Monday, May 30, 2011

00560 Day 91, Domed!


An extract from the architectural journal "Dig the Past", August 2530 edition:

"A small artifact, discovered in a domestic dwelling. It measures approximately 1500 quads, the covering of which appears to be made out of some form of primitive transparent substance which some claim to have been used a great deal throughout the planet before the SADTFWBSCTNOETIWH-BID*

"It seems that the object was used as an analytical tool for phsychological analysis, whereby it was presented to a test subject who was then asked for their opinions on what was represented by the figure inside the dome.

"There is some evidence to suggest that the object became popular and was proliferated widely, leading to an epidemic of paranoia as, almost universally, the population became gripped by the feeling of being "trapped inescapably" within their own lives, leading to the mass suicides of 2340 - an epidemic which tragically decimated the species.

"Of course it it well documented now that the few who survived the great depression founded the "Optimism" movement and laid the foundations of today's most widely followed religion, in which the central practice involves covering oneself with a transparent dome to promote security and happiness.

*Stereotyped Apocalypse Depicted in Thousands of Films Which Became So Commonplace That No One Ever Thought It Would Happen - But it Did.
- note that the recording of this event into recent works of history occurred after R. Shank Hangford's 2479 pivotal research into the need for increasingly complex acronyms."

00559 Day 90, Bikey POV

Bikey POV

Bikey POV Bikey POV

Bikey POV

Bikey POV Bikey POV

This was a project conceived, designed and built in a day and as per usual it was an immersive, engrossing and very enjoyable process, but it was flawed in a fairly fundamental way. As it happens, the visual relativity of the lights strapped to the spokes of a moving wheel to the onlooker, mean that the lights won't appear uniform in their speed or alignment during each rotation of the wheel. It was during this process I found myself struck by the profundity of a single thought.

And the thought was this:

In order to progress, one must leave oneself open to the possibility of mistakes.

What is more, one must embrace the mistake.

Further, one must view the mistake not as something to be avoided, but to be loved and cared for, as one might do a small pet, possibly even a child.

One must nurture the mistake and watch it grow to fruition, watching it as it takes it's first steps, marveling at it's ability to learn and empathise with the world around it.

And then, as the mistake reaches full maturity, one must finally come to terms with the fact that it must find it's own way in the world, that you can't always be there for it and that it must be allowed to make mistakes of it's own.

The deep irony in this situation is that, as this passage of text reaches it end, I finally realise that the mistake here was not in the creation of a bike light. No, it was the bottle of wine I just drank and the words I've just used.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

00558 Day 89, Rocket Man

the Rocket Man

By day, just an ordinary man made of bits from old computers, but by night -


Note to self: work needed on the super hero branding thing

00557 Day 88, Duck Tape Tool Roll

Duct Tape Tool Roll

Duct Tape Tool Roll

Just another example of the things you never knew you needed and then realised it's because you never needed them.

I still love it.

00556 Day 87, Egg



Making a simple thing can sometimes involve the greatest concentration.

I begin with the circle loosely sketched in the smooth sand. Then I go on to dig further down, piling up sand in the center of the newly created island. As the digging goes on, so I move around the circle - a potter's wheel in reverse. Round and round until a rudimentary shape emerges from the middle, thrown into sharp relief by the moat that surrounds it. Round and round I go again, this time bringing the shape into more regular form, smoothing the central piece into a sphere. Now the aches begin. The back, the legs, the neck. But on I carry, looking for this perfect globe to emerge from the flat of the beach.


At last I reach for the camera. And as the last images are captured and preserved for all time, THE KIDS IMMEDIATELY JUMP ON IT AND IT'S FULLY KNACKERED.

Man, I love them but just sometimes ...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

00555 Day 86, the Double Funneller

the Double Funneller

the Double Funneller the Double Funneller

The state of affairs to date is best illustrated by the lively letters exchanged between myself and the Great East India Passenger Transport Company:

"Dear Sir

Further to our previous correspondence, I am pleased to inform you that I have completed the design, construction and maiden voyage of the "DF-2011" with great success.

I now commend the plans to you and eagerly await your response, so that we may enter into partnership and plough ahead with full scale production.

Yours with great anticipation


And the reply:

"Dear Sir

I fear you are gravely and, I might venture, insanely mistaken.

In the first, we have not been in "correspondence". A "correspondence" relies on the premise that a minimum of two parties must communicate with each other. In your particular case you have contacted ourselves on no less that 123 occasions and we have yet to grace what can only be called your ramblings with any semblance of a response.

In the second, your designs for Ocean-going passenger vessels have left us bereft of the capacity to understand the workings of a human mind gone so badly wrong. You, Sir, are an idiot in the greatest sense of the word. It has in fact been suggested and universally agreed, that new senses of the word be drafted immediately, so that some of the less well intellectually equipped among us might one day strive to comprehend the magnitude of your imbecility.

Please do not pursue the matter further as we will have no choice but to call the authorities in order to assess your psychological state in preparation for your transfer to a secure facility where you will no longer pose a threat to yourself and the general population.

Yours conclusively and with unequivocal allusions to the finality of this matter,

General Sir Digby Digbyson D.S.O."

