In these difficult times with non essential shops closed its been a godsend to order goods online and have them delivered at home via Royal Mail or couriers. Some items I order on a regular basis wont fit through my letterbox and I know Royal Mail wont leave outside my front door so services like those offered by Collect+ are potentially very useful.

Royal Mail deliver the goods to a Collect+ location near your home (typically local shops) , theory notify you when they’re ready for collection and you turn up with your ID and collect. That’s the theory.

Just been checking one of my Ebay deliveries that hadn’t arrived and I noticed on my Ebay account that the item was showing as delivered to the Collect+ location (GPH food stores) on the 19th March. I had not received any notification that the item was ready for collection. The local shop had forgotten to scan the parcel again when it first arrived with them so I get no notification Sadly, this has happened on many occasions with Collect+ and particularly with this shop.

The gentleman behind the counter offered no apologies or reason for this and merely scanned the package as he should have done 5 days ago. I then received a notification instantly and was able to take the parcel away. Not a positive experience. Will probably not use Collect+ and/or GPH Food Stores again as its just too unreliable. As a footnote, the parcel before this one, was sent back to the supplier as I never received a notification and had to order a replacement )delivered elsewhere).


Lego Mindstorms EV3 Rubik’s Cube Solver

This has been around for a while now. We didnt want to dismantle our existing EV3 kit which was built as a R3ptar so we purchased another set in new and sealed condition from Ebay for about £200.

My partner quickly built the Mindcub3r from the instructions here: MindCub3r for EV3 (

It took her a few hours and she left it for me to do the software installation part the next day.

The build was fairly straightforward but I spotted a couple of small pieces that were out of place and corrected these to ensure the model moved as expected. I then downloaded and installed the Lego Mindstorms software and followed the instructions above.

When I ran tried downloading the required software from the PC to the brick it kept erroring and complaining that it could not find various blocks. I wenbt back through the instructions again and realised I missed the step where you install the RGB Color sensor software. This was done and the software successfully downloaded to the brick.

After a quick trip to Smyths toys to purchase a genuine 3×3 Rubiks cube for £9.99, I tried to run the software on the robot for the first time. The brick beeped but nothing happened. After a few basis checks we noticed a low battery icon the brick and replaced the new (cheap) batteires with some Duracell batteries and ran the program again. This time it did its reset procedure and then asked for the Rubiks cube to be inserted. It scanned the cube, did its calculations and solved the now mixed up Rubiks cube.

It works most times but not always and I attribute this to ambient light levels and some movement of the Rubiks cube in its cradle. Over the coming weeks i will try some modifications and see if I can get a 100% success rate. Its still so cool to see it in action solving the Rubiks cube. Now to try to solve it by hand!

May the force be with you

Zaavi sent me a marketing email in February and it worked. They were offering a Hasbro Darth Vader Helmet complete with sound effects for £99, cheaper than other sites like Amazon.

It comes in more than piece and after fitting a collar around you neck, the helmet fits over the top. I have a large neck and it fitted find for me and is adjustable so should fit a wide range of people. The eye pieces are very dark from the outside but you can see through them from the inside. This should make an excellent costume piece for Halloween. Not to be confused with cheap costume helmets.

The sound effects are good and there is a small button on the neck collar for making the breathing noise. It also makes a noise when lifting off the helmet.

I think I will buy the rest of a Darth Vader costume, a Master Replica light sabre, use this helmet and make some electronics for the chest piece to make a realistic looking costume in time for Halloween (if we are allowed out of lockdown by then?)

Drone Flyer & Operator

I am cinsidering purchasing a drone and thought I had better check the guidelines for owning and flying drones in the UK.

Although the drone i’m looking at is is under 250g I decided to register as a flyer and operator and managed to complete the test today to complete my registration. You can do the online training free on the governments website and then take the test. If you want to operate and fly drones above Class 0 and 250g and/or with a camera then you can pay the registration fee as an operator for £9 renewable yearly.

Anycubic Chiron 3D Printer

Boxing day finally gave me the time to set up my new 3D Printer that I got as a Christmas present from family.

First impressions, it came in a large and heavy box. Inside everything was well packaged and the contents include the tools you will need to finish assembling the printer.

The frame with everything attached came in two pieces, the bottom section and the top frame. A few bolts and connections later and it was easily assembled. Comes with a spare nozzle assembly and teflon tube.

Im impressed so far with the quality of construction. I have done a quick bed height set up and have just started to print a Nintendo gameboy cartridge holder all on default settings. The print quality is not too bad although where the word Nintendo is printed could be better but this should be sorted with some adjustments and maybe supports? Overall so far so good. It really is a large printer able to print up to 450mm. Seems much better quality than my old prusa based 3d printer.

Intellivision 25 Video Game System

Bought this on Ebay a while a go as fully working handheld console. When it arrived, I tried switching it on but nothing happened even though it felt as though it had batteries in. At first, I thought that’s nice of the seller to include some for testing although why weren’t they working?

Popped off the battery cover to discover why….

They had left old batteries in there which had leaked and caused some corrosion. After some cleaning with solvent spray and a cotton bud, I managed to get it working again with a fresh set of batteries and left some negative feedback for the seller who seemed unconcerned at this.