Difference between revisions of "Blog 2020"

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Latest revision as of 21:24, 14 December 2020

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

2020-12-8 Tuesday

  • Roses are red,
  • Violets are blue,
  • I can't find my notes,
  • But neither can you!

2020-12-1 Tuesday

  • Galton and Simpson
  • Kenneth Williams
  • Rowan Atkinson
  • Clive Dunn
  • Ian B's (non) turning head stature, USB ports and a b*ggered Arduino
  • Then people just started talking in letters and numbers (probably serial)
  • Toasters
  • Queen's Gambit
  • Could you build a high speed train on Mercury? How fast would it have to go to avoid burning or freezing?
  • RML member's seeming inability to turn apples into cider, but manifest success at making them into vinegar.
  • Some nonsense about slime mould and its magic powers.
  • Brewdog.
  • Members that spoke about the above matters were Ian B, Ian M, Garret, Jon, Someone briefly there with the initial D (or possibly G, anyway they were fairly quiet) and Vish whose sofa was admired by one and all (except the one that said nothing).
  • Attendance tonight = 6

2020-11-24 Tuesday

  • Your intrepid reporter arrived to find Ian B and Ian M discussing old phone systems and their clever 'side tone' feedback system. See more here.
  • Maureen Lipman and the "ology" ad (telephone related). Here.
  • Garret had some non-functioning light bulbs with built in PIR switches. He didn't take them apart.
  • The relative merits of the wonderful bayonet clip light bulb and the oh-so-dangerous Edison Screw type.
  • Petersham Sea Scouts and their wooden submarine followed by more on wooden submarines.
  • The unboxing of a Raspberry Pi 400
  • Jon and Dan S were also there.
  • The very important matter of the tax deductibility of a cat and its food as a legitimate business expense if it lives on the premises and there is a rodent problem. We thought it should be deductible, but apparently some accountants think otherwise.
  • Attendance tonight = 5

2020-11-17 Tuesday

  • Tonight we were pleased to welcome two new visitors, Sally and Daniel (differentiating letters may be assigned later).
  • We explained to them that in the old days we used to go along to Little House and work on unfinished projects but now we get together in cyberspace and show each other our unfinished projects. And sometimes holiday snaps. Sally enthusiastically showed us an unfinished project of hers involving a "Turbo Trainer" that was having data output problems so she was rewiring it with an RS232 or USB 3 / C or semaphore. Something to do with interfaces and cables, anyway.
  • On Thursday (the 19th) Ian B is giving a talk on sewing machine servicing to a local sewing machine owners' club. On arriving tonight he came and went a bit like a continental radio station after dark in days of yore. It was because he had a new video set up (software but allowing to use multiple cameras and such) called OBS. Don't worry sewing machine owners, he'll have it working by Thursday!
  • Then OBS talk and Peter H initiated more Acorn Computers nostalgia.
  • All eyes were on Ian B's self operating curtains. They close at sunset and open themselves at breakfast time. The machinery was all his own work and he has an app that will open and close them too! He also fettled his washing machine into telling him by means of wireless telegraphy when it has finished its cycle. Others too including our new recruits wanted to do this but all washing machines aren't so easy to adapt. We discussed power use detection and the machine's vibrations as an indicator of being finished.
  • What are the SI (or any) units of wobble? Richter scale? Hz? Db?
  • Peter H showed us (and this time Jon too) his little railway carriage and its livery designated as Railway Technical Centre Blue and Red.
  • The merits of Superglue versus other glues. We haven't yet made a Glue Top Ten, but we're getting there.
  • Ian B's fountain is working and plans to go further with a singing waterfall from concrete.
  • Some stuff about Excel and GPS and latitude and longitude and Ordinance Survey co-ordinates and converting one to another.
  • Discworld and water features. Apologies to anyone I've left out.
  • Martin L, despite his very best endeavours, didn't manage to join, but sent via e-mail an update on the electric bubble car some details of which can be seen here.
  • Attendance tonight = 8

2020-11-10 Tuesday

  • Ian B's turning head statue project and its defective detectors and possible ways to improve them were discussed.
  • Ian M followed up on his voice synthesis chip from last week. He'd done something wrong "in the code". He told us the synthetic voice was now slightly more convincing. Not one member present asked for a demonstration.
  • Garret took apart a toy walkie talkie.
  • Then there was a period of old software nostalgia featuring Microsoft Office running on Windows 3.11! Peter H shared his screen whilst designing business cards on MS Publisher from 1993. It was notable that there was no box to enter your e-mail address.
  • More nostalgia: Psion / Palm Pilot. Old operating systems. Then Peter H showed us the new livery of his tiny railway carriage which he'd be hoping to show Jon, but Jon wasn't there and Peter felt the need to go to bed early.
  • Ian B showed us the 3D printed phone stand he'd made earlier. We discussed the Ikea bamboo equivalent and how to widen the slot.
  • Ian M talked of moulding planes which isn't sticking a Jumbo into plaster of Paris but, rather, this: moulding planes on Wikipedia.
  • Garret asked for various bits of advice only to have all his dreams shattered.
  • Ian B showed us his recently acquired 1/4" square drive to hex bit or shank or something.
  • We, for no particular reason, discussed methods of getting rid of door to door religious proselytizers.
  • Radium watch (permanently luminous)
  • Gold Finger locations.
  • A discussion mostly lead by Jon about travelling to the USA and things staff said to you at the airport of arrival, and the best airports to go to.
  • Ian B and Jon left. I don't recall when Jon arrived, I think after Peter H had decided he'd have to go to bed.
  • More on the chips Ian M had had. Tar pits. Castelnau's formerly gravelly nature before being tarmacadamed. Then we conked out.
  • Your own very Baudelaire of the Blog, your Wilde of the Wiki spotted an amusing function on Jitsi. It measures how long each person was speaking. The scores were: Jon - 13m 34s; Ian B - 17m 20s; Peter H - 18m 11s; Garret - 33m 51s and Ian M 64m 29s. And so we say that tonight's winner of Just An Hour is Ian M!
  • Attendance tonight = 5

