Revisiting the Rocket Dovecot

A while back, I made a rocket dovecot. In fact, I think I started it just under 10 years ago. Whilst it was fun, it was never really practical. The roof was unreliable, and the rocket carriage failed pretty quickly.

I did make a nice software stack to control it all through a web interface though. Now, I am a better engineer, so I should be able to make it better by now? Perhaps

As you can see, I have made some design choices that make it much more simple to build and move. Gone are the cool but fickle shutter roofs, and the stupid rocket lifter. The rockets stay in place now, making it much more simple.

More update to follow.


Large escapement

I really like the look of large “school” escapement models. Typically they are plate sized models of working escapements, allowing key features to be demonstrated. You can see a very nice collection here. (Along with some history, pricing and other bits of information.)

So I decided to make a simple “electric” escapement, because I don’t have the patients or the maths to work out and make a hair spring.


This is the essential style of the device. However this version failed because the wheel wasnt actually symmetrical.

V2 is more functional

After remaking the wheel manually, rather than using the cnc, we get a much better result. However I only have four magnets on the wheel, which isn’t enough to start spinning under its own power.

I need to add many more magnets, and a third coil of I want it to be self starting. I also need to master quadrature motor driving too.


Hal9000 v2

As you might be aware, I have already made a hal9000 replica. Looking up the dates, it’s just about ten years since I made it.

Anyway, a while back I wanted to make an improved one, after seeing a bunch of kickstarters. So I decided to make a parametric CAD model, because I couldn’t source the right lens anymore.

Much time has passed, but I’ve finally managed to cut, assemble and test with a 720×720 screen and lens.

A video of the startup sequence.

There are many things that are wrong:

  • No logo
  • Wrong height of standoffs
  • Screen not aligned to lens
  • Speaker grill not made
Listen to these

Most importantly, I’ve not installed these sexy bicoloured switches.

However, what *is* right is using a screen to render the lens glow. Whilst it’s not quite as realistic as a real glowing lens, it looks better than my previous version.

I can now animate the “eye”, replace it with text, and generally get much more flexibility.



Everyone loves a good bumble bee

A bumble bee nest

This week, I found a bumblebee nest in an old compost bin. I had my suspicions that there might be a solitary bee living in there, as I had seen some activity recently.

But, I was more than surprised to find a no-fooling nest. This is possibly the coolest thing in my entire garden. Its a shame I can’t look closer, as that’ll piss them off.

Assuming that they move on in the spring, I’ll preserve the nest, because I suspect it looks really cool.



This year the newts have returned to my ponds. This is despite having to do a “flying” pond liner change. Something ate hundreds of holes in the liner around the water level.

Anyway, that’s fixed in 2/3rd of the ponds, so we are mostly happy now.


Motivational tablets

In this time of strife and suffering, I think its important to produce art that nourishes and uplifts the soul. So I present my motivational tablet:


His Master’s Voice


I have long been a fan of b3ta. Recently they have resurrected the newsletter. Sadly gone are the days of the flash sound board. My favorite sound board was the Brian Sewell one.

Alas Jobs has killed flash, but I have ported it to HTML 5.

Click ye here and marvel in His Master’s Voice.


Internets Thermostat

Once again many months have past since I last confessed. Today I have some internet of things for you.

I have made a calendar controlled thermostat. Powered by relays and a raspberry pi



Greetings. It has been a while since I have updated the front page. However, I have some new content: Shed facts, a tragedy in five parts.

Have a look here


HAL9000 Update

As you might have seen in the Magpi, I’ve been building things:

First some Facial Recognition stuff, and:
33-495x700 HAL9000! See the build log here