Mammoths, alligators and butterflies. Oh my!

One of the stops we made on our trip last week was a stop in Gainesville, FL to meet up with one of our friends who just started a post-doc at the University of Florida. After having lunch together, we all headed off to the Florida Museum of Natural History on the University of Florida campus.


It’s a pretty nifty museum with a lot of neat interactive displays. Great place to take the kids.

One of these is not like the others
One of these is not like the others

Part of the museum is the Butterfly Rainforest, a really cool place to get up close with hundreds of butterflies. Watch them fluttering all around you, landing on flowers, and even you if you stand still long enough.

Then we went for a walk to the Lake Alice Conservation Area where we were treated to some very nice views of the lake, turtles and an alligator.

UF is a pretty big campus, and seems like a pretty nice place to walk around.

Back to Kennedy Space Center

The Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex is one of those places I never get tired of visiting. We road-tripped back there over the weekend to get in one more visit before  the multi-day passes we purchased last year expired.

You'll need a pretty big tree for this ornament
You’ll need a pretty big tree for this ornament

On this visit, Connie noticed that the Welcome sign above the door to the Space Shop welcomed visitors in 9 languages, including Klingon.


We went there over two days, and spent the second day at the Saturn V exhibit building. The bus tour takes you past the gigantic Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). Next to the VAB they’re working on building a new launch platform that will be used by NASA’s SLS rocket. It’s an impressively large structure and even larger than the launch platform used for the shuttle.

The bus then takes you past Launch Pad 39A. The last time I was on the bus tour, the pad was one of the stops and people were able to get off the bus and go onto the launch platform. 39A is being used by SpaceX now, so it’s not a stop on the tour anymore. I was on the wrong side of the bus and couldn’t get any decent photos when we went by.

The Apollo/Saturn V Center is always impressive, and it’s pretty easy to spend 2 or three hours exploring all the exhibits here. Next to the Atlantis exhibit, it’s my favourite exhibit at KSC.

Saturn V main engines
Saturn V main engines

A new exhibit (new since my last visit to the Saturn V building anyway) is a memorial to the Apollo I astronauts (Ed White, Virgil Grissom, and Roger Chaffee) who died when a fire started in the command module. It’s a nice exhibit featuring personal items belonging to each of the astronauts as well as the hatch from the command module.

Apollo I hatch
Apollo I hatch

Next time you go, make sure to reserve plenty of time for the Apollo/Saturn V Center.

Logitech unifying receiver monitoring

While going through Fedora’s Tagger, I came across a package called Solaar, a Linux device manager for Logitech’s Unifying Receiver.

I thought “Well, this could be pretty useful” because until the little lights on my MX Master mouse start flashing red, I never know the charge status of the mouse.

Installing the package with dnf install solaar gave me a taskbar icon, but for some reason it didn’t find any devices to manage. After poking around in the Solaar installation documentation, it looked like my problem was that the Fedora package didn’t install the udev rules that allow non-root access to the Logitech Unifying Receiver.

Once I added the rules file and a new user group, Solaar was able to find the MX Master and show me its status.

Working pretty well so far, and it’s nice being able to see the charge status of my mouse. Doesn’t let me configure buttons or change DPI settings, but maybe that’s something I can convince solaar to do.

~/workspace> solaar show
Unifying Receiver
  Device path  : /dev/hidraw4
  USB id       : 046d:c52b
  Serial       : 89629F0B
    Firmware   : 12.03.B0025
    Bootloader : 02.15
    Other      : AA.AA
  Has 1 paired device(s) out of a maximum of 6.
  Notifications: wireless, software present (0x000900)
  Device activity counters: 1=130

