• Stuck on Pokemon Go loading screen on android [FIXED]

    So since Pokemon Go launched back in the summer there have been many reports of the app getting stuck on the loading screen on android. Many sites have reported the problem to being overloaded login servers and other bugs in the app.

    Many of you will be familiar with the following loading screen.

    Many sites have suggested clearing cache, Restarting, or even reinstalling the app. None of the solutions are working for me.

    I decided to investigate what was going wrong further. I did notice that the web browser was also getting adverts appearing randomly from time to time and clearly this is not correct. Despite some virus checkers giving the tablet the all clear I was very suspicious about a number of apps that I saw running and was not able to stop. One of these apps was called broservice, After managing to force quit and uninstall this App things started to get better for a start the web browser no longer displayed adverts and suddenly Pokémon GO was able to sign in. After some more investigation and removal of some other apps The entire tablet was more responsive and Pokémon GO continue to sign in without issue. 

    My working theory is that the malware was injecting ads directly into the HTTP traffic and this was interfering with Pokémon Go’s login. So as soon as the malware was removed everything returned to normal.

    The worst thing about this problem is that the malware was factory installed on this tablet. The tablet in question was a hipstreet electron and various apps designed to serve adverts and God knows what else were pre-installed and made very difficult to remove.

  • Mains frequency monitoring


    Playing around with measuring the UK mains frequency and got the following results


    where blue is my measurement and yellow is a reference measurement i obtained from a real time tracker on the internet. Pretty good agreement with in 0.01 of a Hz (mostly)

    What i’m really interested in are the variations between blue and yellow, they are not constant and at times look cyclical such as


    What am i seeing there? is that the real time frequency regulation of the mains kicking in and out on 10-20 second duty cycles? as generating capacity is added and removed to regulate the frequency? Or am i detecting local distortions that are offsetting my zero crossing detection and causing error in my frequency graphs?

  • Fake FTDI and esp8266 flashing issues

    So I thought I would try the ESP8266 out at last so got my self a edp8266 module and a USB to 3.3v serial converter.

    After many hours of failing to flash the esp with nodemcu and other firmwares I was on the brink of giving up.The nodemcu flash tool kept letting stuck at anywhere between 1% and 6% no settings made any difference and other flash tools failed in similar ways. I then though to change the serial adapter and happen to have a board with a cp2102 on it so a few soldered on wires later and I had an alternative serial converter. This one worked first time.

    I remembered the whole fake FTDI issue from a while back and started investigating. Firstly my chip had painted on idents which would easily come off with my finger. Real FTDI chips apparently are laser etched. I then downloaded and ran FT_Prog from ftdi’s website and checked the serial no… Turns out it was the most common fake number there was


  • Another stunning success

  • Another one bites the dust

    Don’t think the puck diode thought a lot of the current I stuck though it. Plus it looks badly clamped as conduction clearly started and burned out at a single point from the edge

  • First test of the RaspiHats Isolated IO module


    First tests of the Isolated IO boards from http://raspihats.com/ This is the 6 in/out module featuring 6 relay isolated outputs and 6 opto isolated inputs. 3 Boards are currently being produced. A relay output board, an isolated input board and the mixed board shown here.

    I’ve connected it here to a system under test to simulate a PLC interface for verification. The Raspberry PI is pretending to do the PLC handshake with our equipment to verify its all working to specification.



    Taking to the board from the Raspberry PI is exceeding easy, for a start its a HAT module so supports the auto set up that newer PIs support. The only thing you need to do is enable the PIs I2C from the rasp-config tool (see here https://www.raspberrypi.org/documentation/configuration/raspi-config.md)

    After I2C is enabled ensure you have the following packages installed via apt-get

    sudo apt-get install python-smbus python-pip

    then using pip install the raspihats package

    sudo pip install raspihats

    If you want a video walk through of the setup you can find one below :-


    And here is my python test script simulating some of the PLC. The pupose of this script is to simulate some exteral hardware they we do not have to test the machine against. The particular handshake is defined by our specifications but it shows how easy a test script can be written and the RaspiHats modules used

    from raspihats.i2c_hats import Di6Rly6
    from time import sleep
    import time
    board = Di6Rly6(0x60)
    #force reset
    #board.do_set_state(7,1) # only 6 relays this is forced 0
    while (1):
    print("Waiting for ready signal")
     #wait for ready signal
     print("Not ready")
    print("system is ready")
     print(" .. Moving head to load position and requesting vac")
    board.do_set_state(0,1) # req vac
    #wait for vac on signal
     #do nothing
    print("VAC on requesting a cal cycle")
    board.do_set_state(2,1) # req cal cycle
     #wait for done signal
     #do nothing
    #read passfail
    if board.di_get_state(5)==1:
     print("** ITS A PASS **")
     print("** ITS A FAIL **")
     board.do_set_state(2,0) # clear cal cycle request
    print("robot head in position, signal vac off")
    #move head and turn on robot vac then say our vac is on by deasserting vac req signal
    print("waiting for vac off comfirm")
    #wait for vac off signal
     #do nothing
    print("Cycle complete")
    #loop around and wait for ready signal
  • Fix orphan image attachments in wordpress/woocommerce

    I ended up with a load of orphan image attachments. By which i mean the post_parent of the image attachment was 0. This is bad in one particular situation. Although all the images were in use on posts, Google has a habit of indexing the attachment pages as well and often these are not themed and do not contain the info you want end users to see, For example http://example.org/product/attachment/1234/. Its possible to use plugins to add no-index no-follow meta tags to the attachment pages that will remove them from search. But this seemed a bit half-arsed. Plugins such as Yoast SEO have options to redirect attachment pages back to the parent post. But this is useless if the post_parent is 0.

