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I bought a washing machine

I like my little washing machine. I didn't want to give up on it. But I'm afraid I'm going to have to.

The front unscrews easily enough to access the insides. However, there is no 'frame' to the machine. The back and sides are a single piece of metal and it appears as if the drum is suspended within that, so it looks like getting access to the drum would mean undoing all of the pipes, and maybe some of the seals (like around the lid and the sump pump) and somehow lifting it out. That sort of work is way beyond my abilities.

The local supermarket has a washing machine, an Indesit BTWL50300FR/N. This is almost the same as the one I mentioned before, except it has a 5KG load rather than 6KG (that's what the first digit means).

Now, it cost €329, along with €60 for an extra three years of warranty (above the 2 year legal period), and the supermarket will deliver for €35.

Sounded okay, but I had plenty of indecision about it. It's... expensive. And full of shiny tech. In a device like that, I believe in the "Keep It Simple" principle.
So, I wasn't sure what I should do.

Until somebody reached out from beyond the grave and gave me a push.

Went into the supermarket today, and literally right in front of the entry way, special offers on various white goods. Vacuum cleaners, microwaves, and a Whirlpool TDLR 6030L which is basically the Indesit with some extras. List price, four hundred and something. Offer price? €299. It is better rated too, energy C (new scale, that'll be something like A+++ on the old scale). 56kWh/100 washes (on the Eco 40-60 programme filled to it's rated (6KG) load, in accordance with EU Regulation 2019/2014) so it's slightly more efficient, and it claims to require 43 litres for a wash. Which will be interesting as the previous machine filled to 25 litres five times per load (wash and four rinces).
I trust/hope/pray it won't freak out over the low water pressure. I do have a water supply, but coming from a pump it's less than mains water pressure.

There's also a load of tech, as I said. It weighs the washing, it monitors water consumption, it has a load of programmes... that appear to largely work with smaller loads than a full machine and take ages. The Eco 40-60 programme, with a full load, claims 3h15m (and that's not counting extra for the water fill being slow). There is a "Magic 40" that will do a half load (3kg) in an hour. And, of course, it adjusts itself to the washing in question so.....

Hmmm. I liked my old machine. Put washing in, turn the knob until a selected temperature was chosen (based purely on the concept of "higher temperature means the water is heated for longer) with each 'click' on the dial being three minutes. Push the power button, that was it.

But, alas, they don't make them like that any more.

It will be delivered here next Saturday, and they'll be collecting my old machine for disposal. I can't get nostalgic or think of fixing it. What's broken might be a twenty euro part. But there's the getting it apart, the possibility that it might require a load of new seals and such, and the assumption that spares even exist these days.
Sorry, it has served me well for a year and a half and all I needed to do was clean it up, fit two new capacitors, and fix a bunch of wires inside. If nothing else, it reminded me that there's an alternative to busting my back washing by hand...

Just a shame the model wasn't "TLDR". ☺

 

Nono!

# It's me, Nono. Small robot, you know, friend of Ulysses.

If you grew up in the 80s, you'll probably be aware of Ulysses 31, a co-production between France and Japan that looked unlike anything else on TV at the time. The French side were professional graphics designers, who put the Japanese animators through hell and back with art designs that were, at the time, mind blowing for a kid's programme.

So I was at work and talking to a nice woman called Noémie. Somebody came along to ask her for something, and called her Nono.

That blew my mind. That robot is called Noémie. It's a girl robot!

She saw my expression and asked what I was thinking, so I told her. Best bit, she knew what I was on about, unlike the other person.
"These millennials, they have no idea about good things", I said. She laughed, and went away humming the theme tune - epic win!

 

Stirling Engine tube

The replacement glass tubes arrived.

Good thing I was paranoid and used my chainsaw gloves.

This did not go well
This did not go well.

I even added some sunflower oil to the rim the second time, but, alas...

