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

2021-09-14 Tuesday

  • Hi to Jack who came to look round. He's interested in 3D print and knows about electric bikes.
  • John M gets on with metalwork for the cooker.
RML at Ham Fair
  • Kathryn is developing ideas and designs for sunglasses. IanB gave her an introduction to 3D modelling using OnShape.
  • David laser cut a ply box with interlocking tab joints. Went mostly to plan. Next stage might be scanning an image.
  • Alan had cleaned up his standing steam engine. It just needed one steam pipe to be soldered. This he did with flux, solder and a powerful blowtorch. To test his work, he filled the boiler, lit a fire and got a head of steam. The whistle sounded and the wheel turned. The solder joint clearly had been successful.
  • Raphael had previously 3D printed a chamber to mix butane gas with air, to create a rocket engine. In true Maker tradition, he tried it out with actual butane gas, compressed air and a flame. Amazingly, it worked very well. Because of the pressure of the mixed gases, the ignition point was about 2cm beyond the 3D printed nozzle. The plastic didn't melt and there was a fine fiery display.

2021-09-11 Saturday

RML at Ham Fair
  • The day of Ham Fair!
  • Five volunteers collected exhibits and a gazebo, first thing in the morning
  • By 11.00am everything was set up and ready to go.
  • Members of RML spoke to passers-by and informed them about what we do
  • At 4.00pm it was time to take it all down and put it away until next year.
  • Total number of helpers = 10

2021-09-07 Tuesday

  • John M continued to make progress with the cooker
  • Hi to Daija and Frieda. They brought in a coffee grinder that turned out to need a new electric motor, and they took apart a radio-CD player that had stopped working. That proved to be too difficult to fix, and the parts will be either re-used or recycled.
  • William came to do some soldering. He successfully replaced a surface-mount electrolytic capacitor on a circuit board. Later, the capacitor he removed was measured on a piece of test equipment and was confirmed to be faulty.
  • Ian B did a bit of laser cutting
  • Attendance tonight = 4

2021-08-31 Tuesday

  • Tom used the FlashForge 3D printer to test-print mountings for miniature motors. He got some good results
  • Raphael tested the coaxial swirl fuel injector, printed last week on the Zombie. It seemed to look very promising
  • Kathryn is designing glasses frames which will be produced on the laser cutter.
  • John used the metal bender to make folds in sheets of steel. What is sorely needed is a much stronger support for the bender. But some folds were produced.
  • David brought in a file in .dxf format and successfully cut out the faces of a box from a ply sheet, using the laser cutter.
  • Hello to Mike who is visiting the UK from Hong Kong. He's heavily involved in the Maker movement over there in HK, and he's been interested to see the nuts and bolts of Richmond MakerLabs.
  • Attendance tonight = 6

2021-08-24 Tuesday

  • John M brought in some metal sheets. Now he needs to use the metal bender.
  • Andris used the Zombie printer and ended up with two parts of a case for a R-Pi camera with IR illumination
  • Alan B needs to repair his own 3D printer, but we didn't have the necessary part. He also looked at a steam-powered standing engine in need of renovation.
  • David N is going to laser-cut a wooden box from a sheet of ply which he has. The original design is on Tinkercad which outputs a file in .svg format. Conversion to .dxf seemed to end up with a blank file. To be continued next week.
  • David H came for a look round, interested to see computer controlled machines. He has a model helicopter that needs a bit of help.
  • Raphael's large 3D print from last week didn't come out too well. there was a shift in the x-axis during the print. He decided to re-print a smaller object, and did a bit more on the solid fuel rocket under construction.
  • Attendance tonight = 6

2021-08-17 Tuesday

  • Kathryn tried out some shapes for laser cutting in acrylic
  • Garret made progress with the Pico Pi for one project and a battery charger for the other project
  • Raphael started two 3D prints. He also set up a motor holder for a solid-fuel rocket and examined a mechanical fault on an air-rifle -decided it was best left to an expert.
  • IanB tested a new nozzle for the FlashForge 3D printer. It seemed a lot more reliable that the previous nozzle.
  • Attendance tonight = 5

2021-08-10 Tuesday

  • Martin L borrowed a metal bender
  • Raphael started a new 3D print for his compressor, and fitted fins to his solid-fuel rocket
  • John M continued to make progress with the cooking stove.
  • Hello to Michael who dropped in to see what we do. Hope you will return soon.
  • Also, hi to Andris. He is a Python coder and wanted to make a mounting for a R-Pi camera and IR LEDs.
  • Andris got familiar with the Zombie printer and next week will make the product.
  • Garret successfully soldered pins to a Raspberry Pico.
  • Attendance tonight = 6