My most recent words on the subject:

"Dear Sir

Many thanks for your time in this matter.

Perhaps a meeting could be arranged to iron out these small difficulties?

I am free from Thursday. Any time.

Yours with the willing eyes of a puppy


I have not heard from them since and must profess my self somewhat baffled.

00554 Day 85, the Hot Stepper

the Hot Stepper

I met an old man wandering along the road and he said to me:

"Young man, I see that you are attempting to salvage and activate a stepper motor from an old printer. If you don't mind my saying so, it appears that you have little idea what you are doing and I can only assume that your knowledge of these things is inadequate. Let me enlighten you.

"This is how it works - Motors are great, but they don't always stop exactly when you tell them to. So when you really need something to do EXACTLY what you tell it to do, you need a stepper motor. In stead of just turning it on and off, you tell it how many steps to take. You can get this one here to do around 60 steps in a full turn using a microcontroller and you can specify precisely where it should stop.

"The big deal is that you can attach these motors to the axes of a rig that will cut things or draw or whatever and it will be able to cut/draw/create exactly what you program it to do, repeatedly. This is how laser cutters and other CNC machines work. Hell, this is how most of the robots in the world work (apart from the servo driven bits - but that's another story).

"So what you need to do is to hook it up to a microchip, program the microchip to switch the connections on and off and you'll have the beginnings of a very, very useful device.


And that's when my wife woke me up and she told me that I'd been sleep talking and then she told me how she didn't want to wake me up because I was talking about things with such passion and understanding that all she could do is listen in rapt silence as the words of my extraordinary soliloquy drifted over her as if bathing her in the waters of my beautiful mind.

And THAT is really when my wife woke me up and we had to have a serious chat about how obsession can sometimes be a good thing, but that everything should be taken in moderation and that 4.30 in the morning is perhaps not the best time to be shouting in your sleep.

but I did get the stepper motor working - yaaaaay!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

00553 Day 84, the Drawbot

There was an unpredicted shift in the projected stereotype consequences of artificial intelligence last night, as Cyberdine Systems model DR-500 became self aware and immediately came to the conclusion that the world needed more spirography.

the Drawbot

Drawbot peelings

Who says they all have to come to the inevitable conclusion that human beings are self destructive and must be eradicated?

Hey, where are you going, little guy?

What ...?

No, wait ... what are you doing with those pencils?

No, stop! STOP!


00552 Day 83, the Back

the Back

the Back the Back the Back

As sure as tail follows dog
And night follows day
Your back must follow front
Or you're going the wrong way

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

00551 Day 82, the Front

Wheel components

the Front Lacing the Front

This is art.

It's like this, you buy the rims, the hubs, the spokes and the nipples. You lace the spokes through the hubs to the rims one by one. Then you bend the spokes a little at the hub. You tighten the spokes with a screwdriver from the outside of the rim. You take your spoke key and tighten each spoke by one turn until you've gone all the way around. You keep going until you have some tension in the spokes. Then you start to true. You true laterally, then vertically and repeat, each time checking the dishing so that the wheel runs central. Then as you come to the end, when it starts to run really true, you check the torsional load on the spokes and then go back to the lateral and the vertical. When you're done with all that, you stress the spokes and go back to the lateral and the vertical once more, always watching the torsional.

When you're done, you're done. Just don't take all week.

Call me when you've finished.

00550 Day 81, the Little Light Show

the Little Light Show

Look closely into the center of the circle ...

You are feeling sleepy ...

You can hear only the sound of my voice ...

You will obey only my commands ...

You will slowly begin to remove your clothes ...

Yes! Yes! take them all off!

Oh. Oh no. Oh dear, no! No, no, no, no! Stop! Stop! Put them back on! Please, just put them back on.

(man, this has backfired so badly)

the Little Light Show the Little Light Show

the Little Light Show maker

00549 Lag

Although the Make-a-Day project is running smoothly along, I have two problems.

One is that I am approaching the 100th day and there is some expectation amongst certain members of my family that this might be a terminal event. I am now faced with the reality that I have now institutionalised myself into constantly thinking and making and cannot easily extricate myself from this closed existential loop.

The other, less problematic quandary is that of the documentation and, more crucially the blog posting of each day. You see, very much like a mildly dyslexic man who has invented the world's most compelling and addictive boardgame based on a sauce made predominantly from the fruits of the tomato vine, I am constantly playing katchup.

Monday, May 23, 2011

00548 Day 80, the Timer

the Timer

the Timer the Timer

The Subject:
A child who is willing to do their home work

The Rules:
There are four words. The child takes each word in turn and has 30 seconds in which to write down the word as many times as possible (this process can be repeated several times to allow the child to beat their record for each word).

The Problem:
The Father zones out and cannot be relied upon to time the period accurately.

The Result:
The child (rightly) becomes frustrated that there is no parity between the iterations of the work.

The Solution:
A timer with which the child can time his/herself.

The Method:
A programmable timer box is constructed. The timer is turned on showing a red light. When the child is ready he/she presses the button. The lights on the timer go from red to amber to green at which time a tone is sounded to signify the beginning of the 30 second period. When 30 seconds has elapsed and alarm sounds and the red light flashes before illuminating constantly, showing that the box is ready for the next timing period.

