Archive for February, 2014

Home Automation Adventures

Posted: February 18, 2014 in HA, Hacking and playing
Tags: ,

I couldn’t figure out why it was that the lamp attached to the new dimmer module would be on when I came downstairs in the morning.

I knew that the signal didn’t always get through to the unit as it was temporarily hidden behind a large microwave unit while we wait for the kitchen refurb to be finished. Initial thoughts were that my repeated attempts to test/configure/poll the unit were sending on signals long after I’d gone to bed. But not touching the unit for a day didn’t change the behaviour.

Turned out to be a stupid mistake on my part. The system had joined the dots in my logic and I wasn’t aware of it. While playing with PLEG I set up a set of rules to cover the possibility of the kids getting up to use the toilet at night (night, movement, light level, time and PIR activated). I’d also set up an event of the dimmer to go to 10%. When I’d gone back to test the dimmer I’d inadvertently enabled all the rules, so that when I went upstairs to bed, the conditions had been met and the lamp turned on.

With the hall lamp currently rocking a CFL that can’t be dimmed, the dimmer is controlling a lamp downstairs as part of the testing, so I hadn’t seen the lamp go on when I went upstairs. While this proves that my logic works, it also revealed what I hadn’t done was set up the conditions to turn the damn thing off again!


Noctua Fan NF-A4 FLX

Posted: February 7, 2014 in Hardware, Watching

So the CPU fan on my well abused Atom Ion XBMC player in the lounge has always been ‘whiny’. The usual noise that is supposed to accompany a 40mm fan spinning at 5k rpm and shifting sod all air. Recently, it has been getting louder, so loud in fact it became noticeable (to me at least) over the video playback.

Foolishly I assumed that the extra noise was from the side 80mm fan beginning it’s death rattle, but no, on closer inspection it was indeed the CPU fan. So based on a recently read ‘How To‘ build a silent HTPC I investigated the Noctua brand of fans.

Never heard of them before. I’d normally look for a brand like Coolermaster, Scythe or one of the other brands that build ‘proper’ CPU coolers for ‘proper’ motherboards. Still the guide was full of praise, as was several of the reviews on Amazon UK.

Although I initially bulked at paying almost £12 for a 40mm fan, I decided that if this was as quiet as it seemed it would be worth it.

I make no apologies for this. I am about to gush, I am actually about to gush over a fan.

It is absolutely brilliant. From the minute you open the extremely high end packaging to the moment you turn the system back on, the whole thing is superb.

The package comes with various cables and rubber mounts, including a “noise reducing cable” that actually lowers the rpm of the fan and hence the noise. Even without that cable in place I can’t hear the fan spinning with the case open. It is awesome.

I’ll amend this posting later with links and technical info, but for now, this will do!


Noctua website – and the info for the fan in question is here