Misc Projects

Here you will find accounts of miscellaneous interesting projects, most recent at the top.  Follow the links below for more information.

RCM&E Autumn Special Edition 2014 Article Main
Atom Autogyro
last updated 22 February 2017.

On Saturday 21 January 2017 I went to the London Model Engineering Show at Alexandra Palace.  Having not been for many years I found that I was in heaven.  I really mean it, the whole experience was magical and gave me ideas for several Things I Must Do.  One of these, after watching the British Model Flying Association demonstrating flights in a very small area of the show indeed, was to build a model autogyro.  I was fascinated by these machines when I watched a documentary on them many years ago.  I had found that flying my Piper J3 Cub RC model didn't really work for me: staring into the sky, with watering eyes, at a dot in the far distance that I cared deeply about (after 6 months of construction work) yet was in imminent danger of crashing... this didn't float my boat (though I still have the RC kit).  An autogyro, on the other hand, flies much more slowly, is less difficult to build and should, I think, be more fun.  I verified with a guy on the British Model Flying Association stand that autogyros work at model scale and then found what is now the classic Atom design on the internet: a set of autogyro plans on four side of A4.  What could be easier than that?
Maze completed
Maze: My First Mill
completed 24 December 2016.

A month or two ago, in anticipation of future projects, I bought myself a High-Z/S-400T CNC milling machine from cnc-step.de. While waiting for my next lathe to arrive in order to complete the Stirling Engine, I had a go at my first milling project, which I decided would be a maze cut into brass plate.

Bengs "Laura" Stirling Engine
Stirling Engine Bengs Kit "Laura"
completed, 14 December 2016.

Having bought an Emco Unimat SL lathe a few years ago, I had been looking for a starter project for it.  At lunch John had already suggested making a Stirling Engine and, while bored waiting for someone in China to fix the [non source-code part of the] driver for the QHY guide camera used in my astrophotography project, I found the perfect thing: a kit made by Patrick Bengs in Germany, called Laura, in which no milling is required but some machining is required.  Just the ticket.
Plant watering timer
Plant Watering Timer
completed 15 March 2016.

I had been looking for something that would remind me to water the plants.  I didn't want an app, or anything that sensed the need for the plant to be watered, I just wanted a thing that would raise an alarm every three days.  This doesn't appear to be a need that anyone has anticipated, at least not that I could find on the web.  Discussing this over lunch at work it became an excuse to play with a PIC microcontroller from MicroChip.

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