Bread and Butter Pickles

3 Quarts Bread and Butter Pickles

I added a little chili powder, lemon and pepper to give it a slight bite. I also ignored the onions as I’m no fan of onions and celery. I let these sit with the weight on them for about twenty four hours since I got busy, I think it just let the flavor sink in more.

  • 15 cups sliced cucumbers
  • 3 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1cup coarse salt
  • 4 cups cracked ice
  • 1cups cider vinegar
  • 1cups sugar
  • 3teaspoon turmeric
  • 1teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds

pickles

Directions

  1. Combine cucumbers, onions, salt and ice in a large bowl.
  2. Mix well.
  3. Put a weight on and allow to stand 3 hours. (I used a plate with a jar of honey, anything will do).
  4. Rinse and drain thoroughly.
  5. Combine vinegar, sugar, turmeric, celery seed and mustard seed in a large pot.
  6. Add drained cucumbers.
  7. Place pot on medium low heat.
  8. Bring almost to a boil, but DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL.
  9. Remove from heat.
  10. Seal in sterilized jars, 10 minutes in a hot water bath.

 

  1. Easy way to sterilize jars: Wash them well in hot soapy water.
  2. Dry them off.
  3. Put on a cookie sheet, right side up, at 225°F for 15 minutes.
  4. Turn off oven and leave them in there until you need them.

 

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BLT Steakhouse and Ford Sync by Microsoft

At first glance you would think these two things have no relation. However they seem to originate from the same place.

I was riding home in works 2015 Ford Escape, equipped with Sync. I asked for some Willie Nelson, which I had loaded on my USB stick and and put in the cars USB port. What played was something entirely different, Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus. I didn’t even know that was on there, but the song always make me laugh and think about the Bama fan. I do love that snippit of video.

Not entirely unlike my visit to BLT Steak in Washington DC. I ordered a stout but they were out and I ended up with a Duck Rabbit brown ale no other stouts on the menu. Then I ordered dinner, a baby spinach salad, spiced tuna and asparagus. What a tasty meal right? The first thing to come out was a Caesar salad. Not to bad I was waffling between that and the baby spinach, maybe this is what I said when I was ordering. But I thought I even pointed the item out on the menu since it was very noisy in there.

Then out comes my steak and baked potato. What? I told the server I had ordered spiced tuna and asparagus, he apologized and took the steak back. Wait a while and a great meal of what I ordered and they added some mushrooms. They also comped a dessert of warm apple cobbler.

I went back to my hotel room happy and full for the night.

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Eco Plug

With a lot of help from Viktor I tinkered with an Eco Plug that I got from Home Depot for $7.50ish. I can turn it off and on using voice commands on Alexa. This has an esp8266 wireless board in it that we loaded with some code to make it look like a WeMo to Alexa.

img_0148

The wires were soldered on temporarily so I could connect a USB FTDI from my PC. There wasn’t enough room inside the plug to leave the wires on so I ended up removing them.

usb-ttl5vt-uart-pinout

Arduino IDE was used to upload to the esp8266. A tutorial for how to work with this is here.

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Wemo Lights

I wanted a way to control my Smart Home devices inside the house if I had no Internet connection. I have a mix of Wemo and Kankun plugs right now that I’m using to control various lamps and my outdoor light.

I built a small web page on my Raspberry Pi with buttons for each device. I need to do a lot of cleanup to get the buttons lined up but what I used for the Wemo devices had a lot of padding around each image that was used. The small red light indicates the switch is on, on the Driveway button no light indicates it is off.

pi-webpage

Below is an image from the Wemo pages that I replaced with the buttons shown above.

on-1

For Wemo’s I used the instructions found here. I had a fair amount of trouble getting this working correctly because of permission issues. First it wouldn’t build the database because of a missing line at the top of wemo_backend.py not sure if I deleted that or if it was just missing but I added “#!/usr/bin/python” and that ran. Then I had to create the logfile in “/var/log/wemo/switchlog”.

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Samsung Smartthings Hub

To get Google Home to play with my WeMo switches I ordered one of these hubs. For about fifty dollars it added a bunch of other features like door and window sensors along with multi sensors that can detect water leaks and motion. I sent Google Home back as it wasn’t as well integrated with other devices  as the Echo Dot ,aka Alexa and cost $99.99 on sale compared to Alexa at $39.99 on sale.

This has been easy to setup but requires another app on my phone and a connection to the cloud to work.

I used the labs section and connected my WeMo devices immediately and they worked with no more problems. I went to the Google Home and said hey google, “turn on the Christmas lights”, and everything worked. With Alexa I didn’t need the smart hub to make this work as the plug for this was a WeMo and native to Alexa.

The hub did add other options though like motion, and temperature sensing. I can’t find a decent doorbell option though. I just want the doorbell to ring inside and record when it was used, no fancy video or two way communication needed.

Geofencing

Once I got my location set this seems to work pretty well.

I have eight devices setup with the hub now, Belkin Wemo, Amcrest SmartPlug, Samsung Multisensor, Aeon Multisensor, and a Samsung Door sensor. The Amcrest SmartPlug has been the most interesting so far, it is a re-branded Kankun plug that needed some slight tweaking to make it work but cost about ten dollars less than the Wemo switch that does the same thing.