Last ditch attempt, I've ordered a stainless steel one from eBay for a fiver. I'll fit it with a hammer if necessary. If that doesn't work, the thing is for the bin. If it does work... well, metal is a better conductor of heat than glass, so I don't imagine it'll work for long. <shrug>

 

Solstice

Wednesday, the 21st was the Solstice. As usual, I was up to watch the sunrise. Sadly, that was my normal getting up time.

Solstice sunrise
Solstice sunrise.

 

A new security camera

I wanted to have an obvious outdoor security camera. After looking at various options on Amazon, I settled on something called a Toaioho QB320, which was an outdoor tilt'n'turn camera with little rabbit ears.

It was listed at €39,99 with a €10 rebate. So, thirty euros. I wasn't expecting much, but if it could record stuff to an SD card then it ought to be enough that I can be notified if anything unexpected should happen (which, let's face it, is anything other than the daily post delivery).

As I was unpacking, I peeled off a little foam insert at the back of the camera and as I suspected, only one of the rabbit ears was an actual antenna. And I rather suspect by "antenna", one means "a piece of wire poked in here".

Well, the first thing that suggested to me that the camera was more than it might have initially seemed was that it was configured by a QR code shown on the phone. Once that was done, it paired with an oversized app (CloudPlus) and was ready to go.

I, however, wasn't. My drill bits didn't seem impressed at being asked to drill into the concrete stuff between the rocks. After making a few holes barely enough to house a ladybird, I gave up and rummaged in the shed until I found a metal bracket. This was bent and hammered into the right shape (let's face it, hitting things with a hammer is oddly satisfying) and then whacked into one of the roof joists with some screws. A bit arse one to ensure it doesn't fall off, and some smaller ones for stability.

My new security camera
My new security camera.

It's lying flat, this photo is just a weird angle.

Okay, let's get the bad out of the way first. First of all, the WiFi is a bit shonky. It claims my signal is around 65% but sometimes it just won't connect. If the signal says 64%, it's a bit iffy if it'll work. If it says 63%, it probably won't - it'll say "Getting video stream xx%" and just count up until it gets to about 60% where it'll give up and tell you the connection was lost. It's rather variable, but SD mode seems to work better.
Sometimes it will connect, but it'll time out trying to play previously recorded videos. A reset fixes this.
Finally, it doesn't seem as if the video sending attempts to be adaptive, so it may need to be connected to remotely at SD resolution if you have slow broadband.

Now let's look at the better. The camera's native recording is QHD, that is to say the images are 2304×1296, and this is the resolution you get when playing back recordings.

The view out front
The view out front.

Now, obviously a question that one would have is how good is the camera at night? After all, so many of these cameras have IR LEDs that at lacklustre to say the least.

Night camera
Night camera.

That seems pretty good. At night there are three modes that can be used if/when something is detected.
The first mode is a covert black and white recording using the IR illumination.
The second mode is have three powerful white LEDs and colour recording.
The final mode is Intelligent - it will do IR night vision until something is detected at which point it will switch on the LEDs and do colour recording. This is the mode I have set.

There are also three modes for night time alarm. Play a warning sound, turn on the bright lights, or both. I have the lights set to come on, as it's part of the intelligent recording switch.
The alarm isn't particularly loud, but it's enough to draw attention to the camera.

There's an even more interesting feature. If it detects something entering its field of view, it can then attempt to follow that object. It isn't perfect, it will only follow horizontally, not vertically, and the following can be defeated if you run really fast, but chances are you'll be recorded before you've had the opportunity to leg it.

In my various daytime tests, it followed me adequately. It also followed the local council worker delivering the village information leaflet that they make each season. I was worried that it was the first "metal collector" but I recognised the guy from the recording.

The local information leaflet
The local information leaflet.

The camera panned right around to show him backing up on the grass, rather than the large bit of driveway. Thanks, mate. Can I drive on your lawn?

I also had the fun of watching the posties doing a Chinese Fire Drill as they sorted out stuff. I'm the end of this leg of the delivery route, so they will have been preparing for the next part of the deliveries they have to do.
I didn't recognise either of them. I wonder if they're training up a newbie to provide cover for the summer holidays?

La Poste
La Poste says hello.

