All posts by Technomancer_Ral

Dungeons and Dragons Worksheets

So, in playing Adventurer’s League Dungeons and Dragons, I often come across players who are new to the game, and/or haven’t learned the rules very well yet.

Another issue that often comes up is that DMs (myself included) often don’t hand out inspiration much.  We tend to forget that it is even a mechanic that we can hand out to reward people playing in a way the DM likes.

I’ve come up with an idea that might at least help a bit with both.  Technically it’s bending the roleplaying-based intent of inspiration, but would definitely help with people playing in a way that we all enjoy more.

 

Dungeons and Dragons Inspiration Sheets

Start by creating a series of one page worksheets that ask a small number of questions related to the rules of dungeons and dragons.   Start with the basics.

Early example questions:

1. Which die is rolled to determine success or failure in Dungeons and Dragons (circle below)?

Beginner's Dice.png

2.  Please label the dice above.

3.  If you are told you have advantage on a roll, you roll two d20s and take which result?

4.   If you are told you have disadvantage on a roll, you roll two d20s and take which result?

5.  Who is the final arbiter of rules at the game table in dungeons and dragons?

Each player at the table would be given one sheet each night.

Each sheet of correct answers would be worth an inspiration to the person that completed it.  The sheets would only be given one per night, but I might allow them to turn in two on any given night.  This would allow them to take some home to work on, without allowing them to stack up a lot for boss battles.

The idea of this is to use a reward-based system to get people to actually take the time to learn the game.  This way it would be broken into manageable bite-sized chunks instead of throwing a book at them and telling them to RTFM.  *breathes deeply*

To make it more reasonable to complete in a short period of time, I’d list the chapter and/or the pages that contain the answers.  This would hopefully serve the added benefit of getting the players more familiar with their Player’s Handbook.

Over time, I would ramp up the complexity and specificity.  I would start with basic rules, with a theme for each sheet (physical combat rolls, equipment types, conditions, death saves, spellcasting rules, etc).  Interspersed with those I’d probably put in sheets that are specifically designed around things people get wrong or confused about consistently.

Examples:

What type of action does it take to drink a potion?

When can you transfer hunter’s mark?

Should you pay attention and try to plan your moves ahead between your turns?

Should you spend at least a little time learning HOW TO PLAY YOUR CHARACTER BETWEEN SESSIONS?!?!?!?

….I’m calm.  I’m calm………

Let’s just say that people have hit some nerves repeatedly and I’m hoping I can convince my group to try some things to avoid that a bit.  *remembers that one guy who never remembers his character’s second attack even though all he really DOES as a character is hit things*  *twitches*

 

So, since my printer is down for a while pending some work with the manufacturer, I may be working on these sheets for a bit.  I’ll start with dissecting my PHB into bite-sized chunks of questions, and hopefully find a way to make these things look nice with open-source/creative commons artwork and templates.  Maybe I’ll get better at the rules myself (and avoid hypocrisy) in the meantime.

If I can figure out how the licensing works, I may even see about publishing them to DMsguild.

 

General Updates:

3D printer is still out of commission, I have to get it returned to the manufacturer for replacement.

I’ve decided to replace the title Non-Post with COM|POST.  I think it’s punny and more memorable.  It’s communications, it’s a post, and it might be a random assortment of… stuff that isn’t always so fresh or long-term relevant.

COM|POST: Weekly Update 8/11/19

Here’s another non-post this week.  Not a specific topic or update on a project… due to lack of progress on the project this week.  My 3D printer has stopped working, and I’m waiting for tech support to get back to me.  The Z-axis stop is constantly reporting that the Z-axis travel is at the bottom… when it’s at the top instead.  Really frustrating, as I had about two more print runs before I can progress further on the project.  If it were my Colido DIY I’d tinker with it… but I don’t recall if there is a warranty on the Monoprice Select Mini Pro, and I would not want to void that if there is one.

