When projects go wrong

Today was the day I would install Security cameras around the House. The camera system I got was an older Night Owl FS-8500. I was running into issues with getting the Mobile app for the phones to connect so I did a firmware update. The DVR became very buggy after the update and when I tried a port scan I saw that port 21 was open. Thing is before the firmware update I had done a port scan twice and never saw Port 21 open. As you know port 21 is used for Telnet. I went ahead for giggles and connected to it via Telnet. At first guess the Login is root and the password was 123456. I was in and looked around. While doing so the test monitor I had hooked up the screen went black. I moved the mouse and noticed the light to the mouse went out. So like a dummy I sent the reboot command via Telnet and now the DVR locks up at boot up. Sadly there is no RS232 to connect to but there is a RS485. I ordered a cheap USB to RS485 converter and hopefully I can get this DVR working again. In the mean time if you have a Night Owl FS series DVR I wouldn’t do an firmware update.


PogoPlug Unlocking 3

Found a nice guide on getting Samba onto the PogoPlug. All I had to do was install iPkg and I was good to go. However I had a huge DUH moment. I was fighting it for a while with it finding Library files and issues with it creating System links. Well stupid me I used a FAT32 filesystem on the Hard drive I was using instead of EXT2. After creating a new partition and formatting and reinstalling iPkg I was good to go. Now I just need to tweak Samba to work correctly. I haven’t used Samba in quite a while so it will take me a minute.

PogoPlug Unlocking 2

I previously unlocked my PogoPlug V4 and ran into an issue with the SSHd “Dropbear” being too old since it uses a SHA-1 encryption. I figured out I had to download the source and cross compile it then copy it over. I found a YouTube channel from a guy name Kris that covers this. I watched all of his PogoPlug videos and I was in the right direction.

I followed his steps on cross compiling Dropbear then copied it to the thumb drive, deleted the old version of Dropbear and moved the new one in place along with dropbearkey and dropbearconvert.

However I found out after I did this all in vain. If I want to use AoE I would have to reflash the PogoPlug to run Debian Linux. So instead of going with the AoE route I’ll just toss on Samba and map the drive. I can always create partitions on the Hard drive for other Raspberry Pi boards and devices.

PogoPlug unlocking

I have a Raspberry Pi 3 and it’s a nice single board computer. I was using it as a daily driver for a short time until I got a data line running into the Garage/Shop. It lacks a few things such as a SATA port for a hard drive. Granted I could use a USB adapter but I want to go further. So I bought a PogoPlug V4 that has a SATA port, SD Card and even more USB. The idea is down the road I plan to buy a couple more Raspberry Pi boards and toss together a small server. So with the PogoPlug hacked I can use it as a poor mans SAN. I was thinking AoE (ATA over Ethernet). Also I can make the PogoPlug act as a small DHCP server and toss in a small Ethernet switch so in the future when I add more devices or Raspberry Pi boards it will be a simple plug and play.

Right now I have the Pogo unlocked so to speak. I used one of those cheap USB-STC-ISP dongles and soldered three wires going to J11 on the PogoPlug.  From left to right you have the following Pins Ground, TXD and RXD. The forth is Power and isn’t needed since we will use the PogoPlug’s wallwart to power the system. With Linux I used the program called Screen to connect to the PogoPlug.
screen /dev/ttyUSB0 115200,cs8,-parenb,-cstopb,-hupcl
Then apply power to the PogoPlug and you’ll see it boot up. After a minute press enter to drop into the command prompt. Before anything else I grabbed a thumb drive that was formated with a FAT32 filesystem and went over to busybox.net and downloaded the Binary of busybox that has been compiled to suit a ARM V5. I saved the Binary to the thumb drive and plugged it into the PogoPlug. It should pop up on the screen that it saw the thumb drive and gave it the /dev/sda path. Just need to mount it but before mounting it I needed to make the root partition of the PogoPlug rewritable. To achieve this I ran this command
mount -o remount,rw /
Now it is possible to write to the PogoPlug’s root filesystem. I created a directory
mkdir /mnt/usb
then mounted the drive to that location
mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/usb

Now the fun part. Update BusyBox to a later version and setting it up. I did this by running Busybox straight from the thumb drive so it closes out the version that is already running. Last thing I needed we to copy Busybox over itself and crap out/lockup. Just need to change the file so it can be executable by running this command.
chmod +x /mnt/usb/busybox-armv5l
Now I can launch and move the newer version of BusyBox to the root filesystem.
mv /mnt/usb/busybox-armv5l /bin/busybox

Now to add more commands to the table. I didn’t run the installer in fear I might screw things up so I ran these commands.

cd /bin
busybox –list|while read c;do echo $c;ln -s /bin/busybox $c;done

Now there is a full blown newer version of Busybox installed. Now I wanted to disable the PogoPlug services. To do this I edited the /etc/init.d/rcS file with Vi
vi /etc/init.d/rcS

I then went to the bottom and disabled the IF/THEN statements for Telnet and SSH. Also the startup script for the PogoPlug services. While I was in there I added some commands to auto mount the hard drive and thumb drive. I could have added the SD Card but I don’t plan to use the SD Card at the moment.

sleep 5;mount /dev/sda1
sleep 6;mount /dev/sdb1

I added the sleep command to add some delay so the PogoPlug has time to see the hard drive and thumb drive. I also added to the file system table file the mounting points for the two devices.

