“Get a Real Job”
July - Sept 2020
Time is moving scarily fast for being in lockdown with not much to do (but plenty to worry about). Apparently, it’s because I’m not making lots of memories, or making lots of similar memories (sitting at the work bench coding, designing and soldering stuff) and so everything blends into itself. Or I’m getting old.
The title of the blog is just one of the thousands of idiotic things people have said to me. I ask them if I don’t have to declare future earnings or pay tax, seeing as I don’t have a “real job” - which usually shuts them up.
I really shouldn’t get angry about the mess people seem to want to keep voting themselves into. On with the projects…
Converting More Fairy Lights
Contrary to what you may think, I enjoy both LED and traditional/conventional tungsten lighting. I bought a set of tungsten fairy lights for above my workbench and was content leaving them as-is. Of course they had other ideas and failed a week later; it wasn’t the fuse bulb or the fuse in the plug. I decided that instead of testing each individual bulb, I’d convert them to LED, and make a video about it.
Neon Fairy Lights
This was one of those projects where I wanted to build some Neon Fairy Lights (a BigClive project), but wondered about combining them with a neon relaxation oscillator circuit. I designed a rudimentary PCB layout in Sprint, went to copper and am pleased with the result. Very flickery and very hard to take a still photo of.
Hard Hat Lightbulb Holder
I decided I needed a display case for my custom test tube-type lamps/bulbs. I got the idea for this from Big Clive’s “Monstrosity of Great Luminosity”, essentially half a dozen or so light sockets installed into a gerbil ball. I used a hard hat for my project, partly because I had it to hand, but mostly because this project is the antithesis of health and safety which the hard hat represents.
To be safe-ish, I fashioned an insulation resistance test accessory lead for my PAT tester - this basically allowed me to test for L/N shorts before applying mains power.
Neon Flower in a Dome Thing
This is inspired by another BigClive project, and while he hasn’t published a guide for the whole project, he did explain how to make the neon flowers here: . It was just a matter of designing a power supply base board by playing around with component layouts in Sprint Layout before going to copper, then soldering in the neon stems I had made.
The usual warnings about working with mains voltage apply.
BigClive made some of his PCB designs freely available for anyone (such as myself) to download and send off to a PCB manufacturer for production. I opted to use the services of JLCPCB; and after less than 2 weeks had elapsed, I had 5 of Clive’s Gallium PCBs. I built the first one with RGB 5mm Slow changing LEDs. The second one was assembled with flashing green and blue LEDs - Auld Firm Style.
Not wanting to be known as “The Poundland Big Clive” - actual quote, and yes, they WERE aware of the irony - I wanted to design and manufacture my own decorative board. Clive did say that he was a bit miffed at not being able to source flashing pink LEDs (and didn’t want to use LED flasher ICs).
As Clive’s PCB was called Gallium - after the Gallium Phosphide, Gallium Nitride & Gallium Arsenide LED technologies, I called mine ARSE. As I show in the video, I noticed that you could use the combined forward voltage of the LED junction and IC to divert current away from a parallel-connected pink LED, using a bias diode as required.
In both of these projects, I recycle the base from a burned out compact fluro lamp to make new bulbs formed out of stems made from stiff wire, using Neons and LEDs as the light sources. Although the wire is from a reputable supplier (Rapid Electronics) and is rated for our mains voltage, it is not double insulated and so the end product would fail a safety test. However, that’s not a problem for those of us with basic sense and knowledge of electricity.
Jojoba Bunny PCB
This project was based on the outline of an Instagram Bunny called Jojoba.
It features a stupid amount of 3mm RGB LEDs in 2 series circuits, each powered from the mains by a capacitive dropper. This Bunny PCB has been a long time in the making, going thru various design false-starts and whatnot. As you’ll see from the video, I made a few beginner design mistakes - mostly with drill-sizes and pad-sizes. Practice makes perfect.
Dundee By Light
I’ve been helping out with a few lighting gigs for local community causes. Dundee by Light was one of the organisations I offered my help to (while maintaining social distancing).
UK Live Events workers need support to survive lockdown.
We have supported the economy and the country.
We should not be ignored.
I took part in local efforts alongside a theatre colleague (while maintaining social distancing) to help raise awareness of various campaigns highlighting the plight of theatre and live events workers. On all occasions, I reached out to my local councillor to ask for his support (a mention or a share on social media) as he claims to support local jobs and investment. He ignored all my communications.
