Friday 27 May 2011

RC Bits

Things are hotting up a little more on the project front.

Okay, that massively oversells the projects more than is most likely due. But nonetheless, I've got some bits on order, and hopefully will start seeing them arrive next week. The bits include:
  • FlySky FS-GT3B (2.4Ghz transmitter/receiver)
  • Gmade Spider Axles (1:8 scale motor-on-axle rock crawler axles)
  • 2xPair of Drifting Tyres (for 1:10 Tamiya)
What I need to source now, is a couple of ESCs (for the boat, buggy and scratch built truck), 540 motors, some additional receivers and some higher capacity batteries (and matching chargers). Might need some high-torque servos as well for the new truck...

Random musings over. Resuming normal transmission.

Wednesday 25 May 2011


After a quick supplies trip this evening, I've stocked up on some extruded aluminium profiles for projects and general fabrication. Won't go so far as to list them, but as I publish projects I'll include the component specifications and a couple of suppliers for each.

Extruded aluminium profiles.

The first set of projects on the books is the rebuild of the two new RC vehicles, followed closely with the scratch-build of an RC rock crawler and/or surveilance vehicle using some of the lovely aluminium above.

The second set of projects is looking to be based around building a set of sensor arrays for around the house, using Arduino and a range of modules, including ZigBee for wireless communications.

After these, or during these, I'll be revisiting the Armatron and getting an Arduino to control it. I started having second thoughts about it, having seen what fantastic condition it's in, and how cool it really is, so I'll be quite conservative in my approach to hacking it.

Finally, if I get enough time to do all these things, then I'll try and setup a supply outpost for people who want to get hold of any of the obscure things I use and source for my projects...

I'm off to work on Ms R's business cards.

Tuesday 24 May 2011

RC Fun

Two weeks of car boot sales (I do love them) have resulted in a multitude of treasures (see life-long debate of "one man's crap vs other man's treasure")...

In homage to the generation game:
  • one vintage Polaroid camera (complete with old film cartridge)
  • a radio control speed boat (boxed with controller, charger and battery)
  • a radio control buggy (sans controller or battery)
  • a set of collectable Star Wars prints
  • a plastic airplane model kit (unpainted)
Ms R. purchased even more crap than I did (crap, treasure, blah, blah) and yet managed to spend virtually nothing. Volumetrically it's a lot less than mine. To the point that my crap is pretty much in the way of everything. Anywho, I'm digressing.

The plan is to rebuild both; upgrading the receivers, speed controllers and motors, and just generally improving the way they work. The boat looks pristine, but has really cheap radio gear, motors and propellers. The buggy looks a bit dusty, but sound, with normal consumer radio gear and motor.

The boat has twin motor drives, and uses offset control of the motors for left/right - which is nice, but means finding a speed controller is virtually impossible (for a small budget at least).

The buggy has motor-on-axle rear-wheel drive and good suspension, it's an easy project, given that there's enough space to mount new electronics and to get it up and running with only a few hours work. I have new radio gear on order, so hopefully will have it soon to begin these upgrades.

The next project I think is to scratch build an all terrain vehicle from aluminum profile, using the plentiful supply of parts found on eBay for the drive train and moving sub-systems. Still undecided as to whether it'll be a surveillance style (tracks and flippable body) or rock-crawler style.

Stay tuned...

Saturday 14 May 2011

Japanese Stainless Steel

We popped into our local kitchen shop this morning to buy Ms. R a cat apron (or rather, an apron with cats on it, not an apron for cats), and ended up spending far too much on some really high-quality utensils.

First a ludicrously heavy griddle pan, perfect for tonight's steak and vegetables...

Second, and my personal favourite, is a Global Japanese-made stainless steel "oriental-style" pairing knife, and a diamond sharpener for our other knives.

Global 25th Anniversary Oriental Knife

I love tools, and believe in buying good, high-quality and durable ones - made by the best manufacturers I can afford to buy. I see knives as being no different; they should be made to last a lifetime and with the right care they can.

So I've been trying to find a good set of knives for years; and never found anything I actually wanted to invest in, until I spotted some ceramic knives a few months back. Having only just washed one of the ceramic blades, it chipped placing it wet on the draining rack - not something I would expect of a supposedly high-grade blades (turned out they where made in China, though branded by a high-end traditional manufacturer). I took them all back, and gave up looking, with the intent of investing serious money some other time into proper Japanese knives.

I spotted some well priced ceramic blades this morning, and was weighing up buying one to try, as again, they where made by a high-end manufacturer, or whether to plump for steel. Checked the small print - low and behold made in China. Decision made for me. I narrowed my choice down to Rockingham layered blades and Global Japanese steel blades. While the Rockingham seem to have perhaps the best finish now, I was a little put off by the handle construction - the Global knives are all one-piece with sand-filled handles, so have really nice balance and weight.

I've started with a pairing knife, as these I find tend to give you the biggest range for most preparation work - the oriental model feels much nicer than the normal vegetable models, plus I think it'll be a good knife for sashimi, so I've decided to start my new set with one of those (a GS-58 to be precise). I was eying up a couple of choppers, but since they start from £110, I think I'll be waiting a little for those. In the meanwhile, I'll keep our existing knives sharp with our new Global sharpener (tempted by the wet stones for a better finish in the future), and make do with my current chopper-come-mini-clever.

I've been sharpening and slicing bits of apple for the last couple of hours.. Need to hide the evidence I think :)

Though we'll probably have great local steak this evening,  I can't wait to start cutting things with my new knife!