Mar 152021

Back in Feb when the weather looked like it was going to be cold and crap, I bought a small desktop CNC router kit to assemble. I’ve had quite a lot of fun with it since then, experimenting with different materials and techniques.

3018 Pro CNC Router kit

Here’s what it looks like when built…

The motor moves left and right (x-axis), and up and down (z-axis). The aluminium table moves forward and back (y-axis)

So what can it do? Well it’s basically a computer-controlled router, so it can cut, trim and engrave wood, plastics and softish metals like aluminium. Obviously it’s a ‘hobby’ machine, so not up to industrial size or speed, but it’s still pretty cool.

Some early experiments with engraving a fancy font in 3mm birch ply

Obviously all the designing is done on a computer and software translates the design files into Gcode, which controls the movements of the CNC router, hopefully making it do exactly as you want.

Lots of experimentation involved to find the best settings for any given material. There is definitely skill involved, as the wrong settings will result in crap work and broken bits.

With a decent quality cutting tool (router bit) and the right settings, you can get some rather nice results

The supplied motor is a bit weedy, but can allegedly engrave and cut aluminium, if you’re careful with the settings, so that obviously had to be tried…

Engraving with 3 different bit profiles in aluminium gives different effects

With this setup, aluminium needs very shallow cuts (0.02-0.05mm) and plenty of lubricant, but it can be done because the machine is capable of repeating the same movement very precisely over and over again. So you can cut a profile by going round it many times taking a little each time.

I’m using an open source software package called bCNC to control the router. It’s running on a Raspberry Pi 4. It took me about two weeks of ‘messing about time’ to get this far. A lot of it is in learning how to use the software, which is pretty poorly documented – but that’s because it’s free, so you can’t complain.

For me, learning the skills is probably more fun than using them, so I don’t find that to be a barrier, but it can cause frustration at times.

At that point, I stumbled across the concept of “V-carving”which enables you to do relief carving using a V-shaped bit. Another open source package, called F-engrave facilitates this.

V-carve can work quite well with the right piece
This spiral on birch turned out quite well, having levelled a square ‘pocket” to frame it

This took me up to the end of February, at which point I started getting frustrated with how long it took. When working with wood, you can ‘fire and forget’ but the machine does make a noise, which can be vaguely irritating if it goes on for 5 hours (the longest job I’ve run so far).

Fortunately, I’d already ordered a much more powerful motor upgrade, which promised more capabilities – i.e. better speed and deeper cuts. But while that was on the way from China, I did some experiments with some potential designs for coasters…

100mm coaster candidates using ball nose bit

And I got it into my head to try a Greek pattern, so found one on the web and adapted it. This is the job that took five hours to run…

5 hours with a 0.5mm V bit

I was quite pleased with that one. There are some slight tearing issues due to the weakness of the ply veneer, but it shows that the stock machine is capable of some quite complex and precise work over a sustained period.

Then the new motor arrived. It’s massive compared to the original one.

It took me a couple of days to upgrade the motor. I had to build a mount for it – thankfully someone had already done it, so was able to more or less copy their design, but obviously I tweaked it – as you do.

Motor mount built and ready to receive the motor
It fits in like this

The circular black fan on top of the motor was off-centre. It caused wobble and vibration. So I designed and made one out of laser cut, heat-bent perspex. It’s basically a small 4-bladed propellor.

Custom-made fan, works very well to cool motor

Putting a temperature probe on the motor case shows a huge difference with the fan. The motor gets too hot to touch after about 5 minutes running without it. With the fan in place, you can run it for a long time with no issues.

So much more playing to find the new, faster, deeper settings that the new motor is capable of. I’d also ordered a small square of brass to play with, and wanted something small to test it out. So I designed a small spoke key and valve-core remover to go in the saddle-bag.

This took about an hour to cut, but I’m delighted with the results

Not knowing the right settings, I took it very slowly and cautiously, but the results were really good. Encouraged by this, I designed a 7mm-8mm spanner

Spanner design in QCAD

And this is how it eventually turned out, but not without some ‘learning’. After about an hour and a half of cutting, the job was within 10 minutes of finishing, but I hadn’t clamped it down well enough and the bit caught on the edge of the job, moving the sheet of brass out of alignment. This caused the bit to break and the job had to be finished by hand with lots of Dremelling. Then it needed a couple of hours of filing, sanding and polishing, but the final result is this, with which I am very pleased…

Brass spanner cut on CNC router and finished by hand

Better clamping will avoid such issues in future. Bits do break now and then, particularly on harder materials. It’s just part of the game.

So that brings me right up to mid-March. The next thing I did was design a pen-holder to turn the machine into a pen plotter. This turned out to be almost ‘disappointingly easy’, in that it worked first time and only took about 2 hours.

It also mounts on either front or side of the motor mount (the joys of symmetry). And with a cardboard backing to smooth out irregularities, you can get some quite nice results…

Geometric patterns like this are quite easy to do in CAD software

It can also do technical drawings from CAD software to perfect scale…

Technical drawing of the pen-holder

Next stop, I want to experiment with a ‘drag-knife’ attachment which supposedly would enable the machine to cut vinyl. But that’s for another day.

Nov 192020

Our perimeter wall has a step crack in that needs dealing with before it falls over and gets expensive. I was reading up on repointing walls and stumbled across a technique called ‘stitching’. They use it on buildings where a wall has cracked, so I figured it would be more than good enough for a perimeter garden wall.

Our fig tree has caused this step crack in our wall
If you can see all the way through, it’s not good

So wall stitching involves removing the old horizontal mortar spanning 50cm either side of the vertical crack to a depth of 30mm. Then you inject about 10mm of special anchoring grout and press a helical stainless steel reinforcing bar into the grout. Then you add another 10mm of grout, ultimately covering that with another 10mm of mortar to match the wall. you do this every 4-6 vertical courses of bricks sufficient to cover and reinforce the cracked area. Once reinforced you can then repoint any other bits that need doing.

Obviously tools are required. Diamond mortar raking disc.
And a 35x6mm diamond mortar rake for the verticals and depth

Some investment in diamond equipped toolage is required. The Diamond disc is incredibly fast and filthy dirty, but only hogs out 20mm. I needed 30mm so got hold of a rod shaped diamond bit for routing out the verticals and a bit deeper on the horizontals. Both of these go on the angle grinder.

Three slots overlapping nicely to span the step crack
Helical rod that will go in the slots to reinforce the wall

Once the slots have been dug out a quick hose-down to clean out loose bits and thoroughly wet the area. Then using a gun that’s similar to a large mastic gun, but better, squirt some grout into the slot, push it in firmly with a tuck pointing trowel, and press a helical rod into it…

Mortar/grout pistol. Very good if you get the mixture right.
Helical rod pressed into anchoring grout but not yet covered
Various tuck pointing trowels and a scraper

Then add more anchoring grout over the rod and smooth that in so the rod is properly embedded, creating a really strong composite structure. The anchoring grout goes off quite quickly, certainly a lot faster than regular mortar. I probably wouldn’t mix more than required for two bars in one session.

