recycling

ScrapHappy January 2023: It’s Time to Cro(chet) or A (Slip) Stitch in Time

The dodgy Crochet Clock says it's after midnight - and time to get a new clock

The dodgy Crochet Clock says it’s after midnight – and time to get a new clock

First off, a Happy New Year to my reader, I do hope the next revolution of our flaming star gives you what you want and need.

“What”, I hear you mutter to yourself, “is going on here? Mr Snail has gone soft in the Scrappy department*? Has the Universe lost all sense of up or down? Where’s my wine?”

The answers to the last two questions are “there is no up or down in space” (see The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy for clarification) and “So, you think it’s your wine, eh?”

The answer to the first question is slightly more involved.

A couple of months ago, the Snail and I decided that it would be good if I opened the shop (see here for details) on a Friday to give the Snail a well-deserved break after the rigours of Thursdays which include Knit Knight, er, Night after the shop has closed. It soon became apparent that having me open the shop meant that the Snail had a rest and I got to give dubious crafting advice to unsuspecting customers (“no, wool makes a perfect addition to a soufflé”). Armed with some notes for the novel I have managed not to publish (something that I have been greatly helped by agents’ complete lack of interest in it), I decided that I needed another procrastination activity to prevent me from actually accidently publishing it when I wasn’t looking. So I decided to teach myself crochet.

The Snail has, in the past, attempted to teach me but it has never really stuck and I have always ended up splitting the yarn, hooking my finger or accidently setting fire to the sofa. This time would be different, because we don’t have a sofa in the shop. I took** a second-hand crochet hook and some string-like yarn that we had acquired from someone’s stash, and found a book in our pre-loved book section that purported to teach you everything about crochet. It wasn’t very good if you didn’t already know exactly how to crochet so I struggled on for a bit. My plan was to make something, nothing specific, but something and present it to the Snail as a surprise. I needed another guide…

As luck would have it, a customer brought in a Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amigurumi. This book spoke to me because a) I had slightly overdone it on the sugar that morning and b) because I am a complete amigurumi. No wait, idiot.

I started again and by the end of the day, I had crocheted a thing which I decided was enough to show off to the Snail. Also, there was a term used in the book that I couldn’t find the definition of and I wanted to know. The Snail was indeed surprised, although that may have been due to the wine which I had plied her with beforehand. She explained some more things about crochet and I was away again, the following Friday.

It's a thing, you know, a THING

It’s a thing, you know, a THING

I found some different yarn from someone’s old stash, and made another thing, this time whilst practising a variety of stiches. The internet decided it was a thimble, a cyan raspberry, a tiny todger cover. I decided it was just a thing, It’s now in the shop, on a shelf, defying classification.

011423_1849_ScrapHappyJ3.jpg

It’s another thing, you know, ANOTHER THING

Next, I decided to teach myself how to read patterns, and then follow one. The first thing I made was this:

011423_1849_ScrapHappyJ4.jpg

What could this be? Is it a beret for a hamster?

This seemed to work, although it was supposed to be a hamster. Just kidding. The other part of the pattern has gotten me this far:

011423_1849_ScrapHappyJ5.jpg

Another beret? For, say, I don’t know, an octopus, perhaps?

I am betting you may know what it is! I will post when I have completed the beret-wearing hamster, er, I mean, the thing.

oOo

* Oooh errr Missus…

** Perks of running a craft shop, and not theft from my employer in any way, shape or form.

Many other people contribute to Kate and Gun’s wonderful ScrapHappy every month – check out what they have been up to too!

 

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, 
Jill, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Carol,
Preeti, Debbierose, Nóilin, Viv and Edi

 
 

Categories: Crochet, recycling, ScrapHappy | Tags: , , | 21 Comments

ScrapHappy December 2022: Power to the Pine Tree*

Come into the (bright green) Light

Come into the (bright green) Light

Back in the mists of time, well August, I converted our old fibre optic Christmas tree from a heat-generating, electricity-guzzling halogen lightbulb to a cool, electron-sipping LED, primarily to stop The Snail of Happiness shop from becoming The Snail of Toastedness, but also to save the planet (and money on our electricity bills). In the ScrapHappy post, I mentioned that I would need to find a power supply to run it since the original one, like the UK’s recent prime ministers, was unsuited to the role**.

