Leaving on a Jet Plane – Shenzhen I/O

So, here’s something different, a game review! (This was originally written in October 2016, but I’m really the worst blogger ever.)

Shenzhen I/O is the latest puzzle game from Zachtronics, and in it you play a newly-minted Electrical Engineer, fresh out of school, and faced with the reality that we make all of jack and shit in this country. (So apparently not much changes between now and 2026…) And so you get a job with a company in Shenzhen, and are off to China! I’d previously played TIS-100 which was a puzzle game about programming in assembly– because I am exactly that kind of nerd –and enjoyed it immensely. Shenzhen I/O builds upon that formula by adding hardware design…needless to say that just makes me that much more into the game. Read more…

A Winner Is Me!

I’m a slave to memes, get over it.

So, out of the blue, I got a package this morning… I wasn’t expecting a package at all, let alone one from Digi-Key, because while they may be one of my two go-to domestic suppliers for electronic components (The other being Mouser), I hadn’t even ordered anything from them!

When I opened the package I got quite the surprise.  I was greeted by a brand new extra-shiny Fluke 117 ‘Electrician’s True RMS Multimeter’, and the appropriate soft carrying case… (Total retail value: about $225, not including the Digi-Key logo stickers. ;P)  Needless to say I was ecstatic, my best multimeter is some Chinese bootleg that– while it has served me well enough –I can’t vouch for the accuracy of like I can a Fluke.

Yessss! A real multimeter!

Yessss! A real multimeter!

Okay, I had however taken part in a contest via their Twitter account, as I have many times in the past.  The contest was a series of ‘word jumble’ puzzles, one every day, all week.  Each jumbled word had circled letters that made up the answer to an initial question… And the whole thing was rather fun, though I really wonder where they got the puzzles…it’s like there’s a book of ‘Electrical Engineer Dad Jokes’ out there.  Example: “Q: Why was the capacitor angry at the marketing department? A: It’s not a farad.”

In case you aren’t enough of an enormous NERD to have gotten that– count your lucky stars –the joke is: farad (unit of capacitance) -> homophone of ‘fair ad’ -> etc. (cue sad-trombone.wav)

Yes, they were all terrible puns and wordplay like that.  Seriously, is there a book of those? I want it in case I ever need to torture somebody to death without leaving any evidence.

Amusing aside: Out of curiosity I tracked the package, and it was shipped the afternoon of the second day of the contest…which pretty much means I had to have been the first day’s daily winner. :D  There was an overall grand prize as well, a stunningly-expensive Fluke ‘ScopeMeter’…a portable full-color digital oscilloscope.  No idea who won that, though. (Obviously not me. And frankly, if I had I would’ve sold it on eBay, bought a cheap bench scope, and used the difference to help fund my business.)

Week 41, 2015 – October Acquisitions

Okay, this month I’m putting the cool stuff up front!

3D Printing

Push Plastic (3D Printer Filament)

This month Push Plastic had some clearance items, including their 5-packs of randomly-chosen 0.2kg PLA samples.  I figured it was a good way to check out all their colors, and boy was I right! They had some colors of filament for $21 a spool, and I could get 1kg in 5-color random bundles for $18… Normal price on a spool from Push is $29.

Lavender PLA Filament, 1kg Spool — ($21 – Push Plastic)

This is a nice soft purple, unlike the garishly bright or pointlessly too-dark purples many other brands offer.  It makes me think of purple-colored pencil erasers and bubblegum.

Redwood Brown PLA Filament, 1kg Spool — ($21 – Push Plastic)

A very nice red-brown. It’ll be a good color to have when I one day figure out how to do detailed multi-color printing and actually ‘print’ wood grain into parts using the Diamond Hotend.

PLA Color Packs RANDOM COLORS, 5x 200g Coils — ($18 x2 – Push Plastic)

Well, first of all… They accidentally only sent me one.  But when I noticed, I told them and they apologized and shipped the second one out immediately. So now I know how good their customer service is.  Anyway, I got: Black, Red, Orange, Purple, and Translucent Green in the first pack.  And White, Metallic Gold, Dark Grey, Pink, Teal, and Translucent Blue in the second pack.  I can’t wait to print swatches of all of them!

