Week 70: Staying upright
I had an awful experience cycling along the pedestrian and cycle path next to the East London Line on Sunday afternoon. It was a sunny day, with many people walking and cycling. I heard an engine behind, and five or six young men on three motorbikes (or maybe scooters) approached at high speed. When I became an impediment to their progress, because I couldn’t get out of their way when they nearly crashed into me on both sides, they deliberately tried to knock me off.
Luckily, I have a good sense of balance, and a bit of experience in staying upright in less than ideal conditions, and they failed in their efforts. I ended up with a sore bottom where they had hit me, but nothing worse.
Judging by everything – their demeanour, their speed, the pillion riders, the absence of helmets – I’d bet good money that the motorbikes were stolen and they’ll get away with it until one day they don’t. I hope they don’t hurt anyone else in the process. I feel lucky that I escaped without a scratch.
The rest of my week was less hazardous.
On Thursday I voted in the local elections, at a polling station that was new to me. In fact, confusingly, there were two polling stations in the same building, next to each other, and it wasn’t even obvious that they were separate rooms from the outside. Inevitably, I chose the wrong one, but they directed me next door.
I went to Hackoustic Presents at Iklectik on Saturday evening. I was inspired by all the weird home-made instruments on show, and I enjoyed chatting with the presenters. I especially liked Tom (Vulpestruments) Fox’s drone pendulum, using a set of pendulums of different lengths with an electric motor on the end of each. At the bottom, a corresponding coil picked up the induced current when the motor was near, and that went straight to an amplifier.
Listening to Frazer Merrick’s music from bicycle lights and solar panels gave me some interesting ideas: what would it sound like to use an LED and a solar panel as a distortion effect?
Sam Topley’s DIY pompom musical instrument kit was fun. It’s a simple oscillator whose pitch is affected by resistance between two pompoms with a core of conductive thread. Squeeze them, and you make a better connection, and the pitch rises.
I’m hoping that I might be able to show something next time, like the 3D-printed stethoscope microphone I put together on Monday using the membrane end of a broken stethoscope and an electret capsule.