Anyway, in the meantime, I’ve been looking around my site a bit, and decided to update the following two pages:

Welcome to the Sanctum

Tools of the Trade

I realized that the Tools of the Trade page hadn’t been updated in about a year, as I had some tools that I have used about that long that weren’t on the page.

Project Update 08/07/19: Final Prototyping Stages

I think I’m about to the wrapping up point for the brackets on this thing.  As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been working through a bunch of prototype parts, and enjoying learning more about Fusion360 in the meantime.  I haven’t figure out how to get a recording of it saved yet, but it has a feature where it can play through every change you’ve made to the model file from beginning to end.  Kinda cool to watch.  I’ll try to remember to post a video if I can figure out how to record and edit it.

Anyway, here’s where I’ve gotten to with some parts for test fitting:

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In the top left I wanted some sort of knob for grabbing the tray easier, so I mixed in the handle for one of the keys from Ready Player One.  Sadly, it feels too flimsy, so I’m not including it in the final model, and I think I can get enough grip on it without an actual knob.

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From this angle you can see the retaining nuts that hold the screws for the latch.

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Here are the mounting holes for the bottom side.

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The parts on the left side of the keyboard are a slightly later generation of model than the ones on the right.  The left side ones are snap fit, whereas the ones on the right are loose.  I’m still figuring out tolerances with my printer.

I’m on what should be the last iteration of the parts, with some of the parts on the printer right now.  It’s gonna take a few nights of overnight printing to finish, but hopefully these will be the last ones, short of possibly a template for drilling the holes.

Hopefully I’ll get to the point of drilling holes, epoxying parts, and priming the whole rig soon.  This thing is coming together!

 

Assorted Updates:

A lot of stickers came in for me to put on the case.  Apparently there are pre-mixed sets of stickers for stuff like Ready Player One, so I may be making a whole collage of the back, just making sure to make the ones I specifically want show up on top.

I added a dimmable Ikea lamp to my workbench for a bit more light.  It can be hard to look at, so at the moment I’ve got some foil on there as a reflector and shade.

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I found some lettered sticky tabs, so I’ve started putting yet more tabs in my rulebooks so I can find things in the long lists in the rulebooks.  Now I should be able to look up monsters, spells, and magic items even more quickly.

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Tabs, for when you haven’t got time for a research montage mid-session.

COM|POST 07/29/19: NERF, 3D Print Logging, Prototyping

I don’t think I have much detailed work on the keytar project to log this week, so I figured I’d give an update on the various things I’ve been working on this past week.

 

NERF:

I was invited to a NERF war, and I couldn’t bring myself to just use a stock blaster, so I made some slight mods.  I changed the interior so that the cylinder flips all the way out, added some weight to the back to improve the balance a bit.  For appearances, I added a decorative sight to it (3d printed, of course), and added a bit of electrical tape on the cylinder to make it even easier to identify.  The most important functional changes for my purposes were to remove some of the gripping pieces from the edges of the slide and the cylinder release, as they were digging into my hand every time I used them.

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Print Logging:

I’ve been way behind on my print logging, so I caught up on what I could remember having printed since the last time I’d logged them on Thingiverse.  You can find them here:

Ralnarene’s Makes

Examples:

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524795b78bf3dd6837c5c69e1455a24c_preview_featured.jpg

 

Prototyping:

I’ve been working through a few iterations of pieces for the keyboard tray mount.  I’ve been really happy with using AutoDesk Fusion 360, it’s given me a lot of control to update the models as I find out where I’ve measured correctly and when I find out that my assumptions were incorrect.  For the sake of print time and material I should probably make more adjustments at a time, but rapid prototypes is what 3D printing was originally for!  I’ve gotten to the point where i think the corner pieces are a pretty good fit for the keyboard.  Now I’ve got to check my distances on the filler pieces, and add mounting points.

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In miscellaneous news, I can now add the kickstarter games Trogdor and Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid to my collection page, as they have finally delivered.

Project Update 07/23/19: Raspberry Pi Keytar: SD Holder, Sticker Order, Tray, and Power Issues

So, I was working on a few different aspects on this thing that aren’t entirely related, so I figured I’d split it up into the relevant topics. I still haven’t settled on a format for these blog posts, but I figured this would work for this update.

