| Home 2015
This website is a log of my hobbies,
passions and projects. It will hopefully over time fill up with helpful
encourage, inspire and guide others with similar interests. rab by the
way are my initials Robert Andrew Burke
|April to July 2015:
been quite a while without adding any posts, it seems like everything
is getting in the way of carrying out home projects and hobbies, and
life being filled with things less noteworthy of recording here.
However I still try and keep myself busy and have a few items of note
that others might have some interest in.
In the last post I reported on a trailer I have been building, well I
managed to finish it for a fraction of the cost of buying a trailer of
equivalent size and quality
To make the trailer more useful I have included fittings to allow a
canopy frame to be mounted on top of the trailer to secure a tarpaulin
canopy. The space inside is larger than the payload space of a Vauxhall
Astra van. With the front section removed, tailgate lowered vertically
and ladder rack H bars fitted, the trailer will accommodate 8 x 4
down the centreline and balanced over the trailer axle.
I have a few building projects planned over the next couple of years
and this should be a useful addition for moving equipment and materials
without the need to tax and insure another vehicle.
the last post I wrote about identifying the old vehicle axle that was
on the original donor trailer. After a lot of Google searches I have
finally found an image that matches the axle. It turns out to be from
an old Reliant Rebel van which was produced at the Tamworth Reliant
factory between 1964 and 1974. These old Reliant's are few and far
between now and there isn't much call for spare parts, but due to their
light weight construction the axles were often used to produce three
wheeler trikes. As it has been used on a traler for the past few
decades it hasn't had excessive wear, so if anyone is interested in
having it, including two wheels and tyres for spares or repair drop me a
line via the contact link and we should be able to agree a reasonable
last year I reported on the work to install a wood burning stove,
after rebuilding the top of the chimney stack I abandoned the outside
work due to inclement weather. As we are now in the midst of summer it
presented the ideal opportunity to complete the work on the stack, to
re-dress the flashing and repoint the remaining brickwork. As the
existing mortar was quite degraded the joints had to be dug out quite
deep before refilling with a new strong mortar mix. Hopefully the
chimney will now remain maintenance free for the rest of our time at
Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition
Having used linux for almost all my computing work over the last 6
years, an opportunity arose to get a lightweight ultrabook laptop as I
travel a lot and carrying a heavyweight laptop around Europe isn't any
fun. I settled on the DEL XPS 13 Developer edition which has a great
specification for a small form factor laptop.
The laptop came pre-loaded with a DELL version of Ubuntu 14.4 that just
needed to go through the setup process to finish the installation, unfortunately the setup crashed
but fortunately still allowed Ubuntu to load, though only part
configured on the next boot. After a couple of updates I was able to make a Dell recovery
drive and set to reloading the Dell version of Ubuntu. More problems
occurred with the reload going into an endless loop and Ubuntu not
booting. Having failed with the DELL software I then tried to install
Linux Mint 17.1 which again wouldn't boot. A bit more digging and I
discovered the bios had been setup for both UEFI and legacy mode.
Resetting the bios to just UEFI mode finally allowed a reloaded Linux
mint to boot, and after a couple of updates all seemed to be okay until
I tried to use the microphone which didn't work and according to the
DELL website needed a couple of kernel patches to get it operational.
Even after 6 years plus of using linux that was a step too far and the
available to me was to either admit defeat and send the laptop back or
try the latest Ubuntu version 15.04 which has the newer kernel with all
the DEL patches included.
Fortunately the Ubuntu 15.04 has done the trick and everything I have
tried appears to be
working. It is a shame this didn't work out of the box and it is
experiences like this can easily put off a less determined person from
persevering with Linux. No doubt branding this model a developer
edition was done to deter the less experienced user.
- 5th Generation Intel Core™ i5-5200U Processor (3M Cache, up to 2.70 GHz)
- Ubuntu Linux 14.04 SP1 (now using 15.04)
- 13.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) InfinityEdge display
- 8GB1 Dual Channel DDR3L at 1600MHz
- 256GB Solid State Drive
- Intel(R) HD Graphics 5500
- 2.8 lbs
Though I am not a fan of the inflexibility of the Unity menu
system, I am getting used to it and with a few .desktop hacks have been
able to add the latest versions of Xampp and Blender to the menu.
Add Xampp launcher to Ubuntu 15.04 menu
is a completely free, easy to install Apache distribution containing
MySQL, PHP, and Perl. It effectively turns your computer into a web
server for local development of PHP/MySQL driven websites. The latest
version of xampp installer now includes a gui based startup manager
that makes starting and stopping the program much easier than writing
commands in the terminal. Unfortunately the the setup script doesn't
load the manager into the Ubuntu menu. So to achieve this I had to
manually create an xampp.desktop file.
Before creating the .desktop file I first needed to be able to launch
a password prompt window as Xampp needs to run with root privileges.
do this gksu needed to be loaded, this was don by running the following
command in the terminal.
|sudo apt-get install gksu
Then the text editor was launched from the terminal with root privilages using
Name= is the name that will show under the icon in the unity launcher
|In the text editor the following text was added and saved to /user/share/applications as xampp.desktop this is where all the programs .desktop files are located on my computer.
