Looking back over the years as 2022 begins

The Linux user group was formed in 2004 with the mailing list being established at that time. However, regular meetings did not begin until 2009. The Makerspace was formed by LUG members when we began to work with Arduino and Raspberry pi.

All the posts from years past can be seen in the archive drop down selector.

Posted on

Meeting – medibuntu for extra repo’s

Tony demo’d PC-OS 2009 which is Ubuntu based with XFCE windows manager. Comes with most media Codecs, apart from libdvdcss2. Tony is away for a few weeks, but will be happy to Demo it again to anyone interested next time he is in.

Check out http://www.medibuntu.org/ for instructions on how to install extra repositories.

Also see this Ubuntu guide.
http://www.ubuntu pocketguide.com/download_main.html

Posted on

Meeting – unetbootin and wubi

Well things seem to be gathering some pace at last, 5 of us at the meeting today, Mike our host, Dave C, Les, Colin and Myself (Tony). Les was showing us how to create a bootable USB flash drive with Unetbootin. He downloaded an ISO of Ubuntu 9.10 then using this demonstrated how to create the bootable drive using the Unetbootin software. Les was using Crunch bang but this program will work in most Linux disros and there is also a Windows version available for those without a current Linux system.

Link to the software here:

http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/

I showed Dave the Wubi installer for putting Ubuntu Distros inside Windows and we successfully installed Ubuntu 9.10 onto his Windows 7 Laptop. More info on Wubi here:

http://wubi-installer.org/

We also discussed Drupal and other web and server applications, as Les knows a bit more of this he might like to add some info to this post. The web site is at:

http://drupal.org/

Just to say I think Les will be writing up the next couple of meetings as I’ll not be able to attend for the next 2 weeks.

Blackpool LUG Meeting 12/02/2011

Well a slightly reduced number this week, but the quality wasn’t reduced. There was

  • Mark
  • Dave
  • Jon
  • Les
  • Mike
  • Peter
  • Ed

There wasn’t much hacking this week, instead we had a general chat, then did a bit of tinkering.

The gangs all here

Our chat related to patent trolling (SCO / Microsoft), Linux distros for newbies, and Gnome-Do.

Jon showing Peter Gnome-Do

Peter wanted to know how to use shortcuts to perform tasks / open applications quickly. You can set up keyboard shortcuts in Ubuntu using System >> Preferences >> Keyboard Shortcuts, the process should be similar for other distributions. You can also use an application called Gnome-Do (or Docky) to create a small dock on the desktop. This dock learns what apps you use and adapts. Its a really great app and you should try it out. Les was tinkering with Mike’s Dell laptops, one had Tiny Core Linux installed, the other was running Bodhi Linux

Tiny Core on the left, Bodhi Linux on the right

Les enjoyed Bodhi Linux, its based on Ubuntu, but used the Enlightenment window manager, instead of Gnome/KDE/Xfce. Les’ only gripe is with the speed of the distro, even runing on a Core2 Duo with 4GB of RAM the distro felt sluggish, hopefully this will be improved upon in the future. Jon brought along a little box of tricks

Jon's server in his pocket!

It’s a server, a wireless device (like a MiFi), print server, some say its also a relative of Skynet 😉 Jon, tell us more mate. The pictures of this meeting can be found here http://www.flickr.com/photos/45703688@N07/sets/72157626036594710/ Thanks Les

Blackpool LUG Meeting 04/02/2012

Outside it was cold, but inside there was a warm welcome.

This week it was all change at Blackpool LUG, well Mike moved the desks around, and tidied up a bit 😉


Tony has installed Crunchbang Linux on his Acer Aspire netbook, he loves it, apart from the touchpad doesn’t work. We shall have to investigate how to make it work, all the drivers are there and the kernel is up to date…mmm think we need @corenominal

Jon and Mike discussed Android tablets, such as Mike’s Kogan tablet.
https://www.youtube.com/embed/DXH6HmxxykU?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en&autohide=2&wmode=transparent

Les started to play with his Arduino

Blackpool LUG Meeting 04/02/2012

He built two circuits, one which made an LED fade in and out, and his second which used a switch to turn and LED on and off. Simple stuff, but we all have to start somewhere.

You can see all of the pictures from todays LUG here

March 2013″Blackpool LUG Meeting 2nd March 2013

New members Kieran and Elizabeth joined the LUG regulars for a morning full of geeky fun.

This week, some sad news, LUG regular and Fullcricle podcast member Jon Chamberlain is leaving the LUG and is off to seek his fortune in New Zealand.

Good luck to Jon and his family as they travel to “Middle Earth”.

This week.

