Rescue off-screen windows easily (Windows.10 and Linux.Mint)

When a program is moved off the main screen – maybe to a second monitor which is now no longer connected – you need a quick and easy way to move it to the current monitor. This is what I do –

There are several programs running on the extended desktop (on the right hand side monitor).

Without the second monitor all you see is this, and your programs are trapped out of sight.

Running programs are not visible

To see what’s hidden off-screen, hold down ALT and press TAB repeatedly. This cycles through thumbnail images of all windows even if they are off-screen or minimized. Release both keys when you highlight the window you want to rescue.

There are 5 off-screen windows to choose from

When both keys are released, the window is selected but not visible. Hold the WINDOWS (flag) key down and press the LEFT arrow key a few times until the window is visible. Release both keys.

First window is rescued.

When you release the keys, the recovered window will stay where it is, and other windows will be offered for rescue.

On the left are other available windows.

Mouse click on the second window you want to rescue and it will be placed next to the first.

Two windows have now been rescued

Repeat the actions for other off-screen windows, and you’re done.

Note that you can use the WINDOWS key with the arrow keys (up, down, left, right) to park windows to any part of the screen.

Sometimes the off-screen program may be waiting for a user response, so try pressing ESCAPE or ENTER to dismiss it. If all esle fails close the program using Task Manager, then reopen it normally. If it starts off-screen, it should now recover easily.

A wi-fi and touch controlled NeoPixel ring using the Wemos D1 Mini ESP8266 module.

This project describes an easy way to control a strip or ring of WS2812 LEDs via a web page. It was originally based on the Arduino FastLED library.

Although the FastLed library code gives us a great example of how to control NeoPixel rings and strips, it doesn’t provide for user interaction. So it was decided to add the ability to control the device by wi-fi, and also have a touch switch for local control.

Materials required
A Wemos D1 Mini module was used as it consisted of a low-cost ESP8266 wifi chip and antenna, and it can be programmed by the familiar Arduino software. The Wemos module sits in a socket which is soldered to a matrix circuit board. This allows the module to be swapped out if needed, and also makes it easier to connect the touch-switch and neopixel wires.

A touch switch module was chosen rather than a discrete push-switch as it can be hidden behind the acrylic case and should also provide more reliable switching. The 100 x100 x 25mm square case was laser cut from 3mm acrylic, and was designed using the makercase on-line designer. This is the quickest software for making simple boxes. An extra 100mm square piece was cut for the front, with two circular cuts to accommodate the neopixel ring so it can lie flush with the front surface. Later, the touch-switch hole was cut so the sensor sits behind only one thickness of acrylic.

Laser cut acrylic case

The components fitted easily inside the box – it has plenty of room for a battery pack if you wanted to make it totally portable.

The touch switch sits in a rectangular cut-out.
Here is a view before the centre cover is glued on.

Software overview. The project uses websockets so that any web browsers connected can control (and be controlled) by the device. The touch-switch also controls the software and the settings are communicated to all connected browsers via websockets in real time.

User settings are stored in an object, derived from the ‘userDataClass’. This object stores settings for the brightness, colour, active pattern, demo pattern, provides functions for brightness gamma correction, etc.

The touch-switch code decides whether the switch received a tap or long press. A tap changes the pattern and a long press increases/decreases the brightness. Debouncing the switch was achieved by using a 32 bit integer and bit-shifting each switch reading into it. This method has both the advantage of being able to check for a steady switch state, and to discriminate between a short or long press. A future article will explain exactly how this is done.

Here’s a video of it working.

Sheffield Hackspace install Lorawan gateway

Sheffield Hackspace has setup and installed a LoraWAN (The Things Network) gateway.  LoraWAN is a new technology that enables small amounts of data to travel large distances with low power and the best bit of it is….its free!!  This is being used by universities, corporations and hobbyist a like to transmit data such as air quality, traffic, temperature, gps informational ect. from battery (or wire) powered devices that last up to 10 years and more.

lorawan gateway

Come to the Sheffield Hackspace to learn about this new technology and make use of the gateway to prototype your idea.  If you want to make your own gateway and add to the things networks, come and learn how to do that.  See if your area has a gateway installed by clicking the link here.

