Circuit Bending in the Fishmarket

The Nook Cafe in the Fishmarket is hosting a number of workshops in January and Feburary. The January ones are listed here, and the one most likely to be interesting to members is the Circuit Bending workshop on the afternoon of the 29th of January. It’s £5 entry, and you’re given the materials needed to start bending your musical electronic toy to produce a cacophony of new noises!

Milton Keynes Museum visit

On Sunday. NortHACKton visited the Milton Keynes museum, and had a very enjoyable tour of the site. Firstly we saw the museum of telephones, which has telephones of the last century all connected to a number of exchanges. You can make calls and watch automatic exchanges make circuits for you to talk, or you can ask an ‘operator’ to put you through the old fashioned way. It’s very hands-on, and the staff will teach you how to make calls.

After a a quick escape from the rain in an Anderson shelter we then travel further back in time to an Edwardian house kept in historic condition, and had a quick tinkle on the pianola whilst learning about Robert FitzRoy, a local to the area, who captained the HMS Beagle, and invented the storm glass (one of which can be seen in the museum).

The house has a number of rooms set up as if in use, all available to explore, from the kitchen to the smithy. There is also a street of Victorian shops in a small promenade. Next there is a selection of farming equipment and technological progresses, such as waterwheels and windmills; and finally a hall of transportation devices, from narrowboats to trams. This all skips the important cafe where we spent considerable time sampling their cakes and sandwiches!

Thanks to ntoll and the friendly and knowledgeable staff of the museum.

Northampton Radio Club

I visited a Northampton Radio Club meeting today, and found some keen electronics enthusiasts. Radio hams have the option of saving money on their kit by building it from scratch, and so quite a few of them are dab hands with soldering irons. I floated the idea of a High Altitude balloon project past them, and have had a bit of interest. They have a lot of knowledge of the RF domain, and of modulating data, video, and voice over it.

They also have a set of contacts for fields that can be used for launching sites for lower things, such as rockets. These fields don’t have amenities though, so may not be family friendly. Food for thought though. Might be good for some low altitude balloon launches, if we just went up to the limit before which we need a launch site and back. A few thousand feet would still be good pics, and we get to see where it lands.

The Northampton Society of Model Engineers

Martin and I visited NSME Ltd. today.  They have a complex of buildings in the corner of Delapre Park in Northampton and an extensive railway that they are constantly working on. We were kindly given a tour of the current track and their new works and we discussed the similarities and differences between NSME and Northackton.

There are two main differences, the first being that the NSME has been running for quite a few decades now, and is well established.  The second is the difference in focus between the groups.  NSME is primarily (but not exclusively) focussed on mechanical projects, such as the railway and its engines.  Northackton will have a broader range, with focus more likely to be on electronics and software.

The similarities are very interesting, in that both groups have a culture of learning new skills through meeting new people, and I hope that we’d be able to work together in the future.  Northackton can provide microcontroller knowhow to NSME and the NSME could help us with mechanical guidance if we were to tackle more physical projects.

The next public running of the trains at Delapre Park is the 6th June.  The club meets Tuesday evenings and Sundays, with private running on Monday 31st May and 15th June (6PM – 10PM, so there’s time before the Northackton meet starts!).