SD Card Reader Holder:

I designed and 3D printed a holder for the SD Card Reader, which attaches via screws to the case. Just for fun I decided to mix in the model of a floppy disk (3.5″ design, not the 5″ design) to indicate that it was where the disk was inserted. Kinda like with the secondary cover, I had to go through a few drafts of it to make sure everything fit and the holes lined up so that when I drilled into the original case I wouldn’t run into extra structure. You’ll notice that there are only three holes and the upper corner is cut off. This was done because there really wasn’t a good spot to put a fourth hole, and I didn’t want an extra corner sticking out from the case.

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SD Card on case.jpg

Sticker Order:

I’ve ordered a bunch of stickers to cover parts of the keytar case, wannabe rocker style. I’m keeping it to a theme of underdog/rebellious people from fiction, and with appropriate maker-themed stickers. The stickers are coming in piecemeal, but they are coming. Below is a list of the kind of things I was going for:

  • Rebel Alliance (Star Wars)
  • Black Knights (Code Geass)
  • Serenity Logo (Firefly)
  • Ed’s Smiley Face (Cowboy Bebop)
  • Triforce (Legend of Zelda)
  • Raspberry (Raspberry Pi)

I’ve considered loading multiple operating systems on to different SD cards, but for now this thing is primarily going to run on Pibian. I’ll label the appropriate OSes on the SD cards later once I spend more time installing them.

Tray:

I finally found someone who could cut some material for me for the tray! I got them to cut several pieces of MDF for me to try different sizes for the tray, and to have spares in case I messed up the first time.

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I’ve already attached the hinges, and the tray opens and closes fine.

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It looks like since the screws were so long I needed to cut the screws shorter. My first thought was to cut it with my Dremel, but that throws off sparks and it was way too hot to be working on it outside over some concrete.

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Me, preparing to use the Dremel… before realizing it was a bad idea. Safety first!

When it had cooled down some, I moved outside and cut one of the screws off with the Dremel. It was a pain, somewhat risky… and then I remembered I had lineman’s pliers, so I used that to cut the rest of the screws. It was a lot faster and safer than trying to use the Dremel. Not-a-pro-tip: I cut this thing while holding it inside a box, because I’ve had way too many things I’ve cut lately go flying across the room, and I didn’t want sharp metal objects on my floor.

I needed to wait until that is done before I take the measurements I need to fabricate the pieces that will hold the keyboard in place and provide a mounting point for the latch. I may also have to figure out how to add a handle of some sort to make it easier to pull the tray open, or else grab it by the latch when I need to open it. This is still on my to-do list.
Power issues:

In the past I’ve tried two different power banks, and kept getting a low voltage warning. I decided to try another recommended approach from a book I was using for learning about Raspberry Pis, which recommended a case for 6 AA batteries routed through a UBEC, which I then routed through a connector to USB so I could plug in the switch that I wanted.

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My attempt at custom wiring

That gave me the same result. I sent a picture of my wiring setup (the picture above) to an electrical engineer I know, and he commented that it was a lot of wire, with the resistance making what should be adequate voltage drop to inadequate voltage. I went back to trying the power bank, and a much shorter cable that didn’t include a switch… and now the Pi only intermittently shows a low voltage warning, instead of constantly. Mostly when I try to get online with it. So… it’s an improvement. Not perfect, but still better than seeing a warning constantly that the system is probably gonna be unstable. Downside of the new arrangement is that I’m going to either have to keep plugging and unplugging the wire to the Pi or else opening the case every time I want to turn it on. Here’s the components laid out for when I was trying actually doing something with the Pi.

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Here’s everything inside the case as it is right now. The components are just in there loosely for now, but will likely be mounted with command strips for most parts, though the ribbon cable will likely be secured with painter’s tape.

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Current Status:

Here’s the whole thing as it currently stands, though I do take the components out while working on various parts.

