Category Archives: Hardware

Sonos memory capacity

There’s an excellent chart on Reddit (and a slightly different one on Sonos’s forum) plotting the amount of memory each Sonos device has built into it. This has increased over the years.

I thought I’d do a table with this info, but also with the year of release, and the new crop of devices just released.

And I’ve also added a column noting if each device supports voice commands (which take more memory) and is compatible with the new Sonos operating system S2, or whether users of these are stuck on S1.

(There are a few gaps which hopefully I’ll fill over time. And I’ve deliberately excluded non-playing accessories such as the Bridge and Controllers. For now I also haven’t included the Sub, which is not a standalone player.)

DeviceYears soldStorageMemoryVoice S2Replaced by
ZonePlayer 1002005-08??NoNoZonePlayer 120
ZonePlayer 802006-08??NoNoZonePlayer 90
ZonePlayer 120
aka Connect:AMP
2008-153232NoNoConnect:AMP (gen 2)
ZonePlayer 90
aka Connect
2008-153232NoNoConnect (gen 2)
Play:52009-153232NoNoPlay:5 (gen 2)
Play:32011-186464NoYes
Playbar2013-20128128NoYesArc
Play:12013-1764128NoYesOne
Play:5 (gen 2)2015-20256256NoYesFive
Playbase2017-20256256NoYesArc
Connect (gen 2)2015-19256256NoYesPort
Connect:AMP (Gen 2)2015-19??NoYesAmp
One2017-1910241024YesYesOne (gen 2) / One SL
Beam2018-10241024YesYes
Amp2019-10241024NoYes
One (gen 2)2019-10241024YesYes
Symfonisk Lamp2019-256512NoYes
Symfonisk Bookshelf2019-256512NoYes
Port2019-512512NoYes
Move2019-10241024YesYes
One SL2019-512512NoYes
Arc2020-40961024YesYes
Five2020-512512NoYes

There’s certainly a pattern there.

Devices with at least 64Mb storage and 64Mb memory can support S2, but others can’t.

Voice command support appears to require at least 1024 Mb of storage and the same of memory.

S2 was the first big move in the 15 years since the first devices were released that they left behind some legacy devices on an older version. (Though in 2018 they did do an update which dropped support for their CR100 controller, sold from 2005-09, and long replaced for most users by iPads and smartphones.)

S1 will continue to get security and bug fixes – but not new features. And those users can get a 30% voucher for upgrades (and still use the older devices if they want – initially Sonos’s unwise idea was to brick them, but they changed that scheme).

S2 has only been out for a few weeks, so it’s unclear how quickly new features will be added. And from a software development perspective, under the hood there may have been a great culling of legacy code, which might be good for performance and stability (not that either have been a big issue in my use of Sonos).

Hopefully it’s another decade or more before they decide to exclude more older devices from the latest and greatest.

Setting up a public facing webserver behind a Netcomm NF18ACV

Note: this will move your Broadband Router’s web-configuration to an unexpected port :8080, instead of the :80 your browser expects.

Navigate to Management | Access Control | Services then disable the WAN side HTTP service (why would you even expose this?), change the port for the LAN side to the Alternate HTTP port of 8080, and hit Apply/Save.

Navigate to Advanced Setup | NAT | Virtual Servers and hit Add. Select the correct interface, fill in the other details including the Web Server’s LAN address, ensure you’ve got Status: Enabled for the port forwarding, and hit Apply/Save.

Run up a trial HTTP server using something like
sudo python -m SimpleHTTPServer 80
and check for access from outside. Kill the server, because that isn’t safe for production use.

Air conditioner upgrade

I can’t find any technical data on one of our two existing air conditioners. It’s 1960s through-window technology, and it seems it might be somewhere around 130% efficient. A run-of-the-mill air conditioner today is about 400% efficient. What I do know is, when that air conditioner runs our power consumption spikes 2kW; for the cooling we’re getting, this suggests we should be using 700W. It’s costing 40 cents/hour more to run than a modern unit, and it isn’t providing us with heating. It also sounds like a jet aircraft. We don’t use it much.

If it’s replaced with a $2000 unit, the payback is 5000 operating hours. It actually operates for something like 150 or 200 hours a year, so there’s a more than 25 year payback – which isn’t outlandish, given the existing unit is 50 years old now, but I will be surprised if a unit manufactured today survives that long.

Modern units come with DRED support.

Picking an air conditioner is… complex. We’ve taken our home off gas, so we need some kind of electric heating, which I expect to run daily for a number of hours for four months of the year, and the cooling side is something that will get much less use. So, where I live, I need to optimize my “heat pump” for heating performance – COP in the lingo.