More grout on top and press it all in firmly with a tuck pointer to make sure the helical rod is embedded
Repeat until you’ve spanned the crack

Then allow to cure overnight (>=5°C) and cover with mortar that either matches the rest of the wall or, if you prefer, you could use some with some cement in that will last a bit longer. If it was the house I would be more bothered about colour matching. But it’s a perimeter wall, so I don’t give a toss if it doesn’t really match. What’s important is that the wall remains in place, opaque and functional.

Three slots made good with mortar (after 24 hours, still not fully dry)

After that it was time to make good the remaining cracks, so first up I had a good look at the mortar and marked the bits I needed to do dentistry on with the diamond disc and mortar rake. I used white paint to make it clear, so I could do all the messy work in one go and be unlikely to miss bits.

Marked up the areas to ‘hog out’ using white paint

This is the messiest job. Filthy dirty work. The disc is worse, but it’s so quick on the horizontals.

Cleaned the visor twice during the job
The whole lot after the carnage
Closer view after washing down the wall and letting it dry
19/11/2020 Next day after repointing the top few rows
20/11/2020 One gun’s worth of mortar into the bottom few rows. Middle bit still left to do
22/11/2020 Finished the middle bit on our side
26/11/2020 Neighbour’s side marked up for angle grinder work
26/11/2020 Neighbour’s side after hogging out dodgy mortar marked above

Pointed the neighbour’s side. Going to have a break now. Next thing will be the curved crack stitching, but might need to wait for a sustained period of weather above 5°C to start that.

28/11/2020 Morning’s work pointed neighbour’s side.
29/11/2020 The curved section from external side, marked up to show cracks (red) and where the stitching will go (teal). Stitching will go on the inner side.

Still to do (as of 19/Nov/2020)…

  • Finish the remaining rows on our side (DONE 22/11/2020)
  • Do the equivalent on neighbour’s side (DONE 28/11/2020)
  • Stitch the curved step crack on the other side of the fig tree (DONE 29/3/2021)
  • Repoint remaining cracks on curved section our side (DONE 1/4/2021)
  • Curved section neighbour’s side
  • Stitch a bit on our straight section that is leaning
  • Do some general pointing in places where it’s deteriorated

Time to Start Again (26/3/2021)

Forecast for the next few days is >5°C so want to get the curve stitched and secure so I can prune the fig tree. Hogged out four slots for the helical rods, which were bent slightly to fit the curves. Intending to grout these tomorrow morning, then mortar over them the next day…

Four slots on the curved section – pre-bent helical rods resting in place

27 March 2021 – got the helical rods grouted in and marked up where I will want to repoint. There’s a lot of hogging out to do, which will start on Monday if I get the grout nicely covered up tomorrow.

Green chalk marks show areas to repoint. 4 big slots now grouted, so the wall should now be secure.

28 March 2021 Got that covered up. If weather etc. allows, will do some hogging out tomorrow. At least now, it should be strong enough to not be at risk of falling. Obviously will be full strength once the rest of the repointing is done. That will likely take a while as it needs doing in quite a few places on both sides.

Covered the stitchings with mortar

29 March 2021 Lots of hogging out today. Did it all as it’s a filthy mucky dusty shitty horrible job I don’t want to do multiple sessions. Then I filled some of it, but there’s a lot more to fill over the coming days…

Lots of gaps to fill

30 March 2021 – did a couple of rounds of pointing. Most of the bit round the tree is now done.

1 April 2021 – And DONE!

Finished this side of the curve now. Will have to wait for another weather slot to do the other side.

Jun 302020

So, I currently find myself unable to cycle for a few weeks. I decided it would be nice to do some airbrush work. Nice light duty while I recuperate from RARP. I couldn’t think of a target, so picked something cycling related and useful, that I wanted anyway – a Carnac Kronus tt helmet. £40 from PlanetX. I don’t know how much impact it would have on my tt times, but they say it makes a difference. For now, let’s try to make it look nice and have some fun and maybe learn something in the process.

Carnac Kronus time trial helmet side view
Side view with clear visor
Carnac Kronus time trial helmet front view
Front view with clear visor

My initial thoughts were to paint the middle section (the raised part) fluorescent yellow. I tend to do that with all my helmets. So I started by masking off parts of it and flatting that central raised section with 800 grit wet ‘n’ dry. I also sanded off the logo from the front, otherwise it would show through as an embossed image.

Flatted central section
Logo No Go

Having done that it was time to mask it all up and spray on a couple of coats of white primer. Whenever spraying over something dark, a white primer is a good idea or you’d need a large number of coats of colour and it would still not get quite the right effect.

2 coats of white primer
2 coats of white primer

Then it was time to think about the sides. I wanted some sort of graphic or artwork on the side. Singularly lacking in drawing ability, I took to the internet to find some sort of cartoon icon/graphic of a bike or bike with rider that might lend itself well to stencilling. I found something I thought might work and tweaked it so I could laser cut the stencil. Having cut it in ‘suspension file cardboard’ I was now at this point…

White primed helmet with stencil
White primed helmet with stencil

The idea here is to line up the wheels with the “carnac” text as if it’s the road. I quite like the minimalist style of the graphic and it lends itself very well to stencilling as there are no bridges required. To be sure the concept would work, I made a mock-up of the sprayed image on black cardboard (the helmet visor box was perfect for this).

White primed helmet with stencil
Mock-up for proof-of-concept

I was happy that this was going to work, but I was also having second thoughts about the fluoro yellow. The white primer looked pretty good and my Roubaix is black and white, so I decided to put a few coats of white top-coat on instead of fluoro yellow. So it was remask it all, spray 3 coats of top-coat and then after waiting overnight, 3 further coats of clear satin varnish, both to seal it in and to “save” that layer of work in case I do anything over the top that then needs to be reworked.

White top-coat
White top-coat

Before committing to the logo, I wanted a final sanity check, so taped a logo on each side to see what it looked like. Obviously I needed to wear it, with the mirrored visor and take a selfie outside to see what it might look like…

Mock-up or cock-up? It'll do!
Mock-up or cock-up? It’ll do!

Yeah. That’ll look quite good, methinks! So let’s get on with the graphics. Stencils-away. It turns out that putting a flat stencil onto a compound curve is “interesting”. I had to slit it in a couple of places to make it lay flatter. Used 3M repositionable spray mount adhesive. Bloody expensive, but it’s about the best there is for this job. Then masked around the stencil to avoid overspray.

