Browsing Posts published in May, 2010

A proud moment.

Some of The Team.

Some of The Team.

This is the moment we realisd that yes, we could very easily put up the new gazebo and yes, we could fit Diane’s car inside.

Left to right we have Sara, Gary, Mick, Diane, Matt and Tina.

Later, we learned how difficult it is for just two people to put it away again!

This year, on Wednesday 26th of May sees LEAF open its gates to the general public.

From 7.00pm, we are inviting visitors on to our site, to look round and see just what we’re up to.  You can have a guided tour with one of our volunteers, see what we’ve been planting and pick up tips on gardening from growing your own vegetables to composting and other ‘earth-friendly’ techniques.

There’ll also be a chance for you to ‘have a go’ on our new pedal-powered generators.

You can see and download the poster here.  Please print it out and put it somewhere visible!

There may be some of the world-famous ‘Plot Tea’ on offer!

We look forward to seeing you then!

Green shoots.

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It seems like only yesterday that we were planting these beans and peas.




In fact, Diane said a few times that these were growing right under her eyes!

It was amazing to watch these throughout the day as their first leaves unfolded.

Yesterday was also ‘scarecrow day’ as Sara dismantled the old ones, and built the first new one:-

skinny lizzie

skinny lizzie


She is quite small -only child-sized, but sported a natty pair of jeans and a bandana.

This is a favourite spot for the plot cat, Mitzi to sun herself in the late afternoon, so we plan to construct a few more ‘family’ for Skinny Lizzie then plant some colourful flowers round them.  An ideal spot for a cat to get some well-earned rest!

Busy day.

Saturday the 15th was a very busy day down at The Plots.

Ian was carrying on with the archway made of stout branches into the Childrens Plot:-

The Archway

The Archway


If you click to enlarge it, you will see its construction.

You will also notice the thinner branches criss-crossing the main supports.  These are for climbing peas and beans to be planted out in a week or two.  Within just a few weeks, this brown, bare construction will be a riot of colour and greenery!

Also, late on in the afternoon, after she had rushed from work, we took part in Emma’s ‘Pot Painting’ class.

pot painting

pot painting


Here are Matt, Matt and Emma busy painting small earthen-ware plant pots with colourful designs.

Aside from being great fun, these pots will provide signage for our upcoming ‘open evening’ on Wednesday the 26th of this month to show visitors what is planted where.

Little Lisa had great fun with this, but for some reason insisted on smearing all the colours together on her pallet.

Painting Mess
Painting Mess

Hers is the brown/green piece of card in the centre of the table!

Elsewhere on The Plots, the main task for the day was watering.
It’s alright planting stuff, but you have to keep it watered, and with so much being planted this year -with much more to follow- Simon, our ‘Chief Waterer’ was kept busy topping up the large wheelie-bins we use for water storage.

Planting sweetcorn.

Saturday May 15th saw volunteers, under Diane’s careful direction, planting sweetcorn into trays.

Planting sweetcorn

Planting sweetcorn

Within just a few weeks, after all the loving care and attention in one of our two ‘temporary’ plastic greenhouses, we would be able to plant it out in the ground.

See later entries to see how it fares!

This post, I’ll show you a few of the photos I took while building “The Controller Board – The Next Generation”.

First, I started with a clean piece of ‘Veroboard’.

Circuit board

Circuit board

On this, I placed a 40 pin Integrated Circuit (i.c.) socket (top), then another smaller 14 pin socket some way beneath.

If you click on the image for more detail, you can’t help but notice the hundreds of little holes set in a ‘matrix’.  This 0.1″  ‘matrix’ is one of the featured of Veroboard.  It means in theory, you can place anything anywhere.

However, there is a snag.

When you look on the underside of the board, you’ll see this:-

Veroboard reverse side

Veroboard reverse side

These are the Veroboard ‘tracks’ of copper, connecting the little holes together in strips.

This means that you can connect components together -using solder- in lines.

When you start soldering the above sockets from the reverse side, you start to see this:-

Soldered sockets

Soldered sockets

As you can see, the 40 pin and 14 pin sockets are now soldered in.

All that remains to be done is to cut the tracks in between the solder joints so each ‘leg’ of the i.c. has its own little ‘island’ of copper.