2020-11-03 Tuesday

  • Ian M told us of the best way to get groceries home through snow (if not using a car) was by pulling them on a sledge. This will be handy to know if we ever have another ice age. Ian then demonstrated an arduino attached to some gruesome voice synthesiser chip he'd got cut price from a now defunct electronics chain store. The noise it made was almost entirely unlike a human voice and so painful that the other members muted him until he promised not to switch it back on.
  • Ian B's turning head project (á la "The Prisoner") was being held back by the problem that his infra red detectors weren't detecting. Defective detectors are definitely detrimental.
  • Very old computer nostalgia.
  • The old argument about the best value batteries. Aldi v Poundland, Duracells fake and otherwise. Then Jon saved the day by turning the subject to...
  • Electric Isettas (an adaptation of a Bubble Car thing) and then we discussed catalytic converter theft and methods of preventing it and the best way to get a competitor's advertisement pulled by the ASA.
  • Garret was present and Paul B popped in for a while.
  • Attendance tonight = 5

2020-10-27 Tuesday

  • This will appear as soon as I have found my notes, which I still haven't found but I know they are around my desk somewhere.

2020-10-20 Tuesday

  • Ian M held forth on the delights and sometimes horrors of Haggis. The ingredients are, well, enough of that. And suitable Scotches.
  • Robin told us of the making of hydrogen, huge coils, huge capacitors and radiographing rollercoaster rides to detect damage. He showed us a mighty machine with two Tesla coils. High voltage talk.
  • Jon and Robin talked of railway carriage models. Then discussion of glass plate capacitors.
  • Robin told us of his experience at a zoo near London when a wild boar escaped and (eventually) re-captured.
  • He told us further stories which will probably seem trite here in bullet points but they were quite poignant when told directly.
  • Disposing of various carcasses and the problems therein. Incidentally, I've remembered the film in which a gangster repeatedly refers to disposing of humans (alive or dead) by feeding them to pigs, and how many pigs are needed. It is "Snatch".
  • Eviscerating elephants, for autopsy and disposal. A sad tale behind the scenes at a zoo - even beloved elephants die. In one case because the poor thing had terrible toothache in her tusk and she died under general anaesthetic (because it would be hard to work on an elephant under only local anaesthetic). She had been a very friendly creature and her keeper often slept on her on a rug. One day the keeper's girlfriend arrived on a bicycle and left it within reach of the elephant who, having seen a human ride it, tried to ride it herself. Mangled bike.
  • Keeping fish incl. Kissing Gouramis and Archer Fish that like a strawberry.
  • Ian B's dancing fountain is coming along.
  • Jon had continued his clear up of Little House and had tidied up the layout of the electronics bench. Outdated and surplus equipment needs to be found a new home.
  • Discussion of the plan of a member not present to build electric cars based on the BMW Isetta, which was that bubble car that you got in and out of via the front which completely swung open.
  • Attendance tonight = 5

2020-10-13 Tuesday

  • Jon had begun a tidy-up and clear-out at Little House. He started with the electronics bench.
  • There's a high-voltage power supply, not really needed by us. Who donated it or lent it to us? Chris R perhaps.
  • It was suggested that anything that we don't want which is not rubbish, should be offered for sale on eBay
  • Jon has acquired a hand-plane. It was all rusty and unloved when he got it. Now it nearly cuts perfectly.
  • Leo has been doing experiments firing nerf darts (later on it will be ping-pong balls) using miniature CO2 gas cylinders. It's for one of the challenges in the next Pi Wars
  • Ian M demonstrated a very old Tandy synthesiser chip which he had built up on a prototyping breadboard after talking about it last week. It's the UM3482A and it plays a selection of 12 tunes. There should be a health warning on the data sheet - "Can cause irritation".
  • Ian went on to mention the AY8910 sound generator with potential for generating triphonic sound, as the awful Tandy chip was monophonic. Monotonous too.
  • That led on to the Text-to-Speech Controller CTS256A-AL2 Don't they think up some snappy names for these inventions!
  • My notes run out at this point, so that's probably when the meeting drew to a close.
  • Attendance tonight = 6

