This turned out really well. You can’t see a single wire anywhere.

Ingredients. 1 generic ‘Car Dash Camera’. Its so generic there is not a model number anywhere on it or the packaging. Nothing. I got it from Aliexpress here. It was described as ”
WiFi Car DVRs Recorder Dash Cam Dual Lens Vehicle Rear Camera Built in GPS Camcorder 4K 2160P Night Vision Dashcam Novatek 96663″. The 4K is a bit of a hmm. It is a pair of 1080P cameras (front, rear). Not exactly 4K, but we’ll go w/ it.

It uses a Sony IMX323 sensor, which is something you need to look for in ‘generic chinese cameras’. You can easily end up with a ‘gopro 4k like’ which sure, it records @ 4K, but the sensor is vaseline and waxed paper, the effective resolution is more like QCIF. But I digress. It has GPS (for speed) and WiFi (so you can install the worlds crappiest app to really do nothing with), and shock-sensor (to lock the recording if you bump). Interestingly it also has a super-capacitor in it for clean power down when you yank the power (and also for parking monitoring… if you are bumped while parked, it will take 60s of capture and snooze again).

Not content with 4G or 5G, they have gone with a 6G lens. Sounds great!

Somehow the 2 x 4MP sensors become 12MP when joined. The marketing specs are… aggressive!

To find out what was inside, first we employed a screwdriver. The only label is T3-NT96663 (Novatek). I’ve attached the datasheet which comes from ip dashcamtalk.Novatek NT96655 Data Sheet

Now, I was wondering, do I wire it to be ‘always on’ or to be ‘Retained Accessory Power’ (e.g. switched). Lets look at the power draw. It seems like its 0.8A @ 5V, so ~4W. Now, you might think, well, the Bolt has a 60KWh battery, run it all the time, how can this matter. But, like all electric cars, there is a small 12V lead-acid battery lurking in there which is used to drive everything except the traction power. Still, that is ~80Ah @ 12V nominal, ~= 960Wh. So at perfect efficiency (hah! physics!) we’d have 240 hours to ‘full flat’, 10 days. Derate by probably 75% (don’t want to run a lead-acid down too far, some innefficiency), we’d be good for a few days. Hmm. I’ll revisit later and put it on a RAP circuit.

Wiring was simple. I considered wiring it into the overhead console power (onstar, dome lights), but instead drove it back to the fuse panel where there were quite a few blanks. I used an ‘add-a-circuit’ micro-fuse tap. I then put it into a small buck converter. The wiring was easy to run (up the kick-panel, up the A-pillar, across the roof) in the lip under the wind-seal. I then wired the rear-camera by wiring from front to rear along the wind-seal and headliner lip. You cannot see the wires at all. The pain bit was getting it through the rubber boots into the hatch-back assembly. For this I used a ‘fish stix’ to fish it. A few stickers, and we are good to go. You can see the fuse panel at the right, lots of empty space to be used (but the add-a-fuse can share an existing tap if needed).

Now on to the app. Oh dear. Rated 1.8 on the Play Store. This will be wonderful. Well, all I can say is, it kind of works if you are patient. ‘Roadcam’ is the name that eventually worked for me, there are a lot, and with such a generic device (no model name at all)…

The user manual… well… it gets the job done. I’m not sure the grammar is world-class, but the concepts come through.

Does it work? Lets see some video (from the rear cam firsts, then the front) for the maiden run:

The naysayers about the ‘valve-stem lights’ were wrong: they are still working!

But, time goes on, and, well, nobody can really tell what those things say and there’s no obvious way to update the firmware. (Yes, bike valve-stem firmware, its a thing, get over it).

So enter this. Its *much* brighter (driven by an 18650 battery), bigger, and, they say, can do real images and animations. So sayeth the video.

But even better, the device has open source firmware on github. Its some sort of 8251-derivative processor, so its not exactly a super-computer, but it seems to be able to do some decent effects. Here it is installed on my tire, and below the promo video showing it in its glorious rubik’s cube action.

Recently I bought the TS80. I was sad to find that it does not do USB-C PD, only the proprietary Qualcomm QuickCharge 3.0. I was even sadder to find that, although the OLED and software will work @ 5V, it will cowardly refuse to light the engine and make heat. I was even sadder to find out that the ‘Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0’ powerbank I bought, well, the iron didn’t like it. It did work plugged into the QC3.0 charger, but sometimes you want to be portable!

But, given that the iron runs firmware, it must be hackable, right?

If you hold the button down as you plug it in, it goes into DFU mode so that is promising.

More promising, there is an open issue ‘Add TS80 support‘ on the TS100 repo on github.

Even more promising, well, it builds, and, installs, and, runs!

And, great success, this sw has a mode (by default) which allows it to start the heater in 5V. This in turn tricks the powerbank into staying alive long enough to recognise the QC3.0 signalling, and in turn, deliver  MOAR VOLTS!. Turns out it will deliver 11V @ 2A, so ~22W.

Now, you might wonder why I have that ‘Rogers’ USB flash plugged in. Well, the power bank goes to sleep when there is no load. So as soon as the iron hits temperature (about 20seconds), the power bank switches off. Boo. So I needed a dummy load, and, well, no one is ever going to use this 20MB flash for anything, it may as well make a bit of heat and trick this power bank.

So it seems that the software was able to work around the bug, hack successful!

As for the average consumer, well, we would all be forgiven for thinking that something w/ the only writing on it being ‘Qualcomm 3.0 Quick Charge’ would do QC3.0 properly. Its a bit unfair to think that a consumer would build new firmware for a widget from an unreleased branch in github of an open-source repo of their soldering iron.

Its a brave new world of continuous and agile!

OK, the price was right at about $1.  The description sounded pretty cool:

“Bicycle Wheels letters Blue 7LED Light double-side Cycling Bike Tire Blue Flash Light Letter Change Wheel Spokes Bicycle Lights”. The picture suggests that:

  • 100% Waterproof, Do not worry about the led light will be damaged when it rains or car wash
  • LED flash English Letters
  • Now on market are single-sided, and can only see one side. And our latest product is the double of this. When you ride, the way people can see words both

OK, lets comment on those. The construction. Its some brittle plastic with some conductive paint at the bottom (which is functional, its part of battery circuit). I can see a hole in this with my eyes. The only water this would keep out is an ice-cube.

LED flash English Letters. Hmm. I’m gonna have to check snopes on this. OK, see my video below, story checks out (somewhat).

Both sides? Well, again, sort of. The PCB has through hole led’s, and the holes are drilled wide so the led sits down into the board and a bit of the light comes out the bottom.

So, should you spend $1 for this masterpiece of modern electronics?

Should valve-stems say random english words while driving?

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Just arrived! The TS80 USB(-C) powered soldering iron. And its pretty fantastic. Sadly its not USB-PD (power delivery), its USB-QC3 (QuickCharge), and double-sad, my USB-C power adapters are all PD.

There’s a great video by Dave Jones (linked below).

Its augmenting (not replacing) my Yotec 936P (pictured below) which is a somewhat questionable unit. I mean, it works, and there is temperature control. But…

Now, soldering irons with firmware. Huh. This makes me think of that Sous-Vide. But, its not Internet connected (yet).

Anyway, watch the Dave Jones review to see more.