I decided that it was easiest to find an old unused mains supply and adapt it in some way. What I needed was something that produced about 5 volts, not particularly currenty (or curranty for that matter), that is, I didn’t need many milliamps, and could then just be adapted with a new bit on the end to plug into the tree (I was betting that I wouldn’t have a supply with the correct plug on it).

I found the perfect supply – 5 volts, a few hundred milliamps. It was an old charger for a mobile ‘phone that had long since been put on a shelf waiting for me to do something creative with it***. I tested it to make sure it did what it said on the tin, well, moulded plastic casing. Hmm… it did not! It produced an LED-sizzling 8.6 volts, meaning I felt pleased I had at least tested it before attaching it to the tree.

Annoyingly, it was the only supply I could find that was vaguely what I wanted, so I made the decision to use it and attach a thing called a voltage regulator that I would build out of bits that you have lying around (well, bits I have lying around). And guess what?

Back in August 2021, I posted about taking apart some old electronics boards which happen to have a rather useful chip on them that is a simple voltage regulator – you just add a few other components et voilà! Your supply is perfect for your LED tree. And so to work…

A scrappy plug-thingy

A scrappy plug-thingy

A scrappy voltage regulator

A scrappy voltage regulator

As you can see, it required four other electronicky bits. The casing I used was from the lights I converted to candles (see here for the gory details). Could I find the correct sized plug? Well, no, but then I came across one that had arrived in an order about five years ago that, at the time, had been surplus to requirements. See? Keeping stuff for years for no apparent reason DOES prove useful… sometimes.

Circuitry just about fits in the box

Circuitry just about fits in the box

The new bit velcroed to the old bit

The new bit velcroed to the old bit

At last, The Snail of Happiness shop now has a colour-changing, cool-running tree in its window!

Spot the tree!

Spot the tree!

HAPPY SOLSTICE EVERYONE!

oOo

* Well, a fibre optic fake pine tree anyway.

** Ooh, political satire.

*** Like that’s going to happen anytime soon.

Categories: recycling, ScrapHappy, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , , , | 22 Comments

ScrapHappy October 2022: Someone else’s Scrap…

A relic from a bygone age - not so bygone now!

A relic from a bygone age – not so bygone now!

Now I may be wrong (I usually am, it is my default state) but I think that one can rejoice in someone else’s ScrapHappiness and, indeed, claim a little of it for one’s own. So, before anyone puts their hand up to raise an objection, here is this month’s offering which comes in the form of a kit from the National Museum of Computing (NMOC), here in the UK at the legendary Bletchley Park.

First, the scrappy bit of this – this is a kit of electronic bits and bobs that when correctly assembled, makes a thing. Technical, I know, but I’ll explain later what the thing does as that isn’t important right now. The nifty bit about this kit is that it uses a type of electronic component that is pretty much the first type of active electronic component ever devised by humans. It is a (thermionic) valve, and not the “ooh, there’s water leaking out of it” kind but the “look, it’s glowing” kind. The real scrappygoodness (that is a word, I know, I just made it up) is the valve. It’s a piece of scrap, lying around unloved and, more importantly, unbroken. Where did it come from originally? Well…

Way back in 1955, the UK decided that one television channel (BBC1, then known as the BBC Television Service) was insufficient and that another one was needed. Cue ITV, which would be transmitted on a whole new band of frequencies so high that, well, your average TV set couldn’t receive them. Genius, I know, but you have to remember that there weren’t that many TV sets in the UK at that point. I’m going to guess around 12, but there may have been more. Anyway, in order to use existing TV sets to show the new-fangled ITV, a set-top box (“Band III convertor”) was built that would let that happen. And it did.

And you won’t be surprised that most of those set-top boxes were scrapped a few years later. It would appear though, that many ended up taken apart – they had two useful valves in them and I am guessing there were lots of people who would use them to build their own electronics.

Many decades later, and NMOC have a large stock of these valves, salvaged from defunct set-top boxes (and other places too). They designed this kit to give these old valves a new lease of life, and raise much-needed funds to run the museum.

