Observant regular visitors may notice I’ve a couple of existing reviews to complete and I’ve not been writing at anything like my usual speed over the past week or so. Well, I’ve been having my share of first world problems – here goes:
Firstly the weather here in Southern Spain has been ATTROCIOUS, from blistering, unrelenting heat at 43C+ max (which is not only hot but thanks to the passing Sahara winds causes intense eye irritation) to a couple of short but quite violent storms. We recently put a new top cover on our pergola and my (heavy) solar panel was happily laying flat on the top waiting for things to cool off so I could fasten some new brackets to it. And then came the storms – the first one was annoying but ineffective – the second one lifted the solar panel clean off the roof and deposited it at the other end of the patio, damaging some stone wall sections on the way. Could have been worse as it missed various cars.
I was going to say that said panel is now at the skips – but someone has already grabbed it, thinking the’ve scored. Sad to say there are hundreds of micro-fractures throughout and (even in the baking-hot sun) the best it can put out is around 2A instead of the normal 10A+ – no doubt once some constant rainfall comes along, even that will fail, so the scavengers are welcome to it.
As you can imagine, I have a mains charging backup solution for this – nothing flash, just a fixed voltage power supply but it works.
I was just recovering from this while hiding from the heat when I noticed that around half of my many IOT controls had stopped working – ranging from ESP-GO and Espurna through to Tasmota and more. I reasoned that maybe an electrical storm had taken them out – something that has not happened in the decade+ that the earliest devices have been in place, the operation of some I could not even remember.
I spent DAYS on this and tested my main IOT WiFi access point regularly with my phone to ensure it was working perfectly and not getting jammed. Well finally I realised that I was completely on the wrong track… in fact, my new router providing one WiFi access point common to half of the controllers was WORKING but had managed to flip over to WPA2-PSK security all by itself (or so it seems) instead of WPA/WPA2-PSK. WELL, it seems that, in this case at least, that ESP8266 doesn’t handle WPA2-PSK security – and after dismantling lots of kit and working on alternatives for countless hours, I finally realised that by flicking back to WPA/WPA2-PSK, everything was in fact working perfectly.
That, ladies and gentlemen, has been the sum total of my existence for the past few days. However, there is a light at the end of this tunnel – or rather, several lights.
Firstly I did the math and the cost of replacing the solar panel cannot be justified as I now realise that running my lighting controls comes to a grand total of €40 or so per annum of Spanish off-peak electricity to keep the batteries charged – so in practice it’s hardly worth worrying about lack of solar power.
Also, in the process of finding an alternative solution to my now dismantled ESP-GO + ESP8266 + NANO multi-purpose (5x) PWM + (8*) relays + Analog pergola controler running the pergola itself and some other outside lights, I realised that a single ESP32 (which I’ve largely ignored up to now) can do the job without beginning to sweat.
I also discovered (new to me) the “Berry” scripting language in the Tasmota’d ESP32. That sound like it has promise.
In the process I’ve been hunting around and found the easiest yet ESP32 programming tool for Windows (Tasmotize doesn’t seem to handle ESP32) and I’m experimenting like crazy. There’s nothing like a challenge for encouraging learning.
All of this is very exciting but doesn’t help me get my usual blogging done. Hopefully from the weekend on, my desk (and the weather) will be back to something like normal and I can resume my normal writing productivity. If anyone is still reading this 🙂 I hope that explains a lot.
AND WITH THAT… a parcel has just arrived in the post for me… including a new 4G/5G WINGLE – and if you don’t know what THAT is – eyes peeled for the next blog entry 🙂
But before all of that… with improved weather – we’re having a party tonight… I’ve added cat-approved lights to the pergola and we’re looking forward to a good night.