As we are now in lockdown all of our meetings will be online until further notice. I hope you are all keeping safe and well and will be able to join us online. Contact Gareth ( or to email@example.com ) if you don't think you are on our meeting list of participants for online meetings if you are interested in joining in; since he is sending out the links prior to each meeting. There is nothing to download or install and we still meet on the third Wednesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. via Jitsi.org Video conferencing.
This is an open meeting and I suggest part may be devoted to those who were not able to show their slides/video in November and part to anyone who was unable to show their gadgets in December. Otherwise I could suggest we leave it open for any technical problems people would like to discuss.
This is the first time we've ever had to do this on-line so it was a bit different. One difference which I liked was Paul presenting his gadgets via a slideshow so that all the images were already done.
After some general discussion on passwords and their storage and a technical discussion on Mince Pies we started with the Gadgets.
Paul set the ball rolling as he had more gadgets than anyone else and in fact this year instead of going round the table with one gadget each we decided that we would go through each persons gadgets at once. This was handy in that we did not have to keep swapping the screen sharing, but also since Paul had produced his in a slide show we could just keep going. Paul said that as he could not go on holiday this year he had spent more money on gadgets instead.
1) His first was the RISePRO Portable shower unit which he needed when his boiler packed up and he could not get hot water in his shower. It is driven by a battery operated pump from a bucket of water heated with a kettle and gives you a hot shower. Specification approx. 2 litres /minute with upto 5 to 7 minutes form a 10 litre (2.5 gallon) bucket of water. The hose is 70 " long (180cm) and it uses a rechargeable 2200 mAh Lithium battery and will run for 60 mins on full charge. Ideal for camping. About £20-30 from Amazon. Temperature control is a bit tricky. Peter said his cooking thermometer (gadget) could be useful here.
2) Sennheiser Bluetooth headphones with switch for volume/track and on/off control.
This can be used with 3) a Bluetooth Transmitter receiver for his TV so that he can watch TV without disturbing his wife. TaoTronics BT5.0 Tx/Rx.
4) the Vonets WiFi Repeater/Bridge (which Peter also had as one of his gadgets after Paul had told him about it earlier in the year.) These are extremely useful to connect any device with an ethernet port to your Wi-Fi network, for example the RiscPC or Raspberry Pi.
5) was his mini keyboard in an English layout. It had a CTRL key which acts as Windows key on Windows, a command key on Linux and a menu button on RiscOS. It is backlit and has gestures on the touch pad at the top. It is about 6"x6" in pleasant to hold shape. There is a door on the back holding the Receiver connection.
6) Paul had bought a spudger set which he found pretty useful for opening computer cases without causing damage. Amazon (£5.49)
7) Next he had bought a Sabrent headphone / microphone socket which plugged into USB as his laptop did not have a microphone socket. (<£10)
8) Paul also bought a portable Mains powered Lopow monitor (£148) Full 1080P 15.6". It has mini HDMI and 2 speakers plus 3.5 mm audio jack and USB - C for power and another for plugging your phone in to use it as a full screen monitor, which works well with the Samsung phone and a MicroSD card in it. It works well with the RPI 400. 1920 x 1080 resolution. Very neat.
9) This was a set of 7 converters for HDMI . There are 3 different sizes in use for HDMI now. The RPI original uses full size, RPI 4 will have mini and the RPI400 has the micro. (£7 Amazon again)
10) A PC Win10 pro for a piece of software he can't use on anything else. The TomTom SatNav. TomTom use Linux within their satnavs but they won't supply a Linux version of their TomTom Home software. The device has a full size HDMI plug at the top USB3 power in and a MicroSD card slot. Trends BIOS and is old by ACE PC (T6) with a WiFi network 120GB MMC drive Atom 1.9GHz 8GB RAM.
11) He has a London Underground motifed light with "LONDON" or "UNDERGROUND" or "MIND THE GAP" across the centre just for fun.
That concludes Paul's Gadgets, WOW!1
) Duncan went next with his HDMI to USB converter. This is intended to plug into HDMI to convert to USB to get his camera for video meetings working.
Sony had produced a piece of software which meant that the adapter was not needed. However every video source launched the Sony driver which then would not work and he had to uninstall it. He then found that the adapter would not work either. He gets a message from Windows periodically saying that it doesn't understand what he has just plugged in. Paul suggested getting the kernel 5.01 might help as many things are being handled in the kernel now rather than on top of it handling lots of video for gaming. So something has changed and currently it doesn't work.
2) His second gadget was a set of screw gauges for matching screw threads. He had an M6 screw 6mm diameter 1mm screw pitch and he found the 0 BA which is also a 1mm pitch 6mm diameter won't fit because the angle of the teeth is different. Whitworth 55 ° , Metric 60 °and BA is 47.5 °. Paul said all these threads were covered by different patents and Canadian and USA were different too. Peter mentioned welded plastic pipe and push-fit pipes were different diameters, although both were described as 40mm. he also said that years ago Aldermaston had serious radioactive leakage problems because there were no standards for ducting connections and they all had to be custom made.
3) Duncan's third gadget was a special indoor aerial for use wit his SDR radio. It had taken months to arrive. He hasn't even had time to try it out having assembled it. It is supposed to work from 25MHz to 1Ghz.
4) He bought a tripod base lamp stand to improve video lighting.
