Windows XP has now been officially dead for 3 years now. Yes it really has been that long since Microsoft cut off support for the wheezing old grampus. Has the lack of support really changed anything though?
Well, for me at least, no. I still use my aging WinXP machine every day. It may be an aging laptop (DELL Latitude X300) with a wonky screen, iffy keyboard and unreliable battery, but having long ago been re-purposed as a desktop (new screen, keyboard and mouse – total cost £35), it is still working remarkably well. Sure, I don’t play games on it (except a hooky version of WoW on my testing server – but shush about that), but nothing else has changed.
The machine itself is nearly 14 years old, which in today’s fast paced computing terms puts it about on the same level as a car built in the 1950s. And like a certain vehicle made in the 1950s, these buggers were made to last (Land Rover Series I, if you wondered).
Like an elderly car, you can’t expect miracles with a 14 year old laptop running a 15 year old operating system. You aren’t going to set any speed records, or impress anyone, but if you know your limits, you’ll be ok.
I still regard computers mainly as tools, so I enshew the bells and whistles and shiny things that attract idiots. I hated Tablets until I was given one, but thats another story.
So for the tools I use: Context, PuTTY, VB6, PhotoShop CS2, Filezilla, the Arduino IDE, OpenOffice, TightVNC and Firefox, everything works fine.
But surely, you ask, don’t you have problems with viruses? Well, in a word, no. Because I’m not an idiot.
This is a guide to motorising the Balloon and Railcoach Blackpool trams made by Corgi, using the motor units made and sold by Connexions2011 on ebay (There is no direct link to the specific unit, as eBay items are ephemeral, so you’ll just have to go by the photo to identify the item you need).
This may seem like nothing more that a re-write of their instructions, but it includes my observations and thoughts on the process as it goes along. With photos.
What you will need
A Balloon or Railcoach model.
For this I’ll be using the Balloon tram.
A motor unit
3mm Phillips screwdriver
A Dremel (or cheap Maplin copy)
A straight bit of OO track
Somthing to keep the bits in – I use a Bold 2in1 detergent box – its the perfect size:
So here we go…
Start by taking out the screws A, B and C.
The lifeguards at the ends should just pull away. Put everything you’ve removed in the storage box. And assume that from now on you’ll be doing the same with everything you remove.
Next get the Dremel (or cheap Maplin clone) out, and drill around both of the metal poles between the wheelsets with a 1mm bit. Make a better job of it than I did.
You can now prise the base plate off by inserting a thin blade under each end of it, twisting slightly, and dropping the wheelsets on the floor. You’ll be wanting to pick them up.
Now you should have some twisted melted plastic bits stuck to the ends of the poles.
By a combination of whittling, grinding, and frantically twisting with a pair of pliers, these should come off an allow the whole tram to fall apart.
At this point you might want to do any dressing up of the top deck that you have planned, such as painting the floors, adding seat upholstery and mounting figures. I’m not doing that on this one.
Now you should have the roof unit with two poles sticking out from it.
These have to be removed, but take a lot of wiggling to do so. You might want to unbolt the pantograph/trolley pole mounting to avoid damage. If you do so, remember to re-attach it afterwards, just to avoid the screaming later on.
For now put the upper deck diecast part, upper glazing unit and upper seating area to one side. We’ll get back to them in a while.
Take the lower seating deck, and pull out the steps.
This is where we get destructive. We need to cut out a large area of the lower seating area. This is also where I deviate from the suggested instructions. The suggested idea is to re-mount the outer wheelsets. I’m not doing that, so I’m cutting the mounting points out and running the tram as a four-wheeler. This is in an attempt to get the tram to negotiate a tighter curve than a 12″ radius.
I’ll get back to that in a moment, but for now let us deal with the upper deck sections, lower deck casing and lower deck glazing part.
Glue them together so that they all fit. Superglue is good.
Now we get to the nitty-gritty. We need to make the motor unit fit into the lower seating deck area in such a way that
If you are squeamish about poor workmanship, stop reading now, cos its going to get really ugly.
Cut out enough of the lower deck to fit the motor in:
Fit the motor from below:
Now get it in to place to that the wheels are clear of the plastic and its got this much clearance:
At this point you should be marking out where to drill mounting holes and brackets and things of that kidney. So I just decided to hold the ends in place with lumps of Milliput:
These pics also show that the ends of the baseplate and life savers have been refitted.
Now all that there is to do it put the already assembled upper section on top of it, and have a look at it:
You can hardly tell that there aren’t bogies under there!
Back in the long long ago, the before time (ok, December 2010), Blizzard released World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, and everyone got all excited as they usually do. Then people got upset that their favourite race/class got downpowered, then they became happy that they could fly in the old lands for the first time, and that kept them busy for a while.