PrintedSolid (3D Printer Filament)

This seemed like a cool place, and they import colorFabb filament from Holland, as well providing small samples of ProtoPasta filament.  They even threw a tiny– almost novelty-small –bag of Haribo gummy bears.  I didn’t open them, it’s such a cute little bag.  Seriously, it’s like the size of a large sugar packet.  Only complaint I have about them, is that they don’t display prominently the fact that the colorFabb PLA/PHA is 3/4 kilo spools… So they’re really even more expensive per-kg. :(

Shining Silver colorFabb PLA/PHA Filament, 750g Spool — ($38.99 – PrintedSolid)

A fantastic metallic filament.  Unlike the other silver filaments I have, this seems to have a lighter base filament, where the others had like a translucent black or grey, which made them darken when polished.  And PLA/PHA is proving to be very nice; if you’re not familiar with PHA, to quote Wikipedia:

Polyhydroxyalkanoates or PHAs are linear polyesters produced in nature by bacterial fermentation of sugar or lipids. They are produced by the bacteria to store carbon and energy. More than 150 different monomers can be combined within this family to give materials with extremely different properties. These plastics are biodegradeable and are used in the production of bioplastics.

PLA/PHA is more UV stable, has higher impact strength (one of the big advantages ABS has over PLA) and is somewhat less susceptible to moisture.

Pale Gold colorFabb PLA/PHA Filament, 750g Spool — ($38.99 – PrintedSolid)

Rather like the above, this is lighter-colored than other gold filaments.  Very nice.

ProtoPasta Conductive PLA Filament, 125g Coil — ($17.00 – PrintedSolid)

Haven’t had a chance to try this yet, but it’s really the ‘original’ conductive filament, it’s like the standard everyone uses for comparison.

Other

Ever since I saw a video demonstrating it, I’ve been wanting to get some Polyetherimide (More commonly referred to as PEI) to slap on a second borosilicate glass print bed.

Borosilicate Glass Sheet – 0.25″ Thick, 9″ wide, 6″ long — ($19.02 – McMaster-Carr)

The first borosilicate bed I got, I paid like $35 for on eBay.  Normally I check McMaster for my raw materials first, but for something like glass, I just assumed that either they wouldn’t have it, they wouldn’t have it in the exact size I needed it, or it’d be prohibitively expensive to get it cut to size.  But someone on /r/3DPrinting set me straight, and sure enough when I looked there it was.  Hell, they even have decent prices on borosilicate glass discs, perfect for delta printer heatbeds.

It came wrapped in a 6-inch diameter ball of self-adhesive bubblewrap (I didn’t even know that was a thing, but the flat side was tacky and allowed it to wrap securely to itself without tape.) as well as a bit of foam…nonetheless, there was a tiny chip out of the edge… Figures.

Polyetherimide Sheet – 0.03″ Thick, 12″ x 12″– ($16.20 – Amazon)

A sheet of PEI, it had a nasty saw-cut edge with these jagged burrs that almost took a bite out of my hand… But eh.  It’s got protective film on both sides.

TapeCase 468MP Adhesive Transfer Tape (3M), 12″ x 12″ sheet, 6-pack — ($17.80 – Amazon)

Can’t say much about this except I didn’t like the price when all I really needed was half of ONE sheet…  Well, technically I could use one whole sheet, if I use the remainder of the PEI to do another bed…but I digress.

Electronics

Yes, this month I actually ordered something other than 3D printing stuff! Can you believe it?  But in the interest of getting this published only a month late— as I sit here writing this, on a cold November morning, two days and change before Fallout 4 drops on my life like so many nuclear bombs –I’m going to finish this part later!

(And that was the last time anyone ever heard from him.)

Week 36, 2015 – September Acquisitions

Well, let’s see here…  First of all I got a replacement part for my computer chair, because the bloody thing basically broke in half a week or so prior… I actually found a reinforced one on Amazon with Prime shipping, and had it overnighted for the extra four bucks!  But we’re not here to talk about that.

I got a whole lot of cool stuff, some of it very important. Details after the jump! (Pictures are coming) Read more…

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