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.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

MakerspaceFY1 & LUG - Hot air rework station - computer repairs and much more

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


Michael de-soldered some surface mount components using this hot air reflow station followed by a discussion about various  soldering and de-soldering techniques.

Arthur Discussed the walking motion and personality of his robot,  servo velocities leading to synchronisation issues and compared tracked Vs bi-ped robots

programming using 3D software, 

NetFlix documentary about 3D Printers well worth watching.
Discussed how to go about the next repairs to our 3D printer.

How teaching techniques and methods are changing over time. 
Cheap arduinos from China 99p !

Using Win-AVR for arduino work - single stepping, register displays and simulations, 

job applications and availability  following graduation from University, highest paid jobs currently in Computer Engineering,  
education at home & abroad for the young traveller, Japanese visa difficulties,

Last week Elizabeth took home a fully operational Compaq desktop & TV monitor which subsequently failed  to display anything on the screen. 
Wiring was checked & ok. It appears that  after rebooting, linux mint had reset the monitor  resolution higher than the screen (an old Orion TV) could display  resulting in a blank display. 
Following on from this was a failure to set up wireless dongles (2 different ones tried) 

Mint kept misbehaving on each reboot until all the recently available updates were applied, after that, it left the resolution at the chosen setting, and the wireless dongle worked.

Elizabeths next issue was how to Reinstall grub2 from LiveCD, the installation had succeeded but had put the grub  boot loader in the wrong place. - This was happening on an HP laptop whose monitor had been vandalised. (see blog from last week).  

Saturday, 4 October 2014

MakerspaceFY1 Robots and 3D printers

Present: Mike, Elizabeth, Arthur, Jack, Donald.

Arthur sent this to the mailing list, and it was enough to bring Donald out of retirement. (welcome back Donald)

"Jack and I will see you there. 
 I'll bring my robot and my PIC development kit to show - I'm just starting to code the movement of the robot so the project is at possibly the most interesting bit to see."

Arthur brought his rubber band firing robot and a lengthy discussion ensued around the robot and the Integrated development environment used to program the PIC chip driving the robot.
The difficulties in synchronisation were discussed, including software and hardware interrupts, polling, loops and the use of the 'volatile' keyword to prevent the compiler optimising away code that you do not want  'optimised',

Arthur then moved on to help his son Jack who was programming a game in scratch for a school project.

Donald  started work on the 3D printer.
The printer has been kindly donated via Liverpool makerspace, and just requires some finishing touches before it is ready for use.
The filament drive motor was fouling one of the table drive belts, Donald refitted the motor and also re-aligned the the other drive belt. There is still some work to do on the vertical drive shaft locators.

Mike helped Elizabeth install Mint 17 on a "rescue laptop from a waste bin"  which had been vandalised. (screen cut off). GRUB needed amending to make the laptop boot up.

Elizabeth's desktop had failed to power up at home but powered up fine at Club. 
Tips were provided on how to find the problem if it failed to power up at home again.
Extra power cables were given to see if that is the problem.
Elizabeth's 2nd desktop was giving warning of a 'hard drive imminent failure'  on start up.
This was generously repaired by fitting a replacement SATA hard drive kindly donated by Mike. 

Hosted by Mike who also kept the coffee and Jaffa cakes flowing.  
Thank You to Elizabeth for writing this post.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

MakerspaceFY1 our new home

LUG meeting 13.9.14

Present:  Mike Hull. Richard, Tony, Elizabeth, Kieran, Arthur and Jack.

Our existing home at Ripon road will have to be abandoned when the landlord sells the building. The original sale date has passed, without a sale. No new information is available yet. But we will have to move eventually.
Fortunately, one of our members, Mike Hull, has offered us the use of the basement in his guest house in central Blackpool. The basement still needs clearing out and preparing for use and that job is ongoing.

This week, while I (Mike Hewitt) am away on holiday, Mike is hosting the first meeting in the dining room of his guest house. Here is how it went:-
Tony replaced the mint desktop panel on Susan's laptop. (she had accidentally eliminated it and failed to restore).  The key to the issue was the need to place a new panel (top of screen), delete the old panel, go to properties on the new panel & move it to bottom, open terminal, enter command: 
sudo mate-panel --reset, then do a restart.

Jack was introduced (by Tony) to the latest Scratch 2 version.

There were various interesting discussions:
Producing clones using programming.
Using arduino's to light up various places in a home miniature train set (Arthur).
Les & Tony's teaching experience in Wolverhampton.
Raspberry Pi & Minecraft learning.
Building a robot (using arduino), arming it with a salvo of 6 loom bands, & making it fire them.
Use of sudo commands in Linux.
Future membership contributions for the Club continuance at Mike's home.
Security & elevated privileges.
Python courses - MOOK.

With grateful thanks to Mike Hull for hosting our meeting at his home and providing drinks/biscuits.  Thank You.

Thank you to Elizabeth for writing this post.