Coronavirus Impact Covid-19.

As we are 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 ) if you don't think you are on our meeting list of participants for online meetings as he is sending out the links prior to each meeting. We shall still meet on the third Wednesday of the month at 7:30 p.m.


Our Next meeting: Wednesday 21st October 2020 - online
Windows Update and Windows on ARM.

Michael will give us an update on features introduced with Windows 10 v.2004 and with the latest v.2009 although it is not available on final public release yet.

Gareth is joining the meeting on a Lenovo C630, which is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 powered ARM64 laptop running Windows on ARM. He picked this up relatively cheaply when Lenovo announced the End of Life for the product and sold off the remaining stock. One of the early WoA machines, this is essentially a mobile phone CPU powered laptop, but with 8GB of RAM and 128GB storage [SSD? Ed.] is quite a nice little machine with up to 17 hours of battery life. He will touch on the good and points of Windows on ARM currently, and the built in support for emulation to run Win32 apps and its limitations (32 bit only).

Gareth will also mention Windows Subsystem for Linux, WSLhort. This is Linux shell support built into recent Windows builds with Linux distributions e.g. Ubuntu available from the Windows Store.

He actually got the laptop to participate in the efforts to port Linux to this family of laptops, but he has not yet taken the plunge of repartitioning it , and the install process is still very manual and fraught with dangers. He thinks perhaps given the age of his old MacBook Air now he will be looking at Apple Silicon for his ARM fix soon, but that will likely be a meeting topic in its own right... :)

This should be a very interesting evening.

[ If I can only keep up with the technicalities! Ed.]

Unfortunately Duncan has another clashing meeting to attend and can't join us, but I hope we can have a surgery evening soon to address some USB problems he has; and other problems people may have.

Our Last meeting: Wednesday 15th September 2020 - online
Raspberry Pi and Home Automation - All

As few of our members were available for this meeting we probably did not get a very representative coverage of the subject.

There was a certain amount of general chat about cars and Linux/Unix differences initially before we moved onto the topic.

Duncan had a problem with th camera he was using for the meeting. He bought a gadget which allows connection of HDMI output from USB input they were £100 but in lockdown went off-scale in price however he discovered a cheap Chinese copy for £15 which he bought. He got the posh camera set up to use it and got it working. He then found that Sony had produced a piece of software for it allowing you to connect the camera and bypass the USB cable instead. So he installed that instead but the Sony driver grabbed anything plugged which is why the camera was not working in the first place; so he has had to uninstall the Sony driver. He still needed to do another reboot to get it all working again.

Peter has an old Raspberry Pi 2 with which he could run RISC OS 5, but of course there was no WiFi Access however recently Paul had recommended that Peter buy a Vonets WiFi repeater/bridge to give WiFi access to his Risc PC. This enables a connection between the wired Ethernet port and the WiFi Router of his network at very reasonable cost and at 300Mbps. Once set up using a Windows 10 PC this unit connected from the Risc PC Ethernet port to the router. This once configured will run from any Ethernet port from any machine; so Peter set this up from the Raspberry Pi and after a few network set up problems it worked fine. Paul had also used the ARMbook using Linux to set up a Vonets unit.

Paul had a 4GB and an 8GB RPi 4 and Gareth had a RPi 4GB. Pimoroni, based in Sheffield, were a useful supplier and the PI Hut, based in Haverhill, but Duncan had not yet invested in one.

Paul previously looked at Home Assistant and could not get on with it, but more recently found a YouTube channel which explained it better so he might have another look at it. Dr Zzzs does a lot and Paul Hibbert who is quoted a lot too.

There is a lot of help on the home assistant website enabling you to install it and there is an alternative manual installation too Home Assistant requires installation of a virtual environment and also Python 3. Ed.

Peter's introductory remarks making an advantage of the low power dissipation were incorrect as the RPi 4 needs a heat sink or a fan in the FLIRC case. Peter thought that the Arduino he had used was more useful for controlling than the RPi but thought this might no longer be true. Most of us seem to run out of time to devote to finding out about all these devices. There is apparently an Arduino HAT for a Pi combining the two approaches.

Gareth said that one home automation use was as a Media server and he has set up one and downloaded images to the R Pi and used NextCloud. He mentioned, the Home Automation Bus, it can be used to monitor humidity and temperature in rooms. OpenHAB is quite powerful and there is a demonstration of the software available which we then looked at. There are about 2000 different applications on the market which includes the Kasa application which Peter is using with the Smart plugs. Cameras and lamps are

supported in the Kasa system which allows full internet access for control, setting up schedules and energy monitoring. The NEST systems are similar I believe. The home automation bus enables a single point of control with code written in Java. It runs on all sorts of hardware Mac OSX, Linux and Windows. You do need to have all the sensors and actuators which could cost a lot. All these devices need WiFi but often are battery operated with low power consumption. Alarm systems can be included and surveillance cameras from UniFi. Most NAS also support surveillance cameras. Most of this is standalone and does not require a Raspberry Pi as the controller however. Peter thought that there was a distinction between devices you need when you are at home and other devices which you use away from home.

Peter had a weather station with its own WiFi and a boiler room thermostat with its own WiFi and neither on the internet and it could be useful if they were all connected together so that they could be accessed remotely.

Gareth and Michael both had surveillance systems as part of their home automation. Michael uses his Alexa for some control. There were some security and privacy concerns over the use of those devices. Google record everything you do anyway. There is also a piece of software which acts as a network ad blocker called PiHole.

A somewhat rambling evening but some interesting information was gained from it.


Somewhat following on from this evening I received an email from Gavin Smith who has taken over Archive Magazine from the late Jim Nagel. Since he is on our mailing list for the Newsletter he noticed our meeting on Raspberry Pi and is planning a series on Pi and Home Automation. I will be sending him this Newsletter too. To quote Gavin's email:-

" Many thanks for the link to the latest newsletter. I see that you had a meeting regarding home automation, something I am interested in covering in Archive. I am planning a five part series (I believe there is lots to say!), starting from the December issue.

"For Archive , I think a series about creating a magic mirror, driven by RISC OS , might work well for the format, from the physical construction and basic assembly to various enhancements such as weather , calendar appointments, temperature of different rooms in the house and control of Energenie plugs. "

Are the meetings recorded and available anywhere?"


To which I replied that there had not been many of us at the meeting and it was somewhat rambling and although there were recordings I felt there might be some private remarks made which we would not want publicised. And he replied that he understood.

It all sounds very interesting.


ICENI Future programme

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 2019/2020
October 21st Windows and Windows on ARM All
November 18th Slide and Video Evening All
December 16th Gadgets and Party Evening All
January 20th Winter Social Evening or a Topic probably.
Suggestions welcome.
February 17th Family Tree software All
March 17th XML and Json All
April 21st A Retro Evening All
May 19th AGM - and extras All


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.

Membership fee currently £15, visitors free.

Special Notice - Insurance

"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.)

Our Website and Email

Our website URL is

Email to:

I am open to suggestions on what people would like to have included in the website. If anyone would like a copy of our old newsletters on CD this could be arranged.