For our gateway, we used a Raspberry Pi and RAK 831 to receive multiple frequencies at the same time. For some unknown reason the RAK 831 use to switch off occasionally so we’ve added a on/off relay (as can be seen in the photo) to power recycle it automatically/remotely when when it stops responding to the Raspberry PI. Hopefully we’ll find the root cause.

DreamPi and the Dreamcast

Getting the Dreamcast back online

Getting a Dreamcast games console in 2018 is great but there are something that you can do as Sega has stopped supporting it for may a years now. This means that you can’t play some of the great games online. The following article will help you get the Dreamcast back online and playing the awesome games this short lived system has to offer.

Equipment you will need

  • You will need a working Dreamcast with a working 56k modem
  • Raspberry Pi ( A B+ or more is advisable )
  • An SD card with the DreamPi software image – Link
  • A Lunix compatible USB dail-up voice 56k modem
  • Telephone cable RJ11
  • Ethernet cable RJ45 – to go to your router
  • Dreamcast browser software like the Dreamkey 3.0

Equipment for the line inducer

  • 0.47uf capacitor
  • 389 Ohm resistor
  • UK – two 9V battery (18V) : US 9V battery

or

  • A step up power booster module connected via a 5V USB (to the Pi)

Set up the image file

You will need to set up the image file of the DreamPi in order to get things going. I have linked to a guide to install the DreamPi image, you will need to change the file name listed in the link to the DreamPi image file name.

https://www.raspberrypi.org/documentation/installation/installing-images/linux.md

There is an alternative install that you can do via NOOBS. Link below,

https://dreamcast-talk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=10851

Setting up the Pi

Once you have successfully flashed the image onto the SD card insert the card into the Pi and connect the Ethernet cable and USB modem ready for the line inducer in the next section. Connecting a monitor is option for normal game play but for initial setup it is good to see it working. You will be able to see if the modem is detected, say with lshw in the terminal. The login information is pi as the user name and raspberry as the password.

Making the line inducer

You will need to cut the phone line wire and solder them on to a PCB board leaving enough room to add in the capacitor and the resistor as displayed in the diagram below figure 1. Make sure that you get the capacitor the right way round in relation to the resistor.

Boost converter for phone line

Boost converter

Figure 1

I used the step up power booster for mine instead of the battery option but I did find that I had to boost the power up more than I expected; approximately 26V in my case to get a stable connection. Have a play around to see if yours will work at a lower voltage. Now in this example I used a USB from the booster converter to the Pi in order to get the power to the phone line, see figure 2 for the pin out when wiring it up to the boost converter.Just make sure that the pins and the wires at the other end match up to what you are expecting so you don’t get any cross wires and fry something; use a multimeter for this.

Pins for USB
Figure 2

Here is my very excellent and well soldered PCB board of the schematic above, figure 3 – 5 shows it made.

Boost converter make photo 1
figure 3

Boost converter - made
figure 4

Boost converter - make 3
figure 5

Now in figure 5 you will see that I have used hot glue to help secure the phone line wires as you will find that they are easily broken.

Now connect this to the Pi and the Dreamcast.

Side note

Now that you my find on some older Pi’s the boost converter makes the Pi unstable. In that case you my have to have an external power source, say a 12v /9v power supply but you will need to adjust the boot converter to make sure that you don’t over load anything.

Turning it all on

As the title says, turn the Pi on. Wait for it all to load and settle down. Your USB modem will most likely have two sets of lights, wait for them both to come on. If they don’t come on after a few minutes this may indicate that you have a problem. This could be an issue with the voltage not been high enough or the inducer on the PCB has a short or bad connection. Test with a multimeter.

Turn the Dreamcast on and follow the next section.

Dreamkey 3 setup

Setting up the Dreamkey is quite easy. In the setup section of the Dreamkey when it asks you for the ISP phone number, set it to 555. The username and password can be what every you want. Pick something easy my is **** and **** (What, you are not suppose to tell anyone your username and password). Everything else is either blank or as default. Make sure you save when prompted so you can get online later. During the connection process you may see one of the lights go off on the modem, if like mine it has two, but it should come on again shortly. If successful you should see a web page load, slowly. If not make sure that you have everything connected and you have an internet connection. Check that there is not breaks in the any of the wires and that the DreamPi software is running and working properly.

Playing an online game

Now here is the fun or more fun part, playing the games. For games like ChuChu rocket it was simple the case of getting the DreamPi turned on and waiting for the green lights. But for some games like Phantasy star online you will need a patch disc to get you going. This is really easy you need to had over to https://sylverant.net/ and download the appropriate version for your game. You only need to use it once (as far as I’m aware) and you should be ready to play.

Trouble shooting

  • Game fails to connect or disconnects nearly staight away.
    • Your line voltage is not high enough
  • Fails to connect at all
    • Your modem is faulty and needs replacing
    • You have forgotten to connect one or more wires
    • There is a break / short circuit in one or more of the wires.
  • The TV is blank
    • Have you turned your TV on?

Sources of information

Here are the links that I used to get the Dreamcast back online.

Instruction on setting up and making the DreamPi

http://blog.kazade.co.uk/p/dreampi.html

Making the line inducer

http://dreamcast.onlineconsoles.com/phpBB2/guides_pcdcwin98.php#10 from about step 10 but step 9 could be useful.

Dreamkey 3.0

https://www.emuparadise.me/Sega_Dreamcast_ISOs/Dreamkey_3_(PAL)/51593

Edit: Emuparadise.me is no longer with us, so here is alternate link but I have not checked the quality of it. Please virus check it before use.

https://romsmode.com/roms/dreamcast/dreamkey-version-3-0-421318

Sylverant Phantasy star online

https://sylverant.net/

A super simple way to copy files from a networked computer

Ok, so you’re wanting to extract files from your Raspberry Pi (or other networked computer) and you can’t be bothered to go find a USB flash drive (don’t feel guilty, I’ve been there too). How about you set up a temporary HTTP file server of the information and access it from any web browser on another computer? Impossible you say? Not quite apparently.

I’ve just found this trick and it is possibly going to become one of my most used methods of file transfer from a Raspberry Pi.

  1. Go to the folder you want to access from another machine in the command line of the Pi…
  2. Now type in the following line…
    python -m SimpleHTTPServer 8080
  3. That’s all you have to do, at least on the pi.
  4. On another computer, go to the following address in any web browser… http://<hostname or IP address of pi>:8080
    For example… http://raspberrypi.local:8080 or http://192.168.1.100:8080
  5. Once you’re done copying you’re files, go back to the Raspberry Pi and type…
    Ctrl+C
  6. Your HTTP Server is now gone, like it wasn’t even there.

Wasn’t that simple? I foresee this as being a stupidly useful tool for copying files in future (particularly copying to an Android or iOS phone). Admittedly it isn’t bi-directional, but that is what SSHFTP is for!

FYI, I have tested this on a Raspberry Pi, Mint Linux desktop and on Windows 10 (with Python installed) and they all work. Windows 10 does require you give Python permission to act as a server (there will be a popup).

Happy making folks, hope the above helped in your projects. Ask a question in the comments below if you haven’t succeeded with this useful trick.

How to download a complete website, including links between pages.

Quite often, you may download sections of a website, only to find downloading separate pages does not maintain the links between them.

There is an easy way to grab whole sections of a site (or even a whole site), such that you can run it locally offline with all the links between pages intact, and you can even upload the whole captured sections to your own website and the relative links will still work!

Copy and paste the index page or a sub page into httrack

It works on Windows 2000 to Win10, and Linux. You can use the portable version which will run from a USB stick, or you can use the installer version.

And it’s FREE.

You can capture (mirror) several websites complete with their data, and they may be accessed from a master web-page; as in the example below.