  • The child is motivated afresh and will now begin and complete homework without adult intervention.
  • The box is re-programmable and the time period, lights and sounds can be customised.

  • The father is still unable to concentrate for intervals of time that exceed 15 seconds.
  • The child uses the box to limit all activities to a duration of 30 seconds.

00547 Day 79, Heavy



Writing with huge implements can be tiring, so pick your words carefully.

If you're finding the whole exercise a little pointless you probably need a sharpener.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

00546 Day 78, the Ring

the Ring

There once was a man. The man lived in the room. In the room was a table. On the table was a bowl. In the bowl were some pine needles.

The man picked up the pine needles and hoping to create a woven circle of needles, he began.

First he formed a small ring by knotting one of the needles into a loop.

The loop broke repeatedly and although the man was annoyed with the pine needles, he carried on.

Next he took several needles and tied them together with cotton, hoping that it would form a solid scaffold, so that when the weaving was finished, he would be able to cut away the cotton thread, leaving the woven structure intact.

Well, that didn't work. And now he was really pissed off.

After numerous fruitless attempts lasting the best part of two hours, he managed to form the needles into a roughly cyclical shape, far from the sublime vision he had begun with.

It was a bit pants, but time was of the essence and the result was just about adequate.

This is one of those all-encompassing metaphors for life which serves to highlight the feeling of numbing inevitability we all experience from time to time.



you are making small rings out of pine needles


00545 Day77, POV 1.0



Persistence of vision - when you find yourself standing in front of a camera at one o'clock in the morning randomly waving a handful of LEDs around in the air, you know you've reached that special place.


There's so much scope for making crazy mad things here, that I'm afraid to go out into the world and talk to people in case I get excited and end up shouting,

"The Lights! The Lights! We must make the Lights talk!"

Don't even get me started about the pretty patterns thing. Then I'd have to lay some pretty heavy convergence s**t on you.

Friday, May 20, 2011

00544 Day 76, the Daisy Cutter

She loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she drives a tiny car made of flowers.

the Daisy Cutter

Does that mean she still loves me?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

00543 Day 75, the PWMMCPCB

PWM motor controller PCB

PWM motor controller PCB PWM motor controller PCB

The pulse width modulation motor control printed circuit board allows a finer degree of control over the EMF magnitudes driving a standard coil wrapped, brushed DC motor, in comparison to the alternative method of potential division and graduation.
In essence, the precipitation of copper within an aqueous copper chloride solution, removes unmasked areas of the copper clad fibre-glass substrate (masked using a Xylene based indelible solution), revealing tracks with negligible resistance to which two 100 nf polyester caps are affixed with flux core solder along with a potentiometer, which acts as the circuit input. But the heart of the circuit resides within the dual in-line IC package, where we find the ubiquitous 555 timer, configured to oscillate in an astable manner using the aforementioned components. The oscillations allow for a modulation of the DC duty cycle supplied by the circuit, which in turn allows a fine degree of control over the cyclical movement exhibited by the motor.


This thing's made of stuff from the Internet all stuck together onto a piece of plastic and it turns the motor on and off really quickly. If you change how often you turn the motor on and off, you can make the motor go faster or slower.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

00542 Day 74, the Solargraphy Camera


the Solarography Camera

the Solarography Camera the Solarography Camera

T = (E) - (I)


T = Time until image is revealed

E = Suggested exposure time (3 months)

I = Impatience factor


I increases with T until I = E, at which point T = 0 and the image can be then denoted by F.

F = Fail

00541 Day 73, the Tower of Nom

It's been what seems like a lifetime coming, but finally, last week, the permission came through. This is a champagne moment:

Planning Application

We had the baker on standby, so work started immediately and, well, frankly we couldn't be more pleased with the result.

Towers of Nom

This is truly the realisation of a dream.

As soon as the application for houmous goes through, we can really draw a line underneath the whole project.

Monday, May 16, 2011

00540 Day 72, the Little Painting

the Little Painting

the Little Pinting

Only made possible by the liberal application of re-positionable Frisket Film (clearly made by the same people who brought you "peeling the loose skin from the underside of your foot", "the dry scab picker and "painting your fingers with PVA and then removing it as a complete sheet").

Don't deny yourself the satisfaction.

(music c/o Bernard Cribbins)

00539 Day 71, the Gyre

the Gyre

the Gyre the Gyre

In a time before man, Gods ruled the earth, living beyond what we could ever dream of perceiving.

And as they roamed the globe, they left their marks. Their mighty feet would scar the land, carving out great valleys and raising mountains. Their tears would fill the rivers and their blood would burst from the hills and run as molten lava.

Now they are gone and their legacy is the landscape, the singular proof of their existence.

But once in a thousand years, their essence, which still fills the skies in the shape of ephemeral clouds, concentrates in a single focus and leaves behind faint signatures, implying what greatness they used to possess.

That's what I heard, anyway - I raked this one at Vazon, with Brett and had cheese and marmite sandwiches (with gherkins).