Friday, 17 May 2013

Electrified Tea Leaves

So a few days ago I set you all a Mystery Object of the Week quiz, well today is the big reveal.

While there were some interesting guesses (thanks Adrian), no one got it right. It is in fact a static grass applicator -- an example of the grass can be seen to the left, and I've blogged about static grass in more detail on my railway modelling blog.

Essentially this specific applicator is the handle and electronics from a fly swatter with the swatting bit replaced by a tea strainer and a crocodile clip on the end of a wire. (it's easy to build although I bought mine from eBay) Pressing the button causes a static field to be setup between the tea strainer and the crocodile clip so when the grass fibres fall out of the tea strainer they align vertically to produce the grass. What you don't want to do, however, is let the crocodile clip and the tea strainer touch as the rather large amount of stored electricity, that would normally be used to kill a fly, gets released with a bang and a flash of light -- certainly something you don't want to get too close to!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Mystery Object Of The Week

It's been a while since I last did a mystery object of the week quiz (see here for the the previous objects) but I thought it might make a nice change from recent posts.

As before feel free to leave your guesses in the comments and in a few days I'll post the answer. Happy guessing!

Sunday, 12 May 2013


As I mentioned in the previous post, last weekend we spent a few days away staying in Grasmere in the Lake District. While we did have quite a bit of wet weather we were lucky in that we did manage a single dry day for a nice walk around Grasmere; the lake not the village.

At the south end of Grasmere you can easily get right down to the waters edge, which seemed the perfect place to play with automatic panorama option on the new camera. I'm not sure if the quality is quite as good as when manually stitching the photos together (you can take a lot more photos that way), but it certainly is much easier and quicker, with the advantage of instantly knowing if it worked or not.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Over The Road And Far Away

Last weekend we managed to have a short holiday in the Lake District (we stayed in Grasmere and there will likely be more post covering the actual holiday) which as well as being an excellent break from work meant we got to test out the new camera I talked about in the previous post.

After three days of heavy use we are both extremely happy with the camera, although there are still a bunch of features we haven't played with yet. The photo I picked to illustrate this post shows off the x30 optical zoom quite well. We heard the woodpecker well before I managed to spot him on the other side of the road a few yards into a small woodland. Not only did the zoom allow me to get a decent shot but the auto-focus didn't get too confused by all the overlapping branches either. And the GPS co-ordinates embedded in the photo are as accurate as you could hope for (within the 30m accuracy figure often quoted for commercial GPS systems).

All in all I'm happy enough with the camera that I'd certainly recommend it to other people.