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    Self employed electrician. Various employers, mostly within the entertainment industry.
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    Clive Mitchell

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  1. It does look like the old cotton reel track. Which used to cause the replacement wheeled runners to sit at an angle and rub along the side.
  2. I wouldn't be so sure about that. While some very good power supplies are made in China, there are some where the person designing it had zero understanding of electrical separation. That can involve mains to low voltage track or pad separation of a fraction of a millimetre, or a transformer with the secondary windings wound tightly right against the primary side windings with just a layer of varnish between you and a bad experience. Even if it doesn't happen straight away, it could happen later due to the degradation of the varnish at elevated temperatures in an undersized transformer. With a lighting desk that could also be the kiss of death to random lights on a network.
  3. My experience of many of those modifications is that they are done so haphazardly that they make the software unstable. While the clone desks might be OK for a hobbyist who would otherwise never be able to afford the real thing, they would be a liability for a pro. Sometimes I wonder who wrote the original software that is frequently butchered in the generic cheap Chinese lights with the classic four digit and four button interface.
  4. These days, software has become such a key component in products that if companies wish to outsource hardware manufacture, then by by all means do so, but NEVER share the software if you can lock it securely in a microcontroller. The design and layout of a lighting desk is useless if the company wanting to copy it can't get their hands on the original software. They can get someone else to emulate the software, but if it's written by someone who doesn't have a deep understanding of what is needed, then you get bug-riddled software that looks the part, but is so unstable and unintuitive that it renders it unfit for professional use. Having written what turned out to be a very desirable bit of software in the past, I quickly learned (the hard way) to only supply it on locked microcontrollers. I was really surprised by the manipulative and sometimes aggressive techniques people used to try and get me to send them the hex file or assembly code so they could remove me from the equation. A really good example of a slip-up allowing your product to be mass cloned is the classic ELM327 vehicle diagnostics interface. Elm Electronics is a British company who released a very clever bit of software on a PIC microcontroller, but didn't lock the first version. If you go on eBay and simply search for ELM327 you'll find thousands of listings for clones of their product with the stolen software in them.
  5. Let's do the simple checklist. Is the soldering tip clean and shiny? If not, use a tip cleaner which is basically a mixture of flus, solder and a very mild abrasive. If the tip is pitted then get a new one. Never file a tip, as it's usually a copper core with iron plating to ensure longevity. As soon as you file the iron off it will pit very quickly. Always apply solder directly to the heated joint. The flux is very important to ensure good mating of the solder to the surfaces being soldered. If you melt solder onto the tip and then carry it to the joint, the flux evaporates and you apply "dry" solder to the joint. It can be "fixed " by reflowing it with a touch of fresh solder (with the important flux) or just some raw flux. Note that some solder sold on eBay is an unknown alloy and some is factory reject solder with a missing or intermittent flux core. Although lead based solder has been banned by the eco-hippie-wanktards there's a reason lead was used in the first place! It forms an easy flowing malleable solder joint. Don't use lead-free solder as it is just a disaster. If your supplier tells you that they can only supply lead based solder to companies then tell them you are a company to tick their box. They are just looking for you to say that so they can supply you. Oh, and ignore the digital readout on your soldering station. It's wrong. Go by soldering-feel. The traditional irons like the Antex XS25 were thermally balanced and just did a random temperature affected by ambient temperature. I did tens of thousands of flawless solder joints with my old Antex XS25.
  6. With advance apologies that I would never want to disagree with statesman Clive, but out of respect for those involved I feel it necessary to mention LM had a delivery lorry turning round in their neighbour's yard explode in 1989 killing one, an explosion on site in 1990 killing one and another explosion on site in 2018 killing one, so whilst there is no doubt truth in what you say, it appears on the surface at least that LM did have an entirely unblemished safety record. Is there a single pyro company that hasn't had incidents? The very nature of the industry makes it very hard to allow for every conceivable scenario.
  7. If you do a real apprenticeship in a common trade you'll get paid while you learn and be very employable when the apprenticeship is finished due to the real-life experience. If that trade is useful in the event industry (all general trades) then you'll also find work in that area when you choose to do it. If you go to university you will get a bit of paper, a huge debt and find it hard to get work due to lack of experience.
  8. Who actually gets the money when HSE issues "fines"? I see so many seemingly excessive fines for petty things that I wonder if this is just another facet of the lucrative safety industry.
  9. I'll be making a video showing how some lamps can have extra components inserted in series to reduce the current and extend their lifespan. It only works with some types though.
  10. A local company was saying that getting a container from China has momentarily doubled in cost.
  11. Given the incompetent way that this has been implemented in the first place, I wouldn't hold my breath about that being soon. Hopefully it's not going to illicit a knee jerk reaction against the UK by other countries doing the same thing.
  12. For a while HMRC was twisting eBay's arm to block Chinese sellers who didn't do it their way. When you tried buying something you would get a message saying that HMRC had blocked that seller from selling to the UK. The Chinese sites responded by setting up regular new accounts, usually with lower prices to get their feedback rating up, and would then continue trading as before. I don't really see the Chinese sellers being too bothered by HMRC's empty threats. They'll simple work around them, or charge the VAT and then keep it. At the moment I have suspended all online sales for the foreseeable future. I used to sell quite a lot to the USA, but the Trump-initiated and Royal Mail multiplied American postage charges are now huge and complex to the point that I have to send orders as lots of separate packages to try and make it affordable. Initially I thought I was just going to have to exclude the USA from sales for a while (which I hate doing as it feels like discrimination) but right now things are so embroiled in red tape and dummy-spitting bureaucratic tantrums that I simply don't want the hassle of selling online right now. Less income for me and less tax for HMRC.
  13. Yes I agree. With a little bit of polishing it would make a good TV program. No need. Scott Manley is doing just fine on YouTube. He'd probably find it extremely frustrating working with the old fashioned television industry. It would reduce the quality and quantity of his content. Modern media is much more honest, relaxed and engaging. And you can actually chat with the presenters online.
  14. Perhaps they could build one in the UK? Here's the plan:- Strike while the iron's hot because of public emotion about the current collapse. Award the contract to a building company with zero experience in that area, but owned by a lord. Employ casual labour and qualify them as radio telescope experts with a one day slideshow and an orange boilersuit. Make sure the labour is outnumbered by people in suits with white hats and clipboards, to prevent work being done. Make sure the project repeatedly over-runs its budget by billions. Announce that the project has sadly failed and brush it under the carpet.
  15. bigclive


    I've never seen one of the cheap ones producing blobby foam like that. The high pitch suggests that the blowers outlet holes might not be lined up properly on the front of the unit. To get decent throw from those machines usually requires an additional external blower. But even then the throw isn't good due to general air resistance. These things are best for snowing from height.
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