Times Gone By

May 2015
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Simple snowballing plans

Or – The joys of motorbike ownership

It’s starts out so simple. Then subtly snowballs. So a simple plan of “Find out why Orihime rattles”. Well I know it’s coming from the air box. So a little read up of the manual and it’s out with the tool box.

First task: undo 2 hex bolts.

Why the hell is there rusty oily water coming out of the hole for the frame mount? Seriously, WTF?

So retreat to the house and get cloths.

Bolts off, why won’t this come away? Oh, HT lead to the front cylinder is routed around the frame. Did you take your bike out for a ride before? Is the engine hot? Did you burn your hand? How many bad words did you utter?

The neighborhood is now quiet, all the birds have flown away. All the cats have scarpered. And most of the dogs have now stopped yapping.

CONGRATULATIONS! You have found the truth of the rattle. Which is when there are supposed to be two screws holding the frame on, it helps if there are in fact two screws. Rather than just one.

So that was simple. But now you have found that there is also only one rubber pipe attached. The manual said there would be two. Oh there it is. In mid air, not actually attached to where it should be.

Well, while you’ve got the air box off, you really should take a look inside.

WHY? Why would I do this. The “Can of worms” metaphor is clearly lost on me.

I undo the one screw holding the lid on. Inside is a lot of debris and the captive nut rattling around from the other screw mount. There is also the foam air filter.

Now I think it’s safe to say that this hasn’t been opened in quite a while. I’m quite certain that this is supposed to be oiled. I’m rather confident, that even with my nonexistent biker mechanics know how that the foam should not disintegrate into dust before my eyes.

Yep, that’s naddgered.

So more cleaning out of debris and a parts list now forming in my head. Along with a single dark thought of “If the air filter is this bad, what the hell is the oil filter like?” Which gives me a feeling of cold dread.

So after a lot of cleaning out, and by some miracle having enough of the foam filter to give a light coating of WD40 to, I put Orihime back together. Connecting the pipes to where they should go. Acutely aware that there is still only one screw holding the air box together.

And amazingly she starts and runs!

So now that lunch has been consumed, it’s off to the bike shop to order in some parts.

Budget VR

So take an Android phone. Download the free Google Cardboard app. Sort yourself out some goggles to hold your phone. And hay presto! Budget VR. I’ve got to say, I’m rather impressed with what can be achieved is such a simple way. I have high hopes for the Oculus Rift when the retail version is relieved.

In case you want your own headset, I got mine from the link below. Only took two weeks to arrive from China to the UK.

www.chinavasion.com/china/wholesale/Home_Audio_Video/Video_Glasses/VR_3D_Glasses_For_Smartphones_Revelation_-_Adjustable_Pupillary_Distance_Adjustable_Strap_Fits_4_To_7_Inch_Smartphone/

The "Revelation" 3D VR Headset The "Revelation" 3D VR Headset - Indipendant lenses The "Revelation" 3D VR Headset - Fully Open VR on a budget

 

 

Embrace Your Mid-Life Crisis – Get A Motorbike

Last summer I had the amazing idea that I should learn to ride a motorbike. I’ve been using several different explanations / excuses. One has been that I have been that I have been lead astray by naughty biker friends. So that will be John and his Hayabuse with me on the back some where in the vicinity of 109 mph. The other being that I am very quickly approaching my 40th birthday. So there for now is a good time for a “I’M NOT OLD HONEST – LOOK I’VE DONE SOMETHING CHILDISH AND THERE FORE YOUTHFUL!” kind of thing. And I’ve kind of wanted that cruiser style bike since my teenage years.

So last August I took my CBT. A month or two later I passed my theory test and hazard perception test. And in December I attended a Mod 1 lesson. It became quickly apparent that I was way out of practice. Therefore my dream of fast track direct access motorbike fun, quickly came to halt in the face of cold hard logic. I hate it when that happens. So a new plan was bore out. Get a learner legal 125cc motorbike for myself and practice every free moment I could get my hands on. So that’s what I did.

Yamaha Virago XV125 - 1999

Yamaha Virago XV125 – 1999

I am now the owner of a Yamaha Virago XV125. And I am rather delighted. Ok, it’s not pristine. And that’s a good thing. If the bike was immaculate then I would be terrified of dropping it. So there is a bit of rust here and there. The seat has a split. The indicator stalks are a bit scuffed and an indicator lens is cracked. But who cares? It’s my motorbike. And with a long enough run up, on a slightly down hill slop with a tail wind, I can get 63 mph out of her. Yes – I named my bike. For the curious, I called her “Orihime”. And if your thinking of the anime “Bleach”, then you would be correct. Japanese and a red-head.

So now I need to practice being a biker. And despite the cold, I’ve got a massive grin on my face. It’s a lot of fun. And that’s what life needs.

