I spent last week in Christchurch, New Zealand, for the always amazing linux.conf.au conference. It’s my annual pilgrimage: I’ve attended every single LCA since 2002, and this year I presented a talk about my work using DIY home automation projects to help a couple of old friends who have Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and rely on electric wheelchairs for mobility.
This was a very difficult talk to give because it tells a story that is both tragic and uplifting. The projects I’ve worked on with Nick and Chris Fryer have been some of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done, but along with that came the terrible grief of Nick’s death last year.
Many people have the preconception that home automation is “expensive toys for rich lazy people”, but this talk shows that it’s far more than that.
If you personally benefit from the use of home automation, or have friends or family members who do, I’d love to hear about it. Please comment here or post in the forum, but of course please be respectful of privacy and don’t reveal personal information about anyone else unless they are OK with it.
During December I’ll be taking a break from shipping orders from the SuperHouse and Freetronics online stores.
Any orders placed after December 4th, 2018 will be shipped right after Christmas, hopefully around December 28th and 29th. If you want to get something in time for Christmas, make sure you place your order now!
I’ll be back with more videos and a bunch of new products after Christmas.
Karl has been busy! The next episode of his video series “State of Electronics” is up already, and it covers a fascinating topic: how plastic parts are made for electronic products. For electronics hobbyists, most of the focus is on circuit boards and parts and all the bits that go inside a device. The idea of going to the next level and designing a custom-fabricated case or other part seems totally out of reach unless you use a low-volume, low-accuracy method like 3D printing.
In this episode Karl shows how the Jiafuh factory turns out millions of plastic parts for all sorts of products, including mobile phone chargers, product cases, and even car parts.
Maybe some time soon I’ll be able to do a custom injection-moulded case for a SuperHouse project 🙂
Don’t forget to subscribe to Karl’s YouTube channel for more cool technical videos.
If you can’t get enough of the Huaqiangbei electronics markets in Shenzhen, China, then check out this new video! My friend Karl has been very busy editing the footage he recorded on our recent trip to China, and he’s just released his latest video.
Please subscribe to his channel (State of Electronics) on YouTube if you want to see more of these types of videos.
Near the end of the video there’s discussion of some custom switches that I had manufactured while we were over there. They’ll be a major feature of an upcoming SuperHouse video about more advanced home automation light switches.
Next week I’ll be in Sydney for linux.conf.au, the big annual Linux and Open Source conference run by Linux Australia. While I’m away some orders may ship out, but it’s best to assume that any orders placed after today won’t ship until Monday, January 29.
If you’re coming along to linux.conf.au, ask around for Jonathan Oxer and come and say hi! I’ll be running the Open Hardware Miniconf on the first day of the conference so I should be easy to find. At the OHMC we’ll have a bunch of people building this little soccer-playing robot:
My friend Karl von Moller came along with me and a few others on a recent trip to Shenzhen, China. Karl is a film-maker so he documented the trip extensively, and the first episode about the trip is up now:
He’ll be following up with more videos about what we saw on the trip, and my own video about our tour of ITEAD and visit to the Sonoff factory will be up soon too.
I’ve heard from a few people that they’ve tried making purchases from my new online store, but haven’t been able to complete checkout. A couple of people have reported that they couldn’t checkout, then tried again later and it worked – even though I hadn’t changed anything.
My theory is that the problem is with the Australia Post shipping calculation plugin that I’m using with WooCommerce. When you get to the part of the checkout where you enter your address, it uses the size and weight of your order to look up the shipping cost with Australia Post before you can complete the checkout. For some people this doesn’t seem to work, so it just sits there and goes nowhere.
Obviously this is really frustrating and I’d like to make sure it’s fixed, so if you have any problems with the online store please email me at email@example.com. Having more information about exactly when the problem shows up would be a big help.
I’ve checked that all the products have weights and dimensions specified, but perhaps it has problems with some countries or specific destinations.
I’ve now arrived in Shenzhen, China, which is the electronics capital of the world. I’m busy recording video and taking photos so that I can show everyone what it’s like here in the most high-tech city in the world.
This was the view from my hotel room window when I arrived last night:
Click the image for a larger version. It’s worth it!
The octagonal building you can see to the left that disappears above the top of the photo is SEG Plaza, the heart and soul of the electronics industry here. Every other commercial building you can see in that photo (and going out many blocks in every direction) is directly related to electronics manufacturing. There are entire buildings full of nothing but LED vendors. Buildings for case manufacturers. Buildings for cell phone parts. Buildings for LCD panels, both bare (OEM) and retail ready, and every stage in between.
If you’re interested in electronics and you haven’t heard of Shenzhen or the Huaqiangbei markets before, the next few videos that I upload will be eye-opening.