PiHut’s Maker Advent Calendar 2023 – Day One

It’s back! As I trailed a while back PiHut have released what they call the “Maker Advent Calender” for 2023. This year both the original and a new “Let it Glow” versions are available. Given that I did the original one last year, this year I am unboxing the “Let it Glow” version.

Day one included the following:

  • 1x Raspberry Pi Pico H (with headers pre-soldered)
  • 1x 1m Micro-USB cable
  • 2x 400-point solderless breadboards

Not terribly exciting but the foundations on which to build what I hope will be some exciting light based projects.

As last year there is a … Read the rest

ShiftCam SnapGrip & SnapPod Review

MagSafe has been around for the iPhone since the 12 variants released in 2020 and works incredibly well. I carry this Anker MagSafe power bank with me when I am out and about that snaps onto the back of the phone and gives it a bit of a top-up. Other than power banks I haven’t really seen anyone make much of the iPhone MagSafe.

Enter ShiftCam which does a series of accessories that use Apple’s MagSafe in interesting ways. I am taking a look at the SnapGrip and the SnapPop here.


SnapGrip is a snap-on accessory that adds a … Read the rest

PiHuts Maker Advent Calendar “unboxing” Video 2023

Last year for the first time PiHut released an advent calendar called “The 12 Projects of Codemas!” which included 12 projects based around a Pico covering such things as temperature sensors, switches and the like. I did a series of unboxing and project videos covering their content. I had great fun so I was pleased to see that PiHut have brought them back for this year too.

This time there are not one but two advent calendars to get stuck into. This year alongside “The 12 Projects of Codemas!” is a second one called “Let it Read the rest

Leaving the MacBook at Home

I’ve recently returned from holiday and for the first time in a while, I travelled without a laptop. I wanted to return to the question of whether it was possible to do a trip without one. My requirements while I am away are pretty light: blogging and editing photos to go with the posts – not too much to ask surely?

Heading Out

I left my MacBook Pro at home and in its place I took my iPad Mini, a Bluetooth keyboard with the same footprint as the iPad and a Magic Mouse.

The immediate advantage of this was a … Read the rest

Simple Remote Wake on Lan with Raspberry Pi Zero W

As part of my drive to help the planet, I am trying to use less electricity. We have a Windows machine in the lounge that acts as a Plex media server. This works very well but I realised that it was only being used at certain times of the day, usually in the evenings, meaning that it was running for hours on end unnecessarily. Therefore, the plan was to have the machine automatically turn off each night at midnight when I knew we would definitely not be using it, but what about turning it on?

If I was at home … Read the rest

Maco Go 2: Apple Watch Charger

Back in February 2020, I backed the Maco Go project on Kickstarter. This tiny, portable, USB-C Apple Watch charger arrived in September 2020. While I was impressed with its size and portability I was less impressed with its charging speeds.

In my tests, shown below, the Maco Go took roughly twice as long to charge as the standard Apple Watcher charger cable in the same charging plug.

Apple Watch cableMaco GoApple Watch cableMaco Go
18:25 22%
19:25 92%
13:19 28%
14:19 58%
18:25 33%
19:25 96%
16:51 15%
17:51 44%

In the end, … Read the rest

Bringing Robbie the Robot back to life

A job that I never look forward to is mowing the lawns. Don’t get me wrong I love being in the garden and gardening in general. I think gardening is great for one’s mental health, but that does not extend to lawn mowing. So, a couple of years ago I bought a robotic lawnmower – a Flymo Easilife 250 – which we dubbed “Robbie”.

In order to get the mower to know where to mow you have to lay a wire around the boundary. This is a pretty straightforward job and you can either peg the cable down (in which … Read the rest

Untethering a Raspberry Pico from your Computer

In my series on the PiHut Maker Advent Calendar, I posed a couple of questions:

  1. how do you move from a wobbly breadboard to something more permanent?
  2. How do you run code without having the Pico tethered to a laptop running Thonny?

I have, at least, now worked out how you do the latter of these two and I will explain how below.

In order to get a script to run on start-up you need to save a file called “main.py” to your Pico device. To do that I have included steps for this using Thonny. Firstly, make sure … Read the rest

Memobottle Stainless Steel – Review

Not so technical but still geeky so I think it counts for posting here.

Regular readers will know of my love of Kickstarter and memobottle is one of my great successes from the platform. Disclaimer I am a (very, VERY) small investor in the business.

The Background and Kickstarter Campaigns

The original memobottle was a series of reusable water bottles in sizes that matched paper sizes (well anywhere but US paper sizes) such as A7, A6 and A5. These were (and are as they’re still available on the memobottle website) great and I still use my A7 and A6 constantly. … Read the rest

The Kit I use for Recording Videos

If you have been following the PiHut Maker Advent Calendar series of videos I released at the end of last year you may have noticed that the videos changed in quality over the series. This was because I changed the setup I was using from a simple tripod on which the feet were visible to a gooseneck phone mount clamped to the desk. Finally, I added to this a light.

You can see all of this in the sort video below and then read on for what I used:

If you are interested in what I used this was as … Read the rest