| Home 2013
This website is a log of my hobbies,
passions and projects. It will hopefully over time fill up with helpful
encourage, inspire and guide others with similar interests. rab by the
way are my initials Robert Andrew Burke
The day job as Technical Director of HETAS is has necessitated me
spending a lot of my free time learning and becoming more proficient at
PHP and MYSQL in order to build a database and management system to
organise the work of the Industry Groups that input into our Technical
Committee. On the back of this I have been able to redesign the website
and construct a structured back end that manages the contacts and
groups activities. It's not live yet, but a sneak peak at the design is
|October to December 2013:
These last three months have been an extremely busy time with both work
and family commitments eating into any available time to share
knowledge on Blender and the projects I long to have the time to work
With Blender 2.7 on the horizon and promising to include volumetric
shading within the Cycles render engine, I have put the Palm House /
Conservatory project on hold. The volumetric option will add another
degree of reality to the render with light rays coming from many window
panes showing a scattering of dust and moisture in the air.
I have played around with the the final layout of the image a little
but it will need a lot more refinement before it is finished.
had got all the comments saved in a text file, but the entry date of
the comments was stored in a separate array on the hosts server.
Fortunately I managed to extract the comments to a CSV file and marry
them up to a spreadsheet I had created from the dates still stored on
the online Guest Book and only showing in the admin area.
reported last month that I had inadvertently broken the code behind my
Guest Book and wasn't happy about the prospect of loosing 6 years of
This last month my spare time has been spent spent learning how to
insert, edit and delete data from a Mysql database using php and
marrying up the database to a web page. It has resulted in my Guest
Book being fully functional again and me knowing a lot more than I did
about php programming and Mysqli commands.
Hopefully I will soon be able to find the time to use my new PC on some
more graphics Blender projects and learn a little more about the
capabilities of Blender.
It's been quita a busy month, though I must admit not too much has been
don on the graphics and Blender front. My computer finally became too
troubelesome with motherboard issues preventing me from even getting to
a boot screen if the computer was even slightly warm, just a black
screen with a green bar at the top. If the room temperature was above
22 degrees it wouldn't boot, you couldn't restart the computer
without cooling it down first and even a large desk fan blowing into
the open side of the case wasn't enough to cool it down on some days.
So I decided this was a good time to build a new machine.
I have stuck with AMD and built a computer with the following
Linux Mint 15
Gigabyte 990FXA-UD3 motherboard
AMD FX 8350 processor (8 cores @ 4 gh)
Zalman CNP 10X Performa cooler
8 gb ram
120 gb SSD
Nvidia Geforce GTX 760 graphics
GZ 880 w power supply
I have used the existing hard drives and case to help trim a few pounds
off the cost of the build.
The build went well and with a few adjustments to the bios settings all
the hardware was recognised by Linux Mint. I have loaded the latest
Nvidia drivers but experienced a few kernel panics on boot up with the
computer taking 8 seconds to boot with the Linux Nouveau drivers and
over 45 seconds with the nvidea drivers. Not having the time to
research a fix for this I reloaded Linux Mint and am currently just
using the Nouveau drivers. Once I get time I will partition the SSD and
try and get a stable machine with the most current Nvidea drivers so I
can use the graphics card with Blender Cycles rendering.
One casualty on my website has been the Guest Book, unfortunately in an
attempt to stop spam bots I moved the Guest Book to a new location on
the server, only to find it would no longer read the text file
containing all the comments I have received over the last six years.
Fortunately I have all the entries as a text file and will be looking
to program a database driven Guest Book and try to find a way to
include all the historic comments. If you have posted comments in the
past please accept miy apologies, I will be trying to get them back on
the site soon.
have a new member to the family this month, an eight week
old Blue Merl Border Collie pup. She is really cute but a real handful
as she goes through the teething stages.
Its constant work keeping her
occupied and if you take your eyes off her for a minute she has chewed
through something she shouldn't have. The microphone lead on my
computer was the first casualty.
Training is going well and she will already sit, lie down and stay on
command, well when a treat is available she will.
I have also found a little time to venture into Snowdonia National
Park and do a little more climbing. This time it was a day climbing on
the Glyders, doing a walk over Tryfan and on to Glyder Fach with my son
Tom. I am a lot fitter than I was this time last year and really
enjoyed the day taking in some of snowden's peaks and spectacular
|June - July:
|Updated to Blender 2.63+
If anyone has looked into some of the varied hobby pages on my website
you will notice that some years ago I made an aluminium furnace
specifically to make some castings for my CNC projects.
All of those
projects got put on hold whilst I built an extension to my home. As I
would like to get some of these old projects started again, over the
past few weekends I have been making a hot wire foam cutter, mainly
from scraps and odds and ends I have had lying around my workshop. The
foam cutter is intended to make some patterns for use with the lost
foam casting method.
