Wednesday, April 27, 2011

00528 Day 61, Drawdio

Today I walked down a well trodden path.

But before I walked down the path, I didn't realise it was there.

I mean, it was there, I just didn't see it.

I think I was looking up at the sky.

But when I looked around I saw that, not only was I walking along this very clearly defined path, it had clearly been made by people wearing big clown shoes.

Then I looked at myself. I WAS WEARING CLOWN SHOES TOO!

Not only that, when I got to what seemed to be the end of the path, there was lots of little paths leading off from it in all different directions and all of them lead to bright, colourful towns where everyone wore huge trousers and red noses and drove cars with square wheels.

I stopped for a minute to think about what to do next.

That was when I saw the sign.

And the sign said:




So I just went home and made a Drawdio in order to explore the relationship between electrical resistance and sound using pencil, paper and a few electronic components (most notably a 555 timer chip).

Drawdio gubbins

Go to the Drawdio site and make one NOW.

Afterwards I went to get a drink from the fridge and slipped on a banana peel.

Monday, April 25, 2011

00527 Day 60, "Knockout"

"Alright, Jimmy, I want you to come out fierce on him in the second half. He won't be expecting the left, so play it nice and cool and then give it to him when he's looking at the right. Got it?"


"Good boy, now get out there."

=Ding, ding=


"One-a, Two-a, Three-a, Four-a, Five-a, Six-a, Seven-a, Eight-a, Nine-a.
Yoooooooooooooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrr OUT!"

"You git, Jimmy"


00526 Day 59, the Brushes

In ancient Japan where a lifetime's devotion to perfecting a single discipline is held in the highest regard, there lives a man who is famed above all others.

He is a brushmaker.

He lives in a small and innocuous house that borders the edge of a placid lake from whom it is said peace and harmony are mingled in such a way as to produce waters of unrivaled purity.

It is here that he toils through the day and long into the night, producing the finest brushes from the rarest materials.

His workmanship is the stuff of legend.

His brushes fetch the highest prices and are sought out by the wealthiest of collectors.

It is said that if you were to paint but one stroke with a brush made by his hand, that the image left on the surface of the paper could tell a thousand stories if only man had the wisdom to read them.

the Brushes

I on the other hand, use the hair of my Daughter and that of my cats.


00525 Day 58, the Baby Amp

the Baby Amp

"Ahhh! Isn't she sweet? What's her name?"

"Well, we haven't really decided yet, seeing as she's an amp."

"Oh, I had no idea, I'm so sorry."

"It's ok, we get alot of that. We found parts of her at the dump."

"Omygosh, how awful. Do you know who the parents are?"

"No, but we're pretty sure the mother was an LM386 n-1 and the father was a flooring plank from an old French railway building. We do know that she has a home-made PCB."

"Well at least she has that going for her. Id she much of a handful?"

"Only when she gets really loud, but even then she can only crank out about 2W."

the Baby Amp

00524 Day 57, the Badge

Another day in the House.

The day began as usual, I picked up the phone. It was the Boss.

"Get your ass down here, we need a badge," she said.

"OK, give me ten to get ready," I was still groggy, it was early.

"We don't have ten, make it five and I won't throw you to the dogs."

Another crazy day.

When I got down there, there was words and drawings and the Boss was mad with all the excitement. She'd been on the sugar.

Badge design

"Here's the scene, we do the badge and then we move on to the next big thing. Either that or I throw you to the dogs."

"Ok," I said. There was no point arguing, it'd only make things worse.

Twenty minutes.

"Where's the badge? I gave you the backgammon piece and the components. All you need is the battery, the safety pin and the tape. Now get to it, or I'll throw you to the dogs."

I didn't sign up for this.

Ten minutes go by, the magnets are on and the little guy is almost done. Just the circuit to do and I'm clocking off.

Badge man

Five minutes more.

"It's done. Can I go now?" I ask.

Badge Badge

"I like it. Now get outta here, before I throw you to the dogs," she shouted.

Badge Demonstration

Just another day in the House. Can't wait for tomorrow. Never can.

