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Telesurveillance failure

The installer sent me a text to say she'd be out at half twelve, and was bang on time. She got out two boxes. One held the controller and two movement detection sensors, the other held a dinky little camera and a wall mounted siren.

It was also nice that she had no problems understanding my mangled French, and she was quite understanding of the questions that I had regarding privacy, being aware of the Amazon/Ring issue.

Sadly, that's all the good stuff. What followed? Not so good.

While she was walking around outside trying to get a signal, I took a quick picture of the control tablet. It is a dinky little thing. There's a camera built in, and a speaker/microphone on the side. If it spots something, an operator will attempt to talk to the intruder to dissuade them, getting the police involved otherwise.
There wasn't, I noted, an exterior camera.

The alarm system controller
The alarm system controller.

With an Orange SIM, it was just about holding one bar out of four trying to access 4G. She switched it out for a "multi-service" SIM for the other operators and... it had one bar and said "Unknown type" so it was probably 2G or 3G.

With apologies, she packed up her stuff and left. The service requires 4G to operate as a back-up if anything happens to the WiFi/ADSL.
She said she would pass on my comment that it was a shame there was no provision for an external antenna.

 

I got in touch with VeriSure who offer a similar service. They called me right back and the person there was happy to set up a rendezvous for Saturday morning, though interestingly he refused to give me any idea of the pricing or how much it cost per month which was a big red flag for me, to be honest - it wouldn't hurt to say "for a typical house it costs X to install and Y per month, but note the actual prices depend upon what sort of coverage is actually required" in order that I have something to compare with other offers.
But this too was abandoned, as he said their service requires 4G so...

 

Orange has an offering, but I've not looked at it in any detail.

 

For the short term, I have ordered a cheap outside camera from Amazon. €32 with a reduction applied. It's probably crap, but so long as it is visible...
I'll also look at getting an inexpensive wired alarm system with outside bell box and some door/window open detection sensors.

In the longer term? Well, maybe I have found a use for the ESP32 devices? ☺ I cannot, obviously, have somebody interactively check on who might be around, but on the other hand there are little GPRS module that I can use to send myself a text if there's an intrusion, along with taking photos (and possibly uploading to my site?).

 

I jinxed it

Remember when I said washing mom's stuff wore out the bearings on the washing machine?

Well.

About that... :(

 

I'm fine with the electrics, and I have printed out the schematics and recently found a Vedette model that had the same insides (right down to the very same wire colours!). However you can tell something is wrong when the motor turns, and so does the big wheel the belt is hooked to, but the drum doesn't turn.
But, worse than that, if I grab the drum (inside) and shake it, there is no play on the left (this is good) but about an inch of play on the right (this is not good).

So I'm back to handwashing. F**k.

Always bloody something, isn't there?

I'll probably get a replacement from Amazon in September when I'm on my summer holiday (gives me some time to put some money aside and it gives some leeway as to when it'll actually arrive).
It looks like a top loader is around €360-399, with free delivery. Thankfully Prime delivery is the same price, though a choice of one (see below).
I mean, I could go and get one from the supermarket, but I think their concept of delivery is "rent our truck".

One I'm looking at is a Candy CST 272DE/1-47. Is this a good brand? Just having a look at the instruction book (PDF). It... has NFC? WTF?

I don't imagine the new machine will work with pouring hot water in from a bucket prior to washing, the onboard computer would probably panic or something. I don't really want a machine with blinky lights and touch buttons. I like mechanical machines. They are simple, and reliable. I know when my machine packed up, it would be the bearings, belt, or motor (in that order of likelihood). Well, it was the bearings. Not really a surprise given the machine's desire to perform a bump to fast spin for a few seconds to squeeze out water. If you can imagine doing that with a drum full of sodden clothes, it's not a surprise the machine had a tendency to clunk violently at times, I'm surprised the bearings made it beyond the guarantee period...

Still, it was found abandoned in the cow shed and it gave me a year and a half and all it cost me was two capacitors and some time. So, it's annoying but I can't fault it.

