•             Welcome

    This is the personal site of Ted the serendipitist, who has interpreted the Wikipedia definition of 'Hunter-Gatherer' (see that page) as meaning someone who visits junk shops, charity shops, antique shops and hebdomadal matutinal car boot sales in order to acquire low-value objects, which no-one in their right minds would want, at low cost (well, apart from antique shops, that is).

    Deluded Ted believes that at some time in the future, some of his acquisitions will be highly desirable and worth a small fortune.

  •       Car Boot Sales


    There are two types of sellers at car boot sales, viz traders and ordinary people. Ted tends to avoid traders owing to the high chance of inadvertently purchasing inferior goods at high prices. However, Ted did recently manage to acquire a large number of pairs of everlasting socks at only 50p per pair.


    Buyers need to understand traders' language; on asked how much the French carriage clock is, the response might be "toonarf." This would be interpreted as £250. There is no first aid on site for buyers who faint.


    Ted has discovered that, 99% of the time, a strange-looking object is either a massager, a fitness device or a CD rack.


    When a husband and wife team are selling their unwanted items at a car boot stall, it is an interesting fact that, whatever position the husband holds at work, be it dogsbody, manager or chief executive, it is the wife who wears the trousers. If someone asks the wife how much the pretty mug is, she'll say, for example, "50p." However, if the husband were asked, he would turn to his wife and say, "Er... how much for this, dear?" - even if it belongs to him.

    At other times the wife can be heard saying, "No, not there - put it on the ground here...", "You need to turn those round", "You can empty this box now..." or "You can pour me a cup of tea now - you did pack the flask as I asked, didn't you?"

    The simple fact is that women are more suited to this activity than the average man is, and so they naturally take control.


    In the early days, Ted's wife would suddenly say, "Ooh, look! They've GOT one!!!" This somewhat weakened Ted's position when he started to haggle. A more appropriate method for achieving a minimal sale price is to pick up the piece unenthusiastically and give a look of horror on hearing the price.

    Some sellers dither when asked the price of an item. At the first sign of this, the buyer should offer a very low price; there is a high chance that it will be accepted, especially if a wife is not in sight.

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Automatic Clickety-Clackety Sunlight Counter Mark III

Yes – the Mark III version has been completed:

Sunlight Counter Mark III

Sunlight Counter Mark III Panel

‘Clarity’ Ted has kindly provided the following details of his latest invention.


In line with my policy of the avoidance of circumlocution, prolixity, obfuscation and the use of abstruse terms when documenting technical devices, I have produced this description of the working and maintenance of my latest invention, the Automatic Clickety-Clackety Sunlight Counter (ACCSC).

This orientation-immune appliance is intended to be used as a complementary device to a photovoltaic system (PVS), requiring its own dual photovoltaic power source (ODPPS) which is to be located in close proximity to the PVS’s panels (PVSPs).

Using a circuit of ‘ring relays’ (RRs) a cyclically generated pulse (CGP) is applied to an electromagnetic non-resettable number-incrementing unit (NIU) which accumulates and displays Ted Sunshine Units (TSUs). The greater the number of photons received by the main ODPPS panel (MODPPSP), the higher the TSU count on the NIU (the power for which is supplied by the subsidiary ODPPS panel (SODPPSP)). By comparing the kilowatt-hours generated by the PVSPs being monitored with the differential TSU count during the same period, a measure of the efficiency of the PVSPs can be ascertained, thus enabling any detrimental effect caused by inumbration or non-pellucid contamination to be determined, it being assumed that the MODPPSP and SODPPSP themselves are free from these deleterious effects, bearing in mind that the correlation between the incremental NIU count and the overall level of effective sunshine has yet to be quantified, and as a result may produce misleading guidance as to the efficacy of the monitoring process, especially since the minimum operative current of the ACCSC forms a threshold below which the PVS is in a generational state, albeit at a somewhat reduced level.

