• but of course not in the boring standard sense of the term: I like repurposing stuff. Here are some examples.
    click here for the rest of the story...
[ published on Thu 29.11.2012 13:09 | filed in interests/tinkering | ]

Generally I do opt for almost indestructible plants for the small bit of indoor greenery that I want, but inadvertent horticide does happen every now and then...

(Yes, I know I'm late and that this picture is at least a year old, but I still find it pretty punny.)

[ published on Wed 28.11.2012 19:06 | filed in interests/humour | ]

Apparently pigs are happy to fly (ok, jump and dive) on their own. Chinese pigs, that is.

The pigs actually look more graceful than those acrobatic high divers...

[ published on Mon 19.11.2012 23:08 | filed in interests/humour | ]

On Monday I replaced the steering wheel of my Sooby; on the old one most of the leather was cracked and badly worn - the previous owner seems to have been a relation of E. Scissorhands...

Anyway, no big deal; the service manual has all the infos, torque values and so on, and I've got two very nice Norbar torque wrenches. The "new" wheel was cheap (from a local wrecker), the swap took just 5 minutes and the result is very pleasant.

But the really fun part was deciphering the overgenerous warning labels on the bomb^Wairbag unit. Those come in multiple languages, for some weird reason including German - and boy, what a laugh: it talks about the "Anzünder für die Luftsackanlage" and cautions that "Gezündete Anzünder können zum gefährlichen Wurfstück werden". :-)

(Sorry, but I'm not going to retranslate these gems back into English; let's just say that they're pretty good examples of the most stilted German officialese one could think of...)

[ published on Tue 13.11.2012 19:01 | filed in brainfarts | ]

If you've got a Growatt or Sungold inverter, then you will likely know that it has an RS232 port (9600 8N1, no flow control, and straight through cable) and that the manufacturer only provides hideously horrible and somewhat broken windows software for reading the inverter status.

However, their support isn't bad and they sent me the protocol specification within one day of me asking. Here is the Growatt Serial Comms Protocol as PDF. The comms protocol is a tad odd, and the spec isn't 100% clear in all situations but with a bit of fiddling I got a perl reader to work. The comms implementation isn't very robust; while experimenting I managed to send it into a catatonic state a few times, and it stuffs up the message checksum that it sends every now and then, too.

Without further ado, here's my perl proggie. It doesn't work with the growatt's super-weird dynamic address mode (shows as "MOVE" on the LCD); knock through the menus and set a fixed address value first. The perl proggie also expects a unixy box with /bin/stty because I couldn't be bothered to do the tedious termios fiddling from within perl.

Update (Tue 06.11.2012 21:45):

Michael Wheeler reminded me that the Growatt firmware isn't exactly a paragon of stability and does occasionally send out garbage data. He added a few robustness features to the code, which I've just merged back into the the newest version of read-growatt. In addition to that I've found out that some multi-string Growatt models (4400MTL for example) use a different packet format; unfortunately that means read-growatt doesn't work for these right now - until somebody supplies me a protocol description for those models.

[ published on Sun 12.06.2011 20:09 | filed in mystuff | ]

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