Blog entries from December, 2018

Those slow flashes

Thursday, December 6th, 2018 at 10:21 pm

Today was was my first time riding to work in too long and although there was plenty of light, as I rode on the suspended section under the freeway near Kooyong I was reminded of something that annoys me because it can be dangerous: a slow flashing front light.

So what am I talking about? Consider this road rule:

259. Riding at night
    The rider of a bicycle must not ride at night, or in hazardous weather
    conditions causing reduced visibility, unless the bicycle, or the rider, displays -
    (a) a flashing or steady white light that is clearly visible for at least 200 metres
        from the front of the bicycle; and
    (b) a flashing or steady red light that is clearly visible for at least 200 metres
        from the rear of the bicycle; and
    (c) a red reflector that is clearly visible for at least 50 metres from the rear of
        the bicycle when light is projected onto it by a vehicle's headlight on low-beam

On its face this is all reasonable, my particular issue is with the word “flashing” because it doesn’t indicate how slow or fast the flash should be.

I prefer a fast flash as it draws your attention, but is still continuous enough that you can follow where it is, especially when there is a bend or obstructions.

On the other hand a slow (where you can notice the delay) flash I find to be dangerous as you may not have seen enough flashes to get an idea of the direction and speed the bike is moving, before you need to allow for the direction to be changing because of a bend or curve in the path.

The compounding factor with this morning’s example was that it was also a super bright light. The sun wasn’t quite up and the freeway casts a decent shadow, it isn’t good to be faced with a blinding intermittent light on a narrow path with metal railings on both sides.

For the record I had my lights on, if I want to see I have the front on steady, but I wanted to be seen so today was the fast flash…

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From broadcast to stream

Saturday, December 1st, 2018 at 9:02 pm

Once I had my central heating controlled by Home Assistant based on a schedule in Google Calendar I started to think about how I could also control my stereo that I use as my alarm clock. This 25 cd stacker double tape desk stereo (purchase from Brashs gives an idea of how long I have had it) was the final clock in my house (I’m considering my car stereo to be out in the garage) that I would need to adjust for daylight saving.

My first thought was to find a manually tuned radio that I could just control the power of via a relay. I was able to find a few cheap radios, but they all had electronic tuners, so you couldn’t just kill the power. I also didn’t want to use an old radio, because it wouldn’t be as nice.

Next I started looking into playing back the infrared codes from the remote control for my stereo. This looked promising, but I was starting to like the idea of getting rid of the reasonably large stereo.

I briefly looked into a radio tuner module controlled by the Arduino. This would give me the ability to remotely tune to different stations, but it would also need some form of powered speakers that turned of/off at the same time.

Another option was a network speaker and I considered some cheap wifi speakers, but dismissed them when I found that nobody had integrated with them, I also didn’t find anything good said about the phone app they use for control. Also on the network speaker approach were options like a Sonos or a Google Assistant speaker. These are a lot more expensive and require cloud integration that I didn’t like.

The solution I went with was a network speaker somewhere in the middle, a speaker with integrated Chromecast. These have been discontinued in favour of more expensive models with Google Assistant, (I was able to find a new one on ebay for a very reasonable price) but with the advantage over a cheap speaker of there being a Google Cast component in Home Assistant.

Once setup on my wifi network it was again fairly straightforward to create automations to trigger playback from a network URL, the tricky part turned out to be finding the streaming URL for the radio station I wanted. If you go to there website the stream is provided by iheartradio which I couldn’t get to work, but I found a different source for the same station from the website of the radio network.

This has been working well (and I reclaimed space where the old stereo used to sit) but it does feel a bit wrong to change from receiving a broadcast over the air to downloading a network stream, it goes against one of my goals of not relying on internet/cloud services, although it can be rightly pointed out that using Google Calendar for the schedule already violates that goal…

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