2020-10-06 Tuesday

  • Opening discussion reprised some of the topics of the previous week, because, and this really staggered the writer of the blog, more than one person had actually read the blog! The joy was only a little attenuated when it emerged that almost no one reads it right through.
  • Importing chocolate came up again as did the pronunciation of paella and bruschetta but not of potato since everyone knows how to say it except that daft song writer.
  • Mark T thanked RML for helping him in his project of a sort of Hammond Organ emulator (a Prop B3 chip). He'd started it seven years ago but lockdown had driven him to finish. Apparently it is also known as a Leslie Emulator. Which Leslie it emulates we don't know. He has posted a video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qKU-CcboIQ
  • Stephenson screen advice. It is a sort of a box for weather instruments that looks like a beehive made out of louvred doors.
  • Parking on Putney Embankment, and indeed floating away on the same thoroughfare (see Putney High Tide Club on FB). People getting cars stuck on river bed including the local police and a member of RML.
Garret's Car Stuck on River Bed
  • Ian B had had a dodgy Chromecast but said the helpline staff had been exemplary however it had taken three days to get all his wifi related stuff working.
  • Discussion of config files and such.
  • Further info on the front garden piddling dog. It and its owner seem to co-ordinate their outfits (I kid you not!)
  • Pi Motion and Pi eye OS for capturing pictures of dogs and owners with matching outfits. With a Pi Zero is important not to use external power and attach the USB to a big computer. It is much like crossing your Mimosian Anti-matter chop-sticks.
  • Our second musical interlude of the evening came courtesy of Ian M who informed us about the fun and profit to be had from a UM3482A which is a Radio Shack tuneplaying chip of very dubious harmonic quality (certaibnly by comparison to the Hammond emulator one). Credit where credit is due, Ian M didn't say anything other than its sound was quite annoying.
  • Fat Freddie's Cat and his nephew story.
  • Ian B now has a following in his area because of his amazing powers of repairing sewing machines. His dancing fountain has so far not even got its shoes on.
  • Boring mollusc, Gribbler. (A real thing, apparently.)
  • Sorry if I haven't attributed things to everybody. Present were Ian B, paulB, Mark T, Ian M, Ben S, Peter H, Chris R, Jon and Garret.
  • Attendance this week: 9 (because counting the names is sooooo hard.) No railway carriages were harmed in the making of this blog.

2020-09-29 Tuesday

  • That Spanish dish featuring rice and a load of different types of meaty bits. Do you pronounce it pie-ella or pie-ay-a? We were split.
    • Link for all things Properly Paella - Wiki Paella Added by Paul G later
  • School (and, indeed, a canteen in a major London hospital that shall remain nameless) - reuse of food throughout the week. School cabbage that had been boiled all morning despite having come out of cans.
  • Checking a recently purchased 128Gb USB stick was genuine. Peter H. (and possibly Ian M. sorry coffee stain on notes) recommended a utility called Flashdrive Card Tester.
  • There was a discussion about the origin and meaning of the term "the sun is over the yard arm". Garret bowed to Ian M's superior knowledge of ship (and also dock) parts, but they were both in vehement agreement that the time it refers to is actually significantly before the sun has reached its highest point ("zenith" was the word that was going to be used here, but a quick shufti at a dictionary opened a minor etymological minefield, so "highest point" it is. Before noon, right?!) Certainly not sometime in the afternoon that many people consider it to mean. There was then a discussion of Naval ranks and who had to get up early to prevent the average dogsbody getting up to anything nefarious.
  • Peter H. announced he had recently happened across the source code for the operating system for the BBC microcomputer and another (the Archimides?) Who holds the rights to it is a complex conundrum. Possibly a bank called Morgan Stanley Pearl and Dean. I don't even have the excuse of a coffee stain on this one.
  • The demise of Acorn (the desktop dept.)
  • A brief mention of Windows 95 and Pentium MMX.
  • Those present kindly talked Garret through running Flashdrive Card Tester on his shiny new USB stick. The utility plugged away at the testing and gave an estimated time until finish of about six hours forty four. Disconcertingly, as the evening went on, its estimate went up, not down, although see later.
  • Fake USB stick discussion and dire warnings.
  • FAT 32 file format.
  • Raspberry Pi as security camera.
  • Telegram and other chat apps.
  • 3D printing guns - possible upside that a) they'd never get finished and b) they would be more likely to kill or maim the holder rather than anyone else.
  • EMF camp free gift - how to fix a communicator badge that was rather like a mobile phone.
  • Don't buy the ones with the chips (my attention strayed for a moment there so what it refers to is lost in time).
  • Without notice Paul G interjected that he had just "worked Japan on his loop antenna". Well, it takes all sorts to make a world and here in the 21st century we are very understanding of everyone's "lifestyle". (A Ham radio thing. apparently. I wouldn't know, I'm from Wandsworth.)
  • "Astrochilonians" A Pratchett reference from Peter. H. (The "ch" is a "k" as it is Greek, or pseudo-Greek, as in chiasmata and charismatic, the pedant in me wants you to know.) The Great A'Tuin.
  • Garret, Pi Vision, face tracking chat.
  • Ian B's report on his non-dancing fountain.
  • Cooking came up again, this time personal, not institutional. The members mostly had their own curry recipes. Paul G. then scared even non-vegetarians with his description of "Bacon Explosion". Recipe here: https://www.cutsandcrumbles.com/bacon-explosion/
  • Dahl recipes (how to make the food, not the ill-fated cookery book by the granddaughter of the macabre / children's author.)
  • Christmas food.
  • Paul G. told a funny story involving "Quorn", Sweden, and an overnight husky ride. One person was a veggie. The leader was French. Unknown food. Crocodile. You had to be there.
  • Garret made a claim as to his abilities creating cheese soufflé, but no one paid heed.
  • Disastrous experiences of importing overseas chocolate. Mainly Paul G. But others too.
  • QSL card.
  • PCB making at Little House (unlikely in near future).
  • Buying isowotsit alcohol.
  • Jitsi v. Discord.
  • CCTV for telescopes.
  • When the meeting closed Flash Drive Card Tester had improved and said there would only be another 4 hours 33 minutes before it finished. Actually it didn't finish until just before 6 p.m. the following day.
  • Attendance tonight = 5

