embroidery machine in action

Over the last couple of months I have been intermittently playing with code and with the embroidery machine, and there are a few things I’ve learned. Here’s a blow-by-blow account of creating an embroidered image from a photo: First I cut out the image I was interested in using GIMP, and then blurred it to reduce the amount of detail. With my blurred image, I then ran Watershed to segment it into coloured blocks or regions. This gave me something like this: This original attempt at a pattern was – with hindsight – too complex. However I didn’t know that at the time so IRead More →

a test of the stitching capabilities

We’ve got a new piece of kit in our university Makerspace! Thanks to Chris Price we’ve got a Brother Innovis NV880E embroidery machine https://www.brothermachines.com/sewing/2947/Innov-is_NV880E_Embroidery_Machine. This is a sewing machine with a robotic element – you put material in an embroidery frame, and the machine moves the embroidery frame around in order to sew in different directions with different stitches. This means that you can sew patterns! Combined with an online system called TurtleStitch you can program embroidery using a blocks-based language. The machine also has some inbuilt patterns and text but these are not as exciting as being able to program embroidery… My first testRead More →

The 3d printed cog

One of the jobs I have at work is to “manage” the makerspace, a room with a 3d printer and laser cutter and a few other cool toys in it. This room is supposed to be a facility for students and staff to build small prototype objects for any projects they have, however work-related or wacky – it’s been used to print cases for kit, build replacement lab components, try out ideas for robots, and print any number of D&D figurines and small plastic dinosaurs. When the pandemic started, it was closed to humans and the printer got commandeered into a PPE printing effort (bravo).Read More →

Sometime before xmas I was working from home and there was a bang on the door (around school drop-off time). I opened it to find Clive, the curator of TEDxAberystwyth, wanting to discuss lineup, promotion and so on. I’d been heavily involved in the first one as an organiser, on the small team that pulled it together. So I am familiar with the rules of TEDx and have even negotiated the whole “building a TEDx-compatible website” and “booking a room and making it look a bit like a TEDx event” things. The knock on the door turned out to be my “Would you like toRead More →

Usually we organise a couple of socials each term for the women students in our department. These involve meeting up for a coffee or some drinks, and provide an informal way to support women students as it can be a little odd being in a minority. As Wales went into a “firebreak” lockdown, a friend suggested we do some kind of online social to entertain the students. This is a difficult year for everyone in education but I think students must find it particularly hard – it is frustrating being locked down in a house, I can’t imagine being locked down in a student accommodation.Read More →

I’ve just finished the book “A Computer Called LEO“, by Georgina Ferry, and it was a great read. I can thoroughly recommend it. It’s not new either so if you like secondhand books you can probably pick a copy up cheap. It’s a book about the early days of business computing, but don’t let that put you off. Lyons teashops, which I don’t really remember (the last closed in 1981, when I was 8) were apparently MASSIVE before the second world war. The parent company Lyons were innovative, in their business practices and the way they approached problem solving. In 1946, two managers persuaded theirRead More →

Everyone I speak to who has hayfever confirms that 2019 has been a challenging year of sneezing, running eyes, and itchy faces. This means that there’s a lot of pollen about. In over 10 years of beekeeping, Rog has only once collected enough honey to warrant borrowing the extractor from the beekeepers association. Usually, we get 5 or 6 jars, if we’re lucky. This year, the payoff for my runny nose was a Saturday spent extracting honey. How do you extract honey? Well let me show you. To begin with you have a bunch of frames. These sit in a super which is a boxRead More →

A week ago I went to London to borrow a piece of scientific jewelery for a couple of years. It’s a delightful, rather bonkers scheme by the MRC called Suffrage Science, whereby they chose 6 women computer scientists to receive a brooch 2 years ago, and last week they handed the brooch onto the next woman. In just under two years time I get to hand it on to the next person, and that way it passes from scientist to scientist. I was given the brooch by the excellent Professor Carron Shankland from the University of Stirling. The event was good fun – here’s meRead More →

For EMF2018 (my general blog post about the festival can be found here) Charles Yarnold and my old friend Ben Blundell built a cyberpunk zone, called Null Sector, with installations and all sorts of cool stuff. I made a tiny part of this, in the form of a surveillance themed installation which sat behind the cyberpunk-style grill in the bar area. The aim of the installation was to provide a slightly disconcerting surveillance-style view of the people in the bar, matching the general branding of Null Sector, so it seemed as if the company running Null Sector (Polybius Biotech) were carrying out videosurveillance of attendees.Read More →

Electromagnetic Field is a massively friendly not-for-profit hacker and maker camp which happens every two years. I went in 2012 and spoke about women in tech, and I went again in 2016 and spoke about doing robotics with kids. This year I’ve been trying to do a bit less work and get a bit less stressed, so I decided not to submit a talk or workshop. Then my mate Ben put out a call for installations for a cyberpunk zone and I ended up pitching an idea for a display to sit behind the bar. This installation took – as you might imagine – longerRead More →