JTK – Notes and Ramblings Things we have found …


TrueNAS Scale / FTP / Cleanup

Filed under: General — taing @ 7:19 pm

After getting TrueNAS setup I was time to create a FTP user for the cameras to record. First a local user is created. The user’s home directory is where the files go and will probably also wants to be a Dataset and configured as a Share. The user is configured with a shell of /usr/sbin/nologin.

The FTP service is then enabled. The service is configured to always chroot.

Now it is time to create a cron job to cleanup these folders. The following command is set to run each night at midnight as the camera ftp user:

find /mnt/tank1/video/// -type f -mtime +30 -print0 | xargs -0 rm -f

This should find and delete all of the files in the folder older than 30 days.

There has been an issue with some of the Amcrest camera and FTP but for now ours seem to be uploading correctly.


TrueNAS Scale and Dropbox

Filed under: General — taing @ 5:59 pm

Unfortunately, TrueNAS Scale doesn’t natively support the Dropbox service. It does support Dropbox through Cloud Data Protection however that only provides for one way sync. The gist found at https://gist.github.com/kbumsik/b7cc243e297a3a66837151024049f43c provides an option. The gist will not survive a system update but can be re-enabled.

Make sure you create a regular user for dropbox and give them a home directory in your pool/home. For example, user dropbox with a home directory of /mnt/tank1/home/dropbox. The gist will have you the dropbox headless linux install directly from Dropbox along with the handy dropbox.py script from Dropbox before adding their service script. A summary of the commands from Dropbox and the gist:

su dropbox
wget https://www.dropbox.com/download?plat=lnx.x86_64
tar -xzf name_of_downloaded_file
# this can take a long time especially on reinstallation

wget https://linux.dropbox.com/packages/dropbox.py
sudo mkdir /etc/db
sudo cp dropbox.py /etc/db/dropbox-cli
sudo chmod +x /etc/db/dropbox-cli

wget https://gist.githubusercontent.com/kbumsik/b7cc243e297a3a66837151024049f43c/raw/b339fbeee2ba1081723612bec5aacf92cc60e7c2/dropbox-start.target

# Edit the service unit for your needs - be sure user id is correct and adjust path for dropbox-cli
pico dropbox-start.target

sudo cp dropbox-start.target /etc/systemd/system/dropbox-start.service
sudo systemctl enable --now dropbox-start.service
sudo systemctl status dropbox-start.service

I have saved dropbox.py and dropbox-start.target at truenas dropbox.zip in case the gist goes missing.

UPDATE: after a short while the process gave me an error that it couldn’t monitor the entire folder structure and suggest I run the following command to resolve:

echo fs.inotify.max_user_watches=100000 | sudo tee -a /etc/sysctl.conf; sudo sysctl -p

UPDATE #2: After updating to TrueNAS Scale Dragonfish-24.04.0 /usr is Read Only. The commands above have been updated. You will need to edit dropbox-start.target with the proper path from dropbox-cli.


Airthings Wave Plus

Filed under: General — taing @ 9:40 pm

There are some resources online for getting the Airthings Wave Plus to communicate with your Raspberry Pi and Openhab. The first article is from Airthings and is a bit out of date but a very good starting point. The find_wave.py script they refer to is no longer on their site but I found it at https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/4406702/Tech/find_wave.py.

This all takes us down a rabbit hole of python 2.7 lack of current support. “sudo apt-get install python-2” got the proper version of Python itself installed but that still leaves some dependencies missing. I found a note on installing the no longer supported version of pip for Python 2.7 for Raspbian Bullseye.

sudo curl https://bootstrap.pypa.io/pip/2.7/get-pip.py --output get-pip.py
sudo python2 get-pip.py

However, I was still not able to get bluepy installed for Python 2.7.

So now we try to adapt the script for Python 3. Not too bad, we need parenthesis for the print statements/functions. Once the syntax was correct my first run “sudo python3 find_wave.py” or “sudo blescan” rewarded me with the error message:

BTLEManagementError(“Failed to execute management command ‘%s'” % (cmd), rsp)

“bluetoothctl power off” followed by “bluetoothctl power on” seems to resolve the issue. There is quite a bit of discussion on this error on github.

Once we got find_wave.py working it was time to try read_waveplus.py. Once again this is written for Python 2.7 but a quick fixup of all of the print statements got it working for Python 3.

