Karl’s Home Automation Project – Part 1: Home Assistant & YAML, MQTT, Sonoff, and Xmas Lights

Karl here. I am here to write about my home automation project. First thing I want to say is that I am very cost conscious and I don’t mind putting in extra effort into the setup of things to keep costs down. I did invest a lot of time and had to do a lot of reading to get my project going. It took while and I received a lot of groans from my wife while testing. I am still in the process of tweaking things. I started watching a series of videos on YouTube from Bruh Automation. He introduced me to Home Assistant. It got me really excited. He uses a Raspberry Pi as a server but I already had a Wintel Pro CX-W8 Smart TV Box which I use as a server. I run 3 Minecraft Servers, Emby Server, iSpyConnect DVR (2 IP Cameras), Unifi wifi controller, and now MQTT Server, and Home Assistant. Below is screenshot of …

Support CNX Software – Donate via PayPal or become a Patron on Patreon

Have US Customs Declared War on TV Boxes (and mini PCs)?

Customs are useful to make sure illegal or dangerous goods don’t reach customers, and they also “protect jobs” or “special interests” by applying tariffs to imports. If you’ve ever purchased goods out of your country or economic zone, the experience can range from flawless (no duties), to annoying (paying some taxes), up to really frustrating and depressing, if customs decide to have a closer look to your imported item. Most the time I don’t have any problems, especially since I try to be careful to stay below the limit (~$30 here) sometimes splitting my orders, a few times I have to pay custom duties and VAT, and once I got a call from UPS telling me my $100 mini PC was kept by customs (not sure why), and that the total cost to it get was unknown, but it will be at least $150 for handling and taxes, and sending it back to China would cost about the same… So …

Support CNX Software – Donate via PayPal or become a Patron on Patreon

Wintel Pro CX-W8 Cherry Trail mini PC Sells for $85

I reviewed Wintel W8 mini PC powered by an Intel Atom Z3735F last year, although since the model could dual boot Windows 8.1 and Android 4.4 I mostly focused my review on the Android part. There’s now an upgraded model running Windows 10 only, based on Intel Atom x5-Z8300 quad core Cherry Trail processor, and very much the same interfaces except one of the USB 2.0 ports has been upgraded to USB 3.0. Wintel Pro CX-W8 has very similar same specifications to other Cherry Trail mini PCs available on the market: SoC – Intel Atom x5-Z8300 “Cherry Trail” quad core processor @ 1.44 GHz (Bust freq: 1.84 GHz) with Intel Gen8 HD graphics (2W SDP) System Memory –  2 GB Storage – 32 GB eMMC + micro SD slot Video Output – HDMI Audio I/O – HDMI, 3.5mm microphone jack Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0 (RTL8723 or AP6234) USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port, …

Support CNX Software – Donate via PayPal or become a Patron on Patreon

How to Install 64-bit BIOS on Sunchip CX-W8

Sunchip CX-W8 is an Intel Atom Z3735F TV box running Windows, but I’ve been informed that originally Sunchip designed it for WeTek in order to manufacture a Linux based mini PC. Unfortunately, they finally gave up once they discovered Intel had no intention to work on HDMI audio support in Linux for their Atom Z3700 series processor despite it working on Android… Intel Compute Stick will apparently use a separate DSP to handle that part (TBC). Nevertheless, when WeTek saw I had Wintel W8, they decided to share the 64-bit “BIOS” they had worked on for the Linux port. By the way, Wintel W8 and Sunchip CX-W8 allegedly come from two different factories / design houses, so although they look alike, the hardware might be different, and the UEFI firmware / BIOS, I’m about to share may or may not be compatible with Wintel W8, so you may brick it if it is not already bricked… If you want to …

Support CNX Software – Donate via PayPal or become a Patron on Patreon

Intel Atom Z3735F mini PC Power Consumption in Android

I’ve already measured power consumption running Antutu and playing a 4K video on Rockchip RK3288 and Amlogic S812 platform, as described in “Power Consumption of Amlogic S812 and Rockchip RK3288 TV Boxes“, and now that I have an Intel Bay Trail-T mini PC running Android 4.4 with Wintel W8, I was interested in comparing its power consumption to the ARM platform. [Update: I forgot to mention measurements have all been done @ ~5V.] The test normally consists in several steps: Boot the device Run the latest Antutu benchmark Connect a USB hard drive Play a 4K video in Kodi from the hard drive Diconnect the hard drive Power off the device But since the current draw was a little to high at times, I got a few issues with my setup. First, I had to boot twice hence the “Power On 1” and “Power On 2” strings on the chart, then Antutu 3D graphics benchmark did not fully complete, but …

Support CNX Software – Donate via PayPal or become a Patron on Patreon

Wintel W8 Dual boot Android 4.4 + Windows 8.1 mini PC Unboxing

Last year, we were promised dual boot mini PC based on Intel that would run Windows 8.1 or Android 4.4, but finally companies decided against shipping a dual boot firmware, and simply loaded Windows 8.1 on their machines. Kingnovel sent me their K8 mini PC, better known as Wintel W8, based on Intel Atom Z3735F, and that can dual boot Windows 8.1 with Bing or Android 4.4. Today, I’ll go through the specs first, take some pictures of the device, and tear it down to have a closer look at the hardware, and in a separate post I’ll quickly check out Windows 8.1, before spending a bit more time on Android 4.4 to see how well or bad Android runs on Intel platforms. Kingnovel K8 / Wintel W8 specifications Hardware-wise the box has mostly the same boring specifications as almost any other Intel Atom Z3735F products on the market: SoC – Intel Atom Z3735F “Bay Trail” quad core processor @ …

Support CNX Software – Donate via PayPal or become a Patron on Patreon