Wednesday, 30 January 2013

3D printing iPad stand

This is the iPad stand that Charlie drew using Solidworks, a wonderful piece of software, but hugely expensive. Now printing it on the 3D printer here:

Screen Shot 2013 01 30 at 11 04 03

Printer is running great, using PLA plastic, 195C extruder and 75C bed temperatures. This is the printer running:

2013 01 29 16 01 20

The iMac at the back is running Repetier-Host software to drive the printer and I use Slic3r to generate the g-code.

Back to school - again

My son has just come home for a couple of days. He is at Stafford University, in his final year studying Automotive Engineering. He has brought with him some books about "Vibrations". I have looked at some of this stuff and got about as far as 1st grade, here it is:

Scan 30 Jan 2013 10 24

That's about as far I can get. He wants to move on the Lagrage theory, but I just can't get it...

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Latest imaginings

I must try these circuits some time. Here a TX and RX for 7090 kHz


Hotting up the debate

So let's wind up the debate, and put Cameron and his Conservative rebels in place.!!

What has the EU done for us?

1 Provide 57% of our trade

2 Provide structural funding for areas of deprivation

3 Clean up our beaches and rivers

4 Clean up our air

5 Mandate lead-free petrol

6 Place restrictions on landfill dumping, leaden got better re-cycling

7 Fight to get cheaper mobile phone charges, especially pan-EU

8 Develop cheaper air travel

9 Improve consumer protection and food labelling

10 Ban growth hormones and other harmful food additives

11 Mandate better product safety

12 Promote single market competition, leaden got improved quality and better industrial performance.

13 Break up monopolies

14 Give us Europe wide patent and copyright protection

15 Remove need for papers work for export throughout the EU

16 Provide price transparencies and remove commission on currency exchange

17 Give us freedom to travel, live and work across borders (not travel in/out of the UK as we haven't signed up to the treaty)

18 Funds for young people ego live, study or work abroad

19 Access to EU health services

20 Labour protection and enhanced social well fare

21 Smoke-free work places

22 Equal pay

23 Holiday entitlement

24 Right to work maximum of 48hours/week without overtime

25 Strong wild life protection

26 Improved animal welfare

27 EU-funded research and industrial collaboration

28 EU representation on world forums

29 EEA block negotiation within the WTO

30 EU diplomatic afforest to avoid nuclear proliferation

31 European arrest warrants

32 Cross border policing, counter terrorism, and intelligence

32 Civil and military co-operation in conflict zones

33 Investment across Europe to balance and improve everyones life

Is that enough to stop the clowns who demand we get out of Europe? How many of these things did the clowns propose themselves?… very few.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Letter back from my MP - not all answered, but hey ho...

Dear Antony,

Thank you for your e-mail.

I agree, I think there are some very reasonable issues about how MEPs engage with electors. Personally, I think it was, so far as the UK was concerned, a much better system when one had an individual MEP representing a distinct geographical area, rather than as we have at present a number of MEPs representing a region on a proportional vote basis.

The difficulty with this system is that too many people are unaware as to who are their MEPs, and MEPs have no particular incentive to get involved with any particular geographical area, towns or communities within their region.

Regional lists may work better elsewhere in some other places in Europe where they have a much longer tradition of regional government or regional identity, but I don’t think there is any regional identity for the South East and people in Banbury have very little in common with, for example, people in Folkestone.

However, I think this must be more about electors holding MEPs to account and there will be elections to the European Parliament next year and I think these are perfectly fair and reasonable questions for electors such as you to put to the MEP candidates as to how they are going to ensure that they remain engaged with electors.

Best wishes,

Tony Baldry


I sound more and more like a socialist today. But you know somethings are just not right!

First, why not a Financial Tax? A tax of just 0.01% (yes 0.01%) would raise £25bn and pay down our debts. financial transactions, or gambling some would call it, are running at £250-300tn (trillion!) today. Business with non restraints and no taxation, good for bankers, bad for the rest of us.

Second, a Land Tax would have multiple, good effects. A property in central London costing a huge £135m pays the same council tax as another costing £250k, that's not right. Roads and streets are made, and services provided while land owners pay nothing, and sell off land a huge prices once planning permission has been given. 30-50% of a house price is the cost of land! No land tax means huge profits from grabbing land/hoarding and pushing for planning permission, it give pure profit with no tax.

Both these issues should be at the front of today's political debate and action. We must grab back money from rich hoarders and profiteers, money to go back into our pockets. Then we can save, then we can spend, then we can contribute taxes and reverse the downward spiral of negative growth and despair.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Letter to my MP

Dear Sir Tony,

Correcting the democratic deficit.

Clearly today the UK Parliament is for many new laws just a rubber stamp. I have heard a figure of 75% of new laws are in fact EU Directives that we are obliged to enact... and that we in general do it on an "over-kill" basis.

This has steadily weakened the power of politicians. And now they reacting to this by a revolt against the EU. Kind of "rat in a corner" gut reaction?

The EU democratic arrangements are far, far from ideal. With too much power in the hands of un-elected officials, and decisions (or rubber stamps) made by a few people from 27 countries in the Council of Ministers. Recently the EU Parliament has gained more powers and has started to exercise them, but without sensible representation for UK people and parliament and a grouping of parties, this is still rather chaotic.

