Build your own baby monitor revisited

8 11 2012

(Quite) a while ago I wrote about my attempts to make my own video baby monitor. I had also written about a few other approaches as well, but they were pretty involved and complex and tended to break after a few days.

Wanting to simplify the approach and make it easier to set up, I came up with a slightly more refined solution that works much better. I’ve been using it successfully for about a year and it works with multiple cameras and screens. Now I have a second bundle of terror it has proved very useful.

Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel I decided to use products already out there, but ones that aren’t actually designed to monitor babies with and thus don’t have the crazy high price tags. I use an IP webcam, that connects to a WiFi network, this can then be viewed on any laptop or android device you have. It should also work with the iPhone as well, but not being a fan of Apple’s walled garden, I haven’t yet investigated this in any great detail.

The most important part of all this is the camera and I’ve stuck with the same camera I used last time, the IP Night Vision webcam. These can be found all over eBay, or there are also variants available on places like and It has a WiFi and an ethernet network connection, night vision up to a couple of meters, two-way audio (so you can both listen to and talk to your baby – though I don’t suggest the latter, that is one big brother step too far) and it can be panned and tilted around so you can ensure the baby stays in view even if it moves. Most of these cameras are made by Chinese manufacturers, but some are of better quality than others. Foscam is a really good brand it seems, I have two and they have been running non-stop for the last year with no problems what so ever. The model I have used and would recommend is the Foscam FI8918W.

Foscam FI8918w

Foscam FI8918w

It is relatively simple to set up, you just need to connect it to your wireless network following the instructions included in the box. Once this is done you can then view the camera in many different ways. There is an internal web address that you can use to view it from any laptop connected to your wireless network using a web browser. You can also use the free media software VLC to view the video feed, the advantage being this approach also gives you sound and will work on pretty much all platforms supported by VLC (so Windows, Linux and Mac OS). I have written a number of scripts that can be run on Linux (Ubuntu) and Windows that launches the necessary video feeds and restarts the video every hour, since the audio can sometimes get out of sync with the video.

However, the best way to view the video feed I have found is via an Android app, called IP Cam Viewer. There is a free version which works perfectly for my needs, but if you want to say thanks to the developer, you can get the Pro version which is only a few pounds and gives you a few more features. I run this app on my Android tablet, an Android set top box and my Android phone. It allows me to view the the video feed of the two sleeping terrors on a TV in the kitchen using the Android set top box, anywhere in the house on my Android tablet or whilst out and about pretty much anywhere in the world (with a mobile data connection) on my Android phone. The app allows you to move the camera around if you need to and you can put widgets on your home screen that update as fast as once every second, so you don’t even need to run the app to see what is happening.

IP Cam Viewer in action

IP Cam Viewer in action

There is some technical cleverness that needs to be carried out to allow you to view the web cam outside of your wireless network on your phone, but this is very simple to set up and can be done for free.

All in all, this set-up works really well. So much so that the BBC just interviewed me about it! It is certainly a much cheaper and more flexible approach than the dedicated solutions on the market currently and rather than only being able to view the video feed on one tiny screen, you can view it on pretty much any screen you wish pretty much anywhere you want.

If you want to do this yourself, do get in contact via the Contact page. I might put together some more detailed information into a PDF, maybe with a “Pro” version that contains simple step-by-step instructions for a small fee or something. It seems all the rage these days ;)

UPDATE: Gosh, so the story has got a bit of traction on BBC News and I’ve got quite a few comments and emails to read through. I’ll read and respond to all your comments over the weekend and I am sure I can produce a PDF with instructions.

Glad other people are keen on this idea!

How to backup and sync your rooted Android phone automatically

1 03 2012

I have for a while now been working on a custom automatic sync solution for my HTC Hero running Froyo (Froydvillain ROM). As I am a Linux junkie and love scripts and hacks I wanted to do it all via cunning hacks and I’ve finally got it nailed.