The only things I have needed to buy for this project is a reel of
Nichrome heating element wire at �4.61 including postage from ebay
a dimmer switch which was on offer from Wicks at �1.45. As I will
be using the Hot Wire occasionally I have designed it to fold away into
a handy storage box which holds all the components and can be
packed away neatly on one of my workshop shelves. I am quite pleased
that it has turned out so well for an investment of just over �6.00.
with the new release of Ubunti 13.4 last month also came the
discontinuation of support for Ubuntu 11.10, the version I have been
relying on because newer versions have continuously had problems
supporting my older hardware. This has meant another failed attempt to
upgrade Ubuntu and several waisted evenings trying to get the upgrade
work. Eventually I gave up and had a look at Linux Mint.
The installation of Linux mint went flawlessly the the interface worked
with my GTX 9600 graphics card (the main thing Ubuntu and Unity
struggled with). Blender now fits the full screen window and everything
just works again. The pleasing thing about Linux Mint 13 is it is a
long term service edition with support up to 2017. It looks like I have
got long term stability back again.
One issue I had was the lack of ability in the standard settings to
adjust the Alt key binding when using Alt with the mouse buttons, which
was set to control the Windows. Blender needs control of the Alt -
mouse buttons to select edge lops etc and this made Blender
difficult to use efficiently. I read a lot of posts giving
command line and configuration changes that were complicated
and never managed to cure the problem. I then remembered that in
Ubuntu 11.10 you needed to install Compiz Config Settings Manager and
change the key bindings and fortunately this also works in Linux Mint
cure this problem on my system I load compizconfig settings manager
from the Software Manager (menu >> Administration >>
Settings Manager). When loaded open compizconfig settings manager and
under General >> General Options, click on the Key Bindings tab
and change the short cut keyboard key Binding the Window Menu from
"<Alt>Space" to "<Super>Space" and the mouse options from
"<Alt>Button 3" to "<Super>Button 3". I now have a very
stable and responsive system with Blender working flawlessly.
saw the release of a new version of the Ubuntu operating system. Keen
to see if some of the graphics issues I had experienced with my five
year old system had been resolved, I took the plunge and updated to
Unfortunately for me I still have issues with my old GeForce 9600 GT
graphics card, that I failed to resolve. Maybe a more experienced Linux
user would have been able to get the system stable, but I wasnt able to
sort out the numerous crashes and system slowdowns.
I have now reverted back to Ubuntu 11.10 which is still rock solid on
my hardware, though took two days to get all my software set-up as I
like it. Its a shame that I cant get the updates to work out of
the box, as I was looking forward to trying some of the improved
software that ships with the newer Ubuntu versions. As my PC is over 5
years old I might bite the bullet and build an new machine with up to
date hardware. I just need to be sure it will be compatible with the
I have found a little time to continue with the Palm House /
Conservatory project and am becoming much more comfortable with
Blenders new interface. Some of the spare time over the last month has
been used to learn a few techniques for use with the Cycles render
engine. It took a while to work out how to apply image textures and
set-up the material nodes, but it is all very logical once you start to
use the system
Progressing on from last month has seen stone textures applied to the
walls and floor.
|January / February 2013:
been all change on the jobs front for 2013, starting the year in a new
job. I say a new job, but really it is going back to a previous
employer, so not such a steep learning curve. I was pleased to accept
the position of Technical Director with HETAS and return to the
standards and influencing work for the UK's solid fuel and biomass
sector. All the same it has meant a great deal of my time has been
spent catching up with events concerning European Directives, UK
Regulations and standards, that have happened over the past two years.
On the Blender front, I have managed to add a few more pages to my new
Blender Modelling Guide and reckon I am well over a third of the way
through. As of the end of February the book stands at 123 pages, most
of the content so far is a reference to the operation of Blenders tools
and modifiers. I am quickly approaching the fun part where I can
demonstrate the use of different modelling techniques. Explaining
techniques through the use of projects is much more rewarding than
simply documenting the operation of the various tools.
The blender foundation have been extremely busy over the past two
months and have again brought out a new release of their 3D modelling
and animation software. Version 2.66 is now available for download from
the Blender website.
version brings a number of new features the highlights of which include:
Hair rendering support in the Cycles render engine.
Dynamic topology sculpting
Rigid body physics calculations in the editor and animation system.
Check out all the new features on the Blender Release Log
I have been waiting for the Blender Knife tool to support cutting
edges that don't belong to a specific face and snapping to orphaned
vertices. Both these operations are important for laying out an
accurate mesh structure, but still sadly lacking from Blenders
tool-set. It looks like it will be a long time before these features
become available again so I have had to bite the bullet and modify
the 608 Bearing Tutorial to suit Blenders current tools. Hopefully you
will find the modified tutorial useful
608 Bearing Tutorial Updated to Blender
Go to Blender 608
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Please contact me if you would like to use any of this content.