An alternative to DynDNS and the like.

For the less technical

(Skip ahead if you already know the basics) DNS (Domain Name System) is a method of taking a computer and giving it a name on the web. For example our domain is I might have a laptop which I’ve called Manfred. To access it from anywhere in the world we’d like to type maybe in a web browser to access web software on manfred. comes to this website, but connects to the hypothetical computer called manfred. For technical reasons when the computer is on your home network you need something called dynamic host resolution to make this happen.

For the more technical

Sniffing around Bind9 trying to make my own dynamic DNS service I realised that Bind9 has a service called NSupdate. I’m not sure if it was there in the early naughties when I was setting up mail and DNS servers, but it’s here now. So the scripts I wrote are minimal and there’s no more hand editing of the zone files. Fantastic!! Especially if you’ve a server with a static IP address already. Nice one Bind9. The O’reillys books are still good for giving an overview of how it all works for those interested in giving it a crack.

NextCloud –> Go you good thing!!

I have to say, I’m impressed so far. A few weeks ago I installed NextCloud server on a Raspberry Pi 3b. So far it is working very solidly.  The Android apps and the website interface work very well and are highly polished. The OS X client is very smooth and the Linux Mate client is nearly as good as the OS X one. It’s only missing the little green / blue dot icons in the Caja file browser to notify of synchronisation. It’ll take some months to make a true assessment of NextCloud, but I am fairly confident it will keep out stripping my expectations.

For instance, I wanted to make a standard network share for our client. I was going to set up Samba (windows file sharing on Linux servers). Samba works well. I’ve used it for years. It was to point to the same NextCloud share. However there was no need to set up Samba as NextCloud uses a protocol (communication language) called DAV. Simply create a


share and ShaBang!!! you’re in.

There are similar setups for the other OS’s here which I’ve not tested yet.

The security system seem good and you can make it as hard as you want. Even to the point of using two factor authentication using SMS. How nice it that?

Why did I install it on a Raspberry Pi and not a more powerful solid server or a VPS?

  1.  The client does not add a lot of data per day
  2. The Pi uses less than 2 watts of energy (+ hard drive power)
  3. It’s not a huge expense to make a replicated mirrored backup server with automatic fall over protection.
  4. Having it onsite means the client knows physically where their data is at all times.
  5. Using Bind9 with NSupdate makes it possible from any internet connection, so why not.

It just makes sense. Most data conscious companies and business owners I speak to just want to control their own data. The phrase “just stick it in the Cloud…” is too ambiguous for them. Even though there are so many advantages to the technology of Cloud based systems, they still feel unsettled knowing that the core of their business is reliant on some other data company being reliable. Now systems like NextCloud are possibly giving an alternative way to using this tech.



Diagnose, resolve, reload. #01

Here we have a Dell Alienware computer which had all sorts of windowing issues. The text was disappearing under icons, strange occurrences on clicking, screen inconsistencies.

One of the drives in a dual array of drives had a major error. The array was disabled and Windows reinstalled on the internal SSD drive. The second mechanical drive was used for storage and because this job was done at short notice the second hard drive was just left in place to be replaced at a later date.

PiPhone update

Well it seems that the PiPhone premade project was all good to go on a Pi2 with an older version of Raspbian , but it has issues with:
a) Raspbian Stretch and
b) the Pi3b.

The touch screen doesn’t want to work on a Pi 1 A or the Pi3b. Adafruit and another friends in the know have said it’s a bit of a challenging one to get going quickly.

Just for the moment I thought I’d just get 3G going using a Pi3b as a router using NAT. That works fine. Whilst it’s doing that phone calls come in, but I can’t pick the calls up as the 3G data connection blocks the serial.

At this point it looks like I could play with hardware flow control on RTSin pin. There is also an other option for software flow control somewhere in the manual.

RaspberryPi 3G router using the Optus / Vodafone network and a standard SIM in Australia

RaspberryPi to Fona tethering via a serial connection. It works on an Australian 3G  network using a standard Amaysim SIM card from a mobile phone.

Use this tutorial at Adafruit to set up the tethering.

Use this tutorial to turn the Pi into a router using a DHCP server and NAT.  I’ve just made it a cat5 router as in this situation I don’t need wifi, but the tutorial shows how to add a wifi port to the Pi. It’s just a matter of using
to check your port names and then choosing the right ones. For example using eth0 and ppp0 instead of wlan0 and eth0 for your inbound and outbound ports in the firewall rules.

To make it all work on boot you may want to add
pon fona
to the end of

Windows 7 & Adafruit Simcom 5320E 3G modem for the Optus / Vodafone Amaysim network – Australia

The drivers for Win 7 were already there, so I thought let’s just test that first and see if I can get a ppp tethered connection through the USB/serial connection. (There appears to be Linux drivers and Mac OSX driver are not available at this stage)

It took a bit more messing around than I thought, but it worked.

My SIM card is an normal Amaysim 3G / 4G LTE chip you’d stick in any Australian smart phone.

  1. Install Windows 7. The example here is on a VM using Parallels.
  2. Connect the Adafruit Fona via the USB cable, insert the SIM, plug in the UFL 3G antenna and the 3.7v battery.
  3. If your computer doesn’t see the USB connection, you may have to press the power button.
  4. Install the Windows 7 drivers from the Adafruit site
    1. Driver install tutorial here
    2. Simcom 5320 USB drivers
  5. Download Putty
  6. Right click start –> Open windows explorer –> Right click ‘Computer’ –> Click Manage.
  7. Under ‘Device Manager’ you’ll see the COM ports under ‘Modem’ and ‘Ports (COM & LPT)’.
  8. Right click on ‘SimTech HS-USB Modem 9000’ –> Properties –> Under the ‘Modems’ tab and you’ll see the COM port
  9. .
  10. Open Putty –> Enter the modem COM port and Speed (115200 will do)
  11. .
  12. Open a terminal and type
    So you can see what you’re typing.
  13. We need to set the APN from within the modem using terminal as windows doesn’t allow it. I am using Amaysim Australia. A quick check of my GoogleBrain for Amaysims APN says it’s”yesinternet”
  14. AT+CGDCONT=1,”IP”,”yesinternet”,””,0,0
  15. To check your settings type
  16. Close the terminal window.
  17. Right click start –> Windows Explorer –> Right click network –> Properties –> Setup a new connection or network –> Yes, I’ll chose an existing connection –> Chose the SimTech HS-USB Modem –> Properties –> Under the ‘Security ‘ tab select CHAP authentication (for Amaysim) –> No Username or Password –> Dial *99# –>

  18. Open a web browser and away you go. Remember it’s Windows so you’ll need an Antivirus system as per usual.

Keywords: tutorial, howto, how to,

Too easy!!! Adafruit SIM5320E dials and connects a voice call.

Shervin and I plugged the battery, antennas and earphones into the board. Connected the USB cable to a window7 machine. Installed the drivers from the Adafruit site. Connected through serial using putty.exe and Shabang!! It dialed a voice call successfully using the earplugs. The call was as clear as crystal… We didn’t expect it to be that easy. Wow!



3G Simcom – SIM5320E mobile phone board –

3G antenna –

GPS antenna –

3.7V 1S Lipo battery –

Microphone –

Speaker –

Capacitive Touch screen

The original Adafruit howto –

We ran Win7 in a VM using Parallels on Mac OS 10.10.