Friday, 25 January 2013

The Kindness Of Bloggers

I was spoilt for choice when trying to choose a title for this post. I considered both "It's Not What You Know But Who You Know" and "The Postman Wore Shorts" before settling on "The Kindness Of Bloggers". A simpler title, that gets straight to the point, would however, have simply been: Thank You Adrian!

Last weekend, when Adrian ended up in Moffat as the campsite at Biggar was closed, I suggested that if he needed something to do then he should definitely visit the Moffat Toffee shop. I didn't know at the time but Adrian doesn't really have a sweet tooth, but he does have a kind heart, and hence he made an offer to post me a tin of toffee.

Moffat Toffee is, to put it mildly, a bit weird. Firstly it isn't actually toffee, but a boiled sweet! According to their own website it has a caramel outside with a lemon centre, but personally I think they taste of toffee apples. Whatever they actually taste like I love them and the chance to have a tin (possibly only the third I've ever had) was too good to pass up.

We are really fortunate in the UK to have a number of local foods that are worth hunting out; as well as Moffat Toffee I'd recommend Wensleydale Cheese (although that's easy to buy in almost any supermarket now), the output from most of the small breweries/distilleries that dot the landscape (usually the smaller the better) and most definitely Grasmere Gingerbread. Grasmere Gingerbread is as much like gingerbread as Moffat Toffee is like toffee so don't rely on it's name for a description!

Thanks again Adrian, I know what I'm doing this weekend; sucking toffee!

Friday, 11 January 2013

When The Spring Hath Sprung

We've started the year by trying to tidy up the house a little; seeing if there are any books or films we want to get rid of, or old magazines that can be waste papered etc. While we have a lot of DVDs we also have quite a few old VHS tapes kicking around, and I've been slowly checking each one to see exactly what is on them. Unfortunately I've been having lots of problems with the tapes not playing properly.

The problem seems to be that the springs in the cassettes that are responsible for pushing the spools downwards onto the pins in the machine have, over time, lost some of their springiness. This isn't a problem for the full spool, but when the spool is empty it isn't heavy enough to fully engage. The result is that the machine pulls tape off the left spool but doesn't wind it onto the right spool. Fortunately there is a solution -- extra weight.

As you can see the weight of another tape suitably applied via a Pritt Stick (I needed something that would go through the slot and transfer the weight) pushes the tape down hard enough to ensure the spindle engages properly. Problem solved in a very low tech fashion!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

3D Printing: For Fun and For Profit?

Some of you may remember that back in August I experimented with 3D printing. I've since designed and built some more small accessories with similar levels of success. I've been using Shapeways to do the actual 3D printing, and one feature of their site is that not only do they allow you to print your models, but they allow you to sell them as well. Now I've no idea if anyone else will find my models useful or not but there is only one way to find out, so I've opened a shop on Shapeways.

While the Shapeways shop is nice (it's free and requires no work on my behalf), it's a little limiting. Apart from a logo and short description there is no opportunity for branding, and unless the shop becomes very popular I'm guessing it will simply disappear into the sea of competing shops. So I've set up my own shop front as well.

As of yesterday (I really didn't want to rework the logo so I had to get it finished yesterday) Penistone Railway Works is officially open for business. Currently it simply lists the same items as the Shapeways shop, and clicking to buy any of the items simply routes you to the relevant page of on Shapeways. In the future though I could use it to either sell items directly, or to link to other companies for the production of specific parts. There is also no reason why I have to be limited to just 3D printing. The opportunities are endless, but, and I'm only guessing, so will be the wait for profit!