28 December, 2017

HP Color LaserJet MFP M277dw - first impressions

Here we are. I got tired of buying ink for my MFP InkJet printer to find it dried out or unusable some time later. So, went for Laser printer - HP Color LaserJet MFP M277dw.

What I was looking for:

  • Low cost per page for infrequent use - mostly BW. Speed is not critical.
  • Multi-Function Printer (MFP) i.e. printing and scanning, preferably with Automatic Document Feeder (ADF), I don't care about FAX
  • Wireless connection
  • Easy menu operations - preferable with some not that minimalistic screen
  • Scan to USB - this one I find very handy
  • Duplex printing - desirable

09 August, 2017

Renault Clio III 1.2 TCE100 SportTourer - 5 years later

I just decided to summarize the experience with the car and perhaps to revisit my first impression observations. I will mention the positives and negatives with the car in random order with some sort of comments about the seriousness of the issues.

In general, the car is reflects the purchase price in the positive context. The interior is rather simple with no fancy lights or smart devices - just fine with me. More importantly, the coupe is spacious for the size of the car. The back seats are a bit shorter to save space but comfortable enough. The model was equipped with computer controlled AC which is really good option. I have to admit immediately, that it maintains perfectly the temperature in the front seats but is a bit weak, on both, heating and cooling on the back seats. The engine has low momentum turbo that gives the cat about 100 HP but it feels that it is a bit weak for the weight of the car. Despite that, it has wide acceleration span. At  110 km/h on 5th gear the engine runs at 2500 rpms and usually has enough power to accelerate. Distinct exceptions are uphill roads, where you start asking yourself "Where the 100 horses go"?

Using the AC actually feels on the engine - I can distinctly feel when it couples to the engine and some torque is lost. This actually makes the car a bit more fuel efficient during the winter, despite the dubbed winter tires.

The car is most fuel-efficient at about 90 km/h where the consumption is about 5.7 l/100 km. On the highway (110-120 km/h) it spikes to between 6.2-6.4 l/100 km. It is about the same downtown.

Problems that are worth mentioning
  • Well, changing the front light is one hell of an experience!
  • Some time it is a problems to start engine, so far it seems that this occurs more frequent when the car is parked downhill...
  • The wiper arms can not be lifted upfront, which is not practical at all during winter and when changing the wiper blades itself.
  • The balance of the car is a bit... if you lift the front wheel at the designed jack point, you will be lifting the back tire noticeable as well.
  • The engine compartment is stuffed completely, which suggests rather difficult access to anything.
  • The water drain holes between the engine and the windshield are easily stuck with dirt and difficult to clean - something I have read in other places as well.
  • The door frames are covering the plastic sealing which perhaps works perfectly in the hot sunny weather to protect them from the sun, but it is complete nonsense in snowy winters. Regardless how well you clean the snow, when you open the door you will get plenty of snow right on the seat.
  • Changing the light bulbs on the back are not the easiest as well. It takes some courage the first time to pull the plastic body from the car body.
  • The lock mechanism on the petrol hatch got stuck, fortunately at open position. If you are unfortunate, try to reach the are from inside the trunk - there is a way to pull it manually.

20 May, 2017

GY-MCU90614-BCC Serial IR Non-contact Module: Python code

It seems that this variant of the module, with serial interface, is not that popular or at least I could not find code that I can easily port to Raspberry Pi. One can find a Windows program that prints the values from the serial port but that is all.
Anyway, I found description of the protocol on several pages, and it looked doable. Later, I found an Arduino example code, which could have helped, but...  I start programming before I had the module, which explains the reason why I first convert the characters to hex and then decode... This way is easier to debug it... So, here is the Python code (at the end of the post) that tests the checksum, decodes and prints the values to the standard output. (by the way, I still do not know how to get negative values for the temperature...)

Example output:
$ ./IRserial.py
TO: 21.36   TA: 24.04
TO: 21.36   TA: 24.04
TO: 21.36   TA: 24.04
TO: 21.57   TA: 24.04
TO: 21.57   TA: 24.04
TO: 21.57   TA: 24.04
TO: 21.57   TA: 24.08
TO: 21.57   TA: 24.08
TO: 21.57   TA: 24.08

04 February, 2017

BroadLink SP3 SPcc Contros Mini WiFi Smart Home Socket

Ok, this guy has enough reviews and videos on the Net and pretty much all of them are positive.
And these are my few lines of wisdom on the subject.

  • Good build quality, size, look, and feel.
  • Relatively easy to configure and upgrade the firmware with the Android app.
  • Two-way communication - you get the current state of the switch even after manual toggle.
  • Fast to connect to WiFi and with good range.
  • The Android app is good enough and has CloudBackup/Sync, so one can easily clone the setup on multiple devices.
  • Lack of official support for desktop platforms, more importantly - Linux.
    I have found an alternative solution to this, read more below
  • The device will be alive as long as BroadLink's servers run as every proprietary protocol. 

21 January, 2017

LTS-86 Kitchen Bathroom Faucet Water Filter 2 Pcs Ceramic Cartridge Tap Water Purifier

Here we go again...

Some three months ago I bought "LTS-86 Kitchen Bathroom Faucet Water Filter 2 Pcs Ceramic Cartridge Tap Water Purifier" with the Lettoos barnd on it from Banggood.

Just to be clear - it is not Banggood's fault.

Anyway, the reason I post here is the same. Last time I wrote a negative review on the product page, Banggood did not publish it or acknowledge at all. No further comments - just letting you know what you are buying.

OK, so it was time to check what is inside. I will not use pictures from the product page, since they can be proprietary and will upload only my own pictures.