2020-09-22 Tuesday

  • Discussion of GMT/BST/double BST and Garret spoke of his plan to make every Sunday a 25 hour one. This may have been triggered by our all missing seeing Ian B's curtains close automatically as at this time of year they do it before the meeting starts.
  • Some discussion of a fascinating transport museum in Germany: https://speyer.technik-museum.de/en/ (from Jon's visit a while back).
  • This lead to a discussion of the Space Shuttle and Buran
  • Peter H and Ian M on Arduino and Raspberry Pi running RISC
  • Sinclair QL and MMUs (Memory Management Units)
  • Adding storage to a Pi 0 to use as a security camera (due to neighbourhood dogs relieving themselves on a front garden path which led to a discussion of methods, mostly impractical but mostly quite funny, of automated animal and owner deterrence.)
  • Open source Stop Motion Animation frame interpolation software.
  • What software to run on old PCs/laptops/Chromebooks (assorted Linux flavours or even only Avast Secure Browser on older version of Windows out of support period.)
  • Jon lead the group in a very short and concise discussion of what to do with all the stuff in Little House surplus to requirements. It didn't go on long at all and no one fell asleep.
  • Just what do you do with 47 hot water cylinder jackets? Those present considered them a trifle old fashioned, but it seems a major retailer is still selling them. Mind you, one review indicated the buyer was using it to keep his home brew barrel warm. If you want one please get in touch via the 'contact' page.
  • Peter H told us of his adventures in building and repainting 00 Gauge railway carriages.
  • A helicopter went over that didn't show on Flightradar24 so it was assumed to belong to be a Met one.
  • More on trains of the Hornby Triang type.
  • Two cases of champagne. No recollection why, but it is in the notes.
  • Then, completely out of the blue, with no warning at all, we had a discussion about 00 gauge train carriages.
  • Attendance tonight = 5

2020-09-15 Tuesday

  • Ian.M spoke of Bob Widler and his unique style of disposal of bust electronics
  • Jon joined in from Reading
  • Garret demonstrated a hands-free soap dispenser
  • This led to a discussion on washing up liquid
  • IanB showed his turntable project so far
  • Discussion on CCTV and microphones
  • Ian.M showed a video of a quadcopter-mounted machine gun in action, but most of the group thought it was faked.
  • Garret showed a video of an amphibious Landcruiser
  • Garret produced a green ball from nowhere
  • Idea for an alarm clock that gives a spoken message at alarm time
  • Jon and ChrisR continued chatting until 00:30
  • Attendance tonight = 8

2020-09-08 Tuesday

  • Ian.M spoke of the MCP23017 i/o expander, able to provide two extra 8-bit ports using i2c. Handy if you want more ports on an Arduino
  • PeterH mentioned a Space Engineers game -build spaceships and fly them
  • IanB has not been up to much
  • Garret talked about StarCraft -two different kinds of alien. Firebats
  • Garret is looking for a magic trick to present, based on some technical innovation that regular magic club people will never think of. PeterH has a cousin in the Magic Circle. There was a suggestion that a Pi Zero and camera could be hidden in the box of a pack of cards, the camera could recognise the card and convert the data to a voice message in a concealed earpiece -present it as mindreading
  • ChrisR appeared in sound only, but with an audio feedback problem, ably resolved by PeterH
  • Ian.M opened up his Elegoo kit of 73 sensors and went through them one by one.
  • Attendance tonight = 5

2020-09-01 Tuesday

  • IanB was in a different location
  • Garret thought about making a hole in the wall with a disguised door
  • PeterH talking about simulating Archimedes and BBC Micro computers with graphics on a TV screen
  • Garret now has a StarTrek style communicator. Saying "Beam me up..." produces no result.
  • PeterH has a bug in his LCD monitor. Not software, it's real, walking over images of peoples' faces
  • Garret has a mouse in the house eating sunflower seeds but staying out of any traps
  • ChrisR joined in without video as usual
  • Jon looked in, with camera connection problems solved in real-time by PeterH
  • Ian.M looked in for a while.
  • Jon reported that he had to put out a fire in a Hotpoint tumble drier.
  • Garret looked up tumble drier reviews in the Which database. Hotpoint didn't feature among the best or the worst buys.
  • Attendance tonight = 6

2020-08-25 Tuesday

  • The demise of 3D television
  • A 466MHz walkie-talkie with corroded battery terminals, how best to get it going?
  • Discussion on battery leakage
  • Ian.M described his first home-made bench power supply
  • What's eating the leaves on this indoor plant?
  • ChrisR doesn't use a video camera but managed to display an image of himself, seriously needing a haircut.
  • News of a boa constrictor at Chiswick
  • How to stop a tiger from eating you
  • Dragons shouldn't have front legs AND wings. Land vertebrates have 4 limbs.
  • Attendance tonight = 4

2020-08-18 Tuesday

  • Something on TV got banned because it featured "Turkey in the Straw"
  • Something about "Greensleeves" having completely the wrong tune
  • Ian B's PIR sensor project not doing very well
  • 4, 5 & 6mm hex bits and adaptors from one size to another
  • The Swiss Army knife, Garret and Ian.M compared theirs
  • Ian.M showed a touch screen working with Arduino Uno
  • Attendance tonight = 7

2020-08-11 Tuesday

  • A very big hello to Paul B and to Ian.M
  • Garret had a PiCade arcade console to assemble, and got some help
  • Ian.M would have helped with battery charger that needed repair, if RML hadn't been closed
  • IanB described his latest project, weird robotics
  • We looked at a schematic of a type of sound detector. Ian.M suggested LTSpice would be a good way to analyse it.
  • Old-school dimmers and new-fangled low power LED lights
  • Bell's theorem
  • Magpi mowbot project
  • Monorails and giro cars again.
  • Attendance tonight = 7

