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Showing posts from October, 2014

Raspberry Pi + PiFace Digital : automatically detects loss of connectivity and reboots Gateway Router (cron job)

The problem:
I have a buggy 4G LTE router (a ZTE MF29 used with Airtel 4G here in Pune, India) which hangs around thrice a week causing loss of connectivity until it is rebooted manually by toggling the power button on its back. I cannot get the 4G LTE router exchanged - I am stuck with it. And there hasn't been any firmware updates, neither does it have any option for rebooting using its webpage based management console. So I have to climb up to the small loft where I have kept my network equipment and manually toggle the power switch on the back side of the router.

The problem is compounded by the fact that I have setup a wired LAN between 2 more apartments in my building complex. Three of us friends bought flats in this building together and we had the foresight to ask the builder to run lengths of CAT5e cables through the concealed wiring pipes between our houses. This allowed us to create our own LAN and have a common internet connection.
Now when the Gateway router threw a f…

Contest Buzzer System (by re-purposing Sparkfun's Arduino based 7 Segment Serial Display)

Quiz contest's are one of the most fun ways to learn things in a group. Throw in a buzzer system and you have sense of urgency, excitement and teamwork surging through the various teams.

Couple of years ago (in 2006) - before Arduino or microcontrollers - me and Ranjit assembled a parallel port based buzzer system. We had 5 buzzers for upto 5 teams - we used the 5 Status pins (nACK, Busy, Paper Out, Select and nError) of the parallel port to read the status of the switches. The project lasted us a long time - till the time they stopped equipping laptops with parallel ports!
Some of the features of this system were:

Use of bell switches as buzzers. the spring action, brings the switches back to off position.Use of microphone coaxial cables - these sturdy yet flexible cables are designed to be stepped upon and still last long!Use of RCA connector to attach and detach buzzers - essential because we were using coaxial cablesPull up resistors to make sure the status pins idled at logic…

Replacing the current sense resistor in Portable Chargers/Power Banks for powering low power DIY projects.

Mobile Phone/Tablet charging Power Banks can be used to power so many DIY projects. But if your project is low power and draws very little current, the power bank will auto turn off after a few seconds thinking that it isn't being used to charge gadget (because the current draw is very low). I need to figure out a way to hack one and locate and replace the current sense resistor with one of a higher value. Here is how I did it.

This told me that the resistor would be located on the return path (ground path) of the output USB connector. I promptly located the R100 SMD resistor in my iBall portable charger. The fact that this resistor was fatter (higher power dissipation rating) and that it was 0.1 ohms in value confirmed that this had to be the current sense resistorI measured the voltage across it when nothing was connected. It was zero volts and the portable charger turned off in a few seconds when nothing was being charged.I then turned on the charger back again and this time m…