  • Kieran learnt about Ubuntu, and used a Live USB stick to play with Ubuntu on his laptop.
  • Elizabeth and Tony fixed an update issue on Linux Mint 14.
  • Jon drew a picture on Tony’s Lenovo x200 tablet PC.
  • Donald and Mike chatted and had coffee.
  • Arran showed Kieran how to set up wireless networking with Ubuntu 12.10.
  • Les took lots of pictures and shot some new view with his new toy, the Kodak ZE1.

You can see the video here Next week (9th March) there will be NO LUG meeting as the majority of the group will be out at the Raspberry Jamboree event in Manchester. Photos from today’s LUG meeting can be found here http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984

Meeting 2014-02-15 – introducing the kitchen

Attending: Tony, Les, Ollie, Donald, James, Joe and Mike. I am still trying to achieve a usable Mythbuntu setup. Donald has used Myth as his primary PVR for years, and has been patiently guiding my attempts. Our first attempt at the LUG was in 2011, using Mythbuntu version 10.04,  the writeup is here,  http://blackpoollug.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/mythbuntu-tv.html  I have been trying with limited  success off and on ever since. For the last couple of recent attempts I used an Acer veritron which is similar to the Revo, but uses Intel graphics. Mythbuntu (Version 12.04) seems very stable and easier to setup  now, but I was not happy with the picture quality.  Apparently, Nvidia graphics might produce better results than the Intel, so yet another install by Donald, on a box with Nvidia graphics.  This is a quad core Packard Bell Imedia which I have not wanted to used previously, because of the power draw, but apparently there is a script that accesses the BIOS, and works in a similar way to ‘power on ethernet’ which can turn off the machine completely, and wake it up for recordings. I have taken the machine home, and will write more about the progress in the future.

Another step towards becoming a ‘proper’ Makerspace, with the addition of our open plan mini kitchen, which includes a fridge, microwave, coffee maker, toaster, kettle, and the obligatory kitchen sink.

Saturday 30th January 2015

Well lots for folk at the makerspace this morning including Mike H, Mike 2, Joe, Arthur and son, Richard, Kieran, Phyllis, Les, Nathan, Sharon and a couple of folk whose names escape me, oh and me Tony.

I spent quite a bit of the morning progressing the rebuild of the 3D printer and by the end of the morning had got this far.

As you can see quite some way to go before we will be printing our first object.

The others were all doing something interesting relating to arduino coding but someone else will have to fill in on that.

Accessing the Pi GUI using SSH and X11 forwarding

_DSF2069
A Raspberry Pi desktop running in a window

I am building a Pi based robot, the Pi will sit in the robot and I have been looking at various ways to interact with the Pi whilst it is attached to the robot.  In simple terms the goal is to have the Raspberry Pi desktop displaying in a window on my PC or laptop and use the keyboard and mouse I already have to access the Pi as shown in the image above.  In the image you can see I have made the Pi desktop display in a tall window which is useful for coding.

Usually I avoid carrying around a monitor, keyboard and mouse when I visit the makerspace with my Pi. Even though we have a few spare monitors it has always seemed easier to access the Pi using my laptop using a combination of SSH and VNC.  This process is well described here.

It works fine but VNC requires the VNC server to be installed and running before you can connect to it using the VNC viewer. When connecting in via WiFi I have found VNC to be a little slow and laggy to use, especially when  you are running a larger resolution desktop.

An alternative that I have been using is X11 forwarding.  The key advantages are a faster response and no need to install and run any additional software on the Pi.

The instructions I followed to get this working are here.

The parameters mentioned to reduce the desktop size didn’t work for me, these are the parameters I use:

“C:\Program Files (x86)\Xming\Xming.exe” :0 -clipboard -screen 0 1024×1600+100+100@1

These give a large 1024 x 1600 pixel desktop for the Pi which is ideal for programming, alter these numbers to suit your monitor size.

Posted on Edit “Craft Council Make:Shift:Do -28/10/2017”

Craft Council Make:Shift:Do -28/10/2017

First tests of the light box.

When taking pictures for photogrammetry use, shadowless lighting is helpful. We are using a Raspberry pi and camera here which will be exchanged for a pi zero with wifi later to get rid of the wires. We are testing two different techniques. A stationary camera with the object to be photographed on a rotating turntable, and in the next picture the camera is on a moving gantry which goes around the stationary object.

2017-10-28 15.38.33

Both techniques have pros and cons, and we will find out which one best suits our need. Either moving the object, or moving the camera(s). The plan is to have 3 pi zeros at different angles on the gantry.

2017-10-28 14.13.43

Having captured the pictures, we need some software to process the picture into a 3D model and provide a file in the required format for printing on our 3D printer. We are still testing different software options based on suggestions on this site: https://pfalkingham.wordpress.com/2016/09/14/trying-all-the-free-photogrammetry/

Some of our initial software tests are here: https://blackpoolmakerspace.wordpress.com/2017/10/19/photogrammetry-desktop-software/ and more can be found using the photogrammetry tag or using the search.

