Oh my bags are packed …

Well, I got the lovely Heidi Stubbs to fix my back, got a lift from Susan and George back to the car, got to Dover in plenty of time, and am now in the VIP lounge (of course) on the DFDS Lines MV Delft.

It costs an extra £12 to upgrade to VIP on DFDS, which made my total ticket price £60 for me and the car, both ways. For my £12 I have exclusive use of the VIP lounge (not many people on board today), endless coffee, tea, juice, fruit and biscuits, a personal waitress (the posh restaurant is closed, but you can get their menu in the VIP lounge), all the newspapers you can read, reclining chairs, free WiFi, and you embark and disembark before anyone else.

Result, if you ask me!

We have now ordered and paid for a starter set of MakerBeam, complete with enough bearings to fix roller skates to a millipede, so I’m excited to get going actually building my first Cartesian robot in more than one dimension (I’m half-way through building the hen house door opener and closer, and I’m using a lead screw, because the door slides sideways, so I think of that as a one-dimensional Cartesian robot).

Actually, we’re still in very early prototype stage of the hen-house door opener, and already the user has requested modifications. Apparently the hens are tending to roost in the nest box, rather than their roosting perches, and I have it on authority that our hens tend to pooh a lot, especially overnight. So the latest mod requested is that 30 minutes before the door closes at night an inner shutter comes down and sweeps any hens out of the nesting box, and keeps them out over night. Then, in the morning the main door opens and lets them out to scratch around, and 30 minutes later the nesting box is automatically opened for business.

Next we will need an egg detector that will connect to the Internet Of Things via WiFi and Pachube, so that we can see when the eggs need collecting. Maybe a webcam inside the roosting box will do the trick.

Maybe there are too many other things to finish, before we get too excited by ultra sophistication in the hen run. Powering it all via a solar-tracking solar panel and a 3D printed Vertical Axis Wind Generator comes first.

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