Friday, April 22, 2011

00523 Day 56, the Test Lamp

Sometimes a design can be so good that not only does it stand out both in form and function, but it brings new meaning to lives and raises the spirit. It inspires and elates. It combines many complex ideas in one simple entity which shines brighter than the sum of it parts and moves everyone who sees and touches it as a result. The hairs stand up on the back of the neck, the blood flows faster through the temples.

Sometimes it all just comes together and everything is just right.

This was not one of those times and this was not one of those things.

But there are little things that shine in it. This is not a metaphor, they are 3Watt LEDs.

This was for Mark, who wanted to see how resin cast in wood works with lights and different levels of diffusion.

the Test Lamp

the Test Lamp Medusa

the Test Lamp PCB the Test Lamp PCB

This could not be a better example of a good concept executed badly (unless you count military coups on the African subcontinent and the subsequent reaction from the developed nations, perhaps)

Basically, each time you press the button it cycles to the next lamp (all 3W LEDs).

We got your regular clear resin on the bottom, we got your clear resin with diffusion paper, and we got two different thicknesses of clear resin diffused with colloidal silica.

And it's reprogrammable. It's the details of this one that are awesome.

I can hardly contain myself.

But I'll manage.

00522 Day 55, Sand and Sun


It was The Buddha who said,

"Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth"

I was done hiding the truth and the whole "hide the moon" project ran waaaaaaaaaay over budget.

So, in the end, I was left with only the sun.

As it turns out, it wasn't that hard to hide. I just left this on the beach for a few minutes and the kids flattened it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

00521 Day54, the Strap

Like a former fashion model, who's vanity overcame him towards the end of his marginally successful career, who has been left stranded on a deserted island with only the clothes on his back (for the sake of modesty) and who has been forced to cut his own hair after a lice infestation (probably using a stone tool of some sort, slate if he was lucky enough to find it) and for whom the idea of not being able to see the back of his own head is driving him insane(r), so my camera (hushed tones - all hail to the new camera) will never be able to directly image the spiffy strap that adorns it's rightmost strap loop.

Fortunately I always carry a small mirror tile to signal to passing ships and so was able to remedy the situation:

the Strap

Now it can indirectly image the made-up whipping type knot holding together a loop of sleeved dynema which in turn is attached to a loop of shock cord (bound with the Matthew Walker two-strand) via a Prussik knot and all is finally well in the world.

P.S. in case I hadn't mentioned it, I am a former fashion model, who's vanity overcame him towards the end of his marginally successful career.

P.P.S. I am also a liar

P.P.P.S. I'm not

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

00520 Day 53, the TR-6

At the beginning of the 20th Century, there was a burst of scientific investigation into interplanetary travel, largely driven by the inspiration of fiction by writers such as Jules Verne and H.G.Wells. Scientists seized on the rocket as a technology that was able to achieve this in real life.


Almost a hundred years later we stand on the edge of a new era in modern extra planetary exploration.

At the cutting edge? Who else?

But even though, when the knock on the door finally comes (probably later on this week) and I open the door and sign, print and date the delivery note for the package that clearly contains my Nobel prize for rocket surgery (judging by the sound when I shake it), I don't think I'll ever be able to say it quite as well as Tsiolkovsky when he (or someone very like him) said,

"If the reaction mass would have to be accelerated from zero speed to the exhaust speed all energy produced would go into the reaction mass and nothing would be left for kinetic energy gain by the rocket and payload. However, if the rocket already moves and accelerates (the reaction mass is expelled in the direction opposite to the direction in which the rocket moves) less kinetic energy is added to the reaction mass. To see this, if, for example, ve=10 km/s and the speed of the rocket is 3 km/s, then the speed of a small amount of expended reaction mass changes from 3 forwards to 7 km/s rearwards. Thus, while the energy required is 50 MJ per kg reaction mass, only 20 MJ is used for the increase in speed of the reaction mass. The remaining 30 MJ is the increase of the kinetic energy of the rocket and payload."

Yeah, baby.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

00519 Day 52, Making a Splash

I just followed the instructions:

1. Trace the pattern onto plywood.
2. Cut out the shapes with a jigsaw.
3. Sand the newly cut shapes.
4. Takes them to the beach.
5. Impress them in the sand.
6. Remove the pieces and photograph the resulting depressions.
7. Dry the shapes.
8. cut a piece of wood to mount the shapes on to.
9. Undercoat the shapes and the wood backing.
10. paint the backing board white and the shapes red.
11. glue the shapes to the board.

