January in France

Bonsoir Monsieur Macron

Decided to make a quick visit to France to catch up on jobs and make sure the house was surviving winter OK. All went well until we got south of Limoges when the Autoroute overhead signs started signally a problem at the junction we normally leave the A20.  We passed through our local toll peage and it was swarming with gendarmes and when we came off we were met by an equally large contingent of boys in blue.  We were turned back from the exit and sent further south on the A20 to the next exit to come north once again.   At first we thought this might be a ‘yellow vests’ protest but it later transpired that Monsieur Macron was holding a meeting with the regional mayors in our local town and the town was in lock down as a result.

Tado Thermostat System

The Tado thermostat system installed last time has worked really well.   I turned up the house temperature via GSM as we got off the ferry and we (finally after our Macron detour) arrived to a warm house without the usual standing around with our coats on while the wood burner thawed things out.   Lovely system and have now fitted three of these to family properties.

Wireless Tag Monitoring

Temperature here is around 5C with nights dropping negative.   I have fitted an 80W tubular heater inside the spa pump cabinet with a frost stat on it.   This is doing a good job in keeping the temperature around the pumps above 5C regardless of the outside temperature.   I have fitted one of the Wireless Tags inside the cabinet so I can monitor what is going on remotely.

Super Blood Wolf Moon

Woke up last night in the small hours and thought the outside security lights must be on it was so bright in the bedroom.  Looked out and it was like daylight from the moonlight.   Didn’t think anymore of it and went back to bed only to discover on this morning’s news that I had missed the lunar eclipse.   Having received a Philip’s 2019 Stargazing Guide for Christmas I really should have read it before the new season started.   That having been said it is way too bright to get the telescope out during this visit.  

Been a good trip so far with lots of ticks accomplished on my to do list so I might get some time to sit and catch up on my reading and writing before we head back next week.

Weather forecast is predicting snow ….

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It’s Horology but not as we know it Jim

If you visit any car boot sale / brocante /yard sale you will almost certainly come across old mechanical clocks that probably have a wonderful history if they could only speak.  Their previously loving owners have ‘passed on’ and the inheriting family probably don’t like the looks of the timepiece or just can’t be bothered to wind it up or it simply no longer works which is a big problem with a rapidly diminishing fraternity that know how to fix them.

Now what follows is going to disturb the purists so they should look away.

When I find a specimen that has some character or aspect that appeals to me and has no historic value I will offer the few coins being asked and give the clock a new life.  Not by repairing them in the true sense but by fitting a modern time code based radio locked mechanism.   Here in Europe we have DCF in Germany and MSF in the UK. DCF in particular has an astonishing geographic range for its signal.

The time code locked mechanisms are available from a number of sources and vary from a basic straightforward hours minutes seconds mechanism to ones with higher torque and some with a pendulum.   The pendulum is quite independent of the time keeping but does add character. As supplied the radio locked mechanisms require you to set the hands to either 12 o’clock if you are on European time or 11 o’clock if on GMT and then you pull out a locking pin on the rear of the mechanism and install an AA battery.   The mechanism will twitch momentarily and then the hands will start to rotate from the setting position to a set hour position and then hold until the mechanism gets an update from the radio signal.  Once locked to the radio signal the clock will be very very accurate.   You can check them against time.is and as would be expected they are spot on.  When clocks need to be seasonally change the mechanism  automatically updates.  When the battery dies you simply put a new one in and the clock resets itself to time.

I have modified many clocks in this way and gifted quite a few to friends and family.   I try wherever possible to retain the original hands and sometimes this involves a little lathe work to modify the mounting bosses.

There are two examples below including my latest find, an ex British Air Ministry office clock dated on the back as 1951.  I am quite pleased with how this one has cleaned up and it is now heading to France to hang in my workshop out there.

So next time you see an unloved traditional mechanical clock gathering dust give some thought to giving it a new lease of life.

dcf clock mechanism in traditional clock
1951 Air Ministry clock modified for DCF radio control
rear view of dcf clock mechanism in traditional clock
Rear view of ex Air Ministry clock showing new DCF radio controlled movement
example of DCF mechanism in a traditional clock case
Modified clock with DCF radio linked clock module

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Tormach Costing Sheet Update

Tormach changed their prices last year so I have updated the costing spreadsheet I created to reflect these changes. Note that the sheet now has the new M Series prices for the 770 and 1100.

Note that I believe I have interpreted their prices correctly but you can check this once you have placed a request for quotation and compare. Let me know if you spot any errors.


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Fusion 360 Speeds and Feeds

It has been a quiet period leading up to Christmas and it has lead to some low level activity catching up on items on the ‘Things to Do’ list.

One of these was to make a graphical representation of what the Fusion 360 Feeds and Speeds dialogue box means and the calculations behind it. To be honest this tab in the Fusion CAM section used to frighten me but I have become more confident with it. The problem is I can’t remember what each box affects so here is a visual representation which might help others. Note that the dialogue changes between a ramp into the stock (such as when cutting a pocket) and a plunge into the stock (such as when drilling).

I hope that makes sense and I have got it right. It certainly helps me to understand what is going on and the calculations going on in the background.

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tado° Update

The Tado system is now installed in France and it is working rather well.   I have installed the wireless thermostat in the downstairs entrance and this now controls the boiler via a relay control box next to the boiler.   The upstairs area now has its radstats set to less than half way open and we have also been able to turn the downstairs radiators down.

We now have a much more balanced temperature throughout the house and don’t go to bed freezing cold.   Now the fabric of the building has got up to a uniform temperature the boiler seems to be firing less.   Having the smartphone application for remote operation is an additional bonus.  Very pleased with the result.  Nice kit.

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