Category Archives: home life

Science time

Science is made up of so many things that appear obvious after they are explained.
Pardot Kynes.

Another Dune quote but its apt for so many things that happened this weekend.

Friday

Firstly on Friday, I gave a brief talk at Dorkbot Anglia about how I used our Celestron telescope and a cheap, off the shelf webcam to take pictures/video. The talk went really well (for me anyway, I hope everyone else found it interesting) including a live demo of Lynkeos which went off without a hitch and I really enjoyed the evening with a chance to meet some new people and listen to some amazing talks. For anyone who is interested then the slides are available in the Freebies section of the website. It’s wonderful to see that there is stuff like that going on in the area and I’m looking forward to going to another one. I’m also considering running a Star Party one night now the nights are starting sooner. A group of us loafed off to the pub after the talks had finished to engage in generic pub natter and much entertainment was had.

Saturday

After that excitement Saturday arrived and I finally got a chance to do a playtest of Dune. This was scary, I’ve have worked out that the whole thing has cost me over £200 to build, so this was crunch time. If something was missing or (horror of horrors) the game was rubbish I needed to know if it worth the two months build time and the cost?

dune-1-multicell

I bribed Karl AKA @multicelldsgn and Paul AKA @paulhutson with the promise of cooked meat in bread to come and try it out. I considered drugging the food to swing the odds in my favour but thought better of it… this time.

We had a brief skim of the rules and setup with randomly chosen factions. (Some of the following photos are blatantly stolen from their twitter feeds as wasn’t thinking and I didn’t take many myself 🙁 so thanks to them for snapping away).

dune-map

The first game was a very quick struggle between the Harkonnen (Paul), Fremen (Karl) and Guild (myself). Actually, quick isn’t the word, it was over in two turns. The Harkonnen started in one city and has the other in spitting distance, combined with the ‘thoper bonus, they managed to dash to the nearby sietch without any kind of opposition and took control. We mulled over these events and started a second game.

dune-2-multicell

This time it was between the Bene Gesserit (Paul), The Emperor (Karl) and the Harkonnen (myself) and lasted longer as we had started to see through to the dark place where this game dwells. Betrayal, poison, sneak attacks, being eaten by worms, whole armies wiped out by storms or in battle… this is a game which rubs it’s hands together and cackles loudly in great delight as you are being stabbed in the back. Out comes a projectile weapon but it’s canceled by a shield, a “are you planning to poison me?” truetrance moment, here come the traitor cards and that spice you just collected? You’ll need it to get back those troops which the worm swallowed. At one point the tanks seemed to be ready to overflow with dead troops and all five of the Emperors leaders sat in the tanks after the last one was poisoned. The game could have lasted slightly longer if I had remembered to play my traitor card on the last fight but in the end the Bene Gersserit pulled off a slick finish to take the game.

dune-1-paul

So is it worth the build time and the cost? YES! Oh yes so many times over. I’ve never played a game like this before. It was very easy to pick up the rules, we hit our stride early into the game and it never grew dull. If I have one gripe with the game is that it really does need six players. Each faction seems well balanced in its abilities but without all of the factions it seems slightly out of kilter.

Hopefully a six way game is on the cards soon but I’ve got no idea when, I’m not the Kwisatz Haderach 🙁

Sunday

Speaking of superbeings, on Sunday I was hard at work on Odin as a companion for Thor.

odin-wip

He’s coming on well but I think it’s back to work for a rest.

Dorkbot Anglia

Tomorrow I will be giving a talk at Dorkbot Anglia 13 about how I cut up a webcam to take pictures and video of the night sky with the Dort’s Celestron telescope.

dorkbot anglia

It’s at the town hall and seems that I’m up first. I will (hopefully) be demoing how I stack frames from video to make one image, showing some of the images we have made along the way and lugging our telescope through the streets of Ipswich after 9pm at night.

I’ll post the slides up once it’s all over.

Something wicked this way comes

Its only a few days to Halloween and for the last couple of years the Daughter and I have sculpted something for our window display as a way of having some fun and creating something unique. We’ve done tiny pumpkins, ghosts and she did a witch last year while I started the Jezail sculpture (which didn’t get finished anywhere near Halloween unless you count the following years). This year she wanted to do something a bit more complex so (leaving it until the last minute) she splashed around in Google for a bit and found a cat sketch by Chris Ryniak, so I went for another one of his sketches as inspiration.

To make it more interesting I thought of fitting a bulb into the top of the candle on one and we’ve talked about some glowing eyes for the cat. Nothing like making it as challenging as possible… Also the Daughters never done soldering before I thought this would be a good time to learn, she’s 10 so thats old enough to start hot-wiring stuff.

So Saturday consisted of harvesting as much of the bits needed from town. 3 packs of milliput to build the armature with, some aluminium tubes to run the wires through so I don’t have to bake the wires in the oven, a pack of mixed LED’s, a load of resistors, a flickering bulb from a £1 Halloween display, some wire, a couple of switches, batteries and I’ve even treated myself to a new soldering iron.

Sorry for the lack of “in build photos” but its been a bit of a rush to get this ready in time for the 31st. To start I cut up a couple of small MDF boxes to act as bases and housing for the batteries and wiring, drilled out holes and fitted the alu tubes. The daughters has it right up the middle while mine has a bend in the side as the legs are spread apart. Two packs of milliput then got spread all over them to act as keying for the sculpey. Baked for 20 mins to set the Milliput.

Next up was the circuits. In my shopping I also picked up a test breadboard for the wiring and two blow LED’s later I had my circuits worked out.

At this point it was sculpting time. The Daughter was packed off to bed a bit later and I carried on while the missus subjected me to “house nation”… How did that pass for music?

Sometime around 11pm, with my eyes burning, my back cracking and my ears bleeding, I had my basic shape blocked out.

pumpkin-headed-sculpture.jpg

This is the fasted I’ve ever finished sculpting something.

Halloween SculptureHalloween Sculpture

It was inspired by an original sketch by Chris Ryniak who also has a tumblr account which has now taken up residence in my Google reader.

What this whole thing has taught me is that I can sculpt stuff fast when I set my mind to it and that I need to do something about taking better photos of my work.

halloween window display Due to not having a front garden or anything which can be filled with grotesque figures, we usually pop a couple of things in the window and the Dort and I make something every year as part of our build up to the 31st, she didn’t finish hers in time but we did put both of our new pieces in the window. Her cat is also based on a sketch by Chris and I’ll publish a pic when she finishes painting it. The eyes light up green when a button is turned on at the back and was built with half an old torch (cut up for the button), some green LED’s and a couple of decorative glass pebbles for the front of the eyes.