Lego Creator: Mini Cooper Build

MiniCooperBoxJust thought I’d post a few pictures of my latest Lego build.

This time it’s the legendary Mini Cooper in proper British Racing green. This was a fun build and a bit simpler than the Ferrari I built a while back. I think the brick count was a fair bit lower too. My parents had a Mini when I was a child and I have a lot of fond memories of various days out and holidays that revolved around a family of 4 squeezing into such a little car. Building this model brought a lot of those memories back. I’m delighted with the finished product, it features opening doors, reclining seats with adjustable headrests, opening bonnet with engine bay and a boot that reveals a removable picnic basket and blanket! Highly recommended to both Lego collectors and anyone who just wants a pretty cool model Mini to display.

Adding Bluetooth Audio to a Range Rover Sport Mk1

range-rover-sport-mk1

Mk1 Range Rover Sport

If, like me, you were disappointed to discover that your beautiful, highly specc’d Range Rover Sport Mk1 did not come equipped with Bluetooth Audio then I have a solution for you that will cost less than £20. Once you’ve got hold of the kit the whole job should only take you about 5 minutes.

The first thing you need to purchase is a USB car charger adaptor for your rear cigarette lighter socket. The more slimline the better, I used this one which was £5.99 at time of writing and works really well. In fact I’ve got one of these in my front power socket too!

Next you need purchase yourself this little gadget from Amazon (£8.95 at the time of writing) which is a bluetooth audio receiver and will convert your bluetooth audio back into good old analogue for your Range Rover sound system to play.

These are the 2 gizmos you need to purchase before proceeding any further…

Once they’ve arrived follow these super-easy instructions below to enjoy wireless music playing in your car.

Bluetooth Adaptor

Bluetooth Adaptor connected to Aux rear aux socket

First off you need to plug the USB adaptor into the rear passengers power socket (it hides underneath a flap on the centre armrest). Now plug the Bluetooth receiver into that USB adaptor . Finally you need to plug one end of the (supplied) auxiliary audio cable into the socket on the end of the Bluetooth adaptor and the other end into the aux socket on the back of the centre armrest, located just to the left of the power socket. That’s it for the hardware side of things, the next step is configuring your phone.

Android Bluetooth Screen

Screenshot showing Bluetooth adaptor paired.

The next stage of the install requires your backside in the drivers seat and turning on the ignition. Get your phone out and go to the ‘Add Bluetooth devices’ part of the phone settings. I have tested this with both an Android Marshmallow Galaxy S7 and an Android Nougat Huawei Mate 9 with no issues, although the settings on all phones will probably look a little different. I see no reason why this wouldn’t work for an iPhone/iPod but I don’t have access to any Apple stuff so can’t guarantee it.I’d be very surprised if you had an issue though.

Once you have got to the ‘add Bluetooth devices’ screen, make sure your bluetooth is turned on and wait for the device ‘BTR003’ to appear. This is the bluetooth adaptor – add it as a paired device (there is no pairing code) for ‘Media Audio’ ONLY and you should be good to go. Turn on your Range Rover sound system and select AUX as the input and play some music on your phone and it should come through loud and clear! I find the AUX input a little on the quiet side compared to the CD and Radio but you can easily compensate by turning the volume up on your phone and/or the sound system itself. Every time you get in your car and turn on the ignition your phone will automatically pair with the bluetooth adaptor so you should never have to mess with the settings again – it’ll just work. Your phone will still work for bluetooth handsfree calling through the car phone as that uses a separate ‘Call Audio’ bluetooth connection.

Aux Input

Range Rover Stereo Aux Input

Have fun and if you find a better way to do this or have any questions please contact me!

I know it’s not a perfect solution as the adaptor does stick out a few cm and if you have kids in the back it may not last long… but as it’s just me and the wife in our car I’ve not had a problem so far…

Lego Creator: Ferrari F40 Build

FerrariF40BoxAfter a recent trip to the Lego Discovery centre in the Trafford Center in Manchester I noticed that they have started doing some very cool looking cars as part of their ‘Creator’ series. My wife kindly treated me to the Ferrari F40 model (after I dropped some pretty big hints that I fancied it) which I have just finished building. The box contains almost 1,200 peices of lego and took me several hours to build but given the cost of the kit I’d expect nothing less. Rather than just show pictures of the finished build I thought it might be fund to have a go at capturing the build, stop-motion style… it hasn’t turned out quite as well as I would have liked (probably didn’t take enough pictures) but here goes anyway!

Ferrari F40

The finished article:

This is the strip that needs to be removed

Changing a Boogie Board Battery

Boogie Board LCD Slate/Tablet

Boogie Board LCD Slate/Tablet

A couple of years ago I bought a cool looking gadget called a Boogie Board from Firebox. Intention was to attach it to the fridge-freezer and use it as a paperless notepad for shopping lists, reminders and so on. It has performed that job flawlessly until a week ago when it suddenly refused to erase the contents of the screen. To cut a long story short, the battery was flat and without any power the e-ink display (similar to the original Kindle) couldn’t be erased. The device is sold with a NON-REPLACEABLE 3V battery and is supposed to last for 50,000 screen wipes before losing charge. I’ve had the thing for not much longer than 2 years and even if it had been used and wiped every single day that would be less than 800 wipes, a figure massively short of the touted 50K. I’ve probably erased it once or twice a week so probably erased it 250-300 times, tops!!! When you consider that is cost me £30 and they expect me to throw it in the bin and get another one you can imagine I was not too pleased!