One of the fundamental things which the UK public feels strongly about is its representation in the EU, and to get its voice heard, and for EU decisions to be made clear - there is a great deal of misunderstanding of EU legislation. This has come about by two things: separate elections for UK and EU parliaments, with poor turnouts for MEPs; and poor press/TV reporting of the business in the Commission, Council of Ministers and EU Parliament. Whereas, for example, we have a TV channel "BBC Parliament" running continuously showing live coverage of the UK Parliament, we do not have any pan-EU TV channel for the EU Parliament.

So what can be done? I suggest we need much closer ties between UK politicians and MEPs. In fact I believe they should be one and the same! We elect 630 people (or 600 or whatever) but then send on a rotating basis the required number to the EU Parliament, say in 6-12 month periods. With frequent reporting back to the UK - by video links to cut costs...

This may have many objections, but it would mean the the people we elect for UK have power both in UK and the EU.

We also need improved official communication channels for publicising and daily informing us of EU activities.

Any thoughts? Are your views Euro-sceptic or, like mine, very supportive of stronger EU links?


Antony Watts Banbury

Music failing?

Everyone knows by now that UK biggest music CD reseller has failed. HMV has disappeared.

Most of the blame from news writers is on the internet and music downloads. Which is possibly true. The nature of the delivery of music has changed from vinyl disks, to LPs and 45s, to CD album sales, and finally to downloaded MP3s and internet streaming.

But. The factors affecting the demise of HMV are many:

- Amazon delivers CD by mail from outside the UK VAT region and does not pay VAT. So making them cheaper

- Amazon and Apple iTunes deliver over the internet, MP3 or AAC tracks of inferior audio quality to CDs.

- Even worse are the internet streaming suppliers who's audio quality is appallingly bad, and which forces the record companies to use immense tricks of limiting and compression to get any dynamics into the sound

- Listeners today have inferior equipment, cheap earpieces, small loudspeakers, poor amplifiers

So, there are both commercial and technical issues here. All of which debase music and inhibit its distribution, not improve it. Music companies must be reeling over HMVs demise as this is their last bastion in the high street through which they can sell CDs, and now they are largely in the hands of Amazon.

Poor product, poorly delivered

It is my opinion that they have only themselves to blame. Music today is poorly recorded, poorly delivered and poorly reproduced. The few audiophiles that have seen the light are roundly ripped off by manufacturers offering equipment that rarely costs less than 1000's of pounds.

It does not have to be like this. Good quality, well delivered music could be marketed if only one company (a revived HMV?) could gather together the elements of recording, delivery - by high quality audio digital files such as 24bit/96kHz in FLAC format - together with internet marketing and reproduction equipment that does not cost a fortune.

Will anyone do it. or are we condemned to awful music for years to come?

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Low pass filters

HF transmitters need low pass filters. These are the values to use in a circuit with

C1 - L1 - C2 - L2 - C3, in 2x pi type circuit. C in pF, L on uH.

10m - 100/0.325/180/0.325/100

20m - 180/0.575/330/0.575/200

40m - 430/1.3/820/1.3/430

80m - 820/2.48/1500/2.48/820

Friday, 18 January 2013

Lots of EU noise - so why not me too?

A BIG debate has started here in UK about our membership of the EU. There seem to be various strands:

1. Ask the people, in a referendum, who may well say 'get out', unless they understand more than they do today about how it all works.

2. Work up a sweat in government, among Conservatives only although they don't have a majority - we have a Coalition, and demand op-outs on various things. Force change from outside by asking and threatening re-negotiation of treaties.

3. Force change from the inside, by deeper cooperation in European Government, but this might look like a move to federalism? Which in the end is what it is!

What choices? But why?

The EU has done a great job so far by opening up mutual market access, brought about mainly by harmonising the way we do things - like make sausages, or the time we spend at work, or justice and human rights… this has certainly had the effect of swinging people to think we have some common interests, it has prevented what we want it to, war.

But it has meant that a lot of things previously decided by the sovereign right of our Parliament, elected by we the people, are now being decided in the EU HQ where 27 different views have to be coordinated. This has brought about the situation where, it is estimated, 75% of our new laws come from EU Directives, and are just rubber stamped by the UK Parliament. This in turn means that politicians have lost lost of power.

And here's the rub. They don't like it, they hate it. But a kind of sop has been handed to the people who have until now voted for these UK MPs, by creating an EU Parliament and voting for entirely different people to send there.

This has caused huge difficulties in democracy. And as the EU Parliament gets stronger, with more powers, inevitably the Euro MEPs get more powerful. But our domestic politics has not woken up to this. Just check how much TV reporting covers the UK Parliament a how little covers the EU Parliament - actually their coverage is about zero.

So what to do?

If we want to stay in the EU, and this I think goes without saying for our position in the world and our future prosperity, then we have to improve the democracy of the EU.

I have a proposal for this which is quite simple. Stop electing separate MEPs and just elect UK MPs. Then send a bunch of them to Strasbourg as our Euro MEPs. Rotate them every 6 months and this will closely bring the discussions in the UK inline with EU decisions, and give us a genuine strength for EU reform and a way to drive it forward.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Would it work - who knows

I am regularly dreaming up simple SSB (actually DSB) transmitters. This is the latest.

2013 01 04 17 12 18

The modulator is one of those ubiquitous SA202 devices but used in a different way, the audio goes in directly and mixes with the 7090KHz RF from the oscillator. The output is Dsb… I hope.

The PA is fairly conventional, but uses a better MOSFAT than common designs you see (which tend to all use the IRF510, not designed for RF!). TheSA202 is matched to the MOSFET by a 4:1 transformer, and the output also has a 4:1 transformer to present the right impedance to the MOSFET.