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Using VLC to capture an image from an RTSP video stream 4 August 2016

Posted by David Wilson in General.
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This exercise was harder than it should have been.

I’ve got me a shiny new security camera. http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Multi-language-Wifi-Wireless-Camera-IP-1080P-Auto-PTZ-Dome-Camera-DS-2DE2202-DE3-W-3X/32556807980.html?spm=2114.13010608.0.73.cIC8rO

It supports RTSP for streaming the video and audio from the camera to what ever is watching.

Plan A.
The software in the webcam also says it supports snapshots at regular intervals that you can set… after trawling through the menus I haven’t yet figured out how to get the image off the camera to my server.

Plan B.
I could write my own software to pick up the RTSP video stream and grab a frame at regular intervals… but before I do that I wonder if some other clever people have already solution this? see PLAN C.

Plan C.
It’s supported by VLC! http://www.videolan.org
And VLC has a command line interface… so this can be automated with a script. That’s simple stuff. For now what’s important is testing getting the image via the command line and VLC. Let’s just say this took a while to sort out. Web references to older versions of software. Differences between the different platforms that VLC is supported on as well. Anyway, long story short. Here’s the syntax.

/Applications/VLC.app/Contents/MacOS/VLC -I rc -v rtsp://admin:password@ –video-filter=scene –scene-format=png –scene-prefix=CameraImage –scene-path=. –scene-replace –scene-ratio=30 –sout-x264-lookahead=1 –sout-x264-tune=stillimage –vout=dummy –aout=dummy –run-time 5 vlc://quit

And he’s a lovely picture!

– David

3D Printing – Troubleshooting 19 June 2016

Posted by David Wilson in General.
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Not much to say – just WOW.


Most useful 3D printing troubleshooting reference ever!

– David

3D Printing with the Jaycar Delta Rostok TL-4100 12 June 2016

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Some tips and tricks to get you up and working quickly…

Tip #1: Assembly instructions

The book that comes with the printer is badly organised and the assembly instructions lacking in places.
The trouble shooting pages at the beginning of the book … you’ll need these later!
And be diligent about the screw sizes that you use. This will save you being caught out later.
When you put the top of the printer together… read, read, and check. Have the angle brackets level with the stainless steel bars, and the top plate on top of that. This will give you an extra few millimetres and possibly save you later driving the print head into the platform.

Watch this assembly video… have it in front of you as you build.

Additionally this web site has some supplemental instructions that are critical to pay attention to. Particularly around the print head and a possible short circuit with the temperature sensor… you may receive it in this condition. When you’re threading the wires around… be sensitive to the fragile nature of these wires.

Tip #2: Firmware update

The web site here has firmware for the printer. It also has a link to the arduino software for loading, compiling, and installing the firmware update.
There is a file called Configuration.h – in this file is a line that you can set the height of the printer. It will likely already be set at 274 (millimetres)… I had to change mine to 270 because I installed the top plate lower that I should have (top plate was flush with the stainless steel bars.


Tip #3: Update EPROM settings

Back to those pages in the front of the instruction manual… one of them says to change a value in the firmware.
Do this on your PC using the Repetier software as shown in the book.

Tip #4: Repetier software

I tried to configure things using the Mac software… and had a particularly hard time. Turns out that the Mac software is very very much out of date and it doesn’t look like a update will be coming out anytime soon. So I’ve recycled an old PC, installed XP (yes… I know)… and I’m driving the printer using that.
Now, being that this is an old PC… when printing there is a message that pops up saying the onscreen display will not be updated while printing… actually it’s a really nice feature that graphically draws the object as it is printing, layer by layer… You can turn ON this feature in preferences… DO NOT DO THIS. if the software says it’s disabled, leave it disabled. I force enabled it and had a 2 hour print blow out to over 12 hours… and the resulting output was horrible. The software struggled to send print commands while it also tried to update the display. Your millage may vary – you can try this at home – you have been told.

Tip #5 : Troubleshooting – hardware

When you turn on the printer and the LCD display lights up… if you see a message at the bottom of the screen like MAXTEMP – look at the front of the book again and it will give you a guide as to what is wrong. If everything is working it should say something like “printer ready”.

