Blog 2023

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What we have been doing at Little House

Previous years blogs are available from the Main Page

2023-05-16 Tuesday

  • Andy H has a stainless steel garden fork and matching spade, but neither of them has a handle. Andy's task is to remove the snapped-off wood within the steel sleeves. We don't have a tool for that kind of thing and Andy is having to knife-and-fork it.
  • Jane brought in a printer/copier that was ready to be taken apart for the treasures within. There was a struggle involving Torx-head screws and impossible clips, but eventually Jane got it opened up.
  • Louisa has a vintage Dell laptop in need of a replacement disk and more memory. Louisa brought the spares with her and was given some assistance in getting the covers removed. Andrew ran the memory test and installed Windows 10 on to the new SSD (which we kept referring to as the hard disk because old habits die hard). The battery had become all lumpy, which is not a good look for Li-ion batteries. It was removed and the laptop could run without an internal battery with a minimum of inconvenience.
  • Raphael has the STL file for something that needs printing, but he wants to add a 1/2-inch BSF thread to the base. Ian M recommends OpenSCAD library BOSL2 which has all manner of threads. But this would need an upgrade to our OpenSCAD software and Ubuntu is stuck on an older version. Ian spent ages at screen and keyboard looking for a path through this setback, but didn't find a solution (as far as I know).
  • Sidonie added hinges to the storage box she has been making. This seems to be the final touch it needed.
  • Kevin had to drill out a broken thread in his bike frame, as the first stage in fitting a rear bike rack (or luggage carrier). With a bit of ingenuity he will make the new fixing using a couple of jubilee clips.
  • Hello and welcome to three people from Thames Ditton, Ian Karen and Sonia. They came to see what we do and to have a chat. Hope we might see you folk again.
  • Attendance tonight = 12-ish

2023-05-09 Tuesday

  • MartinC agreed to start on a wind turbine to show at Ham Fair (10th June)
  • IanM started repairing three 12V fluorescent lights that were in a poor state from being in a salt-water environment for some years
  • Andrew was busy with coding python on a Raspi Pi. Also wondered about making an AM transmitter using a Pi Pico, to communicate with the AM receiver kits that have been built recently
  • PaulM brought in a Marantz amplifier suffering from one-channel-itis. Despite our woeful lack of audio test gear, the amplifier was able to play music from YouTube and no fault could be found
  • Dan brought in a 20V Lithium-Ion battery which could no longer be charged. It was part of community allotment equipment. Dan was able to take it apart and identify a low-voltage cell. We connected this cell to a bench power supply, and charged it at 500mA until it managed to get back to 3.4V. Dan reassembled the battery pack and we hope that the charger will now be able to work with it.
  • Valeria had a new electronic kit to assemble and solder. This is an EMC detector. It picks up electric fields and makes them audible in an earpiece. Valeria managed to build it and get it fully working in just one session. Next she may laser-cut a cover.
  • Sidonie returned to do some more work on the card-index box she has been making. Sidonie also agreed to make some wooden trays in time for Ham Fair.
  • Attendance tonight = 7

2023-05-02 Tuesday

  • Sherham came early to get a bunch of laser-cutting done
  • MartinC had a laser cutter job to do
  • Elliot came back to use the laser cutter
  • AlexB needed to do some laser cutting too
  • Wow the pressure on laser cutting today! Thanks to all you guys for sharing the time patiently between you.
  • Andrew and Steve were around
  • IanM used the lathe to make a sleeve which put new life into a small rotary drill tool
  • Thanks to Jane for donating an old laptop, and a battery charger switchable between 12V and 6V. That's something you don't come across every day.
  • IanM returned a stone lampholder to Jane, now modified to be electrically safe and compliant with any number of safety standards. It's still in need of the right kind of bulbholder.
  • Hello to Steve from Reading. He and AndyH took a long critical look at the CNC machine
  • Ben came back to learn how to use the 3D printers and to learn the laser cutter.
  • Hi to Spencer. He brought in a high definition monitor with curved screen which had stopped working. Only a little over a year old. It needed to be opened up but after removing all the screws no-one could find how it comes apart. Suspecting there would be little we could do with it even if we could get inside, no repair was attempted and we were unable to help
  • Danny came in for a chat and another look round. Danny is into robotics.
  • Richard made his first visit to see us. Hi, hope you liked what you saw and that you will return
  • On his previous visit, Mark was introduced to 3D modelling in OpenSCAD. This week he did some more, designing a push-button mount for the diver's underwater dashboard. Next week load it onto a 3D printer and see what comes out?
  • Alfia checked out the next steps in the sunshade winch repair and puzzled over the display panel for a rowing machine
  • Raphael started a couple of 3D prints
  • Attendance tonight = 17 (Phew that was a busy evening!)

