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
This month saw another release of Ubuntu with the operating system now
up to version 10.10. As with all the previous releases the upgrade went
almost without a hitch. As usual all but the dreaded Aldi
| graphics tablet (the re branded
Aiptek U1200 tablet I think) worked out of the box.
As I have had a number of issues in the past with support for this
hardware I have finally decided to give up on it and invest in a Wacom
Bamboo Pen. Seeing the Wacoms are now under £50.00 it was a no-brainer
really. Even though it is a much smaller tablet the high resolution
easily makes up for the size and the responsiveness makes it so much
easier to use.
As a quick test I have drawn this stylised sunset using Gimp and the
gimp paint studio ad-on brushes and tools.
I am now looking forward for the time to experiment with Blender 2.54's
sculpt tools, to see how different it is sculpting with a graphics
tablet rather than a mouse.
For the first time in over a year I have managed to find some time to
do a little bit of productive work with Blender. My time away from the
program shows, but it is still good to see just how fast the modelling
process comes back and creating images soon becomes a quick and
efficient process again. The modelling was completed in Blender 2.49
The opportunity has arisen to create a number of technical
illustrations of wood burning appliances with external air supplies.
The drawings need to show the passage of air within the appliance.
Seeing I am so rusty with the modelling process I am quite
pleased with the outcome. Especially seeing I have moved the model over
to Blender 2.54 beta to try out the new render features. It still needs
some work but the fire
and flames look a lot better using blenders mesh lights. The flames are
made from image billboards because at the moment there just isn't
time to learn Blenders new particle system.
Following an email from Blender underground about updating the 608
bearing tutorial I have had a look at how the Blender 2.5 development
is progressing, specifically to see if a sufficient number of the
necessary tools have been ported across from Blender 2.49 to be able to
update the tutorial. Whilst I am very impressed with the new way of
working in Blender it is still missing a some of the key tools needed
to make precision modelling totally feasible. This isn't a knock at
Blender, the developers are doing a sterling job at rewriting the
program. It's just the realisation that if you want a full set of
modelling tools you still need to at the moment use Blender 2.49. Once
I am happy that the tutorial can be done in an efficient way I will
rewrite it for the 2.5 interface.
One of the main tools i use for modelling is the knife constrained
to a straight line or axis with the ability to snap the cut top a
reference vertex. Currently I cant find a way to do this. No doubt this
functionality will be added later.
This month I am
dedicating my blog to my daughter Charlotte (Lottie), who after three
years of extremely hard work has graduated from Bishop Grossetest
University College Lincoln with a BA (Hons) Primary Education. The
graduation was a great and memorable day at both the University and
Lottie we are all very proud of you.
April I updated my operating system to Ubuntu to 10.4 and reported that
it was another seamless installation. On the whole that was correct but
I hadn't bargained on my cheap troublesome Aiptec graphics tablet. I
don't use the tablet that often and the first time I had plugged it in
since the Ubuntu upgrade was in June, typically it didn't work so the
March set-up instructions are no longer valid for the current version
of Ubuntu. Fortunately the remedy to get the tablet working was much
simpler this time and worked by just following the guidance on
the Ubuntu community documentation page https://help.ubuntu.com/community/AiptekTablet
another of the websites I am building there was the need for a click
through rolling banner to different sections of the site. As an
experiment before the site goes live I have added the same banner
functionality to this site, it's my first experiments with Java
scripting and I think it works really well compared to the small tabbed
navigation panels that were originally there. The banner is based on a
script written by Jon Raasch, details are on his site at jonraasch.com
of the things keeping me away from completing any more Blender projects
over the past few months has been the refurbishment of our kitchen.
About 15 years ago I made a farmhouse style pine kitchen machined from
6" x 2" planks. It was beginning to look pretty dated and tired, though
still much more solid than most of the flat pack kitchens currently
|Rather than ripping
it out and replacing it I have re-hung
the doors and given it several coats of paint. Now it is finished it
looks much smarter than the original pine units.
have managed to find a little time to do some work with Blender
recently and rather than starting a new project I have decided to
return to an old piece started back in March 2008. Needing a scene to
house the ruined priory, I have decided to build a mountain range. The
mountains are based on Snowdonia and constructed around a contour map
the area. It should give the background a realistic appearance.
I was doing a little bit of clearing out in my pottery this month,
which has been used as a storage shed for the last few years whilst I
was doing building work on the house. I was pleased to find in a couple
of old banana boxes full of 12th scale chimney pots. There were enough
of the chimney pots to be able to complete a couple of the Chimney Pot
Chess Sets I used to make. Its been a really rewarding process putting
this set together.
has been a few years since the pieces were made and the box parts were
all cut out ready for assembly. Its taken quite a few hours this month
to complete the set.
When I was making the chess sets as part of my hobby pottery business (Robert Burke Studio Ceramics) I
had estimated each set took around 110 hours to complete. With that
amount of work they weren't intended to be made in large numbers This
one is number nine in the series.
