Lickey Hills

We went for a walk around the nearby Lickey Hills.

The car park was by a large open area at the top of the hill, with good views of Birmingham and the surrounding area.

Once Rocco had off steam, we followed a nice path through woods and a golf course to the visitor center, which was closed but a cafe was open.

Then more woodland paths – Rocco really enjoyed chasing sticks:

We then stopped at a large monument:

Then more woodland paths back to the beacon, where Rocco still had enough energy to chase a stick:

A nice walk, and no rain, which was a bonus.

Bournville

We’re up in Birmingham visiting Gemma, and braved the showers on a walk to Bournville.

The first path followed the Rea Valley towards Kings Norton:

We then joined the canal network at the junction of the Birmingham and Worcester canal with the canal to Stratford.

And followed the towpath towards Bournville. Unfortunately Rocco wasn’t paying attention as a cyclist went past and ended up in the canal. Yet again… Gemma was able to pull him out, but we did have a very wet dog for the rest of the day.

Bournville station is right next to the canal, and has a very decorative entrance:

We then walked past the Cadbury chocolate factory to Bournville village:

Then stopped for a coffee and Roast Pork rolls from the baker:

Rocco made sure nothing was wasted:

Then back to the station to catch a local train to Northfield:

Notice that a lot of the station is painted Cadbury purple.

By then, the heavier rain had caught up with us, so it was a quick walk along the Rea Valley back home.

A nice day out, 6 miles of walking.

Garden Sprayer

I’ve been using a modified Hozelock garden fan sprayer to water the garden from our ‘well’ for years – this works well to deliver a large volume of fairly low pressure water.

It’s been gradually falling apart for a while, and finally broke at the connector end. I’ve since patched it up, but it’s only a matter of time before it breaks again.

Unfortunately, fan sprayers of this type do not seem to be made any more, so yet again, I fired up the 3D design software and designed a replacement. The first attempt had a number of problems, but the 2nd version works really well:

The inlet end is threaded to accept the existing connector and sealing washer. And if this one should break, it’s just a case of printing another one!

Hastings

We finally managed to find a day when neither of us were busy AND the weather looked reasonable, so it was off on a train to Hastings. The train was a bit delayed due to an “incident”, so Rocco was getting a bit bored:

A lovely journey down in a quiet carriage and an excellent (and chatty) conductor. As usual, we left the train at St Leonards Warrior Square and walked down to the seafront through the gardens:

Finally, we got to a bit of dog friendly beach and Rocco could let off steam:

Then a quick trip along the pier; all surprisingly empty:

All too soon, it was time to find our pub for lunch. Rocco was (as usual) very well behaved, and I rewarded him with some trimmings from my steak. After lunch, we climbed up to West Hill (it was easy for me as I had a very enthusiastic dog helping) and Rocco could have a good run around while we enjoyed the view.

We then wandered back to the Hastings Station – and sat in our air-conditioned train until it was time to go home.

A lovely day out!

A Happy Rocco

Had our regular walk at High Elms this morning, and, finally, I’ve managed to take a reasonable picture of Rocco running towards me. Unfortunately, this was just after he’d rolled in something, which is probably why he was looking so pleased…

There seemed to be a problem with the car parks at High Elms this morning; mine was the only car in the main one:

and the other one was still locked:

Another Air Quality Sensor

One of the things that triggered my “Weather Station” project was a request to build a similar Air Quality Sensor for a friend. This uses the same laser sensor, but a different computer board and temperature/humidity sensor. The kit is around £22 from Ebay.

The first thing to do was to connect up the various bits, flash the firmware and see if it all works:

The computer connects to the world via a WiFi connection (the aerial is that little squiggle on the bottom of the computer board) and you use a web browser to configure the system.

This sensor had to be a neat unit on a wall, and a bit of rummaging around on the internet found a suitable case for this system. Unfortunately, that design mounted the laser sensor “upside down”, which is not recommended by the manufacturer, so I ended up redesigning the internal frame:

I also had to design and 3D print a ‘tube’ to get the air from the outside world into the sensor – I could have used a plastic tube, but it’s difficult to get that much bend in it. And I didn’t have any…

The SDS011 laser sensor mounts on one side of the vertical frame with the pipe connecting the inlet to the base:

The exhausted air from the sensor comes out at the bottom of the laser sensor, and can escape to the world via tiny holes in the base.

The connections to the laser sensor are at the bottom and need to be routed through the gap in the middle of the frame:

The controller board mounts on the other side, and is connected with useful push on connectors:

The top right hole in the computer board is used for a small cable tie to restrain the power cable.

The DHT22 sensor measures temperature and humidity, and is mounted on the bottom of the case. It pokes through the bottom of the board so that the sensor is exposed to the outside world:

The unit will be powered from a long USB lead, which goes through the mounting bracket into the case. Once the unit is installed, it will be connected to the terminal block on the right of this photo:

This is the underside of the case with everything fitted; you can see the small exhaust holes and the temperature/humidity sensor:

I designed a bracket to fit the case, this has two mounting holes to screw it to the wall and a path through it for the power cable:

I tested the system by temporarily mounting on the garage next to “my” sensor:

Once the unit settled down, they both gave very similar readings so I’m happy that everything works as planned.

You can see the readings from this sensor here: opensensemap.org/explore/60e478f616d878001b1df5f0 – You’ll need to click on the US flag on the top line and select English unless you want the text to be in German.

However, note that the sensor is currently disconnected, but should be up and running in a week or so. The sensor is also shown at the location where it will be eventually installed. The site does have useful descriptions of what PM10 and PM2.5 actually mean and there are plenty of other sensors to explore.

Dimension Board Game Counter Trays

The Dimension Board Game is an interesting product, but not very well packaged to use the counters in the game. To make them simpler to store and use, I designed and 3D printed a couple of trays for the counters:

These stack on top of each other in one of the compartments in the box:

If you’ve got access to a 3D printer, you can print your own trays using the files here: Dimension Counter Trays STL

You need one of each as one tray has four compartments, the other three.

Weather Station Upgrade

I’ve added an air quality monitor to my weather station. This uses a laser to measure the particle concentration between 0.3 to 10µm in the air. The sensor is the silver and black unit at the left, and has a small fan which sucks the air in from the outside via a small tube which you can just see going through the garage wall to the outside.

There is a more detailed explanation of the sensor Here

The output from this sensor are two values for PM2.5 and PM10, both measured in µg/m³. This graph shows the PM2.5 value for the last 24 hours – it’s still a bit high as the unit is still settling down:

You can see the results from this, and my other weather sensors, by viewing http://home.wsn.uk:5555 username ‘view’, password ‘view’. Click on the icons to see the graphs showing these inputs change.

See A Weather Station for the original post on this project.

12V Emergency Lights

I needed to create some fittings to hold some 12V LED lights used for emergency lighting, which was a good excuse to do a bit of 3D design and print them on the 3D printer:

The slot in the middle is for a connector for the lamp, which fits in from the back:

The 12V lamp then plugs into the socket:

Note the gap around the lamp and the triangular holes to help airflow; the first version didn’t have these and the lamp got so hot that it melted the plastic of the base!

And finally, the working fitting. This will be mounted upside down on the ceiling: