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  • Allen Knight 9:22 am on 6 August 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Ivan X’s Raspberry Pi Party for the Model B 

    If you’ve got an old Model B hanging around and you don’t have a use for it, Ivanx has made a distro which turn’s it into an Apple II or Apple IIGS.

    RasppleII download  (warning large zip file, use Free Download Manager)



  • Allen Knight 6:04 pm on 4 August 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    JMRI on an original Raspberry Pi model B 

    JMRI start


    The following link gives instructions on how to install JMRI on your Raspberry Pi automatically:

    Tested on Wheezy ( the version of Raspian issued with the original model B) with Sprog II, works. Tested on Jessie works.

    Detailed explanation for setting up R-Pi for VNC

    The later version of Raspian, Jessie, issued with later versions of the Raspberry Pi can also be used on the original model B.  Jessie has a number of improvements which make JMRI easier to use on a Raspberry Pi.

    A most useful improvement is the inclusion of VNC server which allows the Raspberry Pi’s desktop to be viewed on another computer.

    How to install and use VNC is here

    To access your Raspberry Pi from your Windows machine, you  need to download and install Putty.

    Start a Putty session, select ‘SSH’ enter the IP address of your Pi eg:

    VNC allows you can use the Raspberry Pi in ‘headless’ mode which means ‘without the Desktop being displayed even if a monitor is connected to the Raspberry Pi’.

    Using the R-Pi without a Desktop improves performance slightly and is a good idea when you are using JMRI to control a layout. However, the good thing about VNC is that it allows the Raspberry Pi desktop to be displayed on another device, even if the R-Pi is not displaying the Desktop itself.

    Instructions on how to do this are given at the Raspberry Pi website given above, but I will repeat them here. What you have to do (assuming your are running Jessie) is boot up the Raspberry Pi, and either with a monitor connected, or via VNC you have to go to the Raspberry in the top left of the screen, go down to ‘System Preferences’, and choose ‘Raspberry Pi Configuration’. Where it says ‘Boot’ change the option from ‘boot To Desktop’ to boot ‘To CLI’.  Restart the R-Pi to make the change take effect.

    (If you’ve forgotten the procedure under Wheezy is  raspi-config from the command line. You may need to go back to Wheezy if you can’t get JMRI to work with SprogII under Jessie)

    If you access the R-Pi via VNC from your Windows machine after the reboot, you will get a small black window, but do not imagine something terrible has happened – all you have to do is activate the virtual desktop on the R-Pi by command line. It tells you how to do this on the R-Pi website, but I will repeat it here

    To create and connect to a virtual desktop:

    • On your Raspberry Pi (using Terminal or via SSH), run vncserver.

    (You just have to type vncserver into the terminal)

    • Make note of the IP address/display number that VNC Server will print to your Terminal (e.g.
    • On the device you’ll use to take control, enter this information into VNC Viewer.

    To destroy a virtual desktop, run the following command:

    vncserver -kill :<display-number>

    This will also stop any existing connections to this virtual desktop.

    You can proceed with the next part of the project which is to install JMRI.

    Open a terminal either on the Pi itself or via SHH from another machine.

    sudo apt-get install git
    git clone
    cd JMR-Pi
    sudo ./

    If this doesn’t work, try again later. Sometimes GitHub gets very busy.

    On your Android device, go to the Play Store and install Engine Driver for JMRI. In JMRI, under ‘Actions’ find ‘StartWifi server. Your Android device running Engine Driver can connect automatically without your having to enter an IP address.











  • Allen Knight 4:11 pm on 4 August 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Hornby R8245 Sapphire Decoder with auto model locomotive control 

    The Hornby R8245 Sapphire Decoder has a facility to create an “AI” (Artificial Intelligence) train which will run to and fro automatically without the need for any switches or sensors on the track.

    R8245 is for DCC (Digital Command Control) users only.

    Programming the auto-control cycle on the Hornby R8245
    Sapphire Decoder

    The FIRST thing you need to know is that CV 140 turns the Auto control Cycle ON or OFF.

    The SECOND thing you need to know is the value to write to CV140.

    The only value you need to remember is 12. Think of the 12 Days of Christmas!

    The THIRD thing you need to know is the value to write to CV140 to
    turn off auto control.

    This is easy to remember:  It is a zero, zadda, zilch, nothing.

    Now you have understood those basic things – writing 12 to CV 140 turns on auto control and writing a zero turns it off.

    You can now enter the values needed for duration and speed..

    In this example we are going to prorgramme an auto control cycle which
    will make the train run for 30 seconds in one direction and then run back for 30 seconds at the same speed.

    To wait initially for 5 seconds, write 5 to CV123
    To travel forward for 10 seconds, write 10 to CV127
    To set a speed of 20, write 20 to CV124

    Now, having programmed the outward journey, you must
    programme the return trip!
    To wait at the station for 10 seconds, write 10 to CV131
    To set reverse speed of 20, write 20 plus 128, (which makes 148) to CV132

    To set a duration of 30 seconds for the return trip,
    write the value 30 to CV135

    And finally, to wait 5 seconds at your first station, write 5 to

    That’s it!