Alliance fanboys played rolled up Worgen characters and played their way through the new dedicated starting area. They were amazed to see an amazing cod Victorian-Gothic land with some fantastic architecture and landscape, and of course, big fucking werewolves.
From the brooding darkness of Gilneas City, to the grandeur of Greymane Manor, the Gilneas starting zone is wonderful. It is a series of well thought out quest chains, stunning cutscenes, and… well then it ends. The character getting shuffled off to Rut’theran Village on Teldrassil, and Gilneas is never spoken of again.
Unlike the Goblin (and later Pandaren) starting areas, which are off on separate islands that can’t be returned to, Gilneas is on the Eastern Kingdoms mainland. You can go back there, but it most will have no reason to. There are no quests, no NPCs, no… anything, except a stunning and forgotten zone.
This makes is idea for roleplaying in, and, if you are in to such things, modifying to add quests and NPCs (but that is a subject for another day).
Get to Gilneas!
Well, to put it bluntly, one does not simply fly in to Gilneas.
Horde characters have a flightpoint at The Forsaken Front in Silverpine Forest, which is just north of the wall. (You might be lucky enough to have the Forsaken Forward Command flightpoint in Gilneas itself, but its not guaranteed).
The closest that Alliance players have to offer is Chillwind Camp in the Western Plaguelands, which is a long flight/run over/though Hillsbrad away.
Because of this faffery, if I were to be modding Cata WoW to add new content in Gilneas, I’d make it suitable for Level 60, as by that level the characters can fly in to it. Or, I’d make portals to get there. But I’m clearly not doing that as it is Against The Rules.
No matter how you get there, get there if you can.
For now I’m just going to look at Gilneas City itself. The surrounding zone is the subject of another time.
So I suppose we should start with a map.
The city, as you can see, is roughly circular and split in to five areas, which I’ll look at in turn, highlighting all the usable buildings and other features of note.
1-10 denote open doors leading to small single room areas, large enough to hold maybe one NPC and some clutter.
11 is a small graveyard.
12 is the ruined market square.
If I were doing anything here, I’d put traders in the buildings and the square, and maybe a mourner at the graveyard.
1 leads to a cellar full of cannons and cannonballs.
2 and 3 lead to stair up and over the the roof, connecting to each other.
1 leads to a tunnel that exits out in the main zone.
2 & 3 are entrances to a small inn like building with a bedroom upstairs.
This area is a bit dull. There are no buildings to enter, just two large areas full of tents with Alliance banners by them.
Light’s Dawn Cathedral
The Cathedral is just one large room. Maybe you could stage a rock festival in here, or even a wedding.
So there’s your quick tour of Gilneas City. I’m sorry there are no actual screen shots, but if you want to see it go visit it yourself.
OMG!!!!! Did anyone else spot the number plate of the Rolls Royce that Chris Evans drove in the Top Gear episode last sunday? BRX522T!!!! This was clearly an attempt to brainwash the common folk to vote for the Brexit Campaign, even though it was shown three days after the vote! This plate was assigned to the car when it was first registered in Newcastle in 78/79, and Evans has owned it for a few years. This just goes to show how far back the conspiracy goes.
A non-story started by me, just now… shall we see how it goes?
As previously explained, I’m working on the use of an Arduino and an old laptop to control the points on my very small N Gauge model railway. Well, I’m also going to control the signals too.
Working on this track plan:
I consulted my tame signalling engineer (some say that he once completly ruined the brakes on my MG Montego, and that he spends his spare time writing cod-1950s hard-boiled detective story versions of his work, but all we know is that he’s called The Sig), explaining to him that all the lines were bi-directional. He put on his thinking-trilby, sharpened his crayons, and came up with this idea:
(Only the signals inside the box are to be modelled. The ones outside it are off-scene, and therefore just implied to be there and functioning.)
So, 6 signals. As I only had six remaining outputs left on the Arduino, I decided on 2-Aspect light signals.
Nominally they run off 12v but are plenty bright enough with 5v from an Arduino supplied to them. Plus, if you tie the Green line to 5v and the Black to GND, putting 5v up the Red line from the Arduino will switch the signal from green to red. This is counter-intuitive to me, as surely the signals should fail-to-Red, not fail-to-Green?
No, matter, it still make the wiring easier.
Eagle-eyes will spot the the lights are the wrong way up. Ah, well, it’s too late now.
Next… build up the control board for one pair of points, and one signal as a test.
I bought a Peperami this morning. I shouldn’t really, as the high salt and fat content will make me die. They are smaller now!
Or so it seems…
The weight of Peperamis haven’t changed for years. Indeed we are making them shorter and wider, because we are producing another brand (which is shorter and wider, but also 25g) as well and we would like to simplify our production process, but we definitely keep the usual 25 g net weight.