Home Media Server Part 1 (the requirements)

Its time to update the living room and bring it into the digital age.   This really is a big under taking because over the past 25 years I have amassed a large collection of VHS, DVD, and Blu-Ray movies that I just am not ready to part with.  One could argue that “owning” media is a concept of the past, but I still like the idea of having physical control of my content and not rely on a content subscription with my satellite/cable company or some other online streaming service.

The first step to upgrading my living room experience was to come up with a list of requirements

  • Use inexpensive hardware (less than a few hundred bucks)
  • Media accessable in all rooms that have a tv
  • Compatible with Samsung devices (all of tvs, dvd player, home theatre system, blu-ray are made by Samsung)
  • Backup/Play my content I already own (VHS tapes, DVD, blu-ray)
  • low power consumption and/or only consumes power only when in use
  • remote power on/reboot
  • Intuitive and easy to use for family members

There are the requirements.  In the next post I will discuss what hardware/software combination I chose to meet my requirements.

Microsoft HomeOS

The lightswitch hMicrosoft HomeOS Logoas been around for 100 years and it still is basically the same technology then as it is now.  Over the last century and more so in the last few decades we have seen companies and technologies come and go.  Many companies like Radio Shack and IBM dabbled with X10 switches in the 90’s.    Today we are starting to see a re-emergence and reinvestment in home automation by some big name companies.

Microsoft introduced the Xbox 10 years ago and the Windows Home Server about 5 years ago.  With their latest announcment it looks they will continue to play in the consumer electronics market with HomeOS.  It looks like they already support a wide range of electronics such as cameras, televisions, and z-wave devices.

I will post more details as I dig into the product myself, but they do offer an SDK for developers to start writing apps and adding functionality.

More information from microsoft and home automation can be found on their research site

http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/projects/homeos/

Unboxing Eaton Home Heartbeat Home Awareness

My Eaton Home Awareness kit just arrived.  I got quite an assortment of parts for less than $50 to start playing with and hacking.    What I got is the starter kit which includes the base stations, one home key, and one door/window sensor.  Also a second home key and door/window sensor, a range extender, and the garage door sensor.

Eaton Home Awareness kit unboxing

I am very impressed with the garage door sensor, and had one of those “why didn’t I think of that” moments.   I have been struggling to come up with a good clean design to detecting if the garage door is opened or closed.  All of my designs involved some type of contact switch, which I tried placing in various location and required a lot of tweaking and constant adjusments.  The solution the home awareness kit uses is very clever.  It employs a “tilt switch” that you just stick to the garage door.  If the tilt switch is vertical the garage door is closed and if the tilt swich is horizontal the garage door is open.

At this point all that I have done with the kit was simply plug it in and charge the home key, but I will post more information as I start working with the base station.

Steve has gone much more in-depth in his review and technical exploring which you can read over at his blog http://buzzdavidson.com/?p=261.

Let me know what you have discovered with this device and how you currently use it.

Home heatbeat devices can also still be found on Amazon.com

x10 Airpad vs Ployer Momo9 vs Skypad Alpha2 vs Benss B7

I have found another clone. That makes 4 tablets that are almost identical clones sold under different brands and names and different price points.

Model X10 Airpad 7p Ployer momo9 SkyPad Alpha2 Benss B7
Vendor X10.com PandaWill.com Skytex.com Benss
CPU/GPU 1.2 GHz Allwinner A10 Cortex A8processor + 395 Mhz DSP All Winner A10, 1.2GHz GPU: Mali 400 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A8 A10 CORTER A8 / MALI400
OS Android 4.0(no root) Android 2.3/Android 4.0 Upgradable (root access) Android 4.0 Upgradable (root access) Android 2.3
RAM 512MB 512MB 512MB 512MB
Storage 4GB 8GB 4GB 4GB
Price $149.00 $119.49(free shipping/drop ship discount) $158.33 Amazon.com $133.05 FocalPrice.com

