Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Weather Station

Installed a Fine Offset Electronics WH1081 Weather Station on my roof the other day. Purchased the device from ebay for $85 and $25 delivered.

The station consists of the following sensors:
  • Thermo-hydro transmitter
  • Wind speed
  • Wind direction
  • Rain gauge

The console is a touch screen LCD panel. Apart from the LCD being difficult to read due to being too light (needs a contrast setting) it works reasonably well. The best part about it is that it has a USB connection for plugging into a PC.

To go with the USB conneciton the station comes with a software package called 'EasyWeather' which is functional and maintains a log with various graphs showing historical data. I wasn't too fussed on it though since it did things like give false readings and has really bad memory leaks.

I tried Cumulus, which is another weather station application that can upload results to a FTP site for Internet access. However it doesn't recognise the WH1081 natively and instead relies upon EasyWeather to gather statistics - not good for the above reasons of instablity and memory leaks.

Currently I am using the Linux console version of Weather Display. I like it because its a no fuss application with no frills and supports uploading results to Weather Underground natively. However it doesn't support 64bit at all, even when using IA32 libraries. This made me install 32bit Ubuntu (CLI only) within a VirtualBox - had to use the closed source version for the USB support. This is on my Mythbuntu 8.04 HTPC too, so the weather console sits on top of the TV in the loungeroom which worked out well.

You can see my weather data on Weather Underground here.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Network upgrade

And the upgrades continue.

The network here is expanding something chronic so I needed something that could push the vlans harder. It's basically replacing the local Mikrotik/WRAP1-1 Router and Asus GigaX2024 L2 switch with a single Asus GigaX3112 L3 switch. It certainly tidied up the rack by removing two switches and a stack of patch leads.

Now I have two Asus 2024 L2 switches to stick in Admissions and the Crocosium. This will give me a gigabit vlan trunk to the locations and allow me to create some more subnets to reduce some of this needless traffic off the main networks. I'm trying to have a L2 managed switch on the end of every fibre link to get some flexibility into the network and get things into this decade...

I'm not all that impressed with the Asus network kit so far. It's okay for the price but it's buggy as hell and the 3112 tends to crash due to kernel panics and reboot due to buffer overflows or memory errors. I'm hoping future firmware updates will come and fix things. Not that I had much more luck with Netgear and Linksys stuff. There's a reason why Cisco can charge so much.

The campus wireless network is almost completed. Awaiting a cable run from the Machinery shed to the Conference center to install the AP on the roof there. Also need to install the 12th AP at the Tiger Temple to complete the 'ring of coverage' - full wireless coverage of the safari shuttle track and nearby walkways and buildings. Will put off any more expansion until the Hotel is built.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Terminating fibres

Been busy terminating a few new fibre runs throughout the Zoo. This particular run goes from the Taj (Crocosium) through to the Dingo Diner and then onto the Snake Shed and Compound. 12 cores to the Diner, 6 cores each to the shed and compound. Single mode glass fibre is used throughout however we may start using Multi-Mode within buildings.

Terminating fiber isn't that difficult these days. Basically you just need cutters and strippers, cleaning wicks, guillotine and fusion splicer. We hire the fusion splicer and guillotine and purchase pre-made tails with ST connectors from AFC. Ends up being around $50 an end instead of the usual $100 an end for a contractor.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

An A/V Perspective



Here's a picture of the A/V crew operating the two remote PTZ cameras and 'house' audio gear during the Veronica's gig at Australia Zoo.

The panel between them is the Panasonic Visual Mixing desk. The smaller monitors are the cameras and the screen on the top is what's currently showing on the big screen (a rather large Panasonic LED screen outside).

Monday, January 14, 2008

Asus Eee PC 4G (701)

Today I purchased a Asus Eee PC 4G from the local Myers department store (Sunshine Plaza).

The only colours they had were black and white. I didn't want to be mistaken for jumping on the iWagon so I got the black one. It happens to look identical to my work laptop, a black LG LS70 Express, so I have a matching pair of portables :/

So far I've played around with the default OS - Xandros with the K Desktop Environment installed along with a custom Asus application launcher. I have also installed a live version of eeexubuntu onto a USB stick (Myers threw in a 2GB Toshiba USB stick for nothing, valued at $28AUD) and it ran fine in its 'live' mode. I will get a 2/4GB Secure Digital card to install xubuntu onto and then set up a dual boot with Xandros. That way I can use Xubuntu for my work and Xandros to demo it to the uninitiated.

