Posts Tagged With: DIY

Somebody to Cove


Replacement Front for Darth Vader’s face mask


For me, coving is as necessary as allowing fish to take part in the Tour de France. So, you can imagine my delight when the piece above the fireplace decided that it really wanted to visit the carpet, via the top of the fire. Sadly, the trip was too much for it and it went to pieces. About a million of them. Some of those bits are now decomposing in a raised bed. They can be squash plants in a year or two’s time.

Surprisingly, it turned out that thesnailofhappiness’s Mum had three lengths of coving in her barn. More surprisingly still, she also had a Cove Mitre which I later learnt was a really useful thing and not a piece of headgear for a pope to wear on DIY Sunday, which is probably a festival in some sects. Papa Snail had, apparently, coved (that must be the verb) their previous house and I believe that such coving was not the reason they moved out, so he must’ve been good at it.

It took me a while to figure out how to use the Cove Mitre – actually thesnailofhappiness worked it out while I swore – but cutting the coving was quick and easy. Sticking it up would have been too, if the glue had had the quality you expect of glue, you know, stickiness – but some panel pins held the coving in place while the glue thought about what it should be doing.

Eh voila! Coving up and waiting to be painted. And I thought afterwards how not only did Papa Snail make a snailofhappiness for me to love, but also gave me a Cove Mitre and two and a half metres of coving. That’s quite a debt I owe him!


All my Coving



Categories: repair, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Plastic – Recycle Locally 3


Lights, camera – and, thankfully, no real action

Next stop for the local recycling project – the electronics bit. This is the bit that I at least understand and can make a reasonable fist of making. First off, I raided the boxes in the attic that are invisibly marked “put aside in the attic for twenty years because they may contain something of use one day”. Here is the haul of goodies I retrieved:


Exciting Stuff found in the Stuff Room a.k.a. the attic

I know! How exciting is that? There’s some wire, a mains switch with cable and a metal box. There’s also some other stuff that is, take my word for it, equally exciting but not useful for this project (well, not yet, anyway). It is actually extremely gratifying to finally use odd bits and pieces that have lurked, overhead and tucked away, for so long.

The metal box is actually a plastic-coated metal box that came from an old mobile ‘phone transmitter about twenty years ago. There was going to be a network of these boxes on every other corner in cities to provide the fledgling mobile ‘phones (then still quite brick-like in shape and weight) with a signal. Needless to say, this method of providing mobile telecommunications never got off the ground, whereas the method that succeeded reached high into the landscape of every town, city and area of outstanding natural beauty.



Oh joy! DIY with a drill!

So, on with the build. This involved cutting two large square holes on what will be the front of the box. I have never done this before so I figured that you cut as big a round ho0le as the square allows then buy a file (because you haven’t got one) to do the rest.

To a large approximation, that method worked. Just don’t look too closely.

It also worked for the hole on what will be the back of the box, for the on/off switch. Really, don’t look closely at that one at all.


The Insides – ew…

After wiring up the temperature controllers, the mains supply and the switch, it was time to put the lid on and power up.

There was, thankfully, no big bang, just the welcome glow of the LEDs on the front panel. AND I didn’t receive an electric shock when I touched any of the screw heads on the back.

So, now I just have to mount and wire in the two solid state relays (they turn the heaters on and off in response to the temperature controllers’ whims) and attach some leads to take the electricity out to the heaters and I will be done.

I have an idea as to how to test the whole plastic-melting theory too – more on that later… but it involves a tin of baked beans. Now I will go back to finishing my next novel, where baked beans are extinct and there is a large superhighway running over the top of West Wales, with luminous walls and one-wheeled cars.




Categories: Plastic, recycling, Sustainable Stuff, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

HatTrick – The Movie


Rosalind and her hat

Becasue writer’s procrastination is a wonderful thing to behold, I have created a second stop/go animation featuring the delightful Vaarks and their antics. Now I really do have to go and finish my novel (although there is the controller for the plastic recycling machine to be wired up too).