All stencilled up and ready to spray
All stencilled up and ready to spray

Sealed the stencil with satin varnish, then a couple of coats of white primer, followed by 3 coats of white. Which takes us to this point…

Quite pleased with that, little bit of tidying needed

So that’s what it looks like on each side (mirrored on the other side so both riders are riding the same way I will be). The sides still need my name on the ‘ear-flap’ part below the ‘ac’ of the ‘carnac’ lettering. For sheer simplicity, inertia, lack of imagination, laziness and consistency, I decided to use the same lettering (modelled on the SPECIALIZED font) I use on my bike and other helmets for this. So I cut some new stencils on the laser cutter using masking tape.

Name stencils in masking tape
Name stencils in masking tape

Then sealed with clear satin varnish, primed with white primer and top-coated with fluoro orange, to end up with this…

Are we nearly there yet?

Still need to seal the name down with a border of clear satin varnish or it will peel.

Sealing around the logo with clear satin varnish

So, we’ve got the large central white band, the bike and rider graphic riding along the Carnac lettering and a fluorescent orange name. That would probably do. And yet…

Almost done
Pretty much there – unless…

…I’m thinking I’ve got this huge piece of white real-estate in the middle that might need some more tweakage. Some shapes/stripes/graphics or something else to embellish it further. Maybe the club logo? Or even a pair of eyes? We’ll see. I’m going to pause it there until the next decent idea arrives.

All that lovely white real-estate waiting to be used

After the Pause

So I was thinking about some kind of cartoon character for the front. Maybe Donald Duck riding a bike or something like that? Unfortunately, I took a look at the front and we’ve got those 6 air vent lines which will look like black lines. So I decided to try and make a cartoon character of my own that would incorporate those 6 lines. All I could see in my head was a cartoon alien, so I looked up a few for reference, then printed out a photo of the helmet and started drawing on it. Drawing is one thing I freely admit I’m not very good at.

The outer vent lines help define the sides of the face and the inner ones define the outside edges of the eyes. Funny shaped eyes, but then it is an alien afterall. So after that, I had these ‘drawings’…

First two drawing attempts – liked a couple of bits from each

So, having a basic idea allowed me to attack the problem on the computer, which gives me some tools to overcome my lack of drawing ability. (And would be needed for stencil cutting anyway.) Creating this alien took pretty much a morning piddling about with photoshop and inkscape, but it seems to camouflage the air vents really well.

Cartoon alien
Using the vent holes as black lines

On the computer, it looks pretty good. Now it was time to cut stencils on the laser cutter. I used paper this time as the compound curve issue is a bit less of a problem with a thinner medium. Still had to snip it a bit in places though.

Laser cut paper stencil

Scaling is a Challenge

The distorted perspective of a working with an angled photograph of a compound curve (whilst designing in 2d) meant that it was a bit of a challenge to get the scale and dimensions exactly right. I scaled it for width, which meant that the height wasn’t exactly right. But with a bit of judicious snipping, the stencil was made to fit. The immovable objects, obviously being the vent slots. Everything else is somewhat flexible.

Once a stencil was made, I thought it would be a good idea to do the yellow ‘face base’ colour first. So I masked off the white highlights in the eyes, so they would stay white, and sprayed the majority of the face fluorescent yellow. (Had to get some in there somewhere. And who says aliens have to be green?)

Yellow face base with masks for the white eye highlights

Once dry, masking comes off (apart from eye highlights) and we re-mask for the black layer, which includes all the facial features and the outline which encompasses four of the ventilation slots…

Remasked for the black layer
Remasked for the black layer

It’ll be interesting to see how it turns out. I’m toying with the idea of doing some sort of ‘differential topcoat’ with satin for most of it, but maybe gloss for the eyes? Not sure how that might work.

Couple of black coats laid down

Once the 3 black layers were dry, the masking was peeled off and I tried it on with the mirrored visor…

Yeah – that works!

I have to say I’m very pleased with that. It looks pretty much as I thought it would, only better. There’s very little stencil bleed. Have I finally hit on a good technique?

Below is an image of side by side design concept (left) and actual implementation (right). It’s pretty close. Although it looks as if the angle of the shot is slightly different.

Left: Photoshop design. Right: Implementation for real.
Left: Photoshop design. Right: Implementation for real.

What Next?

So when that’s all properly dried overnight, it’ll be time to protect it with a couple of clearcoat layers. There’s still a bit of space at the back, but I haven’t got a concept for that yet. There’s the awkward ‘tail’ shape to work around. Reminds me a bit of a lizard or crocodile tail with the spine running down it. Or even a cartoon stingray. But that’s an issue for another day…

Cartoon Stingray it is then

After much prevarication and a few days off I ended up choosing the cartoon stingray I’d found on the first day. The graphic needed some tweaks to make it a good fit for the helmet. I straightened the tail and scaled it to fit.

I cut stencils in paper again and used 3M remount as before.

Lots of layers on this one

This design required several layers as there are several colours. It was quite complex and tricky, but the spraying side of it went quite well. Some of the detail was brushed, and some of that part went a lot less well. Filling in the green part of the eyes was fine, but the detailed fine lines around the gills and the “waving hand” are a bit wobbly for my liking.

Also, stencilling and brush-painting is a recipe for horrible bleeds. I had to scrub and redo the blue spotted area on the “waving hand”. Some of the fine lines around the mouth also needed some cleanup for this reason. These are things to learn from the exercise.

After spending most of the day on it, it finally looked like this…

A blue-spotted ray, cartoon style, waving at us

Still needs a bit of tweaking and some clearcoats, so we’re not ‘there yet’. Another couple of days required to get to that point.

OK. I think we’re done…

Jun 042020

’twas brillig and the cyclist’s toes
Did spin and bimble in the rain
All flimsy were the Shimanos
And the time trials of pain

Beware the right-angles my son
The hedge that hides, the stones that slip
Beware the wetness on the road
Can make you lose your grip

He took his aero-bars in hand
Long time to Chesterton he rode
After mile three, eventually
’twas time those legs to load

And as he wound the power out
The tractor-beast, with teeth attached
Came hurtling round the roundabout
Making a noise, unmatched

One-two, one-two “I WILL pass you”
The tractor-beast went loudly past
And in its wake, all he could make
Was a time not so fast

And hast thou took the KoM?
“Not quite” he said “It was too tough
Precipitous day blew me away
My Watts were not enough”

’twas brillig and the cyclist’s toes
Did spin and bimble in the rain
All flimsy were the Shimanos
And the time trials of pain

Dec 092019
100 mile ride badge Garmin Connect

I’ve met or exceeded most of the cycling and fitness related goals I set for myself for 2019. I had goals for…

  • total distance ridden in 12 months (July-June)
  • weight (reach 70kg by 50th birthday)
  • body fat (get under 20%)
  • range expansion (build up to a ton)
  • time-trialling (beat 28 minutes for 10 miles)

…but I didn’t set them all at the same time. All these were met or exceeded during the year.

