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Engineer In Wonderland

The best museum I ever went to

Corning-200in-mirror-glass-blank

A long while ago, I went to the Corning Museum of Glass, in the town of Corning, in up-state New York. For a techie like me, it was a spell-binding place. If I have to pick two wonderful exhibits: One was the huge (5m, possibly) telescope mirror blank, made from Pyrex and once destined for the Palomar observatory, the cooling ...

Cellulose – the old new wonder material

Would you believe it (should that read wood you believe it?), that stuff that plants are made of turns out to be super strong, if you make it right. According to ‘Multiscale control of nanocellulose assembly: Transferring remarkable nanoscale fibril mechanics to macroscale fibers‘, published in ACSnano, a US/European team has found a way to align and cross-link ‘cellulose nano-fibrils’ ...

Wing-flapping drone flies gracefully

SmartBird-Festo

SmartBird is an ornithopter drone, inspired by the herring gull. Built by German automation firm Festo, it can fly, glide, take off and land using only its wings driven by on-board power. The drone’s wings span 2m and it weighs 480g including battery. Flying at its design speed of 5m/s, its wings are flapping at 2Hz, consuming 23W. Each wing ...

Makers: Robot motor driver using Fritzing

Fritzing-motor-driver-cct

I have been trying Fritzing, the free schematic capture and pcb layout tool, which also does breadboard layouts too. It is good? The short answer is excellent – particularly as it seems to be the work of a few people and not a giant team. To try it out, I designing a pcb for interfacing an Arduino to two robot ...

Updated: Oh why is Linux always so hard

Mission: try Fritzing, the popular maker pcb layout tool, and write about it. Begin…. …. more than an hour later, having downloaded the whole thing twice, and fully updated Ubuntu, nothing to show for it. At one point ‘successfully installed’ even appeared. Consulting the web suggests doing ‘chmod’ to something, whatever that is, and many other command line activities. End ...

Alzheimer’s disease and PM2.5 particle pollution

As soon as I heard that fine particulate (PM2.5) pollution particles get into the human bloodstream, I have wondered if they are a cause of brain deterioration. Now a Mexican researcher is proposing a link. I do not have the skills to evaluate the validity of the research but, just in case you have, the paper is ‘Hallmarks of Alzheimer ...

Most powerful commercial off-shore wind turbine installed off Aberdeen

Vattenfall-EOWDC-first-turbine-of-11-detail

Vattenfall has installed the first of 11 wind turbines off Aberdeen, in the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC). While most fo the turbines will be 8.4MW  ‘V164-8.4MW’ types, two including the first are modified to produce a maximum of 8.8MW. Total installed capacity will be 93.2MW, with annual production estimated at 312GWh, which the firm equates to: 79,209 homes, 70% of Aberdeen’s domestic ...

Cured: Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ won’t boot

Two-Raspberry-Pis-including-3B

Just in case you are pulling your hair out trying to get your brand new Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ up and running…. … you need to download the very latest NOOBS and start from scratch. Even quite recent NOOBS, even if it boots on a pre-plus Raspberry Pi 3, might not boot on a 3+. With the wrong NOOBS, ...

Sometimes the numbers work out well

light-meter-and-1.6m-test-rig

In a freezing workshop, I did some measurements on a Gaggione LLC07N collimator in a bike light I made a long time ago, after replacing the original ancient led with a Cree XP-G. The distance between the white screen and the lens front is 1600mm. The three tiny spots in the beam (photo below) are the 50% intensity points west, ...