Automation and Control – Settings

So with our hardware all set up, the OS installed and everything running OK, it’s almost time to decide on the software.  I am going to concentrate on the Windows 10 IoT app first of all since that is all software and I don’t need to worry about soldering anything together.

Before I start on the software, there’s one thing that’s worth noting right off the bat.  The screen stand I bought appears to hold the display upside-down.  Luckily, this is a simple fix.  The first option is to rebuild the stand sho it holds the screen the right way up.  However, since I’m not going to be using this stand on the final version, I’m going to fudge it in software.

With the device powered on and connected to the network, open file explorer and navigate to


and open the file config.txt.  This file is actually what replaces the BIOS as a store of device-specific configuration values.

We can overcome our initial problem but adding a new line at the bottom


and then reboot the Pi.  Note that there is a lot of talk on the interwebs about using “display_rotate=2” instead.  That would work for pure display purposes, but there’s an issue – it doesn’t rotate the touch sensors so all your touch events will be upside down.

Great.  Things are looking good.


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Automation and Control – Hardware and OS

First things first.  To get anywhere with this project, we’re going to need some hardware.  I am not going to go deeply into the reasons for choosing what I did, except to say that I wanted costs to be minimised, but usability maximised.  For that reason I went for two bundles.  They are :

Main Unit

  • Raspberry Pi 3 Model B (for good Win 10 Iot Support)
  • Official Raspberry Pi 7″ touchscreen
  • PSU

Satellite Unit

  • Raspberry Pi Zero
  • 16 channel GPIO expansion Board and various switches, resistors and capacitors.

All hardware was purchased from ThePiHut (no affiliation)

I also got a couple of cases and general ancillaries for the setup phase.  The cases won’t get used – I will eventually build enclosures for both units that will be mountable in the locations I need them.

Assembling the Pi3 and display was simple enough (sorry, no pictures, I did this step before I decided I was going to blog the process) following online instructions from the interwebs.

For the Pi Zero, I am using Raspbian, and I set that up using all the defaults using a NOOBS SD card that I bought with the device.

For the Pi3, I installed the latest public  release of Windows 10 IoT core using the IoT Core Dashboard.

Again, apologies for the scarcity of the information in this post, but I will try to tear everything back down and reassemble with photos and more detail.  I just want to get cracking on the fun side.

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Automation and Control – Introduction

As if my life wasn’t busy enough already, I have decided I’m going to tinker with Windows 10 IoT Core, a few Raspberry Pi devices and a bunch of sensors/switches this weekend.  My aim is to make all the smart gadgets I own controllable from a single, simple interface.

To get started, I have been shopping.  I have a Raspberry Pi 3B, along with a 7″ touchscreen display for the main control centre.  I also have a Pi Zero and a bunch of input devices to try to build a satellite unit to sit near the front door.

The first pass at this task is likely to make heavy use of IFTTT for the actual device control since everything is already connected through there.  Later revisions will probably feature my own code running as a server on my media server box.  That will likely let me control things in a more granular manner, as well as expose feature not yet available through IFTTT.

So, stay tuned for updates.  I hope it comes in useful for someone.

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Clara – more news

As you will have seen in previous updates, the crack in Clara’s top was bugging me.  With that in mind, and also the fact that in retrospect weight relief would have been a good idea, I decided to take the original body off the Clara agenda, and start again.  I didn’t take many photos – you’ve seen the steps before – but I spent my Sunday re-making the whole body.  I have to carve the new top, but that’s a job for the coming weekend.

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Clara – Routing the pickups

The next scary part is to cut out the pickup holes.  There’s no going back from this, so make sure they are marked out in the absolutely correct location, then check the location, measure again, panic, and then think about breaking out the router.


No photos of the process since I was slightly busy, but the results look pretty good.  The green areas you can see in the photo below are where I got through to the pre-cut channel through the body.  This is where the pickup and switch wiring will run.


The whole body is looking good, and starting to resemble a Les Paul a little more now.  There’s some grain filler drying on the body, but a bit of sanding this weekend will sort it out.


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Clara – Cutting out the binding channels

The time has come for some more delicate work – cutting the binding channels.  By hand.  Who had that bright idea?  Oh yes, me.

First of all, I had to remember where I had put my gramil (basically a tool with a sharp blade and a series of bots of steel and aluminium to cut a line at a fixed distance from an edge).  Once I remembered where it was, I started marking the extents of the channel on the top.




