heyrick1973 -at- yahoo -dot- co -dot uk

Vide Grenier #54

What is there to do on a Sunday in rural France?

Set fire to speed cameras? Nah, jumping on the écotaxe bandwagon isn't going to help anybody.

Taking part in a Thé Dansant? Nah, the tea can't dance, nor can I, and it is probably a lot of accordion music anyway.

I guess that leaves... the Vide Grenier.

Again.

This would be the 54th one we've been to this year.

 

Sewing machine

At a price of €2,50 comes a battery operated sewing machine.
Cheap Chinese battery powered sewing machine

This is a Chinese knock-off of the Chinese-built Singer battery operated chain-stitch sewing machine.

I suspect this is intended to be a child's "toy", a more practical sort of toy than one of those fake ovens. Or, the one I really don't get - buying a doll that goes into a toy push chair for a little girl just out of a push chair herself. Talk about social conditioning!

Now, as this is intended for younger people, it seems rather cruel to fit it with a needle containing what might be one of the smallest holes I've seen in a needle in my life. Now, as I'm not a girl, I don't have much experience with sewing needles, but I've just gone and rummaged through mom's sewing box and, well, I think it is safe to say that the holes in those other needles are like gaping chasms compared to the one on this machine.
Bright light, glasses off, and threading this thing up is still a battle between the will of the gods and sheer dumb luck.

Threading the needle of a battery powered sewing maching (is like self flagellation)

I didn't see any clear instructions for how to thread the machine, so I think this is correct. Anybody know better, please skip down to the comments form below and tell me!

Threading up the battery powered sewing machine (I think)

As bought, the machine didn't work. There were plastic runners for moving parts and the cog had come out of the runner. Luckily the machine was screwed together, nothing horrid like glue or thermo-sealed plastic. Just seven screws and the back lifted right off.

Inside the machine, no surprises here

The basic mechanism is really simple. Power is from two D cells (adding up to 3V). This goes to an on/off switch. From the on/off switch, the power splits - one way going to a little lamp, and the other way going to the motor via a rudimentary foot switch. The foot switch is a blade that is pressed to make contact to energise the motor.
Notice the plethora of filters and suppressors around the motor.
Now we're on to the mechanical side. In order to get the required torque to move a needle through fabric and to turn a quickly spinning motor into a slow rotation, a small cog on the motor turns a large cog on an intermediate gear. A small cog on this gear turns a large angle cog on what I shall call "the crankshaft" (not having any better name for it). The gunk in the photo is sticky-slimy grease.

Nerdy picture of greased cog wheels

The other side of the crankshaft is a rotating lug. This thing turns around and around, and as it does so it slides back and forth in the guide (this is the part that had come apart) and it raises and lowers the needle. Hopefully the arrows and diagrams in the picture below will demonstrate.

Spinny-wobbly things

How the actual sewing works is actually quite clever. Now, this is a very simple sewing machine. There is no bobbin underneath to provide a second line of thread. Instead, the machine makes interlocking loops, not unlike a form of knitting. The benefit? It is cheap and fairly simple to implement. The downside is that if the thread breaks, it can unravel pretty quickly.

Here is a little plastic hook inside the machine, underneath where the needle enters.

The thread comes in...

The needle enters, the downward motion pushing the hook back.

...the thread goes out...

As the needle rises, the upper part of the mechanism moves beyond a small plastic guide so the needle can 'fall off' of the plastic lug. This nudges the needle backwards (a poor man's feed mechanism!) and lets the hook catch the thread loop.

...all the plastic bits...

The needle comes down again, passing through the thread loop, and as it rises leaves a new loop for the hook to catch. In the picture below, the old loop is above and the new loop has just been hooked.

...shake about!

Repeat.

The result, sewing two pieces of plain paper together (first thing I laid my hands upon), is this on the top side:

Sewing looks nice on this side
and this on the underside (yay for coherent White Balance!):
But not quite so nice on the back

I suspect some fiddling with the tension thingy might tighten up the stitches so it looks more like real sewing.

Something I thought was kind of cute was that the machine has a little lamp in it. It is a filament bulb, not an LED, so I bet it can eat up the batteries.

Watch it or I'll LAMP you one!

Still, it shouldn't be hard to wire it up to a mains adaptor. Finding one that outputs plenty of current at a mere 3V might be more of a challenge, though there is plenty of space in the case so a VREG and heatsink could fit in there easily.

