Tripod support ring for Lumix 100-300mm lens

Wednesday 30 January 2019 at 04:34 am

Home-made solution for a tripod support ring for my Panasonic Lumix 100-300mm lens HFS100300.  My camera body is the tiny GM-5 so it already looks ridiculous with a big lens, and there was never any chance of it working properly on a tripod.

There doesn't seem to be a genuine Panasonic unit, and the only other one I found was a bespoke German-made one which is really expensive, as well as being quite difficult to source. Yeah, it looks lovely and doesn't need a screwdriver to fit, but the look of the thing isn't really an issue, and I'm a cheapskate, so I thought I'd try to make my own.  I toyed with the idea of buying a ring for another camera and modifying that, but this is way cheaper!

Based on a 67mm Munsen ring (I learned a new thing - a Munsen ring is a pipe clip/support commonly used in construction, and this one's threaded mount is usually connected to Unistrut in a building by a threaded bar).  It comes with a rubber cushion which is a bit bulky so I binned that.  Cost me a couple of quid off eBay, but you may even find cheaper at your local plumbing store.

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First I Dremeled a hole for the lens' image stabilisation switch. 

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Then bolted on an aluminium plate.  Originally I was going to drill and tap the tripod mount hole, but I found a brass insert from an old action-cam mount and press-fitted it in (carefully drill the right-sized hole then squeeze in a vice to force the insert through). 

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To protect the lens I used heatshrink on the top (again, cutting a hole through for the switch).  I found I'd run out of the right-sized heatshrink for the bottom so I glued in a strip of scrap leather

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Fitting to the camera - had to be careful not to squeeze it too hard as it makes the zoom ring stiff to turn, so I experimented with different washer thicknesses to give the perfect grip without affecting operation.  Finally a bit of work on the grinding wheel to round off the corners of the bar.

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More by luck than judgement the balance is now pretty much perfect, so now I've no excuse not to go out for some fancy wildlife pics.

Walking round Norwich's City Walls

Sunday 08 July 2018 at 11:54 am

Map of a walk I made around the route of Norwich's mediaeval city wall, of which there is quite a lot remaining.  I took in Pull's Ferry and Cow Tower (a separate artillery tower not directly related to the orignal wall) as they were on the way.  Feel free to use the map if it's helpful.

Old City Wall, Barn Road Norwich Old City Wall, Carrow Bridge Norwich Old City Wall, Carrow Hill Norwich Old City Wall, Carrow Hill Norwich Old City Wall, Chapelfield Road Norwich Old City Wall, Grapes Hill Norwich Old City Wall, Magdalen St Norwich Old City Wall, Silver Road Norwich

Querying printer status via SNMP and PHP

Wednesday 18 October 2017 at 10:02 am

Background - my work (a college) migrated to a centralised printing system using about 15 multi-function Samsung printers.  As a support tech I wanted a single view which reported consumables and error statuses so we could see at a glance where supplies are low (only us technicians are allowed to replenish toner & paper).  Samsung do their own client software but I could never get it to work how I wanted.  This is what my page looks like (I've obliterated the name/location info for privacy):

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Here's how I did it...

First I used a program called Frameflow SNMP browser to connect to a printer to find the SNMP OIDs I needed.  This was the tricky bit.  There are hundreds of OIDs, and by trial and error I found the right ones to build my script.  I worked out that paper levels are reported as a figure ouf of 520 (presumably the tray capacity in pages).  When calculated as a percentage they report at 100, 70, 30 and 10%.  Toners are reported out of 30000 and our black high-capacity cartridges are out of 45000.  The PHP in the script calculates these as percentages for reporting.

I had to Google the OIDs because Frameflow reported the names differently to what's needed by PHP SNMPGET, so for example ".iso.org.dod.internet.mgmt.mib-2.43.11.1.1.9.1.1" translates to "1.3.6.1.2.1.43.11.1.1.9.1.1".  You can see there's a pattern.

In summary, the PHP gets a list of IPs, then queries each one for name/location/serial/toner and paper figures and prints this out on a web page.  Some fancy JQuery stuff (I don't pretend to know anything about this, I roped in our web developer for that) makes the nice progress bars.  The web page auto-refreshes every 60 seconds, and there's a 'last updated' timestamp and a countdown to the next update.  The background colour of each machine changes from green to amber to red depending on the printer's reported status.   I run it on a dedicated old laptop, running it in IE's kiosk mode and starting/stopping it on a scheduled task.  It fires up at 8am, then goes to sleep at 5pm.

I can't seem to display code very effectively on this website, so I've printed the code pages to pdfs if you want to download:

PHP main page
CSS stylesheet
JS countdown script

 webpage  frameflow  ink  paper 

EDIT Jan 2019 - Our Samsung contract has ended and the printers are being replaced with HP PageWide machines.  I can confirm that this information works with minor tweaking for the new HPs.

The Times Tables Video (2 to 6)

Wednesday 06 September 2017 at 7:16 pm

My daughter was told to learn her times tables over the summer holidays, and I wanted to come up with a way of helping her remember, and a project for both of us to get involved in.  As I have access to a live blues band, I thought a song would be the ideal thing, and we then made this silly video together...

