Gavin Shoebridge – an electric vehicle nut, a keen environmentalist

                Electric Car Conversion Blog By Gavin Shoebridge

April 23rd, 2018 at 7:41 am

Coffee with Gavin and Jacques – episode 3

Coffee Gavin Jacques podcast

Some people get paid to talk. Not us. Unfortunately.

We’re starting to get good at nonsense. This is inane recorded conversation number three which took place during our Monday afternoon coffee at Eleven Books & Coffee in Bratislava’s Old Town.

In this pointless recording of complete babbling nonsense, Jacques and I talk about car modifications, we wait patiently for coffee, I then provide incredibly delicious food to the cafe owner, while Jacques mocks my cooking abilities.

So, once again for your listening pleasure/disdain, click the big shiny Play button below. If you’re ever in Eleven Books & Coffee at around midday on Monday, you’ll probably find us there.

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April 16th, 2018 at 7:40 am

Coffee with Gavin and Jacques – episode 2

Coffee Gavin Jacques podcast

Our conversations are unplanned, as you can tell by their un-professionalism

Well, we recorded another of our inane conversations during our Monday afternoon coffee.

In this recording of complete nonsense, Jacques and I discuss Belgian and New Zealand music, a mystical Dzi stone which I wear around my neck, trying on clothes, and how we have the amazing ability to both annoy and entertain the other patrons at Eleven Books & Coffee in Bratislava.

This time I decided to leave the lapel microphones at home and instead I aimed the recorder’s inbuilt microphones at Jacques and myself, hoping it would sound better than last week, while still capturing the great atmosphere of the cafe. You can be the judge.
So, once again for your listening pleasure/disdain, and at the mercy of the other cafe patrons, we started recording our stupid, meandering conversations.

Enjoy/despise by pressing the play button below. You have been warned.

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April 9th, 2018 at 7:07 am

Coffee with Gavin and Jacques – episode 1

Coffee Gavin Jacques podcast

We try to look intelligent while the cafe patrons try to look enthralled

It’s Ivan’s fault. He runs Eleven Books & Coffee in Bratislava and suggested we actually record the nonsensical conversations that Jacques and I have every Monday in his establishment.

So, for your listening pleasure/disdain, and at the mercy of the other cafe patrons, we started recording our stupid, meandering conversations.

Enjoy/despise by pressing the play button below. You have been warned.

Note: We wore lapel microphones yet I didn’t have them turned on. Next time… :)

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February 23rd, 2018 at 1:24 pm

Speak Slovak free language course

I put together this Speak Slovak free language course to help people learn the basics of the Slovak language.

It covers the essentials of the language in an easy to understand way, along with more than five hundred common words and phrases spoken by a native Slovak speaker, first spoken slowly, then at a more normal pace.

I initially offered this Speak Slovak language starter kit for $19 and the response was positive, but I soon realised I could help Slovak learners like yourself much more by making the whole thing completely free.

As well as a beginner’s grammar guide, it includes carefully pronounced common words and phrases to help you get around Slovakia. Additionally, each of these words and phrases are included as MP3 sound files which you simply download to your phone to play back at your leisure. The audio files are in both English and Slovak, to make finding them a breeze. You can also delete the ones you don’t think you’ll need, and focus on, for example, greetings or perhaps asking for wifi in a Slovak hotel.

To download the Speak Slovak free language course, click here.

My only request is that if you find it useful or enjoyable, let me know in the comment box below. That’s all the thanks I need. :)

I wish you a great day, or as they say in Slovak, Prajem vám pekný deň! (pronounced pry-em vaam peck-nee dyen)

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January 21st, 2018 at 12:44 am

Making my cheap camera slider

An example of a professional camera slider
All the TV shows are using camera sliders lately days, so I decided to jump on the bandwagon and make one myself – on a budget.

I just needed two things: a couple of curtain rails from the home improvement store and a very slow-moving electric motor.

My 30 RPM electric motor from eBay

The motor cost around $4 from eBay and can run off various voltages. A 1.5 volt battery will allow it to run super slow, while a 12 volt battery will put it into overdrive.

Then I just glued a small plastic reel (from a spool of solder) to an RC car’s wheel, which happened to fit the motor’s shaft perfectly.  Then I gave it a bucket-load of silicone rubber sealant. :)

Looking gluey…

The next part is simply a box on which the camera sits on top of the curtain rails.