~/waveplus-reader $ sudo python3 read_waveplus.py 2930165120 5

Press ctrl+C to exit program

Device serial number: 2930165120
?     Humidity ? Radon ST avg ? Radon LT avg ?  Temperature ?     Pressure ?    CO2 level ?    VOC level ?
?     34.0 %rH ?     74 Bq/m3 ?     74 Bq/m3 ?   19.43 degC ?   977.64 hPa ?    546.0 ppm ?     46.0 ppb ?
?     34.0 %rH ?     74 Bq/m3 ?     74 Bq/m3 ?   19.43 degC ?   977.64 hPa ?    546.0 ppm ?     46.0 ppb ?
?     34.0 %rH ?     74 Bq/m3 ?     74 Bq/m3 ?   19.43 degC ?   977.64 hPa ?    546.0 ppm ?     46.0 ppb ?

There are lots of folks who have various version of Airthings to MQTT. There is even a nifty ESP32 gateway project. But the project that interested me most for the Pi also creates a mini dashboard and was recommended in the Openhab forums.

For now the Openhab Bluetooth binding extension is working. If issues develop the MQTT gateway will probably be the solution.

Pi has no network

Filed under: General — taing @ 9:07 pm

On my Raspberry Pi running Bullseye after running “sudo apt-get dist-upgrade” dhclient failed to start at boot. A local login and one could run “”sudo dhclient” and all would be well.

Fortunately the good folks at stackexchange had seen and solved the problem. Edit /etc/systemd/system/dhcpcd.service.d/wait.conf to change “/usr/lib/dhcpcd5/dhcpcd” to “/usr/sbin/dhcpcd”.


More upgrades – PHP & Webtrees

Filed under: General — taing @ 10:09 pm

In the process of the upgrades discussed in the previous post – Ubuntu 18.04(Bionic Beaver) to 22.04(Jammy Jellyfish) there were additional issues for Webtrees and PHP.

The current release of webtrees (2.1) requires PHP 7.4, 8.0, 8.1 or 8.2. In the process of upgrading, PHP 8.1 was installed but lacked the required modules to function properly. This can be solved by a simple apt-get command to install the required pieces:

sudo apt-get install php8.1-{cli,common,curl,zip,gd,mysql,xml,mbstring,imagick,intl}

There is a discussion of this at https://www.webtrees.net/index.php/forum/help-for-2-0/35292-update-php-error-solved and https://www.webtrees.net/index.php/forum/help-for-2-0/35369-upgrade-ubuntu-to-20-04-02-broke-webtrees.

It is also worth noting the apache2 commands to enable/disable Apache PHP modules:

sudo a2dismod php7.4
sudo a2enmod php8.1

There is a discussion of installing multiple versions of PHP at https://tecadmin.net/how-to-install-php-on-ubuntu-22-04/ and https://linux.how2shout.com/how-to-install-php-7-4-on-ubuntu-22-04-lts-jammy-linux/. The articles discuss a PPA for the versions not in the standard apt sources. Once multiple versions are installed installed you can use

sudo update-alternatives --config php

to change versions. You can easily confirm the default version using “php -v”.


MythTV & MySQL Notes

Filed under: General — taing @ 11:01 pm

It was time to update the out of date server that is running the MythTV backend, so we went from 18.04(Bionic Beaver) to 20.04(Focal Fossa) to 22.04(Jammy Jellyfish). This is quite a jump. Most things survived the upgrades. According the Ubuntu we should have standard support until June 2027.

MySQL had an issue starting. The log at /var/log/mysql/error.log showed “unknown variable ‘query_cache_limit=1M'”. Turns out that query_cache_limit and query_cache_size are no longer valid in my.cnf for version 8.x. Removing these from the config file solved the problem. Read more at https://serverfault.com/questions/1042327/after-an-upgrade-to-ubuntu-20-04-lts-why-does-mysql-not-start.

There is the problem that after the upgrades the schema of the MythTV database was updated to 1376 instead of the 1348 on the clients. Off to do more upgrading…

It was also necessary to get a GUI view of the MythTV backend system. This machine hasn’t had a monitor connected in years, so the solution was VNC. The instructions at https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/how-to-install-and-configure-vnc-on-ubuntu-20-04 got me started. The short version is “sudo apt-get install tightvncserver”, minor adjustment to ~/.vnc/xstartup and “vncserver” along with TightVNC from the PC with the correct IP:port from the command line got it working.

There’s a bit more in the tutorial if you want the VNC server running as a service or need to mess with resolution… For example, “vncserver -geometry 1280×800” to set the screen dimensions or “vncserver -kill :1” to close the server.


Openhab transforms and MQTT JSON data

Filed under: General — taing @ 5:57 pm

In a previous post discussing Openhab JSONPATH transformations there was an issue when the same MQTT topic is used for several different messages. In the case of the LaCrosse Weather sensor one message contains temperature and humidity and the other message contains wind speed and direction.

