Misc Projects

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

Tesla Valve patent
All Things Nikola
last updated 10 July 2021

John at work had been talking for some time about the Tesla turbine and the Tesla valve, or more properly the Tesla valvular channel since Tesla never called it a valve and it is not a valve, it is a channel with a valve-like property.  Christmas 2019 I looked up the Tesla turbine and found that a nice gentleman had created a 3D printed version which was very convenient, though it turned out to be only the start of my journey.  The Tesla valvular channel was more problematic; browsing the internet suggested that efficiency wasn't very good.  So I decided that I would use the pre-designed 3D printed Tesla turbine as my measurement mechanism for the evaluation of the Tesla valvular channel.
completed 16 May 2021

In March 2021, during the second year of all things Nikola, my little Jun-Air 6-25 compressor sprung a pin-hole leak from its tank.  While this might have been repairable it gave me the opportunity to increase my air supply; the little compressor had never been quite sufficient.   I could not find an off-the-shelf compressor that met my needs so I decided to make my own.
A1 Tornado
Internet Of Chuffs
last updated 8 October 2018.

Back in 2017, at a Cambridge Wireless meeting, some colleagues of mine happened to be talking to Rob Morland, who is involved in something called the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust.  The trust has built a brand new 3m steam locomotive, the Tornado, which runs on the national rail network.  Rob was wondering whether it was possible to stream the live sound of the steam engine to those on the track side etc. waiting for it to come past.  For some reason my colleagues pointed him at me and hence a project was born.
Class 116 DMU
Gauge 1 Diesel Multiple Unit
completed 19 January 2020.

Having begun the construction of my front garden railway on a postage stamp (intended to reflect the Rhymney Valley line in south Wales from around 1964), at the start of 2018 I needed to resolve how it carries passengers.  The Rhymney Valley line converted to diesel multiple units in around 1958 and, with the help of Noel on the WRRC forums, the immensely detailed www.railcar.co.uk and my memories, I determined that I needed a class 116 DMU, gangwayed (i.e. converted to have a corridor running all the way through) in all blue livery except for yellow-painted ends.  However, no-one makes such a beast so I had to construct one myself.
My Atom autogyro
Atom Autogyro
completed 12 November 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 (updated 1 March 2020).

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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