Week 27, 2019 – …The More They Stay The Same

So, here we are, not eight weeks since that previous post, and I’m coming off of two weeks without internet, and almost as long without electricity. As is the case 90% of the time that our finances implode, there was no budgetary snafu on my part, just people doing whatever the hell they wanted regardless of what I or the budget said. 😑

Yes, I am acutely aware of the irony inherent in going from having had twenty-freakin’-grand in the bank just a few months ago, to this complete clown fiesta, but as I’d already explained if I hadn’t spent it my situation would probably be worse right now. (Hard as that may be to imagine.)

Hopefully things can start moving forward again, though I’m not gonna hold my breath. This situation exposed many flaws in the other members of the family unit and the—oftentimes unidirectional —nature of our relationship.😒

Week 21, 2019 – Improving your Space-Life through technology

It is well-known that I take my life as a professional imaginary spaceship pilot a little too seriously. Like “4-point harness on my computer chair” seriously. And while I certainly liked the old version of the harness, it was missing something; It was just a little too simple.

I’m not sure I’ve talked about it before, so I’ll take a minute here before moving on… I was originally planning on making a 4 or 5-point harness from scratch, and actually designed my own cam-lock release mechanism, but my 3D printer at the time simply wasn’t up to the task, and the prototype’s flimsiness really dissuaded me from the idea.

It was a little while after this that I found a 4-point racing harness on eBay for under $30…cheap enough that I wouldn’t trust it with my life, but in my case, it’s just a prop. I replaced all the plain nylon webbing with proper seatbelt-weave webbing which looked much better, and added little pull straps in red. All the new stitching was also done in a contrasting mil-spec bonded nylon thread.

Finally I 3D printed a knob to go over the release lever…which required filing off the protruding lever, and drilling holes in the face of the cam lock plate. For the last added touch, I cut some paint-mask vinyl on my Silhouette Cameo 3, and used that to paint markings on the knob.

It did the job and I rather liked it, but now that I have the new printers, I wanted to give it another go. I recreated the original knob I had designed for a far earlier incarnation of the project and printed it in some bright red eSUN PLA+

I think the results speak for themselves. 😏 At some point I’ll probably do it again, just to add the arrows back in as actual 3D printed inlays. Though I should probably also prime, sand, and paint it next time for an even more polished look…not that there’s anything wrong with the raw print…especially when viewed anything but up-close.

Week 20, 2019 – Print Cool Things

While my father was still rehabilitating until he could get around well enough on his own to come home, I was making use of my new 3D printers.

I had just gotten some of this fantastic new ‘silk shine’ metallic filament from CC3D, and decided to print him a little Buddha in bronze. The CC3D filament looks absolutely stunning. Pictures don’t really do justice to just how well it shimmers. It’s not sparkly or otherwise fake-looking, it has a fairly authentic metallic sheen. I’m curious to know how they achieve it!

(The bronze is actually more green than it appears in these images. I didn’t catch the Auto Balance shenanigans until it was already uploaded, and it wasn’t a big enough deal to fix it. I wish CC3D offered a ‘brass’ filament that looked like this, but so far they don’t.)

One of the reasons I settled on the Creality Ender 3 Pro—and in fact, literally doubled down on that decision —was the recommendation of several YouTube channels dedicated to printing tabletop gaming miniatures and terrain, as well as Fat Dragon Games, makers of some truly superb miniatures and modular terrain, whose Kickstarter I backed.

So of course I printed some minis from the campaign…which turned out spectacularly, considering the printer was basically fresh out of the box and all I did was level the bed. They even print with no supports!

I never imagined that an FDM printer could produce results like these—nevermind a $250 FDM printer —especially straight out of the box! These are results which approach that of SLA and MSLA printers…which is a subject we’ll definitely be revisiting. Count on it.

Week 01, 2019 – Catching up

New Year, new chance to fail at making weekly updates! It’s never too early to start missing deadlines!

I’ve got a couple blog posts that have been in draft form for way too long, and a few things I haven’t written about yet, and some big news.  All of which I’ll be sure to never get around to posting, in the fullness of time.

Meanwhile, I did a thing. A very rash, impulsive, irresponsible, positively mad, thing; I got a Windows Mixed Reality headset and motion controller bundle.  Namely a Lenovo Explorer.  I seem to have gotten one of the last ones off the Microsoft Store, because they almost immediately went to Sold Out, and most places are listing them as ‘Discontinued’.  I’ll do a thorough write-up later, once I’ve had it a few more days, for now here’s a preview of the unboxing pics.

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Week 47, 2017 – Where have I been hiding?!

This was originally supposed to go up back in May…but…you know.

The few people who actually visit my site intentionally, and those non-bots who stumble upon it by accident, have probably been wondering where the hell I’ve been and what manner of hell I’ve been up to for the past five months year.  Well, I wish I could say I had a lot to show for my time…but it would be a damned dirty lie.  Then again, I’m occasionally told that I’m overly-critical of myself…so I guess you’ll just have to read the highlights and decide for yourself if I’ve wasted half a year of my life!