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  • The power connection uses a shorter wire than before, and there is a short wire from the outside of the case (through a pre-existing hole in the case) to the power bank. I’d prefer to include the switch in the design, but that will/would require cutting and splicing the cable to the minimum length that can still do the job.
  • I’ve routed an aux cable from the pi to one of the other holes to be plugged into speakers or headphones externally.
  • The SD card reader has it’s own spot, and the ribbon cable routes through the space between the keyboard tray and the case, and back up through the secondary cover to the Pi.
  • The tray functions on it’s hinges.

This thing is coming together, slowly but surely!
Upcoming plans:

I need to design and 3D print the mechanical interfaces between the keyboard, tray, and latches for the case. This is gonna take a while, because:

  • The parts will have to connect to each other
  • The top of the case, the tray, and the keyboard are all at different angles from each other, and all need to be correct to hold the keyboard and allow the latch to work.
  • The pieces will have to hold the nuts to allow screws to come in from the outside.
  • This will have to be in multiple pieces because my printer can only handle things up to about 4 inches in a given direction.

Project Update 07/16/19: Raspberry Pi Keytar; Secondary Cover

The casemod continues.  As I mentioned last week, I designed a secondary cover for the Raspberry Pi.  Here’s the Version 1 I mentioned messing up last week.  If you look at it, you’ll notice that the main case has rounded edges, the secondary case has straight lines.  This bugged me.  I continued the print for purposes of fit check and everything.

Top View v1.jpg

Below is what I’m going for with the case.  You’ll notice the rounded edges to match the overall feel of the case.  I’m actually not sure whether this is the version 2 or the version 3 of it in this picture, as the differences are not visible from this angle.

Top View v2.jpg

Here’s how it connects, btw:

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For comparison of the versions, I’ve added the pictures below.  The main difference between the version 2 and the version 3 was that I forgot to include a very important hole.

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Going from version 1 to version 2 I had added a piece to fill the gap that had existed in the portion that was overhanging the edge of the case.  I didn’t want stuff getting into the cover or into the case.  However… that gap is where I had been routing the power cable, and I had forgotten to add a hole for the power cable to leave the case.  So, pretty much the only change was adding a hole so that the cable could come out of the case.  Now that I’ve done that, I took the time to drill the holes to install the case on the keytar.  Here’s what it looked like.

Test Install.jpg

Top Back of Install.jpg

Back of Install 2.jpg

Note:  In this last image you can see more of the Pi’s case exposed, despite me saying I was trying to seal up the case.  That oval hole in the case serves two purposes, 1) to allow air circulation for the computer, and 2) I can carefully push the Pi out of the outer case if I ever need to access it or the screws underneath it.

I relearned a couple lessons in the process of drilling the holes that should have been obvious.

  1.  CHECK THE BACK SIDE OF THINGS YOU ARE ABOUT TO DRILL.  Especially when it’s into a case that you didn’t design/build yourself.  There were some connectors for holding the upper and lower portions of the keytar itself together that I may have messed up.  I did notice a few spots when I got partway into it that I very nearly damaged important pieces.
  2. CHECK WHAT STUFF YOU’VE REMOVED THAT YOU PLAN TO PUT BACK.  There is a piece that originally held the buttons into the case that I will need to put back before I close the whole thing up, as it contains a few clear pieces that precisely fill in some holes on the case.  I had to temporarily put it back in in order to drill another hole so I can put the screw for the secondary case all the way through later.  I also discovered that I will need longer screws so that it (and some components to be printed/installed later) can pass all the way through.

Here is the spot I was mentioning in lesson 2.  The holes to be filled in, the piece to replace, and what they look like together.  It’s a really important part, especially since I’m trying to keep the case as closed as possible.  Also, with those clear parts I might be able to put a light behind them later.  I thought I was going to be painting before long, so I had removed it.

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Anyway, at some point I decided that the case was a bit too plain, and could use a greeblie (I had to ask around to be reminded of the term for this), and what better greeblie to start with than the Universal Greeblie?