But one still hadn’t been attempted by the start of December. I wanted to ride a fully self-sufficient, solo ton. One hundred miles on my own with no external help.

I’ve never attempted 100 miles in one go before. This time last year, the furthest I’d ridden was 34 miles. I’ve been gradually growing that over the last 12 months, building up to the ton and trying to build a solid base level of fitness and stamina.

I managed to ride a 76-miler in October. The conditions on that day were great (7°C, sunshine and low wind). I finished well (16.7mph) and felt I could have ridden further. I planned to attempt ‘the ton’ in November, but perineum pain completely thwarted that and I ended up spending that week lying down instead. (My riding posture had gradually slid further and further forward on the saddle, such that I was resting on the thin part and exerting too much pressure. Shoving the saddle forward another 6mm and consciously sitting back on the wide part seems to have sorted that problem out, thankfully.)

Whether the Weather or Not!

Looking at the 10-day advance weather forecast, Saturday 7th December looked like a possibility. Having recently encountered ice (enough said about that – and definitely no bruise photos), the predicted overnight minimum temperature of 5-6°C was a big plus. Wind was forecast to be WSW 9-14mph, building throughout the day. Watching those numbers all week, they didn’t change much. So I had two rest days (from cycling and physical activity) Thursday and Friday, while getting my stuff ready.

I needed to ensure I had all necessary provisions, equipment, clothing etc. and that the bike was in tip-top shape.

Bike Check

I’d put a new chain on about 45 miles ago. It still had the factory lube on it and hadn’t been ridden in the wet – so, tested, but still nice and shiny. More importantly, the gears were shifting beautifully. Brake pads were tweaked slightly to ensure no irritating rubbing sound or loss of efficiency. Tyre condition and pressures checked and any flint fragments picked out with tweezers.


The weather forecast was overcast 6-9°C (feels like 3-6°C) and 9-14mph WSW wind.
For a 30 mile ride in those conditions, I’d probably go with a long-sleeved jersey and jacket. But I figured, if I’m going to be out in it for 6-7 hours (based on a 15mph average speed), then an extra layer would be a good idea. So I added a decent windproof long-sleeved base layer under the jersey and jacket.

Tights, merino wool socks and shoe covers for the bottom half and Sealskinz winter gloves and a helmet liner completed the wardrobe. I usually carry a rainproof helmet cover, which went in a jacket pocket (more on that later).


I gathered together this little lot. Kabanos sausage – I call these ‘protein bars’. I think the protein bars you buy taste like crap. Kabanosy are nice. Also almonds are good for protein intake.

I managed to get all this lot packed or taped to the bike

I managed to get all this lot packed or taped to the bike

Although it is said to reduce muscle cannibalisation and soreness, I don’t think you massively benefit from protein intake during the effort, but these things are nice to eat. You regularly hear audax riders saying that the main thing they crave during long rides is ‘real food’. Sausages are real food.

Various cereal bars, biscuits and fig rolls are there really mostly for their carbohydrates (energy). I managed to rebag and cram all the fig rolls into my saddlebag minus three which I had to eat the night before. Bananas are great energy food, contain vitamins and are easy to digest. Also, the packaging is fully biodegradable. Banana skins are the only thing I permit myself to discard (under a hedge) during a ride. All other waste goes in a pocket.

Liquid fuel was two bidons (1.3L) full of 50:50 water:orange juice plus a pinch of salt. For the last few months I’ve been using this instead of purchased isotonic sports drinks and I’ve found it very effective, refreshing, tastier and cheaper – and you know exactly what goes into it too.

Got it Taped

I packed most of the food into jacket pockets and then tried the jacket on and decided I didn’t want to carry all that weight for 100 miles when the bike could do it for me. So I rearranged things and ended up taping some items to the bike frame with masking tape. It looks total crap, but who cares? It won’t be there for long. I’ve found on long rides that it’s good to minimise things that irritate you, as their impact can grow as you tire. So getting extra weight off my back matters much more than what it looks like.

Aeronana. Taped some food items to the frame whilst trying to not ruin the aerodynamics of the bike

Aeronana. Taped some food items to the frame whilst trying to not ruin the aerodynamics of the bike


Other people sometimes take the piss out of my 1kg saddlebag, but I routinely carry the tools and spares needed to fix most common mechanicals.

  • spare tube
  • patches
  • tyre levers
  • ziplock bag with a few wet wipes
  • spare mech hanger
  • chain splitter
  • chain quicklinks
  • CO2 inflator and cylinder
  • small flat pedal wrench
  • allen keys
  • small bit driver and screwdriver bits
  • reusable cable ties
  • emergency cereal bar
  • money & a credit card
  • British Cycling & club membership cards
  • small sports towel
  • spoke key slot cut into my garage door key

If you want to ride self-sufficiently, it’s the only way to go, in my opinion.

To me, 1kg seems like nothing when this time last year I was riding a bike that’s 5kg heavier and I’ve lost 5kg bodyweight in that time. That usually shuts up the weight weenies.

My regular kit was supplemented with…

  • An extra tube, ziplock bagged, taped up and cable-tied to the frame
  • A bike lock cable-tied under the saddlebag
  • A pump attached to the seatpost

For fun, I picked up the bike and weighed myself and all equipment before the ride. All-up weight was 88.8kg. Without fully laden bike, I was 73.7kg.

The Route

I have a whole bunch of circular rides of varying distances around Bicester. The concept is simple. Nice quiet(ish) roads where possible, and you’re never too far from home because there’s a lot of different ways to bail out if you have a problem or run out of steam (although I’ve never yet bailed out on a ride).

For my first ‘ton’ attempt I wanted to use a course that I knew well. 2 laps of my 50-mile circuit fitted the bill perfectly. It’s not too hilly and I know I can ride the route. So all I have to get my head around is covering the distance.

I’ve done this circuit in 3 hours before, but that was on a perfect day. Surely I can do it twice at a slightly easier pace?

The Ride

My predicted average speed of 15mph (in these conditions) would need 6hrs 40 minutes of ride time. I figured on about an hour of breaks, and planned to stop roughly every 20 miles. With 8 hours of daylight, that should leave a spare 20 minutes. I always ride with lights on anyway, so it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I needed a bit more time. But I wanted to get round in daylight.

Planning to leave at sun-up (0800) I happened to be ready about 15 minutes early. So I left at 0744. The wind was low and behind me. There were very few cars about. A nice easy start. I was planning to spend most of my time in heart zone 3, with maybe 25% of the time in zone 4. And I didn’t want to go into the red of zone 5 at all. Well that was the plan. No plan survives first contact with the enemy intact, but it’s good to have a plan.