Click to view fullscreen

DIY Motorcycle Panniers

Saturday 24 June 2017 at 9:47 pm

I wanted a little extra carrying capacity on my bike (a Yamaha TDM850) so have been looking at panniers.  I hate the look of topboxes as they spoil the look of a bike, and I wanted a small, light set of cases that didn't add width to the bike.  All the options to buy are too big, too heavy, too expensive, and really difficult to find - it is after all a 21-year old bike.  So the DIY option was the only way.

Cases
These needed to be small, fairly narrow, and light.  I originally looked at army surplus ammunition boxes, but they're metal and heavy.  I stumbled upon these Plano field boxes in an eBay search which suited the project perfectly. Plano Mouldings.  They're about the same size as an A4 piece of paper. Not massive capacity, but just the job for me.  Waterproof seal, lockable (with a padlock), with carrying handles.  Lovely.

Racks
Now to mount them on the bike.  Other similar projects use welded frames out of tube or box section, but my welding isn't up to much, and these cases are light enough not to need it.  So the project was made with 2mm strip steel, threaded bar, flush mirror mounts and a load of nuts and shakeproof washers.

I made drop brackets at front and rear - front: used a longer undertray bolt to add an L-bracket; rear: metal strip sandwiched between chassis and subframe, picking up the existing bolt to secure.  Threaded bar across, protected from the elements with some heatshrink tubing.  

The frame has a top bar, onto which the mount plates are riveted, and a diagonal strut which picks up the exhaust/footrest hanger.  The cases have the corresponding mount plates riveted on with another strip of steel for strength, plus a through bolt attaching to the diagonal by a wingnut so the whole lot doesn't fall off.  After a few weeks of testing in the field I've replaced the rivets with proper screws & Nyloc nuts, and given the boxes a coat of silver paint with black accents for that fake Touratech look (and fake sticker) - see last pic.

pannier 1006 pannier 1004 pannier 1007 pannier 1008 pannier 1016 pannier 1003 pannier 1009 pannier 1010 panniers

Wacom Intuous Tablet Driver SCCM deployment

Friday 24 February 2017 at 3:11 pm

I was tasked with installing drivers for Wacom Intuous graphics tablet to multiple rooms/computers which has always been a manual job.  Today I found it can be done via SCCM or other deployment tool.  The driver I used was the Universal Driver 6.3.17-3, although they all look pretty similar.  Steps were as follows:

  • Use 7zip to extract the installation files from the downloaded .exe
  • Use the silent switches (discovered by accident/guesswork) to run on your favourite deployment system
  • SETUP.EXE -SILENT -NORESTART
  • Detection method for SCCM (I'm sure there are loads, but this was the first one I found, and it works, so why look further?)
  • Registry HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\CurrentVersion\Uninstall\Wacom Tablet Driver\DisplayVersion = 6.3.17-3

That's it.

Wacom Intuos Windows 10 Tap & Hold Right Click Disable

Friday 20 May 2016 at 1:51 pm

Just got a Wacom Intuos Pro tablet thingummy for Photoshop shenanigans, and was constantly annoyed by the Windows feature whereby you tap and hold to create a right-click, a little animated circle appears followed by the context-sensitive right-click menu.  All fine and dandy unless you're doing precision Photoshop things, when it's too sensitive.  Every time I tried to do anything, the spinny circle kept popping up, to my eternal annoyance.

Some Googling pointed to disabling a setting in Pen and Touch (Control Panel > Hardware & Sound > Tablet PC Settings > Other tab > Go to Pen and Touch).  There you can disable the Press and Hold Right click feature.

In my case, however, the Wacom driver had hijacked these control panels and wouldn't let me access them.  The solution was to stop the Wacom Professional Service (Start, type services.msc, find the entry for Wacom, right-click, stop the service), change the options as above, then restart the service.

I'm in a domain environment, so it remains to be seen how much of this sticks after logoff, but at least I can now muck about on Photoshop without constantly saying 'Grrrr'.

Windows Cannot Connect to Printer Error 0x00000057

Thursday 12 May 2016 at 3:43 pm

When adding a network printer to a Windows PC (in our case Samsung X7600s by Group Policy), sometimes the printer doesn't appear, and when attempting a manual install you get Operation Failed with Error 0x00000057.

There are a lot of forum posts about this, many of which talk about mucking around with security permissions, copying folders from known good machines and that sort of shenanigans.  None of this worked for me, so here's my solution.  It's not actually a solution to the underlying problem, but it is a reasonable workround for the symptoms.

On the offending PC, go to Devices & Printers and go through the Add New Printer process to add a local printer.  It doesn't matter about ports because you're going to delete it straight away.  Use the 'Have Disk' option and point to the correct driver.  If you're asked about driver versions, choose to Replace the Current Driver.

Once the install has finished, delete the printer entry you've just created, then try adding the network machine again.  Boom.

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