My little GoPro-like camera is super light and therefore the slider box doesn’t need any wheels or feet. It’s simply too light to drag or leap about. Keeping it simple for the win!

Super simple!

I did plan on giving it some slider material to make it flow smoothly along the rails (one guy said using Velcro was ideal as it has very little surface area) but it turns out that because the camera is so light, the whole box slides along the rails effortlessly.

My €15 camera slider!

The incredibly cheap final result!

Here’s a little video clip of the unit in action:

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July 29th, 2017 at 3:24 am

Using vinegar to remove limescale from a showerhead

We had some maintenance done in our main bathroom a few weeks ago and during that time we were using the guest bathroom. No problem, right?
Well, when we were able to start using the main shower again we found a problem…

(You can click on any photo on this page to see it in full size)

As you can see in the above photo, all the lime scale that was already in the shower head seemed to have hardened and clogged the holes in the showerhead.

Here’s a close-up view of the nozzles, blocked by hard limescale:

Removing_lime_scale_from_shower_head_1

Don’t panic if this happens to you because the solution is cheap and simple: vinegar!

Removing_lime_scale_from_shower_head_2

I went to the supermarket, bought a few bottles of vinegar, then submerged the showerhead in vinegar and left it overnight.
If you can’t remove your showerhead for whatever reason, don’t worry. Just tie a plastic bag full of vinegar up and around your showerhead for a few hours.

The result:

Removing_lime_scale_from_shower_head_3

The next day (wearing gloves because vinegar stinks!) the hard limescale had turned to a sludgy deposit and most of it fell out, leaving most nozzles clear and free from obstruction.

As for the remaining clogged nozzles, I simply reinstalled the showerhead and the pressure blew out whatever soft sludgy deposits remained.

Good as new:

Removing_lime_scale_from_shower_head_4

It’s a cheap and eco-friendly method to clear limescale from a blocked showerhead and I hope you find it useful.
Also, feel free to use and share any images from this website. Attribution would be great, not it’s not essential. :)

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July 22nd, 2017 at 7:09 am

Building a mid-range virtual reality gaming PC

A friend of mine brought his Gear VR virtual reality headset over a few months ago and I was hooked. Although it was only mobile phone-based virtual reality, with limited movement and very low resolution, it stirred me into finally upgrading my six year old laptop; something I’ve been meaning to do for years. The problem is, I needed to do it on a budget…

Gaming PC enthusiasts won’t like this choice.

My first decision was what kind of case I would use. Now, call me old and boring, but “gaming” cases with flashing lights are not my style. I want a moderately-sized, unobtrusive case with clean lines. Fortunately, that meant I was able to save €80 already, as this charcoal-grey case which suited my tastes was only €24.

The power supply, fan and solid state hard drive arrived.

The next purchase was a “Keep Out” model FX700V2 power supply. At 700 watts, it seemed as if it would be offer more than enough for my machine running at maximum settings, and it was only €46. Alongside is my solid state hard drive; a 500GB Samsung SSD 850 Evo Series SATAIII device. It was quite expensive at €174, but it had excellent specs and (most importantly) I had a €100 voucher for a store which sold one.

As for the motherboard in the photo, it’s a MSI Gaming M3 B150 board, which I chose because it’s capable of handling two virtual reality graphics cards in the future, should I wish to upgrade. Best yet, this future-proofed motherboard cost €110 which wasn’t bad. I could have spent a lot more.

I should “Feel superior” apparently.

Those images on the bottom-right of the power supply worry me… Am I going to turn into one of those “PC Master Race!” people? Please tell me I won’t. Lie to me if necessary.

Good progress so far.

This computer build took me several months because, rather than save up and buy everything in one go, I bought things as money appeared. This gave me the opportunity to buy different parts from many different retailers to obtain the best price, but also it meant I installed things carefully and slowly, and read all the manuals. Something I wouldn’t do if I was excited and desperate to get it going the same day as I built it.

RAM it up your… case.

In the meantime my RAM arrived. After researching, I found out there’s typically no detectable difference between splitting RAM up into multiple 4GB slots, or just getting one big
16GB DDR4 2133MHz chip… so I got one big chip at €119. Not a bad price and I can drop in the same size and type of RAM again if need be.

Goldfinger…

Alright, I said I didn’t like “bling” and flashing lights, but the RAM did look a little dull. So, I splashed out and bought one of these gold-coloured RAM covers to make it look nice. I know, I know, I’m shallow. It does look better though, right?