Probably the biggest thing is that I bought an embroidery machine, a small and inexpensive home model that can do up to 4×4 inch patterns. And then I acquired digitizing software… Wilcom Hatch Embroidery… Which costs $1200—yes, twelve-hundred god damn dollars —if you want the version that you can actually make art in.  Luckily they offer flex-pay and I’ve been paying $99.99 a month since.

So, I’ve been making embroidered patches.  Why? Because like damn-near everything I pursue, I wanted a thing; then, having decided I was too poor to have somebody else make it for me, I proceeded to somehow spend obscene amounts of money—seemingly beyond my means —to give myself the capability to make the thing that I wanted. This is where I’d normally say something about doing a more in-depth post on this later, but by now we all know that is also a damned dirty lie.

This was not without tangible benefits beyond, you know, the literally tangible ones —as it forced me to finally open an Etsy store which has so far generated 10 sales, averaging a sale a week— and a dollar of profit a day —for 73 days.  Not bad considering I’m only selling two items and at the moment not doing anything to really put my shop out there to get noticed.

Other notable things that I may or may not elaborate on later:

  • I was one of the lucky(?) backers who actually received their Tiko3D… (Spoilers: It’s kinda rubbish.)
  • I made some upgrades to my 3D printer. (For better or worse? I think the whole thing needs to be taken to bits and reassembled.)
  • I’ve been doing a lot of experiments with using 3D printing to improve the workflow of other processes. (Like printing templates for things.)
  • My giant-ass monitor bit it, I know what’s wrong but not why nor how to fix it, and that’s had me flummoxed for quite a while.
  • I’ve made inroads toward having my mill and lathe usable.
  • I designed several very complex 3D printing projects.
  • I’ve begun work on a rebranding of MAKE COOL THINGS for 2018, with a new logo and a bunch of matching icons and things.

Week 51, 2016 – Wrapping Up The Year – Part 1

H***y H***days! (Don’t ask. You’ll follow my example if you don’t want to be hounded by C*****mas-themed spambots until the heat-death of the universe.)

Okay, so here we are. The end of the year.  I guess first and foremost, the responsible thing would be to list the things I still haven’t managed to do this year, as a reminder to myself…

I have a few nearly-finished posts in draft form that haven’t made it up yet:

  • A review of the game Shenzhen I/O
  • A post about 3D printer upgrades
  • A post about live-streaming

That’s actually a lot less than I expected! …of course then there’s the ones I never got around to even starting… Foremost among these is probably the one about 3D printing-related crowdfunding campaigns I’ve backed… And it’s probably just as well that I haven’t done it yet, because the biggest one of all hasn’t arrived yet! (But it’s sitting on a boat in customs at the port of Long Beach!)

There’s also the progress I’ve been meaning to write about regarding my HOTAS modifications, which will eventually turn into a complete custom stick and throttle project… For now, I’ll give you a sample… Since I just finished it the other day!

Anyway, next weekend I’ll talk about what I hope to do in the coming year! (Ironically, New Years Day is still technically the last day of the 52nd week of 2016… #JustISOThings )

Week 38, 2016 – A weapon fit for a dirty wasteland scavver

Hey! A post EARLY?! Surely a sign of the apocalypse.

And Probably Faster, too…

So I’m currently working on this wonderful Fallout 4 Pipe Pistol by lilykil. I’m still in the process of printing it, after which will follow the sanding and priming, and finally the painting and weathering!

I’ll update this post with additional 3D printery as it happens, and then make a new post once I get to the painting stage.

We interrupt your regularly scheduled silence…

So I’ve had a lot on my plate these last couple of months, a lot of irons in the fire, a lot of balls in the air, [insert additional metaphors here]…  And of course, my finances being what they are, it’s slow-going acquiring the tools and materials that I need…but things are starting to come together.  I’ve got a series of blog posts that I’m putting the finishing touches on, about undertakings that are finally coming to fruition, or projects that can finally begin, all of which are very exciting.

For now, I’ll give you the quick hits:

  • A feature on prop making, which will involve the 3D printing, post-processing, painting, and weathering, of a Fallout 4 prop.
  • Tutorials on cleaning up and post-processing 3D prints, and possibly on tuning printers for the best output. (The former is easiest to explain and can overcome pretty much anything, whereas the latter is very dependent on individual printers and slicing engine/software…so I might just scratch the latter entirely except to mention some resources to check out.)
  • A beginner’s guide to airbrushes, by a beginner…less of a tutorial and more of a ‘here’s what I’ve learned from my mistakes, so you don’t have to make them’.
  • Finally some electronics stuff, because the ESP8266 is the coolest chip ever made, and you can have a wifi-enabled microcontroller that’ll probably run off a potato-battery, for less than the cost of a cup of coffee!
  • Some talks about how 3D printing can be used to improve basically anything.
  • A couple cool projects I’ve been working on.