Adam Savage explains it well here.  It’s fun learning these things as I go along!

The stl I used for the greeblie was from here:

Universal Greeblie on Thingiverse

The nice thing about it being a STL file is that I could make it any size I could print!  So, I upscaled it, and this is the result:

Universal Greeblie 2.jpg

I’m gonna superglue that sucker on later (it’s just held on by a bit of hidden tape for now) and then paint it with the rest of the case.  I like the extra bit of detail, and I might have to find some more types of greeblies to install elsewhere on the case.

Before I forget, I added a little bit to the wiring, but it was mostly plug and play, so I almost didn’t include anything about it.  I added a short micro-USB cable to the exterior of the case through one of the pre-existing holes, and a switch in-line between the power bank and the pi.  I still need to figure out how I want to mount it, though I guess that depends on whether I keep this power system.  It currently gives an undervoltage warning, even if I try to pass wall power through the power bank.

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I also tried printing a small, angled SD card holder to fit inside the case (I plan on storing backup/alternate OS SD cards in the case)… but apparently the person who posted the model had scaled it up to be too big.  I’ll have to find a new one, rescale this one, or create one of my own at a later time.  It’s an internal detail that is subject to whether I decide to redo the power system, so it’s not urgent.

The Path Forward:

I’m still trying to get a a piece of material cut for the keyboard tray.  Until that is done I can’t really start on designing the pieces to hold the keyboard to the tray and add the latches to hold the tray shut.  I’m also not painting anything until I have most or all of the pieces so I don’t have to paint on multiple occasions.

I think the next thing on my list is figuring out how I want to design the holder for the SD card reader, and how I want to mount the power switch to the case.

Project Update 07/08/19: Raspberry Pi Keytar

I’ve been continuing working on the keytar casemod project.  Recently I got out my Dremel and some of the chisels I use for 3D print cleanup, and removed some of the internal structure of the case so I can fit a power supply in (a power bank in this case) and get the wires to cross from the keyboard compartment to the controls compartment.  The latter gap is located just up and to the right of the power bank.

Power Bank Removed Structure.jpg

I’ve further refined, published, and printed the “case case” for the Raspberry Pi, adding the holes for mounting the case to the keytar, and holes to later mate a cover for the wires coming out of the keytar.

The STL is located here on Thingiverse:
Raspberry Pi 3 B+ Case Case

You can see closeups of the case from all angles below (I apologize for the formatting):

Screen Closeup.jpg

Bottom.jpg

Power and HDMI.jpg

 Bare Side.jpg

USB Ports.jpg

SD Card Port.jpg

I’ve recently designed a part using the holes in the last picture to cover where the SD extension cord comes out of the keytar and into the Pi.  It is currently on the printer.

D’oh!  I just realized that I never rounded the corners on that piece to match the other case.  And apparently it’s not evened out in the interior.  Oh well, this is gonna be a bit inconsistent.  Maybe I’ll print a version 2 that is neater later.

I’ve also recently tried to start changing some parameters within the Pi’s programming itself, using a guide I have on increasing the performance of the Pi.  The main thing so far has been attempting to move some of the functions onto the RAM internal to the Pi.  However, this seems to have caused the odd side effect (though it may be coincidence) of causing the system to start showing an undervolt message while on battery power, despite seeming to have worked fine before.  More experimentation is required!

I’m still trying to get material for the keyboard tray, but so far I haven’t had much luck finding a place that will cut the material I want (masonite/hardboard) to the dimensions I want (5.25 inches x 14 inches) with any precision.  I don’t want to cut this myself, as I’d need to purchase or rent more tools… and unless I get a lot of stuff to help guide the cut, I have trouble cutting a straight line if I go anywhere close to freehanding it.

Well, this definitely proves to me that I need to continue blogging while I do this project.  By trying to explain and show what I’m doing, I’m re-examining it and figuring things out.  If I ever do manage to finish this thing, hopefully I’ll come back and write a more coherent article on this process, but for now you get to come along on the ride for this.

Reasonable suggestions would definitely be welcome!