2023-04-25 Tuesday

  • PeterS received a lathe induction from IanB
  • Hi and welcome to Steve who came to see us. MartinC showed Steve round. Steve is also interested in getting a lathe induction
  • Jane was shown the recycled SELV Halogen lighting 'transformer' that has been fitted to power her 'pet rock' lamp safely even though its wired with bellwire epoxied in place. She's now considering 12V bulbs and holders.
  • Others were busy as usual: Jane, Andrew, IanM, MartinL, Rich, Alfia and Raphael. I just didn't get to see what they were doing.
  • Attendance tonight = 10

2023-04-18 Tuesday

  • Alan brought in a 3D printer with a problem. He exercised it a few times and discovered what the trouble was
  • Hello and welcome to Ben. Interested in 3D printing, tried making an item from a file he brought with him
  • PaulB almost completed the picture frame. Just needs a mount and backing board
  • Andrew did a 3D print
  • Hello to Philip, a retired electronics person, very interested to see all the equipment and machines we have. May take an interest in 3D printing (if I remembered that correctly)
  • Peter S looked in and discussed the laser engraver he's thinking of building. Booked a lathe induction for next week.
  • Alfia looked at the piece of steel we have acquired for the sunshade winch repair, and consulted with Ian.M
  • Raph began to figure out how to create the compressor chamber for a rocket engine, starting from a 40mm dia lump of steel and using the lathe.
  • Attendance tonight = 10

2023-04-11 Tuesday

  • Ian.M made further adjustments to the mini-lathe. It is now a far more precise and reliable tool than it was 6 months ago. Many thanks to Ian for his work on it.
  • David N came in with his UV light source, housed in a former scanner case. David spent some time soldering the connections to the LED strips. It's looking almost finished.
  • Wolfgang had some laser work to do
  • Valeria started another kit to practice soldering. Getting good at it now.
  • Paul B cut some mouldings to make a picture frame. He used the underpinner to nail three sides together. Next week will probably complete it
  • Jon did nothing useful at his laptop
  • Hello and welcome to Mark (Baz). He's a scuba diver who's made an underwater GPS display using a Go-Pro case for the waterproof housing and stuffed a couple of M5 packages (ESP32 with display) into it.
  • William brought in a coffee grinder that grinds exceedingly fine, but is configured to grind commercial quantities of coffee beans. William started on a modification to produce one serving of ground coffee at a time.
  • Hello to Peter S who came in for a chat. He's working on plans to build a low-power laser engraver.
  • Attendance tonight = 9

2023-04-04 Tuesday

  • Andrew was busy
  • Ian.M set up the Dremel as a grinding tool, on the lathe. This was the day to take a few thou off the lathe's chuck plate, because the 3-jaw chuck doesn't fit quite perfectly. It needs serious hammer-blows before it can be removed. After the grinding operation, the chuck removal was greatly improved
  • Steve returned to the power supply repair, and provided IanB with more vape heaters and other parts
  • DavidN continued with a design for the UV light box.
  • PaulB continued to cut moulding for the picture frame
  • Wolfgang used the laser cutter to produce more "Aperiodic Penrose Tiles", including a newly discovered shape
  • William did some work on his Magic Juke Box, and provided cake for for all
  • MartinL picked up the 3D printed work which had been started last week. It had used about 50m of filament and weighed 125grams. This tells us that a 1kg reel of filament holds about 400m.
  • Valeria soldered up and tested a small LED indicator 'Solar 8 Ball' kit, where the LEDs can be activated by shaking
  • TomP had a wheeled robot with remote control. It wasn't working when it arrived, but Tom managed to find the problematical battery contact and fixed it good.
  • Attendance tonight = 10

2023-03-28 Tuesday

  • Andrew designed and printed something on the 3D printer
  • Ian.M made a skilful repair to the ceiling light in the CNC room
  • Steve gave IanB some vape heaters, for experimenting with
  • Rich was around but I didn't see what he was doing
  • Lizzie and Tim came along to see what we do. They a brought with them a wooden standard lamp with a wonky lampholder. With the help of Ian.M, a plan for repair was developed
  • MartinL started a 3D print, making a small section of the electric i-Setta door, to see whether it's possible to print a whole door in sections
  • PaulB is going to make a picture frame, using mouldings we already have, and using the underpinner to join the pieces together.
  • Joe did some laser cutting
  • Attendance tonight = 9