2021-08-03 Tuesday

  • Colin brought in a table that needed fixing. He fixed it.
  • John assembled a Dexion frame for the cooker he's prototyping.
  • We had a donation of photo quality inkjet paper, a kindle and a non-medical endoscope. In the process we refused the kind donation of computer parts that wouldn't have been much use to us
  • Kathryn planned a laser-cut job for making casts for silver mounts for stones.
  • Garret got started with his sound board and found a treasure trove of BBC sound effects online
  • Raphael would have sharpened an axe on the grinding wheel, but consultation with Andy H (who knows about these things) warned him off. The grinding wheel is too narrow for an axe, and you need to follow up with sharpening stones that we don't have. Raphael instead spent some time doing a mobile phone repair. It would have been good to be able to offer some advice but there was no-one who knew what to advise.
  • Attendance tonight = 6

2021-07-27 Tuesday

  • Tom got on with more 3d printing, produced two pieces successfully on the newly refurbished Zombie Printer.
  • Raphael brought along a fan and a phone. Opened up the phone and spent quite a time on the repair. Discussed the fan. A plastic piece has broken, probably can be fixed with the right glue.
  • Garret worked on the Pico Pi. He's moving on from LED flashing to moving a servo. Garret also is planning to do things with an Adafruit Audio Fx Sound Board
  • Welcome to William Y who came to have a look round and get the measure of us. He will be back.
  • John M started to firm up on the carbon-powered cooker project, and discovered Dexion for making prototypes.
  • Attendance tonight = 6

2021-07-20 Tuesday

  • John M discussed a plan for a low-cost cooking stove. To be continued...
  • Kathryn has lots of ideas for crafting. The laser cutter inspired a method of producing mounts for stones and crystals. Also thinking of ways the 3D printer could feature in a casting process
  • Garret looked again at the 6-wheel truck, and introduced a friend -William, who might be back
  • Tom brought an .stl file to print a part for a radio-controlled flying machine. The 3D printer took the whole evening to get started, and a 3-hour print was left running overnight as we often do. The print came out fine.
  • Happily the zombie printer has returned and this time it's in very good order. We will have two reliable printers now, and a possible third one soon. That's more than enough.
  • Attendance tonight = 6

2021-07-13 Tuesday

  • Garret made some progress with the 6-wheel buggy and got the wheels turning at top speed.
  • Hi to Hugo. He brought some headphones to repair. Got them apart but the fault couldn't be found
  • Sven made a first visit here. He had brought some files of shapes that needed to be accurately cut out. Sven was shown how to use the laser cutter and eventually he produced the shapes (in card) that he had planned.
  • Raphael brought three .stl files for creating a 3D printed air compressor. He got the first one under way, it seemed to be going fine, but was still printing at the end of the evening. Raphael was on the lookout for a motor to drive the compressor. He also repaired some LED string lights by careful soldering.
  • Attendance tonight = 5

2021-07-06 Tuesday

  • Hi to Raphael & Alfia, with an interest in 3D printing, how things work, and rocketry
  • Also Hi to Mo. In 5 or 10 minutes coaching, Mo had picked up OpenSCAD and was developing custom enclosures for electronics.
  • And hello to Geff, who came to see what we do and will be back soon.
  • Garret started to assemble a 6-wheel motorised vehicle which is destined to become an autonomous garden rover. It has a way to go before reaching its destiny. It could be an opportunity for other RML regulars to contribute technical advice and expertise.
  • IanB got started with a Pico Pi and achieved "Hello, World" in micro python. He got no further with it.
  • Attendance tonight = 6

2021-06-29 Tuesday

  • IanB is prototyping a marble game to show in the Ham Fair in September
  • MartinL was musing over using a spring to store kinetic energy from a bicycle
  • Garret is beginning to build a marble run -starting with lengths of straight wire
  • Catherine from HUG looked in to see us and offer help with getting us better known on social media

Attendance tonight = 4

2021-06-22 Tuesday

  • A real physical meeting at Little House, after more than one year!
  • PetrC took a look at our newest 3D printer and produced a couple of test pieces
  • MartinL took apart a couple of shock absorbers with spanners and an angle grinder
  • Garret tested a Pi Pico and thought about a new Marble Run.
  • Welcome to Alan and David who came for a look round and possibly mend a radio
  • Attendance tonight = 6

