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IT Support over 14,500km – Remote Installing Amplifi Alien Network

As most IT nerds are destined to do, I also support my family (which means I mostly fix their printers). I thought I would do some more in-depth support and organised for an Amplifi Alien system to be sent to my brother in Denmark. He is not a technical person beyond using a phone and hooking up a home stereo, so it was an interesting experiment to see how easy Amplifi is to set up.

Check out the video for some multi-angle remote IT support from 14,500km away.

 


Monitoring Water Tank Levels With Home Assistant

I have been getting into Home Assistant for automating and optimising the infrastructure on my farm for about a year now. One of that main reasons to initially investigate how to do this, was to monitor my water tanks. I have no town water connected, so I rely on rain water tanks and a bore/well for backup. Living in country Australia, it is east to suddenly use way more water than you think due to washing, pool filling, garden watering, leaks and much more.

The tanks are dispersed on the property, so checking them manually requires lots of walking, climbing, lifting and finagling. Having sensors showing levels, remote on/off for pumps and logic to automate it would save time, money and water. It took quite a while to figure out which solution to implement, but I ended up with pressure sensors/conducers to get a water pressure reading, then convert that to litres using mathematics. It was quite a journey, and the hardest to figure out was the house tank, as it is an in-ground tank. Measuring pressure at the bottom of it is tricky.

In any case, I documented the whole journey in the video below. Hope you find it helpful and leave a comment if you have a comment or question. 😊


A full walkthrough of my Ubiquiti Farm WiFi

For the past year I have been upgrading, expanding, testing, configuring, adding and breaking my farm WiFi setup. I have been using Ubiquiti equipment, mainly from their Unifi range, and it has changed how I work, how I play and how I use my network day to day. It has upgraded my professional work with better lighting, more stable connection and removed one uncertain element of country living. For me and my family it has genuinely changed our ability to communicate with family overseas, our local community, our volunteer projects and schools. Most importantly, it has increased the safety of working on the farm outside, as we have no, or very limited, mobile signal. We can now call and communicate in general almost anywhere on the farm (and get those important tweets out!)

When I first started changing my WiFi devices it was to get rid of repeater points mainly, but I also had a bunch of other reasons. I didn’t expect it to have this much of an impact, nor that I would enjoy nerding out over networking equipment that much. But I have.

So far I have covered roughly 30 acres (12 hectares) in stable WiFi, built Llamacam and installed swipe card access to my office, which is made possible by the following gear:

That is a massive list, when I see it like that. It has been a very incremental journey, so it kinda blows my mind to see where I am at now. And because of that, I made this video to give you the tour of the farm and how it is all connected. Enjoy.


Aqara Door Sensor, Govee LED Strip and Home Assistant Automation

I am getting into home automation big time. I am loving the learning process, the tangible result and nerding with all sorts of processes. Most of it involves networking components, programming, new gadgets and an improvement of my every day life. All things I value very much.

In general I am looking for one or more of two principles when I install IoT devices or home automation

  • Save me energy, time or money. There should be a measurable saving somehow that justifies the often many hours of work.
  • Add a function or feature I am missing and would use regularly.

As tempting as it is sometimes to install something “just for fun”, it is most likely a waste of time. This time I needed lights in my server cupboard (which is just a cupboard that I happen to put the server cabinet in) and I figured I could automate it with Home Assistant and automation. I used a Govee Light Strip, an Aqara door sensor and community integrations in Home Assistant to get it all happening. Check out the video below.


A Year with the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 7

Disclaimer: I am part of the Lenovo INsiders program, which provided the X1 Carbon for this article.

I have been using Lenovo laptops for years for multiple reasons. They are reliable, durable, modern, innovative and well spec’d. Of course, there are exceptions (I am looking at you Ideapad 100), but I love them and they suit my world.

In December 2019, I got my hands on the 7th generation of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon laptop. This was, at the time, the premium Ultrabook in the X1 line, and I was giddy as a llama in a heap of freshly cut tree branches. It was an exciting moment, and I was over the moon. However, after a full year of using the machine every day, how does it hold up? Read on to find out.

X1 Carbon Gen 7

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Installing a Unifi In-Wall HD Access Point

To continue my journey into amazing WiFi coverage and farm automation, I installed a Unifi In-Wall HD access point. This is a neat little device that provide both wirelessΒ and wired connections. I fit perfectly into the part of my farm homestead I am renovating, giving more WiFi coverage as well as provide wired connection for a future TV, Xbox and PlayStation that will live in this room.

The install and setup was really very simple, and I documented all of it in the video below.


Unifi Access Installation and Setup – Putting Swipe Cards in Old Walls

I’ve been wanting to upgrade the security on my farm for quite some time. I’ve written about setting up cameras before, and when I discovered that Unifi has an Access product, which includes door locks and swipe cards, I wanted to get that onto my office. There was a lot of wiring experiments, broken parts, drilled holes and bird poop to get through, but now it works!

I decided to create a video guide for the setup as I went along. I genuinely had no idea how it would turn out when I started. Watch below to follow along with my journey.


Studio Lighting, IoT and Unifi Infrastructure

Wow, this blog is turning into a bit of a Ubiquiti and Unifi journal. However, in the midst of all of the Azure content I am creating, the networking infrastructure on my farm has taken hold of my attention. I never thought I’d be this much into it, but here we are. Again.

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing many to work from home, I have seen countless social media posts on how to update your home office. Even though I have worked from home for a number of years, I would normally go to the A Cloud Guru office to film my shows. Suddenly I have to shoot all footage from home. On my own. I have a decent camera, decent microphone and okay lighting. However, there is room for improvement. It is time to plan the next step.

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Introducing Llama Cam Powered by Ubiquiti and Azure

TL;DR; I used a couple of Unifi cameras, farm WiFi and the Azure cloud to share the joy of llamas with the world.

An Idea is Forming

“Hmmm, how can I share the fruits of my networking escapades with the world? Or, if not the world, at least a couple of people.”

That was the thought I had one evening while probably building a Lego model πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ. In the past 4-5 months I have upgraded my farm WiFi to the best I can make it. Why? Read about that here. In any case, I wanted to find a way to share some of the fun and excitement I get from all this equipment and figuring out how it works. Considering at the time of writing that the world is being turned upside down with the COVID-19 pandemic, I wanted to make something that could bring a smile, a bit of warmth, a bit of happiness.

The idea of Llama Cam was born. I have about 25 llamas on my farm (I say “about” as they keep spawning), and I often share them on video calls, web shows, social media and many other ways. People always like llamas, and why wouldn’t you! What if I could use my new Unifi cameras to stream live footage of llamas?

In fact, a single tweet confirmed my brilliant idea.

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Learning How To NAS with the Synology DS920+

Disclaimer: Synology sent me a DS920+ review unit, so I made this review. Kinda.

I decided to install a NAS on my local network, having never done it before. Come along as I fumble my way through the whole thing. I have no idea what I am doing. Once set up, I move my Plex server to the NAS for added pixel pushing to my TV.


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