• Weeknotes 18

  • Oil Field
  • Spent 2 days on the road on a field trip.
    Been working with this customer for a while now and this week was the first supervised install of the proof of concept.

    They are called many things, I sorta like the name rocking horse oil pump.
    Won’t get into all the cool things we learned about them on the trip, but bottom line, we are not so much controlling them, but monitoring them.
    They already have controllers that are working well, but there are a bunch of external signals that we are picking up.
    The interesting thing is that these signals will not only help a great deal with fault detection, but also ML (machine learning) for oil production and well optimization.
    These algorithms simply were not around when the wells were put in.
    Anyway, point is, came away with a solid to-do list and have started working on the design of proof of concept mk2. I suspect I will be up north again before long.

  • Electric Bill
  • Its not the car, it’s the aircraft….. My power bill is finally put me at tipping point.
    I need to pull out some of the tower PCs I am running and replace them with more power efficient computers.
    At this point, I don’t think the pay back period is going to be as horrible as I thought it would be in the past.
    Plan to move 3-4 computers to Intel i5 NUCs.

  • HF at Terry’s
  • Going to run my end-feed long wire antenna at Terry’s place into an RSP1a SDR (better HF version of the stuff I use on the satellite SDRs) to see if he has a better noise floor than my place.
    Plus he wants to listen around on HF a bit.
    This is going to take some time to setup and get working. Should be a fun project with a few pieces and parts (Node-RED, MQTT, SDR software, VPN and remote desktop access). Watch this space.



  • Weeknotes 17

  • Database Migration
  • Its been bugging me for over 2 years now… I have two main databases (3 in total, but the third is pretty static – its the major airports in the world).
    The first is a list of ‘all’ aircraft in the world. Its about 380,000 aircraft, just the big stuff mostly, not every little privately owned Cessna, there is not much interest in all that fluff.
    The list has the aircraft ICAO, registration (which can change, but the ICAO should stay with the aircraft for its life), type, interest (0 for civilian and 10 for military – don’t ask, it’s just the way it is/has been), year and any owner information (ie, USAF for example).
    Its a bug to maintain and has been taking me about 12 hours for Node-RED to import the CSV file, repair it, then insert it into the MySQL. In other words, I did not do it very often.
    It was also a hybrid of data that I have been scraping off the floor of the Internet…. Well, I happen to find the guy that maintains the ADSB Exchange version of their database and like all things ADSBEx, its open source and maintained.
    So, it now takes me about 2 minutes to pull it down and import it. Yay. I’m going to be a lot more compelled to keep it updated!

    Second database is my rolling 24 hours of messages.
    Its self-built by Node-RED and just is.
    Anyway, the problem with both is that have been running on Garys gifted PC from about 8 years ago, so yeah, the version of MySQL was a bit long in the tooth.
    Last week, a Node-RED update broke the connection. I could not do any inserts, so I had to walk back the node version.
    Also, I knew it getting hit pretty often and its all just noise on the network with a tiny bit of latency.
    Long story short, I took Friday off to relax a bit and fix both databases by migrating them to MariaDB running on my Windows PC, the same PC that Node-RED is running on.
    Honestly, I should have done it 2 years ago when I first started to be unhappy with how it was built out…. But you use what you have on hand – 7 years ago when I first made the databases, it was MySQL on the Linux PC.
    It seems a tiny bit faster, but the main thing is its a lot easier to maintain and I can now plan to store more data (the avgeeks are asking for a rolling 30 days).
    I can also start to think about running some reports against the data as most reporting software seems to run on Windows.

  • Node-RED update.
  • Every time I get a Windows update reboot, I check if there are any Node-RED nodes or NodeJS updates and do them, then do the Windows update/reboot and thus kill two birds with one stone.
    Last week, Node-RED did not come back up cleanly.
    The MySQL would not insert and the dashboard node failed with a very helpful ‘none’ error.
    I spent a few hours on it but could not figure it out, so the site was down over night.
    Shower thought the next day – install a version or two back of the two trouble nodes.
    The glitch there was that the MySQL node is wrapped up some generic node package and usually you can see past versions by looking at the node GitHub repo.
    Not this time… I have NEVER had to go to a package NPM page…. Never.. well, for the MySQL node, thats where you need to go to find the old versions.
    Anyway, long story short, not sure why stuff broke, but its caused me to re-think my backups and what I need to not have stress like that again.



