Category Archives: Crafting

Paper Mache

Gun Powder & Rocket Candy (Work in Progress)

What better to do with a rainy bank holiday than to make some Gun Powder and Rocket Candy.

My recipe for the Gunpowder was

  • 75g KNO3 (Saltpeter)
  • 15g Charcoal
  • 10g Sulfur

The method for this is simple, put it all together then Grind the hell out of it using a mortar and pestle, the more you grind, the finer the particles get, and the more surface area the reaction has to take place on. AKA bigger boom

For my Rocket Candy I went for

  • 60g KNO3 (Saltpeter)
  • 40g Glucose
  • 1 g Fe2O3 ( Iron(III) oxide / Fancy Rust )
  • 30ml Water

The method for this is tiny bit more complicated, mix it all together into a suldge and put it in a hot pan, stir it until the water starts to leave, and the sugar starts to carmalise. Then poor in a rocket motor tube.


Rocket Candy


Rocket Candy with a Gunpowder tip

Waiting for Video



Waiting for Video

Fallout Nuka Cola Quantum bottles

I have decided to make an attempt on this Instuctable

The shopping list has been quite a headache, but we are getting close, the first few items where easy

  • Great Ebay shop
    • three 5mm red LEDs
    • three 5mm blue LEDs
    • two 5mm ultraviolet LEDs (#176-0014)
    • one 150 ohm resistor (for the UV LEDs) (#271-1109)
    • one mini momentary push button switch (#274-1547)
    • one submini slide switch (#275-0409)
  • Amazon
    • third hand
    • black spray paint
    • red and blue florescent paint
    • .220″ thick acrylic glass
    • size K coaxial DC power jack (#274 1565)

Some of the American parts started to get me though:

  • 355 ml Mexican Coke bottle

was a bit of puzzler for a man that lives in the UK, but I manged to find it at American Fizz , the next item was even worse, from the inscrutable you can see even Americans are having trouble finding it.

  • -a solid metal exhaust gasket 2 17/32″ inside diameter.

This took some dective work, but I managed to track one down at O’reily’s auto parts…. in america, Luckily I know a few Americans from backpacking, and I found out my lovely friend grace is a mere few miles from a store. She has picked me one up, and it should be winging its way accrss the Atlantic any day now.

Now the next part of give me trouble is

  • a piece of sheet metal cut to 3.5″ diameter circle

A tricky one, not becuase of the materials, but off the tools required to make it.


Still to find:

  • -1/4″ drill bit
    -5/64″ drill bit
    -J-B Weld
  • -glue
    -about a foot of 20 gauge insulated wire
    -bailing wire

    -3″ PVC cut to 2 1/4″ high


Update 24/07/2-15

I found that I could get away without much of that when I came back to this project a couple of weeks ago, and I managed to assemble it with what I already had.

I should have taken more notes along the way, but things got kind of busy. I blew quite a few LED’s in my first attempt at making something electronic in quite a long time. Some of the soldering is probably not what you would call pretty either ūüėõ but it is a great looking lamp and I am pretty proud of it. Was scary as hell the first time I plugged into a real socket, rather than my breadboard.

Comic book table(Work in progress)

So this project all started with a Christmas present from the wonderful Miss Ellie, a book of 75 years of marvel comic book art Having recived such a nice thing, we then went on destroy it. We thought about making a giant poster, or a collearge of some kind, but then it hit me we have a old battered table that could do with being made much cooler, why dont we cover it?

We could cover all of it, so
Step 1) Was to disable the table and paint the area that where not to be covered black. We used a black eggshell paint for this. ( I forgot to take post painting pictures )

Step 2) Cut out the comics!

Step 3) We got a non yellowing polyethylene based varnish, and used this to paste comics onto the table top

Step 3.1) I found some of the comics did not stick down well, so I put over another layer of varnish, and then covered the table with clingfilm and heavy books.

2015-02-04 06.39.15

Step 4) comics, dont make a great surface, we need something harder so I used epoxy resin from eli chemicals

Step 5) The chairs don’t match! So I needed to break the seats off the chairs and start painting them

Step 6) We need new cushions, so I brought a marvel bed spread and some stuffing and made new ones

Finished results

<put pictures here >

Shopping list and total price

Frames for xkcd posters

As you might remember from this post. Randle Munroe of xkcd was kind enough to sign a couple of his posters for me. So I used my christmas money to make some frames and mounting for them.

Then (with ellies expert help ) hung them up. They look great.

New Computer build !

I build myself a new computer this week.

Here is the part list I used

  • CPU: Intel Pentium G3258 3.2GHz
  • CPU Cooler: Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro Rev.2
  • Motherboard: MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming ATX LGA1150 Motherboard
  • Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory
  • Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM
  • Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB
  • Case: Xigmatek Recon ATX Mid Tower Case
  • Power Supply: EVGA 430W 80+
    Total: £445.92

Here a couple of pictures, I got over excited and stopped taking them during the build. It went very well, I had one problem I have not build a machine in a while and did not realise mobo’s now have a dedicated socket for CPU power !