So, being a tinkerer and having nothing to lose if things went wrong I decided to open it up and see if there was anything I could do to salvage it. Turns out it is fitted with a normal 3v Lithium CR2032 Button Cell with the only complication being that it is soldered onto the small PCB inside. The good news is these can be purchased off eBay for less than £2, complete with the solder tags – a much better prospect than throwing a perfectly good product in the bin and spending £30 to replace it! Incidentally, I did try my local Maplins but they don’t stock this type of battery..

I thought I’d share my exploits in case it can help anyone else in a similar situation.

 

Prising the cover off

Prising the cover off with a screwdriver

First off, you need to remove the thick top strip (the bit that houses the erase button). There are no screws, it appears to just clip into place by means of four studs spaced across the width of the board. I was able to carefully prise this strip off using a very thin precision flat-head screwdriver, just be careful not to push the screwdriver in too far as you may damage the components inside.

 

Boogie Board with cover removed

Boogie Board with cover removed

Once it is off you will be able to see the old battery in the centre, soldered to the PCB by means of two ‘tags’. You will need to de-solder the old battery to make way for the new one. Be careful though, I was a little ham-fisted and accidentally pulled away some of the solder pad on one side – luckily enough remained to allow me to continue.

 

Old battery removed

Old battery removed

Here’s the PCB with the old battery removed.

 

 

 

Replacement 3V CR2032 Battery

Replacement 3V CR2032 Battery

Here’s the replacement battery, complete with tags. You need to make sure you observe the polarity of the tags when you solder it back onto the PCB otherwise it may not work.

 

New battery fitted

New battery fitted

Once the battery is soldered back on, check the erase function now works by depressing the little silver switch to the top left of the battery. You can then replace the cover strip by simply pressing it back into place and you’ll have a fully working Boogie Board once more!

 

My fixed Boogie Board

My fixed Boogie Board

Forza 5 – Benchmarking the P1

Thought I would try out the Xbox One’s GameDVR and Upload Studio facility whilst going for the ‘Benchmarking the P1’ challenge in Forza 5…

Anyone interested in getting this challenge/achievement should purchase the McLaren P1 and head over to the Old Mulsanne Le Mans Circuit. The challenge requires you to hit 245mph – this is easily achievable on the long straight. I was able to briefly hit 246mph with a fair amount of straight track left ahead. I did this under the ‘test drive’ facility so there wouldn’t be any traffic in the way. The challenge didn’t actually ‘pop’ until I quit the test drive so don’t expect it to pop as soon as you hit 245mph.

Anyway here’s the video – it’s come straight from Upload Studio via SkyDrive and hasn’t been re-edited in any way. The quality is pretty decent but it’s heavily compressed which makes the resulting video appear sub-HD. No match for the Elgato capture card then, but for speed and convenience it’s hard to beat.

Forza 5 ‘Zeotrope’

Just watched this and it really captured my imagination. As a PR stunt they guys at Turn 10 have setup hundreds, if not thousands of static photos from Forza 5 around the outside of a racetrack… then hurtled a McLaren 12c supercar around it at 120mph with a camera on the back. What happens then is that these static images become animated at high speed – bit like when you drew little match-stick men in different poses on the corner of the pages of your school books and then thumbed quickly through them to make them ‘move’. The result is a video of Forza 5 in action – but viewed from a moving vehicle with real world scenery zooming past in the background creating quite a surreal effect.

It’s easier to understand, and much more entertaining, to just watch the video…

First look at XBox One Dashboard in action!

Don’t know how long this video will be available for as I’m pretty sure Microsoft won’t be impressed when they see it – guy has probably broken his NDA to show it.

Anyway it’s a video showing the XBox One dashboard and briefly displays Ryse being launched and the dashboard being brought up whilst the game still carries on running in a window.  Looks pretty sweet to me.

XBox One Launch Day Confirmed 22nd November 2013!!!

Really excited today after Microsoft have finally announced the official world-wide launch date for the XBox One!

It’s Friday 22.11.13 so I know exactly what I’ll be doing all of that weekend now!

Not only that but they have also announced that the CPU in the production version will be running 150Mhz (10%) faster than previously reported, clocking in at 1.75Ghz instead of 1.6Ghz. This is on top of the 6% GPU improvement announced a short while ago.

Finally to really make my day I’ve just discovered that Amazon and Game are offering free copies of Forza 5 (instead of Fifa 14) with pre-orders! I got my pre-order in months ago in my local Game store so I just hope I’ll be eligible for the Forza 5 version as I hate Fifa!

Now all I need to do is decide whether I’m going to go ‘all digital’ with my game purchases this XBox generation????

XBox One Forza 5 bundle

XBox One Forza 5 bundle