2021-06-08 Tuesday

  • Wireless mouse, battery powered, some types sleep after a time if not moved
  • The exhibition at the old Fulham Town Hall
  • Amazon Fire tablet as a handy bedside screen
  • Dennis Severs House in Spitalfields
  • Pink chickens eggs, flamingo eggs. (How did we get on to that??)
  • Joe Rush in a fake German U-Boat in the Grand Union Canal
  • Ian W described the essential workings of superheterodyne radio
  • Amazon has made a stealth network from its IOT devices
  • Next week will be the last online meet before we return to in-person meetings at Little House
  • IanW asked whether we could stream from Little House on Tuesday evenings
  • Attendance tonight = 4

2021-06-01 Tuesday

  • PaulB joined us with yet another T-shirt and slogan
  • We discussed the wind-powered Blackbird land yacht (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyQwgBAaBag&t=42s) which travels at almost three times the speed of the wind
  • Discussion of films on Netflix and Prime
  • Attendance tonight = 3

2021-05-25 Tuesday

  • IanB back from Cornwall
  • Robot lawnmower needs non-mechanical repair
  • Success or otherwise of home-made sauerkraut
  • A prototype electric Isetta may be in need of wheels
  • The same electric vehicle is looking for a place for a photoshoot
  • The world shortage of silicon chips
  • Bitcoin miners
  • Something about the heat given off by a hard-working processor could be used to keep your coffee warm
  • Attendance tonight = 5

2021-05-18 Tuesday

  • Garret had released a stuck washing machine door and attempted home fermented sauerkraut but hadn't dared taste it.
  • Ian B. who hadn't been there the previous week wasn't there again this week. It must have been quite a birthday party!
  • Ian M. waxed repulsively lyrical on techniques of sabotaging port-a-loos. Garret had to break out the sal volatile.
  • After all had recovered and Ian was taken off mute and we had a surprise visitor.
  • Elon Musk dropped in and gave us an exclusive preview of his new project but we had to agree to non disclosure so we can say no more than it looks very exciting. You should have been there!
  • Ian M. said that he'd been working on a time machine mainly using equipment he'd bought at the Maplin closing down sale. Unfortunately the Tipler cylinders hadn't been up to scratch. [It is held on some circles that it can only be done with just one Tipler cylinder, but it has to be infinitely long. Even in its heyday, Maplin didn't stock the infinite ones.] The display of four dimensional electroluminescence was absolutely staggering though. Alas, today's chip based cameras, as of course you all know only too well, can't capture this, so you'll just have to take our word as to how wonderful it was.
  • Garret was working on a prototype weather machine which he hoped wold be working on or around the 29th of May.
  • You see, this is what happens when you don't turn up and leave us alone in the virtual lab!
  • Just be thankful Maplin never sold nuclear reactors.
  • Attendance tonight = 47 (mind you, only two were real, and I'm none too sure about the other one.)

2021-05-11 Tuesday

  • Ian M. held forth on tricks to improve Lidl's £1.69 (or possibly less) moules-in-a-bag with such aplomb and didacticism that, coiffure aside, he could have been mistaken for a reincarnation of the late Fanny Craddock. Mind you, the illusion was a little spoiled when he finished by saying that he isn't actually a cook. Too bad. Another YouTube sensation nipped in the bud.
  • The topic then moved on to the practicality of running ADSL via a barbed wire fence. You -know-who insisted this is quite practical.
  • Apparently there are no copper telephone lines in Midenhall (spelling?), or somewhere.
  • Ian M. also informed us of his having discovered (years ago) that his family phone line was giving off a disconcertingly large amount of radio frequency (RF) which he attributed to the resident of the property upstairs being of great interest to the authorities. Connecting the older type of telephone to a current oscillating at RF was a method of bypassing the 'receiver down' switch as the RF jumped the gap and noise from the room that the phone was in was broadcast to nearby bug-ers.
  • It was pointed out (again) that Ian M., for a person that appears techy, has a remarkably slow internet connection. He insisted that his computer certainly didn't need more coal on the boiler, but did admit that he might be shortly be popping down to his vegetable cellar to get a couple more turnips to dangle in front of the pig that was turning the crank.
  • Garret had fixed his watch, which stopped working when he had taken it apart at the previous meeting urged on by members there gathered. A tiny piece of foam rubber between the battery and watch back had held the battery in place and done the trick. Rob of the high voltage capacitors said something positive. Ian M. didn't.
  • A video was shown of London Buses on a skid pad. Those were the days!
  • We discussed the The Underground Railway Museum Acton Depot.
  • Lidl stories.
  • Check-out and cash register stories.
  • Time for bed.
  • This is comedy gold you know. I'm wasted on here.
  • Attendance tonight = √9

