Having been involved in the technology industry during some of the most exciting times in the history of the internet and it’s mass acceptance into our daily life’s, I have finally decided to join the diverse and creative community of people who share their experience through the medium of a Blog.

From the time I got my first Computer, which was a Commodore 64, I’ve been excited by technology and what technology can do.  Computers have been a very key part of my life, from helping me to learn to read as a youngster, to keeping me and my family in a comfortable lifestyle.

Over the last few years I’ve been increasingly involved in a number of initiatives that have been setup to introduce a new generation to the world that computers have made for us, not as a consumer, but as a creator, inventor and developer of new and exciting technology.

Through this site I’m going to attempt to share some of the ideas, experiences and interesting stories I witness as I continue this exciting journey into our technology filled future.  As you will no doubt note, I’ve not managed to keep up the momentum, so I need to do better!

Dry filament

A little while ago a had a run on investing in verious kickstarter projects, one of which is the PrintDry.  It’s a bit like a large food steamer that works in reverse, heating up and drying out rather than steaming :).

As you can see, you can feed your filament straight out of it, which is useful, both in terms of feeding nice dry filament, but also as it takes so much space!.

When putting your filament in, it helps to use open reals that allow air flow, but as most suppliers seem to use nonstandised bobbins of verious sizes and diameters it comes with some nice open spool, and a tool to transfer you filament.  I got the stl’s to build the de-spooler tool, so it took a little time to build.

But it was worth it, not only for what i learned in the process, but the fact I’ve built a fully useful item with my 3d printer.

In case you want one too just look up PrintDry.  Note: this isn’t a full endorsementand i don’t getting any credit for sharing this, just thought it’s a cool addition to my growing gadget collection.

aNet A8 Printer Update 14/1/17

Quick update on how I’m getting on.  Not really printed anything out of the A8 yet, to be honest, having read about overheating issues don’t want to leave unattended.  

I have added another upgrade I printed on my Hadron OrdBot.  aNet A8 acrylic frame brace

I’ve also been reading up on the options of replacing acrylic frame with a aluminium one, as the acrylic does flex a lot.

Just a final note, when I built the printer I followed the aNet YouTube guide, which  was really helpful. I found it best without sound!

Still undecided whether to replace electronics, or just put the whole unit in a fire resistant box.  I post another update soon.

Day3: aNet A8 3D printer assembly Part3.

I completed the final assembly and wiring last night, probably another 2 hours total build time.  Turned it on and had immediate issues with one of the z steppers not moving properly.  A bit of googling and all I needed to do was turn up the current, via a tiny pot on the controller board.

I also printed a chain to take the cabling for the hot bed.  Not the best print from my other printer, but it works well.

Next upgrade has to be the z stop adjustment as it’s useless.  Basically you have to unscrew and move the switch to set the build plate height. Ie no fine adjustment.  Just printing this replacement on my other printer.

This is it printing on my OrdBot, which is about 3 times the speed of the aNet A8 at the moment anyhow.

Day2 : aNet A8 3D Printer assembly Part2

Today I found the DIY kit nemesis, a missing part!.  Well I could contact my supplier and get the part shipped from China, or I could find one on thingiverse and print a upgraded one.
And here’s it installed.

Probably spent about 2 hours today, and I’ve just got the cabling to tidy and connect.

Already printed a y axis tension upgrade which I’ll fit tomorrow.

Day 1: aNet A8 3DPrinter assembly Part1

I find it a little amusing how we’ve gone from flat pack IKEA furniture to platpack laser cut acrilic 3d printers. Well it’s was amusing looking into the box, which incidentally didn’t contain any instructions.  I suppose it’s assumed that you can download the latest set from the web, which is obviously the thing I did.

There’s a few devations which must come down to production tweeks here and there, but not found anything major yet.  About 6 propper hours so far. Anyway one quick update photo then I’m calling it a night.

Latest 3d printing News

  1. I’ve spent the last 10 months, yes I know I didn’t write anything about it, trying to get a Hadron Ordbot printer to work reliably.  Hopefully I’ll get around to writing a little more about the experience.

But just before Christmas I spotted a flash deal for a £125 prusa i3 type printer called a Anet A8. So thought I’d see if the experience is any better second time around.

Well box is here from China.

Pi Filling

So I’ve been very lucky early this year to attend the Raspberry Pi and Google collaborated PiAcadamy training.  I’m now a certified RaspberryPi educator!. You may be sayings so what is that about?

Well firstly a little background. I’ve been involved for the last four years helping out as a mentor at several Coderdojo events, where I’ve looked after a ever growing collection of Raspberry Pi.

This has been very rewarding, seeing youngsters of all levels discovering computing in the form I grow up with (ie a blank canvas, where you write the game/ program). But I have a real passion for physical compete interaction, I don’t just want to sit in front of a mouse/keyboard/joy pad, I want to wire stuff up and build things.

