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Keeping busy #1

Something that I am working on is trying to set up the majority of the land so that I can do a pass with Big Mower to get it in order. Unfortunately big mower likes grass that's under a couple of inches tall... and in some places the grass around here is a couple of feet tall (if you think in metric, that's "pretty short" vs "you could lose a cat in there"). I plan to take Some Pig (walkie-mower) only for edges, ditches, and stuff the other cannot do.

So yesterday East (Picnic) Lawn was expanded, going back towards towards the field, and cutting under Epic Willow. It's a bit of a surreal wilderness in there, actually, but I can't go further in as I have a dim recollection of there being a stone-lined pathway. Well, it was a good idea a quarter century ago when all those other trees were but twigs, and the trunk of the weeping Willow barely as thick as a fist.

Today's task was to extend the area along the field barn, and to tame the part alongside the crop. I've already taken the big mower over part of this, but it wasn't happy with the height. So I needed to cut it down and then go over it with the biggie. I suspect that, like the edge of the Western Wilderness, it'll take a few cuttings to get this into shape. I rather imagine there's a fair amount that was simply flattened down.
This land is awful. Farmer neighbour ploughed through half of it one year (leading mom to serve him with a legal paper pointing out that not only is it unacceptable to encroach like that, but actually all of that area back there is our land including the field that you are cultivating, so obey the simple rule of respecting the boundary, or cease all use of said land. That... mostly got the message though. Which is quite something for a farmer. I guess he gets a useful subsidy for the crop on that land. ☺
Anyway, there are ridges and ruts as a result of having once been ploughed. So it's wise to pass on that part at slowest speed. Oh, and two holes in the ground. I marked them with bits of fallen wood so I could see them. All in all, it makes mowing there somewhat challenging. Still, I guess if it was a simple back and forth, well, there'd be no fun in that would there?

This means that with the exception of the orchard (lost to nature a decade ago, I'm not even going to bother...), the bit behind the piggery (to the immediate right of the above picture) that's a mess of twisted brambles, and the front half of the veg patch (has a lot of bits of blackthorn root at ground level), it's mostly done. Sure, there's always more to do, but the big majority now has been prepared for a simpler quicker pass.
I'd pop a cork, if I could tolerate alcohol. But I can't, so I guess I'll put the kettle on and enjoy a celebratory tea.



Big mower is a medium sized reddish object. Therefore, it will henceforth be known as Marte (say like mar-tay). It's the Spanish word for Mars (the celestial medium sized reddish object).


Keeping busy #2

I was rummaging the other day and I discovered another breadmaker. I dimly recall picking this one up for a fiver several years ago. Since then, it has sat patiently on the wood pile out back (why there?! I have no idea!) coping with dampness and fog and alsorts until today when I discovered it and cleaned it up.

It sounded as if something was rattling around inside. So I guess I ought to crack it open and check. Well, I was going to anyway. This is just an excuse to "justify" it. ☺

The lid wasn't quite as easy to remove as the other bread maker. Here, I had to remove four screws to remove the metal shield, and then another two to remove the hinge assembly. Then the lid could be removed.

There were three screws holding the top of the casing, with three snap-in covers. Unfortunately poking it with my knife didn't yield any results, and since I planned on keeping all of my fingers, I took a simpler approach. I sunk a self-tapping screw into each of them and pulled them out by tugging on the screw with a pair of pliers. It'll leave a hole in the covers, but I'm not bothered about that.

The top was held on still, by clips around the edges. A firm thump on the back and a flat screwdriver to wedge it open, it opened up rapidly to reveal...

...something that for all the world looks like a smaller version of the big breadmaker, right down to the placement of the motor and electrical board. I swear these things are all based upon the same basic design mass produced in some factory in China. This particular model, the XMB1008, is labelled "Parsons PI553 XBM1008" on the back, and stamped "Bruneau" (the underline to imply "brown water"?), and a quick Google search indicates it can appear under various other brands such as Robulux, Daxon, Safiex, Somotec, and possibly Kenwood.

