Life (25)

Internet Radio – Part 3 “The clock module, preview”

The motor arrived today. I’ll put a more detailed writeup when I have more time, but I stuck the new motor on the old one’s mounts (only about 1mm difference between mounting hole distances!) and spring-loaded it in place – and… well, observe.

Sorry for the poor quality – the focus length of my camera meant that to put it on the stand made it too close to focus properly.

Internet Radio – Part 1

I recently started working on a project I’ve been meaning to do for a long time.

I listen to a lot of internet-based radio stations, mainly Shoutcast or Icecast stations, and tend (at the moment) to do this on my phone, as I can leave it on the bedside table and listen with it charging.

But the sound quality from such a tiny speaker is… well… terrible, to be honest. While phone manufacturers are getting better at building half-decent speakers into their devices, they simply cannot compete with the much better dynamic response of a larger speaker, so the want for a better device to play music arose.

Further to this, my Fiance really hates my current alarm clock, (which displays time in binary, octal, roman numerals and boring old normal decimal) due to it’s hideous alarm, and having attempted to remedy this by cracking the case to see what could be done, I gave up due to the components mainly being surface mount and resin-blob type :'(

So. Half-decent sounding clock radio, that satisfies the Fiance-test and actually wakes me up. That doesn’t exist! Time to build it then!

I’ve started with a donor clock-radio, as shown here:

The donor clock-radio, how innocent it looks here, so unsuspecting...

It has a split-flap display! Excellent! (I love these things, and miss them from stations – they had a nice self-announcing quality as the noise they made when refreshing caught everyone’s attention without being irritating… but I digress) and the large tuning area to the right is perfect for a display of some variety!

The existing electronics were dead-on-arrival, so have been discarded (I wouldn’t feel right removing working parts from a ‘vintage’ radio) along with the 240v gear motor for the split-flap display. The power cord and connector were also discarded, and replaced with a barrel-jack socket on the back (photo tomorrow) ready for the 5v mains power adapter to drive the new electronics.

The existing speaker has been kept for the moment, until I build the amplifier I won’t know how good the sound is, but it is easy to remove, and the area it covers is easily large enough (and the new electronics small enough) to support larger drivers if required.

Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me during the disassembly, but photographs will be taken tomorrow and appended to this post.

So… it begins.

InfoLab Kitten!


A cat gave birth behind InfoLab earlier in the year, and one of the kittens Hung around!

Totally feral, but its used to people being around due to all the students about all the time so will quite happily sit on the warmer manhole covers and let you take photos.

I’m pondering calling the RSPCA to have them collect it, as food will go scarce when the students leave for Christmas…

Gmail Conversation View

I get rather a lot of e-mail these days.

As a member of several mailing lists, it can get rather hard to keep track of the flow of conversation if the mail client doesn’t really support it, as is the case with Mozilla Thunderbird.

While Thunderbird does include a ‘conversation view’ it doesn’t really work properly with GMail IMAP accounts, and tends to duplicate messages in the list making the thread unreadable.

Alternatively, there is the collapsed ‘thread view’ which shows a summary of the messages with a given subject line.  While this is good for short threads, it does get slightly useless for longer replies.  Futhermore, Thunderbird does not show your replies in this view, relying on the replies from other users to include your text in the conversation!

As a result of looking for a solution to another problem, I stumbled upon this the GMail Conversation View plugin for Thunderbird which has completely fixed the problems of ‘thread view’ for me, allowing messages to be expanded out and viewed in full in the thread list, and contains my sent messages along with the received ones!

Get it! It’s good!

Server Upgrade

I just did a server upgrade – if anyone spots anything that’s broken/in the process of breaking, tell me!