Making things

It’s been a fairly productive weekend so far, with two projects completed.

Last year I bought a portable DVD player with the intention of being able to watch episodes of various things before falling asleep in bed at night. This worked extremely well until I was distracted by the purchase of my eReader, which allows me to read without the need for a bedside light – necessary as my alarm clock automatically turns the light on and off gradually, thus limiting the amount of time I could actually see to read using it. This, of course, left the DVD player with rather less to do.

A couple of days ago I decided to bring the DVD player upstairs to the dining room, there to amuse me as I sit at the dining table doing craft stuff (there is only so much BBC News 24 that even I can take). So last night I found myself sort-of-watching The Goodies whilst making my first attempts at a Japanese paper fan. Not just because it’s an essential accessory for the well-dressed samurai at court, but also in case it gets a bit hot at Raglan next weekend.

I’d picked up some thin wood strips and cut them to size while in the UK, but as I couldn’t find any large origami paper (which seems to be the recommended material for paper fans) ended up buying vellum instead, on the grounds that it is both strong and decorative.

Bad idea. It may be strong and decorative, but the transparency that gives it its beauty makes the supporting vanes very visible. Even if I hadn’t decided that the vanes would be black (I was hoping to use enamel paint so that they looked lacquered but didn’t have time) I’m pretty sure they’d be visible.

So I tore that up and started again with some craft paper I’d picked up yesterday just in case something went wrong (and discovered that AB Búðin, the main craft shop in town, is indeed closing down). Unfortunately there wasn’t much choice in terms of design, but I managed to find something that’ll do for now. Version two is far more pleasing, although a bit uneven as I couldn’t find a small protractor and had to use the one built into the drawing board, which proved rather trickier to maniuplate than a standard semicircular one.

The hinge is a thick cord with a button knot at each end. It’ll do for the weekend. I’ll have a look around for more suitable paper on my travels to make a version that not only folds and unfolds more easily, but also allows me to get a larger angle on the paper… although I could just shorten the vanes, but then the whole thing would shrink. No, I think that larger pieces of paper are what’s needed here.

The fans are not the only thing I’ve been making this weekend though. After the trials and tribulations of having my Galileoscope delivered to the university in case it came while I was away, I finally picked it up yesterday. This morning, to the accompaniment of Saturday Kitchen Choice Cuts, I opened it up.

It’s a lot larger than I was expecting; fully assembled it’s about 70cm long extending to about 85 with the focussing piece fully extended. The assembly process is straightforward, although the instructions that come with it could do with rather more illustrations to make them foolproof. It has a total of seven lenses, six of which are in the two eyepieces: an 18x Galilean configuration and a 25x normal one, both of which can be slotted together to form a 50x Barlow eyepiece.