Valetudo is a cloud-free web interface for robot vacuum cleaners

In my review of Kyvol Cybovac S31 LDS smart robot vacuum cleaner, I noted that app permissions meant both the map of your house and GPS coordinates may be sent to the cloud. But it was pointed out to me that earlier LDS robot vacuum cleaners from Roborock/Xiaomi were supported by Valetudo project that removes the need to connect to the cloud, and implements a mobile-friendly web interface as well as MQTT support for integration with Home Assistant or Node-RED. The project is not a custom firmware for the robots, and instead, the stock firmware is patched with Valetudo which developers describe as an “alternative App implementation + mock cloud which runs on the robot itself.” The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to teardown your vacuum cleaner to root it and install Valetudo, but it will depend on the model, and manufacturing date/firmware installed. The less good news is that the process can still be complicated, and […]

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Maypole MicroSD card reader comes with ESP32 for WiFi, smart storage (Crowdfunding)

Several years ago, we covered Zsun WiFi card reader a tiny USB card reader with WiFi and a battery that allowed users to access files via USB or WiFi from any device. People managed to hack the device and run OpenWrt on the little MicroSD card reader, but this required either to open the hardware and do some soldering, or use another method that could potentially brick the hardware, so not an ideal solution. But now Akshar Vastarpara has come with a similar device. Maypole is an open-source hardware MicroSD card reader powered by Espressif ESP32 processor providing both WiFi and the resources for smarter storage. It comes with an optional battery too to access files even without having to connect it to a USB port. Maypole hardware specifications: Storage – Swappable MicroSD cards up to 32GB Wireless Connectivity WiFi 2.4 GHz WiFi 4 via ESP32 WiSoC, Up to 4 to 5 clients Access Point (AP) or station (STA) mode […]

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Balena EtcherPro multi SD card writer now up for pre-order

We first wrote about Balena EtcherPro in December 2018, as a relatively low-cost multi-SD card writer, designed by Balena for people who needed to flash several micro SD cards, USB drives, or boards. At the time, mass production was scheduled for Q2 2019. But it took a bit more time than expected, and the company is only now taking pre-orders for the device with a $50 deposit, and $990 price tag excluding VAT and shipping. EtcherPro highlights and specifications: Display – 7-inch RGB touch screen for control Ports – 16x USB 3.0, 16x SD card slots, 16x MicroSD card slots to flash up to 16 drives/devices at once Flash at speeds up to 52MB/s when flashing 16 drives/devices simultaneously, or up to 200MB/s for a single drive/device Supports SD, microSD, USB drives, and single-board computers (or compute modules via carrier boards) Flash an image from a physical drive source or an online source (URL) Clone physical drives/devices Stackable to flash […]

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Turn $1.5 Blue Pill STM32 board into a Sigrok compatible logic analyzer

“Blue Pill” is a popular STM32 development board thanks to its low cost – now as low as $1.50 on Aliexpress – and Arduino compatibility via the STM32duino project. People have created all sorts of projects around the tiny STM32 board, but I find Mark (aka thanks4opensource) buck50 test and measurement firmware very interesting as it turns the Blue Pill board into a logic analyzer compatible with the open-source Sigrok command-line tool and PulseView GUI. Mark explains the firmware is still at the beta stage, so bugs will most likely have to be fixed. Nevertheless, Buck50 firmware should enable the following key features on the Blue Pill board: 8 channel, 6+ MHz logic analyzer Approx. 5K sample buffer depth Samples stored only at signal edges for efficient memory usage Complex triggering via user-defined state machine supporting combinations of sequential (“A then B then C”) and logical-OR (“A or B or C”) conditionals Output to VCD and other file formats for […]

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Android 11 Release – People-centric Communication and “Pixel-First” Features

Six months have passed since Android 11 developer preview was released in February and at the time we noted enhancements for foldables and 5G, new call-screening APIs, new media & camera capabilities including animated HEIF support, as well as machine learning improvements. Google has now officially released Android 11 that is currently rolling out to select Google Pixel, OnePlus, Xiaomi, OPPO, and Realme phones. More phones will be upgraded/supported in the future, and Google also introduced some Pixel-first features that will (initially?) end up on Pixel phones exclusively. All Android 11 phones will support chat bubbles to message on top of other applications, built-in screen & audio, wireless Android Auto support with compatible cars, one-time permission for increased privacy, and more. But Google may have changed strategy trying to make Pixel phones more attractive to prospective buyers and increase sales as the Android 11 release comes with the following Pixel-exclusive features: Live View with Location Sharing in Google Maps – […]

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ESPurna ESP8266 Automation Firmware Gets Support for BME680 Sensor’s Precise Indoor Air Quality Measurements

Bosch BME680 is a 4-in-1 air quality sensor measuring relative humidity, barometric pressure, ambient temperature, and gas (VOC) levels. It’s found in boards such as STM32 based Metriful Sense or Nordic Thingy:91, and Bosch Sensortec published an Arduino library based on “Bosch Sensortec Environmental Cluster (BSEC) Software” to provide precise calculations temperature, humidity, pressure, and indoor air quality (IAQ). BSEC proprietary algorithms can provide indoor air quality data as good as more expensive CO2 sensors according to a recent presentation by the company. Max Prokhorov, lead ESPurna maintainer, and Rui Marinho noticed none of the popular open-source ESP8266 automation firmware including ESPurna, Tasmota, and Esphome supported BME680 sensor just yet. So they decided to work together to add BME680 sensor support via BSEC library to ESPurna firmware, and now it’s very easy to use as you just need to define BME680_SUPPORT=1 before compiling the firmware. You’ll find the now-merged pull request here. The feature was previously discussed in Tasmota, but […]

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Sonoff Zigbee Bridge Now Supports Tasmota Firmware, Home Assistant, Zigbee2Tasmota

Sonoff ZBBridge (aka Sonoff Zigbee Bridge) WiFi to Zigbee gateway was launched a few months ago for $16.90 plus shipping, and it’s now also listed on Banggood for $17.99 shipped. It allows users to control Zigbee devices connected to the gateway using the eWelink mobile app used with other Sonoff devices. But many people like to run Tasmota firmware on their Sonoff devices since it’s open-source and provided more flexibility such as integration with Home Assitant or Domoticz. There was already support for Zigbee in Tasmota at the time but only for Texas Instruments SimpleLink CC253x Zigbee MCU’s, and Sonoff ZBBridge is made of an ESP8266 WiSoC and a Silicon Labs EFR32MG21 Gecko Series 2 Cortex-M33 Zigbee microcontroller. So I just suspected that eventually, Sonoff Zigbee Bridge could support Tasmota open-source firmware but that would take some time… It took about four months. Not too bad. It started in the comments section on CNX Software and other places, with the […]

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Software Update Brings Subscription based Functions-on-Demand to BMW Cars

Cars are getting smarter and safer, and autonomous driving looks promising but may take longer than expected, as many shortcomings still have to be worked out. In any case, that means most new cars will be connected to the Internet in the future, especially with the launch of 5G and V2X solutions. This will bring benefits and new business models, as BMW showcased at the recent BMW Connected Car Beta Days 2020. BMW lists a long list of new advantages of an upcoming software upgrade with improved BWM maps, connected parking to help you find parking space, connected charging to “make mobility more sustainable and innovative”, BMW Digital Key that turns an iPhone into a secure digital vehicle key,  wireless support of Google’s Android Auto, and the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant has received some improvement with the virtual character now turns towards the person talking and can distinguish between addressing the driver and the passenger. Some updates look genuinely useful, […]

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