This website is a log of my hobbies, passions and projects. It will hopefully over time fill up with helpful advice to
encourage, inspire and guide others with similar interests. rab by the way are my initials Robert Andrew Burke
September to December: I've
still not found much time over the last few months to do any of my
hobby's. Work commitments have eaten into much of my spare time, though
learning new things is always interesting. I am currently reading up on
Open Office to try and automate many of the office processes. Its quite
a challenge which is why very little is being added here at the moment.
I have also been finishing off work on the house, the front dormer is
now insulated and its made a massive difference to the warmth of the
rooms. Our old pine kitchen is being stripped, updated and painted cream over the winter.
My MIO Pocket PC/sat-nav had been giving problems for some time and
finally gave up on me the beginning of December. The 22 pin connector
that supplies the power and PC connection had broken away from the
circuit board. I managed to find a replacement connector on Ebay and set
to making a repair. It meant dusting off my electronics tools and
involved some very fine soldering as detailed below.
The connector is tiny, smaller than anything I had soldered before.
After replacing the connector the pocket PC works as good as new. In total the rpair cost around £7.00
To get to the connector 4 screws needed to be removed from the case and the case carefully separated.
case open the battery was removed along with the satnav receiver. The
connector was barely hanging on to the circuit board.
connector removed the board needed to be desoldered and cleaned. The
first 4 pins were soldered onto a common connection.
new connector was soldered into place, initially solder bridged all the
pins. Excess solder was removed with de-solder braid.
June to August: Its
been quite a while since posting anything here, not because I didn't
want to, but because work pressures from my new job seem to have taken
pretty much all my available time.
Add to being over worked my camera broke just before I was due for a
few days holiday in London and getting a new one turned into a real
drawn out saga. The camera I wanted was the Kodak Z980 it seamed a
fully featured Bridge camera with excellent specifications, though
finding a supplier in the UK became a problem. In the end I ordered it
from PC World Business (pcwb.com) who hadn't got it in stock but
estimated a one week delivery, so expecting a large company would
give a good and honest service I ordered it. The week passed by and no
camera, there customer service said it would be another week before
they could get the camera. The second week passed by, still no camera.
I emailed to them my disappointment in there service, they blamed their
supplier and offered to source a replacement camera. I was intrigued to
see what they would offer for the same price and specification, the
response never came back I was just ignored. After more than a month,
several phone-calls and Emails I finally managed to get most of my
money back. Just because it's a big named company doesn't mean you get
a good service. I have been left feeling cheated by this company, apart
from one helpful customer service assistant that finally sorted out the
part refund, this has been the worst customer service I have ever
experienced with on-line shopping. I will keep chasing to get every
I have got
a new camera now though I ordered a Panasonic Lumix FZ28 from
ukdigital.co.uk it arrived the next day.
few people have left requests for modelling help with Blender. Though I
intend to find the time for some more personal work, it's unlikely I
will find the time for any more tutorials in the near future. A lot of
helpful advice is still available on the Precision Modelling thread on Blenderartists.
Hopefully things will calm down and I will find time to continuing to
work with this amazing program.
not had time this month to work on any of my Blender projects. Settling
into my new job has required a lot of my time getting to grips with a
whole load of new standards and procedures. This time though rather
than developing product standards, it's more about applying quality
standards and assisting HETAS my new employer, to obtain accreditation
to run a Biomass Microgeneration Accreditation Scheme.
I have took
the plunge this month and built a new desktop computer
specifically to speed up my graphics work and I am really pleased with
how its performing.
The spesification is:
AMD Phenom 11 X4 3 gig processor
4 gig memory
Nvidea Geforce 9600 + 1 gig graphics
I have also decided to completely abandon Windows on this computer and
only loaded the Ubuntu 9.04 64
bit operating system. The build went
without any hitches and Ubuntu loaded with no problems getting all my
hardware working, even my old apitec graphics tablet works which I
couldn't get operational under Ubuntu 8.04.
