Jul 20

Long time no type

So yeah, a whole month went by without posting here. Work was a little crazy. But there was time to turn a few more bowls…

Spalting had gone just a touch far on this beech blank, and a check had formed along one of the spalting planes, so I knocked it off with the chisel and that sortof defined what the final shape would be.

Rather pretty in the end. And there were a few new toys that finally arrived three months after ordering them (they’d come from China all the way to my office… which was in lockdown. But they cleared out the mail room a few months in and dropped everything out to us – thanks for that Robbie, if you’re reading this):

The centerfinder in black also has these raised steps that are set distances apart so it’s both a centerfinder and a gauge to set your calipers against. Useful enought that I’d printed off my own copy of one on the 3D printer a few months ago – that’s the one in green on the far right. The black centerfinder on the far left is a handily sized one for small spindles no more than a few inches in cross-section, and the red one is for larger blanks – very handy for the bowl stuff.

There’s also a longer T-bar for the chuck but despite it being sold for this chuck, it has the wrong size of square bit on the end so I’ll have to grind that down a bit to make it fit right, which is annoying.
Less delayed was a buffing wheel setup which will prove handy for finishing. It’s nothing special, just the chestnut products one:

More than good enough for my level though. Oh and a box of pipettes, a small handful of which are in the cup in that photo and which have so far fallen all over the place three times in the shed. There’s about a kilo more and if you think a kilo of 3ml pipettes sounds like a silly number, you’d be right. Turns out some things you can only buy in bulk before you’re paying a euro or two for one pippette – but order a kilo and you get 2000 of the things for the price you’d have paid for ten of them in a sensibly-sized box. They’re very handy for getting resin into exactly the right spot when filling knots and the like.

There’s been a few other projects since, and I have photos and things already taken on the cameraphone of them, I must spend an hour posting them up here later on. Especially since I just finished a long bout of shed-tidying-up with some nice results.

Jan 19

More toys…

So at the same time that I bought the lidar, I had dropped about a hundred euro on aliexpress on other stuff as well. Most were presents or non-present things for xmas or general stuff like torches, but a few were just for me to play around with on the Raspberry Pis that have been building up around here — an old project came home from work and I realised I had one Raspberry Pi B+, two Zeros and three Zero Ws, one of which I had ordered back in October because I had literally lost one of the two Zeros in my toolbox.

Yes, you can now lose a complete linux computer (which costs a fiver, I’m not rich) in your toolbox. It doesn’t even have to be that full. Welcome to the future. Sorry, we don’t have housing, equality, universal healthcare or even a decent separation between church and state, but we do have a nifty selection of toys, which if you’re having to deal with all the other crap, is probably nothing to sneeze at.

Anyway, I bought a bunch of small things to help with some stuff in the lab (look, it’s a home office that never does office-ing, and it’s got some kit in it that we had in labs in college, so it’s the lab and the shed is the shed, it makes perfect sense to me…). Mostly things like battery holders, alligator clips and test clips, more breadboards and those cool little plug-in power adapters for breadboards, you know the ones? These:

They’re super handy, you can feed them from a USB powerbank or a DC wall wart if you’re feeling brave about earthing, and you get stabilised conditioned power for either a 5V or 3.3V rail thanks to a buck converter and a power switch (slightly more civilised than yanking cords). Neat solution and cheap as chips.

But I was also thinking I could use a slightly beefier PSU to have handy just for things like large LED arrays, and I didn’t want to tie down the adjustable bench supply I have, so I went down a tried and trusted DIY route – just get a cheap as chips PC power supply (the ATX ones go for almost no money and are all rated in the hundreds of watts range with standard voltages and standard connectors) and even bought a readymade PCB with terminals for one.

I also got a variable buck convertor module with display because there are spare leads on that ATX power supply, I might as well feed them into something useful. A bit of work with some wood and acrylic for a case and front panel and I’ll have a nice benchtop tool to work with for half the cost of my current bench power supply, and that was the cheapest Farnell had and it was on sale…

And there was also a megger tester clone because if you’re buying stuff from china that goes near the mains, you want to be able to test it for insulation breakdown and the like.

Oh, not from aliexpress but from dealz (aka poundland) came these:

I know they look cheap (and they are) but they’re bloody handy little gadgets. They’ve made lighting up the lab a lot easier, just stick them up with double-sided tape and the magnet is strong enough to let them act even as downlights:

Along with those, I got a bunch of sensors because wow have the mobile phone and consumer electronics industries gone and made these things cheap. The most expensive one I got was a lightning detector. Anyone remember the StormScope?

Handy little thing that sat in a light airplane’s cockpit (think Cessna 172, not Boeing 767), along with all the extra processing and antenna stuff that was hidden away elsewhere:

And all that gave you an idea of where nearby lightning strikes were so you didn’t fly into thunderstorms.

Now, don’t get me wrong, that stuff was flight-rated and that’s the processor and display as well, but still, to see all that hardware come down to a ‚ā¨20 sensor (including shipping) is something else, especially when that’s the most expensive out of a bunch of these kind of things.

And it’s now plugged into one Raspberry Pi, along with a CO2 sensor and a barometric pressure, temperature and humidity sensor.

And so far, I can only read from two of them, but I’ve not had a lot of free time ūüėÄ As far as I can tell, it’s working fine, I just haven’t stacked up libraries and python runtimes properly just yet. I’ll get to it.

Meanwhile, I have a half-dozen small oled displays originally intended for phones and such and costing no more than ‚ā¨5 for the most expensive, all plugged into another Pi and so far only one turned out to be toast on arrival, but none are as cooperative yet as I’d like (but this is the fun bit).

Oh, and speaking of displays, I seem to have ordered a wheelbarrow of neopixels. They play nicely with Pis as well (er, don’t watch this if you have epilepsy):

I do have a plan for those as well, I just haven’t gotten there yet (I’m wondering if that would work as a lightning detector display, sortof like a DiscoStormScope…)

And then there’s the CO/NO2/H2/NH3/CH4 gas sensor, the airborne particulates sensor, the 3D magnetometer, the other laser rangefinder, the luminosity sensor that works in both visible and UV light, the GPS module and the 3DOF gyro and 3DOF accelerometer which is basically the guts of an INS.

If I ever get some more free time, I now have enough to fill it…