This solution uses Scripting Layer 4 Android (SL4A) and Tasker alongside a custom ROM with rsync (any ROM should do so long as it has rsync). For those that don’t know, rsync is an awesome application that allows for remote backup and sync across machines. It turns out you don’t even need a ROM with rsync built in, as you can install an app that provides rsync, the app is called rsync backup for android and can be found here:

The only issue is you can’t call rsync from the command line using simply “rsync” since it isn’t in your systems path. However, if you use the following string instead,replacing calls to “rsync” with the following, the scripts still work: /data/data/eu.kowalczuk.rsync4android/files/rsync

SL4A is used to set out what to do via a script. You can write scripts in various languages in SL4A but I am using Bash as I am familiar with it. Rsync is used to actually handle the sync / backup and Tasker is used to launch the scripts when certain conditions are met.

I have created two scripts in SL4A, one backups my photos folder to my main photo folder on my server. The server runs the rsync daemon which rsync on the phone connects to. The other script does the reverse and copies a remote folder in my server that contains a bunch of music to my phone.

Tasker is set up with a profile that activates when my phone is plugged in and it’s between midnight and 7.00 am. This then connects to my WiFi network and then runs the two scripts via the SL4A plugin. Since I charge my phone each night this is effectively automatic.

The key here is getting permissions correct with rsync during the file transfer, as the memory card uses fat32 it hasn’t got any permissions. The rsync daemon doesn’t like this and errors out, hence the need for various settings. The second key here is exporting your password as an environmental variable. This is inherently insecure but since my server has multiple redundant backups and is only locally accessible I don’t care much. I could use trusted keys but I’m too lazy.

Here are the two scripts. First the music script that syncs from server to phone:

#rsync sync
export RSYNC_PASSWORD=password
echo rsync started $DATE > $LOG
rsync_com ()
if [ $TRY = 15 ]; then
echo rsync failed, quitting on $DATE >> $LOG
sleep 10
echo rsync attempt $TRY started $DATE >> $LOG
rsync --progress -vHrltD --chmod=Du+rwx,go-rwx,Fu+rw,go-rw --no-perms --stats --password-file=/mnt/sdcard/scrt prupert@prupert::amusic /mnt/sdcard/amusic >> $LOG 2>&1
TRY=`expr $TRY + 1`
echo exit code is $EXIT >> $LOG
echo "********************" >> $LOG
while [ $EXIT != 0 ]; do
echo rsync finished $DATE >> $LOG

The second script syncs the phones photos folder to my server:

#rsync sync photo
export RSYNC_PASSWORD=password
echo rsyncphoto started $DATE > $LOG
rsync_com ()
if [ $TRY = 15 ]; then
echo rsync failed, quitting on $DATE >> $LOG
sleep 10
echo rsync attempt $TRY started $DATE >> $LOG
rsync -vHrltD --chmod=Du+rwx,go-rwx,Fu+rw,go-rw --no-perms --stats --password-file /mnt/sdcard/scrt /mnt/sdcard/DCIM prupert@prupert::apics >> $LOG 2>&1
TRY=`expr $TRY + 1`
echo exit code is $EXIT >> $LOG
echo "********************" >> $LOG
while [ $EXIT != 0 ]; do
echo rsync finished $DATE >> $LOG

I have put some logging in to check progress and also some retry code that retries the sync if it timesout. It seems my HTC Hero’s WiFi connection claps out after a while so the script retries up to 15 times to run successfully based on the rsync exit code.

XBMC Ubuntu Minimal Maverick Install Script

1 01 2011

As a little New Year’s present, I have updated a script that has been knocking around to allow you to install XBMC on a minimal version of Ubuntu Maverick.

If you simply install Ubuntu from the mini.iso containing the basic Ubuntu Maverick install, then on reboot, download my script using:


make it executable, using:

chmod a+x

then finally run it using:

sudo ./

I find it is best to run it again, once the script reboots the machine, as this fixes a few issues.