I'm not going to go into details about its performance etc - plenty of reviewers out there already demonstrating that and I agree with their findings. I can confirm that the build quality is good and that it will probably handle rough treatment a lot better than other notebooks - or most 'non-ruggidised' portable electronic device for that matter.

I'm looking forward to setting this up as a my ultra-portable network tool. Testing wireless will be made a lot easier, also cheaper than those dedicated PDA based wifi test units. I can also do my usual router configuration using a USB serial adapter and its 10/100 network adapter.

I will consider the purchase of a long life battery when they become available - they apparently add a lot of extra bulk to the package but it would be worth it for extended trips or major network problems.

A Wikipedia article describes the various details of the Eee PC range can be found here.

Asus Eee PC size compared with Sony Ericsson P1i

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Home wireless

Today I finally set up my little public access wireless network at home. I've had a Mikrotik RB133 with RB52 and Senao radios laying around in an outdoor box for sometime now. Today I fixed up the roof cable run and installed it on my existing mast with Cisco 21dBi solid dish.

I used a homebrew 8dBi collinear omni-directional antenna for the public side (Senao 200mW/23dBm) radio - that puts output at around 30dBi in a 360°H/25°V area. I've set up a rudimentary hotspot service on the interface - I will set it up with PayPal etc shortly so the neighbors can gain ad-hoc internet access and not feel guilty for it. Not everyone wants to pay for a permanent connection unbelievable huh.

I attached the dish to the RB52 radio which is adjustable - so I'll set that down to give no more than the regulated 36dBi. I'm hoping to establish a Point-to-Point link to a friend in Buderim. Failing that maybe a repeater link via Kiel Mountain which sits in between. Mainly to share links and to muck around with routing etc.

I'll go for a cruise around the local area and see how much coverage my little 8dBi is providing - might even be able to pick it up at Kiel Mt with the laptop radio...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Progress

Wireless Network

How things move slower the lager the enterprise. Might have to start pushing to get things done faster and more efficiently in future.

I installed the last two Access Points in from the first batch of six we received all those months ago. I guess a fairly large hold up was the flaky firmware of the Symbol WS5100 I mentioned earlier. It's going very nicely now and I can't wait to start tweaking it and including it into a radius/ldap domain.

One AP was installed in the main warehouse and another under the Taj for coverage of the main hallways. Both work quite well using the supplied 6dBi collinear antennas.

Today a 9dBi collinear from the RFShop arrived with two made up cables to suit the AP300. Another three access points will be ordered shortly to provide coverage of the Foodcourt - using the new 9dBi, open area between the warehouse and Taj - using existing 10dBi yagi and indoors are at the Croc's Lair shop - AP with integrated antennas. That will be the coverage are for now with the possibility of a few more sites later on.

Telstra IP WAN

Almost 6mths in the making and the completion date is within sight. The last week I have sorted out the issue Mooloolaba Travel were having with running their VPN to Galileo running over the new Telstra WAN. It simply wasn't connecting. Discovered that the 1-to-1 NAT addressing that was also used for IPSec and PPTP traffic did not like traffic coming from the direction of Mooloolaba. So they changed it to a Many-to-1 NAT and things are looking good apart from frequent dropouts of the IPSec VPN which I believe are due to the 'keepalives' being blocked - so I turned them off and I will see what happens.

WhaleOne still hasn't been changed over. I had a 3hr crack at it today with all the information I had scrounged from Telstra and the 'net in general. Turns out that their NextG account hasn't yet been set up for use with the IP WAN. What happens is that the APN Name changes from 'telstra.internet' to 'telstra.corp' and this dictates the gateway used for the connection. Before this can occur the SIM card/Account needs to be set up so that the calls are allowed through or something along those lines anyway - the request goes to the Telstra Mobile team. Hopefully it will be fixed up by Tuesday next week.

Myth Frontend

Ages ago I talked about building a mythbox out of a Epia M10000. Well last weekend I finally did it. Epia support is quite good with linux these days, it was easy to set up Mythbuntu on the box and have it connect to the existing Soltek Qbic 3401 Mythbox. It runs okay apart from stutter after a channel change for about 5 minutes - I think more RAM will fix that.

I might upgrade my PC and use the old bits to build a better backend someday.