Then start taking material away for the binding to sit on its own ledge.  In this photo you can see the gramil.  Exciting, huh?


And what you end up with is a shelf of a reasonably even width to hold the black and white stripe material.


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Clara – Carving and binding channels

After looking at the maple cap, and the split that appeared, I decided that it was not a write-off after all.  Yes there is a crack, but a very small amount of filler will make it all but invisible.  So – on with the binding channels and the carved top.

First step was to cut the channels for the binding in the top of the guitar.  A simple enough operation with a router cutter designed for the job.

028 - Binding Route

027 - Bingind Route

And then, the tricky bit.  Carving the top.

I followed a technique I had read about on various forums which involved routing away the bulk of the material in steps.  Here’s what the first couple of steps look like.

030a - StartingTheCarve

And then it was out with various rasps, files, chisels, gouges and tiny planes to get the shape a little more refined.

031 - CarveRouted

032 - HandCarvingStarts

033 - HandCarvingContinues

034 - HandCarvingContinues

The rough shape is there, and I couldn’t wait to see what it might look and feel like when sanded,

037 - GettingSmoother

036 - GettingSmoother

035 - GettingSmoother

Of course, there’s a bit more work to do refining the shape now that I can feel what’s what.  There are a few lumps and bumps where there shouldn’t be so that’s my job for this week.  Then,. more neck work.

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Clara fights back

Whenever you work with wood, you have to expect it to fight you at some point along the journey.  In this case, the first time was when I was about to glue the cap on to the sapele body.  I’d got all prepped, had the glue bottle open and was ready to go…

021 - GluePrep

… when I noticed the crack…

023 - TheCrack 024 - TheCrack2

..that ran all the way down the length of the cap.  It may have been OK, but the only piece of wood left holding it together is on the outside of the body where it would have been carved away.  I could potentially have got away with it if I was building for myself, but I decided not to risk it.  I just have to find another good bit of maple and redo the cap.

All is not lost, though.  I have flooded the crack with thin superglue and let it set, and the old cap will be turned into a cutting board instead.  A talking point if nothing else.


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Clara – Starting on the neck

Maybe I am a masochist, but I enjoy necks most.  This one is a simple two piece construction of sapele.  Glued up and very roughly cut, it looks like this.

016 - NewNeck1 017 - NewNeck2

A bit more cutting…

018 - NewNeck3

and (very) roughing out the headstock.  I may decide to rethink this approach and go with glued-on wings if it proves too problematic to work with the headstock in place.

019 - HeadstockRough

And the rough cut of the volute.

020 - Volute

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Clara – a Build for Mr Wilson

I was talking with a friend who was looking for a Les Paul style guitar, but he had a very specific set of requirements.  He wants as faithful as possible a copy of Mick Ronson’s Les Paul.  I’m crazy enough to accept the challenge, so off we go.

Step one was to get some plans together.  I’m conscious that I don’t want to build a Les Paul copy – it’s not my design and it doesn’t feel right to try to pass off a build as something it isn’t, so I am adapting the plans slightly, and incorporating different design features, all without changing the overall look of the finished instrument.  More on those changes as I get to them.  With the plans in place, it was time to start on the wood work.

I already had a gorgeous piece of sapele, large enough to do two, one-piece bodies.

002 - RawWood

The only problem with it was that it was too thick (at almost 60mm, this was well over the 42-43mm I wanted to get to) and too wide to pass through my thicknesser.  Easily solved with my scrub plane, though.  It was tough work but I managed to get 15-20mm taken off in an hour or so, and then planed smooth

004 - Scrubbing.

006 - Planing

005 - planing

Next, mark and cut out the basic  body shape.  An MDF template helped me here, and will come in handy for the top too.

007 - MDFTemplate

008 - MarkingOut

010 - Shaped

Right.  That’s enough of the Sapele for now.  On to the maple cap.

I found a piece of maple thick enough to resaw down to about 20mm thick.  It will eventually need to be about 16, but it’s easier for me to joint the top and then bring it down to thickness.

Photo to come.

I also cut out a bunch of templates to help with carving the top.  This isn’t the way I would want to carve the top, but for a first LP type guitar, it will give me a good start point.

011 - topprofiles

That’s it for now.  I did cut, plane and join some more sapele for the neck, but it is currently still just a block.  I’m hoping to get to that this weekend.  I also aim to glue up the cap and body, do some preliminary routing for the binding and make a start on the cap curves.

There’s also a full gallery of the photos I’m taking during the process.

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