Just had a look on Le Bon Coin. A machine that washes correctly but must be used in manual mode (huh?) for rinsing and spinning - €80.
Another, wrapped in bright orange tape (implies it's been taken apart and the person couldn't be bothered to screw it back together) with a non-functional control panel... €50.
Seriously? That new machine is €376.22 with Prime Delivery, so why would I pay a little over a fifth of that for a broken one?

 

Hardware hack

So after the installer had been, and gone, I went to little nearby town for some overpriced petrol as I decided to mow. Get on top of the grass growing since the rain/storms.

I had almost finished when Marte refused to turn while going forward, but did sort of when reversing.

The problem was that the little arm that holds the axle in place was too used/broken.
Like this much broken.

It shouldn't look like this
It shouldn't look like this.

I tried to bend the metal back with a pair of pliers, but it didn't really work. So I did the man fix, I hit it with a hammer. A lot. Until it looked more like it was supposed to.

It should look more like this
It should look more like this.

I added another of those screw-clip things for redundancy... and was surprised.

The steering was now tight and nimble.
I thought the lousy steering was because of how the wheels were wearing out in the middle. If I knew it was this part, I'd have done something about it before now.

Well, a new thing learned.

But, on balance, I probably should have gone to work today. ☺

Having said that, there wasn't anything particularly important in the washing machine, so wringing it by hand (no idea of how much rinsing it had) wasn't a problem.

 

Better RISC OS video

I also discovered why my video from the Pi into the HDMI dongle was a bit lacklustre and fuzzy.
The GPU was still being set to output a 1024×600 image as would be the case for that little Lontium monitor.
Switching this to CEA mode 4 (720p) and changing RISC OS to use the same mode, the display is crisp and sharp.

A better desktop
A better desktop (screenshot).

To give a better idea, here is a version cropped so it doesn't get scaled. This is exactly what appeared on screen.

A close-up to judge quality
A close-up to judge quality.

If you think it's slightly fuzzy, it is. Remember it's using MJPEG to send data to the computer. This represents about a quarter of the visible part of the screen, so the fuzziness isn't visible. It's clearer than the analogue monitors I grew up with.
Plus, the thing was running most of the afternoon (I left it on while mowing) and the dongle didn't feel hot, or even warm. Perhaps it overheats when one shoves 4K into it and it has to do rescaling?

I did some modifications and updates to my Mamie game, and there were no issues at all with the display.

 

 

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Rick, 20th June 2023, 23:29
Seems Candy has been outsourced to China and, well... 
 
I'm also looking at an Indesit 60300 EUN, which looks okay. 
There's a video on Amazon of one making an absolutely horrific noise while spinning, I'm going to guess that the retaining screws were never removed prior to use...
Anon, 21st June 2023, 11:39
Candy, Indesit, Hotpoint etc are all owned by Whirlpool. 
 
I have a Hotpoint washing machine that I bought 10 years ago, and a Hotpoint tumble dryer that I bought 17 years ago. The washing machine has run without issue the whole time. The dryer... more or less. It's from the "halt and catch fire" era, but apparently that didn't affect the units with the moisture sensor on them. 
 
There is a slight issue with the cyclic thermostat. Sometimes the dryer will sound an alarm beep mid-cycle then flash "F-10" on the display. A clout on the back clears the fault and it'll be fine for a few weeks. 
 
I have a replacement thermostat but haven't bothered fitting it yet. As long as the "kick it in the kidneys" method continues to work I'll live with it. 
 
Both the washer and dryer were from the Hotpoint Ultima range, which seems to be a bit better made than the standard Aquarius range of that time. 
 
I did have an interesting time back in the autumn though. I'd closed the window in the laundry room (as it was sub-zero outside) then later put a load of washing through the dryer and forgot to re-open the window (it normally stays locked on the vent). Despite turning on the extractor fan, I came back to find the RCD had tripped. 
 
After that, every time I ran a load through the dryer it would trip the RCD. I thought I was going to need a new dryer, but in the end I discovered that the cumulative leakage current on the RCD side of the fuse board was exceeding 30mA, however no individual circuit was exceeding this. 
 