2021-05-04 Tuesday

  • Garret took a look at OBS
  • We discovered that Jitsi has a feature for adding a background
  • Pan psychism (it says in my notes. Don't remember what that was about)
  • Good to have Rob join us again. He's getting a pacemaker. Might have to cut back on his experiments with high voltage generators.
  • Question: How to show a web page on OBS
  • New phone: Samsung Galaxy or iPhone?
  • Looking for a video editor with enough control to select a single frame for cutting on
    • Cyberlink Power Director 18 was recommended (£60-100)
    • It even does 360 degree videos
  • Garret took the back off his watch to see why it stops sometimes. The consensus opinion was poor battery contacts.
  • It is said that the fish in the sea near Japan are all affected by radiation
  • A neurologist claims a connection between C.Difficile and Alzheimer's
  • There's an ingenious device that cuts off the top of a boiled egg. But it needs repair.
  • Garret has a custom-made shoe-liner. Would like to made some more, using a 3D printer. Why not
  • Attendance tonight = 3

2021-04-27 Tuesday

  • Most participants brought food with them to eat during the opening of this week's meet
  • Antigen test -Garret had his, IanB was about to get one
  • The plunger that is used to set off explosives -much loved by cartoon characters. It's a generator, activated by the pushing of the control rod. This means there's no electricity to set off the charges until you need it, it's not battery dependent and suitable for use in remote places where there's no easy access to a wall socket.
  • Lidl in Putney got a mention, but I can't remember why
  • Lithium batteries marked 3V, might measure anything from 2.9 to 3.2 Volts.
  • Rule 34 - A cartoon by Peter Morley-Souter. It still applies.
  • Attendance tonight = 4

2021-04-20 Tuesday

  • Leo has access to Mexican TV
  • We watched Battlebots streamed from Mexico
  • A story about Pimlico Plumbers
  • Garret had assembled, from a kit, a box for a magic trick
  • G. had ordered a miniature penknife. It's so small that the word tiny hardly applies to it. This led to discussion of how to make a miniature survival kit.
  • Paul G spoke of Svalbard, something changed its name, it's ex-Norwegian, not Swedish. If that makes no sense, someone please edit this line. My notes make even less sense. Click the link for info. It is home to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, although we may not have been talking about that.
  • There's a SpaceX launch coming up soon. Leo will be watching
  • Paul G uses DocuWiki to set up a wiki for radio club
  • Paul's phone has an option to call networks on a private PBX, using FreePBX
  • Leo's work phone uses FreePBX, and it hasn't been updated since 1989
  • Mention of Lenny the voice bot
  • Attendance tonight = 5

2021-04-13 Tuesday

  • Ektachrome is no more. However, there is RA-4 colour reversal paper. Anyone about to give it a try?
  • Garret reminisced about his email contact with Tim Hunkin in 2007
  • Recipe for mussels and other culinary recommendations
  • When did the French start eating horse meat? Some suggestions that it was the end of the 1st World War, when horses were plentiful, but in fact it all kicked off in 1870, the Siege of Paris.
  • How to get motors for making similar devices to those by Tim Hunkin.
  • Ideas for shooting down drones in order to harvest their motors.
  • The last day of the Henley Regatta involves a night-time parade of illuminated boats. Garret thought about a neon display representing a fish jumping out of water, with ripples.
  • LED or electroluminescent substitute for neon.
  • Inspiration from the Parade of Lights
  • Mention of the St Pancras Cruising Club, or was it the Marine Commando Club in Paddington? One may be confused for the other.
  • Attendance tonight = 3

2021-04-06 Tuesday

  • Garret muttered about taking an antibody test which came out more negative than he had expected.
  • IanB spoke about the Little House re-organisation
  • Mention of the Dubai light bulb, said to have a considerably longer life than any other. Big Clive spills the beans https://youtu.be/klaJqofCsu4
  • The light bulb conspiracy, where manufacturers agree to limit the lifespan of their product to guarantee continued sales. Planned obsolescence. Here's the video https://youtu.be/j5v8D-alAKE but it's very long.
  • The length of life of a modern LED light bulb. Maybe you can extend its life in return for a little reduction in brightness. Big Clive shows how at https://youtu.be/ISTB0ThzhOY
  • IanM doesn't like watching a video to get information, he prefers reading a PDF with good illustrations.
  • Recommended: Tim Hunkin and the Secret Life of Components. Episode 1 is here: https://youtu.be/FZN0PBBzEHw
  • Larry Niven, Ringworld and other stuff
  • Leo was having fun with special effects
  • Whether it's better to stand or to sit to work. In the US, cashiers all stand, in the UK they all sit.
  • Leo described how he got stuck on the wrong side of the Seine, in Paris on Bastille Day.
  • You don't get old helicopter pilots.
  • The Falcon 9 seems to be turning out pretty reliable.
  • Attendance tonight = 5