The REALLY cool bit is that downloadable files such as PDFs and jpg files are saved too. If it’s in a directory and referenced by a regular page link, it will be downloaded.

Error reporting is also good. Use this on your own website to show up a list of any broken links – and other errors.

Let me know if you learn any neat tricks with this software…..

Richard Langner

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arduino Day 2017

Its that time of year once again! Arduino Day 2017!!

On April 1st (no joke!), for the third year running, we will be hosting an Arduino Day event at the hackspace.

The event itself will begin at 10am and will include several talks from current members on Arduino basics, a show and tell of projects that have been made using Arduino and, of course, the workshop will be open for anyone to try their hand at building something, with lots of members on hand to help out.

For non-members the event will be free to attend so if you think you know anyone that would be interested in learning about this invaluable digital making tool, or would just like to learn something new please share this post with them.

The presentations / talks given on the day will be:-

10:30:- What is an Arduino
11:00:- The Arduino IDE
11:30:- Writing an Arduino Program (Sketch)
12:30:- Installing Libraries and Boards
13:00:- Data protocols (intermediate talk)

As well as this we will have members on hand to answer any questions or help out with your projects up until 16:00

Electromagnetic Field 2016

A great weekend was had by all as multiple members of SHH&M went down to Loseley Park for EMF2016. Our entrepid woodworker, AJ, went ahead of the rest of us to build the sink frames, back of the bar and multiple other items ahead of over 1400 people decending for a weekend of camping. However, as should be expected from a group of hackers and makers camping, electricity and high speed internet were essential amenities. We had our own Village, complete with flag, and took along some Go-Boxes and Bugs’s pancake engraver to show off (blog to follow!).

Events over the weekend included numerous talks from lockpicking to film special effects and latest updates from CERN to magic tricks and illusions. There was also the opportunity to make a wide range of things such as a titanium spork, a patchwork pin cushion and a pin hole camera. Evening events included film showings, the infamous Robot Arms with NottyHacks Barbot, a light maze and FirePong – yep, ping pong with fire! There was also a giant blow up rabbit which you could change the colour of by tweeting a colour!

All the talks are available to watch on You Tube if you feel want to catch-up with anything.

A one day event is planned for next year, with the next EMF camp due in 2018. If this year is anything to go by, both should be highly recommended!

 

Blue Bunny

Blue Bunny

White Bunny

White Bunny

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Red Lightfield

Blue Lightfield

Blue Lightfield

Box making

Recently I thought that I would experiment with some new methods for box making. This particular box is made from pine, not exactly something you would use to make quality furniture with but it is really only a practise piece.

The box is joined together with mitered splines, the top and bottom panels are rebated 15mm in from each end. I made the box as one piece before separating the top using the table saw. I also put a chamfer on the front bottom edge of the box and the top of the box lid as well as the top edge on the inside of the panel, this made it look a little more decorative and also hides any uneven gaps that may appear between the lid. I cut the grooves for the splines using a jig I made for the table saw that holds the box at a 45′ angle to the blade. I finished it off with a few coats of varnish.

img_1808_27673253854_o

I’m hoping to do some more intricate box making using some finer hardwoods in the future but overall this project went really well, next time I think I’m going to get hold of some jewelry box style hinges, I used piano hinge on this box which was not idea and is a bit of a pain to work with.

img_1814_28255135866_o

img_1815_28255135396_o

Hillsfest 2016

We had a good time at Hillsfest this year! Lots of friends and new faces with stalls in the Maker’s Dome, and we really enjoyed chatting with everyone who came up to make wollen bobbles (Thanks to Jo and Sarah for running that!), and ask about all the 3D printed, lasercut and otherwise member-built things we had on display.

We know a lot of you signed up to the mailing list, and a lot more plan to drop into one of our scheduled sessions at our workshop in Portland Works. Come along! See the space, chat with our other members and find out what your local hackspace can do for you.

Hillsfest 2016 GoBoxes Hillsfest 2016 OJ Hillsfest 2016 Bobbles