As of March 2020, there are more than 3700 air conditioners with performance metrics listed by the Australian government. Thankfully this data is available is CSV format, so can be folded, sorted and mangled. 2000 can be eliminated because they’re not single-split units, so their efficiency will suck balls. Another 450 can be eliminated because they’re not the classic wall hung variety, so will be stupid expensive. Anything smaller than 3KW and larger than 5KW is badly sized for the areas I’m looking at, so now I’m at a “manageable” 300 units. Purging others for efficiency reasons, and I’m down to less than 80. I sort for COP, and start down the list.  The first is $2550, then $1420, then can’t be purchased anywhere, then $880 (a ten-year TCO of $3000, plus installation). A feature check confirms it can be set to a weekday operating cycle and a weekend cycle; we’re off to the races. I locate a supplier who will deliver two for $1,716.00 after trying the local retailer who refuses to answer the phone.

Now for the easy task: I’ve simply got to find a tradie to install my units.

New used laptop: Thinkpad T430

I meant to post this ages ago: I got my first Thinkpad – an old T430. Very nice.

I had been looking for my first Thinkpad; an upgrade off a slow Lenovo (non-Thinkpad) laptop, and I thought I might splash out on a new one.

But then I discovered my sister had an ex-work T430 she didn’t want. Sold it to me for what she got it for: AUD $100.

Specs: i5-3320M (2.6 GHz), 4 Gb RAM, 1600 x 900 display, SSD. With a dock (that I’m not sure I’ll ever use)

Some scuffing on the case, but overall it’s in very nice condition.

And I found I could still upgrade it from Win7 to Win10 for free, using the Media Creation Tool.

I added another 4 Gb of RAM.

The keyboard is lovely, but I never did get used to the Fn/Ctrl key locations being backwards from most layouts, so I ended up swapping them in the BIOS.

Problems

One oddity after upgrading to Win10: Microsoft Edge was extremely slow to respond to clicks. The solution was a clean Win10 install – via the “reset your PC” feature.

I also found that under Win10, the trackpad would sometimes freeze up for a few seconds, particularly after two-finger scrolling:

  • This turns out to be an issue with the Lenovo trackpad “palm check” feature. Set this to the minimum setting (or turn it off) and it seems to go away. The same problem occurs for some other Lenovo laptops.
  • This can also occur if Trackpad Tapping is disabled – I’d prefer it was disabled to avoid false positive clicks when I’m just trying to move the pointer, but oh well.

Modding

More reading for myself when I get the chance: Modding guide

But I hope this old laptop will keep me going for a while for my on-the-go computing needs.

Sanden Heat Pump water tank outlet size

The outlet size on a Sanden Heat Pump’s water tank is 3/4 inch (DIN20) with a BSP thread, so be aware you’ll have to use a reducer to get down to the normal 1/2 inch (DIN15) copper pipes. At least, that’s what I was told on the phone. The Sanden specification sheet, which has legible diagrams and writing compared to the installation instructions for an Australian Sanden, says the thread is NPT – but admittedly the model numbers are different (GAU-315EQTE on the clearly Australian installation instructions, GAUS-315EQTD on the American spec sheet). It also gives the dimensions, which when turned into SI units are 756mm H x 883mm W x 362mm D for the compressor and 1490mm H x 678mm W diameter for the 315L tank. For further fun, the installation manual includes a photo of an installed system on the first page – the system is installed too close together, according to the instructions.

However, 3/4″ pipes are able to transport a greater volume of water per unit time. If you’re running warm water down them for bathing, rather than hot for subsequent mixing, greater carrying capacity means better water pressure when running multiple showers, for example. If one was replumbing a whole house, and doing so with pre-mixed warm water, replumbing with 3/4″ copper would be a reasonable thing to do.

Be aware that the cold water inlet has a maximum pressure of 650 kpa.

Motorola Moto G5 Plus “camera restart” error

My current phone is a Motorola G5 Plus. I really like it.

Except for one thing: sometimes it won’t start the camera. It pauses for a few seconds, then comes up with a camera restart error; you have to try it again. Sometimes it takes several goes to get it to work.

By the time the camera actually opens, whatever you wanted to snap may have gone.

It’s a widespread problem. Some people think it’s a heat issue, but I have my doubts.

There is a partial workaround: clear the cache partition.

This removes some temporary files, but no user files.

This page on the Motorola web site explains how to do it — but I’m going to post the text here, as it keeps disappearing off their site. Dodgy.