The solution is to chain transformations. First use a REGEX to filter and then use the JSONPATH to extract the value. This is discussed in the Openhab forums. For the weather sensor the wind direction transformation looks like:


Pay special attention to the union symbol ?. It is really what makes the magic. As explained in the forum post the parenthesis in the REGEX pass the entire message on to the next transform if there is a match.

Mighty Mule and LaCrosse Update

Filed under: General,Home Automation,RTL-SDR — taing @ 4:45 pm

It turns out there is another Mighty Mule Driveway Alarm somewhere in the neighborhood so the config from our previous article needed to be updated. The other signal is weak but it triggers frequently and requires the config to be a bit more sophisticated. The first step was to update the rtl_433.conf file to send the MQTT messages as a JSON packet:

output json
output mqtt://broker_ip_address,events=rtl_433/garage[/model]

The result looks something like(after I prettied it up with a bit of formatting):

rtl_433/garage/MightyMule-FM231 {
	"time":"2023-01-24 18:37:05.994411",

It’s all the same data but in one message. The Openhab config gets changed to have a String Channel for the MQTT JSON packet, an String Item linked to this and two additional String Items a new rule will manipulate. The rule checks the if the id matches our unit and then updates the appropriate items. The id is set on the transmitter and receiver with the dip switches. The rule is very basic but it does the job:

rule "Driveway Alarm" when
  Item Mighty_Mule_JSON received update
  var jsonval = Mighty_Mule_JSON.state.toString
  var id = transform("JSONPATH", "$.id", jsonval)
  var time = transform("JSONPATH", "$.time", jsonval)
  if (id == "5") {

Changing the rtl_433 MQTT output to be JSON also required updating the channels for the LaCrosse Weather station. Previously the Generic MQTT Thing had channels for individual MQTT messages for temperature, humidity, wind speed and wind direction. Now the JSON messages from the weather station require the channel to have a JSONPATH transformation. The weather station will send two messages, one with temperature and humidity and one with wind speed and direction:

rtl_433/garage/LaCrosse-TX141W {
	"time":"2023-01-24 18:09:36.626950",

rtl_433/garage/LaCrosse-TX141W {
	"time":"2023-01-24 18:09:36.626950",

A MQTT channel with a topic of rtl_433/garage/LaCrosse-TX141W will receive both messages. The trick is in the JSONPATH transformation. To extract temperature, for example, use JSONPATH:$.temperature_C. This means there are four channels with the same MQTT topic and different JSONPATH transformations. The log file will get warnings that you can’t extract wind speed from the temp/humidity message or temp/humidity from the wind message.

NOTE: Our LaCrosse S81120-INT includes the LaCrosse TX145WSDTH which sends messages as LaCrosse-TX141W.



Mighty Mule Driveway Alarm

Filed under: General — taing @ 9:07 am

Some time ago a Mighty Mule FM231 Driveway Alarm was installed. This is an electromagnetic inductive sensor with a transmitter and indoor receiver. Various ways of linking this to Openhab were considered. Since an sdr is already setup and configured to handle the LaCrosse weather station, the best solution seems to be to use a rtl_433 decoder to generate messages to the MQTT broker.

Once you have rtl_433 setup with your sdr, the next step is to add the decoder to your rtl_433.conf file:

decoder {
    get=@4:{1}:battery_ok:[0:1 1:0],
    get=@0:{1}:motion:[0:true 1:true],

The next step is to assure you have rtl_433 setup to send MQTT messages to your broker:

output mqtt://broker_ip_address,devices=rtl_433/garage[/model]

For me this results in messages that look something like:

rtl_433/garage/MightyMule-FM231/time 2023-01-22 11:39:48.795951
rtl_433/garage/MightyMule-FM231/count 1
rtl_433/garage/MightyMule-FM231/num_rows 1
rtl_433/garage/MightyMule-FM231/len 9
rtl_433/garage/MightyMule-FM231/data 728
rtl_433/garage/MightyMule-FM231/battery_ok 1
rtl_433/garage/MightyMule-FM231/id 5
rtl_433/garage/MightyMule-FM231/motion true
rtl_433/garage/MightyMule-FM231/mod ASK
rtl_433/garage/MightyMule-FM231/freq 433.98368
rtl_433/garage/MightyMule-FM231/rssi -0.124222
rtl_433/garage/MightyMule-FM231/snr 25.3924
rtl_433/garage/MightyMule-FM231/noise -25.5166

With this all setup, a Openhab Generic MQTT Thing was created with a Channel for the MQTT topic “rtl_433/garage/MightyMule-FM231/motion”. Two items were created, one for the channel itself and a second linking to the channel with a “Timestamp on Change” profile. Metadata for an Expiration Timer was added to the motion item to reset(the unit never sends motion false).


