Friday, 27 February 2009

problems need solving

Ok, it appears that there are some leedle probs we need to overcome pretty sharpish.
Firstly, the procurement of bits for the trip is progressing quite slowly. We are getting support from the procurement and admin staff, but the beaurocracy is slowing us down terribly.
Secondly, I missed the cheap "toys with tracks" at Modelzone which kinda inspired the whole idea, so I think we're going to have to get some from Edinburgh, and again, procurement processes will be slow.
Finally (for now!) the co driver is having to take time off, so he won't be insured on the van, so it's just me doing the driving! I sort of get the argument his boss is throwing for this, but it's effect is bloody awkward, and if I'm being honest, I think it's a pretty unimaginative possition to take. Not wrong, just a good deal less helpful and flexible than I'd like a colleague to be.

We now have two weeks to get our code cronked, at least one robot built, feeds for the weather lined up, a process to turn live weather data into a hash table for symbols and a set of 8x8, 12 colour weather symbols designed. It's a good team, and all are keen, so, yeah, we'll do it. But damn, this is going to be close!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009


And for those of you interested in seeing where we are getting our gubbins:

Shopping list

Ok, quick heads up on progress. Last week Cy finished the shopping list for the core build, and we're getting it together now. Modelzone have sold out of the toys we're after, but we've found anoter source at a similar price, although I haven't specified compatable, different opperating frequencies (EEEEK! May need to fix!).

Item Number Source
Tracked Toys (with AfrikaCorps stickers) 4 Model Zone
Arduino Duemilanove 3
Led 8x8 matrix 3 Sparkfun
Arduino RFID Kit 2
Arduino XBee Kit 2
NiMH Battery Charger 2 RS
PP3 NiMH 10 RS
Battery Pack 3 Tantronics
Pack Charger 1 "
Radio Kit 1 Vintage Components

Monday, 9 February 2009

Maker Faire Blog post for Backstage

Here's a little post for Backstage about our participation in the Newcastle Maker Faire :

Over the weekend of the 14th and 15th of March the Backstage team will
be at the Newcastle Centre for Life for the inaugural UK Maker Faire, joining in as a Maker Team. We think it's a great opportunity for us and the wider Backstage community to join in with a movement that pulls in up to 60,000 people over a weekend in the US , and celebrates the whole hacking and making culture. We'll be doing our own hacks (current ideas are around having little robots explore a map and show live(sih) weather data) and we'll also be on hand to chat to about other Backstage activities, BBC APIs and the rest of the Backstage effort. It's a family day out, so we'll try and ensure there's something for everyone- help us design weather logo's for our robots to display, or give us a hand on the soldering irons! Let us know if you're in the area and would like to help with the hack; even if it's only for a couple of hours we'd appreciate the help, and there may even be a t-shirt in it for you. (Ian, do we have any of those T-shirts left?)

If you fancy getting your own team together you've missed your chance!- deadline for Maker Team application was this Sunday the 8th of Feb! Hopefully see you there though, and keep track of our team progress at



Sunday, 8 February 2009

We're going to Maker Faire!

Just a first post on a sunday night to let every one know we're coming to the Faire in Newcastle.