Nodecopter 2013

Last month I attended the Nodecopter event at Southampton’s Hackerspace So Make It. The group was divided up into small teams, given a quadcopter and working with Node.js were left to come up with something fun.

The team I was in comprised of some really nice chaps and our drone started to read and act upon plain text instructions held in front of it on flash cards. It’s already given me an idea to add to my ongoing list to improve on projects here and I’m already starting to put something quick and dirty together.

My First App

After months and months of getting to grips with app design, the little idea I had last year has finally taken form and is now a free app in Google Play’s app store for people to download and use. Search for “Draw Stuff” or you’ll find it if you click here.

This is proof that anyone with an idea can put it into practice. If I can do it then anyone can.

Draw Stuff App

Workshop Revamp

I have been sitting on the task of cleaning out the workshop for too long now and during that time it has become somewhat of a dumping ground. It took me the majority of the day to empty and sort its contents and whilst it was interesting to see all the things I used to hoard years ago it was definitely time to say goodbye to it all.

Once emptied it was time to decide what form the new workshop was going to take and it is something I’ve been planning in my head for a couple of weeks now. I want it to be a productive work space whilst at the same time being a neat place to store the tools and Charlie’s garden toys.

The first step was to get the splendid wood draughtman’s drawing board sourced from Freecycleinstalled. It’s a rather big and heavy chap but it fits nicely in the corner. I also made some cupboards from scrap wood which I painted in amazing blackboard paint. If I had my way I would paint the whole house in the stuff, that way you could change the design of your wallpaper every week. The cupboards are still up a day later – I take this to be a good sign.

It still has a long way to go but the less enjoyable jobs are now out the way which is a relief. It is certainly a step up from my little corner five years ago.

Solar Powered


I have been working on getting the kite computer running off a couple of solar panels and have finally succeeded. As a little extra I added Bluetooth functionality so that instead of displaying the data on an lcd screen it will now communicate with the phone that the rig uses as its camera, sending over the data which will eventually get saved on the phone’s sd card.

I am really pleased with how far Kestrel has come on.

Kite Photography

I’m now confident enough to fly the kite rig with a better camera. I ventured out to Stonehenge last night and practiced using it over the burial mounds.

Stonehenge Burial Mounds, Kite Photography

Kite Photography


I have switched to the smaller Aduino Nano for use in my kite flight recorder and this has enabled me to squeeze it into a tiny box that makes it look so nice. It even glows blue when it’s processing data which is rather cool. To recap it takes the temperature and pressure and using a bit of crazy maths in the form of the Hypsometric equation and logs the highest and lowest temperature and altitude extremes.

I have noticed a bit of a problem with it and that is for it to accurately plot your correct starting altitude it needs to know the current pressure at sea level in order for the equation to work. However, this really doesn’t bother me too much as it can measure the height gained accurately.

Of course with anything I make my chief tester puts it through its paces out in the field. Click here to see the video of Charlie Chief Tester.

I have built something that works. It has taken me months of programming play to get this far. Following on from my success the other night, I once again put the Hypsometric equation to good use and got my arduino starting to calculate altitude, recording and displaying it on a small LCD screen. I love how compact it all is. It’s a thing of beauty. Check out my video of it here.

I took it for a walk yesterday and as I feared the fluctuating readings do cause quite a large margin of error. All part of the testing process though and what I learnt will be fed back into the project.

This final week of Workshop Thursday features a beer bottle kept from a rather nice Steam themed evening with a friend. We drank Steam Beer whist watching Steam Boy which quickly became a favourite of mine.

I have a few things on the go at the moment and s I’ve recorded a little update. This little video features my Arduino robot tutorial I put together for Instructables (that made it onto their front page) and what I made afterwards.

I also mention my kite project that is slowly taking shape now which is exciting. As you know I been wanting to fly a kite at high altitude recording data as it climbs for some time no, I’m finally putting things together as I’ve finally finished working things out on paper and the fun can really begin. More soon.