Break 1: Calvert

Break 1: Calvert

After a straightforward 1hr 24m and 21.7 miles (15.4 mph) I stopped for my first break. It was at this point that I noticed one of my jacket’s side pockets was not zipped up. Furthermore, the kabanosy and helmet cover that should have been in it were absent. They must have fallen out somewhere in that first 21.7 miles. ‘Dammit!’ But it’s not a show-stopper. I’ve still got the almonds and it’s not forecast to rain. I also figured there was a slim chance of finding at least the fluoro yellow helmet cover on the second lap (but I didn’t).

Break 1: Calvert - aeronana still holding up

Break 1: Calvert – aeronana still holding up

A quick snack and I was on my way again on the southbound section into a headwind (although it was fairly light and I was fairly fresh). At around 25 miles – between Edgcott and Marsh Gibbon – hunched over my aero bars, I spotted a group of riders coming the other way. It was the BMCC (my club) D-ride on their way to The George and Dragon at Quainton for mince pies and beer. We exchanged shouted hellos and they probably thought “what’s that mad fool doing a solo ride for when he could be going for mince pies and beer?” I still had 75 miles left to ride and a goal to achieve. I was expecting to cross paths with at least one of the BMCC rides today. I speculated whether or not I’d see any of them on lap 2, three-and-a-bit hours hence.

This leg of the ride is usually a bit easier as it’s slightly downhill, but the wind evened things out a bit today. Still lovely riding conditions though and very few cars about at 0930. The going was good all the way to my next stop at Fencott 35.4 miles, still averaging 15.4mph

Stop 2: Fencott

Stop 2: Fencott

I was keen to stay ‘the right side’ of 15mph to be sure of getting home in daylight. Also conscious of the fact that I might find lap two a bit slower with stronger wind and possibly fatigue to contend with.

At Fencott I unleashed my banana (stop sniggering at the back) from the top tube, having eaten the one in my back pocket, it was time to move aeronana from frame to pocket. Looks better already…

Aeronana unleashed

Aeronana unleashed

It was a gloomy old December day, but it wasn’t raining, snowing or worse and my three layers were keeping me warm enough, but not too hot – perfect. Just over a third of the way there.

Gloomy December day

Gloomy December day

35 miles in and still smiling

35 miles in and still smiling

Fencott is a regular stopping place for me as there’s a decent gate and solid ground, so you don’t have to tread in mud and get wet feet. A quick snack, a couple of photos and onward again, towards Islip, at which point the route turns and the wind will become more helpful on the way to Weston-on-the-Green.

I don’t remember much about the next 20 miles, but I must have settled into a comfortable rhythm and upped the pace a bit. The wind will have helped slightly. By the time I hit the half-way point (about 500 yards from home, but not tempted) I was on a roll.

Stop 3: 55.4 miles

Stop 3: 55.4 miles

Stopped for a break at 55 miles at a convenient gate just north of Shellswell. By this time, the overall average speed had crept up to 15.5mph. It was time to further streamline the bike by removing the biscuits from under the top tube.

Gloomy all day - biscuits removed from frame. Still got a dodgy-looking cereal bar at the back

Gloomy all day – biscuits removed from frame. Still got a dodgy-looking cereal bar at the back

Still heading North with a bit of wind-assist. Still happy and smiling and over half-way done. I waited with a couple of horseriders to cross the A421. I let them go first, then they singled out to let me pass. All very civilised. Then on towards Fullwell and a nice fast but short downhill. Screaming along on the aerobars and an ENORMOUS tractor going quite fast came the other way. We both slowed and there was enough room for us to pass each other. Not comfortable, but not too bad. We made it work. Then on to Tingewick before heading towards Gawcott and back into the wind. This next 20 mile Southbound section would prove to be quite hard.

The wind had sped up quite a bit by the time I reached my next stop at Middle Claydon 68.3 miles I was tired and the average speed had crept down to 15.3mph.

Stop 4: Middle Claydon

Stop 4: Middle Claydon

I was delighted to find a bench, propped the bike against the fence and took out my towel, which acted as a very nice cushion. By this time I really needed a sit down break.

Still gloomy, but YAY - a bench!

Still gloomy, but YAY – a bench!

I opened up the saddle bag and devoured a large quantity of the fig rolls and just enjoyed being sat down and not pedalling. A coffee would have gone down very well at this point.

Nice house

Nice house

After 10 or 15 minutes it was time to get going again “tick-tock, tick-tock” and brave the wind. This was to be the least enjoyable section of the ride. 14mph headwind and it was a cold wind too. The next 10 miles was hard going and I got pretty annoyed with the wind. Shouting and swearing at the wind doesn’t seem to have any effect on it though. (Who knew the wind was deaf?) By the time I reached Blackthorn I was really not having fun any more. I was getting the job done. “****ing wind!” Then came an unscheduled stop. A puncture at 77.9 miles. I’d just exceeded my maximum distance record and a bloody puncture! Rear wheel of course!



You’ll notice that the average speed had crept down to a measley 15.1mph from 15.3mph over the last section over just 10 miles! That’ll be that bastard wind won’t it?

I found a house with a nice wall and leaned the bike up against it. Got the wipes and tyre levers out of the saddlebag and set about changing the tube. My hands were cold by the time I’d finished. It took me about 15-20 minutes, which is too long, but the break actually did me a lot of good. The wall shielded me from the wind and having to focus on solving a problem made me forget that I’d been in the process of ‘losing it’.

Lovely wall sheltered me from the wind

Lovely wall sheltered me from the wind

Changing the tube went perfectly, if slowly, and it all went back together well. I took the tyre off completely and had a good look and feel to be sure I wouldn’t instantly get another puncture.

Strangely enough, that gave me a bit of a boost. I like fixing things and I LOVE self-sufficiency. A VERY nice man who used to do triathlon offered me a lift. I took great pleasure in thanking him but no thanks. (I can handle this. Raa Raa RAAAAAA! ***beats chest***).

It was also time to remove the final cereal bar from the bike frame and stick that in a back pocket for later. Just 22 miles to go. Nearly there.

So after that little unscheduled stop I had a bit more Southbound into the headwind to go. Hands were cold, but jiggling them vigorously inside the gloves and that soon went away. Turning right towards Arncott and out of the wind was a glorious relief, but only for about a mile. Then a few more miles of toughing it out.

A final brief stop at my favourite gate in Fencott (84.8 miles) to mark my territory (no pics now – just wanted to get the job done). Then it was a bit more struggling to glory getting to Islip. The average speed indicator slipped down to 15.0 but “after Islip it will be easier”. Are we nearly there yet? YES WE ARE. YAY!

