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Week 140 – Trips and Trip Switches

Each week we’ll endeavour to publish some details of the interesting things that members of DoES Liverpool have been up to over the past seven days. You can find out a bit more about them in our introductory post.

And remember, if you’re involved with DoES Liverpool at all, let us know what you get up to so we can include it here!

Things of Note

Coming Up in the Next Week

Monday 10 February, 6:00pm-8:00pm PyPool
Tuesday 11 February, 7:00pm-9:00pm JavaScript User Group
Wednesday 12 February, 6:00pm-9:00pm Maker Night
Saturday 15 February, 10:00am-4:00pm Introduction to Laser Cutting Course
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DoES Epic Trip #5 – Do Excellent Stuff in windy places? Another Epic journey

The fifth Epic Trip was to the Scout Moor wind farm and Paul Marrow kindly wrote up a report:


Image from Paul Anderson via Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA licensed

Following in the emerging tradition of epic DoES Liverpool journeys yesterday the journey was indeed epic, from Liverpool via Maghull to Scout Moor, in what remains of Lancashire, 0.5 miles from the edge of Greater Manchester (Rochdale) and only 5 miles from West Yorkshire. Scout Moor is apparently the location of the largest (in terms of energy production) wind farm in the UK and it was indeed an impressive site. The trip from Maghull was supported by the wind turbine development company responsible, in order to assist greater understanding and support for a smaller, pending, project in a lower-lying area north of Liverpool (about which more later.) I met people from FoE Liverpool and FoE Southport but I am not sure whether anybody else who identified this from the DoES mailing list attended.

More about Scout Moor: as its name suggests this is exposed moorland which from its plant biodiversity appears to have been used for sheep grazing for a long period. (The nearest human habitation is a sheep farm.) It is open access land so walkers (and sheep) can walk around the turbines without limit (except attempting to gain access to the interior of the turbine tower where the transformer is located.) In order to be an effective wind farm it needs to be windy, and indeed it was, also rather wet. Is this a surprise in Northern British moorland?

While the weather might be bad for humans, the turbines kept turning. The rotation of the blades is converted into electrical power through the gear mechanism at the hub of each turbine, and then transformed through several different voltages before being fed into the national electrical grid presumably some distance away.

Key disadvantages that people have suggested: the disruption of natural viewpoints, the obstruction of traffic in transporting turbine components to the site, the impact on biodiversity on the site. Well, having lived near a nuclear power station I think Scout Moor looks more aesthetically pleasing, but I understand that must be subjective. There are issues in transporting components to the site when building the wind farm: wind turbine towers and blades are very large and do cause congestion on motorways (I have seen them) and it must be worse for the inhabitants of the nearby towns. It was conceded by representatives of the firm that this is a major hindrance in Wales, where planning applications for a number of onshore wind farms have been accepted, but there is not the road network to bring the components in without paralysing some Welsh towns. Constructing an onshore wind farm does involve some construction activity in a typically remote site, but not on the same scale that would be needed for a conventional or nuclear power station – and there is no primary growth biodiversity on this island in any case. Advantages: the technology is well established at other sites, once constructed it’s easy to start up, and easy to shut down.

But there remains the challenge of what do we want in our back yard, it is a bit crowded on this island. Not everybody will have the same viewpoint. I have on paper information about a proposed site at Lower Alt between Maghull and Formby which I shall leave at DoES Liverpool next time I come in.

From a technology point of view, because onshore wind farms are monitored remotely, I can see some interesting potential for linking monitoring and reports on weather conditions with information about power input and distribution into the electric grid (this comes from my background in telecoms.) I don’t know whether there are any lessons to be learned for smaller-scale technology integration and power generation. Wind farm on the roof of the Gostin’s building. Comments anyone?

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DoES Epic Trip #4 – Waste Not

DoES Epic Trips are occasional trips to interesting places arranged by members of the DoES Liverpool community. So far we’ve visited the Stafford Beers Archive at LJMU, the Liverpool Traffic Control Centre, and Toxteth Fire Fit Hub Fire Station & Community Centre. The fourth trip (back in June) was to the Merseyside Waste Recycling Centre. I posted a report on the mailing list and am finally posting it to the blog!