2020-08-04 Tuesday

  • We saw the explosion in Beirut
  • Some chat about coronavirus
  • Leo said a bit about image recognition with a Raspberry Pi camera
  • More chat, but none of us can remember what
  • Attendance tonight = 7

2020-07-28 Tuesday

  • Leo has got his 3D printer working well again
  • His printer is making storage boxes for dispensing filament
  • Leo also demonstrated a hi-quality Pi camera, which had a lens mount adaptor to accept a regular SLR/DSLR camera lens
  • Jon joined us from Germany, having a break from all the madness
  • We returned to the subject of the Swiss army knife and its many variants, including adaptors for hex bits of two sizes
  • Attendance tonight = 6

2020-07-21 Tuesday

  • There's special plywood for cutting with a laser
  • Old maps online:
    • Layers of London
    • National Library of Scotland
    • old-maps.co.uk
  • The Tesco Express near Little House used to be under water
  • Attendance tonight = 6

2020-07-07 Tuesday

  • Microwave detector
  • Binaural hearing
  • Copper/PLA for 3D printing
  • Lazy Susan bearing assembly
  • MOT extensions
  • Naming of computers in a network
  • Dr. Who, Don't Blink!
  • ... and much more
  • Attendance tonight = 8

2020-06-30 Tuesday

  • A small meeting this week
  • Interesting discussion
  • Attendance tonight = 2

2020-06-23 Tuesday

  • Wide-ranging discussion:
    • Airplanes
    • Amphibious vehicles
    • Antennae
    • Crisp AI
    • Energy storage by liquifying air
    • Gutters
    • Haircuts (of course)
    • Inside No.9
    • LCD Touchscreen, 3½ inch
    • Liam Neeson
    • Locating region by idiomatic words
    • Mission Impossible
    • Noise cancelling headphones
    • Prisoner, The, on Radio4 Extra
    • Sean Connery
    • Sketch Show, The
    • Solar Train
    • Two Ronnies, The, Sketch Done Backwards
  • and that was it, really, nothing much else.
  • Attendance tonight = 6

2020-06-16 Tuesday

  • General discussion, including
    • Haircuts
    • Daffy Duck
    • Perpetual Calendar
    • Swiss Army Knife
    • Home Automation
    • Space Force
    • Gyro Monorail
  • Attendance tonight = 4

2020-06-09 Tuesday

  • Electronics discussion
    • a box that knocks back when you knock on it
    • control of motorised curtains
    • PICaxe - Genie series of controllers
    • BBC MicroBit
  • How good is aerosol contact cleaner!
  • Does PLA biodegrade? Is there a distinction between biodegradable and compostable?
  • Book recommendations
  • Dr Who sets, and how they've changed over the decades
  • 4k TVs and TV sound
  • Attendance tonight = 5

2020-06-02 Tuesday

  • Demonstration of a teleprompter device
  • Discussion on electrical safety, mains plugs, travel adaptors
  • Aircraft tracking antenna
  • Space-X, Boeing Starliner, RocketLabs of NZ
  • Attendance tonight = 3

2020-05-26 Tuesday

  • Leo is reviewing a book
  • PaulG has evaluated the cost per bottle for Sodastream
  • Garret tried combining Sodastream with white wine: champagne at a fraction of the normal price
  • Some debate about video editing software, mentions went to DaVinci Resolve (non-commercial licence) and OpenShot (opensource)
  • Talk about trains, and the Bricklayers Arms in Putney
  • Attendance tonight = 8

2020-05-19 Tuesday

  • Like football, this week's meeting was a game of two halves.
  • At 7.30 PaulG, PeterH, IanB and Aidas held an online discussion.
  • Aidas was welcomed to the group
  • PeterH had the front fender of a car with him
  • PaulG showed a QSL card recently received KA6LMS
  • IanB spoke of being busy with a 3D printer
  • After about an hour we all said 'Bye' and signed off
  • Later, Garret signed on and invited IanB
  • Jon and ChrisR also joined the meet
  • Some time was spent working through connection difficulties for Chris, who eventually joined us in sound and vision
  • A little discussion on That Virus
  • Some discussion on how to get meetings re-established at Little House when lockdown relaxes
  • Attendance tonight = 7

2020-05-12 Tuesday

  • Small-C compiler
  • Biscuits
  • DCC controller and turning on the lights
  • 10-digit 7-segment display driver
  • Parking
  • Can opener
  • One member connected without sound or vision, and communicated using the text messaging feature.
  • And even if all that were not enough, Leo spent half the time repairing a crepe maker that wouldn't heat up. It reached the verge of being a write-off, but at the last moment Leo reassigned the switch connections and it burst back into life. Ah, the drama of an online meeting.
  • A short look-in from Andres. He's doing fine.
  • Attendance tonight = 7

2020-05-05 Tuesday

  • Started off with a few bad jokes ("got a well-trained dog from a blacksmith. When I got home he made a bolt for the door")
  • Exchanged thoughts on obscure programming languages
  • Mention of Robert Rankin books, and life in nearby Brentford
  • One person joined the session without video or audio. We invited that person to communicate by text-message but nothing came through. After a hour of "Is there anybody there?", we decided this was not a seance and one of our number (no names, but it begins with G) booted off the mystery Jitser.
  • Some talk of aircraft, SDR (software defined radio) and Amateur Radio
  • Attendance tonight = 7 (+1?)