/dev/sda1 /mnt/hd vfat defaults 0 0
/dev/sdb1 /mnt/usb vfat defaults 0 0

After saving the file I created another directory in the /mnt directory for the Hard drive.
mkdir /mnt/hd

I decided to use a 80GB SATA hard drive I pulled from a laptop for testing. I turned off the PogoPlug, removed the thumb drive and popped in the hard drive. Turn the PogoPlug back on and then ran fdisk and setup a FAT32 partition table to the drive. Then to format the drive I used the built-in BusyBox that was just updated command.
mkfs.vfat /dev/sda1

From there I had unlocked the PogoPlug. However the SSHd “Dropbear” is old so for now I am using Telnet. I need to figure out how to update Dropbear and then I can SSH into the PogoPlug. I also need to see about getting AoE running and then I can toss in a bigger Hard drive with a EXT based filesystem. Also get the PogoPlug to do some heavy lifting as a DHCP server. Leaving the auto mount feature for the thumb drive will be useful for debugging and testing software as I go along.

Sonos Modding

Last week a dear friend of mine gave me some stuff. Three Laptops, A Bose Cinemate and a Sonos Play 3 with WiFi adapter.

A great while ago I bought a TrueTone Vacuum Tube Radio. The Radio was so screwed up I was planing to turn it into a Class A Amplifier.

Since I cant make up my mind with the Amp build I am going to transplant the Sonos Play 3 and WiFi Adapter into the TrueTone cabinet. Modern meets Mid Century so to speak. I doubt I can really do anything else to the Sonos hardware wise so it will probably just be a case transplant unless there is a JTAG port or something I can brute force my way in and add some features.

I just need to finish the TrueTone cabinet and start retro fitting the Sonos guts.

Capacitor Foil-side Tester Build.

I’m starting on the Capacitor Foil Side Tester. I got my cheap-o Distortion pedal apart and got a little LM386 amp. Just need to toss together a 12 volt or 9 volt power supply for it and do some wiring. I need to go through my stash of wire and see if I have any shielded wire. I think I have some old RCA style cables I can cut up. If all works well I’ll toss-up pictures and some schematics.

RCA WA-44C progress

I recapped the Audio Generator and plugged it into the Isolation Dim Bulb tester and it powers up just fine. With all of the shielding off I hooked it up to the scope and it’s almost bang on. Maybe after I put it back together it will work correctly. I’m still waiting for some Panel mount BNC connectors to come in so I can add a BNC to the front.

I also need to wire wheel the case handle hardware to get the surface rust off. The rest of the casing is in great condition. In a week or two this project should be complete.

Cheap way to get electronic parts

Use to be if you wanted cheap electronic parts you had to desolder them from old circuit boards. Draw back is with that you end up with a lot of parts with short leads and makes it a bit harder to solder to a circuit board. Once in a blue moon I’ll order a Surprise Box from Electronic Goldmine. I recently got two they were offering for five bucks each and I was able to restock a lot of my inventory of parts. However they also toss in a bunch of crap such as caps that you can tell were ripped off of circuit boards.

90% of the box is passive parts, a few ICs here and there but nothing special. The shipping invoice said 11 lbs and I think I tossed out 4 lbs of junk parts. Still worth it since a lot of the parts got for a dollar a piece from DigiKey and Mouser such as 5watt 1% resistors and macthed pair Transistors.

Don’t go for the RCA surprise box. It’s loaded with Belts and ICs that you can’t find data sheets for and have RCA part numbers on it.

Isolation and Dim Bulb Tester

This tool should be in every Electronics hobbyist’s arsenal. An Isolation Transformer and a Dim Bulb Tester.

I don’t know why I have been holding off on this but I should have done this a while ago. I guess you can call this a One Day build of sorts buts more of an evening waster. I was at Home Depot today to get a couple of things and decided to grab stuff for a Dim Bulb Tester. I had a few things such as the wire and power outlet so I picked up a light fixture, switch and a double gang plastic box. When I got home I decided to toss some Isolation into the mix. I have a couple of Transformers that I pulled from a Guitar Amp. To get a 1 to 1 input/output I just connected the Secondaries together so the Primary of the Second Transformer outputs 110v.
Ignore the 121 out, I ment to say 120v out.

If you think about it it’s double the Isolation lol. But this works just fine and the Transformers are just fine since the Secondaries output the same voltages.

If I just need the Isolation I can always put in an adapter to bypass the bulb.

I crudely put this together by screwing everything down to a piece of wood but all of the connections are covered in heatshrink tubing. I bought some Wago connectors but those connectors don’t like stranded wire very well.

I broke the face plate when I attempted to add a neon bulb as an idiot light. I might mount the light on the mounting tab of the double gang box. For the moment I have a 60watt bulb, I need to get a 100watt bulb.


This is pretty darn heavy with all of that iron from both Transformers. Looking at 30 or 40 lbs total.

Now I can power on a few devices that I’ve been too scared to power up after repairing.

Just a few tips.
Make sure you get a single pole switch. You can use a 3 way but use the common side of the traveler as the output from the switch if you use a 3 way switch. Avoid using Tamper proof receptacles as well. Do not use a Earth Ground if you plan to use isolation. Silver is Neutral and Gold is Live for the screw terminals. White is Neutral and Black is Live when it comes to the wire unless you live in the UK and Europe, I think Brown is Live and Blue is Neutral. Also use a plastic receptacle box. If you want to use Wago connectors get the older lever type and not the push-in type for stranded wires.

One day build – incomplete

I was going to build a Tool wall for the Garage/Shop but I had to spend that on a new battery for the Van. Also by time my Wife got home so I could get a battery it was late in the day. This one day build will be pushed back till next Sunday.

However I did make a holder for my Screwdrivers but drilling ten holes into a 1×2 isnt all that exciting.