About Me

I've been taking things to bits, and making things ever since I can remember, starting with dismantling knackered alarm clocks and watches and helping my dad fix the car. Now I have a well-equipped workshop and have aquired lots of new skills, so I can make better stuff. When they first appeared, I became involved with personal computers, and these and developments in electronics have increased the scope of the things that I can do. Just recently retired, so O yes, now I can make all sorts of stuff.....

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

February 13 update

Managing to loosely keep to the monthly updates, so this is what has been interesting me in the last month or so.

First, I've made some progress with the Whizzcopter.  It now has the motors and speed controllers installed, as well as the servo that steers the back end of the beast and I have to say that wiring the thing up was probably the fiddliest thing I've done in a long time. I also made the mistake of ordering wire for the motors that would happily carry the power from Hinkley Point which didn't make the wiring any easier.

Motors, ESCs and wiring completed
It seems sensible to cover the flight controller and the otehr electronics to protect against water when landing upside down in long wet grass, so I thought about making a fibreglass cover - however, its a bit of a performance to make a master model, then a mould, then the actual cover so I've temporarily opted for an industrial strength egg box instead.  I initially thought that this was a bit daft until I saw that Jon had a margarine tub on his....

Direction finding lights
I've taken note of other people's experiences when flying and fitted the brightest LEDs that I could find to each of the three legs so that I can tell which way its pointing when its in the air - get it wrong and left means right, forwards is backwards and... you get the idea. The front two legs have green lights, and the back ones are red, no idea if this is going to help or not as I suspect that when its more than twenty feet away it will just become a black blob against the sky.  I'll report back later.

The supplier is presently out of stock of some of the remaining bits I need, and I want to order everything in one go as the postage is a bit steep, especially if it has to come from Honk Honk.  All I need now is the propellers, batteries, flight control board (this is the brains that should prevent those 'uncontrolled flights into terrain' moments) and the radio gear, plus a few odds and ends.

In the meanitime, Jon has finished his and has had several flying expeditions at the cost of several propellers and some damage to the landing gear.  He foolishly offered me a drive with it, and I have to confess that a fair amount of the broken bits were the result of my near-death experiences.  It does get easier with some practice, and a day with no wind would be a massive help I suspect.  I'm told that a tricopter like mine is easier to fly than a quad, but I suspect this is a story for the fairies.

Second thing is that I have finally got round to re-building my web site for the woodwork projects that I like to do.  Check it out at www.grizelli.com

I've spent a bit of time looking at ways to sell my woodwork stuff, and drawn a bit of a blank.  Galleries in general deal in paintings and sculpture and seem to turn their noses up at wooden things - not arty enough for them I guess.  Then there are shops that might consider selling, but their commissions are outrageous, with some as 'low' as 30% and the all time highest one at 95%.  The trouble is that massive markups like this make the pieces so expensive that they are never going to sell, so the shops will draw the conclusion that wooden things are non-sellers and refuse to stock them.  And then there are the many shops and online outlets who have very impressive web sites but who can't be arsed to reply to a simple email enquiry, and the online marketing people who make their money out of charging you to post on their web site and who thereafter have no further interest in promoting you.

There must be loads of people like me who make well-designed and well-made items but who can't get them in front of the public at a sensible price.  The obvious thing is of course a web site, but a simple google for 'jewellery box' results in a gazillion hits for cheap tat from China and there's no way a poor man's web site is going to get noticed in all that dross unless you pay Mr Google a wad of dosh.  There must be another way, I'm just not sure what it is, so if anyone has any ideas I'd be delighted to hear them and give a suitable reward for any that I use.

Third piece of work this month has been a long-overdue overhaul of some stuff on the kart. I've had this machine for around 4 years now, and although it has performed well its becoming obvious that a bit of TLC would be a good idea, so I've tackled these things:-

- new steering column bearing, and straightened the column which was bent in a fairly spectacular crash a while back (that was the one that gave me the tyre marks on the steering wheel)
- straightened the front bumper support bar, bent in a different excursion into the scenery
- new rear axle bearings and a new sprocket
- took off the undertray (can't get the steering off without) and hammered ou all of the various off-road inflicted dents and replaced all of the very battered bolts
- re-aligned the steering geometry and checked the front to rear weight distribution (currently around 59% rear/41% front, ideal should be 57/43 apparently)

I need to cure a bad case of 'turn in understeer', which I have always assumed was the result of my crap driving style, but having talked to various peeps and read up on the web I've concluded that at least some of the problems are setup related and not self inflicted.  Accordingly I've pushed the front track out by 10mm each side and we'll try that out at a practice day planned for the 22nd.  The other option is to shift the seat forward a bit to improve the weight distribution, but thats a bit of a pain to do and hard to work out whether it needs to be moved by a little or a lot, so I might try just moving some of the bigger weights off the seat and onto the front to see what difference it makes.  Who knows, I may have exceptional talent which is being held back by poor setup.  On the other hand.....

What else?  Well, I've done some more work on a web site for the Raspberry Pi, and am now probably going to include a set of pages which will be 'how to fix it if it breaks' for all of the slightly odd stuff that lives in this house.  I've roughed out most of this and next month will see some more work on this.  I should also get the Whizzer finished, and the results from the kart test session.  Oh, and I'm doing some design work on a watch box as well, and I feel the need to get stuck into the novel that I've been thinking about for the past five years, so its unlikely I'm going to be bored any time soon.

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