This website is a log of my many hobbies and passions with art, illustration and computer graphics. It will hopefully over time
fill up with helpful advice to encourage, inspire and guide others with similar interests.

September to December 2009

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.

MIO Pocket PC - 22 Pin Connector Connector Size Comparison

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

Remove the case

To get to the connector 4 screws needed to be removed from the case and the case carefully separated.

Old Connector

With the case open the battery was removed along with the satnav receiver. The connector was barely hanging on to the circuit board.

Desolder Circuit Board

With the connector removed the board needed to be desoldered and cleaned. The first 4 pins were soldered onto a common connection.

Solder new Connector in place

The new connector was soldered into place, initially solder bridged all the pins. Excess solder was removed with de-solder braid.

June to August 2009

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 ( 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 penny back.

I have got a new camera now though I ordered a Panasonic Lumix FZ28 from it arrived the next day.

Panasonic Lumix FZ28

A 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.

May 2009

I've 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, 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.

Ubuntu in Blender

The spesification is:

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.

April 2009

This 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 May). Hopefully my ISP won't crack under the increased bandwidth the Blender Nation post has brought.

March 2009

It 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.

Flue Brochure

As 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 can be animated, through the process of working out the rigging and constraints, to a completed model with studio and lighting set-up. Hopefully a 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 too.

Excavator project

February 2009

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 more settings, press Render etc, etc, etc. I 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 materials got totally trashed. It looks like I need to do a lot more learning about setting up good materials and lighting. The assistance from Blenderartist 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 parts.

Band Saw Tracking mechanism

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.

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 even 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 set-up.

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 page 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.