The trip to the Waste Recycling Centre will be repeated soon, so if you’re interested take a look at this post on the mailing list.


Just back from the epic trip and thought I’d send a report before I forgot everything. The trip was to the Merseyside Waste Recycling Centre and showed us all about how the recycling for Liverpool, Halton & Knowsley is handled.

Essentially we were shown a large warehouse building with lots of equipment and conveyors in. The recycling comes in mixed together as Liverpool and the other areas have a single bin into which plastic bottles, cardboard, paper, glass & metal cans all go. Out the other end of the system comes bales of cardboard, paper, plastic bottles, aluminium, steel and piles of broken glass. A mixed collection tends to result in more recycling, assumedly because it’s easier for us lazy people. As well as I remember the process works as follows:

  • Mixed recycling goes up big conveyor.
  • Humans watch conveyors and pick out big obvious things that shouldn’t be in there as it passes through, plastic bags etc.
  • The mix is then jiggled over essentially a large sieve. The holes are quite big so most things fall through but the cardboard is generally quite large and stays up, is then taken and baled.
  • Humans then check again for any problem items.
  • Paper is then separated out by only allowing flat things through, can’t quite remember how that was done, this may have been air blowing through the material blowing the paper up or a simple filter that only allowed a certain thickness through.
  • A secondary check is then done for paper that looks for bottles & cans that have been flattened or plastic bags, etc. that have got this far. They shine infra red light onto the materials and check for the absorbency of the material and then use air jets to push the non-paper items away.
  • Next is a set of magnets that go around on a conveyor above the recycling that picks out the steel and drops it, which is then also baled.
  • Aluminium is filtered by having a magnetic field induced which repels the aluminium, apparently, wasn’t too clear on that one. Again, that’s then baled.
  • We’re now left with plastic and glass. This is all dropped onto metal spikes. The glass shatters, the plastic doesn’t, I guess they then use a size filter to take away the broken glass.
  • They have suction devices that can take labels and other contaminants off the plastic bottles so this is another stage they go through.

(I’m pretty certain I’ve got the order of some bits wrong but you get the gist.)

It’s all very organised and as you can see many of the processes they use are actually quite obvious, once you know them. A big aim of theirs is to reduce the number of “contaminants” that make it through the process. Obviously the best way is to stop them entering the system but they also have lots of ways to reduce them along the way. Most of the time contaminants can be dealt with at a later stage (e.g. glass bottles should have labels removed, but they can deal with it if they’re left on). It was quite interesting as they tried to juggle the message of “please prepare your recycling” and “we recycle as much as possible of whatever you send to us”.

Main takeaways for what they want people to do:

  • Follow the instructions given by the council, don’t infer things.
  • Don’t bag up your recycling, the plastic bags can get stuck in the system and can’t be recycled as part of this process.
  • Plastic cartons & boxes are not bottles. If you’re told that they can recycle bottles, that means they can only recycle bottles (this actually goes for DoES too!)
  • Don’t crush bottles and cans, because this reduces the thickness they may actually end up being considered paper until late in the sorting route.
  • Recycle as much as possible!

Quite a long [post], always worth writing things up when fresh in your mind :-) They do these tours regularly because they’re trying to get the message out about how to recycle and why. If it turned out that more people wanted to go then we could probably arrange another tour. I imagine the above will suffice and that you will all now recycle lots.

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Week 139 – Minecraft Creeping into Making

Each week we’ll endeavour to publish some details of the interesting things that members of DoES Liverpool have been up to over the past seven days. You can find out a bit more about them in our introductory post.

And remember, if you’re involved with DoES Liverpool at all, let us know what you get up to so we can include it here!

Things of Note

Coming Up in the Next Week

Monday 03 February, 6:00pm-9:00pm Sewing Club
Tuesday 04 February, 6:30pm-8:30pm Clojure Dojo
Saturday 08 February, 10:00am-5:00pm Maker Day
Saturday 08 February, 10:00am-2:00pm Hack The Space – Help make DoES better with odd jobs around the space that need doing.
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Week 138 – Awards Nominations and Odd Expenses

Each week we’ll endeavour to publish some details of the interesting things that members of DoES Liverpool have been up to over the past seven days. You can find out a bit more about them in our introductory post.