2020-04-28 Tuesday

  • Topics discussed:
    • Aircraft, and the lack of them
    • Google Nest, how user-unfriendly
    • Locomotive modelling
    • N-gauge people, how inconveniently small
    • Sodastream, economics of
    • Lego enclosures for Pi
  • And some other stuff too. Garret wants advice on how to drive a mini digger.
  • Ryan briefly looked in from Portland, OR, USofA and said Hi
  • Attendance tonight = 7

2020-04-21 Tuesday

Today's meeting
  • PeterH has completed the railway shed. It has a roof, there are lamp-posts with illumination to the right scale, gravel on the ground, lighting within buildings. We saw it.
  • Some discussion of the Starlink satellite stream (visible tonight and last night in the evening). Verdict: too cold to be trying to watch them in real life. Better to catch it on the video. Discussion drifted on to the Cubesat and then to spacejunk.
  • Leo gave previews of video segments he'd prepared, showing Thunderbird 2 on the move. Needs to be edited together as a Pi Wars entry.
  • Carl has assembled his 3D printer and will try a test print soon
  • PaulG had radio contact with a Ham in Brazil during the meeting. This occurred automatically, exchange of call signs and signal strength reports, without manual intervention.
  • Paul's 3D printer has an worrying squeak or grind on the z-axis. Leo advised where to lubricate.
  • Attendance tonight = 8

2020-04-14 Tuesday

  • Conversations covered railway modelling, c-virus (of course), star wars, light sabers, face shields for medical use and the prospect of building a ride-on railway in the garden.
  • Some of the usual suspects turned up: PeterH, PeterS, Garret, Barry, IanB and Carl.
  • A great time was had by all. Some will be trying it again next week.
  • Attendance tonight = 6

2020-04-07 Tuesday

  • Keeping up with current events, RML held its first online meeting
  • PaulG made several shortwave contacts across Europe.
  • IanB showed a 3D printed glasses case he had designed.
  • ChrisR asked for opinions on selecting a new mobile phone.
  • Attendance tonight = 3

2020-03-17 Tuesday

  • Jon sorted out his woodpile and packed a few things
  • IanB worked out a schematic diagram for the Totalizer counter cabinet
  • Wolfgang used the laser cutter and did some soldering
  • Hello to Ben who came to meet us for the first time.
  • PeterS returned a nail gun that had been on loan
  • We will not be open on Tuesdays or Thursdays while there's a virus hazard
  • Attendance tonight = 5

2020-03-12 Thursday

  • Leo wrote a different blog post
  • Jane worked on the harp
  • Chris laser cut miniature bases
  • PeterH working on the model railway
  • Attendance tonight = 4

2020-03-10 Tuesday

  • Gavin and Isabel came in to do a spot of laser cutting. Also collected the rocket motor parts donated by Lee.
  • PeterH did some laser cutting, producing a miniscule palisade fence so small you wouldn't believe it.
  • Jane is continuing to scrape wood from the frame of the harp. She has a gas-powered pyrographic tool which we tried out. There was talk of finding wire strings suitable for this instrument, to be continued.
  • Jamie has completed the electrical control panel. He punched a hole in the stainless steel vat/tank/boiler (what's the right name for it?) and started on the design of a wooden floor-stand for the control panel. He's using Fusion360 and seems to have got well into it within a week.
  • Alex came along from Biscuiteers Ltd, to gather information on using a 3D printer for making cookie cutters. He has an automatic water-cutter for cutting dough, but it's prone to breakdowns and he needs a backup. IanB showed the 3D printer and what it could do. Discussing the icing process, Jon suggested that a syringe pump could be used as an alternative to the present manual method. Alex gave us three boxes of Biscuiteer products, which were admired then eaten.
  • Steampunk Peter brought parts from a megaphone he's making, and soldered the electrical parts together. Lee showed him the key which he had made, to fit one cabinet of the Totalizer. Lee will have a go at picking the lock of the second cabinet next week. IanB handed over the Nixie display gadget with revised Arduino software.
  • Attendance tonight = 12

2020-03-05 Thursday

  • Lee popped in, dropping off model rocket supplies.
  • Gavin and Isabel did a bit more 3d design, picked up rocket nose cone and the the rocket supplies.
  • MartinL returned the variable power supply and used the windows PC
  • PeterH managed to use the colour printer to make a backscene for the model railway.
  • Attendance tonight = 5

2020-03-03 Tuesday

  • Jamie has almost finished the electrical control panel. He has tested the functions and everything is working as planned. IanB helped iron out a minor bug. Next stage will be to design and build a floor-stand for the control box.
  • Welcome to Lee who dropped in to meet us and see what we do. Lee is a practical all-rounder with an engineering background. He applied himself to picking the lock on one of the Totalizer cabinets, opened it and is going to make a key to fit the lock. Top man!
  • Gavin and Isabel came in to use the 3D printer, to make a thinner, lightweight nose cone for a rocket project. They had a video of the previous rocket's first and only flight. Everything went well on the way up. The return to earth was another story.
  • Hello to new visitor Laurie. He's active in IoT and remote sensing, particularly air quality sensing. He would like to meet any RML people who could be interested in the process of making gadgets for dispersed data collection, probably using STEM Ambassadors and schools to do final assembly and operation of the sensors. (Contact details available from IanB.)
  • Andy and IanB looked at a poorly Dyson rechargeable vacuum cleaner. It came apart into smaller and smaller pieces, then stepped through the portal into the realm of 'beyond all repair'. Interesting to see how much electronics is packed into a small space. It can't need all that technology just to suck dust, surely?
  • Another new face this evening was Charles. He's a mechanical engineer with a range of interests, including a historical appreciation of Forth and a current distaste for Python. Hope to see you here again soon, Charles.
  • Kevin looked in to sort out our Hitachi cordless drill. It's back on the shelf now, albeit in a different black carry-case.
  • Attendance tonight = 11