Now, all I have to do…is actually write about any of that shit. ┐(シ)┌

Well, I’m shooting a lot of video, so unless I want all that HDD space to be used up in vain, I’ve gotta do something.

Week 17, 2016 – May Acquisitions

I’m getting the ball rolling on a lot of stuff this month, from the MAKE COOL THINGS livestream and YouTube channel, to some prop making, to maybe even doing a little work on a simple fun little game project I’ve had in mind for a while… See a breakdown of this month’s acquisitions after the jump! Read more…

Week 16, 2016 – Clickity-Clack! My Adventures in Obnoxiously-Loud Typing!

It’s probably no secret that I’m an inconsiderate jerk…for that reason, I love mechanical keyboards and how incredibly loud they are! Kidding, kidding! …mostly.  I love mechanical keyboards though, I used to use nothing but the holy grail of old-school keyboards; the IBM Model-M, a ‘buckling spring’ keyboard, and the original PS/2 keyboard…because, duh, it was the keyboard that came with the IBM PS/2. Loud as hell and built like a tank, made out of other smaller tanks, made from an alloy of adamantium and mithril.  Anyway, when you spend over a decade on the computer 18 hours a day, typically on no less than half a dozen IRC channels at any given time, eventually you’re going to need an ergonomic keyboard or your hands are quite simply going to drop off at the wrists…

This meant giving up my glorious Model M…and for about another decade, I’ve been stuck using Microsoft Natural keyboards… Capacitive, rubber-dome based keyboards…  They’re garbage, and they feel like garbage to type on.  But what exactly is the alternative?  Anyway, I go through a keyboard every 2-3 years because I simply start wearing out some keys– Oddly enough, the “U”, “F”, “K”, and “C”… (Kidding, kidding! …mostly.) –and it’s really annoying, and they’re expensive, and they still feel like complete garbage to type on.

Enter The ErgoDox

The original ErgoDox was a keyboard designed by Dominic “Dox” Beauchamp in October 2011, based on the key64 keyboard. (You can find the original GeekHack forum thread here.) Now, even though I’d seen it a couple times, it was just so bloody expensive that I wasn’t too excited…but I knew it was the kind of thing I desperately needed.

…5 years later…

I’d been introduced to Massdrop a while back, and through their group buys, I managed to reacquire the greatest writing implement known to man, and level up one of my important Vault Dweller skills.  So, when the opportunity presented itself around the end of January, I got on board the group buy for the Infinity ErgoDox by Input-Club.  It makes a number of improvements over the original, including the addition of two RGB-backlit LCD screens, one on either half, which can display information such as which ‘layer’ the keyboard is currently in.  See, the ErgoDox isn’t just fully customizable, but it’s got this crazy firmware setup where instead of just having an ‘Fn’ key layer like a laptop keyboard, you have the base layout and 7 additional layers that can be locked, shifted into, or locked for just the next key-press, etc.  And it’s left/right side independent.  So, even though it drastically reduces the number of keys versus a standard 104/105 key layout, you have limitless possibilities.

It was $199.99 with switches (plus another $39 for keycaps), I got it down to $155.99 for just the keyboard kit, because I was going to buy switches and keycaps separately…the latter would turn out to be a mistake however…

It’d be 4 months before the ErgoDox shipped, so I had time to source other items. A little while later, another group buy popped up, this one for Gateron Switches. (Clones of the standard Cherry MX mechanical switches that are held in such high regard by gamers and typists alike.)  Of course, I didn’t really know what type of switches I wanted… Though I kind of figured I wanted ‘clicky’…  That’s when I learned about ‘switch testers’, and oh hey, there was one on Massdrop!  A switch tester is just a means of holding a bunch of different key switches so that you can test the feel.  What was really cool about this one, was that for an additional $9 they were offering a PCB to turn it into a functional USB keypad. (Including keycaps, the PCB, and shipping, the total was $35.87) Now, obviously it wasn’t going to arrive in time for me to figure out which Gateron switches I wanted, so I bought a small one off Amazon with just Cherry MX switches and sort of guesstimated.

In the end, I went with Greens, because they’re clackers, and because they require the most force, and I’m a fairly heavy-handed typist.

So, in February, the switches arrived.  In March, the switch tester arrived. And finally, just this last week, the Infinity ErgoDox arrived.

EDIT: This is interesting.  So apparently, the switch tester was supposed to ship with the version 2.0 of the PCB, but they shipped the old one… So, at no additional cost, they sent us all a replacement, which turned out to be the brand new version 3.0, fresh off the production line.

Next Time: To Infinity ErgoDox, and Beyond!

Stay tuned for my next post on this subject where I’ll have a writeup on assembling my Infinity ErgoDox kit, the NKPC Switch Tester– including videos, I hope! –and probably some crazy mods to one or both of them.  (Not to mention some other mechanical keyboard goodies!)

In the meantime, the like-minded clickity-clacky among you might be interested in the Mechanical Keyboards subreddit, or the Mechanical Keyboards community at Massdrop!

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