Tip #6: Slicers

Using the Repetier software you open .stl files (and probably some other object types). These objects then need to be “sliced” and turned into a string of commands (G-Codes) that can be sent to the printer for printing. As shipped Repetier has two slicers built in. I’ve for the moment settled on using Slic3R with a 0.2 precision. The settings are _mostly_ as specified in the book. Layer height is 0.2 and critically the first layer parameter is 0.35 (this makes sure enough plastic is extruded to ensure the object sticks to the platform),
You can edit some of the other settings later after doing some print tests. Slower printing should give you more accurate results…

I have also been to the Slic3R web site and downloaded the latest version of the slicer, replacing the installed components supplied in the Repetier software.

Tip #7: Calibration 1

I’ve gone through a role and a half of plastic so far doing calibration… it can be a long road.
There are additional calibration instructions at the tech brands web site. http://www.techbrands.co.nz/store/product/tl4100.aspx
Read these instructions. Coupled with the firmware update for printer height and the turning of the three screws to fine tune things… you should get this setup and working in a relatively quick space of time. Make sure that you have some sheets of paper on the platform to protect it from damage. Your end result is to have one sheet of paper under the print head with a little resistance on it when you pull the paper.

There is nothing wrong with the print head being too high an not having your print sticking to the platform. You’ll learn by observing and adjusting.

Tip #8 : Calibration 2

Now you need some test objects to print.
These two are good.
1. 5mm calibration – http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:24238
For me this was a real test as the first 3 x layers printed well. The last two, when I looked really really closely during printing, were extruding too much plastic.
This was fixed by updating that EPROM setting I mentioned above.

2. Lots to test, including overhang: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1621676
This is an object I’ve designed in sketchup. It tests precision and overhang (without support objects).
You can test on this object using different slicers and different precision settings.

As you print each object – document what you did, mark the object with which print number it is so you do not lose track of things.

Tip #9 : not printing?

I had an issue that appeared to be the plastic was not feeding correctly. I had switched from white PLA to black PLA (because I ran out of white). I had been printing mic calibration objects just fine… learning etc… and then I couldn’t print anything… the extrusion would not work.
In the end I determined this was because the nozzle was blocked…
Heat up the head while in the extruder.. and when hot – use the software to retract the plastic as quickly and as much as possible. Remove the plastic, Cut off the end. You need to get that blockage out. I’ve also used a socket set to remove the hot nozzle and poke plastic in the top and pull out the dirty plastic… and using that same trick, push in white plastic left overs and when I observed white coming out the nozzle I new it was clear.

Tip #10 : where do I get this stuff? (AliExpress – wow!)


Good luck, hope that helps.

– David

TrafficCamNZ Desktop for Mac v1.2.7 released 21 January 2016

Posted by David Wilson in General.
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A new version of TrafficCamNZ Desktop for Mac has been released and will be available from the Mac AppStore.

v1.2.7 includes
● Fixed an image layout issue on the main screen – single pixel per image row/column
● Fixed a possible issue when saving the camera data file

– David

TrafficCamNZ v1.9.8 released 18 January 2016

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A updated to TrafficCamNZ for iOS has been released.

This release includes:
● Fixes some icon imagery
● Bugfix for data import / update

Did you know that you can rotate your iPhone 6+ sideways and the image view will show you two images instead of one.

– David

Resizor 1.0.1 for Mac has been released 18 January 2016

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It is available from the Mac AppStore.

In this release v1.0.1:
• Specified image sizes can be a fraction of a pixel
• A button now reveals in the finder your image directory
• Enhancements to image sizes when saving – images that are x.5 in size are saved as x
• Updated to include support for 3x images
• The file naming convention has been updated to now be imagename[width]x[height]2x.png – 2x, 3x present if applicable

– David

Resizor for Mac – development update 13 January 2016

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There is some important stuff I should be doing and I’ve put that aside for a few hours while I have updated Resizor for Mac.

Resize for Mac is a developer Image resizing tool – you drag and drop your image, perhaps an icon or application launch image, into the picture area – then you get to save the icons or images to a folder. Resize will produce all of the files you have requested in their 1x, 2x, and 3x sizes. The application can be used by anyone who wants images resized as the application will remember the sizes you have requested between launches.

