Blade 500 3D

IMG_1401-2And another model which highlights how rarely I’ve been updating the blog. I bought the Blade 500 3D to replace the 450 3D, fancying something a little larger.

Having flown it for nigh on three years I was pondering a flybarless heli to replace it, when Mat at my club offered me his almost new Trex 500L Dominator with a nice case and a bunch of packs for what was a bargain price. That settled it then, the 500 3D went on ebay and the Trex came home with me.

For historic reasons I’ve created a page for the Blade here.

Weston Park 2016

For many years I’ve been along to Wings & Wheels at North Weald, but this year that was going to have to take a break. We had booked a short family cruise which happened to fall on the same weekend. This got me pondering what other show I could attend, after a bit of thought I decided to bop up to Weston Park for their annual show, it always looks good in the mags so I figured it was worth a visit.  In short it was great, lots of traders, lots of flying – aircraft, helis and quads all had their own flight lines – and the off road buggy track and boat pond just added to fun. I shot a few pics, which you can see below.

A new boat for daddy

IMG_1561While we were up at Shuttleworth for the May Fly, happily flying the Hurricane and the Sparrowhawk I took the time to browse the stalls for interesting things. It wasn’t long before I happened across this Pro Boat Blackjack 29 cat. It looked awesome and immediately I found myself thinking of a reason not for it to come home with me. It contained all the running gear; prop shaft, motor mount, steering servo, rudder etc. Just lacking a motor, ESC and batteries. So after a bit of banter a deal was done for an amazing price.

I have just recently ordered a water cooled motor and ESC and plan to use the same hardcase 5000mAh LiPos I now use in the Desert Fox. The plan is to have it up and running before the end of the summer, quite where I will run it I don’t know yet, but we’ll see!

I’ve put a page up about it here.

A(nother) Vintage Model Co. build

IMG_1555This time the lad and I were building the Hurricane. He wanted another kit for Christmas last year (2015) and jumped at the chance of having a bright red aeroplane for his collection!

After Christmas was out of the way we started on the build, aiming to have it ready for the May Fly at Shuttleworth. We made it, just! But only with a few late nights in the week before for dad to finish the covering.

I’ve got some pics of the finished model somewhere, which I’ll need to dig out and also some pics taken up at Old Warden.

Suffice to say we had a happy afternoon in the Free Flight field, the Hurricane and the Sparrowhawk both getting in plenty of flights. I need to learn a bit more about trimming, but we weren’t doing bad and left very contented.


H.King Desert Fox

76294(1)So after explaining in a previous post that the Neo Scorcher was no more, I thought it made sense to write a quick post about it’s replacement. The Desert Fox.

I was on the lookout for something fairly cheap (might have been a mistake), LiPO powered, brushless and 4 wheel drive. I think Hobby King had just launched this at an amazing price so a purchase was made with the funds free’ed up after the Neo sale. I bought a couple of hard case 5000mAh 2s packs and installed the receiver recently removed from the same.

Its a lot of fun, fast as hell, powers over all sorts of things that tripped up the tamiya and seems tough enough with moderate jumps and the general rough and tumble of being bashed around by a 6 year old.

Fishtank Temperature monitor

Screenshot 2016-08-04 09.20.52So while having an enforced break from work I figured maybe it would be fun to hook my Pi Zero up to a waterproof temperature sensor and drop the sensor into my aquarium.

A spot of research suggested this was a common use for a Pi, with almost everybody using the 1 Wire DS18B20 sensor. A bit of googling later found this sensor on eBay, waterproof and with a nice long cable. Sorted.

A very useful blog post is here,  much more detail is provided there, I used the sample python code almost verbatim for the reading of the temp, only adding a few config options and the ability to post to a MQTT broker.

Water Proof DS18B20-500x500I’ve pushed two versions of my code to GitHub here, one which publishes to an MQTT broker and the almost unchanged version of the code from the blog post linked above, which simply prints the temp (only in C in my version) to STDOUT.  The only modification I made was to enable the specification of the 1-Wire sensor device name via the ‘W1_DEVICE‘ environment variable. If you don’t provide that the code tries to figure it out, but then will only support a single sensor (I think!). If you have multiple sensors then just put the name of the device in the ‘W1_DEVICE‘ variable.

Other things of note.

I had to fiddle with the config.txt settings, they seem dependant on kernel version. For reference, on my Pi Zero I’m running this version:

Linux zero 4.1.13+ #826 PREEMPT Fri Nov 13 20:13:22 GMT 2015 armv6l GNU/Linux

My working config.txt settings:


I also created the file “/etc/modules-load.d/one-wire.conf” containing just these two lines:


This forces the module loader to load the 1 Wire GPIO module and the 1 Wire Thermometer sensor.

If you have troubles with my python code, the following bash, pasted into a terminal should work ok.


Now I had the temperature being published to my MQTT broker (Mosquitto), it was a simple matter to pull that off the bus using the Paho JavaScript MQTT client, and render out a little gauge using the excellent Highcharts JS charting library. A snapshot of the gauge can be seen up at the top of this blog post, – which is where I keep a bunch of my ‘data’ collection things.