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Letratag spool

Just after noon, the post came and delivered a large flat card envelope containing my spool of white paper for the labeller.
Letratag spool.
Letratag spool.

So here is the full collection of non-maths/punctuation/Greek symbols built into the labeller:

Letratag symbols.
Letratag symbols.


A new NetRadio?

Something that my little NetRadio doesn't do is https. Now I personally think that a secure connection for streaming radio is a waste of resources, and I've noticed that https stations glitch more frequently, especially when I'm using a mobile connection. I feel I can lay blame on TLS because Love '80s glitches, but switching to Bollocks or Twinight and they play fine. I'm talking about using CustomRadioPlayer on my phone, not my own code.

At this point, I'm not entirely sure if TLS can be handled on the ESP32 for streaming radio. I'm sure I read somewhere that the fetch size was limited to, what was it, 64K? How does this go for a constant stream? I dunno. More investigation is needed.

My NetRadio is also quite sensitive to other network users because it supports a buffer of 32 bytes. To put this into context, a 128kbit station is 16,000 bytes per second. Let's say 16,500 with embedded track info. So there's around 516 data requests every second.
It would be far better to put the data into a buffer, and when we're at it split the cores so that one can take care of fetching data for the buffer, and the other can do everything else. It's not as easy as it looks, the ESP32 is a dual core processor with a flat address space, so both bits of code can access the same memory at the same time.

Other enhancements would be to support AAC in addition to MP3, bass enhancement, the ability to point to .pls and .m3u files, and an embedded server in order to allow easy setup without the serial-based configuration. Something nicer than a 16×2 LCD might be nice too.

But, alas, this means a lot of time and work, which is why it's not been done yet. Ideally I'd want to purchase the parts to build a second NetRadio in order to have one to work with, leaving the current one as it is.

Amazon found me this, for about €50:

Denver IR-135B internet radio.
Denver IR-135B Internet Radio.

This plays MP3/AAC/AAC+, Shoutcast/Icecast, direct stream links as well as .PLS and .M3U. 44.1/48kHz. It has headphone and line out on the back, so it can be easily plugged into better speakers/headphones if required. It supports all of the usual WiFi stuff (WEP/WPA/WPA2, B/G/N) and it can also be used as a Bluetooth receiver.
Looking at the user guide, it would appear that in addition to SkyCast for loads of predefined stations, there's a little embedded server for basic custom setup. This is important as I don't think the channel that I listen to a lot right now (Pangea) has much of a presence. I have an IP address ( - this does not work with NetSurf as the server looks for "Mozilla" in the User-Agent to know if it's a browser or something to stream to). The server seems to be something to do with CentOS? Don't really know what the relation is, but it's a good selection of music, and a station I'd really want to be able to add.

The only thing that isn't clear to me at this point is whether or not https links are supported. If they are, then I'll be getting this. The price isn't that different to getting all the necessary parts, and the hard part has already been done. ☺

If it can't do https, then sadly it's just a more capable version of my device... admittedly in a rather pleasant looking wooden box.

I've sent Denver (a Danish company, and possibly one of the first sites I've come across with a .eu domain!) an email asking. Fingers crossed.


Leaky gutter

The gutter around back overflows in heavy rain. It really needs to be cleaned out. It's been about a decade and a half since it was last done. The last time, I climbed up onto the roof of the barn and carefully walked along the roof (corrugated asbestos) between the barn roof and the adjoining hangar roof.
It was not a pleasant experience, as if I slipped it would be about four metres straight down, and these days I'm maybe 12kg heavier.
I'll have to think of something. Later on. ☺

What I couldn't put off was the fact that it was overflowing in regular rain, making the back a wet mess. It turns out that the recent heavy rain washed a load of oak leaves and crap into the downpipe which clogged up. I put the ladder up to the gutter and pushed part of the flimsy metal cover aside, and cleared out around the end of the gutter using a hand spade. Then to check it was working, I poured ten litres of water (from a bucket) into the gutter.
So I tried another ten litres.
Just as it was about to overflow, there was a weird noise like a dying alien. Then loads of crap came spewing out of the end of the long section of pipe (at around a 30° angle). I disconnected it at the bend around the side of the house so it would spit whatever is in there onto the ground rather than sending it to the big pipe around back. Plenty of leaves and that sort of gritty mud crap you get in gutters.

It's raining now, but dry around back. Here's the downpipe.

Around back.
Around back.

That's the damp end, hence the green fuzz. And also why adding to the damp wasn't a great idea.

Here's the "engineers fix" (aka "bodge").

The outflow.
The outflow.

It's not perfect. I was pretty much working blind. There was space for my arm, with a spade or a camera, but not for the part with the eyeballs.

We're on a yellow alert for wind. On the other hand, it's 11.2°C right now, that being about the average temperature since noon.
Sorry, but I'd rather wet and (low) double digits than sunny and minus anything.


Tassimo Hacking - barcode bits known?

A commenter recently asked me about making the barcodes in absence of the OS_SpriteOp SWI, so I made a plot-to-screen version. This got me wondering. I took a look around to see if there was a Tassimo service manual. Nothing on ElectroTanya, but I did find something on Scribd. Unfortunately I was expected to sign in or sign up in order to download some obviously stolen content, so I just saved a screenshot.

Tassimo T-Disc code
Tassimo T-Disc barcode format.