I think it will look good displayed on my lounge window ledge.
that time of year again when a new release of Ubuntu becomes available,
though not releasing it until the last day of the month means there is
no time to test out any of the new features. As with previous versions
the upgrade to Ubuntu 10.4
went without a single problem.
|Whilst I was impressed
with Mypaint last month, I was even more
impressed this month by how easy it was to build Gimp with the Gimp
Painter add on tools and then upgrade the set-up to use the full Gimp
Paint Studio pre-sets. If you use Gimp for computer paint work and
haven't made the upgrade yet, I would seriously recommend you have a
look at some of the Gimp Paint Studio demo's. The extra tools and
pre-set brushes make the creation of pictures so much easier.
As a quick trial this Bob Ross type landscape took little over an hour
to create, which incluses the time to find and experiment with many of
the preset tools.
|On the web front, I
have been creating a couple of new websites for
HETAS, one for the HETAS Technical Committee
which includes a private
forum using the open source PHPBB Bulletin Board software. This has
proven to be an extremely organised piece of software making the
setting up of user permissions relatively straight forward.
gone back over some of the projects started over the last few years but
never progressed to completion, I notices the ruined Priory model
played with in March and April 2008. This project came to a standstill
because I had an idea for a mat-painting for the background, but
couldn't get my graphics tablet working in Ubuntu 9.10. I must admit I
tried several times since but never succeeded. having seen the
tremendous work being done with Sintel the new Blender open movie project using Mypaint, I
decided to try the graphics tablet again this month and am pleased to
say I have had a bit more success than previously.
EDIT: THIS DOES NOT WORK WITH UBUNTU 10.4
June above for details.
The tablet is a cheap Aldi Medion tablet which has turnd out to be a re
badged Aiptek tablet (1200U I think). To get it working I loaded the
the xserver-xorg-input-aiptek package using sinaptic package manager
and then created a "10-aiptek.fdi" file in the etc/hal.fdi/policy
folder with the content:
<match key="info.product" contains="Aiptek">
After rebooting it was just a matter of setting the pressure
sensitivity in Mypaint and Gimp. Some of the button functionality isn't
working, but it is a lot better having a graphics tablet that can
draw with pressure sensitivity than one that doesn't work at all. There
is still the reported bug that when disconnecting the tablet from the
usb port it crashes Xserver requiring you to log back in to Ubuntu. It
is advisable to shut down before disconnecting the tablet until this
problem is fixed in the Aiptek drivers.
Previous attempts to get the tablet working hadn't succeeded and the
only difference in the setup was the Ubuntu
page tells you to call the .fdi file "10-linuxaiptek.fdi" and place it
in the /usr/share/hal/fdi/policy folder, which for my machine didn't
the first time in almost 12 months I have had the opportunity to brush
the dust off Blender and make a couple of simple models for use on a
Renewable Energy Website I am working on with other Trade Associations.
My kitchen is progressing nicely this month, I have painted all the
kitchen units and have progressed onto re-tiling the floor. All that
left to do soon is fit new beech worktops and tiled splash-backs.
Hopefully when this is done I will be able to concentrate on the more
enjoyable engineering and graphics projects that this website was setup
|The website www.resintegration.co.uk
is aimed at showing how different forms of renewable energy heating
systems can be combined to get the best out of the new technologies.
The site is initially being constructed by interactive
and based on the open source Joomla content management system. I must
say I am impressed with the features and ease of use of Joomla and
given time may port my website onto this system.
Blender for the first time in many months made me realise just how much
you need to learn the program to be able to use it, but once learned
The images of boilers and appliances are quite basic but were very
quick and easy to produce. I am looking forward to doing more Blender
graphics as the year progresses.
the start of another year and we again live in hope of finding time to
progress further with my knowledge and use of Blender. It is good to
see the progress being made with the development of Blender 2.5, it
shouldn't be too long before a stable version is available. Hopefully
over the year i will get time to port the Precision Modelling Tutorials
over to the new 2.5 interface.
work is still taking up much of my time I am usually managing to
find at least one day a week to try and finish some of the DIY needed
on my house. The structural work was finished last year and as we are
experiencing one of the coldest Januaries for several decades I am
pleased that the work on improving the house's insulation has paid
dividends and we are now living in a much more comfortable environment.
I am planning on adding some home brew solar panels this year to try
and reduce the heating bills further. I will be reporting on my
experiments and progress with the solar panels as the year goes on.
The major project I am working on at home at the moment is upgrading my
kitchen. About 15 years ago I made my own pine kitchen units which are
now looking a little worn and dated, so following a little
encouragement from my wife I have decided to rehang the doors with
stronger hinges and paint the units cream. As usual this is proving to
be a much more time consuming process than I first thought. The process
of undercoating, filling sanding down, undercoating, sanding down then
top-coating seems to take forever, though the end result is worth the
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