It is still a work in progress, as you can’t yet shutdown / restart etc via XBMC since it seems the method to add permissions in Ubuntu 10.10 have changed and they conflict with the setup here, so I am still looking into that. To shutdown / reboot at the moment, I log in via SSH and issue:

sudo shutdown -hP now

Also, it is designed to work just with the Acer Aspire Revo 3610, but there is no reason why it wont work with any other device (apart from maybe the audio configurations).


Download It Here

Install the Latest Version of LCD4LINUX on Ubuntu

12 08 2010

Update: It seems that I need to add some additional steps when installing on a completely vanilla version of Ubuntu. So I have added all the steps that should now be required.

Despite the most recent version (0.11.0) of lcd4linux being released in November 2009, Ubuntu Lucid comes with an older version and thus misses out on some new features and drivers, in particular drivers for the cool and cheap Pertelian X2040.

It is however, possible to build the latest version of lcd4linux from source, but you need to do a few things in order to get it to work.

This little guide assumes you have built stuff before on Ubuntu, so have all the necessary build tools.

First, navigate to the folder you want to download and build the source in.

Then, download the latest version via svn:

svn co lcd4linux

Next, navigate into the newly created source folder using cd lcd4linux and install some dependencies:

sudo apt-get install automake autoconf m4 perl libtool gettext

Then, run ./configure, if you want to include a specific driver, for instance for Pertelian, include it here, like this:
./configure --with-drivers=Pertelian
Now, if you try to make, it wont work, I am not sure why, but there are some issues. To fix these, issue the two following commands:
mkdir m4
sudo ln -sf /usr/share/libtool/config/ .
Now, you can run:
sudo make install
And you now have a working and up-to-date lcd4linux. I’d recommend using checkinstall rather than make install, because you can uninstall the package at a later date if you want.

Doing all this allows me to run my Pertelan display on my little thin client that I use as a baby monitor. It now tells me the PIDs of FFmpeg and motion (so that I know that they are working and running), that the Internet connection is UP and the system load, alongside the date and time!

Make Your Own Baby Night Vision Video Monitor…Again

2 08 2010

So, a while back, I posted about how to hack your own baby monitor. However, it was all fairly easy and didn’t require that much geekery. This time, however, I have gone all out and have produced what I think is a neat little set-up.

I am using a small thin-client PC, an HP T5700 with only a 750Mhz Transmeta Crusoe CPU and 512MB Ram. My PC is low-power and silent (perfect as it is running in our bedroom). I am also using a cheapo Nightvision Webcam from eBay (make sure it is true nightvision and not just some LEDs that you can turn on and off – the description needs to  say that the webcam uses IR LEDs and that they are “invisible to the human eye”) with a combined microphone.

To stream the video from the webcam, I use the rather excellent motion via sudo apt-get install motion. You’ll need to mess with the settings in motion.conf to activate the webcam server and to allow access from users other than localhost, for reference, here is mine. Then, all you need do is set motion running at boot, there is startup script included with motion when you install it, but I am pretty sure that is borked, so I just added “motion” to my /etc/rc.local file. Thus, to view the video, I simply browse to the http://IPADDRESSOFPC:8081, which is easily opened in VLC.

To stream the audio from the microphone on the webcam turned out to be a much more difficult process, as I detailed in the post prior to this one. Suffice to say, FFmpeg came to my rescue, so I simply run the command:

ffmpeg -f oss -i /dev/dsp -acodec libmp3lame -ab 32k -ac 1 -re -f rtp rtp://

at boot and my microphone is miraculously streamed to rtp://, which I can open in VLC (if you are using Linux, you have to use the most recent version of VLC, i.e. 1.1.1, previous versions don’t play well with rtp streams on Linux).