2021-03-30 Tuesday

  • Gavin - either new or hasn't been along for a while, either way: welcome - had a binary clock to show us.
  • Peter Steampunk told us of his Bazooka Megaphone which had recently been given as a prize in a War of the Worlds related competition. He also gave us a lot of information on the making of a couple of props for a short film with a sci-fi flavour sponsored by the BFI. We'll link to it when it comes out. The idea was that the equipment in the film would have a Kubrick 2001 look. He hid a Macbook in a new body and created a peripheral hologram projector. The screen for the new computer was the Macbook's own but that was all of it visible. The flashing lights came out of LED snap strips and there were missile launch switches which had everyone's approval. You can see several pictures of the end product here. Have a look around his Instagram pages for other works.
  • Jon revealed to us that he had once made a very brief appearance on The Bill as a model railway enthusiast.
  • Apparently The Darling Buds of May is being remade which was known about because the makers had sought help regarding a model railway.
  • The owner of the model railway in one episode of Sherlock was known to at least one member. In fact it was a model underground train.
  • More "oos" and "ahs" at Peter's Singer Sewing Machine Gun.
  • There was a discussion about the unreliability of 3D printers which a) seems to be just how they are unless you buy a really expensive one and b) was too technical to make notes on.
  • Then talk of the public's ability to break props and the unfortunate tale of a Disney World staff member who had his tail pulled. It was by a smallish boy who held on tight while his friend repeatedly hacked in the shin said staff member (in a costume, in case you were wondering). As you would expect Disney frowns darkly upon staff members retaliating against customers, especially young ones but eventually other costumed staff came to the poor fellow's rescue.
  • William appeared on screen near the end but didn't seem able to see or hear us, although we could him.
  • Also present were Garret and Ian M making a total of: Attendance tonight = 6 if you count William.

2021-03-23 Tuesday

  • Richmond Council had produced a report declaring the 20 MPH speed limit in the Borough to be a great success. Average speeds across all roads have dropped by 1 MPH. There was general agreement among the assembled company that this was not a lot.
  • Leo had live video of the Iceland volcano behind him
  • Specification of mains voltage in UK, Europe, US, The Hot Dogger (frankfurter heater using direct connection of mains power), Bahrain runs on 230V, Japan uses a weird 100V and could be 50 or 60Hz, Belise uses 110V and 220V. Australia was 240V but now calls it 230V to comply with the IEC standard.
  • The Tesla electric car: Jon's first car was an Astra. He followed that by a Rover Metro whose gearbox fell through the floor, then a Rover213 which lost all its engine oil. He changed to a Rover 800 but the alternator pulley went (on the way to Brighton), losing the power steering, followed by a water leak and a cracked cylinder head. After that he switched to Japanese cars with trouble-free motoring since then.
  • Garret had his amphibious car break down on the river Thames, and had to be towed by the RNLI
  • How best to do stop frame animation in this day and age? How to get a simple line drawing of a figure moving smoothly on a plain background?
    • Probably Blender would do, but it has a steep learning curve.
  • Jon showed a video comparing The Jungle Book animation with another Disney animation. It was clear that one was a simple copy of the other.
  • IanB described his video camera hidden inside a Falcon statuette.
  • Attendance tonight = 7

2021-03-16 Tuesday

  • Marvellous Mechanicals at Gosport, well worth a visit (one day). https://www.cultureoncall.com/a-virtual-tour-marvellous-mechanicals/
  • Garret will definitely be going to the amphibious meeting in Austria, via Germany.
  • PeterH spoke, and sounded like a chipmunk.
  • IanB showed the stealth camera for observing the long-term Turning Head project. It's a webcam built into a falcon statuette.
  • Some mention of the Talking Aspidistra from the Adventure Game. An example from YouTube.
  • William joined us for the first time, but seemed to be having a little trouble in seeing us. Maybe next week?
  • Talk about access to the river for an amphibious vehicle. Garret's more interested in going to Lechlade than Medway.
  • This led inevitably to a discussion of the Swiss Army Knife, and there's an 84mm version that fits well into a small pocket. The Opinel knife is illegal in the UK because of the blade lock. Garret and IanM seem to have similar Swiss Army knives. You can't buy a pin as an accessory from Victorinox.
  • IanB asked for suggestions for a Hammerton Ferry alarm. At present, would-be passengers on the Ham side of the river have to wave for the ferry-man's attention. There's a sign up saying 'Wave for Ferry'. But what if he's not looking? Gone in for a cup of tea and catching up on the England vs India Test match? Suggestions included:
    • A flag
    • Explosives
    • Hand cranked siren
    • Vuvuzela
    • Text message
    • Honky Horn
    • Emergency Pump Horn
    • A speaking tube laid across the river
  • IanB will present the list of suggestions next time he makes a crossing.
  • There being no other business to discuss, the meeting closed at a bit after 9.30
  • Attendance tonight = 6

