Thomas shares makes

Central Heating sensor manipulation


We used to have a gas-powered central heating system that had no external controls other than radiator valves. It had a sun-exposed exterior temperature sensor on the west side of the house that caused it to refuse to heat in the evening.

I wanted to fix the issue and control it via Home Assistant, and since only the newer models had bus control, I resorted to manipulate the outside sensor readings and designed a man-in-the-middle device.

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Home Assistant Touch Screen

Touch display on the wall

My 2017 Christmas present was a voucher for the local electronics shop. I spent it on an 'official 7" raspberry pi touch screen display', which is a nice capacitive touchscreen that you can hook up to a raspberry pi.

I 3d-printed an enclosure from Thingiverse for it, and fitted an RGB LED string around the edges as an extra.

Initially I created an AppDaemon HAdashboard configuration to control my Home Assistant instance with it.

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Heat Canon (Salamander heater) controller repair

development setup

In the winter of 2016, someone gave me a controller board for a heater. The heater is pretty scary, it burns fuel and blows exhaust and hot air out of what looks like a canon. It has some interesting mechatronics; a fuel valve, an ignition coil, and a fan. It has a flame detection sensor input as well, as a safety feature. I succeeded at repairing the board, but had to write the controller software from scratch.

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DIY Automatic condensation water pump

Installed device

In 2015 we moved into a house which had a condensing gas boiler. When the previous owners installed it, they never installed a drain pipe to dispose of the water that it produces. Instead there was... a bucket that had to be emptied every week. I quickly grew tired of emptying the bucket. With no obvious way to direct the water except over the ceiling, I needed a device that would pump the water. This sounded like a fun DIY project, so I ordered some float switches and a 12VDC membrane pump, then got busy and soldered a simple set/reset controller with... Guess which old-school IC...

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Debugging the free_ecb_at91 board using JTAG

source: wikipedia

For a school project early 2007 (a study of embedded Linux on the AT91RM9200 ARM9 processor) I got familiar with the GNU development tools and setup required to run a Linux based operating system.

Using the setup described here I was able to inspect the inner workings of Darrell loader in real time, set hardware breakpoints, step through the program flow and inspect values of program variables while the CPU core was halted.

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PenguinPages Preprocessor

screenshot of old website

When I started maintaining a personal website years ago, I kept all content in static HTML files which I uploaded. The server didn't support server side scripting and for a while I used a JavaScript to provide a navigation menu.

The JavaScript menu fixed just that, navigation. Devising a publishing …

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JAL Programmable Logic Controller

jal plc

When my brother was doing his last year of high-school in electromechanics, he came up with the idea of doing his final project using a homebuilt PLC instead of the usual Siemens stuff. I built the electronics and came up with a framework so he could easily implement his GRAFCET state machine for his part sorting robot for the PICMICRO in the JAL programming language.

This was long before Arduino, long before 'all the cool kids were doing it', and JAL was a free compiler for the affordable PIC microcontrollers. The Arduino of its days.

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Tkskymeter 2.1.0 schermafdruk

Skymeter is a utility targeted at Belgacom [1] customers. Belgacom has a very restrictive policy towards the amount of data its customers can download with its broadband internet service.

Skymeter polls the meter webpage of the Belgacom 'Self care' [2] website and presents the useful …

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Geek Toys

lirc diagram

Gadget-maniac like me? Then how about some electronic junk you hook up to your computer's unused I/O ports? These toys are simple to understand, have few parts and are therefore cheap and easy to build!

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Linux on an iBook G4


On one of the last days of august 2005 I purchased a brand-new 12" G4 Apple iBook Laptop. This page is dedicated to this beautiful piece of hardware, I will share my experiences here. You can also read here how I installed Gentoo Linux on it back then.

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TI-83 Link Cable


At the start of the third year of highschool (or fourth - I don't remember exactly) we had to buy a TI-83 calculator for math class, it was commonly known among pupils that many games were available for this device. One of the kids in our classgroup had some games on …

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