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See my pumpkin roar

I made this video on the night of Halloween/Samhain, and popped it on YouTube then.
I've not updated my blog until today.
Anyway, enjoy the video:


My car?

Still waiting for the bank. This has been held up because I spoke to a bank guy on the phone (two weeks ago) and he took my details and pre-approved the loan. I was given a link to a PDF to download, print, and sign (sorry, I don't like signing things digitally - perhaps being a geek, I don't consider numbers to have the same validity as a scribble on paper?).
Well, I read through the paperwork and noticed that the final one ("my situation") was riddled with errors. Little errors like I make two grand a month (uh hu, it's closer to half that) and bloody enormous errors like I've owned my own home since 2015.

So I corrected the form, signed it, posted it all back. I mean, it's a legal declaration, no way am I signing something so utterly wrong.
I received a week ago an updated form with a note attached saying "Sign this AND DO NOT CHANGE ANYTHING". Well, it still has stuff wrong but since I've sent them corrections, it's their problem. I signed it, returned it, and will wait a little bit longer.
Still has my income wrong, but at least it now says I live with my parents (and nunber of people in the house - 1) since 2015. Well, only out by 13 years. Still, it's close enough to the truth that I signed it and sent it back.



I've updated my copy with some additional stations. Now that mom is not around, there's nothing to stop me pulling some gothic symphonic metal and playing it loud enough to hear. Of course, the IDE being the sad sorry mess that it is, it takes twenty minutes to remind me why I didn't use station[stationcount] when defining the struct. Why? Because the compiler appears to be too damn stupid to cope with that. But, then, what can you expect when the thing takes that long to fault an implementation annoyance in a... what is it, 10K source? My God, I feel like I could write it in assembler as a sequence of hex bytes faster than that compiler... It's a 2.4GHz Pentium4 with nearly 3GiB RAM. What the hell is taking so long?

I'm sure you can understand why I don't develop/add features to my net radio. It works. That's good enough. Being able to put the kettle on, make tea, drink it, digest it, and pee it out faster than the compiler... dealing with that too much would drive me crazy. It really would.

For what it's worth, the additional stations are:

A lot later: Brilliant... Radionomy's servers are somehow incompatible with the software in the radio (they cause it to force reset). Well, it's not a total loss. I can bookmark them to play on my phone.

I've found a small and simple stream player that gets the job done: CustomRadioPlayer (Play Store link)
It's simple and to the point.


Later yet: I've spent the afternoon listening to PPNR02. I don't go for the shouty-growly style of metal, but the playlist is generally good (so far). Of note is that the "advertising" consists of random public service style announcements on two themes: The first is about "buzz driving", apparently that's what Americans call drunk driving. The second is "daddy, for god's sake lock your guns up". Of course, from this side of the Atlantic I find it disturbing that people keep guns in their house and don't seem to think that such a thing is really messed up.
It's also worth mentioning the station idents are amusing - PPNR02 is brought to me by the number 42, the letter 'Z', and the colour purple. Yeah, Sesame Street FTW!


Edit: Whoa. If I thought the guttural death growls were annoying, nothing compares to my thoughts listening to Within Temptation absolutely massacring "Running Up That Hill". What the hell, Sharon?



I saw the notaire earlier in the week to begin the process of sorting out the inheritance of the property. After turning the world upside down to sort out all of the paperwork that was asked of me, he handed me back everything written in English and told me that stuff is my problem, not France's. He's only interested in what's in France.

Next Saturday somebody will come out to value the property. How much tax I have to pay depends upon the value. I asked the notaire for a rough ballpark figure, and he suggested "around 1,500". Still, once that's sorted, things can start to settle down.
I'm still not thinking much of the future, other than looking forward to getting my car so I can be home for five o'clock rather than seven o'clock. Now the time has changed, it's dark at seven and after walking around town for two hours I'm fit for grabbing something to eat and then entering standby/charge mode. Not much of a life, is it? Still, there are plans in motion...


HP3630 teardown

Because I'm paranoid used to bureaucratic incompetence, I make copies of everything. Every paper filled out, the envelopes, all of it.
I noticed that, as of late, scans have two streaks of faded. Not white, not missing pixels, just faded. So I got a microfibre cloth and opened the scanner cover of my HP3630 and...
...oh my God, all that crap is on the inside. Clearly the HP bod that assembled this printer washed his hands after using the toilet, right?

So. That's it then. There is some sort of mouldy gunk inside the scanner assembly. Time, I guess to toss this printer and look for another one.

And... if you believed that last sentence, you're new here, right?

There are four screws. Two at the front (hidden behind the ink cart flap) and two at the back (hidden under the paper flap). There are some clips too, but they're so flimsy that just tugging the top assembly is enough for it to come away. But don't tug too hard, there are ribbon cables from the buttons and the scanner.

You know, it was such a doddle to get this thing apart that I really don't know why HP bothered with those odd little star-shaped screws. I mean, it must be a complete rank amateur that gets fazed by something that isn't straight or philips. I have a kit with a ratchet driver ('cos I'm just that lazy) and a number of different types of screw head. I've had kits like that since I was about eight and had the bright idea of taking the washing machine apart (don't ask).

Four screws to take the top off, about twelve to get into the top. It's supposed to be "mostly sealed" to stop dust and stuff getting inside. You should flip it and lift the scanner glass off. Do it the other way around, the scanner head will fall out, so that's not to be recommended.

And, of course, with the printer opened up, time to take some photos. Yay!

Here's the main board with the WiFi board attached. It's a small thing stuck at the rear left of the main part of the printer.