Install Android 4.03 on X10 Air Pad 7p ICS – Root version

Prepare the files

  1.  The tablet should be off and not connected to the computer, however it should be plugged into power
  2. Extract the firmware so you can see the image named “4.0-MOMO9C-97F1-D1-H2-H01-N412.20120206.img”
  3. Run LiveSuitPack 1.07
  4.  After running the exe go to the folder and run the application (LiveSuit.exe approx. 2mb)
  5. Click Yes to the message
  6. Click “General” for the format mode, and then click Yes.
  7. Browse to the folder where the image 4.0-MOMO9C-97F1-D1-H2-H01-N412.20120206.img
  8. Prepare the Momo9 5. Whilst keep back button pressed, plug it in via USB
  9. Keep pressing the back button and also press the power button time for 10 times (this is an art and a science and will take several tries don’t expect to get it the first time)
  10. After several presses on the power button there will be a “sound” it connects as Windows recognises new USB hardware
  11. Windows 7 will install drivers automatically, in Windows XP you need to point windows to the directory where you extracted software (also make sure you do not have usb checkmarked in setup).
  12. When all the drivers are installed, the firmware will start to install automatically.  If it doesn’t start automatically, unplug and try again.
  13. Finishing the Installation
  14.  There will be no sign of loading on the Momo9 – don’t worry
  15. On the PC, LiveSuit shows a bar graph – it takes about 2 mins to go onto the Momo9 12. After the yellow bar on Livesuite is completed action (about 2 mins) nothing happens.
  16. You will see an exclamation mark (using Windows 7) with no text. Click OK.
  17. Then wait a few seconds. Unplug the momo9 from the USB. You will see a green battery symbol.
  18. Ignore it.
  19. Restart the tablet manually (as normal using the on/off button).
  20. After this, you will be given two options, click start using android wizard (or something similar).

Everything should be included (Market, Navigation, Maps etc) Enjoy it!

TOTAL TIME INCLUDING DOWNLOADS 20 minutes maximum.

Here is the download link that I used

http://narod.ru/disk/40827508001/MOMO9C-4.0-2012-0206.rar.html

You will also need the live suit pack which can be downloaded here

http://freakshare.com/files/f6gye096/LiveSuitPack_v1.07.rar.html

I was able to update my airpad with no loss of data or apps.  I will let you know how the stability goes.  From what I am hearing Adobe Flash works on this version.

Update: After playing with it for a few minutes it does seem to be more stable and a little faster.  I have not gotten that annoying “WAIT” screen yet.  Although the Gmail did close abruptly on me the first time I opened it, however no issues afterwards.  Flash is working.  visited several sites including youtube.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 inch tablet clones (Android 4.0) – Airpad, Skypad, and the momo9

It seems that x10 is getting a lot of competition in the 7 inch android tablet space.

Here are two that I have come across

Model X10 Airpad 7p Ployer momo9 SkyPad Alpha2
Vendor X10.com PandaWill.com Skytex.com
CPU/GPU 1.2 GHz Allwinner A10 Cortex A8processor + 395 Mhz DSP All Winner A10, 1.2GHz GPU: Mali 400 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A8
OS Android 4.0(no root) Android 2.3/Android 4.0 Upgradable (root access) Android 4.0 Upgradable (root access)
RAM 512MB 512MB 512MB
Storage 4GB 8GB 4GB
Price 02/27/2012 $149.00 $119.49(free shipping/drop ship discount) $158.33(free shipping on Amazon, see link below)

Here’s a link to the skypad on Amazon, which also recently on groupon for about $115 with a 15% cashback if purchased with a discover card credit card.

If you come across other competing clones of this 7inch tablet feel free to post the link and I will update the comparison table.

 

If you really want to go cheap you can get the a tablet only $68.  It has a lot less than the Airpad, skypad, and ployer momo 9, in fact about 1/2 the power, but it is 1/2 the price.

Apad Tablet PC 7-inch Via m8650 ARM11 800MHz 256MB/2GB Google Android 2.2 MID Touchpad

http://www.fadbus.com/wholesale/apad-tablet-pc-7-inch-via-m8650-arm11-800mhz-256mb-2gb-google-android-2-2-mid-touchpad.html

Why have x10 devices gotten so expensive?

I was looking through ebay the other night and noticed that the cost of x10 modules have doubled and tripled in price. I was buying wall switches for about $6.00 and now they are $15-$20. Plugin filters were $4.00 and now they sell fo r almost $20 a piece. The cm15a is selling for over $100. I bought mine for $39.00 last year. Glad I have a few spare cm15 and cm19 modules. I thought about selling them to reduce clutter but now I might just hang on to them. At these prices it seems more economical to buy zwave devices instead.

