Saturday, 30 November 2013

Gertduino and piface cad

Two little boxes arrived this week, neither have had much time spent on them yet.

The first is made by the maker of the gertboard, a board that can take arduino shields on the raspberry pi as rpi and arduino start working together. Nice idea and price wasn't bad, however lets hope there are more tutorials compared to the lack of them for the gertboard of which mine is a white elephant covered in dust.

Next up was the piface cad shield, a lcd display with rocker switch, 5 buttons and infrared compatability. So the pro a for this, there is support for this, the radio function worked well but could incorporate a volume switch or button. The weather demo worked well too, but the biggest con was it doesn't fit into a case like the adafruit lcd one does and I think the display would have been better if it was a different colour than green with black text (thus another vote for the adafruit one).

But on a plus side its uk made and the makers are always happy to add more coding and examples to their git page and YouTube channel. Certainly see these two items going far with the pi.

Bit coin mining with the pi

I've been running minepeon for a week now with a usb asic 335mbs dongle and in slush's mining pool. In just over a week I have watched bitcoin s go from $700 a coin to over $1200 considering these started out at less than a dollar each a few years ago things have improved greatly, especially since silk row was shutdown where a lot of bitcoins had been traded. With the darknside currently shut down by FBI it means in theory that the bitcoins can now only be spent legally thus increasing their value and the recent price surge on mtgox bitcoin exchange.

So for a weeks work I've made only £2 and probably nothing after I take out electric, but I have a butterflylabs unit coming my way which will increase income by twenty times and therefore make some coin. Yes it be nice to make money from it, but I would like to do this for the longhaul as I see the price increasing much much higher yet.

Stert Street Stream

I was pointed to this cache by the cache owner recently, after a good week of no finders i decided to venture out to it. I had told the cache owner that there was a tunnel somewhere that went under Abingdon as a now retired work colleague told me about his adventures up it as a kid. Soon as the cache owner sent me a picture showing the entrance, I couldnt wait to try it out. So off to Abingdon today, parked in the pay and display by the river that was free today because of some christmas shopping thing going on in town (footloose&frodo decided to go to this instead). Got the kayak up and ready and off to my usual launch spot along here. After battling choppy waters I was soon in the back stretch by the old gaol which still has its look of an old prison. On arriving at the entrance I set about getting my headtorch on and started going up the rather low tunnel, this soon became a bit higher and soon i could go no further. Knowing it couldnt get deeper i decided to leave the wellies and just wear my caching boots which seemed to do the trick apart from my trousers that got soaked when they unrolled. After tying up the boat (luckily I had some paracord in the car which did the trick) i started the walk up the tunnel, finding the old entrance to the old gaol. Completly forgetting about the cache I went on a walk and found various entrances from properties that have been sealed up, wooden beams that had completly rotted away and even the section where the church is above it. It was only a few inches deep along here and walked pass some workman lighting that had been set up here for some bizzare reason, but as soon as i got up to abivale vets the tunnel started to loose height and i decided it was for another day to explore the last section. It was up here that my walkie talkie fell off my backpack and hit the water, now i had no communication down here and no phone signal, but luckily enough after taking it apart once home and drying it out it now works fine. Now it was back to the cache. i had forgotton the hint but knew it was somewhere near pipe three and as I approached it from this way saw it immediatley, hoping that it was a clean log I carefully opened it to find i was in fact the first to find it. I hope the cache owner increases the rating as you will need some specialist equipment and as winter comes and the river gets higher there will be times that you will not be able to get into the entrance unless wearing diving gear, but there will be times of the year that it will practically be bone dry once pass the first pipe. Certainly brought back memories of doing hippos below another 5/5, favourite point out of my rare to give out favourite points given and wouldnt have a problem going back there again. Equipment needed is boat, wellies (or after a lot of rain waders), headtorch, spare torch, spare batteries. floatable device and possibly walkie talkies Thank you to Daniel Glover the cache owner for placing such a wonderful cache, maybe a bigger container could be placed here soon and slightly up rated to 5/5 to cover the specialist equipment and danger involved. ;)

