Ian Renton

Ian Renton

Software engineer and builder of robots
Bournemouth, UK

Hi! I'm Ian Renton. By day, I am a software and systems engineer in the naval defence industry, specialising in command & control of autonomous vehicles and communications networks. By night I build robots and web applications, and play with radios, alongside being a husband, father, cook and gardener.

Hardware and Robotics
A military tactical software display showing symbols representing boats and planes

Plane/Sailing

"Plane/Sailing" is my home aircraft and ship tracker. It receives ADS-B, AIS & APRS signals via antennas on my house, processes them to share with popular tracking websites, and displays the combined results on a website using military symbology.

The Raspberry Tank, a model Tiger tank shown with a camera and sensors fitted

Raspberry Tank

The Raspberry Tank was possibly the first tank-like robot powered by a Raspberry Pi, way back in 2012. It’s smartphone- or laptop-controlled, streams video from its webcam, fires plastic pellets and can navigate autonomously.

A quadcopter fitted with a Raspberry Pi, sat on grass

Quadcopter

Because the Raspberry Tank was confined to just the two boring dimensions, I built a quadcopter and put a Raspberry Pi on that too. It features live video streaming and is switchable between remote and autonomous control.

USV-01, a Raspberry Pi-controlled model boat

USV-01 “Harry Paye”

USV-01 “Harry Paye” is an off-the-shelf remote control boat refitted as a testbed for an autonomous navigation system, capable of speeds up to 40 knots.

All-Terrain Pi, a Raspberry Pi-controlled ATV toy

All-Terrain Pi

The All-Terrain Pi is a “off-road” remote control toy fitted with a Raspberry Pi, with live video streaming, controllable by touch/tilt input from a smartphone, and capable of running programs written in Scratch.

Lego Turtle, an Arduino-controlled Lego Mindstorms robot

Lego Turtle

The Lego Turtle is an Arduino microcontroller retro-fitted onto an old Lego Mindstorms kit. It features a built-in interpreter for simple Logo programs loaded via the serial port.

A Linx 1010B tablet running Ubuntu

Linux on Linx 1010B Tablet

A guide on how to install Linux, plus a few bonus operating systems, on the low-cost Linx 1010B Windows tablet.

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Software and Websites
A knife cutting into a roast chicken

Roast Dinner Timing Chart

Some Javascript magic to help you cook the perfect Sunday roast. Simply select your ingredients and a time to serve, and it will generate you a list of timed steps.

A table of Minecraft items and prices

Hypixel Skyblock Bazaar Flipping Calculator

A quick weekend project to help my kid make money in the Hypixel Skyblock Minecraft server, this has simple tool has rapidly become the most searched-for of all my software.

Blue and red stylised 2D boats shooting at each other

Sea Battle

A quick-and-dirty 2D RTS game inspired by the unit customisation mechanics of Warzone 2100.

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Blog

Weird Stuff from the Archives: ArmJoe

Over the years I have tried to preserve some of the weirdest software, videos etc I came into contact with, just in case someone years from now asks “hey, do you remember that…” and not only do I remember, I still have a copy. Today on “Weird Stuff from the Archives”: did you know there was a Les Miserables beat-em-up? (It’s what Victor Hugo would have wanted.) This is probably version 1.4 of the game, which dates to around 2006....

Ghost in the Machine: "Haunted WiFi" with Home Assistant

Since starting to play with Home Assistant, it’s consistently impressed me with just how many possible integrations it has. From the things you’d expect, like Google Home, Siri, and smart lights, to the unexpected, like cars and smoke detectors, to the downright strange—it warms my weird little heart that I now have the ability to turn on my bedroom lights using a VHF radio. And of course, it’s open source with open APIs, so you can code up any new...

A New Home Server Setup

In a move that feels almost heretical, given my history with the devices, I am moving away from using Raspberry Pi computers for my various “home server” projects. This has been driven in particular by a desire to tidy up the area of desk used for Plane/Sailing by powering all three RTL-SDR dongles straight from a PC, without the added hassle of a powered USB hub. Inspired by videos and posts I’ve seen online, I have switched out my Pis...

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Miscellaneous
A photo of the Red Arrows

Photography

A bunch of my best photos over the years.

A screenshot from the film 'Sharknado'

Film Reviews (by the Numbers)

By the combined powers of Netflix and cheap cider, the Saturday Night Shenanigans crew presents… largely incoherent mocking of films!