Once I’d rounded the corner and crossed the A34, the world became a better place again. Better still, once heading North again towards Weston, I could feel the wind on my back – and boy did it help, not just my speed, but my spirit.

Now it was just a question of chugging through the last 12 or so miles, allowing the wind to help, trying to pick up some speed without overdoing it. The right knee was telling me it didn’t want me standing up on ascents any more, but it was fine when not trying to put too much force through it. The Weston to Middleton Stoney drag seemed to go quite well. The climb to Bucknell was fine – although I had to remain seated. Then I was determined to enjoy the Bucknell to Bicester descent – knowing that the wind would spoil it a bit. But downhill is easier than uphill and the home straight is the home straight.

And add some Extra – Just for You

To be sure of actually clocking up 100 miles, instead of going straight home, I needed to add a bit extra – “to the airfield roundabout and back”. Garmin Connect reckoned that would make it 100.4 miles overall. Experience has shown that it’s often out by a fraction, and I needed to be sure. I was expecting to hit 100 miles at the roundabout. Keeping one eye on the computer, but also wanting to stay alive, I went round the roundabout feeling quite emotional. 99.8 miles. Hmm. OK, we’ll probably hit it quite close to home then.

Nearer, nearer, more emotional – almost crying. About 30 yards from home it ticked over 100 miles. Glad I added the extra bit. Can’t hold it in now. Glad there’s nobody watching. Stop the Garmin. Make sure to save the ride. Choke back the tears. Fish in saddlebag for garage keys.

YES! YES! ****ing YES! I DID IT! Looks at time. 10 minutes to sunset. Average speed 15.1mph.

100 mile ride badge Garmin Connect

100 mile ride badge Garmin Connect

Open garage door and it’s time to do a post-ride weigh-in. Nothing like a bit of measurement and statistics to settle the emotions.

Before the ride all-up weight was 88.8kg. Without fully laden bike, I was 73.7kg.
After the ride all-up weight was 85.4kg. Without fully laden bike, I was 72.4kg.

So that’s a 3.4 kg loss over 100 miles. Only 1kg of that was body weight (from separate before and after measurements), the rest of it would be food and drink. Nothing was thrown away apart from the lost kabanosy, helmet cover and banana skins (and a few micturations).

Lessons Learned

  1. Do your ‘maiden ton’ on a warm low-wind day if possible
  2. Zip your jacket side pockets
  3. Carry a gilet to put on in case the wind gets up more than you expect (or is colder) OR you have to stop for a mechanical
  4. 20 miles into a 13mph headwind isn’t much fun
  5. Green sports towel makes a great bench cushion
  6. An extra layer on a longer ride paid off
  7. Take some real food. By the end I was actually thinking “I don’t want another bloody cereal bar – I want a kabanos” – so maybe they will be a good thing to bring as long as I don’t lose them
  8. A longer (~20 minutes) sit-down break at a cafe would be a nice touch somewhere around half to two-thirds distance

Here’s the Ride on Strava

Heart Zones

Heart Zone chart

Heart Zone chart

I was aiming to spend most time in Zone 3, which I did, but 38% in zone 4 is a bit more than would be ideal. I was aiming for about 25%. Although the chart doesn’t show it clearly, I did briefly ‘redline’ a couple of times into zone 5. Ideally you just wouldn’t go there at all. I should probably set alerts on one of my bike computers to prevent that, going forward.

Final Word!

There was a tough bit back there between about 65 and 85 miles. Having a time-out really helped. Who would have thought that having a puncture could actually be helpful?

I really enjoyed the rest of it (80% of the ride) and think I will enjoy long rides even more when the weather is better.

I haven’t set any new goals just yet, but I expect I will. For now, I’m just going to enjoy achieving this one. If none of it had been difficult, then it wouldn’t have been much of an achievement.

Feb 062017

You know how, when you see someone you know in the distance, you recognise them almost sub-consciously? They get a bit closer and you start to doubt your “positive identification” of them. But when they get really close enough to see, you realise you WERE right all along.

I call this “Middle-distance insecurity”. Your long-range gut-feel was absolutely right, but somewhere in the middle, doubt started to creep in when you examine specific details, rather than the whole picture.

It’s the same with projects. Your gut tells you the idea is great and it’s going to fly. You get your prototypes made. They work. You show a few people you trust. They love them. Then you sit down and try to work out the details of

* how much to charge for viability
* when to aim for
* how to package
* getting them made
* what about the software (which already works pretty well)
* instructions
* videos

…and you find it a little overwhelming. Can I even do this? This is middle-distance insecurity for projects. Do people even want this? (You can’t help asking – even though you KNOW that they will.)

That is where I’m at today. The choice is go back to bed and hide or start eating the elephant of details one bite at a time. The pull of the bed (and distractions – like writing this) is strong. But I need to start eating through those details because the project won’t happen by itself.

Alex Eames. 6 Feb 2017 0857

Dec 312016

I sit here on New Year’s Eve and I’ve just received a wonderful email from a customer, which I want to anonymise and share with you. It’s probably the nicest/best feedback I’ve had this year.

But before I do that I want to share the nastiest, which also happened this month (10th December). I want to end on a positive, so we’ll get the negative out of the way first.

Nastiest YT Comment I’ve Ever Received

I made a video about “making an HD LCD screen for $32” back in June, which became very popular and has been viewed some 120k times. Here’s the video here…

I fully admit the title of the video is a little bit ‘click-baity’. We’re recycling a laptop screen using $32 of bought parts (driver board). But a title’s job is to get people to look at the content. It did that in spades. A full 6 months later, I got a comment that was clearly meant to be highly offensive. But it was so over the top in its vitriol that all it did was make me laugh out loud and share it with my inner circle of friends. I also tweeted about it straight away without sharing the content.

I don’t allow swearing on my blog or YT comments because I think it doesn’t portray a professional atmosphere and I want my stuff to appeal to all ages. I don’t swear on twitter either for the same reason.

However, this is my personal blog and this is so funny it has to be shared in a place that doesn’t taint my professional channels.

I'll let this comment speak for itself

I’ll let this comment speak for itself

I must admit I was tempted to reply with…

“Well that was the title. What did you think of the video?”

…but the truth is that once you engage a troll, you’ve already lost. So I refrained. Churchill put it a rather nice way…

“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.”

That is exactly the way to (not) react to trolls. Ignore the pathetic little runts! In this case I also had to block this troll because I don’t tolerate swearing on my channel at this time. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good swear. My sister taught me lots of swear-words when I was 5, and I’ve never looked back. But I just think there’s a time and a place for that – and it’s not on my YouTube Channel, which I want to be a fairly family-friendly environment.

