A handy 230VAC 10A inline power meter based on an inexpensive module from eBay

This article describes a simple and inexpensive inline power meter for use as a test instrument.

CNC routing

The box cutouts were done on a CNC router, but they could be done with hand tools.

Above, calcs of feeds and speeds for the CNC router. The box is actually ABS, but cutting speed for Polycarbonate is the same.

Above is the tool path for one side of the box. The cutouts suit the 7P-2 strain reliefs. The gcode is generated from a custom Python file using a custom library of common shapes that I use. Continue reading A handy 230VAC 10A inline power meter based on an inexpensive module from eBay

A DIY thermostat based on the MS1230A controller

This article documents the build of a DIY thermostat based on an inexpensive ($12) Chinese temperature controller.

Controller module

The controller used is a 220VAC MH1230A.

Above is an internal view of the controller. Importantly it has a relay rated at 240V 30A, and 15A at PF=0.4. The datasheet rates the relay for a 2HP (1.5kW) motor. It uses a ‘conventional’ power supply, the brown component is the power transformer. Most similar products use inadequate relays and have low grade switched mode power supplies that create RF noise. Continue reading A DIY thermostat based on the MS1230A controller

A thermostatically controlled pot for waxing leg hold traps

We periodically have problems with rabbits from an adjoining reserve, and this summer has been bad enough to do something about the crepuscular critters.

Leghold traps from the factory are usually covered in some type of rust resisting oil combined with the residues of the manufacturing processes, all of which needs to be removed to de-scent the traps.

Practice varies, I spray them with ordinary degreaser and then after 5 min jet them clean with water.

There are a range of practices to colour and wax the traps, for rabbits I simply wax them and with supply shortages, I experimented with ordinary soy wax for container candles. This wax does not try hard, so it is not inclined to crack off, and it reduces rusting whilst lubricating moving parts.

Above is a pair of Victor Softcatch #1 traps that have been cleaned, lightly rusted (for colour), cleaned again and waxed. I also use Bridger #1.65 traps which do not rust as easily, so they are used without colouring at all and they seem every bit as successful when covered in sieved soil.


Above, the 7.6l stainless stock pot from Big W (~$11), a 1100W coil type electric cooker (~$20). Continue reading A thermostatically controlled pot for waxing leg hold traps

Fox flasher MkII update 2/2021

Fox Flasher MkII and several follow on articles described an animal deterrent based on a Chinese 8051 architecture microcontroller, the STC15F104E.

This is an update after several years operation outside, and some in-service modifications to improve performance.

Above is the current version after 18 months in the weather. Continue reading Fox flasher MkII update 2/2021

MH1210A, MH1230A operating instructions

Operation instructions

Press “set” button for 3s get into the procedure menu code mode, display the code “HC”. Press up or down for cyclical selection of parameter code of “HC-CP-LA-HA-PU-CA”.
To enter a code, press the “Set” button, press the up button or the down button to change to the desired data and press “Set” to save and exit;
Control the temperature set: press “Set” button, display blink and it is the default setting. Press up or down to change the data and save automatically. (press on up or down for 2s or more to increase the adjusting speed ) heating control: when the temperature control mode ( code is HC) was H, e.g. the setting control temperature is 28 C , slewing range of temperature is 2 C , when the environment temperature >= setting temperature (28’C), the relay will switch off and stop the output load; when the environment temperature <=setting temperature (28C ) – slewing range of temperature (2 C ) and set “delayed start” before, the reply will switch on and output load again, (if the delayed start function doesn’t need, set the delayed start (code PU) to 0)
refrigeration control: when the temperature control mode (code is HC) was C, e.g. the setting control temperature is 28’C, slewing range of temperature is 2 C, when the environment temperature <=after setting “delayed start” time, the relay will switch on and sart output load.(suggest “delayed start” time to the default setting time to protecting the compressor, please set the (code PU) to) if it doesn’t need). Continue reading MH1210A, MH1230A operating instructions

ESP32 WROOM32 – A possible fix for failure of auto-program facility

Espressif’s esptool has a facility to automatically put the ESP32 into bootloader mode using the DTR and RTS signals of the serial interface.

