HomePi – Raspberry Pi Lego House

Posted by beakersoft | Posted in Hardware | Posted on 25-03-2013


One of the amazing things about the Raspberry Pi micro computer (apart from its price) is its ability to interface with other hardware. It opens up so many possibilities that used to be quite expensive and difficult to implement . As interfacing a pc directly with hardware is not something I have ever done before, I’ve come up with a project to learn some of the basics, I call it HomePi

The idea is to house a Raspberry Pi in a little Lego house, and attach various sensors to perform certain task, and maybe implement some sort of data logging and remote access into the project as well. My ideas for sensors and extra hardware so far are:

  • A temperature and humidity sensor
  • A light sensor, that will turn on a ‘street light’ when its dark. This will just be a single LED light enclosed in some Lego
  • An LCD screen to sit in the roof, to display various bits of information, such as the current temperature & humidity, date & time, RSS feeds, Twitter trends etc.
  • A couple of buttons to maybe change what the display is currently showing
  • An LED in a ‘street light’ that will come on when the lights are turned off
  • A motion tracker to see when someone enters the room
  • Maybe an RJ45 jack to interface 1-Wire, so I can plug in additional sensors if needed.

I have already decided on a bought some of the hardware I will need for the project:

  • For LCD screen I have bought the Adafruit RGB 16×2 LCD kit. This includes the actual LCD screen. The advantage of this kit (as opposed to just buying the screen on its own) is that it you only use the 2 I2c pins on the pi. Plus you don’t really use them as you can attach other things onto the I2c bus anyway. Check it out here.
  • With the LCD breakout sitting on the GPIO pins, I have also got an extra long header connector, so I can mount the LCD breakout on the pi as normal, but also have access to all the pins
  • A DHT11 temperature and humidity sensor
  • A light dependent resistor sensor
  • Plenty of cables to run the sensors and other devices

I have started work on it now, I’ll post some more info later in the week.

Orange LiveBox and a Wii. Not a good Combo

Posted by beakersoft | Posted in Hardware | Posted on 29-02-2008


Recently Orange (my isp) sent me a LiveBox, an all in one wireless router solution for my broadband package.

I used to use an old pc running smoothwall connected to a little wireless router I was given. I moved away from the Linux solution (I kind of wished I hadn’t now) cos: a) The disk on the old pc was starting to go a bit flaky and b) I had to run a cable upstairs as there was no room for it near the phone socket.

The Livebox wasn’t to bad (apart from a crap wireless signal strength), until i tried to connect my Wii to it. The Wii connected to the web fine under my old setup, so I thought it would under this one. I was mistaken.

Doing a scan reveled my network ok, so i gave it my WEP key, it did it’s test and kept coming back with a variety of error message. I did a quick Google on the matter and it turned out that other people have had the same problem. I tried a couple of there solutions but all they did was result in a different error code.

I was certain is was something to do with security, and just befor I turned of all the encryption on the livebox i noticed something on the Wii, on the screen where you input the key. It said the security was WPA-PSK (TKIP, as you can see from the screen shot


As far as I could tell, the Livebox was using WEP. So, I hit the Change security settings option, selected WEP, input my key and it connected! Problem solved, more by luck than judgment.

Partition Recovery

Posted by beakersoft | Posted in Hardware | Posted on 30-10-2007


Just a quick post to mention I managed to get my data back of my external usb hard disk I thought I had lost. I downloaded an app called Partition Table Doctor from http://www.ptdd.com

As soon as I ran it, it found my external disk, and said it could repair the partition on it. It did its stuff, I saved the partition back to the disk rebooted and I could see the disk again.

It only cost $40, so its well worth it!

Melting server room

Posted by beakersoft | Posted in Hardware | Posted on 17-09-2007


Its been a bit of a shit day today. The people who look our building decided to do some work on the air conditioning systems today. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, except they didn’t tell us what they were doing, and the only air con that seamed to be affected was in our main server room!!

It started to get mightily hot in there, at one point it got up to 38C, we had various fans in there but nothing seamed to be getting rid of the hot air. The best thing seamed to be getting a long foil tube, putting one end over a large fan situated at the back of the racks, and the other end out of the door. This got rid of a lot of heat until the portable air con’s turned up.

We managed to get away with very little initial problems, the watchguard firewall overheated, switched itself of and lost its config, various server lost disks and everything was reporting heat warnings.

The only complete failure was a Dell poweredge 750 server that was running websites for our editorial system. This went down, and refused to power up again while it was still in the rack. We moved its services onto another server, and when it got a bit quieter we took the server out of the rack. When we got inside it, we found a section of the main fan had broken off completely, and fan blades had been tossed all over the server!

So we got the fan out of the housing, and it looked as though the bearing had gone, so the fan was lose in the casing. Presumably the blades had hit something and this is how they snapped off.

We then looked into Dell IT assistant and one of its last temperature warnings was at 88C, no wonder a couple of hours later the CPU was still to hot to touch.

So let this be a lesson, always make sure your air con and its backup units are in working order!