Here is the processor board:

It's "old enough" (datestamped 19th November 2005) to contain a microcontroller that's an actual chip with legs rather than a surface mount gizmo. Or, perhaps, it's cheap enough not to be built using surface mount components. Notice also that it's a single sided circuit board. The microcontroller here is a Samsung S3F94548 microcontroller based...just like the other breadmaker, on a reduced version of the SAM87 core (along with some RAM, Flash, I/O, ADC, etc etc). Another SAM8x chip. I swear these things are just mass produced. Either that, or somebody somewhere once wrote a breadmaker controller program and everybody since then has simply copy-pasted the code into their own clones (so they're stuck with the Samsung core 'cos that's what it is written for). Could also explain why no 8051 clone, or any sort of ARM...
You'll notice that the UI is painfully simple. Five LEDs on the left (for Normal, Wholewheat, Quick, Dough, Bake (clockwise from top)) and four on the right (they light up in turn).

The clock is a odd little blue thing providing 4.19MHz. This, at actually 4,194,304Hz (or close to it) is sometimes used as a high frequency clock source instead of the regular 32.768kHz. Divide by two 22 times and you'll get a tick every second. About 4MHz is a comfortable speed for the processor core (the internal oscillator runs at 3.2MHz and external can go up to 10MHz, typically ~4MHz). There will be a timer running off of this, and a certain number of ticks will represent... does it count in units of seconds? Hard to tell without looking at the source code, however I rather doubt that it needs much more accuracy than that.

There are also standard transistors. The S8050 NPN and 9015C PNP parts. Standard resistors and diodes - I could build this sort of thing myself if it were in kit form. Probably take about an hour for all the electronics, and another hour for the mechanics. Hmmm, build your own bread maker. I wonder why nobody has ever tried something like that?

I had to pick up everything and carry it into the hangar (where Felicity is parked) because it started to rain. Oh well, the grass will be twice it's current size come tomorrow...

I never did find anything inside. No idea what the sound was. Maybe it fell out when I was trying to get it open? No big. At least there's nothing rattling around in there.


Keeping busy #3

Since I was around back, I decided to sort out Felicity's wipers. The front wiper had come apart several centimetres at each end, and the rear one wasn't in terribly good shape.
I picked up a 47cm wiper for a Ford Ka/Fiesta/Focus in the supermarket a while back. Turns out, it's about 5cm shorter than the current wiper. Not a big deal, it'll cover more window area than a broken one... if it manages to actually wipe competently and not miss bits, that'll be an improvement. Fitting it was dead simple. Wipers just click into place. I'm old enough to remember when that wasn't the case, when cars had all sorts of weird custom fittings so you had to buy a special compatible wiper, or a generic with a load of little widgets to fit all those special fittings.

I'll have to remember for the future, I can easily go to 52-55cm wiper length.

As for the back wiper, well, I basically lopped off each end of the front wiper so it fit the back, and stuck it in there. The middle of the old front wiper is arguably better than the original back one. I've left the old back wiper in the boot in case reality should prove to be difficult.


Well, I planned to watch a film tonight, but after writing this and uploading it, it'll have gone quarter past ten. I guess I ought to go for a short walk (my back is sore) and then head to bed... Still, it was a varied and interesting day. The good thing about this lockdown is that I have some time to tend to the garden, and can drive to work peacefully with few others on the roads. Well, that will be over as of Monday. The roads at least. We're all still on three day weeks as the restaurants and hotels are staying closed, however... provided there's no big second wave... it's possible that bars and restaurants will be able to reopen in June.



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David Pilling, 10th May 2020, 02:18
You're lucky to have all that grass to cut (seriously, it is space) - here busy reading how to harvest yeast from the environment - flour too - grass seed... MSM has not covered baking boom as much as they might.

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