Blog 2021

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What we have been doing at Little House (or meetings online)

Previous years blogs are available from the Main Page

2021-01-12 Tuesday

  • IanB was in the Library at Strawberry Hill House, Teddington with the help of OBS software and his green screen
  • This led to discussion of on-screen digital trickery putting people together from different time periods, like Captain James T Kirk turning up in the Star Trek movie Generations, and another appearance when Kirk met the star ship captain in an episode of Deep Space Nine, and of course gatherings of various Doctor Who incarnations
  • Why not cool refrigerated lorries using a compressed air engine to pump the Freon, instead of using a diesel engine?
  • For that matter, aren't there better uses for the waste heat from power stations?
  • Brief discussion on the YouTube video describing a proposal to have public transport supported by lamp-posts, in Paris. It was agreed that turning corners would be impossible.
  • But there is a monorail suspended above a river in Germany (Wuppertal Schwebebahn) in which you get a mild swinging sensation as it travels, according to Jon who has travelled on it. If you were to fall off the platform, you would end up in the river.
  • Jon is about to dive in to the world of the Raspberry Pi, looking for assistance on which operating system to choose, and how to hook up HDMI, mini HDMI and SVGA connections. Peter H gave good advice.
  • PeterH re-demonstrated the Ballister, for Leo's benefit, as Leo had missed last week's event.
  • PeterH regretted that it's getting difficult to source small quantities of paint for modelling.
  • Leo described, with pictures, how there had been water coming through the ceiling at his office. Photos showed half the ceiling torn down, to track the source of the water. There had also been a good deal of water under the raised floor, keeping all the cables and services nicely wet. Lots of work to do, putting all this right.
  • This led Jon to remember an occasion when he was asked to move from his desk to give access to turn off the water. The guy then smashed open the plasterboard with a hammer, and sure enough there was a stopcock hidden in the wall.
  • For no good reason, this led on to discussion of the viaduct collapse at Nine Elms, nicely caught on video as most things are these days.
  • Anybody been watching the Americas Cup race? The technology is so good now, these hydrofoil sailboats can travel at 3 times the speed of the wind. But are useless if there's no wind at all. One race, in no-wind conditions, was shortened from 3 laps to 2 after it had started, in order to stand any chance of it finishing -at all.
  • Leo showed progress he had made on recognising different colour blocks for the next Pi Wars. He seemed to have that reasonably well sorted, subject to good lighting, but hasn't yet got anywhere with the gripper that will lift and stack these coloured blocks. Only 6 weeks to go, Leo!
  • Attendance tonight = 6

2021-01-12 Tuesday

  • PeterH has created a replica Radio Electronic Token Block, which is a radio communications based version of the former 'key' passing procedure used on trains passing through a single track two-directional section. What software people would call a 'semaphore' or 'Mutex'.
  • On request, PeterH demonstrated the Ballister which was clearly able to throw an object across a room.
  • MartinC got his mic working after a week or two of problems. He's built a 48V phantom power supply, and he now knows about 4-pole jack plugs (with TRRS connections). The noise-cancelling gismo acts as a USB headphone drive as well as a microphone interface. Martin didn't say how many stars he would award, but it sounded not far short of 5.
  • MartinC has also got his 3D printer back up and running. He's driving it direct from a computer now instead of relying on an SD card.
  • IanB said he was working on a motor for opening and closing a window blind, but had no work-in-progress to show and tell.
  • IanB spoke about his hobby of challenging parking tickets on technical grounds, and went into a lot of unnecessary detail on his current dispute which has reached an appeal to the London Tribunal.
  • Garret related a parking ticket tale of his own, involving photographic evidence and the regular display of incompetence by the local parking authority. It ran for almost a year, and had a good ending where no money was paid.
  • Someone (sorry I don't remember who but it might have been PeterH) recommended StreamDeck, or was it software that simulated StreamDeck without the cost of the hardware? Anyway, the main thing is that you can put this software on a tablet and get it to generate macro keyboard sequences into a different computer.
  • Jon still has no solution for the (Lenovo) laptop with lost USB/bluetooth. After the reputation of Lenovo was ground into dust, PeterH offered a possible solution using a Raspberry Pi on the same local network. This would employ Internet Connection Sharing, so a mouse on the Pi could send control codes to the errant laptop. Jon will look into it.
  • And that was more or less that.
  • Attendance tonight = 6

2021-01-05 Tuesday

  • Plans for the zombie apocalypse
  • Clipping 9v batteries together
  • Jigsaw
  • Leaves on track
  • Slippery train at Shepperton
  • Whale train in Holland
  • Flask safety testing
  • Worst train crashes
    • Harrow & Wealdstone
    • West Coast Main Line
  • How to remove the LT roundel from an underground station
  • Terry Pratchett
    • The amazing Maurice and his educated rodents
    • Cohen the Barbarian and his silver hoard
    • The last Hero
  • Arecibo collapse
  • Hammersmith Bridge
  • Attendance tonight = 6