2020-02-27 Thursday

  • Belle and Carla laser cut fabric
  • Jane carried on with the wooden harp
  • PeterH worked on the model railway
  • Ian and Kevin popped in
  • Attendance tonight = 6

2020-02-25 Tuesday

  • PeterH continues with that model
  • Adam continues with the gun
  • MartinC continues with software development
  • MartinL described his latest idea to IanB
  • Aki came in looking for a blowtorch. Finding the gas bottle was empty he agreed to get a new one by next week.
  • Andy continued improving the Little House network, and turned his hand to a few other issues too
  • Steampunk Peter brought the nixie tube display for IanB to do a bit more software.
  • S.Peter also located the fault on a felt cutter which had been out of order.
  • Jamie continues wiring the control panel. Now it has 240v on it, more care must be taken. Jamie got the green light to come on, and it correctly goes off when the emergency stop is pressed. Good progress.
  • ChrisR applied his skills to the curious case of the belt sander. It has a leakage path to earth, which Should Not happen. PaulE's megger showed the leakage resistance to be less than a quarter megohm, at the lowest end of its range. Mr Fluke the meter said more like 60 kilohms. One thing after another was disconnected, then the motor was removed, then the casing was taken off the motor and still the leakage was there. Finally, the belt sander, motor and casing was consigned to scrap. We tried.
  • Steampunk Peter brought a very old electrical counting machine, from the 1920/30s, in two glass-fronted mahogany cases. These were very heavy and were carried in by the wise knights of the round table. Thanks, guys. It used to count newspapers as they were printed in Fleet Street. Now, we are challenged to find some alternatives(s) for it to count so that it may be returned to a working condition. What will become of it after that we don't know. But if it's eventually sold, part of the profit will be returned to Richmond MakerLabs. Meantime, might it be make to work in time to show it off at Ham Fair on 13th June this year?
  • Attendance tonight = 15

2020-20-20 Thursday

  • Leo worked on the aiming mechanism of the robot nerf gun.
  • Adam finished the aircraft wing project.
  • PeterH carried on with the model railway.
  • Garrett has very small drills and may well buy a very old company.
  • Attendance tonight = 5

2020-02-18 Tuesday

  • Carla and Belle were fabric cutting on the laser cutter
  • PeterH created a tiny replica of the BBC B (Acorn) computer, in cardboard. Inside was a Raspberry Pi Zero.
  • James made a start on wiring up the electrical control panel but we don't have the right tool for the crimp terminations.
  • Colin brought in a duff Dell computer and asked if anyone knows what's wrong with it. IanB found it was suffering a power supply fault, and there's no easily-sourced replacement. Colin agreed to scrap it, and Barry showed how various bits could be salvaged from it.
  • Adam and Andrew each continued their respective projects.
  • IanB made a case for a PCB using the 3D printer
  • Attendance tonight = 10

2020-02-13 Thursday

  • Adam carried on with the model gun and airplane wing project
  • ChrisR worked on the wheelchair steps
  • PeterH managed to use the laser printer to print a new model building
  • Kevin borrowed the drill
  • Attendance tonight = 4

2020-02-11 Tuesday

  • Jon arrived with a heavy case of drills, milling bits, taps and dies, all quite old and fairly rusty. Something he found on ebay. After the application of WD-40 and a deal of burnishing they all looked much the same. Nevertheless, some parts will be very useful.
  • PeterH fitted a tiny remote control model car inside a small Thunderbird-style casing. This will be a self-propelled pod vehicle for Leo's Thunderbird 2
  • Andrew continued with experiments in Android programming
  • Adam did some laser cutting. Looks as if he's building winds for quite a large plane
  • Jane removed the bark from her rustic harp, using a Norse carving tool, and removed a mouse from its legs.
  • Gavin and Isabel returned to 3D print another rocket nose cone. Last week's one was too heavy.
  • ChrisR chopped up a polypropylene kitchen cutting board, to make a footrest for a wheelchair. The cutting process was incredibly noisy and created a mass of polyproylene chippings, but we didn't mind (much).
  • Jamie continued with his control panel. It's looking very good now. He discussed the wiring diagram and got advice on suitable wire for making the internal connections.
  • Yaroslav replaced the MOSFET in his audio amplifier, which last week he had identified. Now it switches on without blowing fuses and is probably fully working again. Yaroslav also removed the wheels from a pair of roller-blades, which was quite a tricky task to begin with, but got easier as he proceeded.
  • ' Attendance tonight = 13

2020-02-06 Tuesday

  • Gavin popped in to pick up his 3d printing
  • Leo worked on his robot, testing the rocket launcher
  • PeterH failed to make the laser printer any better
  • Aki experimented with using a torch to burn the outside of hardwoods and oiling it, to create a black wood finish
  • Andy use the laser cutter
  • Garrett had finished his electronic kits, so instead experimented with a storm kettle
  • Attendance tonight = 6

2020-02-04 Tuesday

  • PeterH continues his modelling task
  • Adam continues the gun transformation
  • PaulE tested a batch of his AVR programmers
  • Briony dropped in and brought a tub of chocs. Thanks!
  • Barry contributed some biscuits to keep us going. Thanks!
  • Hi to Mehl, who was with us last week for the first time
  • Hi to PaulW making his first visit
  • Hi to Wolfgang also seeing us for the first time
  • Chris came to do some laser cutting, and showed how to use the laser cutter to Mehl, PaulW, Wolfgang and Gavin.
  • Isabel asked how to use the 3D printer. She had brought an STL file of a rocket nose cone and started printing it.
  • Yaroslav came along with an audio amplifier that spectacularly blew two fuses every time it was switched on. With a little time and careful analysis, he located a blown MOSFET, which he can easily replace.
  • Attendance tonight = 15