Please click here to view the movie!


Categories: Films, General silliness | Tags: , | 7 Comments

A Scanner, not very Darkly


Spot the difference. Actually, don’t bother…

Once upon a time, at a Denmark Farm far, far away from Denmark, there was a printer. A Samsung CLX-6260ND printer to be precise. It would spend its days merrily printing out stuff and scanning stuff until it started merrily printing stuff but positively refusing to scan anything. For some computers, it didn’t even print grumpily let alone merrily.

After a brief communication with the Samsung not-very-much-Helpline, it turned out that the “Scanner Locked” message really meant “Buy a new printer because the cost of replacing the scanner unit is more than the cost of a new printer”.

Regular readers of this blog will know that the Author cannot abide such profligate waste. However, because scanning is really handy to be able to do, a new identical printer was bought so that all the spare toner cartridges wouldn’t go to waste.

About two weeks after the new printer arrived, there was a lightning storm. A bolt of lightning actually hit the office at Denmark Farm and destroyed:

  1. A new wireless router
  2. A Barclaycard credit card machine
  3. Er, the new printer

So, a new,new printer was acquired, the same as the last one (for the same toner-related reason). This meant one thing – I could be Dr. Frankenstein and create one whole working printer/scanner from the wreckage. It was as if I had arranged the lightning (which I  didn’t). I assumed the scanner unit had survived the lightning because… well, it’s only a motor and a light bulb essentially. Here goes:


Remove the sides


An almost naked printer

I had downloaded a service manual from somewhere and it was incredibly useful as it meant I only removed things I needed to (oh, and some skin from my thumb which was unnecessary to the whole procedure but hey! It wouldn’t be DIY without a little blood, now would it?). Just to be really 21st century and flash, I used my otherwise fairly useless tablet to display the manual, saving the need for printing, which seemed quite appropriate under the circumstances.


One hopefully unscathed scanner unit


Various cables to be released from their captivity

I had set aside a whole day to do this but, remarkably, it took just 3 hours and very little swearing. There was only one screw left but I won’t tell anyone if you don’t. It helped that I could essentially ‘practice’ the de(con)struction and reconstruction on one printer. Surprisingly, after not very long I was fitting the scanner unit onto the old otherwise working printer until I ended up with this:


The Gestalt Entity that is the old/new printer/scanner

All done! So – what to do with the bits from the old, I mean new, well, newer printer? Not sure as some of them (probably random bits of the electronics) will be fried. Perhaps I’ll create an art installation. Turner prize anyone?


Categories: computers, recycling, repair, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

Plastic – Recycle Locally 2


Somehow I thought it was going to be bigger…

Well, after a little period of thought and drinking tea, I decided that there will be some bits that I need to buy new in order to recycle the plastic from milk cartons. Although I suspect that I have enough bits lying around the place to build a temperature controller, I have erred on the side of caution (and minimal electric shocks) and bought 2 controllers (the black box with the readouts), two solid state relays (the white/grey boxes on the right) and two temperature sensors (the thing under the solid state relay).

Excitingly, all the instructions are in Mandarin and, as I didn’t learn the Chinese for “Thermocouple Type K input”, I am happy to see the largely-explanatory sticker on the side showing all the connections. I believe there is a translated version on t’interweb somewhere but that won’t stop me looking up some of the characters in my Chinese dictionary just for the fun of it!


Oh, standard international symbols, how you are loved!

I still have to decide on the type of band heater to buy – I am dithering because I am not in my comfort zone when it comes to metalwork and so have yet to come to a conclusion on where to acquire metal piping from and how much tolerance I have on the diameter of the band heaters. Do 35mm diameter band heaters fit OK (with a bit of finagling) on, say, 32mm pipe? Could I use an old steel dog food tin (the tin is steel, not the dog. Or the food.) and heat the plastic in that, thus avoiding lots of welding (which I have yet to learn how to do)?

With so many questions comes the need for tea…



Categories: Plastic, recycling, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

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