2023-03-21 Tuesday

  • Tom P completed the AM radio build. Good quality of soldering. Next step is testing it.
  • Andrew used the GeeeTech 3D printer to make a control knob for a D-shaft. Best quality print I've seen.
  • MartinL looked in for a chat
  • Welcome back to Jane! Spent her time looking for component parts to transform into other things.
  • Andy H broke a cooler pump. Ian B did some micro-soldering to make it un-broke.
  • Colin G took on the challenge to make a picture frame using our newly acquired underpinner. Colin proved it's possible and now is the only person who understands how the underpinner works.
  • Steve had a camcorder with a non-functioning battery power supply. He managed to get it working only to find there's a mechanical problem with the cassette eject. Ah, these pre-digital wonders...
  • Rich brought back the wildlife camera and rewired the battery supply using silicone wire (known for its flexibility) kindly provided by Ian M. It worked!
  • Richard had a battle to open the case of a BT home hub with a view to replacing the software with OpenWRT. Having got it open, he found it wasn't the right model of Home Hub. Maybe try with another next week?
  • Wolfgang had prepared a graphics file which he planned to cut and etch on the laser cutter. Regrettably the file didn't survive two format changes into .dxf, which the laser cutter needs. Maybe try again soon.
  • David N provided some assistance to Wolfgang. David is working on a laser cut UV light box and is trying to perfect the laser cutting files.
  • Remi successfully laser cut a front panel for his microcontroller project.
  • Tom E continued to repair his camera tripos head. This week he sanded and prepared for gluing. Tom found the rapid set Gorilla glue epoxy didn't do what it said on the label, but Ian B assured him it would eventually set or cure and would reach full strength after a day.
  • Hi to Oleg, here to see what goes on and how it all works. Andy showed him round. Hope to see you again soon.
  • Attendance tonight = 15

2023-03-14 Tuesday

  • Steve started on a repair to a power supply. IanM suggested tracing out the circuit by photographing the top and bottom sides of the PCB and superimposing them. We couldn't manage all that in one day so will continue next week. IanM subsequently worked on the images in Photoshop CS2 to get a clearer combined image
  • Drew came along to meet us. Welcome!
  • Anne brought along a pruner that no longer works properly, and a pair of secateurs that had seen better days too. IanM took the pruner apart and did a bit of grinding to the blades. He also worked his magic on the secateurs. Result: a contented Anne
  • Welcome to Colin, an inveterate tinkerer who has come to meet us. Colin got given an introduction to the laser cutter.
  • IanM busy as ever, helping Steve, Tom P, Anne, Tom E, Alfia
  • Tom P has a Mac with a battery connector problem. There was general agreement that it should be replaced as it seems unrepairable any other way. Soldering a new connector to the motherboard will be no easy feat.
  • Tom E came along with a file to 3D print a replacement part for a camera tripod. The print failed part way through, but the important bit had already been printed. Tom hacked together the new 3D printed part and the broken remainder of the tripod head. It looked like a lash-up but also looked like a practical fix.
  • Rich is going to repair a wildlife camera. The battery wires in the hinge have broken from repeated movement. Ian M suggests that silicone wire is used in the repair for its high flexibility. He offered to provide some silicone wire of his own.
  • Robert visited us for the first time. He's interested in the laser cutter and other tools and comes with a technical background.
  • Alfia had another look at the sunshade, and discussed the broken casting with Ian M. Ian thinks that a replacement for the casting could be turned on the lathe, if only we had a piece of 40mm mild steel rod. Ian B will get a lump of steel.
  • Raff started a 3D print job which didn't go well. He also did some filing work.
  • Attendance tonight = 12

2023-03-07 Tuesday

  • Hi David N. Working on a lightbox design
  • Wolfgang would like to know how to use the laser cutter
  • Andrew was coding
  • Tom P began to assemble a radio from a kit
  • Rich Vernon has a wildlife camera that needs fixing
  • Dean came to see us and was shown round by Andy
  • Valeria started to build a second radio from a kit. IanB did some fault-finding on the first one
  • Martin L is putting together a presentation on the e-Iset bubble car
  • Steve came along with something to fix
  • Carla dropped in to pick up the key she glued way back on 7th February
  • Carla would also like to try her hand at building a radio from a kit
  • Hi to Remi who comes from the packed-away LHS. He has some acrylic, wants to laser cut it.
  • Attendance tonight = 12

