Monday, 23 April 2018

Basic Income, Bereavement and Being Human

A great guy, Mike Scott, who works for Indycube once said “basic income allows us to be adults” meaning we can get the work done but build it around our responsibilities and day to day duties as adults, parents, carers, household runners etc. I’ve been thinking about this a lot due to a recent bereavement. Sadly, my lovely step dad, had a brief but brutal battle with cancer, a hospital journey of 9 weeks which led to him passing away, too young, but with dignity and peacefully.

His last day I took a days basic income allowance and made the journey up to Liverpool to spend some time with him, there was no booking of carers leave, no forms, no conflict, just me calmly moving my diary around and speaking to those I needed to. I spent hours with him and my mum, supporting, hand holding, crying and laughing… the saddest stuff yet a healthy way to be and we all had the opportunity to say the things we needed to say.

Halfway through the day I needed a break, emotionally drained I needed to do something. I knew that the fabulous DoEs Liverpool had just moved premises as I had visited the new place a few days before. I went over for a couple of hours before returning to the hospital later. At DoEs I had some hugs and then did a good stint with a scrubbing brush, removing the paint and dust and decades of grime from a few square metres of flooring. Therapy indeed and a good break, no finer act of solidarity for a great makerspace and co-working space that also (like indycube) recognises the co-working visa.

My stepfather passed away that evening. Thank you Basic Income for allowing me to be human that day.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Very quick visit to the NEW DoEs Liverpool!

Was up in Liverpool today and some planets aligned and I managed to get a quick visit to the new DoEs liverpool building! Today was the day that all the kit from the old Gostins site was moved across so it was a brief nip round the unopened site to look at the space that was quickly filling with all the trappings of a maker and co-working space.

Here are a few pictures but the takeaway point are.. ITS BIG (much more room for lots of creative stuff and kit and co-working!) Its light.. Gorgeous big windows and lots of internal glass walls give it a really light and airy feel.... and its COOL.... there are lots of features of the original building left and it has some real character! Its a super, functional, accessible place and is going to be amazing.

It was utterly heartwarming to see the DoEs community in there working hard, full of laughter and team spirit... if you want to feel that warm glow also I can heartily
recommend chipping in on their fundraiser... >>>>>>> DONATE HERE!!!! <<<<<<<

Just one of the lovely rooms in the new building.

Loving the old cast iron (disconnected) remnants of the industrial 3 phase wiring. 

Fab old sign above the stairs!

Finally... as I walked off to where I was going next.. I noticed... its on Kempston St... I am hoping for some amazing retro joystick themed makes coming out fo the new place!!

Saturday, 31 March 2018

DARE Rocketry meets Libre Space Foundation!

So last week I went out to the second PocketQube satellite workshop to be held at the TU Delft campus (another picture dump post to be done about the workshop soon). Regular readers (a very select group!) might recall whilst I was out there last year I managed to go and pay a visit to the fabulous DARE rocketry group. Well this year instead of just rocking up I did a few emails and managed to get a visit to the facility arranged for a cohort of people at the workshop. This included my friends and co-conspirators from the Libre Space Foundation . A rather lovely moment occurred when the two respective teams decided it would be a nice idea to exchange mission patches and remove before flight tags. It was fabulous to be the small link that made this possible, but it is also inspiring as these two teams, DARE and LSF represent new and emergent ways in that, to my mind, space is being democratised. LSF have a total commitment to working in the open and out loud using opensource tools and licenses. The welcoming and collaborative approach undertaken by DARE, is evidenced not just by accommodating me but by helping fabulous amateur sub orbital rocketeers Copenhagen Sub-orbitals to test their recovery systems. Both these organisations seem to afford glimpses of a emergent space sector that is freed from military and defence and built more openly on the principles of collaboration.... Sounds good to me.

Masses of thanks/dank je to Jesse and Caspar for organising and hosting an excellent DARE tour.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Guild of Makers Launch event... Photos!

So last week I got to go and help out at the guild of makers launch event as it has some strong links to my work with indycube and it was a pleasure to attend! It was held at the amazing new Autodesk facility in Birmingham which as well as a fabulous conference suite also homes an utterly staggering space full of innovation and the highest end machining and metrology stuff! Needless to say I was in heaven! I'm not going to go into masses of detail about the event here but to get a big flavour of the day jump on twitter and checkout the hashtag #GoMlaunch

So here is my curated out of a 100 photos 20 or so photodump! 