The Laser cutter

Cutting a scale ruler to test and demonstrate the precision. The blue box is the extraction duct.

2017-10-28 14.07.12

Cutting the ruler. The phone on top of the case is being used as a torch to illuminate the inside of the case.

2017-10-28 14.06.31

Laser control panel.

2017-10-28 14.01.39

Laser control software running on Linux Mint.

2017-10-28 13.56.56

Laser cut and etched logo.

2017-10-28 13.55.52

Testing the cutting and etching ability on different materials.

2017-10-28-16-23-06.jpg
2017-10-28-15-35-12.jpg

Posted on Edit “2017-10-21 Build day”

2017-10-21 Build day

Today we opened 10.00 until 17.00 to prepare for our open day next weekend (27th and 28th).

We are running a Make:Shift:Do open day event in association with the Craft Council on Friday 27th October from 17.00 until 21.00 and Saturday 28th October 2017, 10.00 until 17.00.

The laser cutter was put through it’s paces. After a few adjustments and a modification to the extraction system, the laser cutter was pronounced fit for use next weekend. A set of guidelines for use are here:- https://github.com/lesp/BlackpoolMakerspaceLaserCutter

Tony2 took a series of pictures with a Raspberry Pi camera for testing with photogrammetry software, then went home to set up a better picture taking environment with lightbox and turntable to try again.

Tony1 donated an i7 tower unit as the basis for a workstation to run the photogrammetry software. It will need the Radeon graphics card replacing with a CUDA compatible Nvidia card with at least 1G memory on board, and the computer memory will also need upgrading.

The Colmap photogrammetry software was tested on Mike2 laptop which had CUDA compatible graphics and Colmap was found to be very fast, but a bit of a learning curve is involved to use it effectively.

The 3D printer was found to have a drive belt with not enough tension causing it to slip and loose position while printing. There is no obvious way to tighten the tension, so the belt has either stretched or it is the wrong belt. The manufacturers are going to be contacted for advice on the problem.  See Note1.

The proposed photogrammetry demonstration for Make:Shift:Do is ready in theory.  The complete demo would involve taking pictures of an object, feeding the pictures into photogrammetry software to produce a 3D representation, converting that representation into a file suitable for use in the 3D printer, then printing out a 3D replica of the object we photographed. Unfortunately, with the 3D printer out of action, we will be unable to do the final part of the demo, which is to print the replica.

Note1: 2018-10-6  The problem with the 3D printer has been resolved. The repair involved replacing the drive wheels with items which had two locking screws instead of one screw. Then realigning all the belts and the drive wheels to enable free movement.

Month: August 2018

Posted on Edit “Energy Self-Sufficiency in an Urban Environment”

Energy Self-Sufficiency in an Urban Environment

2018/8/18 meeting

Some of the members of Blackpool Makerspace have been considering undertaking one or more energy self-sufficiency based projects with reference to a Blackpool Town-House.

Water recycling, Solar hot water generation, Solar electric generation, wind generation of electricity, other types of generators which can or could use a range of different fuels.

Also considered as possible projects: How to store the energy for later use, using batteries, water tanks, piles of bricks and other yet to be thought of ideas. How to minimise energy use, and how to conserve energy.

Food production is also being considered. Compact growing systems for confined spaces, including hydroponic and Aquaponic.

While looking for projects, it became apparent that there are numerous old patents and designs which have been sidelined or forgotten about in the name of progress. There was also a suspicion that big business buy up patents if the patents in question may pose a threat to their business model.

Practicality, cost, and return on investment will be considered for each project under consideration. For example, it was pointed out that the cost of the scaffolding alone would be over £1000 before any type of solar panels could be put on the Makerspace roof. With wind turbines, there is legislation regarding hight and size to be considered. There is a lot of conflicting information relating to solar and wind generation, with the marketing people tending to push the most expensive option as opposed to the most efficient, or best value for money option.

Energy companies in the UK are pushing (marketing) smart meters as an energy awareness and possibly energy saving option. But it has been reported in the press that the meter might cease to be smart and need replacing when you switch to a new supplier. It is also reported that the meter may not save the user any money at all. Given that switching supplier is becoming more common, needing a new meter every time you switch looks like a huge waste of money and resources.  http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-4912922/Smart-device-replaced-swap.html

There are numerous free and open source methods of energy monitoring which may be more appropriate and waste less resources. The Open energy monitoring project: https://openenergymonitor.org/

More details of our progress will appear as we continue to investigate the options. Posted on Edit “Jon travels from New Zealand to attend the Blackpool LUG”

Jon travels from New Zealand to attend the Blackpool LUG

2018-08-11 10.35.55.jpg

Les, Tony and Jon –    The Screaming Penguins together again…..