Playing with computers and electronics has been the key to success in so much of my life, and I want others who maybe like minded, more practical than just academic, to experience this learning journey.

Enough background, so hows pi academy helped?

Well thanks to a great team in pi towers and many of the other pi educators, there are lots of resources out in the wild, which I’ve spent time digesting, but what I was in need of some structure. 

Following the structures the pi academy team went through and more importantly working with teachers as well as fellow volunteers has helped. Both from a confidence and technique point of view.  I especially liked the concepts of not being afraid to not get things working and a project orientated learning methodology.

Although I’m still on a journey, when it comes to implanting what I’ve learned, I have found a renewed level of confidence. I specifically tuck a holiday from work a last month to help out at pi and codebug robot orchestra schools workshop. Which I really enjoyed, and was encouraged by.
I also have lots of new projects in mind for the two regular CoderDojo groups I help with. So watch this slow to be updated blog space!

Voice My IP : Headless Raspberry Pi

A little while ago someone showed me how their Raspberry Pi emailed them the DHCP assigned IP address, which is really useful for when running headless in a environment where you have no control over DHCP.  Now there are some alternatives, including running a Apple Zeroconf specification (like Bonjour), by installing “avahi-daemon”, but you need support on your client machine, which  needs a agent installing or other apple software (on Windows).

The main problem I had with the email method, is that unless you can find a open email relay (not a good idea), you need to include your email password (I’m sure with a little more time I find away of securing this, or using some kind of token).  So this set me thinking of what other presentation methods I could use to extract the IP address on boot.  Here are some of my ideas (If you search the web you’ll probably find these are not original) :

  • Take control of the Power LED and flash it according to the IP address.
  • Post the IP address to a website
  • Plug in a Serial cable into the pi to get a console and just read the IP
  • Connect a Display of some kind
  • Read the IP address out of the audio jack

If you search the web you should find the info on controlling the Power LED, which I did consider this a good approach, but I finally settled on using the Audio out via some headphones.

Here is how I did it:-

  1. Create a python script that reads the IP address:-
    • I made sure the audio player “aplay” is installed and working (Make sure the audio is set to come out the audio jack!)
    • Then I recorded a wav file for each number 0 – 9 and the decimal, ie 0.wav, 1.wav .. point.wav (had a little fun getting my Windows machine to record the right format; to to write raw wav)
    • Then  I wrote the following python to get and read the IP address (note I read the address used by the Ethernet port, as wireless would need you to connect to a access point first, but will work once the wireless config is established use ‘wlan0’ instead)
      import socket
      import fcntl
      import struct
      import os
      Import time
      def get_ip_address(ifname):
          s = socket.socket(socket.AF_INET, socket.SOCK_DGRAM)
          return socket.inet_ntoa(fcntl.ioctl(
              0x8915,  # SIOCGIFADDR
              struct.pack('256s', ifname[:15])
      #print get_ip_address('eth0')
      myip = get_ip_address('eth0')
      #myip = '' # test
      for i in myip:
              if i == '1':
                      os.system('aplay /home/pi/readmyip/1.wav')
              elif i == '2':
                      os.system('aplay /home/pi/readmyip/2.wav')
              elif i == '3':
                      os.system('aplay /home/pi/readmyip/3.wav')
              elif i == '4':
                      os.system('aplay /home/pi/readmyip/4.wav')
              elif i == '5':
                      os.system('aplay /home/pi/readmyip/5.wav')
              elif i == '6':
                      os.system('aplay /home/pi/readmyip/6.wav')
              elif i == '7':
                      os.system('aplay /home/pi/readmyip/7.wav')
              elif i == '8':
                      os.system('aplay /home/pi/readmyip/8.wav')
              elif i == '9':
                      os.system('aplay /home/pi/readmyip/9.wav')
              elif i == '0':
                      os.system('aplay /home/pi/readmyip/0.wav')
              elif i == '.':
                      os.system('aplay /home/pi/readmyip/point.w$
  2.  Call the Script at boot
    • Add the following to  “/etc/rc.local” file that which calls the  python script on boot.
      sudo python /<Python Script location>/<Python Script Name>.py
  3.  Connect your headphones and restart your Pi.

You can refine this a little, especially if the Pi doesn’t get a IP address.

Raspberry Pi 2 B (next gen)

So now I have another even more powerful sub £25 computer with a connector desperate to be plugged into, what should I do with it?

Well first I had to circumvent struggling website to download the latest NOOBS sdcard image.

So what next….


The pi on right is the new pi 2 B.

Just found out my pibow case doesn’t fit :(Network chip is a fraction lower than the old one, so gets caught on the case)