Optical sensors, oh my

Everytime I think of fixing stuff I always have the Elbow lyrics of “The fix is in” going through my head. That song is all about rigging a horse race which has nothing to do with me finally installing a pair of optical sensors to stop me breaking my garage doors.

This is the clever bit that sends out some sort of optical signal or a ‘frickin laser beam’ or something
This is the equally clever bit that does some sort of crazy reflecting it all over the place in a scattery way.

I thought it was going to be really, really difficult to have the signal reflected back to the transmitter/receiver. As it turns out it was super easy. I think if the reflector had been a mirror then yeah…mega tough – but since it has that weird reflector type layout it turns out that you have to put it in roughly the right area and then you’re golden.

The ongoing search for perfect pasta

It’s all kicking off in the Steele household on the pasta stakes. First we added a little semolina to our mix, then we let the KitchenAid food mixer (flex) do most of the heavy lifting when it came to kneading the dough and then Amelia finished off the kneading by hand. We then made use of our new funky pasta holder upper thing to complete the trifecta of pasta making improvements.

The finished result was lush!

Ooops I [ nearly ] did it again

Those of you paying attention will remember that I managed to crash my garage door onto my car and that I planned to get some sensors installed. Well, annoyingly the sensors haven’t arrived yet but I managed to crash my garage door into a ceramic pot. So, it’s a step up from bashing my car in but ho hum.

Fortunately this time the white plastic things didn’t snap, they just cracked a little and made a little plasticcy bit flap around a bit which caused some issues. So, in my usual over-engineered approach I fixed it with some masking tape.

Sensors arriving tomorrow, they’ll be installed this weekend and you my dear reader will hopefully never hear more tales of door smashing plastic bits.

Just Josh

This is Joshua Wong. He’s a political activist in Hong Kong. I don’t know him.

This is Joshua Ong. He’s a geek living in London and one of my very dear friends. Unfortunately, I do know him.

He bought me this for Christmas. Now I have to go out and buy the real thing to put in my garage and hopefully not close the garage door on the bonnet.

This is why I say [ very much tongue in cheek ] that it is unfortunate that I know him.

Fresh Pasta

We moved from dry tagliatelle to fresh tagliatelle a while ago and the difference is pretty epic. So inspired by some Saturday morning kitchen cookery type programme making their own pasta, I decided Amelia and I should have a crack at it. We got the pasta machine as a Christmas prezzie from Granddad John and Amelia/Emma bought me the 00 flour used for making pasta…and off we went

00 Flour waiting for our eggs
Making the dough is a bit messy
But we ended up with something resembling Jaz

After a 30 minute chilling session in the fridge the fun part began

Once again, and I cannot stress this enough, cooking without wine is positively barbaric. It’s a crime against culinary pursuits and humanity in general.
We had to fashion a pasta drying rack out of stuff we had lying around in the kitchen. We’ve since purchased a proper drying rack but it hasn’t arrived yet.

On the whole our first tagliatelle making experience was an immensely positive one. We loved it. But we messed up. We ran the tagliatelle through the pasta machine until it was about the thickness of fresh tagliatelle – which was about two notches away from being the thinnest setting on the machine. This was a mistake. As soon as we started boiling the tagliatelle it swelled up massively and was pretty thick – kinda ending up like Udon noodles. They tasted fantastic, but just a bit thick. So next time we do tagliatelle [ we’ve done several batches of spaghetti since, but no tagliatelle ] we’ll be sure to run them through the machine on the thinnest setting.

Coming home to roost

For a long time now I’ve had an item on my todo list which is to make my garage doors more intelligent. Add a raspberry-pi into the mix so that I can send the doors up and down using my phone. Put a bit of computer vision in there so that the doors wont close/stop closing if an object is detected in the path…but I didn’t do it. It was a big job and little jobs always took precedent. That was a bit of a mistake.

I was reversing the car back into the garage after doing some shelf painting work [ more on that later ] when I heard an oddly familiar whirring noise. It took a second or two to locate the source of the noise. It was the garage door coming down whilst I was halfway through the door in the car. Like a complete idiot I had the remote control for the door in my pocket and as I’d been turning around to check I wasn’t going to run over my newly painted shelves I’d accidentally triggered the down button.