The white socket closest is for the ribbon cable to the panel LCD/buttons. The other empty socket (back right) is for the scanner assembly.
The IC closest is an EM63A165TSC-5G, which is a 16M×16 bit SDRAM capable of working at 200MHz. The capacity of 256Mbit is a surprisingly small 32MiB.
The small IC to the left of the hp logo is... unknown. Given how it tracks out to the meaty components, I'm going to guess this is some sort of driver, perhaps for stepper motors?
The SoC is a Marvell 88PAAX01-BPK2. There's no available information on this, it seems to be an obsolete Printer/Imaging SoC created by Marvell for printers. It appears that there may be some sort of ARM processor, along with Flash and possibly SDRAM integrated, as well as hardware assistance for printer functionality.

Everything is clocked from a 24MHz crystal.

WiFi support is provided by a separate WiFi board. It is a 12 pin connector, but there are only seven pins in use (the rest are ground plane or power, so possibly something like SDIO or some sort of SPI? Being traditional WiFi, it is 2.4GHz only. This isn't a surprise, there's a ridiculous amount of stuff that only works on 2.4GHz.
Of note is that the WiFi module tracks out two antennae. This is useful as the behaviour of WiFi is extremely quirky, so having two antennas close to each other (and, at right angles notice) allows the device to better capture the signals from the access point. It is known as antenna diversity.

As expected, the inside of the printer where the print heads pass is a mess. It's quite astonishing to observe how much ink is splattered... everywhere that isn't a piece of paper.

The paper detection is handled by three IR sensors next to an LED. These are likely placed in a way to support detection of 15×10 photos, A5, and A4 (and international equivalents).

I didn't bother to take a photo of the scanner, I've already done that on a very similar model.

Surgical spirit (ethanol, isopropyl, propan-2-ol, or whatever the hell it's called now) was liberally applied and the glass scrubbed with the microfibre cloth.

A clean, dampened (in the alcohol) piece of the cloth was rubbed gently over the scanner element, and also the lamp element. In cheap scanners you have only one fixed sensor that sees "light", and how it works is the lamp element pulses rapidly through red, green, and blue (or just green if mono scan). The scanner sensor will take a copy of what it can see with red light, again with green light, and finally once more with blue light. That will be merged to form a set of colour values representing every pixel on that row. The entire scanner head will step forwards, and the process will repeat. This sort of scanner is known as a CIS (contact image sensor) scanner, and it's dirt cheap, extremely simple mechanically, and very low power. Perfect for an inexpensive printer/scanner combo. With all the inner optics cleaned up, time to put the scanner assembly back together, then clean the outside of the glass (for good measure) and then reassemble the printer. The alcohol evaporated in the time it took to put the printer back together, so I powered up and printed a copy of a random page from a magazine. Perfect. Well, not perfect. The copy quality is actually a bit rubbish - there's no way to specify the copy quality, it just does "normal", and it always seems a little on the dark side. But "perfect" in the context of it's like it was when I first got it.



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David Pilling, 4th November 2019, 13:09
Insurance docs are always a worry, try as you might there's always some little error, and the worry is that if it comes to the crunch they will use that error as an excuse to not pay out. 
Think that somewhere there is a bit of code that introduces tiny errors for them - 
IF (car_colour==green) SET car_colour=blue 
(not a good example, because now they ask for reg no and get all the car details from that, colour might well matter). 
David Pilling, 4th November 2019, 13:12
Shops have been full of pumpkins - this is surprising to my generation because back then Halloween had ceased to exist. General idea is that we imported the modern version via USAF bases (or the pumpkin bit). Is it a thing in France. 
Mick, 5th November 2019, 12:23
Think the Pumpkins are to do with Trick or Treat as displaying one denotes you are a willing participant therefore permission hereby granted to knock at your door... apparently?
Mick, 5th November 2019, 12:33
Sort of on Radio topic : I started using streamripper on Raspbian last week due to my physical radio having its USB port cooked by an UltraFit Flash drive (should be called UltraHot). I knew the thing got close to a very hot cup off tea, but hadn't thought about the long term consequences ie. plastic part of the USB became brittle and broke into many pieces (after a couple of years continuous use). Thankfully I was sucessfully able to transplant a new port yesterday. Pleased to get radio by stream again though.
Mick, 5th November 2019, 12:44
Sorry you haven't got your toy car yet. Have you got a dash cam ready to record for first trecks ;-). Hope the loan gets approved soon.
Rick, 9th November 2019, 17:50
Got the stations working on my NetRadio - it looks like they do something different to everything else causing a buffer overrun. 
Not sure what exactly the problem is, 
I set metadata to 8192 bytes (was 4080 which is supposed to be the maximum in a meta block). 
title and artist were both set to 32 bytes (was 17, LCD width plus terminull), not sure this was necessary but... 
hdrbuf in station_connect() was set to 512 bytes, and the sanity check set to 511. That's because I noticed PPNR has a really long description. 
The terminator in read_icy_metadata() when just assuming end of string of no length given, sets it to length minus one. The minus one added because array counts from zero and if you whack a null byte at the end... 
If redirecting, copy the host and path with a string length of 127, not 128. 
It now works. I'm not going to try to find out why, because of the It Takes Forever To Compile. It works so I'm happy. That'll do.
William Souza , 6th March 2024, 05:12
Look, I sort of dismantled the entire printer that had a problem with the intention of giving the motors and gears another use... Is there no way to transform her board into something similar to an Arduino? Or an esp32... After all, it has wi-fi, it has logic ports, USB, and so on... How to reprogram these controllers into something more practical like an Arduino...
Rick, 6th March 2024, 10:57
As you say, these devices are basically Arduino-like microcontrollers (though maybe with slightly peculiar I/O as suits a printer), however the big problem, as always, is in knowing the right incantations to make them do anything useful. 
Most custom chips like these don't come with datasheets, so sadly they're destined to be landfill when their purpose is no longer. 

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