Yoda Lights Up

Filed under: Arduino,General — taing @ 4:25 pm

As a follow-up to Yoda Speaks, we now have Yoda Lights Up. We have added a Sparkfun WS2812 Thru-Hole RGB LED to Yoda’s hand. There is a helpful Sparkfun WS2812 Hook-up guide. It allows for easy setup with the Sparkfun Papa Soundie we are using for the sound playback.

The LED is connected to Vcc/+5vdc, GND and Pin 10. We chose to use the FastLED library for our setup. There is a wiki online to answer many of your questions. As for code, our example is pretty simple:

#include <FastLED.h>

#define DATA_PIN    10
#define NUM_LEDS    1
#define LED_TYPE    WS2812


void setup() {

void loop() {
// or
  leds = CRGB::Green;

Sparkfun points to some example code and the Adafruit NeoPixel library. Additional it is also recommended to add a series resistor(220 – 470 ?) on the data line and a filter capacitor(100µF – 1000µF) across the power lines if using more than a pixel of two. If you are using a large number of pixels there is a nice article on Large Power Loads and Daisy Chained LED Strips.


Shades – a start

Filed under: General,Home Automation — taing @ 12:21 pm

I decide to try the Home Depot Decorator Collection Shades. These have a motorize option that is controllable via Bluetooth using either their remote or a smartphone app (Android or iOS). The motor kit (FAQ) is pretty simple to install.

Unfortunately, there is no documented integration API. I found a few discussions online:

I am waiting to try the Bluetooth clone/copy MAC address scheme.

I did follow the shelly1 option as far as getting the required wires added. Simply add wires to the BTN (red wire on ribbon cable) and +W pins –


I have not yet completed the shelly1 connection or the integration into Openhab.

Yoda Speaks

Filed under: Arduino,General — taing @ 11:49 am

It was finally time to put the Sparkfun Papa Soundie to work. The Sparkfun hook-up guide provides most of the details – a 3.3v ATmega328P paired with the VLSI‘s VS1000D audio codec IC. They have created an Arduino library to control the VS1000D. This can be downloaded as a zip (archive version).

For the really adventurous there is VSIDE from VLSI to reprogram the firmware in the VS1000D – there are application examples, source code samples and additional PC tools available. We archived a copy of the VS1000D programmers guide.

I supplemented the Papa Soundie with a small speaker and a PIR motion sensor, Sparkfun’s OpenPIR. The sensor is based around the NCS36000 PIR controller and will work with 3v to 5.75v. Sparkfun has created a hook-up guide, also.

Audacity made quick work of converting a few .wav and .mp3 sound clips of Yoda’s voice to the preferred Ogg Vorbis / .ogg format. The preinstalled firmware on the VS1000D wants to find files in either .ogg or .wav format on the microSD card. The files should be named AUDIOxx.OGG or FILESxx.WAV (xx is 00 thru 31). Unfortunately, you need to start with 00 and not skip any slots.

I based my project on the Hardware Example Project from the Sparkfun Hook-up Guide. I removed the code for the servo and added code to prevent immediate re-triggering and to randomly select the file to play. The random selection is configured not to repeat a file until all have played – card deal style.

#include "SparkFun_PapaSoundie.h"

  int motionStatusOld = LOW;
  int motionStatus = LOW;
  int sounds[] = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5};
  int len = 5;

#define PIR_DOUT 9 

PapaSoundie sfx = PapaSoundie();

void setup() {
  Serial.begin(115200);  // Serial is used to view Analog out
  // Analog and digital pins should both be set as inputs (not actually necessary for Analog):
  pinMode(PIR_DOUT, INPUT);
  Serial.println("Getting ready");

void loop() {
  int rnd;
  int choice;
  motionStatusOld = motionStatus;
  motionStatus = digitalRead(PIR_DOUT);
  if (motionStatus == HIGH && motionStatus != motionStatusOld) {
    if (len > 1) {
      rnd = random(len);
      choice = sounds[rnd];
      sounds[rnd] = sounds[len-1];
      len = len - 1;
    } else {
      choice = sounds[0];
      len = 5;
        for ( int i = 0; i < len; ++i ){
          sounds[i] = i+1;

The wiring is very basic – 5vdc and ground in on the VIN and GND pins, 3.3vdc and ground out to the sensor from the 3.3v and GND pins and the output of the sensor to pin D9.

Keep in mind the sensor does require a bit of time after power-up before being active. The LED on the sensor PCB will blink slowly during start-up. Once up and running the LED will indicate motion.

I think the next step might be to add an LED. Possibly the Sparkfun RGB addressable thru hole version. This is a thru hole 8mm version of the typical WS2812. Three are details in their WS2812 Guide. Adafruit has a very nice Arduino library for the WS2812.

Sound activated Yoda
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