Annoyingly I was wearing about four layers and had no idea which pocket I’d put the controls in so that I could send the door back up. I was rapidly patting all of my pockets trying to find it and quickly gave up on that plan. I then jammed the car into reverse and shot backwards, but then equally quickly jammed the brakes on worrying that I was going to crash into something. By now time ran out. The door made contact with the bonnet and the motor continued whirring. It pressed harder and harder and various things started whining and squealing before eventually the whiny squealiness became cracking and snappiness.

The white bit on the shaft used to be attached to the white bit on the door.

In fact, all three of the white bits on the shaft used to be attached to the white bits on the door.

Fortunately Emma was home as I was stuck in the garage. I called her, she came to my rescue. We lifted the door off the car and I gingerly reversed it into the garage. We lowered the broken door to the ground and inspected the car. There were a few light scratches, fortunately the bottom of the door has a rubber seal so that protected the car. I’ve since T-Cut’d the car and polished it and it’s looking alright again.

I had a go at fixing the door. Took some links out and the door went up and down like a dream – right up until the point that the door didn’t realise I’d taken the links out and smashed into the floor and broke all three links again – yeah, that was a great day – I hardly swore at all.

Alan, the chap who built the garage in the first place, came over. Fixed it in about five minutes, readjusted all the settings that I’d thrown out by turning the shaft around by hand, drank a beer and then left again.

I’ve since been in contact with the manufacturer of the garage doors and I’m currently trying to get my hands on some sensors that detect if there is an obstacle…if I can’t then I’m definitely going to be putting a raspberry pi in place.


We’re having the garage that’s part of the house turned into another room since we now have a big garage out back. So naturally I have to clean it out and there are these truly massive metal shelf units. They were going to be sent to the metal recycling at the tip but then I realised I could relatively easily turn them into staging for my newly erected greenhouse.

The first order of business was to chop the massive shelf posts in half…
Then clean them up…
This was the slave labour session that resulted in Amelia getting paint onto her juvie [ juvenile detention centre ] clothes. They seemed to enjoy themselves though
Here we see Oli earning his pocket money by using an orbital sander to take 20+ years of garage grime off the shelf so that we can paint it. This is the second set of shelves we are working on, which will bring the total to four staging units and a full greenhouse. We’ll have two going spare!
With Charlie doing a fine job of supervising

There’s nothing quite like a nice leg painting session with a cup of tea followed by a cheeky glass/bottle of red. I mean, upcycling without wine is positively barbaric.

The first shelf unit has now been turned into two full on fantastic bits of greenhouse staging. Metal shelves with several coats of radiator paint. I reckon these shelves will be in my grand-children’s greenhouse one day.

A close up of the exquisite finish

… in with the new

So we bought a new trampoline….a bigger one….a truly massive thing – it’s gotta be seen to be believed

These are some of the boxes it came in, being closely watched by a pheasant that just decided to hang out on top of my gates

This is some serious steel tubing. I built it, then I took it apart, then I built it again, then I took it apart again. Then I chatted with the help desk and took it even more apart and then built it all again. To say that a few swear words came out of my mouth would be an understatement. If it were flammable I probably would have just set fire to the whole thing. I think the design has some issues…..or maybe they should just try writing the fucking manual in English rather than using those ridiculous drawings that are intended to explain the build procedure to every human on the planet but instead leave you scratching your head about why some cartoon character is specifically being told not to eat a slice of cake.

Over a grand for a trampoline and they can’t be arsed translating the build instructions.

You can’t really tell, but it’s truly massive

Those bushes to the left are about 7ft high

Out with the old…

Amelia loves her trampoline, adores it. It’s pretty much the only thing she’s ever asked for – and it’s never been quite the same since a gale blew it across the garden. So when it moved past being ugly and into simply being an eyesore we took it down. To be fair summertime was coming to an end and we planned to buy a new one but it was very, very satisfying to take it apart and get rid of it.

Not terribly pretty

A quick mow later and it’s looking much better. I’ve since put grass seed down and you can barely tell it was ever there.

Walking in the countryside

It was a beautiful day and Charlie was over to visit so we thought we’d get a little exercise with a walk in the countryside. We came across a tree and the boys got stuck in

Look at me manfully holding up the branch that Charlie is on with just one hand!

After our walk across the fields we had a quick drink in The Plough. The wasps were out in full force and I discovered that Oliver and Charlie are a pair of wasp-wusses. Running around screaming like little girls!