skip to Main Content

The Sound of Silence

For the past couple of days my office has been blissfully, almost eerily silent. Silent like I’ve not heard in several years. It’s enough to make me want some kind of background sounds, which is something that I’ve never wanted previously.

This newfound silence has been brought about by a combination of things. It cool enough outside that the door is closed. The mighty Fujitsu Halycon air conditioner is taking a much needed break. Today, it’s not so cool that I need a heater.

Most significantly, I’ve turned off the 24-port Netgear switch that serves as our network core. The other day I swapped an older 10/100 switch into service so I could clean out the old Netgear unit. Racked and untouched for along while, it was terribly dusty inside & out.

Netgear GS524T

This old Netgear GS524T has two built-in 40mm fans. They’ve been making noise forever. It’s been getting steadily worse. The 10/00 switch that I have as backup is fanless, so the familiar whine of the wee fans has been silenced for now.

In fact, according to my Netatmo Weather Station the ambient noise level in my home office is around 36 dba. That’s pretty quiet.

2019-12-10 15.11.05

Just now, staring at the approaching holidays, I don’t really want to spend on a new & much better switch, so I think I will replace the fans in the old one. It’s a $20-30 project. I’m told that folks do this routinely in the case of Ubiquiti switches. They replace the noisy stock fans with quieter fans from Noctua.

Read More

The Ubiquiti LiteBeam Wireless Bridge Looks like Fun!

Occasionally something crosses my path that looks like a fun toy. I find myself wishing I had a project to justify the purchase. Such is the case with the Ubiquiti LBE-5AC-GEN2-US LiteBeam Wireless Bridge.

A pair of these devices form a long-range wireless bridge operating in unlicensed spectrum. It fits right in with our existing Unifi Cloud Key and AC Pro Wi-Fi APs. Best of all, at under $70 per end, it’s really affordable.

LiteBeam 5AC Gen2

Ideally, I’d use a pair of these radios to gain access to the Tachus fiber internet service that runs up Harvard Ave. That’s 1.43 miles (2.29 km) due west of our home. The Ubiquiti setup tool shows that we could achieve 250 Mbps over that link.

Read More

Laptops Past & Present

This is gonna come off as self-indulgent. Since this non-commercial blog, I’m gonna go with it anyway. It’s a collection of thoughts brought about by the purchase of a new laptop, a process that was not simple. It could have been, but it wasn’t.

You see, it’s been along time since I last bought a laptop. All the way back in January 2013. I had forgotten a lot of things in the intervening six-and-a-half years.

The last laptop I carried when I worked for Pixel Power was an HP 8510W. This was not standard company issue. In the UK, they had a standard issue laptop (I think.) In the US, lacking central admin, we were given a spending allocation to go procure something for ourselves.

Read More

Sensibo Sky: The Newest Gadget in my Home Office

It’s that time of year once again, when the mercury rises and I am reminded of how the air conditioner in my home office is so critical to comfort and productivity. This is a little story of how I recently enhanced the now nine-year-old master of cool.

The Fujitsu Halcyon ductless mini-split air conditioner installed here is one of the larger models they make. It’s rated for 30,000 BTU (2.5T if you prefer) which is quite large for the 400 square foot office. It was sized to accommodate a full-height rack of broadcast equipment that used to occupy a corner in my office.

Back when it was installed, it was enough that it did the basics. It kept the space cool and dry, without being noisy. It meets those requirements even today.

The Master of Cool

With no controls on the device itself, it’s operated using a simple IR cordless remote control. The remote functions are very basic; on/off, target temperature, mode (cool, dry, auto) and control of the motorized vanes that direct air flow. I hardly had to use the remote control beyond on/off. Since it’s an IR remote, it only works when pointed directly at the indoor unit.

I can’t fault the Fujitsu air conditioner, since it’s installation we have become more sophisticated users. We’ve had a Nest thermostat installed in the house for years. We’ve become accustomed to the ability to program a schedule of temperature changes to minimize energy use. We also appreciate remote control from our smart phones, whether we’re home or elsewhere. This leaves the mini-split feeling primitive and costly to run.

Sensibo Sky

A few weeks ago I discovered Sensibo Sky, a small IoT device that adds all the remote control flexibility of a Nest thermostat to a split ductless unit with IR remote control. It’s similar to the Logitech Harmony remote control scheme, in that it emulates the IR emitter of the original remote, connecting it to our Wi-Fi, and making it accessible via the web and smart phone apps.

Originally priced at $149, Sensibo Sky initially seemed a bit pricey. I found a recent offer of $99 with free shipping too good to pass up, so I bought one.

Read More

Logitech Squeezebox 3 vs PiCorePlayer on Raspberry Pi 3B+

Long, long ago, in the earliest days of this blog, I described my DIY approach to a whole house audio system. The strategy centers around a collection of Logitech Squeezebox 3 streaming audio players, each mated to a pair of powered audio monitors. All this worked great until the aging SB3s started to fail. Drying electrolytic capacitors cause arthritis in electronics.

Squeezebox_v3

Faced with failing SB3s, and the occasional desire to grow the installation, I resorted to using a most excellent combination of the Raspberry Pi3 B+ single board computer running PiCorePlayer in combination with a HifiBerry DAC. I’ve got HiFiBerry DAC+ where –10 dbm RCA output is suitable and DAC Plus Pro XLR where +4 dbm XLR balanced output is required.

hifiberry dac  in steel case

The RPi, HiFiBerry and PiCorePlayer combination work great! They outperform the original SqueezeBox 3 in every way, save the lack of an IR remote control. Also, they cost less, even with the fancy metal case.

hifiberry pro xlr in case

All the above is preface to help explain something that I discovered this past weekend. There’s a fundamental difference between the behavior of the SB3 and a RPi/HFB combination.

Read More
Back To Top
%d bloggers like this: