Saturday, 31 May 2014

Quick hack of phone case to add bigger battery

Here's a few pics of an enjoyable hack up of a case for a bigger battery I bought for my phone. This one has twice the capacity of the standard battery, but is thicker. What a great excuse to hack together a case for it.

This beauty is half cheapy bought case and half sliced up old ice-cream container...

Here's the battery getting measured out. This was to get a hole cut to allow the extra thickness to protrude

mmm... diamond encrusted cutting wheels... I love my Dremel.

35,000 rpm - cutting out the panel in the shop bought case

Next - cutting out a slightly bigger piece of plastic from a black ice cream container

The edges of this were shaped by gentle heating to soften the plastic then forming over a hard edge held in a vice. To heat, a standard cigarette lighter was used

Once completed, this was glued on with the trusty glue gun...

et voila!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Arduino range sensors

This beauty is the very wonderful HC-SR04 proximity sensor: an ultrasonic raneg finder...

It bouces high frequency sound waves off objects in its line of site...

I have tow connected: left and right. This is the output of the serial monitir
The sketch that controls this is trivial

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Tweetenstein's face stitched together - animated Javascript Lip-synch TTS from Google Translate API

After a lot of fiddling over the last few days, I've managed to make a crude html page animate to the text-to-speech output from the Google Translate API

This is a still of the face, showing the two eyes and one mouth.

The mouths are taken from a lip-reading example, then a plastic effect filter effect in Photoshop

On the left, before. On the right, after

And this is the slightly unsettling look you get. These eyes are done in the same way, but are actually my own eyes put through the same filter...

Ande here are examples of mouths


The javascript that is doing this is in here:

This needs a local server running as it loads an external (JSON) data file...

It is inside an html page thus

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Tweetenstein - full-sized data-connected automaton

This beauty is destined to become the next data-fed automaton, Tweetenstein!
Tweetenstein is the successor to Twitr Janus and the Psychic Hive Mind Fortune Reader, both of which used simple web services to control or manipulate responses.

The basic concept is that Tweetenstein starts life as a corpse (wel mannequin) and is given life by plugging it into social data from the web, mainly from conversations on Twitter. It is yet to be decided what form this reanimation will take, but starting with a slightly disturbing 6 foot blank humanoid shape has to be a good thing, right?

The pug gets the vibe. Great startled expression

Here touching a fake hand is being used as a novel form of input device. A simple Michaelangelo-esque touch of fingers causes the web app to randomly select and read Twitter screen names out as speech,

The words on screen are a visualisation of this data. The app is converting it to speech using a Google Translate API call, triggered by an onClick method in JavaScript. This is being physically triggered by the Makey Makey board.

Makey Makey is a pimped arduino that converts touch into keyboard input for any running app :)

It works by shorting out two terminals - an earth terminal and one of several a signal terminals. Here we are using the space bar.

Hidden underneath in this crud prototype, is a wire that is connecting the finger tip to the Makey Makey signal terminal

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Playing with Python for next-gen Twitter extraction

Hive-Mind Fortune Teller may be coming back from the dead....

Just started getting Python to replace Processing, so it can be ported to Raspberry Pi and small brain modules can be fitted instead of micro-laptop. 

A new GitHub repo is here:

 first results here...

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Carving a bedbug from alabaster

This is a talisman for someone who has recently endured a nasty bedbug infestation. Their solution to move house was probably more effective than any warding off of evil with talismans or other such mumbo-jumbo, but it was obviously a good excuse to get carving and I struggled to find a bedbug talisman in the Christmas shops...

I toyed with using the dremel on this, but way too much dust, so did it by hand with a saw, chisel, rasps, a knife a few micro-files.  Took about an hour and half...

Carving a bedbug

It starts with a lump of rock, very soft rock - alabaster - foraged off a beach at Blue Anchor in Somerset a few years ago.
Carving a bedbug

I had a look at some frankly disturbing pictures found using a google images search for "bedbug scanning electron"

bedbug from NHM

I always need to do a few drawings to fix the shapes in the mind. (They don't need to be good ones, as you can tell)
Carving a bedbug

Then used a hacksaw to cut off larger protuberances to start to get the outline shape in 3 dimensions..
Carving a bedbug

Then grate it down roughly to size with a monstrous rasp my father gave me (it's about18" long)
Carving a bedbug

With the rasp I formed a carving blank, that was roughly the intended outline of a bedbug...
Carving a bedbug

I drew out the details of the legs, then carved these with an old woodcarving chisl. Don't use a working chisel for this unless you like sharpening chisels a lot...
Carving a bedbug

Obviously, oy can't use a vice as the rock would crack, so I held it in my hand. Also obvious was a chisel puncture wound. It's not real carving if you don't draw blood. At least it wasn't the rasp...
Carving a bedbug

Some fine files (in hand) and steel clay modelling tools (on right) are very handy to scratch out the patterm of legs and biting mouthparts
Carving a bedbug

Loads of fiddling later, I used fine grit carborundum paper (240 grit wet and dry paper basically) to smooth and polish. If have lots of time, you can progressively use finer grades, or emery paste to get a super fine finish. You can even use bathroom scouring cream cleaner. Quite good for fine polishing
Carving a bedbug

Here's the dorsal surface (ie. the bedbug carapace)
Carving a bedbug

And wet it to see the detail. To get  this effect, you can use spray lacquer. And that's it...
Carving a bedbug

Monday, 2 December 2013

Making chilli Scotch Eggs

Scotch eggs - they're awesome, aren't they? Especially with chipotle chilli and chorizo in the mix - yum!
Finished, cooked Scotch eggs

Here's the kit.

  • Decent quality sausages (80%+ meat or grind your own pork shoulder or belly pork)
  • Celery seeds, rock salt, black pepper
  • Eggs
  • Chorizo and chipotle
Scotch egg ingredients

Boil up some eggs, but not too hard. 5 minutes is plenty. They cook more later, so the aim is the softest set egg you can get out of a shell unruptured - much less than 4 minutes and it is liable to break on shelling!
Boiled egg

Squeeze the meat from the sausage skins...
Scotch eggs - squeezing out sausage meat

Mashed finely chopped chorizo in with the sausage meat and wrap round the eggs
Shaping Scotch eggs

Roll into a ball...
Shaping Scotch eggs

Coat in beaten egg...
Scotch eggs - applying egg wash for breadrumbs

Roll in fresh bread crumbs (that is, fresh bread in a blender, not old manky dry crumbs)
Scotch eggs - applying breadrumbs

Keep rolling...

Scotch eggs - applying breadrumbs

Until nicely coated...
Scotch eggs - applying breadrumbs

Put on an oven tray...
Raw Scotch eggs coated not seasoned

Season with salt, pepper, chipotle and ground celery seed
Raw Scotch eggs coated and seasoned

and BAKE!

needs about 30 minutes, turning as required to cook evenly

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Making a hook-handled walking stick

Here is a very useful and easy on the hand walking stick. Made from a birch cutting found in a forest plantation.
It's smooth and remarkably rigid. DSCN5268

This is how it was found...
Walking stick

Close up (with pug paw)...
Walking stick

The branch was cut short for a handle...
Walking stick

Then some penknife whittling...
Walking stick

Walking stick

Walking stick

Later, back at the shed - some planing and filing


Until a well-smooth handle energed...
Walking stick handle

Walking stick handle