Holes cut

Holes cut


Now, other components can be soldered in to make more of the circuit.

Eventually, your circuit board starts to look like this:-

More done.

More done.

This is where it starts to get really fun as you have to remember what is where, and if it’s a polarised component, which way round you’ve connected it.

If you want a laugh, just mention the word ‘Veroboard’ to any electronics engineer, and see how long it takes for his eyes to roll back into his head and he gives and involuntary shudder!

This board, by the way, is only about half finished.  There are loads more wires and components to be soldered in.  It’ll then need thoroughly testing before handing over to our resident ‘PIC God’, Dave.  He will program it to do exactly what I said last post.

You remember that swan?

As mentioned last post, we have a ‘Big Day’ coming up in a fortnight’s time as we demonstrate our ‘alternative green power’ in the shape of our modified road bikes hooked up to generators and low-voltage lights.

If you remember, the last couple of outings for the bike went down pretty well, but for this little exhibition, we thought we’d progress things towards what we hope will be nearer the final version.

Previously, when you got on the bike and started pedalling, the three 12 volt lamps lit, and the harder you pedalled, the brighter they shone.

When you stopped pedalling, the light went out.  >>Simples<<

For this demonstration however, we plan to use a car battery and a series of lamps, each with its own switch.

In addition to this, there will be a decent-sized ‘display board’ which will comprise of two vertical rows of very bright LED’s; one red, the other green.

With this unit, you won’t need to start pedalling to light the lamps -they’ll be powered by the battery, but as you turn on one then successive lamps, the bright red LED’s will light up, first two, then four and so on.

This will show that yes, you can have power, but the fact that the LED’s are red means that you’re taking it from the battery.

So, you get on the bike and start pedalling…

You will notice that the line of red LED’s starts to decrease, until you pedal fast enough for the green ones to start glowing.

Cycle  faster, and you will see that you are getting more and more green LED’s lit.

This is good!

What this will mean is that yes, you’re lighting bright lights, but at the same time, you’re still putting charge back into the battery!

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Well, a bit like a swan gliding gracefully across a lake.  All you see is the gentle movement, seemingly effortless.  What you don’t see is the swan’s legs paddling like mad under the water!

It’s a bit like that!

I’ll pop some photos of the electronics board under construction.

The new wood store is finished.

The wood store

The wood store

Last week, Matt finished our new dry wood store.

As you can see, a fine construction that ‘does exactly what it says on the tin': It keeps our precious stored wood dry!

It’s construction is of  pallets, various lengths of timber we had lying around, and most importantly two old doors for the top, placed at an angle to allow rainwater to drain down and away.

In covering the doors, Matt first laid a single sheet of waterproofing over both doors and tacked it down from the underside.

Side detail

Side detail

He then covered that with a single sheet of roofing ashpalt, again tacking that down from the underside.

If you look at this shot, you can get an idea of the sloping angle needed to prevent rainwater pooling on the top and possibly rotting the two doors underneath:-

Inside, he has mounted wooden shelves, so rather than one big ‘pile’ of wood, you can get to each piece more easily.

Note also the fine woodchipping laid down last week for the pathway.

A Big Day ahead for the bikes.

Some time ago, we agreed to put on a ‘demonstration’ for the Sheffield Environment Weeks Festival down here at our Plots.

As a part of that demonstration, where people can come and see the Plots and what we get up to, it was agreed that we should be able to show visitors and even let them ‘have a go’ on our ‘Pedal Power’ bicycle generators.

To this end, Nick and Dave are improving the circuitry on the bikes.

Instead of merely showing a series of lamps being lit when the wheels turn, the idea is that by using a series of lamps with a car battery, we can show that until you get on a bike, you use this much power, and a series of indicator lamps glow red.

When you start pedalling, however, the red lamps go out and green one start to be lit.

This will show that although you are lighting lamps, by pedalling fast enough, you can light the lamps, but also charge the batteries at the same time!

Further down the line -hopefully by summer, we’ll have ways of actually monitoring just how much has been put back into a battery.

It sounds easy to do, but really, it’s not!

More as and when it happens -this time with pictures of Nick’s circuit boards…

New Look for the website.

Today, the website underwent a major look-change.

We’d love to know what you make of it!

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