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Quick Arbour Press modification

So a year or so ago I used my arbour press to fit some PEM nuts into some aluminium extrusion for an experiment for someone else and I was reading on the data sheet that really they should be inserted with a specific force. It got me thinking about how useful having some knowledge or control of the force my arbour press exerts would be. I also currently want to test how a couple of different designs of bulkhead react to force and what thickness I need for a particular design. So a quick mod has occurred! Above you can see the press (a 1 ton Clarke I picked up locally second hand a while back)  but the handle you can see is actually my torque wrench connected to the opposite side from where a handle normally is. 

The mod is really simple.. I removed the spindle which raises and lowers the ram and drilled and tapped a hole into the end of it on the lathe I then fitted a steel bolt to the hole. Now I can use the torque wrench with a socket on over the bolt as a handle to apply pressure, with the torque wrench breaking at the force required set on the torque wrench! Its handy in terms of pressing something with a known force but also for testing what force an object will reach its elastic limit with!

Couple of shots of the process for fun! Arbour press spindle in the lathe.

Needed to trim a bolt down to the right length so use my stud clamp I made ages ago on my engineering operations course!

Spindle all drilled and tapped.  So I have seen lots of other mods for arbour presses, I definitely at some point want to drill a hole into the face of the ram and fit a grub screw to allow me to make different tools for the end.. some different punches for example and also perhaps some metal brake type set ups for folding small sections of sheet. 

Saturday, 10 February 2018

22mm Diameter PCB project... NOW OPENSOURCE!

So I posted a while back about how I had used these 22mm pcb's I'd made in prototyping an ematch ignitor system for use in rocketry. Although I made these stackable boards so they would fit inside a popular size of Estes rocket body tube I'm aware that they are quite useful for lots of things. So i've open sourced them so anyone can get some made, or add improve or change them.

There are three boards,an Attiny85 board with some power LED and indicator LED, a SOT89 power supply board which could be built up with either a 3.3v or a 5v supply. Finally there is a "kludge" board which is useful for adding in some thru hole components into the system. Some quick pics here but in the files on Git each board is well documented in a pdf. All the dust components are 0805 so super accessible for hand SMD soldering. :)

Its REALLY easy to get these boards made using these files via the amazing OSHpark basically go over to my repository on Git and on the main repo page click the green download button on the right hand side as seen in this picture.
 When you have the files go to the Oshpark site and click the upload button and browse to the file for each board that ends .kicad_pcb. You'll get a render in your browser whcih should match the pictures in my documentation and then you click order and pay! You should currently be able to get a minimum order of 3 of each of these 3 boards for just less then £10 GBP :)


So I plan to build a small altimeter, maybe a small neo pixel payload for a night launch, I have a tiny OLED I want to play with with an ATTiny85 (not for a rocket!) and maybe some midi stuff.... What are you gonna make?!?! If you do use these please let me know... I would be thrilled to see them out in the wild!

Thursday, 18 January 2018

New Job, Basic Income... my first week.

So I’ve had a change of job and I am now working for a fabulous organisation called Indycube they are a Community Benefit Society and run a network of co-working spaces across the UK. They also have a membership scheme which brings people a host of benefits in a package delivered in partnership with the Community Union.. They are passionate about community and the well being of the self employed and lobby around these themes and the future of work etc.

As part of the job I have some time each week as a basic income allowance where I am paid but am allowed to work on anything I like, which is fantastic. It will enable me to do all kinds of things.. so I wanted to do just a little post about the first thing that I have done with my basic income.

 My two kids went back to school after the Christmas holidays (in which yes I did briefly erect an enormous rocket with lights on) and my son was very excited to come out of school and tell me that his theme of work for the term was “flight” … he then went on to tell me he had told his teachers that his dad builds rockets. I could tell he desperately wanted to take a rocket into school! So I got a message to his teacher and arranged to go in and do a morning of talks to Harri’s entire year group about rockets! I took in the whole fleet and lots of components and made each session as interactive as I could. The kids absolutely loved it and had loads of pictures with the rockets and asked lots of questions. Harri was as proud as punch and it was generally hailed as a success. But it extends beyond that.. whilst there I chatted to the teacher of my daughters class who told me he was trying to set up a code club. He was thrilled that I then grabbed his email and introduced him to the Wales code club coordinator who hopefully can get him access to a wider network/resources but I also introduced him to a local legend I know through my sponsorship/voluntary stuff with North Wales Technology and it looks like I have landed the code club a really experienced volunteer. 

So when I think of all the possible benefits of just this few hours of activity my basic income has enabled (inspired kids, learning about stem/steam subjects, new rocket fans, developing code clubs, people seeing other peoples voluntary work etc) it feels like basic income makes good things happen and is a real part of the future of work and community.

So that was my first week of basic income allowance… I can’t say each week will have as much excitement or impact… but I’ll certainly blooming try.