Night time testing was a mixed bag. It spotted me fairly quickly and lit up (switching to colour imagery). From that point, it was a coin toss as to whether it would follow me, or be obsessed by the wall. So, not as performant in the night as in the day.
It looks like what is happening is that as the wall is approached, the camera steps down it's shutter as the wall is reflecting a lot of light from the built-in illumination. Unfortunately, this probably appears to the motion detection as the area of greatest change (thus movement), and... well...

So... where am I in this picture?
So... where am I in this picture?

The motion detection is performed visually from the camera feed, rather than some sort of passive sensor. This is how the camera knows how to move itself to follow what's going on.

The camera can be set to record continuously to SD card, or to record only when events happen. I have chosen the latter option. So after a day of installation and all of the various times it has recorded me as well as those shown above, my 29.103GB card has 27.905GB free. I wonder if the video is available as actual video files on a FAT32 volume? I'm not going to climb the ladder to look!

Being a tilt'n'turn camera, I have a PTZ control. There is no ability to set a "home position", nor to change position at scheduled times. There is also no ability to 'patrol' (sweep side to side), though I can forgive this as it would likely confuse the hell out of the motion detection.
It does remember the last position that was manually set, so when the camera is turned on (or when a recording event has finished) the camera will return back to that position.

There is a microphone in the camera, and a fairly loud built-in speaker. The quality isn't great (8000kHz mono AAC compressed) but it is quite functional. I haven't yet had a windy or rainy day to tell how that affects things, but it seems otherwise fairly free from unwanted noise. And if I speak in the app, what comes out of the camera is servicable audio rather than garble.

The app has an option to turn the "lens" on and off. What they mean is that the camera will be disabled for privacy. This can be done manually, or it can be disabled according to a schedule.

There is, of course, a built-in cloud storage service. Interestingly no prices are available. You can try for free for seven days, and then you need to renew (paid) to keep using the cloud.
This, however, is available if you rummage around the settings. There's no in-your-face push (like my other camera that reminds me that I have a free cloud trial every single day) which makes a refreshing change.

Finally, for those whom it may interest, the camera can be configured to be (mostly) ONVIF compatible. The Onvier app wasn't able to grab snapshots, but video and audio and PTZ worked, as well as choosing the QHD or SD streams.

 

Now, I wasn't expecting much for a cheap little camera. It has quirks and issues, but on the whole it is actually surprisingly impressive for the price. I was expecting something only marginally above the level of "toy" and, well, let's just say this: If WiFi coverage wasn't a factor, I'd be inclined to pick up another to cover around back.
But I can't as I'd have to fit it above the kitchen window if I want it to receive. Hell, the one I have is above the living room window and the back of the living room is where the AP is!
So if I put it by the kitchen window? Well, the roof is low back there. Quite low enough for somebody to reach up and tear the thing off the wall.

So, yes. I've been surprised by the capabilities of this inexpensive camera. It also, as you might have noticed, makes some rather nice looking images. The licence plate on the post van was quite clear. No guesswork, no blurry "is this a 3 or an 8?", no, it was clear. Plus, while the motion detection isn't perfect (cough, especially at night, cough) it behaves during the day and doesn't appear to be false-triggered by every bug that goes by.

 

 

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Rick, 24th June 2023, 09:27
Windy morning, it makes quite a bit of noise as the wind blows over the microphone. I guess that's to be expected. I bet rain will be a load of fun. 😊 
C Ferris, 24th June 2023, 10:03
How does the camera respond to a bright light - like a headband torch?
Anon, 28th June 2023, 19:45
Do they do a wired version (Cat5, even if it involves running Cat5 cable into punch-down terminals) rather than wi-fi? If you have to run power to it then surely it's no headache to run Ethernet to it? 
 
Or better still, PoE (Power over Ethernet).
Rick, 28th June 2023, 21:20
There doesn't appear to be a wired one that doesn't cost twice as much, and PoE twice as much again. 
 
Plus, given the thunderstorms we get, I'm not sure I want wired until I have fibre (see the entry for 2012/09/05 for why). 

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