And it totally worked!

Making a splash

Making a splash

Making a splash

Well, I did all that, but they never said what it was for.

I don't even know who they are.

00518 Day 51, the Tune Box

Remember all the great music from days gone by?
Remember how everyone used to dance to it and know all the words?
Remember how all you memories are so full of the lyrics that you stand in dumbstruck awe at the capacity of your own memory (although if you go into the supermarket, you can't remember 2 out of the six things you went to buy)?
Remember how much you loved all that stuff?

Well now you can bring it all back - BADLY!!

the Tune Box

Yes, for a limited time (and in fact, you've just missed it) you can grab a piece of customised nostalgia (wait, just let me remind my spellchecker AGAIN, that customised has an 's' not a 'z') for the price of a kebab and a child's tears.
That's right, simply order an over-specced PICAXE chip, some other, seemingly random components and take a hammer to one of the toys found under your daughter's bed and you too can re-live those heady days!
Within 5 minutes of the soldering iron going cold, you'll be enjoying classic theme tunes like:

James Bond
Danger Mouse
The A-Team
Monty Python

And not only that, but for an even more limited time (and, yes, you've missed that too), you can bask in the glory of your achievement before the slow realisation dawns on you - you've made even more stuff you didn't need.

00517 RIP Fail-o-tron

It is with great sadness that I bring you the story of the Fail-o-tron's passing.

At approx. 12:30 BST a 33k resistor was added to the board, tying the serial in port to ground. Shortly afterwards the circuit was powered up and began to work. The 1W LED began to flash and shortly afterwards it became clear that the project had reached a successful conclusion.

I hope we can all take a moment to reflect on how fleeting failure can be sometimes. And perhaps even in such dark times as these, we can kindle the flames of hope and look forward to other more lastingly unsuccessful endeavours.

There will be a small ceremony on the work desk in the corner in five minutes.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

00516 Next up

Just in case I shuffle off my mortal coil before these all make it to completion, I'm publishing this list in the hope that someone will carry on this great work.


Right, here we go:

The tunebox
Patchwork quilt
Car with motor
Train and train track
Pendant necklace
Saddle bag
Flying saucer
Cast an army
Beach stamps
Finger puppets
RFID or proximity wallet security device
Light stand
Soft box carbon frame
The pound note pad
Lasercut dominoes
Card game
Marble run
Plinths for models
Resistor calculator
Delta Kite
Wind powered stone polisher
Plunger & detonator for crackers
Pre-amp for mic
Wind up aeroplane
PC case mod
DND sign
Engine for stick boat

That's not totally it, but I think it's a good start.

Now maybe if I shuffle a little over here. WHOAAAAAAH!

00515 Day 50, the Glider

Credit to Make for bringing this to my attention (all hail the mighty Make) and kudos to the progenitor of this awesomeness, Slater Harrison of Williamsport, PA. Man if he was my kids' teacher, I'd be a happy man indeed.

the Glider

It'll take all the remaining time I don't have to master this one.

00514 Day 49, the Dolly

I'm a slave to the Silver Screen, you know.

10 years man and boy - no, wait, that would still make me a boy.

The Dolly The Dolly

Waste pipe, cheap skateboard bearings, some wood, cable ties and a tripod screw. That's what little camera operators are made of.

00513 Day 48, the Little Cake

Once upon a time there was a Little Cake who lived on a plate in the kitchen.

The Little Cake

The Little Cake knew that the world outside could be a dangerous place and so never ventured to the edges of the plate.

One day, a Mouth came to the plate. and spoke to the Little Cake.

"Hello, who are you?" said the Mouth.

"I am the Little Cake," replied the Little Cake politely.

"What do you do here on the plate?" asked the Mouth.

"Well, mostly I just stay here in the middle and -"

"NOM!" went the Mouth.


00512 Day 47, Tops

The funny thing about lathing seems to be that you go to great lengths to produce a tool that makes things go round in a perfect circle, only to be faced with the unfortunate reality that a master of the lathe will be able to produce the straightest of lines.




