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Building a Zoltar Fortune Teller: Part Two

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Work has continued on the Zoltar fortune telling machine and there has been quite a bit of progress made. Here is where the latest project video and steps I've taken so far. The miniature concept that I made prior to this build worked really well with the marker pointing towards the answer, but I didn't think it works when scaled up, so an alternative needed to be found. As the crystal ball is one of the main props with any fortune telling machine, I decide to use the crystal ball to indicate the YES / NO answer and what better way that turning it the colour red for NO and green for YES. As I like to try and incorporate materials in my builds that have been salvaged, I went on the hunt for a suitable crystal ball and found this old glass lamp that is perfect for the job, plus it lights up perfectly when lit from its base. For this functionality I'm using another Microbit as the one currently running Zoltar's coin acceptor and blinking eyes has no scope for anything ad

Building a Zoltar Fortune Teller: Part One

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I have always thought the mechanical fortune teller machines where a thing of wonder and I've always wondered about making one myself.  I have previously experimented with making a proof of concept miniature version here but as I had some spare time on my hands I decided to scale up to a full sized cabinet. I started by rescuing an old wardrobe that was skipped and used the panels to put together the bottom half of the cabinet. The intention is to have the bottom half collecting the money and dispensing fortune cards, with the top half house Zoltar in a framed enclosure. I removed the insides of the miniature fortune teller and made sure they still work. A friend of mine gave me a nice 1d coin panel and I made sure that this worked with the existing coin acceptor. The brains of Zoltar runs off a simple Microbit . I love these little programmable boards, they're easy to use as well as cheap and are perfect for projects like this. The code is surprisingly simple too. The Microbi

Single Wire Antenna Holder

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After throwing myself down the shortwave listening rabbit hole, I'm really enjoying my Xhdata D808 radio whilst out and about. It has the capability of plugging in a single wire antenna to increase reception and this has proven to be very effective. I do find that the wire gets tangled up easily, especially if I'm carrying it in my pocket..  I modified a simple headphone holder so that it fits nicely into the radio case, preventing the antenna from getting tangled. It also serves as a convenient hook if I want to hang the wire from a tree branch. If there are any SWL people out there who would like one, please email me at jez.whitworth@googlemail.com  and I will send one out to you for free. I have limited funds but hopefully this contributes to making the internet a friendlier place. For those wanting to 3d print their own, the file can be downloaded over on Thingiverse here .

Shortwave Listening and QSL Cards

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I'm enjoying a bit of downtime at the moment and investing time developing my interest in radio. Earlier this year I studied for my amateur radio Foundation license and passed (my tips for passing can be found here ) but afterwards it soon became apparent that there is so much to the hobby I don't want to spread myself too thinly. I would describe myself more of a listener than a talker and the concept of shortwave listening (SWL) really appeals. Anyone can take part, you don't have to have a license which makes me love it even more as it's accessible for all. I am very fortunate to live close to Stonehenge here in the south of the England and I went for a walk with my Xhdata D808 radio. Some say that shortwave isn't as popular as it once was, and that maybe the case but from the point of view of an absolute beginner, I found it to be busy and after a fun afternoon of casting my net into the sea of Megahertz I've already written three signal reports to Germany,

TV and Radio Appearances

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It has been quite an eventful couple of weeks, which all started when the BBC came out to visit the workshop to play with the repurposed BT payphone I've been working on this year. The interview was a great deal of fun to do and they also managed to get many soundbites and video footage of both myself and the project. The interview can be listened to below. The edit is a pretty good one considering I have a habit of rabbiting on when I'm nervous. The really great news about this radio interview is that it got picked up and played on other local BBC radio stations across the country, not just Wiltshire and apparently achieved the "Best of Local radio" title. Footage that was filmed during the workshop visit then made it onto the BBC News website , which just blew me away when I saw the project published here. I now understand that CBS America want to use this content and as a result the BBC have passed it on. To top it off further, the video they made has been circulat

Generating a Passive Income - An Experiment

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The phone box project and the development of my new telephone network RocketTel has increased the readers to this blog to a level where I where I was recently notified that I qualified for Google's Adsense service. I have to admit, it did take a little time to set up the accounts and link them to my Blogger account, which is where this blog you're currently reading is hosted with. This actually made the process a little easier with both services, Blogger and Adsense are owned by Google, although the process was still a little clunky and I'm left wondering what it's like to set up an independently hosted blog with Adsense . As you can see from the side panels, I was able to activate the ads and once this had happened I then set about writing another blog post about my project update. I fully appreciate that I'm not going to get rich quick, nor is anything going to happen overnight, so I parked the Adsense experiment for a few weeks and set about looking at other

New Workshop and Hacked Payphones

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As projects grow in size, so too must the workshop to accommodate them. It's taken a while and a great deal of effort but things are finally starting to take shape. The previous owner left a few nice tools and containers that housed every nail, screw, hook and bracket you could ever want. It's like a hardware store now, with everything in one place. Apart from the odd bump and scratch, most builds survived the move, including the phone hacking project. This is one project that is taking pride of place at the moment as interest continues to grow. Just through Facebook alone, I have been able to verify hundreds of active telephone numbers thanks to the kind people all around the country who ventured out to track down the single-use endangered high street furniture and report the numbers back to me. I have recently been able to push a huge update to the new telephone network and it's incredible. You can read the previous project update here . I am now ready to properly put it