A proportion of the potential users of the ACCSC might, with some justification, consider the device be used in an entertainment capacity only rather than as a scientific instrument, but this impression should be open to reassessment once a mathematical formula has been developed which would help to minimise the extent of the correlational anomalies.

Description of Operation

Each RR in the RR circuit (RRC), when activated, initiates an autolock, completes a circuit to the following RR and interrupts the circuit to the last-but-one RR, thus deactivating its autolock (this action preventing the simultaneous activation of all the relays in the RRC), resulting in the RRC progressing throughout its cycle when the level of sunlight is sufficient, its speed being determined by the level of photons being received by the MODPPSP. On initial activation none of the RRs is operational and so one of them is designated as a Ring Relay Process Initiator (RRPI) and is in a default power-on state, its power-on status being provided by a RRC Control Relay (RRCCR) which is activated by one of the subsequently operated RRs when the RRC is in operation, thus relinquishing its hold over the RRPI. The use of the RRCCR thus provides automatic starting of the RRC when reduced sunshine levels have rendered it inoperative and subsequent restoration of the sunlight provides adequate power for the resumption of it. When the sunlight diminishes, at least one of the RRs will switch to a non-operative state, and if the light reduces to such an extent that the RRCCR would be the only operative relay then the RRCCR itself would also switch to a non-operative state, thus rendering the device once again to its pre-start status. However, if the RRCCR were to lose its power prematurely it would revert to its RRPI function and on resumption of sunlight would start a new sequence, this being in addition to the currently suspended sequence which would resume, thus resulting in a double RR cycle, or possible multiple cycles if the sunlight were to be unusually variable, and this is avoided by the RRCCR removing the power to any non-start-up RRs in the RRC if the RRCCR were in a deactivated state, thus once again rendering the ACCSC inactive until the level of sunshine increases to such an extent that the RRPI and the following RRC relays have sufficient power to function and restart the RRC sequence.

The RR’s LEDs supply a visual indication of the RRC’s operation in addition to the audible confirmation of the photon-driven activity, the RRs operating in a vertical boustrophedon pattern moving from right to left, starting upwards at the bottom right.

The MODPPSP and SODPPSP are used to power the device and the NIU respectively, a single panel being unsuitable owing to the power requirement of the NIU acting as a drain on the RRs’ power, possibly resulting in suspension of the RRs’ operation if the sunlight level is only just sufficient for the RRC to operate, thus invalidating the TSU count. It is essential that the SODPPSP always supplies enough power for the NIU to operate when the RRC is in operation otherwise the TSU count could be understated. Optionally, a chemical power source can be employed as an alternative to the SODPPSP, it then being even more important to calibrate the device as described below in order to avoid unintentional depletion of the NIU’s power source in a short period of time should suspension of the RRC’s operation occur at the critical point in the cycle when the NIU is receiving its CGP, but having the advantage of guaranteed power for the NIU rather than being dependent on the SODPPSP, always assuming that the chemical-based source has sufficient initial charge.

A transmitted disturbance perceptible by the ear is generated by the RRs whose intensity is proportional to the level of activity in the RRC. Persons of a nervous disposition may find these disturbances disturbing.


It is recommended that the MODPPSP and SODPPSP are cleaned regularly with a clear transparent colourless liquid, perfectly neutral in its reaction and devoid of taste or smell, and applied with a woven material such as one formed from the long hairs covering the seeds of one of the members of the Gossypium family, using such force as will enable any unwanted particles to be removed from the hard, amorphous brittle substance from which the surfaces of the MODPPSP and SODPPSP are constructed.

The device itself requires virtually no general maintenance other than the occasional inspection (say, every 100,000 TSUs) of the RRs in their sockets, it being possible that dislodgment occurs owing to operational vibrations.