An OK Valve

An OK Valve

There is something almost alien-looking about valve tech

There is something almost alien-looking about valve tech

Finished and Working!

Finished and Working!

I built the kit – it was pretty easy and the instructions were, on the whole, very clear. I had two issues, one of which resulted in another piece of scraphappiness and the other resulted in a bit of DIY-like swearing. There seemed to be a capacitor missing in the kit so I found an old one (probably out of a light bulb) which fitted the bill. The swearing was caused by the thing not working but, on closer inspection, I had put two of the boards too close to one another and they were touching, and not in a good way.

So, does it work and what does it do? Well…

Video link to where I sound like a sci-fi villain

oOo

Many other people contribute to Kate and Gun’s wonderful ScrapHappy every month – check out what they have been up to too!

 

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, 
Jill, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Carol,
Preeti, Debbierose, Nóilin, Viv and Edi

 
 

Categories: General silliness, recycling, ScrapHappy, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , , | 15 Comments

ScrapHappy August 2022: LED Astray

 

Fake Fir

Fake Fir

Running a shop means that the Snail and I have to think about things that we haven’t had to involve ourselves with for years. Well, since yesterday teatime anyway. One thing we haven’t bothered with in over a decade is the dreaded “C” word – Christmas. Now, as retailers, we have to think about it even though the number of days to Christmas is in triple digits. Whilst thinking about the most overcommercialised Chris since Chris De Burgh*, we remembered we had a fibre optic tree, one that sparkled and brought joy to whoever looked upon it, one which was so full of colour-changing light and happiness that we had stored it in the attic, out the way. In a bin liner, no less.

Having located it, I did what any self-respecting technerd would do, and took it to pieces. Actually, I remembered something very important about one of the reasons we stopped using it – it has a tendency to reach around 1000°C when operating for more than a couple of minutes. It isn’t hard to understand why, when you consider it uses a tiny halogen light in a relatively confined space. Time to replace that with some colour-changing LEDs from an old, er, thing that changed colour.

 

Old versus new: hot versus cold

Old versus new: hot versus cold

The original colour-changing function was brilliantly achieved by the use of a motor (I said how useful motors were in creating the internet, well, this doesn’t feel like a step-up, does it?) and a coloured wheel, which spun round. So, I removed those bits. Weirdly, although the whole thing ran on 6 volts, it was AC rather than DC (so like the mains rather than a battery). I’ll have to ponder what I do with a 6V AC motor.

The Wheel of Colour-changing Light

The Wheel of Colour-changing Light

 

My plan was to remove the halogen bulb from its casing and fit the reclaimed LED module to some metal pins so as to use the reflector. When I lightly tapped the pins (and it was a light tap, even for me), the bulb fell out, leaving the pins behind. OK, I thought, I’ll use those pins then. Fast forward to where I discovered that you cannot actually solder onto the pins because they are made of something that really, really hates solder. I used some old component leads and made my own.

New pins

New pins

 

I hooked everything up having removed the now-superfluous motor, and found a power supply that was DC and 4.5V which is all the LEDs need. This means that I can run this off a battery if needs be. I may use the 6V AC transformer the tree originally used to make a 4.5 V supply but then I was going to release an album of Wombles covers and that never happened either.**

The result is a cool-running, colour-changing Christmas tree that will now languish in its bin liner until such time as the shop needs it.

All wired up and working!

All wired up and working!

 

 

Come into the (bright green) Light

Come into the (bright green) Light

 

Tree of (multicoloured) Light

Tree of (multicoloured) Light

 

Right, I’m off to get heat stroke and thus cleanse this premature feeling of Christmas…

oOo

* Couldn’t think of another Chris, sorry.

** But it could…***

*** No, it couldn’t.

Many other people contribute to Kate and Gun’s wonderful ScrapHappy every month – check out what they have been up to too!

 

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, 
Jill, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Carol,
Preeti, Debbierose, Nóilin, Viv and Edi

 
 

Categories: recycling, repair, ScrapHappy, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , , | 19 Comments

A Thought for Every Day

oOo

Categories: recycling, repair, Sustainable Stuff, Universe | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

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