2020-01-30 Thursday

  • Leo traced the source of the uneven drive on his robot and repaired it
  • ChrisR and PeterH played with graphic tablets and printers, cursing drivers.
  • Attendance tonight = 3

2020-01-28 Tuesday

  • Hello and welcome to Mehl who came in to see what we do. He will be back.
  • Barry was working on an Arduino and graphic screen
  • Adam continues adapting the appearance of a gun
  • IanB brought an HP colour laser printer that doesn't print very well. PeterH might be able to fix it and keep it.
  • Jane took apart a hand-held kitchen blender to discover the treasures within
  • Sara and Linda looked in. Sara wants to know what to do about a laptop with a dodgy keyboard and Linda had an early Samsung Galaxy phone in need of an upgrade to the operating system.
  • PeterH assisted Linda with the phone and advised that the first step would be to back up all the data.
  • Jamie continues to make good progress on the electrical control panel
  • PaulE used the oscilloscope to help track down an intriguing fault with his AVR programmer design.
  • Garret brought in an empty tin of SPAM which led to a number of weak jokes from the knights of the round table. Garret announced that he plans to make it into a pinhole camera, using 120 roll film. It will be the Ham Spam Can Cam.
  • Andy took apart a scanner/printer in search of usable hackable spare parts. It yielded up a ton of broken plastic, some junk and a few things. The best parts were a couple of hardened steel rods and a small DC motor with a pinion gear.
  • There's now a working scanner in the 3D printer room as well as the network printer, available for anyone to use.
  • Attendance tonight = 13

2020-01-23 Thursday

  • Leo worked on his Pi Wars robot
  • PeterH wrote HTML
  • Attendance tonight = 2

2020-01-21 Tuesday

  • Carla and Bella used the lasercutter, while Dan looked on.
  • Adam is still changing the appearance of a Nerf gun.
  • PeterH did some painting of the model he's been working on, and he donated a 12v battery to us.
  • Stevie called in and talked to IanB and Jon about the difficulties of icing biscuits.
  • Steampunk Peter brought a device made from at least three Victorian/Georgian parts. He fabricated a screw that is M7 at one end and M10 at the other. Is there no end to our ingenuity!
  • MartinL was puzzling over the best way to make a one-off prototype pressed-aluminium panel.
  • Jamie continues making an electrical control panel. Having already made some large circular holes, this week he cut and filed a rectangular hole in the steel front.
  • PaulE took a laptop apart and changed the fan. It was more difficult than it looked, and it started off looking pretty difficult.
  • ChrisR was able to offer some electrical wiring advice to Jamie.
  • Attendance tonight = 15

2020-01-16 Thursday

"There's no such thing as a hyper-lion"

  • Andy made the laser cutting be good
  • Garrett was playing with the LED light
  • PeterH laser cut a railway building
  • Attendance tonight = 4

2020-01-14 Tuesday

  • PeterH continued modelling
  • Adam is modifying a Nerf gun
  • Jon and Andy spent all evening working on the laser cutter, removing the mirrors and taking more measurements.
  • Jamie experimented with an electronic timer, which will be part of his brewing controller
  • Garret brought a trap suitable for catching small haggis. It was interesting to analyse exactly how, or why, it works.
  • Garret also dissected a LED domestic light for his, and our, knowledge.
  • Hi to PaulB who benefitted from the sunshine in S.Africa over Christmas.
  • PaulE is developing short-range radio, and was looking at alternative types of track for another project
  • Attendance tonight = 10

2020-01-9 Thursday

  • Vish and new vistors Carmella and Yasmin were investigating plastic recycling via shredding and cooking
  • PeterH played with trains
  • Attendance tonight = 5

2020-01-7 Tuesday

  • PeterH glued a railway track
  • Andy and Jon worked on the laser cutter. After last week's cleanup, they were measuring laser power and investigating the state of the optics. ChrisR helped with temperature measurement.
  • PaulB looked in for a short while
  • Welcome to some new faces:
    • Neil came to meet us. He will be back
    • Adam would like to gain new skills. Arduino, maybe?
    • Jamie is planning a controller for brewing and is looking for advice on the electrical side of things
  • Gavin and Isabel came to use the laser cutter. As it was under maintenance they will come back another week.
  • Hi to MartinB as well.
  • Attendance tonight = 12

2020-01-01 Wednesday

  • Jon and Andy came in to do some tinkering with the laser cutter
    • modify a plastic crate so we could soak the honeycomb bed of the cutter in Zep.
    • removed the honeycomb bed of the cutter to soak
    • broke the 'quick release fitting that attaches the hose to the tap
    • made a shopping list of what else we needed in screwfix
    • realised that it was a Bank Holiday and screwfix was probably closed :(
    • texted IanB in the hope he might have one - he did - and he brought it round for us (along with a donated PC).
    • repeatedly pressure washed the honeycomb - not perfect, but much better.
    • cleaned, washed and vacuumed all the insides of the laser cutter case.
    • spent some time making measurements of the laser power using our'dohicky'.
    • spent some time aligning the laser tube to see if power could be improved - there is probably room for some improvement still, we seem to lose a lot of power at each 'bounce' in the optical path.
    • have concluded that a spare lens and some spare mirrors are worth having.
    • need to investigate cleaning techniques for the mirrors and lens.
  • Attendance today = 2