  • Weeknotes 16

    Yikes. I’m late!

    Super slammed at work and home the past week and a bit.
    New power monitoring applications and hardware at work.
    New couch, Raspberry Pi stuff and, oddly coincidentally power monitoring at a buddy’s place that needs some code is keeping me busy at home.

    On the up side, I shipped my first real customer L-Band 3D printed 7 turn helix satellite antenna yesterday. Its off to Kentucky.



  • Weeknotes 15

  • Deep in Linux compliers
  • I am still having issues with the virtual audio cable software on Windows. So, rather than keep doing the same thing I have been doing for the past few years and expecting a different result, I have decided to step back and try and get Jaero (the main aircraft decoding software) built on Linux.
    Of course (perhaps stupidly) I am trying to build it on a Raspberry Pi…. The thought of being able to walk someone through the steps of setting up a satcom ground station built around a Pi has been a romantic idea of mine since the start.
    Anyway, its been a minefield. The big problem is that the Raspberry Pi Foundation for what ever reasons decided to split away from Debian and went with Raspberry PiOS and it is woefully out of date.
    This has resulted in a crazy learning curve on compiling and building stuff from source.
    Oddly, my assbackwards approach of building the program I need before even working on getting the SDR (Software Defined Radio) software installed and working seems to be the right thing to have done. If I had spent time on the SDR stuff I would have had to have rebuilt it a bunch of times.
    Also notes…. For the first time in ages I am actually making rough notes of what I am doing… sort of had to, its crazy complicated just to try and build the thing.
    At this point, I have no idea if its even going to run on the Pi, won’t know till I get it built and I am probably 10 to 15 hours way from even getting it done.
    Madness I tell you, madness. Its all going to end in tears.

  • Instagram
  • The Instagram photos on this blog were broken for a bit.
    All fixed now.
    Note to self. I should post more photos to Instagram.



  • Weeknotes 14

  • Telegram
  • For reasons I am not going to discuses here, I have mostly moved a lot of my chats over to Telegram.
    I have the app on my phone and the stand alone apps on my computer(s) and laptop.
    The notifications show up on my Garmin watch nicely, so that is pretty much perfect.
    The kicker however was a little unexpected… Node-RED has a really sweet bot Node.
    Most of this week as been spent mucking about in Node-RED building bot commands.

    //bot metar kphx – Show metar for airport code
    /bot taf klax – Show TAF for airport code
    /bot strikeaus – Show lightening map for AUS (wait 10 sec)
    /bot strikeusa – Show lightening map for West-USA (wait 10 sec)
    /bot map – Show current global ADSC aircraft
    /bot whereis ae5bc3 – Show current location of ICAO code aircraft
    /bot eq – Show last three earthquakes from USGS
    /bot news – Show top three headlines from BBC
    /bot tz – Show UTC, Aust, CA time zones
    /bot ip – Show Ben’s IP address
    /bot sleep – The couch got me

    That’s what we have thus far.
    I’d like to flesh out the METAR and TAF. METAR is the airport weather right now, TAF is the airport forecast.
    At the moment the METAR has the basics formatted pretty good, but TAF is a bit trickier. At the moment it comes into Node-RED as HTML, but the bot does not support all the tags in the page, so I am mucking about with it.

    That’s a screenshot showing two of the commands, just to give you a visual feel for what it looks like and how it works.
    The first is asking for the lightening radar over the West Coast of the USA. (I also have one for Australia).
    The next image is me asking the bot where a specific aircraft is. (Well, its last reported position).
    I am slowly adding commands to the bot as it makes sense and as my coding skills can cope.

    Anyway, that’s what the week has been about.