And remember, if you’re involved with DoES Liverpool at all, let us know what you get up to so we can include it here!

Things of Note

Coming Up in the Next Week

Monday 27 January, 6:30pm-9:00pm Maker Night
Tuesday 28 January, 6:30pm-9:00pm Geek Up CANCELLED
Wednesday 29 January, 7:00pm-9:00pm IoTLiverpool
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Week 137 – First UK member of Drone User Group Network

Each week we’ll endeavour to publish some details of the interesting things that members of DoES Liverpool have been up to over the past seven days. You can find out a bit more about them in our introductory post.

And remember, if you’re involved with DoES Liverpool at all, let us know what you get up to so we can include it here!

Things of Note

Coming Up in the Next Week

Monday 20 January, 6:00pm-9:00pm Sewing Club
Tuesday 21 January, 7:00pm-8:00pm Liverpool Drones Meetup
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Week 136 – Evening Meetups are Back with a Vengance

Each week we’ll endeavour to publish some details of the interesting things that members of DoES Liverpool have been up to over the past seven days. You can find out a bit more about them in our introductory post.

And remember, if you’re involved with DoES Liverpool at all, let us know what you get up to so we can include it here!

Things of Note

Coming Up in the Next Week

Monday 13 January, 6:00pm-8:00pm PyPool
Tuesday 14 January, 7:00pm-8:30pm BreakerFaire
Wednesday 15 January, 6:30pm-8:00pm Friends of the Earth
Thursday 16 January, 6:30pm-9:00pm JavaScript User Group
Saturday 18 January, 10:00am-4:00pm Introduction to Laser Cutting Course
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A DoES Liverpool Re-org

tl; dr – we’re shifting how DoES is organised a bit, jump to “Three Overlapping Groups” to skip the history of how we got here…

Since it started back in 2011, DoES Liverpool has (deliberately) had a fairly loose organisational structure. Because it’s run by the members, for the members, and because everyone is a volunteer there’s a tendency for it to be a do-ocracy – what gets done is mostly what people are motivated enough to do. We are Do Epic Shit Liverpool after all, not Talk About Epic Shit…

We haven’t found the people who enjoy emptying bins, restocking the tuck shop, or answering emails to book the laser-cutter yet (though if that’s you, we should talk… ;-) but luckily there’s a core group of organisers who realise that taking care of the boring stuff is the only way things work. Plus there’s a wider community of people happy to help out for more occasional tasks, like decorating New Dinky or helping move laser-cutters…

It’s never been perfect – with more marketing we probably could have grown more quickly, and at times I think the organisers have focused on doing and neglected some of the explaining what was going on. This blog post is part of us trying to do better on that latter point as things get rejigged a little.

Despite all that, we’ve grown steadily over the two-and-a-half years we’ve been running – taking on two extra rooms, and continually improving the facilities: whether that’s the second (and huge) laser-cutter or vinyl cutter we’ve recently added to the workshop; or kitting out New Dinky to make it work as both hot-desk space and event room. More importantly, the number of people calling DoES home continues to grow – we’re going to have to squeeze in some extra desks if we get many more residents and we’re running out of free evenings for all the meetups and events taking place: out of 26 days that the building is open in January, there’s an event or meetup taking place on 16 of those days.

For a while now, we’ve been wondering how we can best adapt to cope with the admin overhead (for want of a better term) that generates. You might remember talk about taking on a part-time administrator, and while we haven’t done that yet, it’s still a possibility.

We’ve also begun to understand that we need to have a longer-term view of how DoES Liverpool could, or should, look to evolve. How does DoES fit into the wider tech, maker and startup community in Liverpool, in the UK, in the world?

Thinking about this isn’t a particularly new thing, these have all been recurring themes discussed among the organisers and the wider community on many occasions (only some of which involving the pub…) since long before DoES came into existence.