Comment=Open xampp manager
From the above file the key entries were:
Exec= executes the command, gksudo calls the password
prompt and opens the manager-linux-x64.run file from /opt/lampp
Icon= is the location of the applications icon which was found at /opt/lampp/htdocs/favicon.ico
Add Blender 2.75a launcher to the Ubuntu 15.04 menu
Xampp, Blender does not need to be run in root privileges therefore
gksu does not need to be used so setup is a little easier.
In the text editor opened with root privelages (see xampp above) the following text was added and saved to /user/share/applications as blender275a.desktop this is where all the programs .desktop files are located on my computer.
Comment=Make and edit 3D files
From the above file the key entries were:
Change: [YourUserName] for the user name you use on your linux system.
Change: [FileLocation] for the location where the Blender tar.bz2 file was extracted to.
Name= is the name that will show under the icon in the
unity launcher, make sure the version number is included if you have
more than one Blender version on your machine.
Exec= executes the command, in this case launches blender from the specified location.
Icon= is the location within the blender directory that the blender icon is located
A full explanation of all the available options in the .desktop file can be found at: freedesktop.org
Though Blender doesn't feature in my work anymore, I am still keeping
abreast of the changes that are taking place with the software, which
is still developing at a rapid pace. Not using Blender for work is a
major limitation in staying up to date with the software and being able
to help people by updating on what I have learned. Since my last report
on blender development back in April 2014 there have been five new
updates to Blender and the software is now at version 2.75a
||Some of the highlights in the recent upgrades are:
Now supports Fire and smoke rendering and render baking.
Has added the ability to add textured strokes, it has also been
incorporated into the Cycles render engine and now includes an svg
export facility to export the freestyle lines to inkspot
Pie Menus have now been added
|January to March 2015:
Having installed a wood burning stove towards the end of last year, I
found myself with a need to be able to collect quantities of lumber
when it becomes available. It is certainly not cost effective to buy
nets of firewood from the local shops, and very little of what we have
brought has been suitably seasoned to be classed as fire-wood. So to
start this year my first project was to acquire or make a suitable
trailer which has turned into quite an enjoyable project.
I started off by winning an ebay auction at a great price for what
looked like a sturdy box trailer. It was made out of heavy grade 2 inch
angle and had leaf spring
dampered suspension. However it was obvious the boardes were rotten and
the wheels sat inside the trailer compromising the load space.
Typically for me rather than just reboarding the trailer I decided to redesign and rebuild it to make it a lot more functional.
|The trailer box measured 4 foot 6 inches by 6 foot 6 inches and 1 foot
6 inches high, but was compromised by the inner wheel arches. Besides
carrying logs I also have a need to carry timber for construction
projects and being able to easily transport 8 foot by 4 foot boards was
a must, so I decided the box must accommodate at least 4 foot between
the wheel arches and also the centre section should be able to extend
over the front A frame and out over the tailgate so 8 x 4 sheets can be
stowed vertically in the centre of the trailer. The existing framework
was totally over engineered with heavy gauge steelwork on non
structural parts of the box, so again I decided to completely strip
down the trailer and re-weld it using structural steel only where the
strength was required and use lighter grades of angle for the non
Old Trailer Axle - Can you help identify what car it was off?
The suspension and axle has been based on an old car, possibly from the 1960's, rear axle again
much heavier than required for a trailer and restricting the space
between the inner wheel arches to only 3 foot. I am quite intrigued to
find out what car was used as the donor for the suspension and axle, a
trawl of google hasn't yet identified the axle.
The strip down has gone well and after a significant amount of
descaling, cutting up and re-welding I now have a decent trailer frame.
It was really rewarding breaking out my old welding set after many
years mothballed in the corner of my workshop and discovering that I
can still produce good quality slag free structural welds. The new axle
is based off Ford Fiesta rear hubs mounted to an axle beam made from 2
inch box section. Retaining the dampened suspension means the trailer
shouldn't bounce about like so many commercial trailers do. The project
is ongoing and hopefully will be completed in the next few weekends.
|1903 Collard and Collard Piano repairs
planned to do a lot of work on restoring the piano over the Christmas
break, but unfortunately I came down with probably the worst cold I
have had in 30 years and for several weeks didn't have the energy to
tackle the many little repairs that will be needed to get the piano
back into playable condition.
To be able to repair different parts of the action it is necessary to
remove the action from the piano, and on these old piano's it couldn't
be simpler. However once you have lifted the action from the piano
frame you need something to hold it upright so you have access to both
the front and back faces. I manufactured a couple of wooden stands that
the bottom dowels of the action frame sit into and are supported by a small block of wood that
props up the action frame to stop it toppling over.
Very simple but
|Removing the front panel was simply a matter of lifting open the top cover
which hinges back on itself, then
on the inside face of the front panel there are a couple of turn
buckles that need turning to release the front panel from the
piano frame. The front panel could then be lifted away from the piano.
the keyboard cover was then simply a matter of lifting it off its
location as it sits in place on a small rebate either side of the piano keys using gravity and a couple of locating
This then completely exposed the action. A further two turn
buckles one either side of the action frame held the
action in place. Once these were turned to free the action frame, it
could be tilted forward and lifted from the piano.
With the action frame removed the locating dowel hole for the frame can be clearly seen at the side of the keys.
= Action frame locating dowel
B = Rebate for the Keyboard Cover
With the action removed from the piano it can now be propped up on the
home made stands giving easy access to work on all the parts that need
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