so long and whether it’s worth upgrading your existing Raspberry Pi to this new version. The video explains how you can modify the Raspberry Pi OS installed software so that you can still access Netflix and Disney+ directly from the Raspberry Pi OS using the Chromium web browser.

I’ll then show how you can upgrade to the latest version and something you may want to do to ensure it goes smoothly. This involves changes that need to be made to the Chromium browser so that you can view Netflix and Disney+ on the Raspberry Pi.
Raspberry Pi OS 64-bit now works with Netflix and Disney+

The Raspberry Pi OS includes the desktop you see when you power up your Raspberry Pi, but that’s just the graphical interface. The real power of the operating system is under the hood based around the Linux kernel, including the GNU utilities. This is why some call it GNU/Linux, although that doesn’t give credit to the additional components used to provide the desktop environment and all manner of additional software needed to give the full Raspberry Pi OS experience. The Raspberry Pi OS is based on Debian Linux with some additional tweaks specifically for the Raspberry Pi, it was formally known as Raspbian, but the 64 bit version is now downstream from the official Debian rather than being a separate Raspbian.

I only make a brief comparison with the 64-bit Ubuntu for the Raspberry Pi in reference to VNC. I have however already created a video looking at Ubuntu 64-bit OS on the Raspberry Pi

Designing an Outdoor Enclosure for an Arduino RP2040

January 30th, 2022

In this video I explain how I have designed a weatherproof outdoor enclosure for an Arduino RP2040 PCB that I have designed. The PCB provides a wireless Pixel Strip controller to control addressable WS2812B RGB LEDs (NeoPixels). It uses the Arduino Nano RP2040 connect, which is an Arduino board based around the Raspberry Pi RP2040, the same microcontroller as used in the Raspberry Pi Pico.

It is created using a 3D printer, using a combination of PLA (base and top) and TPU flexible filament (gasket). This provides a protective case / enclosure to protect the Arduino from being knocked and against the weather.

The enclosure is designed to be weatherproof rather than fully waterproof. This means it should be safe to use outdoors mounted on a wall, but I wouldn’t recommend using it under water or cleaning it with a power washer.

Wireless Arduino RP2040 Pixel Server

This is used with my Arduino Pixel Server Project. The project page includes information on how to control the WS281x LEDs using the Arduino RP2040, how I created the PCB with a voltage level-shifter and how to program the webserver to control the LED sequence displayed.

Base and Lid

FreeCAD design of waterproof Arduino RP2040 enclosure

The base is created using standard PLA material. It includes slots for mounting on an exterior wall. It includes a grommet for the cable entry. The PCB is mounted using self-tapping screws.

There are nut holes recessed into the base to hold the nuts in place. This may allow the lid to be removed without removing the enclosure from the wall.

Waterproof case for Arduino Nano RP2040 with electronics PCB

The lid is also created in FreeCAD and printed in PLA. It has holes for M4 screws with a countersink for hex screw heads and a washer.

Lid for waterproof Arduino Nano RP2040 case. Protect PCB and electronics from the weather.

Gasket

Between the enclosure base and the lid is a gasket. This is 3D printed using flexible filament. I tried with a very soft filament but the printer would not extrude using that. Instead I used a semi-flexible TPU filament from 3D PrintZ which worked really well.

The gasket goes 1mm into the base and the lid and then has an additional 0.5mm to create a seal. When under compression (through the lid screws) then this should provide a good water tight seal.

The gasket is shown in white in the above photos.

I used the following settings for printing the TPU:
Wall thickness 1.00 mm (higher for normal)
Top & bottom thickness 0.8mm
Infill density 10%
Print speed 20mm/s
Retraction off

Testing

I tested the enclosure in the shower. I placed the enclosure it in the same orientation as it will be mounted outdoors (with the grommet downwards) and there was no sign of any water entering the case.

Parts required

4 x M2.6×6 self tapping screws
4 x M2.5 nylon washers (2.5x5x1)
4 x 50mm M3 screws with socket head
4 x M3 nuts
4 x M3 nylon washers (3x6x1)
1/2″ grommet
PLA for base and lid
TPU (flexible filament) for waterproof gasket

Summary

This appears to work well at ensuring that no water is able to enter the enclosure. This is just one way of making an enclosure weather / water proof and I’d be interested in hearing of how other people have designed weatherproof enclosures with a 3D printer. Please leave a comment on the Weatherproof Arduino Enclosure YouTube video.

Download the FreeCAD file

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UK days out, children and holiday information is also available on the Days Out Diary web site
Linux, LPI and the Quiz / Test Program posts are also available on the Penguin Tutor website
First Aid Information, first aid games and first aid practice test / quiz entries are also available on the First Aid Quiz Web site