    So i came up with the following quick hack to run on the server from a ssh prompt.

    $sapi_type = php_sapi_name(); 
    if (substr($sapi_type, 0, 3) == 'cgi') 
    { die("You are using CGI PHP\n"); } 
    require ( ABSPATH . 'wp-admin/includes/image.php' ); 
    $args = array( 'posts_per_page' => 1000,
            'offset'           => 0,
            'category'         => '',
            'category_name'    => '',
            'orderby'          => 'date',
            'order'            => 'DESC',
            'include'          => '',
            'exclude'          => '',
            'meta_key'         => '',
            'meta_value'       => '',
            'post_type'        => 'product',
            'post_mime_type'   => '',
            'post_parent'      => '',
            'author'           => '',
            'post_status'      => 'publish',
            'suppress_filters' => true
    $posts = get_posts($args);
    foreach ($posts as $post) {
       // Get post title
       $post_thumbnail_id = get_post_thumbnail_id( $post->ID );
       $parentid = wp_get_post_parent_id( $post_thumbnail_id );
       if($parentid == 0)
                            'ID' =>  $post_thumbnail_id,
                            'post_parent' =>  $post->ID

    This script finds each post of post_type, gets the featured image ID, then looks up this to see if the post_parent is 0. If it is 0 it sets the post_parent of the image to the post ID determined before. The first few lines ensure that this script is only executable from the command line/ssh prompt so that if you leave this on your web-server it cannot be executed by the http process. However i would encourage removing it directly after use.

    The things to note with this are:-

    1. This will run on the first 1000 posts, if you need more, probably best to create an outer loop and use that offset parameter
    2. post_type is set to “product” this is good for woocommerce product posts, for regular posts make this “post”
  • CanOpen on a Raspberry PI using CanFestival

    I wanted to hook a Raspberry PI into a CanOpen network and have it as a slave device, mainly for logging purposes. I had previously identified CanFestival  as a potential CanOpen stack to be used for this project as it describes itsself as “CanFestival focuses on providing an ANSI-C platform independent CANOpen® stack that can be built as master or slave nodes on PCs, Real-time IPCs, and Microcontrollers” so that is sounding promising.

    The other potential stack I had considered was CanOpenNode, this stack wins hands down for implementing on a PIC32/24 as it pretty much works out of the box on those platforms. The devil is always in the details and in this case the detail is the driver, or how the stack connects to the actual can hardware. Both stacks have certain “drivers” that allow them to interface to the host, both stacks as C implementations that just seem to work. But the winner was CanFestival supported socket_can.

    Socket_can is an implementation of can using unix sockets, this might not seem like a big deal, but its very efficient. Sockets have built in queuing mechanisms and expose them selves to usespace in a nice friendly way. Through put is not going to be an issue. Other CAN systems use character devices, eg they emulate a serial port and you talk one byte at a time to the character device. This is inefficient and has no queuing, so on busy networks things could go wrong.

    The hardware selected was the PICAN board from SK Pang (UK Supplier). Quick delivery, the board arrived next day and I was excited to start playing with it. I am using a Raspberry PI 2 and there are slight differences between the 1 and 2 when setting up the drivers on the PI (hint PI2 is much improved)

    Can board on raspberry pi 2

    Complete instructions can be found on SK Pang’s blog but the TLDR; version is in raspi-config, advanced -> turn on SPI. then add to /boot/config.txt the following


    Thats it, a reboot later everything should be good the correct kernel modules will load at boot and the can interface will be ready to go.


    The purpose of this was CanOpen not just raw can so lets proceed with Festival, we will do this on the raspberry PI as it should be ready to go with code compiling and will save the hassle of a cross compile setup for such a trivial thing.

