Freesteel Blog » Wind, wet and machining

Wind, wet and machining

Saturday, April 12th, 2014 at 9:43 pm Written by:

What’s a blog post if it makes any sense the next year? It usually doesn’t when I go back over them to look up an important piece of information, like the date when something happened. I do have a separate logbook for the flying and things like that. Blogs don’t seem to work. Too whimsical and public and I tend to leave out names.

On Wednesday I took the DoESLiverpool intern down to Mach2014 as he is a mechanical engineering student when he’s home in Italy.

Lots of whizzy cutting machines and mechanical gadgets, mixed in with generally unfriendly software companies who deserve to be left for dust when the far more efficient open source methodology finally moves into this sector and the programmers can talk to one other freely and discover how to get things done. The best ideas can never all be inside one company. (You can forget about ideas that are the combinations of many other ideas). It’s just a question of persuading the market to raise X dollars for the programmers to do the work, rather than handing over 100 times X dollars to companies who own the dead capital and mismanage the software development process with their layers of management and high level strategy thinkers who have grown too lazy to do any programming themselves, yet still believe they have something to contribute.

You know the saying: “All politics is local”? Well, I’m beginning to believe that All programming is low-level. You either understand the software, or you don’t. There is no high level structure that you can be involved in without knowing about the code. Take, for example, another branch of engineering. It’s self-evidently ridiculous that you could have anything to say about the shape of the skyline of a petrochemical refinery if you have no idea about what the chemicals are doing, and what needs to be mixed with what. Is it unique to software that people who don’t program want to be in charge of the design? The one thing we do need from managers are specific performance targets to keep us from making excuses. Something like: “If I’ve got a 32 core machine, I want it to run 32 times faster on this example. Is there a theoretical reason why I can’t have that?”

Anyway, the picture on the left is a set of printed titanium parts for a bicycle frame that no one dared ride. The one on the right is of a mini-machine tool with a huge toolchanger system. There are no plans for a toolchanger on our triangular machine. I wonder if we’ll discover that this is a problem.

I spent all Friday at Llangollen for a 12 minute flight down the hill where I only barely cleared the fence into the landing field having taken an extra turn to bleed off height when I was stupid enough to think that I was going to overshoot. Something wrong with my judgement here. The guy I drove down with reckons the half-life for hang-gliding skills must be 6 months. Got a lift back to the top, set up again, then the wind changed, and we watched three paragliders soaring up to the clouds while we were grounded in a light, cold easterly cross-wind. Humph.

Time for something new. A month after seeing kitesurfing on the Wirral on a bike-ride with Francis, Becka and I were having a 4 hour lesson with a surfer dude in the same place near New Brighton.

This would have been last week, but after we’d got up at 6:30am, caught the train to Birkenhead where it broke down, and then cycled at a mad rush to the north coast through the morning rain, we met the man in the van who said there was not enough wind. He gave us a lift back over the water, and got the message that we were keen.

Still, compared to anything else I’ve tried to do, this is very close to instant gratification. We were kite body-dragging through the waves by the end of the fifth hour of the lesson. What a long day.

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