There's still some experimentation to do, for example what do the non-defined values actually mean - for example is quantity 0 the smallest and 63 the largest? But, whatever, this greatly aids in decoding.

So let's try one.

Cote d'Or Chocolate. Barcode 653114, bit pattern 1111111100011111.

11 111 111000 11 1 11
|  |   |      |  | |
|  |   |      |  | '-- Temperature 94C
|  |   |      |  |
|  |   |      |  '---- Large size disc
|  |   |      |
|  |   |      '------- Precharge quantity/duration
|  |   |
|  |   '-------------- Amount of liquid (56 - about 150ml?)
|  |
|  '------------------ Fill speed (maximum?)
'--------------------- Emptying value

I'm not sure about the quantity, I've not actually measured it. But other than that, the values look about correct for what it is.

Let's try now a coffee capsule from the latte range. It's a regular (thin) disc that spits out a small amount, say 50ml or so, which is then topped up by a milk disc.

Caramel Macchiato Coffee. Barcode 061780, bit pattern 0001100000100010.

00 011 000001 00 0 10
|  |   |      |  | |
|  |   |      |  | '-- Temperature 92C
|  |   |      |  |
|  |   |      |  '---- Normal size disc
|  |   |      |
|  |   |      '------- Precharge quantity/duration
|  |   |
|  |   '-------------- Amount of liquid (1 - about 50ml?)
|  |
|  '------------------ Fill speed (half?)
'--------------------- Emptying value

Now this is strange. The chocolate shouldn't need precharge and discharge as it's just a powder, but the coffee disc should because you'll want to wet it prior to forcing hot water through it.
Which makes me wonder if these two bits are inverted?

Final test, let's see what it does for the milk disc. This is a regular sized disc of concentrated liquid milk. It would suffice to just chuck hot water into it.

Caramel Macchiato Milk. Barcode 064392, bit pattern 0001100100100111.

00 011 001001 00 1 11
|  |   |      |  | |
|  |   |      |  | '-- Temperature 94C
|  |   |      |  |
|  |   |      |  '---- Large size disc? (no, it isn't!)
|  |   |      |
|  |   |      '------- Precharge quantity/duration
|  |   |
|  |   '-------------- Amount of liquid (9)
|  |
|  '------------------ Fill speed (half?)
'--------------------- Emptying value

It seems to flag the disc as being large, which is odd. The quantity would be less than the chocolate as it mixes with the coffee already put in place.

Well, whatever. Even if some of the actual values are a mystery (does the disc size affect the precharge values?), with an idea of which bits perform which function, the rest is simply plugging in various values to see what happens. It's great to have found this, as otherwise I would have had to output many more codes in order to work out the encoding, but now that's been done...

Finally, what's the Service Disc?

Service Disc. Barcode 078795, bit pattern 0001111011000111.

00 011 110110 00 1 11
|  |   |      |  | |
|  |   |      |  | '-- Temperature 94C
|  |   |      |  |
|  |   |      |  '---- Large size disc? (no, it isn't!)
|  |   |      |
|  |   |      '------- Precharge quantity/duration
|  |   |
|  |   '-------------- Amount of liquid (54)
|  |
|  '------------------ Fill speed (half?)
'--------------------- Emptying value

Can't help think that maybe just maybe %110110 (110 twice) is some sort of flag?



Your comments:

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Rick, 29th December 2022, 10:47
They got back in touch to say it supports https, so I have ordered one. 
If I wanted it in silver, it'd be here tomorrow. As I prefer black, it'll be here on Tuesday. 🤷‍♀️
VincH, 30th December 2022, 20:13
Interesting... I have a Pioneer SX-N30 network stereo receiver; I think I paid around £250 for it in the early-mid(?) 2010s. 
I wanted it (or something like it) because I wanted to make use of DLNA to listen to my music collection, and eventually settled on that because it also takes inputs from all the other separates that I mostly no longer have, and the one I still do; the turntable. 
I got into the habit of using it for internet radio, though... until it stopped working a few years ago. I never thought about what went wrong, and just assumed the stations I used had simply changed protocols in some way - but something as simple as a switch to https would probably be the answer. 
It didn't bother me because it still works fine for what I originally wanted - DLNA - but reading this reminded me that particular function stopped working, so I guess I may now know why. 
Anon, 30th December 2022, 20:55
Ahhh... streaming. Curse Logitech for buying out Slim Devices then discontinuing the Squeezebox range. 
The upside? Because Squeezebox was open source, there's still a product. Want a new Squeezebox? Build one from a Raspberry Pi using piCorePlayer. Want a touch control surface? Also using pCP and JiveLite. Want a server? Use a micro-PC (eg a Gigabyte Brix or Intel NUC) and install Vortexbox. 
Want to add streaming to your existing high-end hi-fi system? Just add a Squeezebox (hardware or Pi) and connect the digital out to a spare SPDIF input. 
The best bit. Want to add streaming to that old 1980s or 1990s ghetto blaster? Take one Pi Zero-W, install pCP, connect a USB audio output device (eg one based around the Burr-Brown / TI PCM2704 chip) and hard-wire it to the "line in" on said boombox. Connect a 5V regulator to a switched 9-12V supply inside the boombox. Switch to the line input - instant wireless battery or mains powered streamer.

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