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Motors - Felicity

I went to the mechanic yesterday at 2pm as scheduled, only for him to think that it needed a simple drive belt change.
Uh, no.
He didn't have time for the sort of work that it needs to change the part that I have.

So I have tentatively booked it in for 9am on Tuesday 7th April, and asked for the day off work. Hopefully I'll get a response soon enough that I can cancel if need be.

He expects me to drop off the car and leave it there for the day.
Uh, no.
Not only do I not have anybody who can pick me up, anybody who did would be risking a fine of €136 and a police caution...because "picking up a friend who's getting his car fixed" is not a suitable reason for going out in the middle of a lockdown. I can go out (going to the mechanic is an acceptable reason), but they can't get me. It's the same logic that if mom was still alive I would be unable to work - I can go to work, but mom wouldn't have the justification to take me.

So I'll turn up on Tuesday, assuming I get the day off, with a folding chair and a book. What other choice do I have? It's not as if I can go walk into town and grab a drink in the bar...

...for a mechanic who has locked his gate and set up "by appointment only", I'm rather surprised he isn't aware of these issues.


Motor - mower

Still guzzles petrol. Still as unwilling as ever to actually start, but once it gets going it is a suitably powerful motor to cut the grass and carry my fat ass around.

I went over the part that I had already done, could do that at speed #2. The bit in the middle that was the drainage? I sorted that by going criss-cross over it.

You can see I went a little further up this time.
Then to the end of what you can see here and to the left, to start to tackle the part alongside the back field. The mower did surprisingly well considering it was a mixture of lush grass, bramble, and nettles. I had to stay well clear of the edge because...let's just say that the farmer was never too careful, or observant, of the edge of the field. There's a deep rut, and stones everywhere as he spent years ploughing in a way that pushed large stones to the edge.
Of course, when crop was sprayed over the edge and later the combine harvester tried to collect it and kept whacking its spinning thing on hidden large stones (driving the guy nuts as it risked breaking it), he came and shouted at us. Mom told him to go and shout at the guy that ploughs the field, for it wasn't us that dumped all the stones there.
It's a problem for the walk-behind mower, it's a problem for havesters, and it'd be a problem for the ride-on. I might take the walk-mower up, and if it's too much of a pain in the ass, just leave it to grow wild.

The final task was a quick swing through the bottom of the "potager", or veg plot. Not that we ever used it to grow veg. It's more a garden area with trees and stuff, nice if it's a hot summer.

You might be able to see that the apple tree has snapped and fallen. Well, not a big problem, that apple grew to be quite large but never managed to provide decent apples. It always seemed... I dunno... unwell.
I'll need to charge the electric saw gizmo so I can cut it down to a manageable size for moving before the brambles notice.


Motor - bread maker

I thought I'd try making some bread. Don't know why, I just felt like it. Now, I have rarely had success with a bread maker, the result usually comes out as a heavy stodgy brick that is only rescued by the addition of copious amounts of butter.

I suspect today will be no exception. The bread maker, grumbled and groaned right up until near the end of the final kneading, at which point the mechanism froze.
I whipped out the pan and got it unstuck by turning with a screwdriver, at which point I noted the second paddle wasn't turning. Drivebelt? I don't know. I whipped out the two paddles and let it run for another minute before going into the second proofing cycle.

I was planning to upload this around 5pm. I got sidetracked, and the next thing I know I had the breadmaker in pieces.

It was, actually, ridiculous getting to the drive mechanism. I basically had to strip the machine. Okay, it was only 14 screws (five on the outer shell, two on the PSU board, one holding the cable, and six holding the insides in place) but still...

Here's the problem:

I think the jamming was due to the frayed bits of string. I unpicked them, and since the belts were actually still intact, I rethreaded them into place.

I used one of the bits of string to measure the belts. About 8mm wide, toothed at an interval of 3mm. The primary belt appears to be 52cm, the secondary belt 42cm. I've ordered replacements from Amazon (519mm and 420mm respectively) which they estimate will arrive (likely from China) in mid May. Assuming I'm still alive and the world hasn't in fact ended.

The machine may still limp along with the current belts, and I don't use it much. It'll be a nice surprise when they arrive, because by mid May I'll have completely forgotten about this. ☺

Since I was there...

