Monthly Archives: February 2017

ESP8266 Basic

For a while now I have been working with a couple of ESP8266 wireless modules. These devices are pretty nifty and allow for some interesting projects with both Raspberry Pi and Arduino. The biggest actual hurdle is leaning to program them properly and use AT commands to configure them. I found this a bit odious until I discovered ESP8622 Basic, a firmware update that lets you program them using the Basic programming language and a web page interface. The guy who wrote the firmware is a Windows user and does not really have any instructions for flashing the firmware if you use Linux. Through trial and error I figured it out and want to document it for the ages. I use Ubuntu 16.04, so the instructions will be specifically for that, however adapting them to another distro should not be tough. I am using a NodeMCU ESP8266, I like them because they have a built in USB interface and have GPIO pins to make it easier to attach LED’s and sensors. The first thing to do is to plug it in to your computer, there is no need for drivers, it should be recognized instantly and attached to /dev/ttyUSB0, if you have more than one hooked up, the port may end up being different. But once that is done, open a terminal and move on to the next step.

First we need to get the dependencies:

sudo apt-get install python-serial git

Next we need the flashing tool

git clone

cd esptool

Download the ESP8622 Basic firmware:


Then we flash the new firmware:

sudo python –port /dev/ttyUSB0 write_flash 0x00000 ESP8266Basic.cpp.bin

Finally you can connect to the device and start programming it by connecting to the ESP network which should be listed as an available wireless network, then point your web browser to and you should be off and running.


ESP8266 BASIC Sets Up a Web Remote in No Time

Basically, It’s an ESP8266



Welcome to Bronzehelm

Last Friday night we started a new D&D campaign. We have started playing 5th edition and we are using our old Caldoom setting. The basis of the campaign is the PC’s are rookie members of the Bronzehelm City Watch and for added fun, they are on the Night Watch. The first game I designed strictly as an introduction to Bronzehelm for those who had never played in Caldoom before. I took them to the Black Shark Inn and introduced them to the local head in a jar Lilly and then sent them hunting orcs in the city dump. Getting use to the system and the various idiosyncrasies of the character sheets was a bit bumpy, but by the end of combat I think things had smoothed out. All in all I thought the game was fun.

MTG Deck Building 102

The next part of learning to build decks is learning the basic deck archetypes, each deck type gives you a place to start, a basic strategy to follow and at least one victory condition. There are three general Archetypes, but each deck type generally also has a couple of sub types.

Aggro: This is the easiest deck type to build and play. The idea here is to aggressively attack your opponent with creatures and hit him with as much direct damage as possible, without regard for anything else on the board. Sub types are Weenie decks, which field massive numbers of small cheap creatures, Ramp decks, which build the mana base and field large creatures quickly and burn decks that rely on direct damage to win.

Control: Control decks seek to deny your opponent the ability to play his deck. This can be done in many ways, the common ways of doing this are counter spells, force opponent to discard cards out of his hand and removal of permanents he already has in play. A common sub type of this deck is the Lock Deck which does not actively remove threats from the board, but rather keeps your opponent from using them at all.

Combo: This deck relies on one or more combination of cards to win the game. On of the earliest combo decks was Lure/Basilisk, Basilisk destroyed all creatures that blocked it or was blocked by it, lure forced all creatures that could to block it when it attacked. Nice easy creature sweep if you could pull it off. More recently the Pro Tour has been over run with Saheeli Rai/Felidar Guardian which essentially lets you produce infinite copies of Felidar Guardian and attack for 10,000,000 damage.

I generally tell new players to start with an aggro deck, preferably a weenie deck of some kind with 20-24 small cheap creatures augmented by 16-20 spells that either do direct damage or pump up the creatures on the battle field. These decks are depend on common easy to get cards, cheap to assemble, have very few bad match ups and are easy to play. A decently constructed aggro deck can win simply by over running your opponent early in the game, although they tend to peter out in the end game. The Sky Pirate deck I posted a few days ago is a modest example of an aggro deck.