2021-03-09 Tuesday

  • PeterH said Hi, then went off to get breakfast. 7.30pm Harrumph!
  • Garret said he had his breakfast today at 3am.
  • IanM said something about breakfast, but the audio was so broken up that no sense could be made of it. This was attributed to his internet connection being not ADSL but TCDSL (Tin Can, Damp String Line). Later, Ian switched off his video and that improved the sound quality immensely.
  • It was suggested that semaphore could be used instead of speech, which led on to mention of Telegraph Hill in Devon, The Clacks, Putney Heath and communications to Portsmouth.
  • Garret had a story about going to Lidl for a 4.95 refund, which had been implemented as an additional 4.95 charge to his card. Then some mandarins got involved. Some of them were grubby, others were mouldy. after that it became too complicated to keep clear notes about, but it all ended satisfactorily for the customer, it seems.
  • PeterH has assembled some rolling stock, and is part way though painting the livery. The same PeterH had advice for Jon about speeding up the ethernet connection which is standing in for his functionless USB ports.
  • Jon's had a vaccination and has a sore arm
  • Garret has some Putney Chutney and has ordered a pot of Piccadilly Piccalilli. Try spelling that without using cut and paste!
  • PeterH is getting his bro a Pi Pico for a birthday present. (Economical gift:)
  • There's a fork of Unix, originally written for Z80, which can be run on the Pico, it is said
  • Jon saw an item on the BBC website talking about lab-grown wood. What's the point in that, he asked. You can already grow wood in a forest.
  • There was mention of a Lego laptop, and PeterH produced one he had made earlier
  • IanM mended a Kindle by taking spares from an old one. Result!
  • There was talk of swollen batteries and the perils of Lithium cells, esp. when swollen.
  • Garret plans to go on an amphibious vehicle meet, to be held on the Danube (Advice: keep to the Bavarian side of the river, amphibs are prohibited in Austria.)
  • Jon was able to suggest museums of interest to visit on the way there, and back, namely the Technik Museum in Speyer, with an amazing collection of planes, trains and automobiles, including two supersonic aircraft on the roof.
  • Mention of other Museums Of Note: Under The Pier (Southwold), Novelty Automation (London), both by Tim Hunkin, and the MAD museum (Stratford-Upon-Avon) which is Mechanical Art and Design.
  • If you have £800 to spare, you can buy a repro-retro coin-slot machine from Retro Arcade. Why not make one of our own for display at the next Ham Fair, whenever that will be.
  • Leo has been working on his entry for the upcoming Pi Wars, and demonstrated his battery-powered ping-pong ball launcher. An impressive bit of kit. We also saw the robot car with tyres that allow it to move sideways as well as forward and back. Fortunately, the deadline for entries has been moved forward to June, as there was no chance of Leo, or anyone else, being ready by this week.
  • Attendance tonight = 6