80d02-screaming-penguin

Posted on Edit “Ubuntu 19.10 upside down”

Ubuntu 19.10 upside down

On Saturday, Les mentioned he was impressed with his new install of Ubuntu 19.10, so I decided to give it a try. This is what it looked like on my HP Probook 6440. Upside down!

The install took 17 minutes from booting the installer to rebooting into the new system. It is very responsive, and almost as fast as Xubuntu on the same machine.

upasidedown

Working upside down, I selected try ubuntu. Once started, I opened a terminal (still upside down) and used xrandr to look at the problem. The screen was set to inverted.

Screenshot from 2019-10-27 07-28-18

I thought I could use ‘inverted’ again to turn it the other way up, but not so. ‘Normal’ is the parameter needed, as shown in the screenshot  below.

The last command at the bottom shows the xranr command to correct the problem.

Screenshot from 2019-10-27 07-29-29

This is only a temporary fix which is lost after a reboot, so before rebooting, do this:

sudo apt-get remove iio-sensor-proxy 
the above info is from 'ask ubuntu'here: 
Fix inverted screen

Posted on Edit “2019.10.26”

2019.10.26

Attending this week:

Mark, Mike Hull, Les, Jeff and Mike Hewitt.

This week, the meeting had a raspberry pi flavour.

From the archive:

October 2015 we opened the doors to our new space. It lasted 4 years and finally closed in September 2019.

Posted on Edit “2020.02.22”

2020.02.22

We are settling in to a regular routine at Palatine library. Electronic projects including model boats/cars/robots, arduinos raspberry pi, esp and more happen around the table.

A lively discussion group is usually active in the corner where the more comfortable chairs are set out.

Month: May 2021

Posted on Edit “2021.5.22 virtual meeting”

2021.5.22 virtual meeting

Attending: Arthur, Les, Barry, Dev, Theo and Mike.

What do makers make ? Answers in the comments please.

Posted on Edit “2021.5.15 virtual meeting”

2021.5.15 virtual meeting

Attending: Tony, Les, Barry, Dev, Theo and Mike.

Discussed:

  • Tony showed off some of the model cars he has been restoring.
  • Les has more single board computers to review.
  • Theo displayed an animation he had made.
  • Dev did a very realistic impersonation of a border patrol Alsatian sniffer dog finding illegal substances.
  • Barry said he felt old because he could remember the CDROM coming out. This of course brought forth mentions of 14.4k modems, floppy disks, tape drives….. And then on to a famous Monty python sketch!

2021.12.11 virtual meeting

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0506yDSgU7M this week Linux was discussed at length after several of our group had watched the Linus Linux challenge on YouTube. Different distros and desktop environments were covered. Two people present used Linux mint, one Manjaro and one Antix.

2021.11.27 virtual meeting

This week, Theo showed the group his work in Blender https://www.blender.org/ then four members of the group downloaded an example from blender. Following instructions from Theo, each person loaded the same example and measured the time taken to render it. The winner was a razer blade. https://www.razer.com/gb-en/pc/gaming-laptops .

The MacBook M1 max was second, but blender will not be optimised for the apple silicon until the new year. Apple are supporting the effort, and the M1 max will be expected to outperform the razer blade once support is available.

2021.11.13 virtual meeting

This week, we almost renamed the group to the Mac User Group as we now have two members who own a MacBook M1. It is brilliant, apparently. Windows 11 and it’s version of the Linux subsystem integration received praise.

COP26 was ending and the discussion had to be steered away from being overly political a couple of times. I suggested “small is beautiful” by Schumacher might be worth reading, and the Asimov foundation trilogy received praise.

2021.11.6 Meeting

Attending this week- Arthur, Tony,Mike and Theo.

Theo showed off the progress on his game. The Pi Zero 2W was discussed. I mentioned how my first computer, the Acorn Atom was less powerful than the cheapest Arduino, and it was suggested that hardly anyone needs the power of the latest Macbook pro with M1X chip.

2021.10.30 meeting

Although I haven’t posted anything lately, the Blackpool lug and makerspace have continued to meet virtually every Saturday at 10am ( using Jitsi).

This week, Barry talked about putting Ubuntu touch on his phone. Theo was waiting for parts to repair his robot and Tony showed a model pickup truck he had restored the previous week.

2021.08.28 virtual meeting

It was such a glorious sunny bank holiday weekend, I decided to join the meeting sitting outside using the jitsi app on my phone. We talked about the M1 Apple MacBook, C++ and C# programming using visual studio. Windows 11 also got a mention. Arthur has a new 3D printer with extra fine resolution. Theo continues to improve the game he is developing. I talked about the Pinebook pro laptop and the pinecone RISC V development board.

2021.08.14 virtual meeting

Theo has been developing his game over many weeks during the school holidays. This week, we were treated to a simulated run of the game. The characters, some of whom were named after members of our group, battled it out to become “last man standing”.