I use the following simple script on my laptop to view both streams, so I can see and hear our lovely daughter, even when she is sound asleep in a dark room:

echo "starting vlc"
VPID=( $(ps -e | grep vlc | awk '{print $1;}'))
if [ $? = 1 ];then
echo "error getting vlc PID, exiting"
while [ -n "$VPID" ];do
kill $VPID
VPID=( $(ps -e | grep vlc | awk '{print $1;}'))
cvlc &

echo video status $PID1
if [ "$PID1" == "1" ];then
echo "error starting vlc video"
vlc rtp:// --equalizer-bands="0,0,15,15,15,-20,0,0,0,0" &

echo audio status $PID2
if [ "$PID2" == "1" ];then
echo "error starting vlc audio"

This set-up has worked perfectly for the last week and even my wife appreciates my geeky skills on this one! Plus, I have a very small WiFi router (a La Fonera2) which makes the system completely portable, as the video feed can be viewed on pretty much any device. This now frees my IP webcams for the job they are much better suited for, home security. The end result are videos of this quality (to be clear, this is a freezeframe from the video feed, taken in a pitch black room):

So, why do all this? Well, for one, it can only up your geekery skills ;) But also, motion has some cool features, that, for example, let you take regular photos, allowing you to make cool time-lapse videos of your baby as she grows and develops (or sleeps through one night – man they move a lot). motion also has built-in motion detection (that is its main job) so I am sure you can configure it in such a way to act as an early warning system if the baby stops moving (I am thinking the horror that is cot-death here, but I have yet to fully look in to getting this to work yet). Also, if have a spare PC lying around that you can put aside for this, it means that in the future you can use that PC for other jobs as your baby gets older. I am planning to, for example, get a cheap touch screen monitor off eBay, to allow me to turn it into an interactive activity centre for our daughter, to help her learn numbers and the alphabet (there are already some great tools in Ubuntu for just this purpose, but I am learning Python and hope to program my own bespoke software for the job). You could add some speakers and use the PC to play soothing music to your baby to help her sleep or even go all out and hook up some kinda remote-controlled mobile. The options are endless and hopefully it’ll mean that once your baby is all grown up, she wont think of you as her embarrassing geeky mum / dad, but her “makes-really cool stuff for me to play with” mum / dad…. ;)

Stream Live Audio from a Microphone in Near Real Time in Ubuntu

2 08 2010

I have been endeavouring over the past few months to hack my own baby monitor. I initially kinda cheated, by using an IP-webcam.  However, that isn’t nearly as geeky as using a PC and USB webcam (plus, I also wanted night-vision, and IP-webcams with nightvision are not cheap). I got myself a cheap USB webcam from eBay that has six IR lights for nightvision and a built in mic. I’ll post later about sorting out the video feed, which turned out to be relatively easy. Sorting out the live audio feed turned out to be much harder.

My basic set-up is: a PC (I am using a small thin-client, so low-power and silent) running Ubuntu Lucid, a USB webcam with built in mic (with an audio output jack for the mic) and a wired connection to my LAN. I aim to listen to the audio on at least two separate PCs using VLC, so the format of the audio stream wasn’t much of an issue. It turned out to be much more difficult than I expected to get a real-time stream, as the latency with many options turned out to be terrible.

First, I needed to determine what the audio input was. As I had only installed a minimal install of Ubuntu, I needed to install ALSA, the linux sound architecture, via sudo apt-get install alsa-base alsa-utils. Next, I had to set up the mixer levels, since my PC is headless and I was doing this all via SSH, I used the ncurses alsamixer which allows you to set mixer levels via the command line. Don’t forget to run alsactl store afterwards to save your settings. As a result of doing all this, /dev/dsp now pointed to my microphone input.

Next, I needed a way of streaming the audio over my network. As I am a big fan of FFmpeg, that was my first choice, as it comes with a rather neat little streaming server called FFserver. FFserver works in the following way, you set up various streams using an ffserver.conf file, run the server and then run FFmpeg and direct FFmpeg’s output to FFserver. Here is the ffserver.conf file that I used.

After lots of trial and error, I eventually got this going using the FFmpeg command: ffmpeg -f oss -i /dev/dsp http://localhost:8090/feed1.ffm, but the latency was terrible, hitting almost 30 seconds. From what I can gather, FFserver doesn’t get nearly as much love as FFmpeg, the FAQ for FFserver freely admits that audio and video will drift out of sync alongside other issues, so I realised that FFserver was not for me.