2021-03-02 Tuesday

  • Jon's laptop which previously had USB troubles, now seems to have network troubles too. This affects the plan of connecting a Raspberry Pi to provide USB services. Mouse movements are lagging by about 1s, as if the network is very slow.
  • IanM said he uses Synergy to share keyboard and mouse across computers on a network
  • Last week Garret told us he had contacted Pimoroni about loose feet on a screen stand, and got an unhelpful response. This week someone else at Pimoroni contacted him about the original email of complaint that Garret had sent, and immediately offered him replacement feet. What a contrast!
  • Lidl has just opened a new store in Putney High Street. Huge queues were seen.
  • In St. Margaret's, Richmond, Lidl have just opened a new store there.
  • Jon used his Parkside Angle Grinder, from Lidl, and was agreeably surprised that it worked well
  • IanB demonstrated his recently finished device that makes a door knocker ring a doorbell. He promised to do a full write-up of it on the RML wiki, but nothing has appeared yet.
  • Jon was reminded that he got locked out recently because no-one could hear the doorbell. He's now installed a radio bell with 4 indoor repeaters.
  • Garret entered into a long story about feet, slippers and a lost Pi Pico. It was eventually discovered underneath his foot, where it hadn't been noticed all day. It was agreed that a Pi Pico was a damn sight more comfortable underfoot than a Lego brick.
  • Some debate about pronunciation of 'potato' and 'aluminium'. While Americans can say 'potato' to rhyme with the English 'tomato' as much as they want, there was some ire expressed that they are the only nation which misses a whole syllable of 'aluminium'. We listened to the word in several languages, all of which got it right effortlessly. Aluminium was first produced in 1825, so there really is no excuse to be still saying it wrong.
  • While tirelessly knocking the Americans, we went on to mention a video of Americans watching a video of Fred Dibnah, and reacting to the way he works. They really don't understand.
  • How on earth we moved on to The Tim Traveller talking about the Lartique Railway, I do not know. This monorail is not properly balanced, as it relies on an enormous outrigger wheel on one side to stop it from toppling over. We saw pictures.
  • The UK Generating Board have a private monorail in a private tunnel for monitoring and inspecting underground power cables. Not a lot of people know that.
  • Attendance tonight = 5

2021-02-23 Tuesday

  • PeterH having trouble internet sharing between Windows and a Raspberry Pi. There's a windows registry key that might control it, but this key doesn't survive reboot.
  • IanM was thinking he might like to get involved with the Totalizer. It's being put into storage for the present time.
  • Garret has a selection of recorded sounds on a couple of hand-held devices. He also has a PSU, a touch screen and a stand for a Raspberry Pi 4, but the stand doesn't seem to be very well designed or well made. One of the legs is loose. He's contacted Pimoroni about it, where the "customer service ninja" wants to see a picture of the loose leg.
  • Jon 3D printed a model waggon at work and was well satisfied with the quality and the ease of use. The printer was originally got for an intern to use, but it was too much for the intern. Now Jon may be using it to make an adaptor for a breathing simulator.
  • There was a debate about vaccinations with no clear conclusion.
  • If you have a fan heater with a loose fan blade that makes a noise, How do you fix it? Garret took advice from the group and it seems to be ok after that.
  • Mention of St Leger Automata.
  • Attendance tonight = 6

2021-02-16 Tuesday

  • Garret spoke of the magnet and Swiss Army knife. The magnet had become crushed within the knife and there were small magnetic bits all over the inside. He's managed to remove much of it, but it's a longtime task.
  • RichardB joined us and heard about his case for a Raspberry Pi 4 incorporating a massive heat sink. This is helpful because he's overclocking the Pi cruelly. It still looks like heroic over-engineering
  • The Pi can be used to emulate 1980's games consoles, using image files from ArcadePunks.
  • IanB said he was making a door knocker sensor that would ring a door bell when triggered. This led to suggestions for operating the door knocker from the bell push, and fibre optic graphics in the 'Welcome' mat. (Who thinks my front door mat would say Welcome? Wrong.)
  • Programming capability for games. Some wish for true vector graphics, others can live without. The arcade consoles used to have a vector monitor. Fond memories of Tank Commander and Asteroids.
  • Space 1999 was a TV series from the 1970's (when 1999 was unbelievably far into the future). They communicated with miniature one-inch TV displays.
  • For some reason this led us to an exchange of Sinclair C5 stories, and that led to a video of a jet-powered kart. Scary!
  • IanM has Win10 on an SSD which can be plugged into any laptop and booted from there.
  • Garret has a Pi 4 with no PSU. Much advice about getting a sufficiently powerful power supply, as them 4s are mighty hungry for electricity.
  • Attendance tonight = 5