More red than Simply Red performing in the red light district.

Although it had no CPU or graphics card yet, I fired it up out of curiosity. And oh boy, talk about a red light district. I can’t decide whether it’s gaudy or cool. At least the lights aren’t flashing.
I don’t know what it is about gaming PC gear and the obsession with LED lights. I mean, they don’t make it go faster. Did I mention I’m old?

The main component in a gaming PC: the graphics card.

The thing is, the graphics card is one area which you CAN NOT cut corners if you want to play the latest games in 1080p with high frame rates, as well as connect a virtual reality headset. At €570 this MSI GeForce GTX 1080 GAMING X 8G card cost more than my old laptop when it was new.

Houston: we have a problem.

So far everything had fit perfectly into my computer case, but the graphics card was an exception. It’s an absolute monster-sized component, extending to the very end of the motherboard.

That’s a little snug.

In the above photo you can see that this is one of the two auxiliary power cables which my hungry graphics card needs to operate. Unfortunately, they don’t really fit with the “shelf” of the case being so close to the top of the graphics card.

Well, it fits… technically speaking.

Well, I guess it *fits*, at least technically speaking, but it’s pushing on both the case and the card however.

This I don’t like at all so I think it’s time to break out the hacksaw!

That’s relieved the pressure.

It’s not exactly beautiful, but it could have been worse. The largest benefit of this (literal) hack is that I was able to keep my nice, clean, affordable mid-sized case.
In the meantime, more weeks passed while I saved for the next component, which would be an expensive one…

Aha, so THAT’S the reason I’m poor.

My processor arrived! This is a bit like the heart of the computer, and while not as important as the graphics processor, it’s something with which you’ll not want to cut corners. It’s an Intel Intel Core i7 7700 LGA1151 processor, and according to a processor benchmark-test website, it’s the best bang for buck I could afford at €266.

Be careful during this part.

Despite the processor installation looking like a complex procedure, I found out that it’s actually really easy. Just take your time and double-check everything’s around the right way, then lower the arm and the processor connects. Thank God.

My heat-sink arrived.

My heat-sink and fan combo arrived. It was a generic heat-sink & fan combo which cost €19 and seemed to have positive reviews.

We’re pretty much done here.

Not bad. Not bad at all. The physical installation is complete in terms of the case, and the result is clean and minimalist; just the way I wanted it.

Hidden: the way I want it.

One of the reasons I wanted everything to fit into a medium-sized (dull) case is because I always intended for my computer to sit inside my desk cupboard, so that I wouldn’t see any cables. Basically I wanted the power and upgradeability of a desktop, but the cleanliness of a laptop. I think this is a good compromise, though I did cut a fairly large hole in the back of the cabinet for airflow and when gaming I open the cupboard door.

Wireless mouse & keyboard!

To add to the clean look, my wireless “gaming” keyboard and mouse arrived. This combo was remarkably cheap at only €24, but it looks great. You do get what you pay for though, as the keys were a bit clunky and sticky for the first few weeks until they loosened up. They’re good now, thank heavens.

So, let’s get this thing fired up.

See any cables? No? That was the plan.

It works! It woooorks! And not a cable in sight! I bought a fresh copy of Windows 10 64-bit for €74, and everything installed perfectly. By the end of the first night I had installed War Thunder and was enjoying 1080p at over one hundred frames a second.

The total cost is €1545, which is a hell of a lot of money, but I’ve been told this isn’t that high, comparatively for a gaming machine.

At the risk of bragging, this machine is the fastest thing I’ve ever used: it takes twelve seconds from pressing the “On” button to boot up, load windows, and show Google as my home page.

The best part? As the construction was built over five months as I saved money, I didn’t feel the impact as heavily compared to buying everything in one go, or on a loan/credit (please don’t do that).

Now I’m working my PC hard, playing all the usual games, while saving for the next and final piece in the jigsaw: an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. The good news is that since I’ve started saving, they’ve both fallen in price!

So, if you’re thinking of upgrading your PC or building your own, don’t be scared! i haven’t built a computer for 15 years so I was scared how everything would have changed, but in reality it’s now easier than it’s ever been. Everything’s colour-coded and the plugs only go one way. Thank heavens.

Alright, time to play. PC Mas- no. I promised myself I wouldn’t. :)

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