However, towards the end of last year we (organisers plus a few others) decided it was time to more formally acknowledge how things have been evolving…

Three Overlapping Groups

The organisational activities within DoES seem to be split largely into three groups – events; day-to-day; and longer-term/wider picture. They are all equally important to the functioning of the community, and there’ll be plenty of overlap in membership between the different groups. However, focusing on one aspect at a time lets the right people get together without bogging them down in discussions they don’t (passionately) care about.

There’ll still be ad-hoc groups formed for specific tasks or projects, but these are the core continual groups. Until something better emerges… ;-)

Event Organisers Group

Paul Freeman has been the unofficial “ents manager” for a while now, and with the number of events being held at DoES Liverpool these days, there are quite a few people who run them who aren’t part of the organisers group.

An event organisers group will let them share tips on what works and what doesn’t, cross-promote new events/groups, and discuss things like Paul’s proposed improvements to New Dinky. For now, discussions for this group will remain on the general DoES mailing list, but Paul will be reaching out to the events organisers to see what they think (and check that they know about the mailing list!)

Organisers Group

This is likely to be the biggest group, or at least the most active. Responsible for day-to-day running of the space – answering emails about hot-desking or laser-cutting; emptying bins; making sure there’s someone to cover opening up each day or any evenings there’s an event on; ordering consumables; restocking the kitchen stores; etc.

Not that everyone in the group has to do all of those tasks, but it’s the group making sure that the space works and people can get on with their real projects when they’re at the space. As such, it’s helpful if the organisers are people who are around regularly, but there are probably tasks where that’s not essential.

Radar Group

This group takes a longer-range perspective on DoES. Both in terms of time – what could DoES look like in a year? How do we work that out? What do we need to do to head in that direction? – and also in the wider community – how does DoES present itself to the rest of the city? Are there other groups we could work with to everyone’s benefit?

We think it makes sense for this group to also have a couple of people on it from outside of the normal DoES community – people who’ll bring different expertise and perspectives to help us develop and grow, and reach more diverse communities. To that end, one of the first tasks of the radar group will be to identify who those people would be, so if you’ve any suggestions of individuals or of ways that DoES lacks diversity or skills, then let us know. You can post to the thread about this on the DoES mailing list (details on joining the mailing list are here) or email radar@doesliverpool.com.

What Next?

There’s a thread to discuss this on the DoES mailing list, or if you’d like to make less public comments then email hello@doesliverpool.com or speak/email one of the organisers (Adrian McEwen, John McKerrell, Paul Freeman, Steve Sparrow, Hakim Cassimally, Patrick Fenner, Andy Goodwin).

There’s also the next organisational meeting this coming Friday, 10th January, at 5:30pm in New Dinky at DoES Liverpool (with the option to convene to a pub afterwards…). Strictly speaking this will be the first meeting of the Organisers Group, but is likely to be a bit of a transitional one from Events/Organisers/Radar to separate meetings.

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Week 135 – Happy New Year

Each week we’ll endeavour to publish some details of the interesting things that members of DoES Liverpool have been up to over the past seven days. You can find out a bit more about them in our introductory post.

And remember, if you’re involved with DoES Liverpool at all, let us know what you get up to so we can include it here!

Things of Note

Coming Up in the Next Week

Monday 06 January, 6:00pm-9:00pm Liverpool Sewing Club
Tuesday 07 January, 6:30pm-8:30pm Clojure Dojo
Wednesday 08 January, 6:00pm-9:00pm Maker Night
Thursday 09 January, 7:00pm-9:00pm Startup Thursday: Liverpool Startup Club
Friday 10 January, 5:30pm-6:30pm Organisation Meeting
Saturday 11 January, 10:00am-4:00pm Saturday Startup Club
Saturday 11 January, 10:00am-5:00pm Maker Day
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Week 134 – A Quiet Christmas

Each week we’ll endeavour to publish some details of the interesting things that members of DoES Liverpool have been up to over the past seven days. You can find out a bit more about them in our introductory post.

And remember, if you’re involved with DoES Liverpool at all, let us know what you get up to so we can include it here!

Things of Note

Coming Up in the Next Week

No meet-ups this week, but we hope you’re enjoying the break!