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Google Home Arrived and was returned

Setup took about ten minutes from unboxing to being in use. It probably would have taken less time if I had my phone and the Google Home on the same wireless network.

I have two WiFi networks and decided to try and switch Google home to the one with the stronger signal. This left me in a loop for several minutes while my phone and Chrome-cast on the same network waited for Google Home to catch up. The App stayed in a loop waiting for the Google Home.

I wanted to listen to WGY Radio and I got a fail. WGY uses iHeart radio not Google radio. I can install iHeart radio on my Nexus 5x and cast the station over to the Google Home with no problem, but that isn’t going to fly with my seventy three year old mother and she is the one that wants to listen to this.

Google Calendar, Google Home can’t find anything on my calendar? I have a user with a vanity domain smithjon.com and Google didn’t like that, fortunately I also have a regular gmail account and shared the calendar between the two and events show up in both locations now. Google Home however still doesn’t know about any events on my cale

Google Home and Chrome-cast don’t play together very nicely. For example I have Warren Zevon playing on the Google Home and say “Hey Google, cast music to Chrome-cast”. The Chrome-cast comes up and starts Google Music. Nice but that’s not the music I wanted.

I ask Google Home to play Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, sorry its not in my library and it plays something sort of similar, but different.

So far I’ve only used it to play music and asked a few random questions. For a hundred dollars I want it to do more, we’ll have to wait and see how more works out. I ordered a Samsung Smartthings hub to use to control the WeMo switches that I have. I’m trying work something out with the Amcrest plug and my door bell but we’ll see how that goes.

With the Smartthings hub my lights work but with a small delay sometimes, other times they are as quick as using Alexa with the lights direct connected. I still think the Google home is going back.

Google Home has been returned and Alexa has taken over. I kept the Samsung Smartthings hub that I got to work with Home and I’m using that with Alexa and replacing the different phone Apps that I had for WeMo and Amcrest switch control.

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Amcrest Connect Plug aka Kakun WiFi Smart Plug

More info on this plug here.
Android App to program these plugs WidgetKK for SmartPlug.
Default user root and password p9z34c. SSH is enabled by default. As it 
turns out Amcrest has someone else make this, KONKE Technology Co.
BusyBox v1.19.4 (2014-03-27 17:39:06 CST) built-in shell (ash)
Enter 'help' for a list of built-in commands.

  _    _               _    _
 | | _-_| _____ _____  | | _-_| _____ ____
 |  -_-  |     ||     ||  -_-  |     ||    |
 | |-_   |  -  ||  |  || |-_   |  -__||   _|
 |  _ -_ |_____||__|__||  _ -_ |_____||__|  
 |_| -__|  S M A L L   |_| -__| S M A R T
 -----------------------------------------------------
 KONKE Technology Co., Ltd. All rights reserved.
 -----------------------------------------------------
  * www.konke.com            All other products and   
  * QQ:27412237              company names mentioned
  * 400-871-3766             may be the trademarks of
  * fae@konke.com            their respective owners.
 -----------------------------------------------------
root@koven:~# passwd
Changing password for root
New password: 
Retype password: 
Password for root changed by root
root@koven:/www/cgi-bin# cat /etc/openwrt_release
DISTRIB_ID="OpenWrt"
DISTRIB_RELEASE="Bleeding Edge"
DISTRIB_REVISION="r39365"
DISTRIB_CODENAME="barrier_breaker"
DISTRIB_TARGET="ar71xx/generic"
DISTRIB_DESCRIPTION="OpenWrt Barrier Breaker r39365"

I added an index.html in /www

I did find some information on building a web page to control this here.  I get an error as below. However if I grabbed the files from here and then upload them using WinSCP everything works fine. So this turns out to be caused by my cut and paste.

Unable to launch the requested CGI program:
  /www/cgi-bin/relay.cgi: Exec format error

My country was set to CN so I changed it to US.

To display current setting:
/sbin/uci get wireless.radio0.country

To set it (to US, for example):
/sbin/uci set wireless.radio0.country=US
/sbin/uci commit
reboot

I borrowed a script to test network connection and reboot if it drops.

vi network_test
if [ $? -ne 0 ]; then
/etc/init.d/network reload
fi

chmod +x network_test

I need to add this to cron.

I then built a webpage on my Raspberry Pi where I can display multiple switches and turn them all off and on from one location. Since I only have one switch right now its the same switch three times.

nano /var/www/html/index.html

I bought  a second plug off Amazon this time it was branded as JTD WiFi SmartPlug. Its the same plug on the inside running OpenWRT. I also used WidgetKK to push json.cgi and set the cronjob to power cycle if it loses Internet connection.

jtd_plug

LivingRoom 
Repeat three times once for each switch.

amcrest_buttons

I need to make some labels and the little light at the top goes off when the switch is off on when it is on.I got a WeMo switch today and it is about twice the size of the Amcrest, but the WeMo App is better developed.november-29-2016-at-0656pmTurn the lights on and off from the cli. The advantage to this is there is no outside contact required, I can script the lights to run in a cron job and have the lights on and off on a timer without using the app or having any sort of outside control.

#lights off
echo 0 > /sys/class/leds/tp-link\:blue\:relay/brightness
#lights on 
echo 1 > /sys/class/leds/tp-link\:blue\:relay/brightness
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