The power control board. A big black relay for the heater element (I think it's about 800W?), a yellow relay for the motor. And beside that, you can see the bridge rectifier (four diodes). There is a small transformer mounted under the board. That with the rectifier, and the capacitor alongside, will be providing the low voltage DC to the controller board.

Speaking of which:

The IC in the middle is a Samsung 3F9454B which is an 8 bit CMOS microcontroller featuring the SAM88RCRI processor (a reduced version of the SAM87 core), 4KiB ROM, and 208 bytes of RAM. There's an 8 bit counter, four IRQs, a 10 bit ADC with up to nine input channels, and an 8 bit PWM output. As well as the usual selection of digital I/O pins.
Interestingly, the 'F' version of the chip (as is used here) has onboard flash rather than mask ROM so in theory it could be reprogrammed.

The other side of the board:

The IC on the upper right is an HT74164, an 8 bit serial input parallel output shift register. This is undoubtably how the MCU talks to the LCD, simply spit out serial data and use this to make it parallel to then activate the appropriate parts of the LCD.

The end result? Given all that I went through, the bread was... actually pretty good for a bread maker. Potentially the best I've ever made. So I guess the moral here is "the machine must suffer in order to make good bread"?

I sliced it, toasted it, covered it in butter. And, in the time it's taken to write this, has been consumed.

I'm not entirely sure it's been worth three hours of cooking and taking the machine apart, but, hey, it wasn't as if I had anything else planned for today.


Johnson tests positive

Am I the only person who isn't the slightest bit surprised? The government tells people to practice "social distancing", and then he leads by example going to the Commons where people all sit together, and let's not forget the hundred odd obligatory handshakes.

The funny part (yes, there's a funny part) was Cummings being photographed running away from Number 10. I hope he was running to a hospital to steal a ventilator for Johnson, because if he thinks he ws running because "oh god plague" then...yeah...waaay too late.

Of course, in the midst of this, the government is still trying to keep Brexit relevant. Perhaps somebody ought to point out that it's only stupid delusional fools that still believe in persuing Brexit right now. Well, it has been that for about a year, but somehow whether or not the UK rests within the political realm of Europe seems somehow utterly unimportant when the country is shutting itself down, and everything is is danger of going to hell in a hurry. I mean, if they don't live under the same roof, you can't go and hug your parents or your children, so honestly who gives a toss about Brexit right now?


I notice, also, that in the middle of all of this, the ratings agency Fitch has downgraded the UK to the somewhat arbitrary "AA-". First of all, why are there two steps (+ and -) between "AA" and "AAA"? What's wrong with a simple A-F or something? Countries seem to want to reach for an "AAA" as if it's Michelin stars.
Secondly, this makes you, Fitch, seem like a bunch of bastards. Yes, countries will suffer a financial shock due to the current situation but it does seem like most decent countries are trying to pull out all the stops to protect their populace.
Would you rather countries mess up their GDP and sovereign debt to cushion the shock of a mandatory shutdown, or would you prefer to risk tens of millions unemployed, bankruptcies and repossessions on an unprecedented scale, and potentionally tens or hundreds of thousands of families made homeless, not to mention huge numbers of businesses shutting down for good? Do you think that would be better for an economy?

We're already at a point where things won't be the same after as before, but it's now to be measured in degrees of how bad.
Given that this isn't stupidity, reckless borrowing, or fraud - this is a natural event - then it is only right that governments look to bend (or break if necessary) the rules for the wellbeing of their citizens.

So before anybody else gets a financial downgrade, it might be worth the banking sector taking a step back, trying to see this beyond the next quarter balance sheet, and remembering who it was that ultimately bore the cost of the various financial cock-ups over the past decade. Yeah, us little people.


To end on a better note than that...

Been watching marathoning the new Netflix series A Letter For The King. It's quite good. Watched the first three episodes last night. Did start the fourth but was so tired I fell asleep. Just when I was getting interesting!
Tonight, I'll finish it off. Like, actually, now, once I've uploaded this.



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David Pilling, 29th March 2020, 03:25
Did you ever try a metal detector - ploughs always turning up hoards. 
Judging by the lack of flour and yeast, UK is a nation of expert bread makers. 
Financial world does not run on sentiment. The crisis will make multimillionaires out of people selling equipment that does not even exist. 
Good luck with the mechanic - normally you could watch, learn how to do it, trigger the hate being watched response and offer helpful advice. 

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