To perform a wipe cache partition:

1. With the phone powered off, press and hold the Volume Down button and the Power button at the same time until the device turns on.
2. Press the Volume Down button until the flag next to the power button reads “Recovery mode”
3. Press the Power button to restart into Recovery mode.
You’ll see an image of an Android robot with the words “No Command”
4. Holding the Power button, tap Volume Up once and then release the Power button.
5. Use the volume buttons to scroll to “wipe cache partition” and press the Power button to select it.
6. Use volume down to scroll to YES and power to confirm.
7. At the bottom of the screen, you will see your device go through the process. Once it says “Cache Wipe Complete” the reboot system now option will appear at the top.
8. Press the power button to confirm the reboot.

The above workaround clears it for a little while… then it comes back a few days or weeks later.

Hopefully eventually there’ll be a permanent fix for it.

Netgear Stora upgrade v3: 2-disk-JBOD to 1-disk-JBOD

So, we’re butting heads up against the storage capacity of our Netgear Stora again (93% full). The NAS currently has 2 x 2TB drives and no more free bays to drop drives into, so whatever the next arrangement is it has to involve getting rid of at least one of the current drives. The Stora is currently backed up to an external drive enclosure with a 4TB drive mounted in it. Other things are also backed up on that external drive, so it’s more pressed for space than the Stora.

So here’s the plan:

  • collect underpants
    This was a flippant comment, but it’s upgrade season and we recently acquired a computer second hand, which had an i5-3470S CPU, the most powerful thing in the house by a significant margin. I wanted the dual Display Port outputs, but unfortunately it could only be upgraded to 8GB of RAM, so instead the CPU got swapped into our primary desktop (and a graphics card acquired to run dual digital displays). Dropping in a replacement CPU required replacing the thermal grease, and that meant a rag to wipe off the old grease, thus the underpants.
  • backup the Stora to the 4TB drive
  • acquire a cheap 8TB disk because this is for backing up, not primary storage
  • clone the 4TB drive onto it using Clonezilla
  • expand the cloned 4TB partition to the full 8TB of drive space
    Well, that didn’t work.  Clonezilla didn’t seem to copy the data reliably, but admittedly I was running a stupidly old version.  Several hours of mucking around with SATA connectors and Ubuntu NTFS drivers later, I gave up and copied the disk using Windows.  It took several days, even using USB3 HDD enclosures, which is why I spent so much time mucking around trying to avoid it.
  • backup the Stora to the 8TB drive
  • remove the 2 x 2TB drives from the Stora
  • insert the 4TB drive into the Stora
  • allow the Stora to format the 4TB drive
  • pull the 4TB drive
  • mount the 4TB and 2 x 2TB drives in a not-otherwise-busy machine
  • copy the data from the 2 x 2TB drives onto the 4TB drive
  • reinsert the 4TB drive into the Stora
  • profit!

And, by profit, I mean cascade the 2TB drives into desktop machines that have 90% full 1TB drives… further rounds of disk duplication ensue. 1TB drives then cascade to other desktop machines, further rounds of disk duplication ensue.

At the end of this process, the entire fleet will have been upgraded. But the original problem of butting heads against the Stora will not have been addressed; this will hopefully a simple matter of dropping another drive in.

The last time we did this, we paid $49.50/TB for storage.  This time around, it was $44.35; a 10% drop in storage prices isn’t anything to write home about in a four-and-a-half year window.

Logitech Harmony 650 universal remote

Logitech Harmony 650 universal remoteI bought myself a Logitech Harmony 650 universal remote, $59 at Officeworks (RRP $89.95).

The packaging and some of the promotional material says it replaces 5 remotes, but it’s had a firmware upgrade and now replaces 8, so I think it’s pretty good value.

Although Logitech sells a range of remotes, I decided $59 was a sweet spot for what I wanted to do. This model can’t control Bluetooth devices such as the Wii U, or those controlled via WiFi/LAN such as Sonos — you’ll need to spend up on a more complex model for that, but personally I couldn’t justify the $240+ investment.

To set it up you plug it into a PC/Mac and install a setup program which guides you through it. All pretty easy, and even works with my obscure no-name PVR.

Curiously it didn’t recognise my Panasonic Blu-ray player, but it made an educated guess as to what IR sequences would match, and that worked well.

It lets you set up Devices, then group them into Actions (eg Watch a Blu-ray: turn on the Blu-ray player, turn on the TV, switch it to AV, turn on the Receiver, switch it to HDMI1/Blu-ray).