2021-02-09 Tuesday

  • IanB spoke about his recently completed roller blind motor, which was now working along with the electric curtains.
  • Garret described a new 3-blade Swiss Army knife which had tools to open tins, remove bottle tops, drill holes, widen out holes and do saw cutting
  • Conversation turned inevitably to covid vaccination and a web site that gave a prediction when your jab would come to you. Garret's complaint was every time he looked at it, it would give a later prediction.
  • There was an excellent series of short talks on Radio4 by Neil McGregor of the British Museum, titled "The History of the World in 100 Objects". When we are released from lockdown, Garret plans to visit the museum once or twice a week to seek out these objects one at a time, and listen to the talk while standing in front of the very thing.
  • Discussion slewed on to how best to get to the museum by bus or tube from Waterloo, then towards refreshment facilities at the V&A, Natural History Museums and so on, especially for members. Why can't the museums offer membership that is common to all of them instead of competing?
  • IanB interrupted and asked for help with a live test of Jitsi-meet software he had installed somewhere in the Cloud. He gave the link, and people went there. No-one could hear or see anyone else, so it was clearly not ready to unleash into the real world -yet.
  • A bit of talk about assembling supercomputers from cloud resources; AI; identifying fakes; Jon's cautionary tale of AI recognising photos of fake goods only if the picture was taken in a warehouse with cardboard boxes in the background; SETI and whatever happened to that project; and on and on
  • Garret had ordered 3 Pi Pico from PiMoroni but they only allowed him to buy one. So he signed up for 6 moths of the magazine with a free Pico on the cover. Once his subscription was processed it started with the following month's mag. They had already run out of the special issue. SO that subscription got cancelled.
  • Discussion about banks giving a better rate of interest if you paid in a minimum sum each month, and a scheme for circulating one wad of money around a series of banks to get the best interest from all of them.
  • Garret made a plea for a plain language computer language and was referred to YACC (Yet Another Compiler Compiler). Only you have to know that computer language to be able to use YACC to compile a plain language language. Garret disappeared down a recursive rabbit-hole.
  • Attendance tonight = 4

2021-02-02 Tuesday

  • Ian M claimed that some insects are attracted to the smell of WD40. Others were sceptical. A brief search engine search (i.e Google, as if that anyone uses any other, except the one they use when they don't want family members or employers to see their search history) suggested it mostly kills insects and other arthropods. And possibly fish and birds. De-icer for cars effectively kills too, and is cheaper and available from Poundland.
  • Garret had been trying to learn a bit of Python and had found that trinket.io, a site suggested by the Pi Foundation for running Python code didn't seem able to run his effort but he'd found www.onlinegdb.com more reliable. Here is his version of Garret's version of rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock!
  • BASIC, BBC Micro, Acorn Archimedes.
  • Leo managed to double himself, then tripled, then quadrupled, moved about the screen and changed colour with the aid of his videocard and bit of OBS (but not mostly the card.)
  • Disposal of old electronic / computer equipment.
  • Vacuum Fluorescent Displays and their bluey-green charm.
  • Jon told us about his having seen old photographs of quite a few Hungarian refrigerated goods coaches in Ham shunting yard. He speculated that it might have been raw ingredients of a dog food factory. Or not.
  • A discussion of the safety training video Forklift Driver Klaus.
  • Fake products of various sorts and the damage they can do.
  • Starship SN9, slightly earlier in the evening, and its almost completely successful flight. It was only the landing that went wrong - rather spectacularly.
  • Railway tanker implosions due to vacuums.
  • School experiments in the days of yore when you could actually do dangerous but fun things, such as imploding tins with vacuum.
  • Ian B arrived having been at our parent organisation's bored meeting but had to leave again right away as it was imperative he deal with an ongoing Ham United Group emergency. We hope this will be dealt with by next week not just for HUG's sake, but also so that we have Ian's invaluable input back and perhaps another report on his moving statue.
  • Attendance tonight = 5

2021-01-26 Tuesday

  • This week the Raspberry Pi Pico was announced. Peter H has one already
  • Discussion on what to do with the Pico
    • emulate a BBC micro?
    • write a game?
  • Garret has successfully changed the battery in his watch
  • This led to stories about Breitling watches, Tag Heuer copies and Jon's 10 euro watch that's accurate as the best of them
  • Jon spoke of a model train part bought from Kidderminster which had been manufactured in quantity but was not the size that the drawing specified. They are going to need a bigger waste bin.
  • Nectar (the loyalty card) have been studying their statistics, and somebody was advised they were the No.1 buyer of choc digestives in their area. So be careful. Every move we make is recorded. And lay off the choc digestives.
  • IanM reckons that the PIC 16F88 is capable of everything that an Arduino can do. This led on to definition of MCU, then to Three Letter Abbreviations (TLA), then to TLA of more than three letters, eTLA (extended Three Letter Abbreviations)
  • Sanity was restored when we moved on to the subject of IP over Avian Carriers, i.e. pigeon-based messaging. They exhibit poor latency, but if the medium is a micro-SD card, the bit rate still exceeds many alternatives.
  • Jon applied for a new or renewed passport before Christmas and received it mid-January. Thought that was not bad going. This led on to some passport stories then some driving licence stories.
  • Same time next week, eh?
  • Attendance tonight = 6

2021-01-19 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