  1: Wireless Mouse MX Master
     Codename     : MX Master
     Kind         : mouse
     Wireless PID : 4041
     Protocol     : HID++ 4.5
     Polling rate : 8 ms (125Hz)
     Serial number: 756A9A32
        Bootloader: BOT 18.01.B0014
          Firmware: MPM 11.02.B0014
          Firmware: MPM 11.02.B0014
     The power switch is located on the base.
     Supports 29 HID++ 2.0 features:
         0: ROOT                   {0000}
         1: FEATURE SET            {0001}
         2: DEVICE FW VERSION      {0003}
         3: DEVICE NAME            {0005}
         5: RESET                  {0020}
         6: BATTERY STATUS         {1000}
         7: CHANGE HOST            {1814}
         8: REPROG CONTROLS V4     {1B04}
         9: ADJUSTABLE DPI         {2201}
        10: VERTICAL SCROLLING     {2100}
        11: SMART SHIFT            {2110}
        12: HIRES WHEEL            {2121}
        13: GESTURE 2              {6501}
        14: DFUCONTROL 2           {00C1}
        15: unknown:1813           {1813}   internal, hidden
        16: unknown:1830           {1830}   internal, hidden
        17: unknown:1890           {1890}   internal, hidden
        18: unknown:18A1           {18A1}   internal, hidden
        19: unknown:18C0           {18C0}   internal, hidden
        20: unknown:1DF3           {1DF3}   internal, hidden
        21: unknown:1E00           {1E00}   hidden
        22: unknown:1EB0           {1EB0}   internal, hidden
        23: unknown:1803           {1803}   internal, hidden
        24: unknown:1861           {1861}   internal, hidden
        25: unknown:9000           {9000}   internal, hidden
        26: unknown:9200           {9200}   internal, hidden
        27: unknown:9240           {9240}   internal, hidden
        28: unknown:1805           {1805}   internal, hidden
     Battery: 50%, discharging.

Update: Ended up running into some issues with the taskbar icon reverting back to not detecting any devices. This is apparently a known issue, so I cloned the Solaar repo and pulled in some of the PRs that are supposed to address the issue. Copied the files to where they were installed on the system (/usr/lib/python2.7/site-packages/) and restarted the app. Solaar picked up the mouse, and even some options for configuring the mouse, including DPI control. Woot! So far, no more problems with Solaar suddenly forgetting the mouse.

New mouse options
New mouse options

Phantom volume

The TV started doing this strange thing where the volume would turn down all by itself. Even after turning the volume back up, it would go back down again all by itself. TV works fine after several hours of watching, but then the volume on-screen display (OSD) will pop up randomly and sometimes the volume will change. After a while, the volume OSD pops up with increasing frequency, and the volume drops more and more until eventually it’s doing it all the time.

Ruled out the remote sending out random signals to the TV. Even took the batteries out to guarantee the remote wasn’t doing anything.

The control buttons on the side of the TV are capacitive touch buttons, so I thought maybe those had gone screwy. Opened up  the TV and disconnected the control buttons, but it ended up having no effect. Still ended up with the same behaviour after a few hours of the TV being on.

TV innards
TV innards
TV power supply board
TV power supply board
TV control board
TV control board

At this point, I figure the problem is probably something heat related since the phantom volume changes don’t start happening until the TV’s been on a while. I’m not sure where else to go digging for the problem.

Looks like replacement control boards can be obtained from various sources for not a whole lot of money (definitely less than replacing the TV). Swapping out the control board would probably take care of the problem, unless of course the problem lies elsewhere.

Reflashing the wifi router

The wifi router (a TP-Link Archer C2600) started to  have some issues with wifi dropping out and I noticed there was a new firmware available for it, so I decided it was time to give it a reset and flash the new firmware while I was at it.

It’s normally a straight forward process, but somehow the router had gotten itself into a state where any login attempts ended up returning a 500 Internal Server Error, even after doing a factory reset on it. Didn’t matter what browser I tried to log in with.

Without a way to get into the router’s interface, I thought I was going to have to get a new one, which would have been disappointing because the C2600 had been working pretty well, and wasn’t all that old.

The next thing I considered was flashing OpenWRT or LEDE to the router. After a bit of poking around in the documentation, and a suggestion from someone in one of the Slacks I hang out in, I learned that firmware could be installed via tftp. This turned out to be a fairly straight forward procedure and not too difficult to set up.

If you don’t have tftp already installed on the computer, the instructions here are pretty good.

  1. Connect the C2600 (turned off) to the computer with an ethernet cable.
  2. Manually configure the IP address of your computer to
  3. Extract the factory firmware for the C2600 and rename it to ArcherC2600_1.0_tp_recovery.bin. Copy the file to /var/lib/tftpboot/
  4. While holding the reset button down, turn the router on. Keep the reset button pressed for about 15 seconds. This should put the router into recovery mode.
  5. Wait for the firmware to be transferred to the router. You might see some messages show up in /var/log/messages indicating the transfer has occurred.
  6. Wait about 5 minutes and power cycle the router.

With any luck, the router will come back to life with the firmware installed and everything should be honky-dory. If not, try again. Once you’ve got the firmware flashed, you can disable the tftp server and close up the firewall port.

The C2600 is back in service and seems to be working fine again. I can log into the router again, and there haven’t been any problems with the wifi dropping out.