Brilliant Free CAD drawing application nanoCAD

If you are looking for a good and cost effective alternative CAD application to the all powerful AutoCAD by Autodesk then nanoCAD is maybe the app for you. They give away version 5 for nothing! All you have to do is register once a year but it is simple and costs nothing. Version 5 is a few years old but it has everything you could need for most architectural or engineering drawing. It is fully functional so far as I can tell and uses the .dwg file format although it will only open and save drawing files up to the 2013 version. If you are familiar with AutoCAD then it won’t be much of a learning curve to get productive on nanoCAD. I am not affiliated with the creator of this app, I discovered it myself after getting frustrated with the AutoCAD Web app (which costs £12 per month, Autodesk must be making a mint! Their AutoCAD LT Light version is currently £60 per month). I don’t know if my computer is too slow or what but I found AutoCAD Web unuseable. nanoCAD is great for anyone like me who very occasionally needs to put together a few drawings and doesn’t want to shell out £60 every time. nanoCAD also sell a .dwg 2018 format compatible up to date version which is much cheaper than it’s big rival.

I initally had a problem with the graphics crawling to a halt on the layout tabs with the mouse cross-hairs being very very slow to update. I found out it was an OpenGL compatibility problem with my crappy Intel HD 3000 video bios. If you go to Tools->Options->Graphic Settings->OpenGL Settings and tick Improved compatibility mode it will fix everything. Using DirectX also works but text looks poor when zoomed out so I preferred staying with OpenGL.

My first official Blackstar (TM) amplifier repair on a HT Stage 100 MKI

I have recently had LaLuna Technology accepted on the official Blackstar(TM) non-warranty service centre list and this is the first repair job that came via the Blackstar(TM) website. The amp was making a nasty screeching racket at any kind of volume setting. It was due to one or more dud power tubes. Steve, the owner of the amp went for a complete set of new tubes.

Steve (formally of Electric Rebels) now plays lead for Manchester band Whisky Bullets.

Here’s a link to their Facebook page:

Steve Warburton of Whisky Bullet stands with his amp

Lost in Space S2:EP6 Severed: Scientific Innacuracy That Ignores A Law Of Thermodynamics Bullshit

  • In this episode, on top of a whole list of ridiculously unbelievable human feats, there is a glaring scientific Inaccuracy that I have to document on the net. When Penny, bogus Dr Smith, Vijay and the teacher escape the jettisoned section of the Resolute in a large hermetically sealed and insulated sample container they are in space for a matter of minutes but are depicted as being in the later stages of hypothermia by the time they get to the Jupiter ship. This is totally wrong. Yes, deep  space is on average around 3 Kelvin or -270 °C but space has such a low density that heat transfer by conduction from the box would be negligible. The predominant method of heat loss would be electromagnetic radiation which would cause them to freeze eventually but not within a few minutes.
  • You may think it doesn’t really matter, they’re just bending the truth for the sake of an exciting plot but I say it does matter and is completely unnecessary. Nature and the laws of the universe  can create jeopardy enough in our human lives without making stuff up. It just shows a lack of imagination on the part of the script writers.

The Q-Chord Omnichord

This is one of the more interesting jobs I’ve had. The Q-Chord Omnichord which is actually made by the Suzuki Corporation. The current owner of this one took a gamble on buying it in a broken state. It looked as if a previous owner had not noticed all the screws that hold the covers together and had tried to prise it apart with a screwdriver. The PCB inside had a big crack in it and the DC power input jack was mashed. I did manage to get it all working in the end though you had to press quite hard on some of the chord buttons on one row to get them to sound. They use a conductive rubber pad under the button sheet to make contact. I cleaned the pads as best I could and guessed that with use they might improve. This model has a rhythm section. The plinky plonky tune (in a key to match the chord button currently playing) that is created by touching the touch sensitive strip to the right is quite delightful.Electronic instrument

Here is a photo of another one I have just been working on: The Omnichord OM-84.


Kawai Keyboard Repair

Here Jennie Nell with her Kawai MP6 stage piano. It had a blown -15 Volt regulator on the internal power supply board. Nice keyboard to work on, easy to disassemble. It all powered up and showed a display because the main logic board was powered but there was no audio signal from the output jacks or headphones. It is all fixed now.

Jennie plays keys for Kieran Dobson & The State and solo as Nell

This is the prettiest flight case I have ever had in my shop!


Trace Elliot 1215 Bass Combo: Oh Dear, Wonky Knobs

Trace Elliot manufacturing, what were you thinking?! Expensive looking collet knobs on splined potentiometer shafts. They didn’t even put little shims in the slots as I have seen some manufacturers do so the slot closes up. The knobs just go on wonky and come loose so you would be paying for this lazy solution when the warranty claims start rolling in.

By the way folks. Don’t ever try to prise the slot apart, the metal breaks so easily and you end up paying for a new potentiometer. The only technique I found to get them to stay on was to give them a really good tighten with a good driver and hope for the best.