A Very Big Grin On My Face

A Very Big Grin On My Face

The never varying variable speed limit of the M4 at Newport

It is said that “You never know unless you ask”. So I have pondered over the last few years “Why the hell is west bound section of the M4 past Newport always set to 50Mph?” It makes no sense. Over the last 10 years, the congestion along the M4 in South Wales has been horrific. But it was going to be OK, as it was going to make everything better in the long run.

So after years of work, the section of motorway near Cardiff got an extra lane. The metal centre barrier was replaced with a concrete wall. And Newport got a variable speed limit. I vaguely remember a time back in early 2011 when it was possible to drive past Newport at over 50Mph. But for years, now the west bound section between J25 to J26 has been set to 50Mph. Regardless to time of day or night, weather conditions or temperature, always 50Mph. Whats the point of a variable limit that never changes?

So I asked. I asked Traffic Wales. And I’m surprised I got an answer. So I’ll strip out the three paragraphs of rational and get to the actual answer.

_________________________

Q: Why is there a section of the west bound M4 variable speed limit section that never varies?

A: On the Westbound Carriageway, following the Brynglas Tunnel Fire in 2011, reduced lighting has been in operation which requires the permanent display of a 50MPH speed limit being applied on the approach and travel through the tunnel. Welsh Government are seeking to provide a more permanent solution through provision of new lighting in the westbound bore of the tunnel. Such a solution will have a significant impact on the road network during works to install these and must therefore be carefully scoped and planned prior to any works taking place.

_________________________

So what ever you do, please don’t tell the Welsh that when the sun goes down it gets dark. Otherwise they have a nation wide 50Mph maximum speed restriction in place.

Unusual thought processes

Every so often my mind mulls things over. It’s mostly nonsense really. But every so often it’ll come up with something particularly unusual. So while out for a bimble this evening, I find a new train of thought emerging while I just stare up at the stars and let my thoughts freewheel.

“I feel that my mind is a bit like a compost heap. It’s untidy, usually tucked out of sight and mostly filled with rubbish. But every so often, once in a while, some one will come along and take a bit of it home with them. And from that, beautiful things will grow.”

I can live with that :)

Do Not Buy A QU-BD Two-Up 3D Printer

My Experience With The Two-Up 3D Printer From “Quintessential Universal Building Device [dot com]

So as a geek, the idea of owning a 3D printer is all kinds of good. Think about it, dream up something. Build a model on something like “Tinkercad”. And then print it out. To take something out of your imagination. And to then be able to hold it in your hands.

So Kickstarter had technology project for a very cheap 3D printer from QUBD. Now calling themselves “quintessentialuniversalbuildingdevice”. Quite understandably the kick starter for this was very popular. Take a look

www.kickstarter.com/projects/qu-bd/qu-bd-one-up-open-source-production-ready-3d-print

So they wanted $9,000. And were backed to the sum of $413,530 on November 18th, 2013. Not bad going.

So back on the 5th of February 2014, I took the plunge and paid £229.71 to QUBD. That’s £179.55 for a “TwoUp 3D Printer Complete Kit. And “£50.16 for shipping. This was for an April pre-order. So hopefully in time for my birthday. All kinds of good. A geek gift from me to me.

5/2/2014 – Order accepted. And an invoice is raised. And a “Thank you for shopping with us” email is received.

10/2/2014 – Money leaves my account.

Time passes

 

April comes. Still no word. So I think I’ll just raise a support ticket and ask when I can expect to receive my April pre-order.

14/4/2014 – Support ticket raised

7 Hours later I get the following reply…

“We will get this shipped out by the end of the month. Thank you for your patience.

Paula K – Quintessential Universal Building Device Inc.”

 

Ok, not quite the April delivery I was hoping for, but never mind.

 

Time passes

9/5/2014 – No word from QUBD. So I reopen the support ticket.

13/5/2014 – I receive the following reply…

“As you may or may not be aware there were a lot of issues with breakage during shipping of our initial batch of these. Therefore, we have taken the time to redesign some parts and change some of the packaging to avoid these problems with shipping of subsequent batches. This took much more time than we had anticipated but we are currently shipping units out daily. We expect to have all orders that were placed before May 1st shipped out by the end of the month (I know that was our goal last month but we should be able to hit it this time!). We appreciate your patience with this.

Paula K – Quintessential Universal Building Device Inc.”

 

Ok, not cool. The April pre-order has now become the dispatched from America by the end of May. I’m now beginning to think that I may have just been defrauded. So fingers crossed, this will eventually end up on my door step.

 

Even more time passes

11/6/2014 – Right, beginning to get rather pissed off now. Still now word from QUBD. I just about sick and tired of having to chase them up on what should have been a completed order. I reopen the support ticket and as politely as I can manage, ask when the hell I will actually get the printer I ordered.