Monday, 25 November 2013

Lots of church micros

Out with frodo today to get marbles cache and some church micros and ended up getting more than we originally planned. A nice mile walk out to marbles made me think how it could do with a night cache up here. From here it was across the downs to get a few church micros including one that had what looked like three plastic crosses in a triangle shape in the church yard, then off to say hello to the horses. There was also a micro on a seat which became a busy point in the middle of nowhere. Now getting low on fuel and needing to pop something off in didcot we got the final one at Ardington thank god me and frodo got these out of the way. Nice but cold day.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Bitcoin mining on the pi

After reading about the recent hike in bitcoin prices, a decentralized banking system, i took the plunge and purchased a bitcoin miner usb. I have also downloaded MinePeon for pi which im in the process of setting up and have also set up a account with Coinbase Donate Bitcoins I know im not going to become a millionaire with this but its an interesting little project which i will blog about as i go on my adventure. Donate Bitcoins

Monday, 18 November 2013

Github woes

I was trying out a friends project the other day and was struggling to download some of the files. Internet couldn't find me the answers but I soon got an email about what to do and this is what I got told to do:

git clone directory/thesubdirectory/
Cd thesubdirectory
git fetch origin Development
git checkout Development
git submodule update --init

Then it worked a treat, hope this helps others out.

The power of twitter

My blog normally gets around 50 hits a day, but recently I advertised via twitter that I had updated my blog around 6pm that evening. Up to this point I had around 30-40 hits, the next 6 hours generated over 900 hits as fellow geocachers and raspberry pi users retweeted my link about my blog.

I'm normally lucky to earn a few pence a day from the advertising on my blog, but this particular day it was a few quid, still nowhere near my activation level to have my money processed, but a step closer and hopefully when I do get it I will be able to buy some more raspberry pi add ons to try and blog about.  So slight hint, like my blog then please click an ad and help support me ;) however many thanks for taking the time to read my blog, gives me more reason to take time out to blog things to it.

Cacheberry pi

I came across a post on twitter about making a car caching gps to warn you if you are close to a cache n dash cache.

I then googled it and tried two different github versions. One being and another by aurock. Each time I could get both a usb GPS and also the adafruit gps working, but the lcd i2c screen? Not a chance. From what I've read there is a lot of slightly different 2x16 led i2c s.  

I've since ordered another i2c and see if that makes any difference, certainly would be good if it works.

Why are us Brits charged so much?

I recently had to pay for my premium geocaching membership renewal, the company wanting £24.99 surely that's a lot just so I can download geocaches to my gps. So I looked up how much if I was American and it was £29.99 .  So I set to work 1.60 dollars to the pound or one dollar worth 60p so I'm sure if you do the maths you see how much more it costs to be a uk member than an American.  However there is more, they charge uk members vat, but don't have a vat number and from the research I've done no offices in the uk. According to uk tax laws this is wrong charging vat to uk members when they are American based with no offices in the uk.

There are many threads on the geocaching site about this but no clear answer to why uk are charged so much compared to American members.

So if your membership is up for renewal have a look around at different currency values I'm sure like me you can save yourself some money too.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Out near high worth

A well stocked cache
Out for a 3-4 mile walk with frodo today, a few drivebys to start with before going onto the walk in near by village of Hampton. The paths started out muddy but over the course became nice to walk.  As with all roobydoo caches they were good size, well stocked and well maintained and a pleasure to do his caches. 

We ended the afternoon with a newish side tracked at shrivenham. A cleverly hidden cache, but soon found I was on private rail track ground after a worker turned up.

