Arthur here. Though, I'm sorry to say, not here for much longer. Don't worry! I am absolutely fine - let me explain.
Over the last few months I've been working one day a week for Bulky Bobs. It's an organisation Liverpool residents might know for collecting furniture and more from the city's homes on behalf of the council, restoring as much as possible, then selling them on at affordable or extremely affordable (free) prices.
From September, I'll be starting a brand new role at Bulky Bobs's parent company, FRC Group, which will demand my attention full time. It's a wide-ranging senior position with a goal of maximising the amount of furniture reused - leading to a healthy mix of social and environmental benefits. To turn a long and emotional decision into a brief cliché: I was made a surprise offer, and it was an offer I couldn't refuse.
I'm sure by the end of September, my time working at MCQN Ltd will feel like a dream. Ten years ago I told my family that I wanted to work in a small design studio making things with friends, and I don't think I could have got much closer than this. Over the last seven months I have gone from being scared of a multimeter to assembling, programming and even designing printed circuit boards. I put together a CNC pen plotter, played for hours with an internet-connected liver bird, and connected a coffee pot up to a golden bell - more on that last one below! MCQN Ltd is an absurdly great company to work for and I am forever grateful to Adrian for taking the risk of hiring someone with such a chaotic CV. It is probably even more chaotic now!
This is more of a 'see you later' than a 'goodbye'. I expect it will be difficult to stay away even if I wanted to, as I'll be a regular visitor to MCQN Ltd's base DoES Liverpool, both as a maker (next project: smartphone-powered bike lights) and as an event organiser for the twice-monthly Plastic Playgroup.
Some photos from today's @plastacs #plasticplaygroup @doesliverpool. Shredding and melting plastic from sweetie tubs, milk cartons and plant pots to make sheet materials for future projects #weeknotes pic.twitter.com/879f0taBk1— DoES Liverpool (@DoESLiverpool) August 22, 2021
Adrian had a couple of meetings with some marketing/PR folk, as he works out the post-Arthur plan. It was useful to get a very different perspective on things, and an idea of the scale at which different approaches make sense. He's getting a better idea of the variety of roles that it would help to have someone perform—from company storyteller, sales, marketing, through to soldering and product assembly, or early-career firmware, electronics or industrial design engineer. That will help him work out how any potential hire fits into things, although it's not clear if that makes it easier to recruit for! It seems anyone would need to cover a couple of those gaps, which makes a headline title hard to choose.
In technical work, he made a start on the code for the Metroscopes, looking at an assortment of search engine APIs, and set up a custom Google search engine that we can use.
On Museum in a Box, the next release is now almost feature-complete, there's one more small thing to add, and then he can move to packaging up the upgrade scripts and making it live.
For the Mersey Dot product we've been looking at ESPhome for the software. It lets you customise the behaviour by tweaking a config file and can be reprogrammed over the WiFi, which should let non-coders adjust it to suit their needs. Adrian took the opportunity to explore it some more to create the test firmware for Arthur to use with the Ackers Bell. We've now got an ESPhome config file which connects out to an MQTT broker, and triggers the bell whenever a given topic is published.
After working on the solenoid-mount inside the bell in search of the perfect ding, I (Arthur) couldn't resist immediately connecting the Ackers Bell up to the DoES Liverpool coffee pot. Linking it in with the established Node-RED flow, after a bit of debugging it now dings to let us know things are fully brewed. It was, um, it was more exciting than it sounds. While I was at it I also set up some LEDs using a My Baby's Got LED, to represent 'brewing' and 'just boiled' - any suggestions for appropriate colours/patterns? Our set up is more of proof of concept since the pot is quite visible. But I can see it being useful for office workers who forget they've put a pot on over on the other side of the building. While searching for an available plug socket for the bell, we found this curious little character on the floor:
This rider seems to have frightened off @ethos_mag's minifigs, and is now waiting for their coffee to brew @DoESLiverpool.— MCQN Ltd (@MCQN_Ltd) August 20, 2021
No need to look though, since the @ackers_bell will ding automatically when it's ready!#weeknotes #ibal169 #iot #esp8266 #mqtt #nodeRED pic.twitter.com/64UCV5coXJ
Lastly, we've remembered to include the new teleprinter video this week. The great reassembling started and the new electronics interface got soldered up.