 

Video sender

The woman wanted €5, there was one power pack missing so I offered €4. It is a pair, a transmitter and a receiver. Analogue. 2.4GHz. Obstensibly "they work", and with an IR send-back function I can use my remotes to control the satellite receiver and the OSD while sitting at my desk.
This is the receiver. The transmitter looks the same on the outside.
Video sender, the receiver.

Here is an image captured off a live broadcast on BBC One earlier, a happy Helen Willetts about to tell us that apocalyptically cold weather is coming. Gee, thanks.

Happy Helen Willetts, image from live BBC broadcast

The problem... Quite a big one. It uses 2.4GHz.

As do the DECT phones.

And WiFi.

I have no sound worth speaking of in the left audio channel at all, it is just a lot of noise. And when I look things up on Google, I can see interference on-screen from the WiFi transmission, which is also replicated as loud crackling in the audio (both channels). You don't even want to know what the DECT phones did, given that WiFi can barely make it to mom's bedroom while the phone can make it through two solid stone walls and out as far as the pond (say, 30-40 metres or so with a lot in the way). God only know what would happen if somebody used the microwave.

It would be useful for using this to monitor the correct time to start a recording, but for actually watching stuff, I don't think it would be so useful.

 

FM transmitter

Unlike my Bluetooth hands free kit, this is a plain and simple radio transmitter. There is nothing smart about it (the Bluetooth device tries to find available channels (and usually messes up)), you simply plug it in to a stereo jack and select a channel (you can step through the entire FM range). There are four available memories so you can store channels for easy recall.
Running off two AAA cells, or a 12V feed from a lighter socket, it will turn itself on when it detects audio is playing, and off 30 seconds after audio ceases.
Tested playing to mom's portable radio about 5m away, it seemed to work just fine. It cost €2. Can't argue that!
Playing music from the iPad

 

This was finished by a visit to KFC. For some "crispy tenders" which were very crispy and very tender, and had the added bonus of French people trying to say "creespee tahndeehrs" as well.

So, all in all, not a bad day.
My only day off (it's been an insanely busy time at work, I think I have worked something like eight Saturdays (one period was six six-day weeks in a row, yikes!). Got one more to do, December 7th, and then the final run up until Christmas. Our holiday has been cut down so we finish on the 24th and restart on January 2nd. Hopefully after that it'll quieten down for a while. January-April is the quiet season...normally... ☺

 

Your comments:

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Rob, 19th November 2013, 10:25
I've got that same Philips video sender.  
 
Did you get the flying lead with the IR LED on the end that plugs into the back of the transmitter? You need that (position the LED in front of your equipment) in order to use the remote, um, remotely. 
 
You can set different channels on the back if you are getting interference. Our neighbours had the same one too; we could watch their TV if we changed channel on the receiver :-) 
 
We stopped using ours in the end as, as you note, the picture quality was so poor, and it varied as people moved about the house!
Peter Anderton, 23rd November 2013, 16:27
I am sorry if I am contacting you the incorrect way. I am a pensioner and am using your terrific VeroDes on Windows 8. Please tell me how I can get rid of "choose one of the toolbar options ....." as it is driving me nuts!! It is forever in my way. Thanks though, for the programme. It's basic enough without being complex. Just the ticket. Peter Anderton
Rick, 26th November 2013, 19:34
Rob - I mentioned the IR send-back, it is pretty cool. 
I tried all four channels. The left audio is messed up in all cases, and WiFi bursts cross over the picture in all channels. That said, I can almost see one channel if tuned to an adjacent one, so the separation isn't great. 
 
Back in the UK many years ago, a neighbour had a proper UHF transmitter. I used to watch Melrose Place on Sky One via their broadcast. A rather naff programme, but hey, it beat the alternatives. Sadly they never had it running for the movie channels... 
 
Peter - you can knock me down with a feather...it actually WORKS on Windows 8?!?!? Whoa. 
Yeah, the message is annoying. When you have found your way around VeroDes and no longer need the hand-holding, go to the configuration (right-click on the leftmost icon, the "i") and tick the two entries following: 
* Do not show "Choose:" pop-up help message in editor. 
* Do not display any tooltips. 
Click on "Update settings". You will then need to quit and restart VeroDes (because tool tips are loaded when VeroDes starts). Subsequently, no more annoying messages! ;-) 
Thank you for the compliment. 

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