The Chard…

It all started so innocently – easy to grow and attractive with its colourful stems – you could even try and eat it if you were brave. Little did I know that it would seed itself so deeply within the compost heap that it would take over the whole veg patch and the neighbouring flower bed for years to come…


T4 Transforming Solar Robot

A fun little project this, that has happily wasted an hour this afternoon.


The kit is very nicely moulded and the instructions are very clear. Tamiya themselves would be proud. To say it is “transforming” is a bit misleading – there are actually four different models that can be built from the parts, you can’t transform from one thing to another like Optimus Prime.


Me and my son went for the Rhino Beetle model. He cut out about four pieces before he got distracted, I had to do the rest. It helps that I have a very good pair of Tamiya flush cutters as there are lots of parts to be cut from the sprue and you need to be precise.


The solar panel attaches to a tiny motor that drives a gearbox with a lot of reduction. It works, as you can see from the video – but it would need a lot of direct sunlight to run. The instructions suggest that it will run under a 50w halogen bulb, and it does – when it is a few inches away from it!

Roll on the British summer so I can give it a proper test run in the garden…

Inside a Casio WV-200U…

This is my watch. Supposedly waterproof to 200m. Didn’t survive a week in the swimming pool on holiday though – but that might be because I changed the battery myself and the seal may not have been as good as it was when it came out of the factory.

Casio WV-200U

I can’t really say much about the internals, but as you can see the circuit board is separate from the screen; there is a rubber seal that goes around the back; and although the screen guard is removable, the watch face itself seems to be glued in place and can’t be removed (easily). I was also intrigued to find that the beeps are made by vibrating the metal back of the case – you can’t hear them when the watch is apart.

The good news is that after a couple attempts at drying it out (in the end, I used a hot air gun on a low setting), the watch works again, although I think the battery suffered as it doesn’t like to illuminate very often. I’ve had a fair few troubles with the battery in this watch so it is no great surprise that it is being temperamental again!

Perhaps this photo will be of use to someone?


Inside a DeLonghi BAR14F-E Caffe Treviso coffee machine…

It’s really a lot simpler than I expected – a pump and a boiler. The pump (to the bottom right under the pipes) fills the boiler with water and (I suspect) the hot overflow goes down into the cup. Steam is released from the top of the boiler with a valve. And that’s it. The water is directed through a mesh screen in an attempt to spread it more evenly. But even this simple machine creates the treasured “crema”.

Inside a DeLonghi coffee machine

Getting it to this stage was pretty easy with the help of a T20 screwdriver, a Phillips screwdriver and a knife to help prise the decorative caps from the top. The steam knob prises off with a flat screwdriver, and there is a clip at the back holding the lid in place. I’ve resisted the temptation to take the boiler apart to clean it, I’m just running vinegary water through it instead. Seems to have made a difference to the water flow already!