NIIMBOT B21 Review

NIIMBOT B21 Review


NIMBOT B21 Label Printer

It’s no secret that I love label makers.  I own a LOT of label makers and I have blogged about them extensively.  Every household needs a label maker.  I’ll expand that to say that every household needs a couple of label makers for various tasks.   NIIMBOT contacted me and asked me to pick any printer in their line up, and they would send it to me to review.

I glanced through their printers and my eyes instantly locked on to the NIIMBOT B21 Thermal Label Maker.  If I had to describe my first impression in one word, that word would be “FUN”.

So many of my label makers are industrial looking and huge.  The B21 is small, sleek, and retro looking.  They promptly sent me one with some extra labels and I’m going to put it through its paces to see how it fares.

Even though NIIMBOT provided me a label maker absolutely no pressure was applied to me to provide a positive review.  If it is positive it will be because I think it is positive.  I’ll tell you exactly what I think here.
Continue reading

SHTF Scenario

The SHTF Scenario Happened!



Last night the unthinkable happened.  I woke up in the middle of the night and grabbed my computer to catch up on the news and amuse myself.  To my surprise the internet was down.  Thanks Optimum!  No problem.  I’ll just use my cell phone for a hotspot.  I went and found my phone and the network reported “SOS” instead of “5G” or “LTE”. My first thought was that the SHTF, finally.  Where to turn now to see what is going on?

Continue reading

AC4 Audio And ATSC 3.0

AC4 Audio and ATSC 3.0

There is a new digital TV standard coming.  It is called ATSC 3.0 or NextGen Tv.  ATSC 3.0 uses AC4 audio as its codec.

Most TV markets have at least one ATSC 3.0 channel.  Where I live it is 125.11 PBS, Greenville, NC.  I have a tuner capable of ATSC 3.0 and I supposedly have a TV capable of AC4 audio.  So everything should be hunky dory, right?  Wrong.

No sound.

But John, it says right in the LG specs for this specific TV that it supports AC4 audio.  What gives?

AC4 Audio

TV Specs

Continue reading

Over The Air TV ATSC 3.0

Over The Air TV ATSC 3.0

NextGen TV Explainer Page FAQPeople don’t think much about their TV tuners.  If you go to buy a TV you’ll see plenty of buzzwords like LED, QLED, or 4K but not much discussion on the tuner itself.   And usually not much about ATSC 3.0.  It is also referred to as NEXTGEN TV.

The current broadcast standard is called ATSC or Advanced Television Systems Committee.  That is a series of standards for digital TV broadcasts.  In Europe, their system is called PAL.  Most TV’s in the US meet the ATSC 1.0 standard however a newer standard, ATSC 3.0 is slowly rolling out.

Someday, your ATSC 1.0 won’t work for you anymore although that day seems to be down the road a ways.  Many TV markets have rolled out at least one ATSC 3.0 channel while simultaneously broadcasting an ATSC 1.0 signal.

And of course you won’t get the benefits of that crisp, more powerful, higher resolution signal unless you have a tuner or TV capable of decoding it.   Where I live there is one NEXTGEN TV signal and it is a local PBS channel.  They also still broadcast in ATSC 1.0 and likely will for years. There doesn’t seem to be any danger of any other channels rolling out in the immediate future.
Continue reading

Sculpfun S9 Laser Review

Sculpfun S9 Review

I was recently contacted by Sculpfun and provided a Sculpfun S9 laser to review.

I have owned multiple desktop lasers since they first became mainstream around 2019.  Fast forward 5 years and desktop lasers are gaining in popularity.  The laser side hustle is a real phenomenon and seemingly getting stronger all the time.   Despite the many choices in desktop lasers, they are all fairly similar.

Sculpfun S9

Typical 450nm diode module

Most machines contain a 450 nanometer (nm), 5 watt blue laser diode.  That is roughly the most powerful diode on the market.  Manufacturers who have 10 watt, or 20 watt optical output simply combine multiple diodes into one beam.  A 10 watt laser has 2 diodes, and a 20 watt laser has 4 diodes, and so on.

Similarly, most of these devices have a rectangular frame somewhere around 350 to 400 mm in length and width.  The laser head is driven by an 8 bit or 32 bit motherboard and stepper motors, and the laser is manually focused.

Since the machines are all so similar, the thing that sets them apart is cost.  Many desktop diode laser offerings come in around the $500 price point.  Lasers that cost less than that price point are a little tougher to find.

Enter the Sculpfun S9 at the current price of $269.99.  And as a bonus, Sculpfun has provided my readers a 7% off discount code only for the S9. KJKXP7  (S9).  By my calculations that makes the laser approximately $251.09.  I have done blogs on budget lasers and $250 is an EXCELLENT entry level price point.
Continue reading

Tasmota Light Bulb Kauf A21

Tasmota Light Bulb Kauf A21

Tasmota Light

Kauf A21

There are a ton of smart Internet of Things (IoT) devices out there.  Most of them are a security nightmare to introduce into your home network.   But I’ve found one that ISN’T a security nightmare.  The Kauf A21 bulb with ESPHome Firmware is one such device.  An ESPHome or Tasmota Light will ONLY communicate within your home network.  A Tasmota Light is my personal preference for home automation.

These lights are designed to work with home automation software such as Home Assistant

If you buy a light bulb at Walmart you can control it with an app you put on your phone.  And while that seems cool, it really isn’t. That app, and that bulb communicate off of your phone and contact servers outside of your home network.

IoT devices that are app controlled are a security risk.  And in your quest to smarten up your home you may have several devices and several apps. Additionally,  those apps want you to grant permission to use your camera (presumably to scan a QR code) and they also want location control enabled.   Why does my Lifx bulb I bought at Walmart need to know where I and my phone are?  Riddle me that, Batman.
Continue reading

USB Data Blocker

USB Data Blocker

Road Warrior Pro Tip

How many of you will charge your phone in any provided USB jack?  In the airport?  Rental cars? In a hotel or coffee shop?  Plugging your phone, that has your personal data in it, into unknown sources is a security risk.  You NEED a USB Data Blocker.

Let’s use your car as an example.  Your car has a USB port more than likely.  If you plug into it the stereo head unit in it KNOWS you plugged it in and will proudly display the song you are playing or will offer to sync with your phone.  You know, for your convenience .  If it is your own car that is fine.  If it is a rental car, that’s not so fine.

Here is how it works.  The charging cable you stuck in your laptop bag or purse has 4 wires inside of it.

  • Vcc Power
  • Data +
  • Data –
  • Ground

Those two data wires will move your data whether you like it or not if the device on the other end asks for it.  Enter the USB Data Blocker.
Continue reading

OP25 Revisited

OP25 Digital Decoder Revisited

About 5 years ago I was DETERMINED to figure out a digital voice decoder software program called OP25.  It literally took me a year to figure out how to do it.   I’d work on it for a day or two then give up.  Then try again a week or three later.   Then one day I heard the crackle of a police call over my speaker.   It was at that moment I decided to take what I learned and wrote a dummies guide about it.   To this day,  it is still the blog that gets the most hits, and attention.  And that blog is mostly still relevant.  It pretty much works in the same way.

Just last night I took my old OP25 installation and noticed that it was on Raspberry Pi OS “Buster”.  I tried to upgrade it to the current distribution code named “Bullseye” and things rapidly began going south.  Before I fouled it up too bad I downloaded 4 files:

  • – a script file I made to launch the program
  • trunk.tsv – a file that tells OP25 what Frequency and NAC to listen to
  • newbern.tsv – my local configuration for the police talk groups here
  • viper.tsv – the NC statewide talk groups

I decided to start fresh and within about 20-30 minutes I had a fresh installation of Raspberry Pi OS and OP25 running.  I think I can streamline my installation process a bit more.


I have absolutely nothing to do with the development of OP25.  I’m just the guy who wrote the dummies guide on it.  And I’m doing it again.
Continue reading

Network Server Apps

Network Server Apps

So you’ve either built or bought a network server.  Maybe it’s a Synology or QNAP NAS.  Maybe you made a server with Unraid,  TrueNAS or OpenMediaVault.  Or maybe it is something else.  No matter what you have, you have the ability to add network server apps.

But I want to give you a thing or two to think about before you add those cool applications.

There is no doubt that adding functionality to your server is powerful, and can be very cool.  But is it ALWAYS a good idea?  I’d like to tell you a story about two apps that I thought were brilliant but then created some issues for me later on.  Bear in mind this is just two apps, and your mileage may vary.  I just want to give you something to think about.
Continue reading