Stirling Engines – harder than they look

Alan gave a very interesting talk on Stirling Engines, and buoyed by his information that they’re very simple and have few moving parts, we tried to make one.

Surprisingly, this didn’t work, possibly due to:
  1. Poor tolerances
  2. Wrong materials (it’s supposed to be a steel can for a better temperature differential)
  3. Patrick
  4. High mechanical friction

In other news, the Ballistics Day approaches, 6th August.  A poster is being prepared, and will be posted on here shortly.

Neural networks talk

Monday was a busy evening in the end! Mat demonstrated a robot that he’s building (no details, it’s a secret!) for a competition at the end of the month, and took advantage of the concreted courtyard in the NSME. Adrian brough some Nanodes to show to the group, and I (Stephen) talked about neural networks, ably assisted by Nicholas. The slides are on the wiki. This was attended by some visitors from the Northants Linux User Group (mailing list here) who hopefully haven’t been permanently put off.

I investigated how to polish 3D printed stainless steel, and Alan tried another form of light-painting, where a long night exposure is taken, and the subjects are lit with a flash gun and many flashes. Pictures hopefully to follow.


We’ve not done anything with the mill regarding controlling it yet, and so we discussed that as well. The feeling was that we should continue the computer control of it, but only with the assistance of someone who could manufacture the brackets required. We will ask the NSME for assistance, rather than attempt it ourselves.

Next meet

The next meeting is on the 27th June.

Hack evening workshop #1 a success

Well we’ve had our first workshop, and the three talks given by Martin, Alan, and Stephen went down very well, and covered a range of topics and abilities.  Martin explained how to design physical 3D objects and manufacture them in the home (or pay someone else to, for the less brave).  Alan taught us that bigger softer running shoes aren’t always the best answer, and Stephen explained the many different ways data can enter a computer.

The slides for these are on the wiki.  The Yeoman of England appears to be a great venue, and so it’s already booked for next month on Monday 6th September 2010.  We also have permission to bring some equipment along, but I don’t think we can devise anything too messy.

Next week we have the traditional pub meet and there we’ll finalise the logistics for the Ballistics Day, and plan the September workshop.  More pictures follow

Hack Evening Workshop #1

Behold, the first hack evening workshop now has a date! It’s Wednesday 11th August 2010. Meet at the Yeoman of England pub in Wootton, Northampton from 7.30pm. Talks will start at 8pm, and be about twenty minutes each, see the wiki for details.

Attendees will be solicited for their opinions on how we could make this event a regular occurence, so that’s your homework. Hopefully we’ll host any slides up for those who weren’t able to attend.

Events for August 2010

As well as the standard pub meet this month (Tuesday 17th August) NortHACKton is holding TWO other events. The dates for these events are up for selection by doodle poll until the 27th July where I shall pick the highest-voted days out of a hat of some kind, moderated by any mitigating factors that become apparent (site availability etc). Vote now!

Hack Evening Workshop

Our first workshop will be a series of short informal talks. These will not be held in the public area of a pub, but either a back-room or a community centre. Contact the mailing list or me directly if you’d like to give a talk. There will be time for questions and networking after each talk, and a projector for those with slides.

Ballistics Day

The previous rocketry day was a success. So we’re going to repeat it, but with the addition of trebuchets, or other catapults or methods of propulsion. Bring tennis balls, and then show how far you can propel them. Again, there will be a barbecue, and some raw materials for hacking on the day.