2023-02-28 Tuesday

  • IanM has brought along an isolating transformer, on loan, which can be used when making measurements at mains voltage levels with the oscilloscope or any other grounded equipment.
  • Steve looked into converting a PC power supply into a useful bench supply.
  • PeterV was able to complete the repair of a light unit, using the 12-way DIP switch sourced during the week
  • Andrew had some coding to do
  • MartinL straightened up his shock absorber again, ready for fitting back to the e-Iset bubble car
  • Hi to Chris who came in to have a look around, maybe see what we are up to
  • Tom still has an interest in assembling a radio receiver kit. He took away the Chinese instructions to see whether he could make sense of them
  • Hi also to Wolfgang. We had not seen him for a year or so, and it's great that he is keeping in touch
  • PaulM completed his repair to the cooler box.
  • PaulB came in to say hello. Next week he may start on a project of his own
  • Duncan had to do some soldering, and spoke of his experience at other hackspaces.
  • DavidN had a long-delayed laser cutter job to run. The ply that he brought in was good-quality and didn't cut terribly easily
  • AndyH came by to see that all was well with the laser cutter. He also had a good chat with some others.
  • Attendance tonight = 14

2023-02-21 Tuesday

  • Ian.M got started on repair of an electric heater that had been declared unsafe by PeterH.
  • Andy made countless adjustments to the laser cutter beam path
  • MartinL straightened a bent shock absorber for the electric Isetta and cut a new thread on the shaft
  • David N came to see how the laser cutter was doing
  • Tom P made a visit to see us and expressed an interest in assembling a pocket-size MW radio
  • Paul B dropped in to see what's happening
  • Peter V had to repair a light unit. It needs a 10-way DIL-switch which Ian B promised to order in time for next week
  • Late in the evening Raphael and Alfia came by with project work in mind.
  • Attendance tonight = 9

2023-02-14 Tuesday

  • Andrew coding
  • IanM giving help to Paul, Martin, Valeria
  • MartinL cut an M10 thread on a broken shock absorber, for the e-Iset
  • Paul had a Peltier-cell cooler to fix. Ian.M: Teardown and diagnosis of failed Peltier element completed. Element P/N and supplier found
  • Valeria did more soldering, reached the stage of testing the radio she built
  • Sidone did a bit more work on the wooden box, but couldn't stay long
  • Steve grappled with some electrical things
  • Gaz was into coding
  • Peter repaired a battery charger
  • Garret changed battery in a car key fob, and tested an anti-static device
  • Attendance this evening = 10

2023-02-07 Tuesday

  • Steve has a Kindle in need of repair. Maybe battery? Ian.M helped analyse the problem, not battery, possibly needs a software re-install?
  • Eliott returned with amended files, to do some laser cutting. This time it worked out a lot better.
  • Valeria visited for the first time. She would like to learn how to solder. IanB gave a bit of instruction and Valeria soldered all the parts to make a small AM transistor radio. To be completed next week. See:
  • MartinL needs to replace the Hall Effect sensors in his wheel motor. This involves breaking the old ones out from their epoxy-secured mounts, requiring excessive force and judicious cursing.
  • Andrew is coding with two keyboards, a task requiring heightened concentration to be sure of using the right keyboard from moment to moment. He was doing quite well, with occasional lapses.
  • Hi and hello to Alex and Julian. They came to find out how the laser cutter can be used on acrylic. They will prepare a .dxf cutting file and come along next week.
  • AndyH looked in to plan for the forthcoming laser tube replacement. Unless it goes well, the laser cutter may be out of action next Tuesday the 14th.
  • Carla came in with a key that had a broken handle. With a hacksaw, a metal file and some epoxy glue, she set the handle in place, then had to leave it 48 hours for the epoxy to harden.
  • Attendance tonight = 9

2023-01-31 Tuesday

  • First in were Mark and Kim, who had some laser cutting to do. They are London Hackspace members, unfortunately laserless until LHS can find a new home
  • Andrew came along and soon got down to some coding
  • Elliot also needed to do some laser cutting
  • IanM had got an 8051-lookalike working on a development board (from our electronic waste bin, if I remember right, see last week)
  • Aiden used LibreCad to prepare dxf files for laser cutting. He also achieve the cutting the same evening to meet a certain deadline
  • SimonW came to visit us. He manages the Richmond Furniture Project, and has a workshop where secondhand furniture is repaired and cleaned up, by volunteers. There could be common areas where RFP and RML interests overlap
  • William came in with a PCB from a Korg digital piano. It had worked once but now is not functional. He had a chat with IanM, but it looked like it's maybe a no-hope item.
  • MartinL, AndyH, Peter, Alfia, Raph and Sidone were also in this week. Quite a busy evening.
  • Attendance tonight = 14