Spinning tops

Shavings Wood

OK, so let's sketch out some new rules for this place.

Ummmmm, we'll start with the obvious ones, I guess.

1. Everyone should have a lathe
2. I will be the best at lathing
3. Everyone will say I am the best at lathing
4. Everyone will try to make tops
5. I will actually make the best tops (see rules 2 and 3)

Right, well, I think that pretty much covers it.

00511 Day 46, Circles

A circle is a special ellipse in which the two foci are coincident and the eccentricity is 0.

I too am a special ellipse with two coincident foci, but unfortunately for me, my eccentricity is 157.

I am outcast from their society.


Circles Circles

B&W Circles

It's nothing to do with the eccentricity, it's because I'm human and they are abstract concepts.

I don't take it personally.

And we still exchange Christmas cards.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

00510 Day 45, Flyers and Floaters

There's comfort in familiarity. And it's familiar things that comfort the most. Mostly I find If I've done something before, it makes me feel comforted. I just love the comforting feeling of stuff I've previously done and then done again. Some more. It's a comfort.



Did I mention how comfortable the whole thing was?

Just writing this is making me feel good. Can't think why.

00509 Day 44, the Sucker

Vacuum forming rocks and sucks at the same time.

Vacuum forming 1.0

Vacuum former 1.0

My frame is too small as is my oven, my acrylic is too thick and my PVC too thin.

Am I bothered?


The vacuum former was built in an hour and worked perfectly. I just need better frames and materials.

Then I can really say I've messed it up without any hope of a decent excuse.

The vacuum former will return. It's mission: To make display covers for little tiny people.

00508 Day 43, the Sand Face

It's been 43 days of stifling heat crossing this barren wasteland in search of the lost civilization of Tutencamooneypopakettle and I for one was ready to go home. Twenty of our party had either turned back, or died (actually twenty of them turned back, but the point still stands) and it was just Havisham and myself. It was only as the sun reached its zenith that I realised that I had in fact made up Havisham and so was totally alone. I too was about to give in when I saw a blemish on the horizon, hardly visible. One last push, one last push for the line, dragging my weary limbs toward the object in the hope that this was what I had been looking for all this time.

the Sand Face

But no, it was just this face in the sand.

Then the kids stepped on it.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

00507 Day 42, Uh-oh

What you do when your day is jam packed and all you have to do in the evening is sit in a pub chewing the breeze and shooting the fat:


Kudos to Paul for experimenting with salt.

Not too sure it's the kind of kudos he wants.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

00506 Day 41, Shelfish

Dear sir

I am in desperate need of help. I have been accumulating items on a daily basis. Now I find myself in a situation of increasing urgency as the number of items rises to epidemic proportions. What am I to do? I simply cannot stem the incoming tide.

I fear for our safety (mostly in a psychological manner).

Yours Faithfully

The Maker



This is most irregular.

You seem to have lost the ability to curb you creative urges.

I would normally suggest a spell of abstinence followed by an enema. However in your case I fell that more drastic action is necessary.

I am prescribing a course of shelving and enclose pictures of said treatment for your information.


Shelves Shelves

Shelves Shelves

Should the shelving prove ineffectual, I'm afraid the enema is your only remaining hope.

00505 Day 40, the City

Almost finished the shelves and consequently very tired now.

Just enough time to carve stamps with scalpel and make city scape.

The City

Should have made the terrace of three in the middle a different colour - red probably.

Still, I'm falling in love with printing.

Monday, April 04, 2011

00504 Day 39, the Linocut Print

Another day, another awesome discovery. So how come I was never press-ganged into doing this. The planning, the cutting, the printing, the cleaning - oh, hang on ... maybe not the cleaning, but the rest of it was bang-on, 100%, bonafide awesome.

The Linocut Print

The Linocut Print Cutting the lino

The lino cut

If I was the kind of person who said "Dang" everytime he saw something awesome, I'd be saying "Dangdangdangdangdangdangdangdangdangdangdangdangdangdangdangdangdang". Boy, glad I'm not that guy. He sounds like a twat.