Its good to see another release of Blender now 2.49 packed with great new
features, especially if you are into creating computer games. The
advancement of the game engine is moving at an incredible pace.
has been one of those strange times when you think you have an idea of
what you hope to achieve over the the next few weeks or months
and wham something knocks you completely off track. Fortunately for me
this was a really good knock as I am in the process of changing jobs
and moving to an employer that will allow me to utilise my full range
of computer skills including Blender, in a number of varied
and challenging rolls. With every new situation in life there is going
to be quite a steep learning curve, I expect it will take some
time to understand all that I can about the practises of the
new company. Unfortunately this means much less time for the
Website over the coming months, but hopefully once I get to
grips with the changes at work I will be back adding some of the things
I had planned to post here over the next few weeks.
With regards to my Website I was extremely impressed with an Open
Source Web form creator which I have used to add the contact form
linked at the bottom of each of my pages.
Web Form Factory
is an open source web form generator which automatically generates the
necessary back end code to tie the forms you can create in Kompozer to
a database or Email. I found it very useful for setting up the basic
php code however it did need a little bit of tweaking to get it to work
correctly. A great time saver and worthy of a quick advert here.
Also a quick thanks to Bart for mentioning my Excavator article on Blender Nation (1st
Hopefully my ISP won't crack under the increased bandwidth the Blender
Nation post has brought.
seems like an awfully long time since mentioning the chimney
flue images last October, so its nice to see the chimney brochure is
now available to download. It's not only the front cover that was
produced using Blender, all the 3D images in this brochure were
also created with this powerful and creative piece of software. It's
great when you occasionally get the
opportunity to wrap your hobby into your full time employment.
Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any projects coming up that
needs these types of graphics, so I will have to be content with the
limited time I get at home.
I have spent quite a lot of time recently on the Excavator model and
I must say I have learned quite a lot from this project. I have made
the time over the last few weeks to write up a short article on the
basic work flow
of taking the initial idea of building an excavator model that
be animated, through the process of working out the rigging and
constraints, to a completed model with studio and lighting set-up.
few of you planning a project but not knowing quite where to start
might find some of the tips found in the article useful. I have also
offered the article for for submission in the next Blenderartist
magazine, so hopefully you will be seing a version of the article there
There's a lot more to creating a good image than just the
modelling. I've spent a lot of time over the past month playing with
materials and lighting to try and get a good render of the excavator.
It's a necessary but tedious process; tweak a few settings, press
Render then wait a few hours for the results. Tweak a few
settings, press Render etc, etc, etc.
thought I had got the settings something approaching the look you would
get from a showroom model, so I uploaded an image onto the CG Talk
forum. I got some good feedback about the modelling, but the
got totally trashed. It looks like I need to do a lot more learning
about setting up good materials and lighting. The assistance
forum, has been a big help
I have found time over the
past couple of weeks to get back to some of
the hands on projects in my workshop, only to have the motor
on my old
wood working band saw die on me. As its a good solid machine I have
decided to give it an overhaul and repair some of the worn
bought a slightly more powerful motor which has meant fabricating
a new mounting, boring out the drive pulley and cutting a new key-way
to suit the larger shaft. I also needed to machine a new blade
tracking mechanism because the
original one had broken some time ago and I had only made a temporary
repair to it.
January 2009: I
cant believe how quickly last year flew by. My engineering projects
took a back seat so I could concentrate on finishing off some building
work which fortunately is now mostly completed. I have not had as much
time as I would have liked to learn some of
Blenders animation techniques, but what I have played with recently
have been extremely impressive.
The model of the excavator has proved
very useful as a tool to help learn rigging and constraints, I have
discovered that you can make animatable hoses using
bezier curves and hooks which
give a lot of control over the hoses deformation but remains simple to
As the model is almost complete, just needing some
smaller details adding and the steering mechanism rigging, I have
decided to pass on some of the techniques I have learned in the form of
a Projects section to
the web site. It should allow me to give a
general breakdown of the project rather than the step by step process
used in the Precision Modelling tutorials. The
navigation is now in place so all that remains is to write up some of
my graphics projects.
To finish the Excavator project I just need to add the excavator into a
scene and possibly
dirty it up so it doesn't look like it is in showroom condition.
Hopefully 2009 will allow me enough time to resurrect the CNC router
project and and also get my workshop organised so I can complete a few
of the smaller engineering ideas I am working on.