    The auto control cycle is now programmed. You can now
    write 12 to CV 140 to the decoder to get the train going
    by itself.

    Things to remember!
    Only set a slow speed and a short duration initially – once
    the loco is under auto control, your DCC command station
    cannot control it until a zero is written to CV 140.

    An easy way to programme the Sapphire decoder is to use
    Decoder Pro which is a part of JMRI

    However you can programme the Sapphire decoder with
    any DCC system.



    If you are using Dynamis, move the joystick left or right to
    find the loco with the Sapphire Decoder

    On Dynamis, having selected your loco, press the fourth button, it will
    say ‘Edit Name’Move the joystick until it says ‘PROGRAM. Press the 4th
    button again. It will say WRITE ADDR ON MAINTRACK. Move the joystick


  • Allen Knight 9:24 pm on 24 June 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Free WPS Office for Linux Alpha21[2017-06-15] 

    The latest version of WPS office for Linux is available for download. Choose the download appropriate to your version of Linux. For example to choose the version appropriate to OS Elementary Loki, download:

    For OS Elementary Luna (32bit), download

    For other versions see main page.


  • Allen Knight 10:24 am on 18 April 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Ubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, OS Elementary – which is best? 

    If you have got a laptop which is gathering dust in the bottom of the wardrobe it is time to bring it out and install Linux on it.

    The more memory your laptop has determines which version of Linux is suitable.

    If your laptop has 1gig of RAM or less, you will have to install OS Elementary Luna or Lubuntu or Xubuntu.

    If you have more than 1gig of RAM, you can install the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS or OS Elementary Loki. This will allow you to install the latest version of the Chrome browser.

    On an older machine with 1gig of RAM or less, OS Elementary Luna boots more quickly than Xubuntu or Lubuntu.

    Lubuntu does not have desktop composition, which means windows can tear when you drag them.

    Tip: Ubuntu 14.04 LTS has the latest NVIDIA video drivers included, so it will work on most machines. OS Elementary, Lubuntu and Xubuntu only have the generic video driver, so you may get an error such as a blurred or flickering screen.


  • Allen Knight 7:38 pm on 16 April 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Increase Linux performance on a laptop 

    Increased performance with Ubuntu

  • Allen Knight 9:09 pm on 12 April 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Where can I download an old version of OS Elementary? 

    OS Elementary downloads

    Choose an older version (Freya) if you have a laptop with 1gig of RAM. If your laptop has 32 bit Windows, you can install OS Elementary 64 bit if your machine has a 64 bit processor. If your machine has a 32 bit processor, you can only use a download denoted ‘386’.

  • Allen Knight 7:01 pm on 12 April 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Is Windows Vista okay? 

    Windows Vista has had a bad press online. This was because it is not compatible with many programs written under Windows XP. However if you are using Vista on a machine will only has more modern software installed then it will be okay. Much software written for Windows 7,8,9,10 will install on Vista, so that’s a reason for keeping it.

    If you have Vista should you upgrade to Wjndows 10? Probably not – your printer and scanner may no longer work. However your scanner will continue to work under Vista.

    Check printer drivers,  camera software and so on for compatibility with Windows 10 before abandoning Vista.

  • Allen Knight 6:46 pm on 12 April 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Widows   

    Windows Vista dual boot with Linux 

    Microsoft online support of Windows Vista was discontinued on 11th April 2017, This means no further updates and bug fixes will be downloaded automatically.  However this does not mean you cannot continue to use Vista. If you are dual booting with Linux you can use a more up to date browser than is available under Windows Vista.

  • Allen Knight 1:52 pm on 21 December 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    Raspian for i386 and Mac 

    Raspberry Pi org has made an experimental version* of Debian+PIXEL for Windows PC and Mac.

    The drawback is you can only boot it from a USB stick or a DVD. If you boot it from DVD, you can’t save anything except files to another device. If you boot it from USB stick, it automatically creates a persistent partition on the USB stick so data will be saved on the boot volume. Download is 1.3 gig, be warned if you are not on broadband unlimited.

    Pixel for 386

    Tip: the following command will set the correct date and time for your region

    sudo dpkg-reconfigure tzdata

    *experimental version means “does not operate reliably”. Your laptop may shutdown without warning.

    Tip: Pixel can be installed on the original Raspberry Pi, if you happen to have one. The Raspberry Pi 3 is  better, but is an additional expense requiring a more powerful power supply.

    Tip: If you install OS Elementary on your laptop, you can operate the original Raspberry Pi through VNC and SSH.

    Caveat: If you do a sudo get-update etc., on the 386 version of Raspbian, it doesn’t do anything. Next time you boot, you will be back to square one.

    Pixel does not have desktop composition which means items on the screen can tear if you drag them. Avoid dragging windows to prevent a mess appearing on your screen.

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