So I got hold of a new busbar, ripped out the RCD and all the breakers on the left side of the board and replaced them all with RCBOs. It hasn't tripped since. 
 
For those who aren't familiar with them, an RCBO is a single DIN-rail module that contains an RCD and MCB in one unit. They normally cost between £25 and £40 (a standard MCB is about £4) which is why they aren't fitted to all circuits. However our local B&Q was selling them for £2 each, so I ended up grabbing almost enough to do the entire board. Couldn't get any 32A ones at that price so had to buy those for £25, but covered everything else. 
 
I figured that if the dryer was going to trip the power every time I used it, an RCBO would confine it to the laundry room circuit. However, as mentioned, it actually fixed the problem completely. 
 
Now, under the current 18th Edition wiring regs here in the UK, all circuits either have to be RCD protected or there has to be "alternative provision" made to ensure safety. Under the previous 17th Edition, RCD protection was mandatory for portable appliances (so ring circuits) but optional for fixed appliances, unless the fixed appliance was in a "hazardous area". 
 
So basically the shower was required to be on an RCD or RCBO, but the cooker was only required to have an RCD if the control unit had a 13A socket. If it was just a straightforward switch then an RCD was optional. 
 
I'm still not convinced with the idea of putting internal lighting circuits on an RCD though. To me, the risk of being plunged into darkness (and the resultant trip or fall hazard) outweighs the risk of harm from any electrical issues on wiring and fittings that aren't accessable without the use of a tool. My outside lights are on a separate RCBO protected circuit though. 
 
Gone off on a tangent anyway. Rick - if you can afford it, buy a Miele. Having said that, when I thought I was going to need a replacement, a Miele washer-dryer would go for about £1,500. The equivalent Hotpoint Ultima model was about £500. Go figure.
Rick, 21st June 2023, 14:41
Sadly no Miele on Amazon (delivery is an issue with local shops). It was the first brand I looked for. 
A woman at work had a Candy. It died after two and a half years. Guarantee to years, so a few hundred down the drain. She has an Indesit now. 
 
My electrics...would terrify you. A 650mA disjoncteur on the three phase and... Nothing else. 
 
The newer wiring (bedroom and living room sockets) have 15A (or is it 25?) RCBs. I'm going to add a new line to put some sockets in the living room, I might look for an RCBO for that if I can work out what it's called in French. They're single width aren't they? I don't have any more space in the box! 
Rick, 21st June 2023, 14:51
Crap. 
"Disjoncteur différentiel", and they're double or triple width. 
 
I'll have to whack in a single simple RCB until I feel up to replacing the entire box.
Anon, 22nd June 2023, 09:11
22 quid for an RCBO here: 
 
https://www.screwfix.com/p/british-general-fortress-32a-30m a-sp-n-type-b-compact-rcbo/368vf 
 
Like I said before, Candy, Indesit, Hotpoint etc all use the same internals, all made by Whirlpool. Hotpoint seems to be the more "premium" brand. Sort of like how VW, Seat, Skoda and Audi are all related, they all use common components.
J.G.Harston, 22nd June 2023, 12:59
There is nothing that can't be fixed with a jubilee clip. I fixed a broken balustrade rail with one. ;)
J.G.Harston, 22nd June 2023, 13:07
Rick, your house's electrics horrify me. It's almost an effort not to chuck all my tools and a pile of supplies in the car and come down and visit you. ;) 
 
I've just finished rewiring my brother's new house. 1950s council build, multiple phases of bodgeage over the decades. Terrifying electrics. At one point I found a joint in the ring circuit made with a choc-block wrapped in tape plastered into the kitchen wall. 
Rick, 22nd June 2023, 14:54
My electrics are "French farmhouse wiring". 
It's scary, but actually quite competent compared to *some* I've seen. 
 
Luckily, ring mains are a British peculiarity, and are simply not permitted here. 
 
The wiring regulations are a lot stricter now than they were (probably a Euro standard so akin to the current UK ones), but that doesn't magically fix all the crap that was thrown up in the sixties when shiny lights made it to the countryside. 
 
Oh, and if you think my setup is terrifying, you'll love Spain. ;) 

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