In the rare event that a malfunctioning RR require replacement it may be necessary, after replacement, to calibrate all the RRs in the RRC so that, if the sunlight level reduces to such an extent that a RRC sequence is suspended resulting in power being supplied to the NIU continuously, any suspended sequence of operational RRs excludes the two adjacent RRs which pulse the NIU, the calibration being effected by the interchanging of RRs until the required conditions are satisfied.

Automatic Clickety-Clackety Sunlight Counter

Sunlight Counter - Outside

Sunlight Counter – Outside

Yes – Ted has invented the world’s first clickety-clackety sunlight-counting machine. Not just any clickety-clackety sunlight machine, but an automatic clickety-clackety sunlight machine.

When connected to a 12-volt photovoltaic panel, this wonderful, indispensable device, which Ted believes every home should have, counts the number of units of sunshine. The brighter the sun, the faster it counts. It is automatic because, when the sunshine subsides, it automatically resumes counting when the light comes back.

Sunlight Counter - Inside

Sunlight Counter – Inside

Some readers may think that the case resembles that for a canteen of cutlery. Yes – that’s exactly what it was. And where did it come from? Yup – you guessed it: a car boot sale.

Other readers may wonder what the purpose of a sunlight counter is. Well, Ted considers such questions rather pointless in view of the patently obvious answer.

Now for a sensible question: how does it work?

Sunlight Counter - The Works

Sunlight Counter – The Works

Inside are eight old GPO-type relays. Seven of these are wired into a ring. When a relay is momentarily turned on, it locks itself on. Each of these seven ring relays turns on the next one (which locks on), and breaks the circuit to the previous-but-one relay so that it is turned off. When the machine is first turned on, nothing will happen because all the relays are off and there is no power to any of them. The way round this is to introduce a control relay. When this relay is off, as it will be when the machine starts, it completes the circuit to one of the ring relays, a later ring relay turning on the control relay (which locks itself on) so that it is no longer interfering with the starting ring relay.

External Counter

External Counter

The relays have varying resistances so that when the power reduces during weak sunshine, the control relay is never the only one left on (if it was, the machine wouldn’t restart until the control relay itself was off).

The connections between the relays was done using terminal connectors so that, if the concept didn’t work, it could all be dismantled so that the relays could be reused without undoing lots of soldering. Since the design has been proven, future machines will have directly-soldered joints.

The two terminals on the left of the case are for the panel input, and the two on the right are for an external counter (the built-in one has only four-digit capacity and is not appropriate for prolonged periods of measurement). On a bright day the machine counts at about 320 per minute, the slowest rate being about one every two seconds.

An external counter has been installed in an old tea container which was bought at – you guessed it – a car boot sale.

Needless to say, deluded Ted believes that this machine will achieve a high sale value at Sotheby’s in years to come owing to its uniqueness and its usefulness, and the wonderful sound it makes as the relays clickety-clack away.

Automatic Clickety-Clackety Sunlight Wave Machine

Sunlight Wave Machine

Sunlight Wave Machine

Using a similar principle to the Sunlight Counter above, this wonderfully useful machine, which comprises 15 relays, not only counts but creates a wave effect as well.

As each relay is turned off, it gives an impulse to a finely-balanced rod, thus creating the wave effect. At the flick of a switch, a double wave effect can be initiated; if the sunlight reduces, the machine automatically switches to a single wave until (and if) the light is restored.

An external counter can also be connected.

Whereas the clickety-clackety sunlight-counting machine used relays with different resistances, with this machine the 14 ring relays are all 2000 ohms, the control relay being 600 ohms. This had the unfortunate effect that, when the power was low (i.e. the sun was not so bright), the control relay was the only one left on. This meant that the machine couldn’t restart when the sun got brighter, because the control relay was no longer acting as the starter for the ring relays. The way round this was to make sure that the control relay could only turn on if at least one of the ring relays was on – a simple enough modification.

This indispensable machine works on 24V DC.


One Response

  1. […] He will be able to use it to see how much current is being passed into his indispensable sunlight counter. […]

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