Browsing Posts published in November, 2010

So, after a hard day’s digging, as I said this morning; the weary trudge home, the fumbling of the keys, then the near collapse into the shower.

Then Total Bliss.  But back to the Plot… continue reading…

Dull and damp. 20/11/10

But at least its not wet and windy.  Those are two conditions that I think every gardener dislikes.

I can clearly remember last year about this time as Diane and myself cleared the bottom leaf clamp of all the bindweed.

Oh what fun, as I realised the cup of tea she’d brought down only a matter of minutes earlier in an insulated mug had gone stone cold. continue reading…

Upgrade, upgrade, upgrade! 17/11/10

Busy in the background -just where we like to be, myself & Dave are working on ‘Bicycle Power – The Next Generation*‘.

I’ve previously wittered on about the displays needed.  These include Time, Distance Travelled and Speed.

Also included will be the depressing (…trust me on this!..) Calorie Counter, along with the JBM (Jon’s Biscuit Meter) and the JCBM (Jon’s Chocolate Biscuit Meter).  These last three are a piece of cake (…pun intended!..) -just number crunching, but the first three, while not impossible, will make serious dents in the processign power of the little PIC’s we’re using.

So, this evening, I rang Dave for a ‘weekly update’ session (…Okay, we had a gossip…), and amongst other things he told me that he’s just invested in some Printed Circuit Board (PCB) fabricating equipment, and now he’s learned how to use it (…no small feat!..), he’s very keen to begin fabricating boards for LEAF.  Circuit boards at cost?  Thankyou! Small fortune = Saved.

We also talked about these displays for the bikes, and he’s convinced that we should eventually go to a full LCD moving graphics display -the type found in car onboard navigation systems and the like.

Funnily enough, Microchip have just announced that they are moving into LCD displays, and are offering a ‘demo’ board for Not A Big Lot Of Money.  Methinks in a couple of weeks, one of these Bad Boys will just need to be purchased!  I’ll let you know how we get on.

So, while chatting about his new ‘fabbing’ equipment, he’s found some great ‘Open Source’ (…i.e. Free…) software called ‘expresspcb’.  A simple ‘Google’ will get you there to download it.

However, the only drawback is that this software won’t allow you to print in reverse.  The idea is that you mail the company with your designs and they reverse it for the actual PCB process, charging you for the circuit board.

Well, we liked everything up to the ‘You Pay Us’ bit, so Dave, being Dave, set about The Net and came up with a really neat solution.

You simply download ‘Cutepdf’ which then installs as a virtual printer, and as part of that process, you can reverse your PCB designs with virtually no effort on your part.

We like this!

Dave was also bemoaning the fact that despite ‘winning’ a laser printer from ‘FreeCycle’, it really isn’t up to the job as the circuit board drawings need to be ultra-sharp to allow you to make really fine tracks in copper.

“No problem, Dave!” I exclaimed. “Diane still hasn’t picked up that HP LaserJet that I won for her from FreeCycle yet, so until she does, I’m sure she wouldn’t mind us running off a couple of circuit prints for you.  It is for The Project, and anyway, its a full laser, and you know how you need to run a few sheets off those things every week, just to keep them in shape, don’t you?!

So, a few days down the line, and we hope to have fully professional quality (…well, nearly…) PCBs to stuff with components and program.

I can finally see the end in sight for ‘VeroBoard’.

Joy Of Joys!

* A bit like ‘Star Trek’, but without Captain Picard. Or Deanna Troi. Unfortunately.

Bright and cold. 13/11/10

Once again the weather forecasters got it right, and my fears about the wind were groundless.



continue reading…

A few quick calculations.

Ah, before you click away, we’re not asking you to do them!

No.  I’ve been doing some rough calculations on battery usage, and given that the bike wasn’t really used as much as it could be, and even then wasn’t really being ridden hard in a high gear, I reckon that for the riding that was done -about three quarters of an hour in total- that we ‘added’ another hours’-worth of life into the battery with the bicycle attached. continue reading…

Moving forward.

So, this last couple of weeks really has seen a massive jump forward with the power generation plans.

What had been just that -plans- have now come to fruition.  We can now generate our own power down on The Plots -despite the nights drawing in, meaning that for get-togethers and celebrations, we’ll no longer have to fumble about in the dark with battery-driven torches.

We can simply put the three gazebos up -a very simple job- while its still light, hook up the lamps where we want them and throw the switches.  Ta-Da!  Get cycling!

Last post I mentioned the future developments with the generators -the addition of displays to show time, distance and current speed of cycling.  Also requested is another display to show a read-out of just how many calories have been burned off.  Remembering my visits to various gyms over the years and their exercise cycles, I think our volunteers may be a little surprised -and depressed- at just how few calories are burned off during a session.

Still, onwards and upwards!

Adding simple displays to our bike system may sound easy, but after the hardware is constructed -pretty straight forward- the coding, well, there’s the rub.  The coding will be a ‘challenge’, to say the least!

With all that done, there’s just the job of the ‘iButtons’ so the system can store individual ‘profiles’ of various volunteers.  That really will be a toughie!

Still, if it was easy, it wouldn’t be so much fun!

Greening the Cross Community Celebration 27th NovemberI know it clashes with LEAF regular Saturday sessions but we are hoping some of you will pop along with a stall, there will also be stalls from Abundance NE, Sheffield Wildlife Trust, and others ….. hopefully a fun couple of hours.


Well, the day dawns sunny and bright.  Checking the BBC weather website this morning shows that apart from maybe a little light rain later this afternoon, the day promises clear blue skies.  The temperature may not be up to much, but an extra layer of clothing or two and the promise of a leaf clamp to empty, and I’m sure we’ll not get too cold. continue reading…

Waiting for the paint.

Diane very kindly bought me some ‘proper’ paint the other day with which to paint the new box.

This came as cans of car spray paint -both primer and matt black -the kind used for bumpers and wheels.

Great stuff.  Easy to apply, but a bit of a swine because of the fumes!

I’ve set my kitchen up as a ‘spray booth’ (!!!), having both the windows wide open and the extractor fan on, but even so, when you walk in, a couple of deep breaths, and you’re off ‘playing with the pixies’.

Anyway, the beauty of this stuff is that it only takes minutes to dry, and the finish is really good -much, much better than that awful blackboard paint I had to use.

So, all this is in preparation for tomorrow night’s Bonfire Bash, which we’re all looking forward to.

Loads of great food, loads of good friends, and hopefully loads of light to see by!

Our new ‘Twisted Firestarter’, Barry will be lighting the fire at about 4.00pm, with food hopefully hot and ready to eat for about five-ish.

Hope to see you there!

Abundance stall

The Lord Mayor, Cllr Alan Law, will be joining the celebrations for the councils “Greening the Cross” project on 27th November at Mount Tabor Methodist Church, Wordsworth Avenue (bottom of Southey Hill).
As well as the Lord Mayor helping to plant the final two trees of a number of new ones being planted in and around Parson Cross area, there will be a number of stalls from local groups and projects. LEAF have, I believe, been invited to have a stall which I hope they will, but we are also planning an Abundance NE stall. If anyone wants to help, just let me know by sending an e mail to:
Hope to see you there!

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