lLanded! the H&M controller is powered by an expo drill transformer
Those modern rubber wheels make really good feet!

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22 August 2009 Pylon flyer and computer trouble


Flying on the Meccano table

Here we are nearly at the end of August already and it has been a few weeks since we have been able to post anything. There is a gap in our Meccano calendar at this time of year although we did make a weekend of it at the beginning of the month with a trip to TIMS to test my Pylon flyer. Due to the pressure of work I was a bit late getting it finished but I had it flying just about.

Flying at TIMS
Dave Taylor looks on while I attempt to fly my helicopter - now I know why I would not go up in one of these things...

The biggest problem was the power consumption. All the train controllers I have were not up to the task although I did find an old Expo drill transformer 48VA that did the job- just! I know that Geoff Brown said that the little crane motor would take a lot of punishment and he was not wrong. Sue took some insurance out by picking up a couple of spares at Skegex last month but so far they have not been required.

The modified tilt mechanism with rubber band damping. See previous version in the SELMEC meeting report HERE

After listening to some welcome advice from Geoff at the meeting I made a few modifications when I got home. These included reducing the length of the balance arm and increasing the weight. This made the arm less springy. Adding the rubber band also provided proportional ‘gravity’ calming the whole thing down and making it easier to fly. The 12V transformer was substituted with a 6V lead-Acid battery as a stopgap while testing. To my amazement the thing flies much better now!

Just to up-stage my little helicopter, Tony Homden was in attendance with his splendid model of a Fairey Rotodyne now rigged for flying after its debut at Skegex in July!

I think I have had my fill of this model. It is good fun to fly but the thing is dangerous at shows, as it would hurt if it hit you. Even at TIMS with their big circular tables it was still far too easy to reach over and get a whack! Apart from anything else it made so much downdraft that it blew everything else off the table so it is off to the scrap yard and efforts are to be made in other directions. We still have a lot to do on our Ferris wheel and we need something to take to the Henley Gathering in a fortnight’s time.


The Meccano table has been playing host to computer carnage this week. You know when you get an intermittent fault on a car it is a real pain to get to the bottom of it? Well, when you get an intermittent fault with a computer it is infuriating. This one was strange. Now I am no computer expert and although I build all our systems and maintain our hard-wired and wireless network. It has all been achieved by reading books and having a go. Most of the time it all works fine. As it is just a case of plugging bits together in the correct order, keeping them cool and maintaining the software. All this is fine until it goes wrong. 

Meccano makes way for essential maintenance

Last weekend I was sitting here and the thing just shut down. Hmmm, that’s a nuisance (or words to that effect…) I muttered. This is usually a heat problem if the CPU overheats the computer automatically shuts down to protect it. To cut a very long story short I rebuilt the whole thing with new CPU, motherboard, hard drive, extra fans, and new, up-rated RAM. Cock-sure I had fixed it I booted it up and set-to. 10 seconds later the thing shut down again… Not overly amused by this I gave up and went to bed at some unearthly hour of the morning.

The only part of the computer I had not changed was the graphics card. I swapped it for a card out of one of the other machines and guess what – it worked. Ten minutes and it was fixed. The upshot of all this is that I have spent days re-building the machine and reconfiguring all the software, codes and so on. When all I had to do was swap one board. Still I now have a computer that is twice as fast as the old one with a whole bucket load of capacity to loose stuff in. Now I have my bench back I am off to build something that does not need to be programmed…    



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Joystick but no pilot!

The H&M controller has holes bored through the bottom at Meccano spacing for mounting it to models
this was the trouble
Defunct graphics card