Next, I tried using icecast2. Icecast is a streaming music solution, primarily designed to allow you stream music over a network, based on WinAmp’s Shoutcast technology, essentially making your own radio station. I used icecast2 in combination with darkice (since you need a program to send the audio to the icecast server, so it has something to stream). Darkice was perfect as it is designed to stream live audio from the audio input. Both programs are configured via xml files. Here is my icecast.xml and my darkice.xml. You’ll have to edit both these files somewhat, to make sure the log file location is correct for example. Due to the bizzare way that alsa sometimes works, /dev/dsp doesn’t always work. So in the case of darkice, I used hw:0,0 instead. This refers to the same thing, but in a different way it seems (the reasons for it go beyond me, I think it refers to the first card and the first input (the first being 0, the second being 1 etc)).

I would then run the icecast2 server using: icecast2 -b -c ~/icecast.xml and then darkice using: darkice -c ~/darkice.cfg. I had to run the darkice command using sudo, as there were some permission problems with accessing the mic input. This worked much better than FFserver, the delay was now down to about five seconds, but I got constant buffering issues, meaning the audio constantly cut off for ages. Also, over time, the delay would gradually get worse and worse, till it was as bad as the thirty second delay I got with FFserver. Once again, this wasn’t good enough.

My next effort was a complete hack, from the client PC that I wanted to listen to the audio on, I would run the following: ssh server 'cat /dev/dsp > /dev/dsp'. This would literally copy the input from the microphone on the server (my thin client) to the output of my local PC using SSH. Remarkebly, it worked as well as using icecast, but once again there were buffering issues, as I was trasnferring raw uncompressed audio.

So, my next option was using VLC. From doing lots of googling, I had read many people recommending it. My issue with VLC is that it is not a lightweight option and seemed somewhat overkill to me.

The huge advantage with VLC is that it acts as both client and server, taking the audio input and streaming it (although it actually does this using the Live555 streaming media module).

VLC also allows you to stream audio using various protocols; http, rtp, rtsp among others. Once again this wasn’t easy to get working, but after lots and lots and lots of trial and error, I finally came to the following command that worked for me: cvlc -vvv alsa://hw:0,0 --sout '#transcode{acodec=mp2,ab=32}/

:rtp{dst=,port=1234,sdp=rtsp://}' .

This basically takes the microphone input, transcodes it into an MP2 file (despite having FFmpeg installed, VLC would refuse to transcode to MP3) and then streams it via rtp to the address rtsp://

I then simply entered rtsp:// into the network stream input in VLC on the client PC and I got live audio, in near real time!! FINALLY!! The delay was about 1.5 seconds, it required very little bandwidth and seemed to work well…..for a while. Sadly, there were three problems with this. First; only one client could connect at a time, secondly; the stream would fail after a while, sometimes after five minutes, sometime after two hours, but it would always fail and third it would totally slaughter the CPU. Once again, this was no good for listening out for a crying baby.

Finally, I came to the perfect solution, funnily enough going full circle and using FFmpeg. From my googling of VLC and fixing stream dropouts with rtp, I found out that FFmpeg can stream via rtp nativley, with no need to use FFserver. I thought this couldn’t possibly work, but I tried it out using the following command: ffmpeg -f oss -i /dev/dsp -acodec libmp3lame -ab 32k -ac 1 -re -f rtp rtp:// This is similiar to the VLC command, except that this time I am converting into MP3 and streaming to the address: rtp:// Once again, all I need to do is enter rtp:// as the streaming source in VLC. There are a few huge advantages with this method, first, the CPU usage is only about 25% on my naff little 750Mhz Transmeta Crusoe. Second, it seems multiple clients can connect at once and third, it seems rock solid. I have had this command running for three days straight with no problems. Memory usage seems to creep up over time, but that’s about all. I still get the roughly 1.5 seconds latency, and that is rock solid, it never gets any worse than that over time. Finally, a solution that works. So now, I use the following script, that is run at boot, to stream live audio in real time over my LAN:

echo killing old ffmpegs

PID=( $(ps -e | grep ffmpeg | awk '{print $1;}'))
if [ $? = 1 ];then
echo "error getting vlc PID, exiting"
if [ ! -n "$PID" ];then
echo killing ffmpeg with PID $PID
kill $PID

echo starting ffmpeg
ffmpeg -f oss -i /dev/dsp -acodec libmp3lame -ab 32k -ac 1 -re -f rtp rtp:// 2> ~/ffmpeg.log &

echo ffmpeg started with PID $FF

This simply kills any other FFmpeg processes running and then starts a new FFmpeg process to stream the audio input (I kill old processes, so I can run this script if for some reason the stream fails and always be sure that only one instance of FFmpeg is running at any one time).

So, it took me about a month to get this far, but I am finally happy. There are other options that I also tried but could never get to work, such as the ability to share audio inputs using Pulse Audio (I got them to share, but it seemed to constantly crash my network) or using the Live555MediaServer directly (the one that powers VLC) or MPEG4IP but they both were poorly documented and were too complicated. I’ll write up about the video portion of this next, to show how I hacked my own baby monitor.

How To Fix Synergy+ Problems in Ubuntu and Windows

30 06 2010

I use the excellent Synergy+ program to share my mouse and keyboard between my Windows XP box and my Ubuntu Lucid box. However, since upgrading to Lucid, I was having all types of problems with the versions of synergy and synergy-plus in the repos (mainly around use of CAPS and Shift being permanently on). Upgrading to the latest nightly builds seem to have fixed this, but there were a few install issues that needed to be sorted.

I got the .deb package for Ubuntu and the Windows installer from the Google Code hosted Synergy+ nightly build page, found here. The .deb package installed with no problems, as did the Windows installer. However, the Windows program wouldn’t load, it had lots of missing .dlls errors.

The missing dlls are libgcc_s_dw2-1.dll, QtCore4.dll, QtGui4.dll and QtNetwork4.dll. A quick Google led me to loads of issues related to various QtXXXX4.dll problems that are seemingly mostly fixed by installing EA’s Download Manager (since most of the posters were having Sims3 issues (nice one EA!)) or some awful bloat-ware that claimed to scan your PC’s registry. Errr, no thanks to that, downloading random dlls is dangerous. So, I went to the source for the dlls; Qt from Nokia. Download the most recent version (you don’t need the SDK) from here and choose LGPL and Qt: Framework only and install the package (it is rather huge at over 200MB, but hey ho).  Once installed, navigate to this folder “C:Qt4.6.3bin” (the version number might be different if it gets updated, but just find the bin folder) and copy the four missing dlls to here: “C:Program FilesSynergy+bin” (the location ‘may’ be different on Vista and Windows 7.

So, to recap. Copy:

libgcc_s_dw2-1.dll, QtCore4.dll, QtGui4.dll and QtNetwork4.dll

From “C:Qt4.6.3bin”

To “C:Program FilesSynergy+bin”.

Finally, you can now run Synergy+, configure it if need be (though since I was running an older version of Synergy, my configs were already setup) and off you go. No more issue (hopefully:))!

How To Configure Wireless / WiFi Networking in Ubuntu via the Command Line (CLI)

25 06 2010

There are a number of tutorials available on-line for sorting out WiFi in Ubuntu via the CLI, but most of them seem quite outdated, so I decided to do my own.

I did this on a minimal install of Ubuntu Lucid, so it is as up-to-date as possible. The PC I was using has no Windows Manager of Graphical Display Manager, just the good old terminal so all this is done via the CLI only. I did this using a USB WiFI dongle, but it should be the same whether you use an internal card or a USB card.

