Reflecting on 2018

Looking back on 2018 it has been a particularly busy year. January started with the launch of “A Little Saw”, a book to help you pick the right cutting tool for your project. The book has sold a few copies and I can see that people have been reading it on Kindle too. There have been mixed reviews and those have certainly given me thought for future books. I did start some work on a book on making holes but that is far from complete. It would be good to crack through that in 2019. Ford who inspired my first book seems to have finished writing his but it’s not at the publisher yet. So I may beat him to a second book. There’s also been some interest in a poster form of “A Little Saw” and I have been looking into how to get that made.

A Little Saw: A Workshopshed Guide to Cutting Tools

Also in January I completed a new PSTOIC medal I don’t spend a lot of time on these but do have a lot of fun making them. Have some ideas for 2019.

February saw the first of two Project14 wins with the Babbages Baggage.

Also in February the 3rd of my HackSpace magazine articles was published, the Grinder Box. Although one of my simplest projects it got me familiar with Fusion360 and has also proved quite useful.

In March I started on a simple “Fizz Buzz” project with the Trinket M0. That project was abandoned after I had trouble with the I2C LCD. Now that I’m more familar with the protocol I may revisit this and there’s also been some firmware updates this year so I may no longer have a problem.

March was also my first interview of the year. Kisha from Girls with Drills explained how their project was helping people gain confidence with the help of DIY skills.

April had some more challenges with the Trinket M0. It was not resetting correctly on power-up. Luckily I found a work around which meant that I could complete another article for HackSpace. This project also got me experimenting with EL wire and I used those to create a mixed media badge for the Makers Central Show. The idea was to showcase all of my different skills and also to let people know who I was.

Despite terrible trouble with the trains upto Birmingham I managed to see a lot of different things at Makers Central. I also managed to meet some makers and contacts I knew from Twitter. Unfortunately Makers Central clashed with the first Guild of Makers event (and I’d bought tickets way back) but I did manage to meet up with Dr Lucy Rogers and some makers at the amazing “Gods Own Junkyard“.

The HackSpace Sign project was also published in May, the EL wire and Trinket M0 project that had caused me trouble the month before.

May also saw the start of the Jumbo Servo project which was to be part of a bigger project later in the year.

In June was invited to London Linuxing to give a talk on “People Watching” using the Google AIY kit which formed part of that same bigger project. A second talk later at the month at the British Computer Society Open Source Group looked at the Jumbo Servo and it’s I2C protocol. For that I built a test rig.

At the end of June, I met up with Ross Atkin from Crafty Robot he introduced me to some great makers and his latest project, the Smartibot. To help promote the Smartibot I made a stainless steel unicorn and plugged it into his hardware and software. One important lesson learnt from that is that stainless steel is a lot heavier than cardboard and hence my robot was a bit front heavy. June also so a runner up prize in Project14 for the Music box from HackSpace #2.

In July I got to meet yet more makers, comics and the great team fron RS/DesignSpark at History Makers, a comedy podcast about the history of some of the great bits of tech. One of those “Hedy Lamar” I then watched a documentary about on a flight to the US for work.

August saw more work on the Jumbo servo, a holiday and a trip to a water mill I resisted the temptation to buy it though as it was a couple of million pounds! I also tried my hand at drill sharpening although I do need a bit more practice or perhaps a better setup.

The jumbo servo won a Project14 prize in the Movers and Shakers category.

September saw another interview, this time with Rob from Active Hands his company are making assistive technology to help people grip. Also some parcels arrived through the door, the first some drills to review from Dormer Pramet, the second from Alfred Chow – Maker of things. I had some good fun reviewing his “Surprise Maker Parcel” but I’ve still not found a use for all of the items.

September also saw the start of a collaboration with “The Kuriologist” a sculptor from Cornwall. He sent me a parcel containing some skulls and a cornish pasty. I put the skulls to good use as an interactive candy bowl using some LEDs, large gems and yet another Adafruit board, the Gemma M0. That project was published up in October. I’m really not sure what to do with a paper mache cornish pasty!

The first weekend in October saw an upcycling project from my wife Rebecca. She reupholstered our kitchen chairs using some left over foam and some curtains. They now look a lot smarter and also are a lot more comfortable. She’s also done some other projects this year so perhaps we might be seeing more of her skills in 2019?

In October I took on two different projects for HackSpace, a Knife Switch and a Router Tray. These were quite different projects with the knife switch being metal, plastic and electronics but the tray being a simple woodworking project. These were both published in HackSpace #13 in December.

Another surprise article was one on casting using 3D patterns that was actually written some time back but was published in Model Engineer’s Workshop autumn special.

In November I started on a project with the Azure Sphere. This new board from Microsoft promises to be a more secure platform for your IOT projects. The SDK is still in Beta and lacked some of the functions I needed for my project so I ended up writing a low level I2C library for the Azure Sphere. I’m not sure that project will be completed in it’s current guise but it has morphed into a new project which will be published in the New Year.

November was also the month for repairs, I fixed the shower with small block of aluminium milled out on the drill press. I also fixed the washing machine with a replacement part and some online videos.

December saw a guest post from Russ who’s been making hexagonal holes with a router a big thanks to Russ for sharing that. I also had a work trip to California and managed to visit a steam locomotive.

Guest Posts

I guest posted on a couple of blogs this year. Money making blogger Lylia Rose wanted to know how I monetize the blog so I shared my thoughts in September. I also shared some of my shed maintenance tips with Waltons Sheds early in May.

Thanks

Although Workshopshed is a one man band, I don’t managed to achieve all this on my own. A big thanks to my wife and daughter for putting up with my mess, late hours and also providing inspiration. Thanks to friends and makers for providing interviews, articles, motivation and feedback.

Thanks to HackSpace and MEW for their support and inspiration for projects.

Finally, thanks to the site sponsors who this year included Cordless Drill Zone, Baileigh Industrial, Go Paint Sprayer, Drill Press Guide, Dormer Pramet, and Storage King. The website would not exist without these sponsors and the projects certainly would not be as interesting.

Website

The website hosting is provided by 2020 Media who did an excellent job with hosting and domains, again this year. Last year I started getting problems with quotas and even had spammers stealing by bandwidth. This year because of the large number of photos I have on the site I started hitting my limits again. 2020 Media recommended I swapped to a content delivery network. This has two benefits, firstly it acts as a cache for those photos so that the bandwidth used by the site is much less. Secondly, it means that users in places like the USA are getting local copies of the files which should be a lot faster. 2020 Media made the upgrade so easy and the site has seen major benefits.

Next Year

Looking back on 2018, I’m thinking that 2019 should be more of the same. A mix of simple and challenging projects.

I’ll definitely be looking out some more makers and hope to visit the two London hackspaces. I really hope to attend the Guild of Makers event in 2019 as there are some people I’d like to see.

Storage is a continual challenge for the Workshopshed, I’ve got some materials and now have the tools to ensure a bench upgrade can be completed. That should free up some floor space and some of the more cluttered shelves. Also, I’m looking into how I can house my 3D printer in the Workshopshed. I’d like it to be available for printing anytime but also protected from damp. So I’ve completed some ideas to help with that but not yet put them into action as I need some space first.

Perhaps 2019 will be the year I finally get that Stirling Engine done?

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