25 May 2015

Lessons Learned.


I've come to the end of chapter twenty in my novel, The Force of the Gods, and realized something.

Chapter divisions sometimes work better in the plan than they do when you're actually writing. Which means that when I've finished writing and start editing it, one of the first things I'll be doing is rearranging a few - or a lot - of the chapter divisions. Fewer, longer, chapters seems like an attractive idea to me right now.

But I'm making a lot of progress, and (if I say so myself) I believe that I have a reason and a right to be proud. Sort of.

Also, while I'm here, I'm going to plug my first book again, Singularity.

Here's the UK link, and the US link. It's free until Thursday, so get a copy while you can.


21 May 2015


Good evening.

I have started chapter nineteen of my novel, which for the time being is called The Force of the Gods (Volume I: Journeyman). That means I'm a three-and-a-halfth of the way into the first draft. At forty-thousand words so far, it's proving to be easier to write than I had initially imagined, and far more fun.

I have also been continuing with my efforts as regards my electronics and radio stuff. Having made all my own components for my spark gap transmitter (shown below), I have thought it might be fun to attempt to make some more components of my own for possible future projects.
Hand-wound Ruhmkorff coil and homemade foil-leaf capacitor.
So that's the main part of the transmitter: a home-made Ruhmkorff (induction) coil - as in all hand-wound, all 12,000 thousand turns of the damn' thing - with a crude adjustable spark-gap, which will produce about a five-millimetre spark, which works out at a little over 16,000 volts, and a capacitor that comes to 54.5 nF.

I haven't got an interrupter or a commutator working yet (because I tried to make them myself too, but all they got me was hot batteries), but even just touching the battery wires to the terminals has transmitted across a room.

Next thing to make will be a tuning circuit, consisting of a choke coil and a smaller, possibly adjustable capacitor (possibly even a Leyden jar), because at the moment when it transmits, it transmits from the long-wave band to the short-wave, via everything in between.

So, yeah. And on top of that, as my own take on basket-weaving, I recently made another foil-leaf capacitor, just to see how big I could be patient enough to make:

Large homemade foil capacitor.
Which measured at 49μF - around a hundred times what I had expected it to, based on how many foil leaves I used to make it. Charging from a 9V battery for twenty seconds, it then provided a current of ~0.45V for a little under two minutes. Not bad for tinfoil and paper. Even if it is the size of a packet of cigarettes.

I am also making attempts at coming up with an elecytrolytic capacitor (using sodium bicarbonate). I've done one so far, which measured at a little under 70μF, but hadn't sealed the container correctly, which meant that within two days the electrolyte had evaporated, leaving it useless.

Capacitors. Probably useless for me to make, but I've gained a pretty good understanding of how they work now, which to me is what it's about.

12 May 2015

I am not dead.

Greetings. When I started this blog, it had been with the intention of becoming involved with the Internet in a more active and productive way; to become part of the wider community. Sadly, however, that sort of thing hasn't ever come naturally to me, so I've not been thinking of posting.

I have, however, got plenty to post about.


I got engaged to my wonderful partner on the 11th of March, at the river in Thornton. We haven't thought about dates yet, but we're working toward being able to come up with something. As someone who's never considered the possibility of being on a 'long engagement,' I am happily standing corrected: we want to be married and we intend to be, so I'm more than happy to be in this for the 'long haul;' that's the point, isn't it?


Singularity is published as a paperback and as a Kindle ebook. It has met with some limited success and gained a couple of really encouraging reviews. I know I have to do more to get people to read it, but self-promotion has never been one of my strong points.


I am still working on the piece of music I've been writing and recording, but as I've been recording in a conservatory, it's hard to find the right moment to do so and not have birds, rain, or lawnmowers come up on the audio track.


I've got back into radio. To people who have known me for a long time, this shouldn't come as much of a surprize, because I've been interested on and off for most of my life.

As part of my rekindled interest in radio, I've built a few crystal sets, some using the standard 1N34A germanium diode that everyone uses, and some using pyrite and carborundum crystals, and one even using the blued razor blade described in a number of resources and termed as a 'foxhole radio.' That worked, but not fantastically well.

I've also made a couple of coherers, with the intention of building a proper coherer receiver (probably in the Marconi style). Having made a few, I'm planning on using the best one for making the receiver set.

But the biggest radio-related thing I've done recently is building a spark-gap transmitter, all from scratch. This has included winding a Ruhmkorff coil entirely by hand (without a bobbin-winder!) and assembling my own foil-leaf capacitor. Because it's wide-band, I haven't connected it to an aerial longer than eighteen inches, because I'd rather not have Ofcom crawling up my arse.

Making the capacitor for the transmitter led me into thinking about other, earlier electronics ideas as well, so I've made a couple of different sized capacitors, and even a Leyden jar, as well as a few early instruments (such as electroscopes and the like) for doing some of my own recreated experiments. Most of these have worked quite well. The most interesting thing I've noticed so far is that if I charge a Leyden jar from a piezo-sparker (from an electric lighter), the jar transmits a 'pop' signal that echoes that of the sparker, which echoes a few times at an interval of a second or so.

I want a Wimshurst machine.

More writing

I'm writing another book, this time the first volume of a three-part fantasy novel. I will possibly post parts of it as I write, but I'm not going to right now. I've been planning this story in the back of my mind for the best part of a decade, though, so I'm hoping that finally writing it down will do the story I've been creating justice...