TODO: add some more pictures!

The next step is overclocking it will pop the results here when its done:

<Not done yet, having to much fun playing Kerbal Space Program again>

Scrap Book

For chrismas I made a scapbook for my gran, her memory is not very good at the momment, but I know she enjoys hereing about my travels, so I made a scap book from every ticket. Map, and photo I could find for her!

2014-12-15 22.29.50

I need to take some more pictures of the end result and pop them here, but it looked very good, and she seemed to enjoy it:

2014-12-25 12.50.02

Picture from the edge of space – Design

(This post is a work in progress for the moment., It will be updated as my design evolves)



  • 800gm Weather Balloon
  • N10 Helium Canister


With some help from CURF‘s predictor looks like the balloon will travel for around

  • 2 hours 30mins
  • Cover about 300km (Going about 75 mph!)

This of course, is based the weather on the day, I should run the predictor a few times,



  • EVA foam, its lightweight, and I can work with it to shape it into what I need.
  • Paracord for the ropping

Controller Parts


This is still an on going question, though it looks like lithium AA battries, connected up to provide 5V.

Wiring plan



Header Pin PI Usage Allocated for
1 3.3 BMP180 – VIN
2 5v
3 I2C/SDA1 BMP180 -SDA
4 5v
5 I2c/SCL1 BMP180 -SCL
9 Gnd BMP180 -GND
10 Rxd0 SOR -RX
14 Gnd SOR -GND
17 3.3 SOR -3Vo


I cant wire the GPS module in as I would like as it used the Tx/Rx pins just as the radio does. SO I am going to wire it to a USB interface and connect to it as TTL device. The model I am using just outputs string, that I can read in like a console.


I know I am going to use Habitat, I still need to get to grips with it, so far as I can see it works like this:
GPS -> Pi -> Radio -> Your laptop in the car (or a helpful station you pass) -> To the internet -> Then Habitat updates its space tracker.

Final Budget and


Item Source Price
800g Balloon  Link 45
Helium 70
Raspberry Pi Link 36
Radio RT Link 10
GPS Module Link 34
Barometric module Link 8
Camera Link 17
UART USB Converter Link 6
Breakout 40pin + cable Link 5
BreadBoard Link 8
BatteryPack Link 15
Total 254

A picture from the edge of Space – Planning

Here are some quick and dirty notes on a new project idea.


So I would like to take a picture from the edge of space. I want to see the curvature of the earth.

After some looking around, I need a minimum high of about 35,000 feet, but it would only be possible with wide angle lens. I have seen numbers more like 60-80 ft for more sure things.

So I think I will aim to leave the troposphere and take a picture from the lower Stratosphere. Around 30km up. ( I am going to try and standardize to metric from this point onwards. ) Thats not a lot the Earth is 12,742km in diameter.

The natural way to do this is with a HAB ( High Altitude Balloon )

Things I am going to need:

  • A Balloon (Burst hight between 20-30km)
  • Payload Box
  • Parachute
  • A way of tracking it, GPS & GSM, maybe Radio
  • A camera
  • and all the bits that connect it together!
  • Permission from the Civil Aviation Authority
  • Helium

Useful links


DIY Space


How long is it going to take?

An average weather balloon will ascend for about one and a half hour before popping out. Then, the payload boxes and the flight equipment would continue the travel, and it might take an additional half hour. The total duration of the flight would be about two hours

 What lift is required

If the payload weighs 10 lb, the lift should be at least 1.5 times that weight or at least 15 lbs of lift.

What size Balloon

High altitude balloons are listed according to the weight in grams and not by size.

Weight -> Burst height -> Payload size

200g -> 19km -> 250g
600g -> 27km -> 250g
800g -> 30km -> 800g
1.2kg -> 31km -> 100g
2.2kg ->35km -> 2.5kg

Okay, so we have a case of diminishing returns here. Looks like 0.8kg balloon might be the sweet spot for height vs weight. Looks like once you get past about 800g, payload becomes a pretty straight function of balloon weight.

I should be able to get a 800g Balloon for around £45.

Based on some guess-estimation I am going to need about 80-100 Cublic feet of a helium to fill the Balloon. (ISO! 2.25 cubic meters or about 2,250 Litres )
This sounds perfect

N10 Helium Canister Spec: Contains 2.61 cubic metres (92 cubic feet) of helium gas.

Prices on a N10 seem to Varry looks like I can get one for between £60-90


HabHub seem like the people to help me here,

We could use a R-pi, add a radio Module like this (this guide will prove useful) and a gps module like this

Box it all together, and then we HOPE broadcast the location over radio!

Then add a Camera and maybe some weather instruments to the Pi ( and pray it has enough pins and ports )

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