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Home & Office Instrumentation: The Netatmo Weather Station

We have quite a lot of IoT stuff hereabouts. One device that’s hardly had any mention is the Netatmo Weather Station. I honestly can’t recall how long we’ve had it. Perhaps as much as five years? I think it was a Christmas gift, since it does not appear in my Amazon order history. I’ve been pretty happy with it. It pretty much just works.

Netatmo Weather Station

The basic kit includes on outdoor module (House) and the main indoor unit. I really like being able to know the precise local conditions, not the exaggerated conditions local broadcasters report from northern counties or down in Galveston near the gulf. They always go for the more dramatic presentation.

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Status Update: Raspberry Pi as a Wi-Fi Bridge

We’re three weeks on from installing the new Vizio M65 and its associated Tivo Mini. As described previously, the Tivo Mini needed Ethernet, so I used a Raspberry Pi 3 as a Wi-Fi bridge.

At the outset, this arrangement seemed to work. However, several times the Mini lost its network connection. In particular, when rebooted it would often fail to re-establish connection to the Roamio Pro that has the tuners and all the stored programming.

In that state, on the network but unable to find the main unit, the Mini has limited functionality. It can only access streaming media accounts like Netflix, Amazon Prime or YouTube. It does this directly, with no help from the Roamio Pro.

I suspect that the Mini, which is by no means a high-performance device, suffers network issues poorly. In fact, both Roamio Pro and Tivo Mini are old and likely prone to trouble resulting from network latency or instability.

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Raspberry Pi as a Wi-Fi Bridge

Raspberry Pi are fun little devices. They’re a bit like rabbits in that they tend to multiply. We started out with one as a replacement for a failed Squeezebox, and now have 6 or 8 of them around here. Most are media players running PiCorePlayer. The availability of the Pi4 inspired me to deploy one as a media server, running PiCorePlayer with Logitech Media Server. Yet another Pi4 hosts our local instance of Home Assistant.

Of course, with several RPi deployed it only seems sensible to have a spare on hand. So I usually have a Pi3 and Pi4 readily available for whatever tinkering occurs to me. Earlier experiments with Dicaffeine for example.

We recently installed a new television in our living room. That room had been without a TV for years, but it was decided that a particularly large open wall would be a good place to put a larger TV. A new Vizio M65 now fills that void.

The Vizio M65 is the larger and newer brother to the M50 that’s been in our family room for several years. In 2016, 50” was the largest that was deemed acceptable, both in terms of price and spousal approval. In 2020, it seems that 65” is the new normal and price/performance sweet spot.

The new TV is installed. It connects to our Wi-Fi without issue. That satisfies the requirement for access to Netflix, Amazon Prime, CBS All Access and Disney+.

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Tech we have deployed for Halloween

It started back in 2002. My wife brought home a large inflatable spider, something new for the exterior decor at Halloween. I struggled to find a way of using it that seemed appropriate.

In the end, I decided to give it context by building suitably large, lit spider web in the font yard. It spanned the gap between the house and a very tall Loblolly pine in the corner of the yard.

The children came in droves, and were filled with awe. They left with candy, and it was good.

Every year we try something new. We occasionally drop something that didn’t work quite as well as we hoped. This year I’d like to highlight a few things we’ve used that work very well.

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Halloween on the 3300 Block of Beauchamp

Since 2002, we’ve put a vast effort into Halloween. It started one day when Stella came home with an 8-foot, purple, inflatable spider. I could not just plop this guy down in the yard. That lacked context. So, I dyed some sisal rope and built him a home, in the form of a 20 foot tall, illuminated spider web. A nice backdrop against which to give out candy to the kiddos.

Every year we’d tweak the presentation a bit. We added fog machines and lights. More fog machines. More lights. Better fog machines. Still more lights.

We added music! Loud, but not too loud. Enough skeletons to have our own baseball team. Bigger, badder fog machines with built-in dry ice chambers!

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