Him: what you doing?
Me : having a rest from driving and stretching my legs? Why what you doing?
Him: I work for rail track and I believe you're acting suspicious.
Me: what watching for trains, is it cos I don't have an anorak on?
Him: no its just you don't look like a trains potter and this track to the gate is private rail track land.
Me: I'm sorry but never saw any signs, but heyho I will watch them from my car instead.

Which I did and after a few minutes he went and I got the cache. Looks like I'm afraid to say this one is on private land, but certainly a cleverly hidden cache.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Night cache for my 9600th find

Out tonight with frodo to do a local night cache as it seemed fitting for my 9600th find. The start was well marked with firetacks and each one ahead lit up well with my led lenser head light. I reckon I could have found it in the light with how bright this headlight is but it's not as fun in the day as it is at night when all the animals are out. Made a quick video showing the reflective tacks for those that don't understand it and a photo of firetacks at night. TFTc we enjoyed it, even more so for my 9600th cache find.
See the two reflective bits on the branch?

Bird webcam

It started about a year ago and I never got it running so I went back to it today and did a fresh install installing ffmpeg and motion as instructed by many other sites and blogs.

Sure enough it worked straight away which was good, god knows what I did wrong last time. 

Even through I can use the raspi cam that plugs into the csi on the motherboard, I really wanted to finish this project off and mark it as success.

So with a sweex national geographic hd usb webcam I was able to do this and with a generous lead can place this on our bird tree within and watch the birds close up.  It saves as jpeg pics but with details in my timelapse post with the raspi cam from the summer you can turn the pictures into an excellent timelapse video.

I also have a 8000mah usb battery pack that can charge three iPhones from flat that powers this. The 2amp usb socket is linked to the power in cable and the .2amp into the usb socket once I have set it up as I find occasionally it needs that extra .2 amps to stop it resetting itself.

The battery lasts over 12 hours and a 16gb card is more than adequate for the project. I'm yet to write a small python script that starts up motion on start up like I have done on my raspi cam project but this is early days.


A kickstarter project for an hdmi 9" screen started a few days ago and hit its £55k funding in 50 hours. This is something the raspberry pi has been calling out for since day one, an affordable, transportable screen.

A hype of attention on twitter all day Saturday with tweets and retweets soon brought the goal within reach and beyond. With 28 days still left to go and fu ding now at £68k as of writing this, I firmly believe this could hit the half million mark before its 31 days are up on kickstarter.

If you would want one of these which can also be used with gaming consoles, DVD players, dslr cameras then pop over to kickstarter and look up hdmipi certainly is a worthwhile project with nearly 700 pledges in three days.

Pi noir

Yes the camera was out this week so I purchased one and with the help of phenoptix sourced a little ir light that now has a usb lead attached so it can run from a usb battery pack.  Although you can only get a few metres so fr from the infra red light it is bright and although to the naked eye just glows a dim red, shone it to the camera and its like a flash light.

My next project with it is to get a 48 led ir light from china for a few quid, a 8xaa battery pack to run the ir light and try this on a dry and not so windy night outside in the garden on a time lapse.

Kingston loop

Out with frodo on the 7 mile 21 caches Kingston Loop today placed by opti and t bag two friends of ours. Weather was windy but dry at 10c.  We soon made pace of an average 3mph through out and by the half way mark was having to spread our search as cache containers were just out in the middle of paths and didn't seem to be placed back correctly. We didn't enjoy the short walk along the a415 Witney road, we thought that to be dangerous. The next cache we spent ages at only finding the remains which we signed, photographed and texted the owners that it needed maintenance after finding that ringing only lead to the voicemail. By the time we got to too I was feeling soaked from sweat and light headed, no doubt from lack of fluid and a drop in sugar levels.  We then went over to dry sand ford to do an earth cache a lively area that was once a quarry, but now a nature reserve, some caches here to, but I've done them previously.

Now home in dry clean clothes with some chocolate and sugary hot tea, yum. Thanks for a nice series me and frodo enjoyed.