5) His last gadget was a family heirloom consisting of a lens mounted in a brass tube. He was told it was part of a first world war gun sight.
Duncan also mentioned that if you look at an ordinary postage stamp close up and at an angle it is possible to see an overprinting of "ROYALMAIL" in a wavy pattern on the background and in one part this becomes "ROYALM19L" say which indicates the year of printing e.g. 2019 in this case.
Next it was Michael's turn to present his gadgets.
1) Michael's first Gadget was a thing called "Take me with you " and it enables him to open doors and touch payment machines in supermarkets without using his fingers directly and be touch free. Useful in these times of CoronaVirus.
2) His second was a Bluetooth headset (Sennheiser). (Not shown)
3) His third is a can of WD40! (Paul: Water Displacement Formula 40 - it beats his Paper clip!)
Paul joke: "It is a pity Ariel Motorcycles did not make cars ; because then you could get an Ariel Automatic!"
Duncan: "You certainly cleaned up with that one!"
Paul again: "You could only have drum brakes on the back though."
[Ed. You guys are really on form. Sorry I just did not get this joke at the time!! Put it down to my hearing problems and being distracted sorting out my own gadgets. I've just got new hearing aids now so should be better. ]
Peter then started on his Gadgets beginning with
1) an OXO softworks digital kitchen thermometer which is designed for checking meat to see if it has reached a high enough temperature. Short length for the sensor and quick reading in seconds. (Sainsburys < £12) Peter also uses it to check the water temperature when using his next gadget which is
2) an EasiYo Yogurt maker. This can be bought online from EasiYo. It consists of an inner plastic container with a screw top for the yogurt mixture and an insulated outer container with a lid. Preparation is very easy and only takes a few minutes. You half-fill the container with water (15 - 20 °C) and the contents of a sachet of milk powder with cultures and add the lid before shaking thoroughly to mix it. The container is then topped up with more water to within 5mm from the top before sealing up again. The insulated outer container is then filled to just above a small inner support platform with boiling water before adding the yogurt container which sits on the platform and is then sealed up with the lid. The sealed unit is then left for 10 -12 hours for the yogurt to form and the inner container is then put in the fridge to cool until required. It will last for a week or so if you don't eat it first! Sachets come in various flavours from natural to cappuccino and black cherry. They can be bought in Lakeland and the Range, or direct from the manufacturers. The sachets make 1kg of yogurt and cost less than £3 depending on flavour.
3) His third gadget was a converter from HDMI to SCART to enable him to record DVDs from a new BT vision box which no longer have a SCART interface.
4) He also wanted to still see the programmes on his TV so he also bought an HDMI splitter. Cost together about £24. Both shown here.
6) Duncan had one more gadget for his camera. He found using his camera with a microphone and recording audio at 6 feet gave him a lot of background noise. However he managed to find a remote microphone with a fluffy cover for wind noise on a long lead with various adapters marketed by Purple Panda which did a better job although not hi-fi. He could buy a special from Sony for his camera but they are very expensive.
Peter said that some of these audio devices were extremely expensive especially for specialised markets like hearing aids to allow TV/Radio sound to be directed to hearing aids. He had unfortunately bought one cheaper on Ebay just before having his pacemaker fitted only to find that he would not be allowed to use it then. If anyone one is interested in such a device he still has it. It requires a different hearing aid programme too. Unfortunately the NHS don't yet issue Bluetooth hearing aids which would make life easier.
Paul then said he could also add another gadget with his Raspberry Pi 400. This comes with its own keyboard and is the same as a RPi as it has only one USB 2 as one is used for the keyboard. They are about £66.90 for the basic device and £93.90 from PiHut for the full kit, which comes with the RPi 4 and HDMI lead and adapters. The same idea as BBC B. It is designed for Education. It looks very neat.
The idea that bare circuit boards would be a health hazard amongst teachers was quite erroneous and prevented children learning about devices.
Duncan was also looking to be able to record audio and video. He currently uses Audacity to record his LPs to a hard disc with a gadget which could do video as well as audio. Paul said Kdenlive software (free and Open source) will run on a RPi4 and is part of the KDE project, and also VLC will do recording.
Since all our other meetings are being held online for the foreseeable future there is no reason why we can't have a meeting in January as travelling in bad weather is not an issue. So we would have to find another meeting topic. Any ideas?
The meetings in the current programme may change dependent on future trends. If anyone would like to present a talk please let us know and we can slot them in. Most talks are open anyway with no defined speaker so feel free to join in.
|ICENI Future programme 2020/2021|
|January 20th||Extra Topic - Suggestions welcome.||All|
|February 17th||Family Tree software||All|
|March 17th||XML and Json||All|
|April 21st||A Retro Evening||All|
|May 19th||AGM - and extras||All|
MEETINGS WILL NOW BE HELD ONLINE BUT STILL ON THE THIRD WEDNESDAY UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. FURTHER DETAILS TO FOLLOW.
Our meetings are held at the Bourne Vale Social Club, Halifax Road,
Ipswich IP2 8RE ,
for a map and other details please see the website. http://icenicomputerclub.org.uk
Membership fee currently £15, visitors free.
"ICENI does not have any Insurance cover for computers or other equipment so please be advised that you bring machines to the club at your own risk."
However many household insurance policies will include cover away from home often with no increase in premium. (Ed.)