First, you need to install the relevant software. You need to have a wired connection at this point, otherwise this wont work.

sudo apt-get install wireless-tools wpasupplicant

If you are connecting to an open network, you wont need wpasupplicant. Next, you need to “bring up” (essentially this means activate) your WiFi interface. So, issue:

sudo ifconfig wlan0 up

Next, to make sure your wireless device is working as it should issue:

and then
sudo iwlist scan

This should show you some wireless networks as proof that the WiFi device is working, if something goes wrong here, then there is a problem with your device or driver and you need to get googling.

If you are accessing a secured network and you really should be, you need to access the correct version of your WiFi key. To get your key, issue this command:


This will result in something that looks like this:

psk=fe727aa8b64ac9b3f54c72432da14faed933ea511ecab1 5bbc6c52e7522f709a

You need to make a note of the long phrase after psk= (NOT #psk=) as this your WiFi password in hex format.

Next, you need to edit your interfaces file, so issue:

sudo nano /etc/network/interfaces

At the end of this file, you need to add your WiFi configuration. Here are the options you can add.

auto wlan0     #change this to the name of your WiFi interface
iface wlan0 inet dhcp     #this is normally fine, if you want a static IP address replace “dhcp” with “static”
netmask     #change this as appropriate for your network, this value is usually right
gateway     #change this as appropriate for your network
address     #only needed for a static IP address
dns-nameservers     #only needed for a static IP address
wpa-driver wext     #you shouldn’t need to change this
wpa-ssid YOURSSID     #just type the name of your SSID here
wpa-ap-scan 1     #if the name of your SSID is hidden usually, type 2 instead of 1
wpa-proto WPA    #if you use WPA1 type WPA, if you use WPA2 type RSN
wpa-pairwise CCMP     #if you use AES type CCMP, if you use TKIP type TKIP
wpa-group CCMP     #if you use AES type CCMP, if you use TKIP type TKIP
wpa-key-mgmt WPA-PSK     #usually WPA-PSK (if you share a key) but sometimes WPA-EAP (for enterprises)
wpa-psk YOURHEXKEYFROMABOVE     #the hex key that you generated earlier

Thus, since I am using a WiFi card that is identified as wlan0 and am connecting to a WPA1 AES encrypted network called MYPLACE that isn’t hidden without a static IP address, this is what I added:

auto wlan0
iface wlan0 inet dhcp
wpa-driver wext
wpa-ssid MYPLACE
wpa-ap-scan 1
wpa-proto WPA
wpa-pairwise CCMP
wpa-group CCMP
wpa-key-mgmt WPA-PSK
wpa-psk 71c81a844973ae7bb1243141e5caa7b6bb0e2d7eetcetcetc

Finally, comment out the top section so it looks like this:

#auto eth0
#iface eth0 inet dhcp

This stops your wired network from working. This helps to ensure there are no conflicts. Remember, if you want your wired network to work again, remove these two comments (the #).

Finally, save the file by pressing CTRL and X and then pressing Y to save to the file. Now, reboot and your network should come up. Yay!

Some people have found that this doesn’t always work, so the next thing to do is to edit the configuration file for the wpasupplicant program. Do this by issuing:

sudo nano /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf

Basically, you add pretty much the same information here as you did to the interfaces file, except without the wpa- part. So, my file looks like this:


As far as I am aware, the options are the same. So, edit this file as necessary, make sure you add the ctrl_interface and network={ at the beginning and the } part at the end. Save it and try restarting again. If it still doesn’t work, then kick your PC, wish you had installed Windows 7 instead and go off and do some Googling. You’ll find the answer on the Ubuntu forums and you’ll be happy again.

Best of luck!

Pimp Your Wii with Home Brew Apps

14 04 2010

About a year ago, I hacked my Wii, installing the Home Brew Channel via the Twilight Hack (it made me buy the game, which is meant to be one of the best on the Wii, so it’s all good Nintendo – though I haven’t really got into the game – I hate the wide eyed characters, its just so clichéd). However, I didn’t really find much use for it and let it die when the Wii updated itself (incidentally, this is a risky thing to do because depending on the version of the hack you installed and what you installed afterwards, a Wii System Update can brick your Wii..).