For whatever reason, it is very unreliable. There are many schematics of knockoffs of Espressif’s original DevKits.

Above is the schematic of one of the larger makers of ESP32 modules, AI-Thinker. The auto-program facility is implemented in the logic gate arrangement at right top of the left top block. Continue reading ESP32 WROOM32 – A possible fix for failure of auto-program facility

Review of iFIX RT300M v2 LED tester

In other posts on LED luminairs, I identified the need for a test device for LED strings of up to 200+V at currents up to 280mA.

There are quite a number of competitive devices in the market, the article is a review of the iFIX RT300M v2 (which is also sold under other brand names, they may or may not be sourced from the same factory… the Chinese are copyists).


I purchased one of these devices, and it was faulty on delivery. The output voltage never rises above 0.3V, determined to be a hardware fault. With eBay’s intervention, a full refund was obtained without returning the faulty unit which turned out to be a small blessing later.

The v2 RT300M has a button on the top edge of the device. Continue reading Review of iFIX RT300M v2 LED tester

Adjustable plank refurbishment

I have an adjustable aluminium plank (2.4-3.9m) which after years in the weather, has needed replacement of the plated steel 1/4″ pop rivets used in its construction.

These are strictly for DIY use as long plank spans have not been allowed on work sites for a very long time.

On assurances from the retailer I purchased for $99 a Kincrome CL960 Heavy Duty Hand Riveter Long Arm 525mm (21″) designed for 1/4″ stainless steel poprivets. It failed with less than a dozen rivets with what seems to be a serious design fault (rivet mandrels jam in the inner tube) so it was returned at my cost for a refund. Whilst I have bought lots of Kinchrome product over time, it is when there is a problem one learns a wider lesson.

On assurances from another seller, I then purchased a similar tool on eBay for $36, a tool claimed to work up to 5/16″ stainless steel rivets… so some reserve there?

It failed on the fifth rivet, one of the collets cracked in two and the inside of the chuck sleeve (top right) was grooved suggesting it was not hardened properly. Again, refunded but his time without paying return shipping. Continue reading Adjustable plank refurbishment

STC-1000 firmware change – STC-1000B

STC-1000 firmware change documented a chip and firmware update to a popular Chinese thermostat.

There has been enhanced firmware for a STC-1000 controller based on a PIC chip, but in my experience, most seem to be made with an STM8S003F3 chip. More recently, what appears to be a port of the PIC software to STM8 has been published at https://github.com/Emile666/stc1000_stm8.

The enhanced firmware is directed at home brewing for control of long running fermentation processes etc, incorporating storage for a number of multi-step programs (profiles). It is not really suited to more general applications like a fridge controller as for example it is more difficult for the common operation to set the set point.

This article describes a similar update to a later model STC-1000. Continue reading STC-1000 firmware change – STC-1000B

Milton Moore’s power supply test

When I was a student at TAFE in 1970, a teacher, Milton Moore, explained why the lab power supplies that were used, Perini & Scott 30V 2A, were the largest power supplies given their modest capability.

He explained that they were almost student proof. He went on the classify students in three categories, the average students constituted the bulk, then there were the quite inept who damaged the best equipment by doing things that no one could have anticipated, and the very bright who sought to understand equipment and expose their weakness.

Milton explained that they tested these power supplies using the rat tail file and hacksaw blade test. One output terminal was attached to the rat tail file and the other to a hacksaw blade, the voltage and current were set to max and the rat tail file and hacksaw blade were rubbed together yielding a shower of sparks… and possibly smoke from the DUT.

At the time I was very interested in overcurrent protection of linear regulators, so this was especially interesting.

ua723 – the darling of power supply designers of the time

Lets look at the issue with the ua723, recently released at that time and appearing in lots of designs.

Above is a schematic from the ua723 datasheet. Rsc is the current sense resistor and it is chosen to develop 0.6V at the current limit, so for instance in a 20A power supply it would have a value of 0.6/20=0.03Ω. So, the current sense circuit presents a Thevenin equivalent circuit of Vth=Rsc*I and Rth=Rsc. Continue reading Milton Moore’s power supply test