Itinerant Ham

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

TS-100 Soldering Iron Screen Replacement – Edited Version

Here’s an edited version of the TS-100 screen replacement livestream. I’ve left in the demonstration of what can go wrong so you can avoid that – enjoy 🙂

TS-100 Screen Replacement

A few months ago the screen on my trusty TS-100 began to get dimmer. I took it apart but there was nothing to be done apart from replace the screen (£1.56 from Aliexpress). It only took a few minutes one Saturday evening. Here’s how it went…

Danfoss BD50 Fridge/Freezer Controller Update

Project Update

Danfoss Fridge Controller

During the winter, I had to make my own fridge controller form my Danfoss BD35 compressor as the mechanical thermostat broke down miles from anywhere and many days away from getting a replacement.

Danfoss BD35/50 Smart Fridge Controller

The prototype was formed from an ESP8266 and a DS18b20 and programmed up pretty quickly to prevent the food spoiling.

It worked very well and it was very useful to have an accurate fridge monitor for the first time in over 10 years on the boat.

The first draft of a custom PCB for this project is ongoin – I expect to order it within days.

Agile Octobot

A side-project came up when I switched electricity providers to Octopus Energy. They have an Agile Tariff where you only pay the ‘going rate’ for electricity when you actually use it. Their day is split into 1/2 hour time slots and the price varies witht the wholesale price of electricity and is published in advance. I decided to write some Arduino code to allow some of my devices to make autonomous decisions on when to turn on. It uses the Octpus API. As an aside, I wrote a Telegram bot to remind me of upcoming electricity prices so I’m reminded to turn on my energy-intesive, not-so-smart devices. More detail at Agile Octobot.

Automated Irrigation

I decided to make an automated drip irrigation system and ordered up a few parts. To mount the valve, I made a 3D printed bracket. Control will be via relay and an ESP8266 running Tasmota integrated into Home Assistant.

This morning’s project was more mundane…


Oh yes, I almost forgot! I sent off some Rapberry Pi 3s to Hoveraid the charity I built a temperature monitoring system for a few years back. Its basically the same system with Node-red and Mosquitto running on Dietpi but this will give them more headroom for future expansion when they re-engine the hovercraft and need CANBUS.

I have a bunch of other upcoming projects so I’ll post more updates in the coming days.

Agile Octobot

I recently switched to Octopus Energy since they were not only cheaper but focussed on renewable energy. One of the most attractive aspect of switching was that they offer an Agile Tariff where you are charged for the energy used at the time you use it. That means that I can schedule electically ‘heavy’ tasks for a time of day when electricity is cheaper.

Pricing for the London area on 6/6/2020

Yes – there is negative pricing too! So you get money back when you use energy that is in excess. This seems to happen on windy, solar days but can also happen at night when overall demand falls really low.

To take best advantage of the flexible pricing I decided to write code for some of my ‘smart’ devices so that they could schedule themselves for when energy is cheaper. At the same time as I was writing the core, my friend Robin mentioned that he was having trouble getting pricing from the Octopus app on his older iPhone. So I thought it would be fun to write a bot that would just give you the prices. He uses it to plan his ‘energy day’.

So the Agile Octobot was born. Its on Telegram, a secure messaging platform and can be found at

If you then type /start, and choose your region, you’ll receive the prices for the next hour about 5 minutes before the hour.

There are other commands such as /now that will give you the current prices and /all that will give you the prices for the rest of the energy ‘day’.

If you have a play you’ll see that rather than paying a flat-rate price for every kW you can achieve significant savings on your energy bill.

There’s more about the Agile Tariff at If you are interested in taking advantage of those prices, there’s a discount when you switch to Octopus – if you use this link (, we can share a £100 credit to your account.

The Agile Octobot is currently running on a very small platform, the ESP32 but the load is very light. Its not guaranteed to be available 24/7/365 but unless loads and loads of people start using it, it will be just fine. Please bear in mind, its a guide only 🙂


October 2020