Saturday, 29 November 2014

LUG 29.11.14

Present:  Mike Hull, Richard, Kieran, Kieran's Nan, Tony, Les, Arthur and Jack.

The tracked robot chassis team got to the point where they wanted to see if the motors would turnover. The chassis has two geared motors one for each track.  Built in to each of the side plates are a H-Bridge controller and also an opto interrupter attached to the motor shaft to return the actual speed of the motor.  Each plate has pins marked Vcc, GND, A1, B1 and Speed.  Without instructions to hand it was a case of  having an educated guess as to what the pins were for.

In the end with Les' guidance and his trusty Arduino UNO it was confirmed that the Vcc and GND were for the power and A1 and B1 are the two sides of the H-Bridge.  We didn't test but the Speed is probably the output from the opto interrupter speed sensor. Using a simple PWM based sketch Les and Mike got one side of the robot running both forwards and in reverse at varying speeds.  Success!

There was a demo and explanation of the motor in action.

The problems started when we tried to get the other side/motor working, a few things were tried but the motor just wouldn't fire up using the H-Bridge.  Slightly frustrating after the initial success.  

The H-Bridge is a surface mounted 8 pin component with what looks like the 4 diodes surrounding it so it should be possible to investigate where the fault lies.  In any case Mike has ordered a PWM / H-Bridge device to go with the Ras-Pi so if the fault cannot be fixed it's not the end of the world.

Apologies but I didn't take notes on what other people were up to.  Jack is still mostly playing games with his new laptop.  Arthur was looking at Unity and trying to decide which of the two scripting languages offered is the best for him (Java vs Mono/C#).  Kierans Nan and Tony were dealing with internet connectivity issues.  

It was a great session which went very quickly, many thanks to Mike for his hospitality.

Monday, 24 November 2014

LUG 15.11.14

Present:  Mike Hull, Richard, Kieran, Kieran's Nan, Tony, Arthur and Jack.

Tony showed Windows 10 running on his laptop, that's right Microsoft Windows 10!! The book is now open as to how long he'll continue with Windows and when he'll revert back to Linux. There was a discussion around trying new things like operating systems and the perils of getting stuck in a rut with what you are most used to.

Jack showed his new gaming laptop, it's quite a capable i7 machine with 4Gb of dedicated graphics memory and an NVidia graphics adapter.  The difference from his old machine playing 3D games like Garrys Mod and DayZ is very noticeable.  Jack has done less development since getting it, but has been doing a lot more with Blender.  Here's a more recent screenshot of a model Jack made from scratch (its a weapon of course, a Scar H which is one of the weapons in Call of Duty, Black Ops II).  The thought of being able to 3D print something he's made in Blender is quite exciting for him.

Mike introduced the boys Richard and Kieran to their robot project.  I won't say too much about this tracked robot chassis other than it will have a RasPi for control. Hopefully we'll get a more detailed post about the specifications and ideas from the boys themselves in due course.  Suffice to say that the threaded rod construction and positioning of mounting brackets required careful measurement and use of a spitit level.  The boys worked well together and seemed to be very engaged in the project.

Here are two images of progress

Many thanks to Mike Hull for his hospitality.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

First midweek (evening) LUG meetup

Our first ever midweek (evening) LUG meetup took place at Ripon Road on Thursday 20th November. Started at 6.30, and finished at 10.15.

 Attending: Olly, Tony and Mike.

 Olly and Tony engaged in a marathon two hour podcast recording, stay tuned for the release date.

 I spent the time looking at emoncms from the open energy monitor project (Because) I have been sending room temperature data to Xively since it's name was cosm then pachube.

 The first post about the initial arduino attempts is here: here I can't believe it was two years ago! I want to set up a home automation system, probably using a Raspberry Pi, which can not only monitor items, but control them as well.

 More posts to follow, hopefully not two years later.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

LUG 8.11.14

Present:  Mike, Joe, Tony, Les, Ollie, Elizabeth, Arthur, Jack, Mike (2), Richard, Surly

Discussions on various topics including:
3D Printer issues past & present. (all)
Upgrading to Linux Mint 17 (compatability mode) with Grub issues on HP laptop which had been vandalised (monitor removed, ongoing saga) - attempted upgrade to XFCE - grub failed again. Tony deleted all previous partitions & created a new one then reinstalled Mate. Failed. Tony then created a separate boot partition and then reinstalled Mate. Failed again.  Next plan is to attempt installation via DVD. (next meeting with the loan of Mike's external DVD player, please). (Elizabeth & Tony)

Creating an automatic firelighter (mechanical).... novel ways to make a brew etc.... Scouts in mind. (Arthur)
Internet connection issue (Mike 2), Dell laptop, Windows 8.1. The manual input of the IP address fixed the issue.  Mike (2) then ran an anti-virus scan (freedrweb/cureit) to check for laptop issues generally. (2 threats were found).

Saturday, 25 October 2014

LUG 25.10.14

Present: Mike, Joe, Elizabeth, Arthur, Jack, Michael (2), Richard

Interesting discussions on various subjects including:

Difficulty accessing various Tradesmen who fail to arrive; 
Picks being the forerunner of Arduino's; 
Windows OS's; 
Photography - specifically the editing and enlargement of glass plate photographs in the mid 1800's as well as Cartes de Visite albums comparing to current Facebook social media; 
Wireless dongle variations, antenna strengths/capabilities; 
Reinstallation of grub on an HP Pavilion laptop failed yet again (having previously been successful).

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

MakerspaceFY1 and the 3D printer

We have received a 3D printer kindly donated via Liverpool Makerspace.

The printer arrived assembled, but in need of final adjustments and configuration.

Here is the information needed to do the final work.

The model is a RepRap Prusa-Mendel, pictured assembled here at

Assembly instruction at here:-

Excellent visual guide to assembly here (high Resolution):-

or here  in standard resolution:-

The has work  started with the re-alignment of the filament drive motor.
The  captive nuts on the vertical drive shafts have been adjusted.

More will be added here as the work continues.