The new features added are for:
• 3x support
• Reveal in Finder – click on the folder in the bottom left of the screen to be taken to the folder location

Behind the scenes I’ve probably exhausted a lot of energy on the NSOpenPanel and related container security. The adventure all started with changing the OK button to Build – that was a single API call. Then I wanted the Build button to be setup with a “keyEquivalent” – meaning that if the directory selected was correct – all the user would need to do is press return. Doing this would be cool [panel.okButton setKeyEquivalent:@”r”];. So that’s not possible – there is no available API for it and I was unable to work my way programmatically through the view hierarchy to find the NSButton. I decided to try my hand at the NSSavePanel – this was cool as it automatically set up the keyEquivalent. Then things came to a halt with the Application Sandbox security as PowerBox didn’t give me permission to save files into the directory. I’ve left a question on the Apple Developer Forums about setting the keyEquivalent and will see what comes of it.

Now I need to get back to my todo list… it is important.

– David

TrafficCamNZ Free – updated and available for download 20 December 2015

Posted by David Wilson in General.
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TrafficCamNZ Free has been updated and is available now for download via the AppStore.


The updates in this version include:

• launch Images updated
• Updated with 64bit support
• Bug fix for potential crash when attempting to return image data to a screen that no longer exists
• Fixes an issue when displaying All Images – the correct initial image is shown now
• minor update
• minimum iOS is 7.1
• Added support for larger devices

The default camera data was also updated – so more cameras are included now.

– David

MacPro1,1 to MacPro2,1 and El Capitan installation 19 November 2015

Posted by David Wilson in General.
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I’ve posted previously about getting a MacPro1,1 being “hacked” to run an operating system it isn’t allowed to. And for some time there has been some work by some very smart smart people to make this possible for the rest of us humans. The technical wizardry is in the replacement of the boot.efi file and tricking the operating system into believing that’s got a 64bit machine upon which to run – this of course is not true because the machine is only a 32bit one.

This topic is discussed in detail in two threads in the MacRumors forums:
Developers Thread:

General Thread:

Build an installer “pikeify3.1:
The forum post has a link to a zip file – download this, expand and use the script to create your install media.

Lots of my installations failed during installation either with an error around Essentials.pkg or a Kernel Panic I suspect in the same please.
I only had 6GB of RAM available to me and it was suggested that perhaps my RAM was BAD. The link below to Amazon A-Tech RAM was posted so I ordered 2 x 8GB of RAM – giving me 16GB – including shipping it was around NZ$75.00. When the RAM arrived I installed 8GB of it – retried the install and it again failed with the same error. I then added the rest of the RAM now giving me 16GB total – repeated the installation with success! Another forum member has also reported successful installation with 12GB of RAM.


Firmware, SMC upgrades
I have also performed a firmware upgrade – the Machine is now a MacPro2,1 – this is probably only essential if you intend to replace the CPU’s.
In addition I have upgraded the SMC – this is probably not essential.
These upgrades were done when I had the “Bad RAM” … that probably wasn’t – just not enough.
And doing this upgrades is tricky. Difficult to find the software, and difficult to perform – for the SMC upgrade I had to perform this off my 10.9 OS installation.

Some reference links for firmware:
– this one requires a login – I still haven’t got mine!

Some reference links for SMC

This is a fun journey for those that enjoy it. I have two MacPro1,1 machines now with the last one costing me less than NZD$200 plus the RAM plus the appropriate video card (you need upgraded video card to run these later operating system). Add to this a monitor and keyboard and time.

– David

TrafficCamNZ – version 1.9.7 to be released soon 11 November 2015

Posted by David Wilson in General.
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Version 1.9.7 of TrafficCamNZ will be available shortly for you to update on your iPhone’s and Apple Watch.
It’s been updated for Apple Watch with WatchOS 2 support with glance support and showing you the top four camera images that you have selected on the iPhone.

If you’re using iCloud with TrafficCamNZ there have been some internal changes to improve support and Sync devices.

In this version
● iOS 9 and WatchOS 2 support
● iOS 8 is minimum supported release
● CoreData changes to improve support

For reference here were the changes in release 1.9.6

In this version
● Fixed an issue with switching iCloud preferences
● Squished some vermin
● Squished some bigger vermin related to choosing favourite cameras on the iPhone
● Updated the camera defaults to improve your first launch experience
● Main screen on iPhone now has a cleaner display, the mode indicator will show in Green – Favourites, Auto Detect, Predictive – instead of a place holder for each one.
● Updated ChromeCast / GoogleCast software version
● Added support for Application Notifications
● Added AppleWatch Support – The selected Favourite cameras on the iPhone are displayed on the Apple Watch. To change the cameras shown on the Apple Watch edit your favourites in the iPhone application. Double Tap an image to refresh. Long Press for Menu and select refresh to refresh all images.

– David


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