The PineTime (open-source hardware and software) smart watch strap fits with a 20 mm pin connector, which is a common standard fitting. However, not all 20 mm straps fit, because of the shape of the housing around it.

I bought a cheap silicone 20mm watch strap. Its ends were 20mm wide but too fat to fit in the PineTime. I sliced off some silicone with a sharp craft knife. Now it fits. Not perfectly beautiful but unobtrusive and neat enough.

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#PineTime #openHardware


As I wrote before, My smart watch is open source. Awesome!


Let's make this fun — for children in particular — and show how we can bend the device to our will because FOSS means it's truly ours, fully under our control.


This is how we explain to children the importance of software freedom!

Ada & Zangemann – A Tale of Software, Skateboards, and Raspberry Ice Cream

I've been waiting for this ever since I heard about it last year. Now available in the UK, I bought mine from Hive Books .

“In this hopeful story Ada and her friends join a movement that started back in 1983. Their courageous adventure of software freedom and learning how technology works is a wonderful way to introduce young people everywhere to the joys of tinkering!” —Zoë Kooyman, Executive Director, Free Software Foundation

How powerful! What great makers and engineers we can inspire! Let's get a copy into every library and every school!

UPDATE: Look! David Revoy, awesome software-freedom artist famous for Pepper&Carrot, drew this impression of Ada — great to print as a poster or (dimmed) as a screen wallpaper — creative-commons licensed CC-BY-SA. Hi-res downloads, licence, etc.

Grown-ups: read Cory Doctorow's book The Internet Con: How to Seize the Means of Computation (ebook, audiobook, USA); or from Hive (hardback, UK). “When the tech platforms promised a future of “connection,” they were lying. They said their “walled gardens” would keep us safe, but those were prison walls. The platforms locked us into their systems and made us easy pickings, ripe for extraction... Doctorow explains how to seize the means of computation, by forcing Silicon Valley to do the thing it fears most: interoperate.”

#awesomeFOSS #outreach #openEdTech #openHardware


In the series: Gadgets and Gifts that Respect Our Freedom

A smart soldering iron? An open-source-hardware soldering iron?

Yes! The Pinecil by Pine64.

The Pinecil — Smart Soldering Iron by Pine64

Designed by Pine64.

Pinecil-v2 reviews: at hackspace.raspberrypi.com, at tomshardware.com

Pinecil Accessories include a flexible heat-proof cable and sets of tips.

Would I Use It?

Since I was a teenager I have been using my father's trusty old 15W Antex Precision Model C soldering iron, which has gone through a couple of new tips back in the days when I was building a lot of circuits, and otherwise just keeps working.

Antex soldering iron

However, the old soldering iron's mains cable, very thin though it is, has become so hardened and springy that I have to pull against it to move the iron where I want it. And it heats up slowly so after plugging it in, and waiting for minutes before tinning it, I end up leaving it on, its tip smoking and charring, until clearing up time at the end of the project.

I would love a Pinecil, especially for its temperature regulation and for its quick heat-up, claimed as 6 seconds.

But the 32-bit microprocessor? The control buttons, the USB connector? I can't see it lasting 50 years. This would not be a purchase for lifetime reliability. This would be for fun, for utility, and for the sake of supporting open hardware design.

UPDATE 2023-2024: YES — Thanks to my father, I now have a Pinecil. It works well. I am very pleased with it.

#awesomeFOSS, #openHardware


“All I Want for Christmas is...” a device working as a tool for me, not as an agent for its maker

We love a new tech gadget. What will it be? It's all about “smart” these days, but when they say “smart” they usually mean “we're still in control of it”.

Learn how you can have a freedom-respecting

  • smart watch (full article)
    • ensuring You (and not They) are in control of your watch
  • smart phone (full article)
    • ensuring You (and not They) are in control of your personal communications
  • smart home (full article)
    • ensuring You (and not They) are in control of your IoT doorbell, lights, sockets, security cameras
  • or even a smart soldering iron (full article) or an open source hearing aid (like the Tympan)
    • because you can!

My smart watch is open source. Awesome!

PineTime from Pine64 (product | shop | wiki)


Automating our lights, security cameras, all the Things? We'll be needing some IoT Gadgets and a home automation system.

“Which brand? Amazon Alexa or Google or Apple HomeKit?”

NO! Big Tech makes technology that best serves Big Tech. We don't have to accept it, once we learn there's an alternative.

Time I Learned: our smart home can respect our freedom.