Monthly thread - what’s new with you? (April edition)

What have you found, or learnt, or watched, or heard? What are you building or breaking or repairing or investigating?

Let’s hear about your technical or educational adventures, however large or small.

Previously: Monthly thread - what’s new with you? (March edition)

I have ordered some acryllic sheets that are hopefully compatible with the laser cutter.
I did try to use my copper coating technique with the sheets we did, but not as good as the initial set. The engraving seems not to have been deep enough.
An unrelated project: I have an idea for a solar water distiller that hopefully would have good efficiency. A billion people do not have safe clean water. Also on board boats, fresh water is at a premium. I have 3D printed some parts for the prototype. Just need to get some more items and assemble it, and wait for the sunshine!

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Haven’t made anything, but found something… Tatjana van Vark makes intricate machines. Here’s a short tour of some

She remade the 1916 Henrici harmonic analyzer as seen at the Science Museum here:

(via HN)

Flag for the Community Flags project delivered to the Town Hall yesterday, ready for hanging in the town centre later this week:

Google Photos
Google Photos


Bought a new computer… an 8 bit one, of course! It has a proper 8 bit CPU but also an ESP32 to do video, sprites, sound, and keyboard. It’s got about 20 general purpose I/Os too. It presently boots to BBC Basic but can also run CP/M (apparently). And Forth.

It is amazing that the Z80 keeps going. My first experience of it was the ZX81. Programming in Basic, then manually coding assembler, and programming it via Basic.(I must have been keen.) A couple of years later I had an Amstrad CPC6128, and Hisoft C. The Z80 signals came out to the back, and I made various things to plug onto it.

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What have I been doing?

  • improving the fish pass design. There are around 20,000 to 30,000 wiers and old mill sites in the UK, that could be micro hydroelectricity power stations. The main impediment is that fish passes also need to be installed.
  • doing some experiments with ion propulsion for aircraft. I am in email contact with Ethan Krauss, who is very helpful and knowledgeable. He had the first self-contained (i.e. with battery and HV generator) VTOL aircraft. Several years before the MIT ion propelled plane. VTOL is more difficult than horizontal flight. His website:
  • Further refining the boat propulsion thruster. Mk1 and Mk2 proved the concept. Mk3 is hopefully improving on that. Just now 3D printing the parts for a scale model.
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Update: According to the FTC post below our flag is now hanging somewhere on the Bridge. (Must go and see it before the first rainstorm destroys it! )


I left my memory stick on the computer. Could someone hold on to it please until the next session? Thanks.

I’ll pick it up tomorrow and look after it

Thanks Joe, appreciated.