Projects, just not visible

I haven't been spending much time out in the wood shop lately. I still have lots of ideas, lots of goals, just have not had the drive to get out there. Part of that is due to current world events, for those in the future, COVID-19 sucks, the delta variant more so. Part of the lack of drive is due to the weather, heat and humidity have sapped what drive I was able to muster on multiple occaisions.

So if I haven't been getting out into the shop, what have I been working on?


I ordered a Raspberry Pi Zero W a while back with plans to use it in an amateur radio project. That project is kind of on hold, so I am rebuilding one of my original RPi projects, a digital picture frame.

I had a couple of RPi model 3's sitting around, so I decided to make them do something.

I've been running Plex Media Server on my FreeBSD file server for a couple of years now, and while it started out pretty good, I feel like the project has started to bloat. I did some searching on the the internets, and found a project called Jellyfin that seems to be closer to what I want, so that is now runnign on a RPi3. When I first set it up, I plugged a 4TB HDD in a USB 3.1 enclosure into it as a place to put all of the content. That worked, but felt a little pokey. After a couple of changes to the /usr/local/etc/smb4.conf, I had a CIFS share that I could access from the RPi. Now it's much quicker, still serves up content to the Roku player, and so the installation is going to be retired.

Another piece of software that I have been messing with off and on over the years is NextCloud. I've appreciated and liked a lot of the things that various companies have come up with over the years to try and make our lives easier/better. However, as time has passed, and the once famous motto of "Don't be evil" was eroded and eventually removed, in general I have found a lot of the "free" offerings to be... not worth it. The goal of NextCloud is to allow you to manage, and thus control, your own data. Much like the Jellyfin initial setup, I used a 4TB drive over USB as a data store, but moved that to the FreeBSD file server as well.

The FreeBSD file server itself, I should probably call it a NAS, but that seems kind of pretentious, has 4 x 4TB drives in a ZFS zraid1 configuration, this is more traditionally known as RAID5, one disk can fail and no data is lost. Over the years I have swapped out several of the disks as they have failed. While I technically could probably get my backup solution, SpiderOak One running on it through some linux emulation shenanigans, it's not supported by SpiderOak, so instead I am just backing it up from my workstation over the network.

While messing with the RPi0W, the 2 x RPi3... I snagged a couple of the newer RPi4 models. I have an RPi4 8GB and an RPi4 4GB now. I don't have anything actually planned for the 8GB one, but the 4GB one is running Pi-hole, which is a local DNS server/filter. It blocks A LOT of advertising and tracking DNS traffic. I'm contemplating using the DHCP server that comes with the Pi-hole instead of the one built into my router, partially because I am getting annoyed with any little change that I make to the configuration resulting in a couple of seconds of no internet access.

So now I have 6 "production" RPi devices on the network, because an older RPi2 is running software to monitor the devices on my network, and also the devices off of my home network that run things like this website and my email. That means I have to manage them. And while that isn't a HUGE amount of stuff to keep track of, it's more than enough to justify dusting off another skillset I haven't used much in the last couple of years, configuration management. So I'm learning all of the stuff that has changed with Ansible in the last couple of years, so that I can run one command and any changes that need to be made or updates that need to be installed, are done. It will also mean that turning up another picture frame, or adding another RPi to the fleet should be relatively painless.

So while I haven't been out in the garage, and haven't had any pictures to share of stuff I have built, I've still been busy. Hopefully soon I'll get back to making some shavings and saw dust.