17/6/2014 – I get the following reply…

“Your tracking number has been sent over to you. Your package should be picked up about 2:00PM tomorrow. Thank you for your patience!

Paula K – Quintessential Universal Building Device Inc.”

 

Really? Seriously? It’s been so long that I had contacted Visa about making a claim under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

But I had emails now from QUBD. I even had a link to the USPS. Apparently the USPS had been electronically informed that they would get a parcel from QUBD to send out to me.

In fact it seems that QUBD have a very open definition of “Dispatched”. Because thanks to the USPS web site, the tracking details for the order showed that they didn’t receive the package until 23/6/2014.

 

Yet more time passes

30/6/2014 – My parcel arrives with customs.

Eventually I get a lovely letter. I need to pay VAT of £39.54. And then a further £8.00 as a “Handling Fee”. Seriously? What the fuck are you handling that costs £8.00? Sod it. I pay up. And then I wait.

 

More passing of time

9/7/2014 – Ifinally receive my 3D printer. Further more I am truly astonished to find the kit is nearly complete, and the parts are in one piece. So one small screw and a small bracket for a 40mm fan are all that is missing.

A small box all the way from America

A small box all the way from America

Nearly all the parts you will need.

Nearly all the parts you will need.

The upper left & right thingy

The upper left & right thingy

OK, problem. The screw thread bar that moved the hot end up an down. The instructions that you need to find and download recommend that you glue it onto the shaft of the stepper motor with blue locktight. Only one problem. The hole for the shaft of the stepper motor, that has been drilled into the end of the screw thread bar, isn’t straight. So this causes problems with how the printer moves. And moving accurately is kind of important.

So it’s off to eBay to purchase a coupler.

 

Yet more bloody time passes

Postman brings small packages of goodness.

A handy coupler on a spring cut.

A handy coupler on a spring cut.

Finally assembled

Finally assembled

The amazing wiring

The amazing wiring

So after a trip to Maplins for some spiral wrap. And stopping in on Screw Fix for some different screws, bolts and springs. I finally complete the TwoUp 3D printer.

Now it’s time to download a whole bunch of different software. Because due to spelling / typing error. The little circuit board that controls the printer doesn’t work properly. So you need to set up some USB to serial drivers. Then download some software. Patch that software so that you can flash the board. Download the software to flash the board. Flash the board. Hope and pray that you don’t screw up. Then download more and different software to control the thing. How do you wire this thing up? And clear instructions anywhere? No. Why should that surprise me.

So now you want to see if it will work. For this, I want to print out a 1cm x 1cm x 1cm cube. How hard can that be?

FFS!

Blocked filament delivery.

Blocked filament delivery.

Well quite sodding difficult it turns out. The fucking thing is fickle as hell. Have fun leveling the print bed. The gantry has so much wobble in it, that there is sod all accuracy. But having a blockage in the nozzle is no fun. Especially has you have to heat the thing up to 190c so the plastic that is in there melts and doesn’t set like glue.

The hot end in bits.

The hot end in bits.

So a small sliver of plastic is removed from the nozzle and the blockage is cleared. It looks like after reading through various forum posts, that Scotch Blue decorators tape is required. So back off to Screw Fix for some Frog Tape.

Can I finally print out a 1c cube?

After many attempts, a 1cm cube

After many attempts, a 1cm cube

Was it worth it?

Was it worth it?

So what next? Well, lots of failure. There is more PLA in the bottom of my bin, than what I have successfully printed out. Here’s some things that have worked.

The Emperor Protects

The Emperor Protects

Strap a mag light torch to your NERF gun

Strap a mag light torch to your NERF gun

That’s it. And these didn’t print out on their first attempts. It’s bullshit! If you don’t get that first layer down good, than the entire print is a write off. If you don’t stand over the fucking thing, it will walk the filament off the guide and just start moving around in mid air. Nothing coming out of the nozzle. Failure after fucking failure after even more fucking failure. Just about flipping all the desks now.

DO NOT BUY A Quintessential Universal Building Device Inc TWO-UP 3D PRINTER

Just don’t.

 

Here’s what I’ve spent out so far…

£179.55 – TwoUp kit

£50.16 – Shipping

£39.54 – VAT

£8.00 – Handling Charge

£22.76 – Screws, imperial alan keys, nuts (M4 & M8), bolts (M4 & M8), washers, springs

£5.99 – CNC 5mm x 10mm Motor Shaft Coupler

£8.99 – Extra Wide Frog Tape 48mm x 41.1m

£18.50 + £4.00 postage – 3D Printer filament PLA 1.75mm, 1Kg

Total = £337.49

 

For not much more I could have purchased a Da Vinci 1.0 Desktop 3D printer. That’s a complete printer. None of this build it yourself bullshit. A bigger build area. A self leveling head and bed. Just take it out of the box like you would an off the shelf ink jet printer for your home. Plug it in. Install the software that comes with it. And print out stuff.