So. Have a good laugh at that, and we’ll end on a high-note…

Nicest Customer Feedback of the Year

Just this evening I received this email from someone who bought a RasPiO Duino kit a couple of weeks ago. It’s a lovely way to end the year…

Hi Alex,
I received my order today. I assembled the Duino board and attached to my
RPi. All is working as stated.

I started to read the MagPi article about you. I very quickly realized that
you met your expectations: produce something that works the first time!

I have been involved with electronics since early ’70s when I wanted to
create a railroad crossing flashing light sign for my train set when I was
about 5 years old. That led me to blowing the fuse box, and singing some of
my hair. Since then, I have dabbled with electronics, computers, and
microcontrollers. My hobbies have always supplemented my main work in odd
and unexpected ways, and at this point (17+ years of public school
teaching) I am teaching my hobbies to 16-18 year old students.

In all this time, I have only run across electronics kits that have worked
properly the first time TWICE. The first was when I started using Basic
Stamp Boe-Bots from Parallax. Everything they produced simply worked, and
was supplemented with plenty of depth for learning. The cost was high, but
worth it for the depth of knowledge they provided. The second time is NOW,
after using your material with the Duino board. You should be very proud of
your work.

The production of the board is exceptional, the breakouts are well laid
out, and it fits the RPi like a glove. I am very happy that I took the
chance on your product, and I look forward to trying out your tutorials!



So Happy New Year to you all and I wish you many pleasant and happy comments and very few unpleasant ones in 2017 and beyond.

Sep 082016
Sixpence bolster

Almost 2 years ago I received a lovely knife-making kit as a secret santa present. It opened my eyes to a new hobby – so it ended up being a really awesome present. I’ve always been interested in making things with wood and metal and am somewhat keen on making things to the best of my ability – even though it costs a large investment in time.

The first six knives I made (chronological order)

The first six knives I made (chronological order) curly birch, cherry, cherry, mahogany, maple, maple

Since Christmas 2014, I’ve made about 8 knives. All of them are different. All of them are experiments. I’ve tried new blades, new wood, new methods. So far I’ve only managed to bring myself to give one knife away as a present because I love them all. Each one represents a different time and different things learnt. Because each knife takes somewhere between 6 and 20 hours to make (the way I do it) – each one reminds me of a time in my life. While spending 2 hours carving and sanding a handle, you have plenty of time to think. So whatever is going on in your head at the time, the knife will be a reminder of it. (If it’s bad stuff – you can give that one away 🙂 )

Most Recent Knife

Enough blathering. Here is my most recent knife. It took me about 9 hours, I think. It’s made from a Laurin 6cm stainless-steel blade, a silver sixpence, a piece of red deer antler, and a bit of a conifer tree that I cut down 18 months ago from the garden.

Finished knife, handle blank and raw conifer

Finished knife, handle blank and raw conifer

Making this Knife

All the pieces needed for this knife

All the pieces needed for this knife

A knife needs a blade and a handle. But you usually have a bolster as well. This helps keep the knife blade from lateral movement and also adds extra gluing area to keep the knife in the handle. Ordinarily the bolster can only fit on the blade from the “blunt end” (tang). I often use silver coins for bolsters because they look nice and are not much different in price to the brass bolsters you can buy. They are also quite easy to machine with a Dremel since silver is a soft metal.

So in the above photo, we have…

  • a piece of seasoned conifer wood with the bark stripped off
  • a silver sixpence that’s old enough to have some actual silver in
  • a piece of Scottish red deer antler
  • a Laurin 6cm stainless-steel blade


I normally start by marking the coin with the approximate size of hole needed to fit the tang through it. Then hold the coin in a hand-screw (which I made) while Dremeling out the hole using small cutting wheels and/or engraving bits. It needs to be a good fit. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does need to be tight. Once the fit is “about right” I polish it with Brasso and a Dremel. This avoids staining your knife handle if you try to do it later on.

Partially holed sixpence bolster

Partially holed sixpence bolster

Polish the bolster before assembly

Polish the bolster before assembly (avoids staining the handle)

Bolster fitted to blade

Bolster fitted to blade

The bolster should require a bit of ‘percussive persuasion’ to reach its final destination. I clamp the blade’s sharp-end in a wooden-jawed vice (which I made) then use a pair of pliers as a load spreader (one element either side of the blade) and hammer the pliers gently to push the bolster home. Once positioned correctly, it should look something like this…

Bolster final position

Bolster final position (see scrape marks on the tang)

Deer Antler

Now we’re ready to work on the decorative piece of red deer antler. Its purely optional, decorative only, but it does look rather nice when you use it. You can get these from pet shops. They’re sold as dog chews. They can be cut with a wood saw and sanded to perfection. I bought a whole antler on ebay before I knew about the dog chew thing, so I have enough for about 20 knives. A dog chew for about £6 should give you enough for at least 3 or 4. It’s dark on the outside, but if you size it right, the dark bit will be sanded away and you end up with a nice white/grey ‘ivory-like’ effect.

Piece of deer antler

Piece of deer antler, marked up

Deer antler after Dremelling

Deer antler after Dremelling

Trial fit. It fits! YAY!

Trial fit. It fits! YAY!

Once this fits to your satisfaction, it’s time to work on the handle.

Woodwork Next

It’s really helpful to get both ends of the wood nicely perpendicular for gluing. That’s a lot easier if you’re using a block of wood with planed edges. I’m using a round “piece of tree” which makes it much harder, but I’m pretty good with a Japanese saw, and you can make minor corrections with sandpaper.

Cut handle material to length ensuring perpendicular ends

Cut handle material to length ensuring perpendicular ends

Once the ends are square, you need to mark and drill hole(s) for your tang. Depending on the knife, you might need to get some extra long drill bits. A pillar drill can be a real boon here if you have one. I did this one with a hand drill because it’s a small knife.

Drill hole for the tang

Drill hole for the tang

Once drilled (5mm bit in this case) the hole usually needs enlarging. For a small blade with softish wood you might be able to abuse the drill bit and “mill” the hole bigger. With larger blades and harder wood, you can drill multiple holes and merge them.

Enlarging the hole to fit the tang

Enlarging the hole to fit the tang

Trial fit

Trial fit

Check orientation and glue up

Check orientation and glue up


Then it’s time for the glue-up. I use Gorilla glue which is polyurethane and sticks pretty much anything. It’s also ideal for knife making because it’s water-proof and expands to fill gaps. Keep it off your hands though because it only comes off with petrol, cellulose thinners or pumice. Despite that, it’s my favourite glue. I use a simple homemade knife press, but you can use two bits of wood and two clamps as well. Regardless of the final shape of your handle, having square ends at this point makes it much easier to get everything properly aligned in the press.

Knife press

Knife press

The tree stump on the right of the above photo is the remains of the conifer that the handle is cut from (I cut it down ~18 months ago).

