European Space Agency ETV-5 approaches the ISS

Hugh Brown, VA7UNX

What Happened in September 2022 calendar Oct 6, 2022

Web development:

  • I’ve become interested in web development recently, and have begun working on a habit-tracking project called, unoriginally, Habit. Currently it’s a good exercise for becoming familiar with Javascript, Jquery, Bootstrap, Flask and SQLAlchemy.

Hardware hacking:

  • I ordered a bunch of AI-Thinker ESP32 camera modules from Universal Solder (Canadian vendor of Arduino, ESP32, electronic components, etc; I’m a happy customer & recommend them thoroughly). Started digging into how to make it into a timelapse camera.


  • I signed up for a free account with [The SDF Public Access UNIX System][3]. I’ve got a totes-real homepage at [][4], just like the old days.

[2]: The SDF Public Access UNIX System [3]: [4]:

What Happened in August 2022 calendar Sep 9, 2022

Hardware hacking:

  • I ordered a bunch of AI-Thinker ESP32 camera modules from Universal Solder (Canadian vendor of Arduino, ESP32, electronic components, etc; I’m a happy customer & recommend them thoroughly). Started playing around with them.

  • Some work on the electronic windvane.

  • Add a photocell to the office weather station so I could begin to track light levels.

Climate emergency:

Data science/mapping:


  • I resigned as a Core Contributor of the Libre Space Foundation and the Polaris project. It’s been wonderful to work with these folks, and I wish everyone the best, but it’s time for me to move on.
What Happened in July 2022 calendar Aug 2, 2022

Road trip to Ontario in an EV with my family to visit my parents. Wonderful time.

What Happened in June 2022 calendar Jul 1, 2022

Hardware hacking:

  • Play with EdgeImpulse, an esp32 and an mpu6050; collect gesture data.

  • Got idea to use the mpu6050 for a seismometer; tried logging with MicroPython, and managed to get surprisingly interesting data.

  • Began working on an Arduino-powered weather vane project; fired up 3D printer for first time in a while.

  • Played with ThunderSense and got Bluetooth packets captured with Python.

What Happened in May 2022 calendar Jun 1, 2022

Hardware hacking:

  • More playing with ESP32. Try making an open-window detector with the built-in Hall effect sensor, and sending a Grafana annotation when it’s open.


  • Refactor my .emacs files to use a lisp directory, and switch to use-package rather than Cask. This is easily the longest-running project I’ve been working on:
commit 85b1d148afdc135d725498c0384d58e7baa0866d
Author: Hugh Brown <hugh@chibi-laptop-01.(none)>
Date:   Tue Mar 3 21:13:57 2009 -0800

    New repo.

…and that commit came after declaring bankruptcy in the last one.

Data science:

What Happened in April 2022 calendar May 1, 2022

Machine learning

  • Tried out vgg16 as a feature finder for the birdhouse camera, and xgboost as a classifier; 86% accuracy, which isn’t bad.

  • Set up BirdNET-Pi at home – very interesting project

Hardware hacking

  • Try setting up an MQ135 sensor prototype board and hooking it up to a Pi. Mixed results; seemed to show 403PPM, which is at least in the general neighbourhood. But it seems fussy, and takes a lot of warmup time.

  • Ordered some ESP32 chips to play with – Lolin32 Lite from Universal Solder (I’m a very happy customer of theirs). Took a while to get going, but this was mainly because I didn’t realize the USB cables I was trying it with were charging-only – or even that that was a thing. Got MicroPythong going, and wow – wifi set up right away, and with a decent range on it too. Amazing. Played with MicroDot, a web framework in MicroPython that works on ESP32. 🤯🤯🤯

Natural history

What Happened in March 2022 calendar Apr 3, 2022

No ML/DS work this month. But I am beginning to get interested in microscopy, so…

Hardware hacking

What Happened in February 2022 calendar Apr 3, 2022

I turned 50 in February. Two months later, I’m still confused by this. Was still recovering from COVID.

Hardware hacking

  • Started work on a birdhouse camera with my father-in-law. He built the birdhouse in December; this month we finally started working on putting together the camera part. There are two in here: an infrared camera and an endoscope for visual light. I put together a little circuit board with 6 500mW IR LEDs to act as illumination.

Home sysadmin

  • My little home machine is a Zotac ZBOX CI320 nano purchased in 2015. It’s great – small, unobtrusive, passively cooled and enough for everything I need…except that the 4GB of memory it has, which felt so decadent, is starting to be a constraint. I blame InfluxDB. Anyhow, ordered some more RAM only to realize I’d ordered the wrong size. Made up for it by adding a swap file. Ask your parents, kids.

Climate emergency

  • Met with my MLA, Judy Darcy, again about climate change; she got us some time with MLA George Heyman, BC’s Minister of the Environment as well. I’m grateful to both for their time.
What Happened in January 2022 calendar Apr 3, 2022

Welp…this took a long time to write up. In my defense, I got COVID in January and that sort of threw me off for a couple months. But it’s also just taken me a while to get back to it. Anyhow, onward!

Machine learning/data science

  • I submitted my entry to the Data Driven Cloud Cover Competition! Aaaaand…my score was terrible. However, I got a lot of practice out of this, and it was valuable for that. I intended to go back and figure out exactly why my scores were so abysmal, but got derailed (see first paragraph). But I think that for whatever reason, my GAN was just not working at all. I need to get more practice with this technique.

  • Some volunteer work for a local environmental society to demonstrate how to use Pandas for graphing.

Climate emergency

  • More letters to politicians. Did not make every week, but I’m cutting myself some slack here.
What Happened in 2021: Year End Review Edition calendar Apr 3, 2022

What happened in 2021? Time to look back.

  • We got an EV! It’s a Kia Soul, and I love it.

  • Started writing in here semi-regularly. 💪

  • Expanded the weather station: precipitation meter, anemometer, soil temp, particulate matter sensors.

  • Recorded a talk for PyCascades!

  • Much work on machine learning and data science: the dishwasher loading critic, some Kaggle courses, mapping New Westminster trees.

  • A lot of work on Polaris: telemetry analyses, supervising our third co-op student, and a proposal to run code on an ESA satellite (sadly, denied).

  • Radio took a bit of a backseat by the end of the year.

  • I was asked to be an advisor for ALEASAT, and that was wonderful.

  • The heat wave scared me, and I turned that into a focus on climate activism. Small steps, but I’m taking them. Met with my MLA in November to discuss climate change. I think of this as being the start of about 30 years of work.

  • Total distance walked since getting my latest phone in January 2018: 8,664 km. Daily average distance in 2021 was 7.2 km, up from last year (6.4 km).

  • Got more into birdwatching, phenology and natural history. Lots of data taking, which I enjoy.

  • Bird feeder camera with ML to recognize the birds. Does a fairly crappy job of picking out species but a good job of detecting birds.

  • Entered a couple of ML contests – no wins, but that’s expected; it’s the practice I’m after.

  • At work: joined a new team which has a definite data science focus. Learning a lot.

I’m leaving out all the incredibly important time with my family; this isn’t the venue I choose to record that in.