Connecting to a PHP Web service with WCF in C#

I was connecting to a web service hosted in PHP today when WCF threw the following error:

The content type text/xml; charset=ISO-8859-1 of the response message does not match the content type of the binding (text/xml; charset=utf-8). If using a custom encoder, be sure that the IsContentTypeSupported method is implemented properly. The first 1024 bytes of the response were: …

I did some searching on the internet and it seems to be a known issue.  Here is exactly how I solved it.  I created three new classes which I have included links to download:

CustomTextMessageBindingElement.cs
CustomTextMessageEncoder.cs
CustomTextMessageEncoderFactory.cs

After adding these to your project add the following code to set the custom binding


CustomBinding binding = new CustomBinding(
new CustomTextMessageBindingElement("iso-8859-1", "text/xml", MessageVersion.Soap11),
new HttpsTransportBindingElement());

myWebService client = new myWebService();

client.Endpoint.Binding = binding;

Download code here WCF_CodeSample

 

Thanks to these links for the source files and answers

http://msmvps.com/blogs/paulomorgado/archive/2007/04/25/wcf-text-message-encoding-and-iso-8859-1-encoding.aspx

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms751486.aspx

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/7033442/using-iso-8859-1-encoding-between-wcf-and-oracle-linux

 

 

How to root the air pad and then install Ice Cream Sandwich

This is an older tutorial.  Please see my updated tutorial for version 4.0.3 which is much stabler

http://pathfindertech.net/install-android-4-03-on-x10-air-pad-7p-ics-root-version/

 

 

My X10 Airpad 7p is now running Android 4.01.   See pictures in previous post.  Here are the instructions that I followed to accomplish this.  A couple of warnings first.  This can brick your airpad and will void the warrantly, so only proceed if you are willing to risk that.    I make no guarantees that this will work.  It worked for me, but that is all I know.  I currently know of no way to recover the airpad if it fails.

This upgrade will completely reset and delete all your settings, information, and apps.   So you will need to set everything back up and redownload your apps and widgets.

 

1.07 http://freakshare.com/files/f6gye096/LiveSuitPack_v1.07.rar.html

Guide:

Prepare the files
1. Extract the firmware so you can see the image named “MOMO9C-4-Kevin”
2. Install LiveSuitPack 1.07
2. After running the exe go to the folder and run the application (LiveSuit.exe approx. 2mb)
3. Browse to the folder where the image MOMO9C-4-Kevin
4. The tablet should be off

Prepare the Momo9
5. Whilst keep volume+ button pressed, plug it in via USB
6. Keep pressing the volume+ button and also press the power button time for 10 times
7. After several presses on the power button there will be a “sound” it connects as Windows recognises new USB hardware
8. Windows 7 will install drivers automatically, in Windows XP you need to point windows to the directory where you extracted software
9. When all the drivers are installed, the firmware will start to install automatically

Finishing the Installation
10. There will be no sign of loading on the Momo9 – don’t worry
11. On the PC, LiveSuit shows a bar graph – it takes about 2 mins to go onto the Momo9
12. After the yellow bar on Livesuite is completed action (about 2 mins) nothing happens.
13. You will see an exclamation mark (using Windows 7) with no text. Click OK.
14. Then wait a few seconds. Unplug the momo9 from the USB. You will see a green battery symbol. Ignore it. Restart the tablet manually (as normal using the on/off button).
15. After this, you will be given two options, click start using android wizard (or something similar).

Everything should be included (Market, Navigation, Maps etc) Enjoy it!

TOTAL TIME INCLUDING DOWNLOADS 20 minutes maximum.

Thanks to Momo9 owners – to upgrade the firmware here seem the best summary (from miljenko, Pandawill, MoAnsar, and others)

More information can be found in the online forum at:

http://www.pandawillforum.com/showthread.php?8010-Finally!!!-MOMO9-Android-4.0.1-ICS-firmware/page5

X10, Airpad, and Airpad 7p are registered trademarks of x10.com This site is not affiliated with them and did not received permission to use their trademarks

Android is a registered trade mark of Google.com