#LightItInRed 6th July
My first effort was a video showing how I made trashy gobos for a cheap 10W LED moving head from PCB transparency film - the gobo pattern being the logo from a company I enjoyed working for pre-lockdown - AudioWave.
#LightItShed 11th August
As a show of solidarity with other live events workers in the UK and beyond, I teamed up with a theatre colleague (while still maintaining social distancing) to light up his shed red, in lieu of #LightItRed and #LightItInRed - we used a solar-charged battery array and a pure sine wave inverter to power three 20W RGB LED floods and RGB LED battens.
This social media campaign had little to no mainstream media interest. Better luck next time?
#WeMakeEvents 30th September
I made a video showing me assembling one of BigCliveDotCom’s Gallium PCBs with flashing red LEDs, with a very angry rant that was whittled down over several weeks and run past my solicitor - mostly due to the scathing attack on a local councillor.
As you’ll either know or have guessed, I’m involved in live events - theatre, concerts, bands, DJs, raves, conferences, etc. I also carry out services such as PAT testing and repairs for production companies and events individuals. Being in work meant I was also able to volunteer my services for charity and non-profit events. When the COVID-19 lockdown hit, I became unemployed.
The government have banned us from working - yet they are not providing adequate support. Any support package provided by the government would be a drop in the ocean compared to the amount we bring into the economy.
To those who say the taxpayer cannot afford to subsidise the arts and live events - I say this: we cannot afford NOT TO subsidise the arts and live events. We’ve already paid £5 BILLION to tax-evading/non-existant companies and for PPE that doesn’t exist and software that doesn’t work.
For those that say it’s not a real job or that it’s not viable - it was a real enough job when we were paying income tax, business rates, VAT and national insurance contributions. Our business is only not viable because we’ve been banned from working. We supported the economy and paid into the country.
My local conservative councillor claims to have a degree in economics and claims to be a “passionate advocate for local jobs and investment”; so I thought it was a good idea to ask him to show support for us. He ignored or blocked me on all online platforms. I sent snail mail recorded and signed for. He or someone in his office has signed for it and has so far ignored that as well.
He has since been active on Twitter, having a go at SNP councillors for not focusing on their constituents…
We’ve had difficulty in obtaining media coverage; if the tabloids are unable to print their scaremongering horseshit for just one day, it’s an “assault on freedom of speech” and social media goes apeshit on their behalf. Yet when hundreds of thousands are protesting peacefully about facing preventable destitution all you hear is more lies about the EU, immigrants, foreigners, the SNP, Labour, Sturgeon, Corbyn, or what some z-lister had for tea. So myself and others in my industry have been lighting up buildings, posting to social media and writing to our elected officials help to shine a light on our cause, so to speak.
Reid Park Band Stand
My lighting solutions literally don’t cost the earth - as evidenced by the solar-charged battery array and pure-sine wave inverter we used to power our lighting efforts in The Reid Park in Forfar.
Peter Reid Statue
We’ve had several messages from locals, including “Wish you guys were getting more support”, “It’s not right that you’re being ignored” & “I wish I could have come down to see it - looks amazing - shame we can’t do socially-distanced events like this”.
Reid Park Arch
Finally, the entrance to the Reid Park. AKA #LightItReid
UK Live Events workers have supported the economy & country.
We need meaningful support to survive lockdown.
More info: #WeMakeEvents.com
COVID-19 brings out the worst in people…
Tory Voter: “Commie Corbyn wants to redistribute your wealth and cost you your job!”
Also Tory Voter: “The Government shouldn’t be supporting jobs - we should redistribute the wealth of musicians!”
One More Thing…
Feel free to follow & support me and suggest ideas on my YouTube Channel.
Technical services for events, theatre, private parties, raves, discos, music production, weddings and charity functions. Tech Crew, sound engineering, on-location recording and mixing, PAT Testing, spot-op, cam-op, lighting setup and control, equipment service and repair, hire and sales, PCB prototype and circuit design, installation and consulting. Serving Dundee, Forfar, Kirriemuir, Arbroath, Carnoustie, Montrose, Monifieth, Broughty Ferry and Perth. Will travel further afield to Falkirk, Glasgow, Inverness and Edinburgh by appointment.