Recently, after having too many sleepless nights with the baby, I decided I needed to hack something. In my internet travels I came across this program, USB Loader GX, that allows you to backup your Wii Games to an external hard drive and load them all from one USB drive, no need to change discs any more. Now that sounds seriously cool.

So, following the rather detailed excellent ReadMii from USB Loader GX, I was able to re-install the hack, install the Home Brew Channel and then install the USB Loader GX program. A Word of Warning: Doing this invalidates your warranty and seriously risks turning your Wii into a fancy paperweight if you aren’t very careful. Also, do not use the Wii System Update function, since it might also brick your Wii, bear this in mind before proceeding. You can still access the Wii Network and the Shop after installing this hack, at least for the moment.

Essentially, the install process is:

  1. Use the Banner Bomb technique to install the Home Brew Channel (Home Brew software) via the HackMii installer.
  2. Install various hacked and custom IOS (essentially Operating Systems) and cISO (custom OSs) on your Wii, giving Home Brew software greater access to your Wii.
  3. Install USB Loader GX.
  4. Prepare a USB hard drive to use (formatted either via Fat, NTFS or WBFS), I chose WBFS as I have loads of spare hard drives and it is the most flexible with the Wii.
  5. Connect the hard drive to the Wii and load USB Loader GX.

Once done, you then need to copy all yours games to your Hard Drive. I found that for some reason the Install function of USB Loader GX (where you copy the game to your hard drive) didn’t work for me. So, instead I used a tool called DVD Dumper, following the tutorial from here. That site actually contains lots of useful guides, I recommend it for a good background read. There is a version 1.3 of the DVD Dumping tool, but the dev has given up development and 1.2 seemed to work well, over WiFi anyway. Bear in mind it takes about 2.5 – 4 hours per disc, depending on the speed of your connection – shame Nintendo never added an Ethernet port really.

The process was pretty easy and basically goes like this:

  1. Load DVD Dumper via the Home Brew Channel.
  2. Choose Network Dump and insert your disc.
  3. On a computer, type your Wii’s IP Address in to FireFox (don’t use IE), your Wii’s IP Address is given to you on screen by the DVD Dumper program.
  4. Click on the link to download the inserted game as an ISO and save the file.
  5. Wait 3 hours and go do something good, go running, mow the lawn, vote Lib Dem.
  6. Connect your already prepared USB hard drive to your computer and load WiiBackupManager.
  7. Copy your ISO from your computer to your hard drive using WiiBackupManager.
  8. Connect your hard drive to your Wii, load USB Loader GX, highlight one of the new cover-less games, press 1 to choose to download the covers, let it do its stuff and finally you are good to go!

It should be noted that this technique can also be used by naughty and bad people to download copies of games from the internet and play them, without paying for them. People, this is stealing. If you didn’t buy it, you have no right to use it or play it. I know these days most internet users feel it is their right to download stuff for free if they want, but, there is no way round it, this is stealing and is only harming the industry you love. Don’t do it. Please only use this program to backup games you already own to a hard drive (this in itself is probably illegal, but as I don’t share my games with anyone, I don’t think I am really doing anything wrong).

The Home Brew Channel also gives you access to loads more cool stuff as well. Simply follow this guide to download and install the Home Brew Browser. It allows you to browse, install and update all the cool stuff that people have written for use on the Wii, including old school game ports, media players (including the GeeXbox) and a load of other weird and wonderful stuff. Get stuck in and be the envy of all your boring Wii System Menu version 4.2 friends, so long as you don’t mess up along the way and end up with a nice white brick ;)

Server Migration Complete

11 02 2010

So, I am now hosting this site with as I got tired stressing about keeping my own server up and running and not being able to upgrade it and mess with it in case I mess anything up.

Hopefully things will now be more reliable and I shall see if I can add any more services.

If you want to use’s services, click the small advert below and I’ll earn $60 apparently!


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