    Download the source code from http://dev.automforge.net/CanFestival-3/ , you can check out the code as a Mecurial repository, or if you don’t know what that is, just download the latest source from http://dev.automforge.net/CanFestival-3/archive/tip.tar.bz2 which will get the latest code as a tar ball with bz2 compression.

    wget http://dev.automforge.net/CanFestival-3/archive/tip.tar.bz2
    Unpack the code
    tar -xvjf tip.tar.bz2
    Change directory to move into the source tree, Note at the time of writing the tip ID was 8bfe0ac00cdb when you do this it may have changed so just cd into the folder just unpacked which will be named CanFestival-3-?????????????
    cd CanFestival-3-8bfe0ac00cdb
    Now configure and build the code
    ./configure --arch=armv6 --target=unix --can=socket
    sudo make install

    So thats good to go at this point and you should be able to test, an annoying niggle is that the can interface needs to be brought up with the “link” command, i am sure this can be fixed in festival but as it stands out of the box to run the first thing you need to do is :-

    sudo /sbin/ip link set can0 up type can bitrate 500000
    CanOpenShell load#libcanfestival_can_socket.so,can0,500k,1,1

    Where the paramaters for load are library name, can channel, bitrate, nodeID and master(1)/slave(0)

    If CanOpenShell starts correctly you should see


    at this point press enter

    You can then sent NMT commands with the ssta/ssto/srst/scan commands eg ssta#0 start all nodes, and you can read and write SDOs with the rsdo and wsdo commands
    so you can talk to other CanOpen devices and prove you have a working network.

    Creating a node with festival

    So how do you actually use festival to do something real? The best example to start with and the simplest is in examples/SillySlave and is a very basic demo of a CanOpen slave on the network. Of cause sillyslave didn’t compile out of the box with the rest of festival and to get it to work do the following, firsty move to the /examples/sillyslave directory and edit the Makefile( eg use nano Makefile -c) on line 42 go to the very end and remove “-lcanlib”

    Next you also need to edit main.h and change the following defines in the section marked “Please tune the following defines to suit your needs:”

    #define NODE_MASTER 0x1
    #define NODE_SLAVE 0x40
    #define DRIVER_LIBRARY "libcanfestival_can_socket.so"
    #define BAUDRATE 500
    #define BUS 0

    Next you need to build as follows :-
    make mrproper

    This is important as the SillySlave.c file is out of date and old and needs to be regenerated, only the mrproper target will remove it, not just make make all or clean. What it actually does is generate SillySlave.c from an XML representation of the object dictionay and using another tool this can be converted to/from the EDS/electronic data sheet files that is part of the CanOpen standard.

    To run the sample just do :-


    If you have another can node, you can start/stop the node with NMT commands, and it will send a PDO for every SYNC it receives.

    The important thing to take home here is main.c is trivial, its the minimum needed to start up the application, SillySlave.c is machine generated and this is the goodness of the object dictionary and how you configure the main parts of your node.

    Creating an object dictionary with festival

    So the time has come to make the Sillyslave something real, your friend in this process is the objdicteditor tool, which is a python tool

    You need to run this from a GUI, either the PI’s X windows or another system (even windows) with python and python wx installed. Lets assume you are using the PI still. Firstly ensure you have the wx widgets for python
    sudo apt-get install python-wxtools
    Then change to X windows and use a keyboard and mouse to continue
    Open a terminal window and CD to the directory containing the canfestival source, then cd into the objdictgen directory and do the following python objdictedit.py Then if you go to File->Open abd browse to the examples/SillySlave directory and open SillySlave.od you can edit the object dictionary from a nice GUI with ease, any changes you make if you save them back to the od file you can then build this into the slave by following the previous steps to build sillyslave with your new changes.

    Canfestival object dictionary editor

    A few finishing words

    Sillyslave is very basic, the bare minimum and really the defines for the nodeid and the bitrate are wrong and these should be read from the object dictionary directly. If you need to add more advanced functionality CanFestival has callback hooks which can be used, but i leave developing a real application as an exercise for you to do on your own as this is where the business end of what ever you are trying to do actually starts now all the boiler plate is taken care of.

  • Ustream videos from the command line on a RaspberryPi

    As i’ve just got my hands on a 7″ offical Raspberry PI display and a PI 2.0 i was playing around and thought what is the easiest way to get some interesting video on the screen. So i though as a test i would use the live ISS HD feed from NASA as that is on Ustream and is a pretty cool thing to have on.

    After some quick research omxplayer was the way to do this. And http://blog.miguelgrinberg.com/post/watch-live-video-of-earth-on-your-raspberry-pi did exactly what i needed

    So I installed omxviewer, python-pip and livestreamer (using python-pip) and the basic command is livestreamer http://ustream.tv/channel/iss-hdev-payload mobile_480p --player omxplayer --fifo

    I changed it to

    livestreamer http://ustream.tv/channel/iss-hdev-payload mobile_480p --player omxplayer --fifo --player-args "--blank {filename}" to ensure it blanked the unused parts of the screen.


    NASA ISS HD feed running on omxplayer on a Raspberry Pi

    NASA ISS HD feed running on omxplayer on a Raspberry Pi

    Lots of playing to be done, but for the moment on with some serious work…

  • CanOpen

    I’m currently using CanOpen a lot and although there are loads of good documents they are scattered around the internet but no one site I find has everything i need. So this represents my own personal notes on CanOpen that I hope if of benefit to others. I cannot guarantee everything is accurate and if you find a mistake please let me know so i can correct it.

    The start of my documentation can be found here