The defaults for some of the actions are a bit odd, for instance the menu navigation for Watch a Blu-ray turned out to default to navigating the TV menus. This can be overridden to a more logical setting.

One issue I’ve noted: the TV takes a really long time to start up… easily 10-15 seconds to be ready for viewing. It looks like the remote doesn’t allow enough time before changing to the appropriate input/channel, and the TV misses this step. You can insert delays in some parts of Activity sequences, but it appears not here.

Clone to a bigger drive, and convert MBR to GPT

I wanted to partly upgrade Windows to a new drive.

Currently, Windows itself and Program Files are on C: drive, which is an SSD (which I meant to blog about in detail, but never got around to) and documents are on D: drive (which was the tricky bit of the SSD upgrade — to do it properly involves using SysPrep with an Unattend.xml configuration file that tells Windows that documents will live on D: not C:. This article describes it in detail.

Anyway that’s really irrelevant to the problem at hand, which is that D: drive had run out of space. Here’s a brief description of what I did:

  • The new drive is a 4 Tb drive, replacing a 1 Tb drive.
  • Plug the new drive in, use Clonezilla to clone the old D: onto the new drive. Following the detailed instructions, this all went pretty smoothly.
  • But… the catch is the old drive was formatted in MBR, which has a limitation of 2 Tb. For beyond that, you need GPT.
  • I looked around for tools to convert the drive. It’s easy if you’re prepared to wipe it, but I wanted to preserve the data I’d just moved across. Finding ways to do it without wiping everything was tricky, but I settled on the free version of Minitools Partition Wizard — this has an easy-to-understand interface, and did the job
  • Once that MBR is converted to GPT, you can enlarge the partition to make the whole drive available.
  • Unplug the old drive, move the new one into the same slot as the old (this is on a Mac Pro booting in Windows Bootcamp) and it works. Done!

PS. Similar exercise afterwards shuffling the OS X partition from a 320 Gb drive to the old 1 Tb. That required GParted, as it seems the GPT partition couldn’t be expanded due to a formatting issue (which GParted helpfully offered to fix as it started up) and another small 600 Mb partition being in the way — not sure what it is, but it seems to be essential for booting OS X — GParted was able to move it to the end of the disk.

Viali VCCG90SS and VCCG60SS rangehood installation instuctions

As the current home reno project is a kitchen rebuild (walls added and removed, nothing left behind – it’s dramatically more than a remodel) the first step followed was to acquire all the appliances (constructing the kitchen and then finding the oven that you’ve got a very specific sized hole made for is “no longer available” would be… disappointing).

One of the acquisitions was two Viali VCCG90SS rangehood extractor units, one for each cooktop. Noise during operation, rated capacity and acquisition cost all seem acceptable. The instruction manual seems, at first glance, fabulous: large, clear font, line drawings giving unit dimensions, step-by-step installation images and all in a matte A4-sized, easy-to-read format.

When you actually read the instruction manual with the intent of following the instructions for installation, that’s when you run into some difficulties. Let’s be clear: I’ve installed a couple of ducted extractor fans in the past, so rangehoods are not some unknown quantity for me. This is not my first rodeo. I consider myself handy, I’ve installed kitchens from the ground up. I’ve spent quite some time puzzling over this booklet, I’ve searched the Interwebs, I’ve really battled with this.

I will now try to explain how the heck you’re meant to install this Viali rangehood, because the shipped instructions sure don’t. Perhaps I’ll do it via annotation. Continue reading

LG TV insists on turning itself off

We’ve got an LG TV being used in the office for displaying system information from a Raspberry Pi plugged into the back. The Pi is powered via USB from the TV.

We’ve used the timer to get it to switch on at 6am on weekdays, off at 5:45pm, reflecting the hours people are in the office.

It was consistently switching itself off at the wrong time, exactly two hours after it came on.

Turns out it’s a long-running bug in LG televisions.

In the forum, some found if they could get into the service menu, they could remove the 2 hour sleep setting.

Others found setting it to “hotel mode” would disable all timers – in our case this would waste a lot of power though.

Panasonic DMR-PWT520 disc tray won’t open/eject

This model seems to have an issue whereby the disc tray won’t open, even if the front panel flap is correctly open. You press the Open button and nothing happens, though on the screen it’ll say Open.

Some recommend putting it into Standby mode (off) then holding down Stop and Channel Up. That didn’t work for me.

Putting it in Standby and holding down Open did work… it first started up, then after about 10 seconds, the disc tray opened.

(Possibly it needs a firmware upgrade… I’ll check that out eventually, though it’s not my unit.)