Gorilla glue expands quickly

Gorilla glue expands quickly

Overnight - full expansion

Overnight – full expansion

Glue all set.

Glue all set.

Time to Shape the Handle

Peel or cut off the excess glue, then it’s time to start shaping the handle.

Masking tape on the blade and now lots of sanding/carving to shape

Masking tape on the blade and now lots of sanding/carving to shape

With the blade masked, you will protect both it and yourself from damage. You can clamp the blade and then use a power sander to get the basic shape. I clamped the sander in this case and held the knife as it was easier for me.

I start with 40 or 60 grit to get the basic shape. You can also use chisels or knives if you want. You’ll probably want to sand the antler and bolster flush with the wood at the edges. The bolster gives you a good indication of when you’ve finished. I tend to sand until the grooves on the coin are gone. Then it’s all lovely and flush.

Don’t forget protection…

I don't like wood dust or sander noise

I don’t like wood dust or sander noise

Notice the antler is now white and grey and not the dark brown colour it was before sanding. Once I’d got the basic shape, I decided it was a bit boring.

Basic shape

Basic shape

So I took a risk, marked it and gouged out some of the middle (with a knife). It didn’t look very good until I’d sanded it to blend it in smoothly, but then I was pretty pleased with the outcome. The shape looks more interesting and the wood pattern shows a nice effect from its concentric ring layers…

A bit more interesting

A bit more interesting

Now the Hand-Sanding

Once I was happy with the shape, I hand sanded through progressive grades of wet and dry paper (used dry) 120, 400, 800, 1200, 1500, 1800, 2000, 2500

This might seem extreme, but it gives you a wonderfully smooth surface which has to be seen and touched to be believed…

Sanded to 2500 grit

Sanded to 2500 grit

After that, 5 coats of Birchwood Casey’s Tru-oil, with 2 hours drying time between each coat and it’s all over bar the sharpening.

Oiled and ready for sharpening

Oiled and ready for sharpening

Shaving Sharp

This blade is usable as it arrives, but it has a micro-bevel on and I don’t really like micro-bevels. I find them difficult to sharpen and get better results carving wood without. So I generally remove them.

Top - micro-bevel, bottom fully sharpened to remove micro-bevel. Click to enlarge

Top – micro-bevel, bottom fully sharpened to remove micro-bevel. Click to enlarge

So I spent an hour with a coarse Japanese waterstone grinding off enough metal to remove the micro-bevel. Then I spent another hour going through three other grades of waterstone in order to get it mirrored and ‘shaving sharp’. I completed it by stropping on the back of a leather belt (the ‘suedey’ side).

The finished knife

The finished, polished, oiled, sharpened knife

All in it was about 9 hours over 3 days. I usually do day 1 glue-up, day 2 shaping and oiling, day 3 sharpening. I had fun. I hope you do too.

More Photos

Click any photo to enlarge

Mar 302016

I’m posting this here on my personal blog because it hasn’t got much direct relevance on RasPi.TV.

I recently found out that a moderately high-profile IndieGoGo campaign had been given a 30 day extension at a point when it was clear that their campaign was not going to make it (well over half-way in time and just under half-way in funding)

I must be honest here. I was utterly gobsmacked! I’m not completely au fait with IndieGoGo policies and rules because I’ve always run my campaigns on KickStarter. I am VERY au fait with KickStarter rules though – and it aggravates me when I see people being allowed to flout them.

Keep in mind that once you launch your project, you won’t be able to change your funding goal or campaign duration.

Perhaps this is where I’ve gained the expectation that campaigns will not be extended?

I had a discussion with a few friends in a G+ hangout and opinion was divided. Several people thought it was not on, but at least two thought it was OK (one of whom was a backer of the above-not-mentioned project).

So after a bit of robust debate – where I was forced to confront the possibility that I MIGHT BE WRONG!!!!!! – I decided to “put it to my men”. (By the way, that’s a Michael Caine quote from the film The Eagle Has Landed, not a “sexist bastard remark”.) So I did a quick twitter poll…

At the time of writing there are 3 hours left and we’re at 55% NO, 45% YES. (It closed at 54% No, 46% YES). So it’s pretty close. The comments have been interesting too…

Of the people who commented, several said things like “it would give a scam feel”, or “gives an air of dishonesty”. But there were quite a few people who suggested it would be OK if a campaign got pretty close to its goal (e.g. 90% or 95%) to allow a couple of days extra. I thought this was an interesting idea.

I also did a little research and found out that IndieGoGo has done this a few times before. Their motive appears to be clear. If the project succeeds, they get their 5% cut ($15k in this case). So there is a real financial incentive to ‘bend their own rules’ from time to time. It’s their site and they can do what they like, after all.

What Do I Think As A Serial Crowdfunding Creator?

Easy. I don’t like it. Why? That’s harder to elucidate. I think I don’t like it because it is not defined or agreed at the start. If it was, I would have no problem with it. Even a little “projects may be extended from time to time” disclaimer would be enough.

I don’t like it because it smacks of dishonesty and cheating. There – I said it. I don’t blame a creator for petitioning IGG to extend. But I do think IGG is wrong to agree, unless it’s generally known that they sometimes do this.

I also dislike it because it is inherently unfair to all the campaigns that were allowed to fail and not given this extra lifeline. Failure is GOOD. Campaigns should be allowed to fail, so the creators can learn from it and come back doing things better and differently. Without the possibility of failure, success has no worth!

I know life’s not fair and this is about money. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

I don’t have any problem with the “lifeline” idea of a 48 or 72 hour extension if a project gets >90% funded by the finish. In fact I quite like it.

I also don’t have a problem with extensions in general – as long as it is made clear that they can happen. And if this is the case, this facility should be available to all creators, not just a handful of potentially high-value failures.

Mar 192013

I realised it’s been a long time since I wrote anything here. I’ve been rather busy reinventing myself.

I still own but I’m not developing it any further. If you want to buy it, I’m open to sensible offers. I think I’ve written everything useful that I have to say about the translation industry – for now. 😉

I’ve been teaching ICT (computers) to Year 5 kids at my son’s school one afternoon a week for the last few years. You know I’ve always been keen on computers, right? About a year and a half ago I heard about a rather cool sounding new computer called the Raspberry Pi and thought it was something I needed to be in on at the start.

So I was one of the “nutters” up early on launch morning 29 Feb 2012. It didn’t arrive until May, but since then I’ve been blogging about my experiences over at my newest venture http://RasPi.TV and making videos like this one…

…on my YouTube channel RasPiTV

I’ve also been involved with software and hardware development and it’s likely there will be a book or ebook in the offing at some point too.

I’ve had a lot of fun at a time when I really needed a change of direction. Sometimes you just have to follow your interests.

I thought some of you might like to know. 🙂