2023-01-24 Tuesday

  • Andrew was coding for the remote control tracked vehicle
  • IanM was available to help out, and rescued a boxed SiLabs C8051F330 MCU Toolstick devkit from the eWaste. A nice fast 20 pin 7.75K 8051, with HW debugging :-)
  • Steve needed to make an 18650 battery holder and got plenty of advice
  • PaulB looked in. He's been a member for many years.
  • Lincoln had a sheet of acrylic that needed laser cutting
  • Welcome to Duncan and Tal. They had connections with Tog, a hackspace in Dublin but are now living in Kingston. Duncan offered to help with projects within RML. Tal does social media.
  • Raphael came quite late, just to pick up some 3D prints he had started last week.
  • Attendance tonight = 8

2023-01-17 Tuesday

  • IanM gave help to Steve and to MartinL
  • Charlie used LibreCad to progress his design for a laser cut truck
  • Aiden used LibreCad to define a castle shape to be laser cut
  • Steve had a session with IanM
  • Andrew has built a tank track model with 4 motors and intelligent control
  • PaulM needed to repair a Navtex receiver
  • MartinL had to repair an electric wheel. IanM gave advice
  • Raphael set up 2 3D print jobs
  • Alfia mended a lampshade.
  • Panos is making a jig to hold an angle grinder to cut through stainless steel pipe
  • Spencer brought in an electric piano needing two new connecters to be fitted. A successful repair thanks to IanM
  • Attendance tonight = 12

2023-01-10 Tuesday

  • Ian.M put right a long-standing looseness in the lathe tailstock. He got the alignment precise down to the sub-millimetre level
  • Andrew is doing something with geared motors and a tank track
  • PaulE came for the evening, doing some coding and sharing some nice butterscotch squares
  • Paul_D returned, having got a 3D file for the snowman, from last week. Matt showed how the 3D model could be tweaked and modified. IanB took the stl file and sliced it with Cura in vase mode so it would be hollow inside. This was printed in white PLA and took about 80 minutes. The final object had some imperfections which could be put right before a re-print. Paul took the printed object to see how a light bulb could be able to clip in.
  • Martinl mused over next steps in the e-Iset build. See last year's blog for the back story.
  • Steve brought in a buck converter that was in need of repair. With some help and guidance he located a chip that needs replacement.
  • Felix has a cordless drill, not working. With the assistance of Ian.M, it came apart and the insides could be examined. By the end of the evening it was all put back together, but whether working or not, I don't know. IanM (talk): It worked, but we suspect its NiCd pack is a little sad
  • Felix also had a fan cooled light box, which is used in helping plants to grow where there's not enough natural light. One fan was making a nasty noise. Everything got tested individually, and after re-assembly it all seemed to be working well.
  • Hello and welcome to PeterV. He's got skills in electronics and would like to get back to making things. On this visit, Peter managed to help Felix with the light box. Thanks for helping out.
  • Kevin returned a sander that he had been loaned. It needs a little TLC to bring it back into good operational use, but hey, we mend things so that's not beyond us.
  • Spencer looked in with an electric piano. It had a couple of badly connected ribbon cables. We all advised that the only way forward would be to replace the insulation displacement connectors with new ones. You can't re-use them. It just doesn't work. New connectors were put on order and we hope to see Spencer next week for the fitting.
  • Attendance tonight = 12

2023-01-03 Tuesday

  • Steve brought in a multimeter he had bought online for about £4, that should have been priced at £24. Good deal! He also prototyped a PWM dimmer circuit based on a 555 timer, with the help of IanM (who later drew the schematic in LTspice and simmed it).
  • Dan brought some 3D prints he had made at home using vase mode. These are thin-walled and translucent, ideal for putting coloured string lights inside.
  • DavidN was experimenting with creating a light-proof UV exposure box. This could be used within a photo-etching process for making printing plates.
  • Hi to Raph and Alfia, who we haven't seen for a while. Raph set up some 3D printing and Alfia donated some useful odds and ends to help fill our shelf boxes. Remember all the stuff on the shelves is free for anybody to use.
  • Hello and welcome to Richard, Paul and David. Three people new to RML who immediately seemed to fit right in. Paul wants to make a replacement snowman for a 20-year-old string of Christmas lights. There was some general discussion about possible approaches, and David not only suggested photogrammetry scanning but also took 200 photos of the sample snowman from different angles, uploaded the pics to and received back a 3-dimensional image. Next week Paul will 3D print the snowman in white PLA.
  • Matt gave Richard an introduction into computer aided design, using Fusion360. Richard plans to use the CNC mill to cut out legs for a plant pot holder.
  • Attendance tonight = 10

Previous years blogs are available from the Main Page