But I suppose I got what I paid for?

 

DO NOT BUY A Quintessential Universal Building Device Inc TWO-UP 3D PRINTER

They do not deserve your money. They do not deserve your time.

Typically I would say that the triangle applies – GOOD, FAST, CHEAP. You can have two out of three at any one time.

Well it was cheap. But it wasn’t fast. And it isn’t good.

 

DO NOT BUY A Quintessential Universal Building Device Inc TWO-UP 3D PRINTER

This has been my experience. It’s embittered me towards this company and it’s product. I’m finding it really hard to give this printer the benefit of the doubt. It’s been a long time coming and it’s been a disappointment. My motivation for me to tinker with it to make it better is failing. Oh sure, you can print out upgrade parts for it. Really? I’m having difficulty getting the sodding thing to print anything. Let alone upgrade parts.

Poor shoddy cheap design.

Totally shit communication.

Crap product.

 

DO NOT BUY A Quintessential Universal Building Device Inc TWO-UP 3D PRINTER

Really – Don’t

Feeding Imagination

IMG_6185.JPG    So over the last few months I’ve been using my free time here and there. A couple of hours of an evening. Or perhaps a half day or so when I have time off work. So what have I been doing? Five packs of anti-fatigue foam. A short section of hose. Two 12cm polystyrene balls. Some nylon nuts & bolts. Some craft knives. Some jogging trousers. Some plastic buckles. Some webbing straps. Two milk bottle tops (red). A copious amount of glue. And a pair of my old sandals.

The end result? A rather happy young lad. Totally worth it 😀

The Emperor Protects! IMG_6200.JPGIMG_6207.JPG For The Emperor! IMG_6208.JPG

For a first build I’d have to say it’s not too bad. Some things worked really well. The elbow joints. Other parts did not work out. The back pack is just too far off centre. So the balance of the upper torso is just pants. But it was easily unbolted. And it even survived more than two hours of “Testing” 😀

 

Images uploaded and posted with kind permission of the mini Marine’s parents – October 2013

Nearly finished the MKVII Aquila Space Marine

So the shell is practically done. After several months of an evening here and there. Taking time when I had time off from work. The last of the templates has been cut out. The foam cut. And the pieces glued together. So now I have an idea of exactly how big this thing is going to be. Now the fun part of figuring out how to join all the pieces together. I’m thinking nylon strap webbing and plastic buckles to hold the shoulders in place. And possibly some jogging bottoms and Velcro for the legs. As for the monster huge boots. I have an idea involving an old pair of jaywalkers. Hopefully the young lad that will be getting this will like it.

The Emperor Protects!

Mini Space Marine

Mini Space Marine

Fun With Foam

This is proofing to be a lot of fun. I can certainly begin to see the appeal of Cos-Play. If you need convincing then I certainly advise you to go and over to YouTube and search for “Sneaky Zebra”. They have a couple of montage videos of the comic-cons. Anyhoo, for me I’m yet to get serious about my build of a Space Marine from the Space Wolf chapter. After building 5 helmets and a bolt pistol, I know I have a long way to go. And to that end I’m guinea pigging a small child who also happens to be a 40K fanatic. So at the moment I’ve Shandeighed some one’s garage (as I ran out of room in my kitchen), and I’m doing a scaled down version of Mr Pilerud Pepakura build. I’m using foam anti-fatigue flooring squares. A lot of sharp blades. And a good mot melt glue gun. So far I’ve got the arms done, although I’m still to figure out how to get them to join and articulate. The shoulder pads. And the torso. There is certainly an easier way to do this. Looking at the RPF forums, there are a couple of Space Marine builds where they have used a much simpler cut pattern. Just I can’t see any downloads of the actual sizing. So I’ll stick the the Pepakura designs and modify as I go.

IMG_6050 IMG_6055 IMG_6062   Frustrating at times, but still fun 😀

May The Force Be With You

HAPPY JEDI DAY! 😀

Still not a strong helmet

EVA Foam & Paper

And in a completely different fantasy realm, I appear to be making helmets. I finished an EVA foam helmet in blue. And I’m just about three quarters of the way through another foam helmet. It seems that the more of them I do, the more I realize where I went wrong with my first build. But with no instructions there is quite a bit of guess work involved. So inevitably the whole process has quite a bit of trial and error for me. I’ve never done anything like this before. But I can tell you it’s becoming a lot of fun :)

So I think I’ll finish off the other EVA foam helmet. And then look at getting some 20mm EVA foam and possibly tackling a bolt pistol. I’m definitely going to need some more glue. And maybe a heat gun. And a lot of luck 😀