Coffee Roasting with Linux

The plan

Roast coffee at home using a computer controlled popcorn roaster requiring no intervention other than putting in raw green beans and then putting cooled roasted beans into storage bags.


Hardware required



Popcorn roaster Sunbeam popasaurus which has been sitting in its box for 5 years.  Air roasted popcorn sucks, so no issues canabalising it :P
Computer Old Toshiba Tecra 8100 laptop.  The laptop is missing a battery, and is pretty useless for anything else. It has a 450 MHz processor, 192MB ram and 6GB HD.  Not a powerhouse, but a roast controller could run on a 8088...
Case for controller I used an old ATX powersupply case.  Try and find one with monitor pass through power connector.

2 x 240 volt switches

1 light dimmer

I bought the switches and dimmer on a light swich plate for $6 at a local market.

I wouldn't bother with the light dimmer unless you get it dirt cheap, I normally have it set to full power.

1 x ~24 volt Transformer I bought a 56v primary, 28v secondary transformer from Dick Smith (model M0144) for $9.98.  I think they are no longer stocked.  The secondary 28v winding is used for the popper.  Its rated at 2 amps for 56v which is more than sufficient.  If you use a light dimmer a higher voltage transformer should be OK, just make sure you calibrate the max voltage out and restrict the dimmer knob from going past that point.
Solid state relay (SSR) 20 amp Mitsubishi SSR bought from oatley electronics for $11.
9 pin serial socket & cable Junk box
low voltage connector, IEC leads Molex power connector chopped off from old Hardisk drive.  IEC power cable from junk box.  I chose these parts as they are readily available for free so you can potentially modify a spare standby popper, or try making a corretto using a heat gun.
VA18 multimeter with USB interface From ebay user/shop multimeter_depot for $59.95USD.  This cryptic search URL on ebay might find a current listing for  it.


Knock sensor

Original Subaru

Auto sensors:

pidgin MSN certificate errors

For Ubuntu, fix below is quick and painless:

cd ~/.purple/certificates/x509/tls_peers

echo QUIT | openssl s_client -connect -showcerts | openssl x509 >

Quick hack to make fonts readable in xbmc

XBMC on Ubuntu is quick and painless to install and runs great.

If you are using a smaller tv/monitor, say 24", it can be a bit hard to read the text.

The script below will resize the fonts by a value of 8.

run as > Font.xml

Reparing Sunbeam EM6900/EM6910 button and LED panel



  • Two cup LED does not light
  • One cup button does not respond to input



Below is the the status of the board after being removed from the coffee machine.



Printing to Canon MX850 via network with Ubuntu

This wasnt actually all that hard.

Get network driver for Canon printers


Extract it

tar -xzvf cups-bjnp-0.5.3.tar.gz

Install CUPS development files

apt-get install libcups2-dev

Compile driver




>> cat

        # Move panels
        gconftool-2 --set /apps/panel/toplevels/panel_0/monitor --type=int 1
        gconftool-2 --set /apps/panel/toplevels/panel_1/monitor --type=int 1
        # Move virtualbox
        VBOX=`wmctrl -lG | egrep "winxp .* VirtualBox OSE" |   awk '{print $1}'`
        wmctrl -i -r $VBOX -e 0,1921,-1,-1,-1
        sh /home/nie/ docked

myth tv setup crash due to libx11-6

Running myttv-setup on a debian box was crashing with following error:

mythtv-setup: ../../src/xcb_lock.c:77: _XGetXCBBuffer: Assertion `((int) ((xcb_req) - (dpy->request)) >= 0)' failed.


Searching around found the solution at

Noisy clothes washer

If your washer ever makes a racket and starts to smell like burning rubber, this might be it:


What is it?

Its called a spider, and one of its legs is broken.  This caused the drum to lean to one side if the washing was out of balance towards the 2 intact legs, and eventually it scraped into the side of the outer drum and seal.

Luckily I was near by when this happened and was able to turn the washer off before it damaged any parts beyond serviceable.

Why did it break?

Caring for the environment :P

Installing solaris 10 from linux NFS server

My old Ultra 2 only has a CDROM drive, not a DVD drive.  It doesn't have an IDE bus, and SCSI DVD drives seem to be reasonably rare.

Solaris 10 comes on 7 CDs, and after booting off the first CD there is an option to install over the network for subsequent CDs.

Rather than mucking around burning a heap of CDs, I decided to give this a go.

I mounted the CD iso images under linux, and then exported the loopback mounted CD directories via nfs.

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