Category Archives: Projects

Project Update 11/6/19: The Scratchening

The Scratchening:

This last weekend I was attempting to “improve” my keytar case paint job.  There were some blobs of paint from how I had painted the first couple coats.  I thought I was following the advice of some other people (particularly the Cyberdeck discord, yes, it’s a thing).

Apparently I failed.

I sanded the case and parts, and put another coat of paint on… and now there are visible scratches.  I’ll have to sand it again… much more carefully, and then repaint.  I’m not sure how well it will show up in the photos.

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These are apparently not what was meant by “use coarse, medium, and fine sandpaper”.

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I’m still annoyed at myself, and per further elaborated advice, I’m going to re-sand the thing again with a series of finer grains of sandpaper on a proper sanding block.  “When you think you’re done, keep sanding.”

 

In other news:

Over the weekend I had to clean/lube/recalibrate my printer.  I had been noticing some layer shifts in some prints, and this was the easiest possibility for me to address.

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Seems to have worked, as my prints since then have been good so far.  I needed something to test a long print time on something with verticality to make it obvious if these shifts occurred again.  I decided to look for an appropriate Benchy, and someone had my back!

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Benchy-209 on Thingiverse

Optimus Prime!  As a no assembly required print!  I was in the mood for printing a robot, and thought to look him up.  He transforms!

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Optimus Prime on Thingiverse

COM|POST: Quick Project Weekend in Review 10/28/19

So, I’ve apparently got a lot to log this week, which is both awesome (yay, stuff was accomplished!) and annoying (shards, I’ve gotta log all this stuff).

I’ll try got go through it pretty quickly, since it’s multiple projects, and not a lot of focus on any one project.

Keytar Progress:

I finally found time to epoxy and prime my keytar.  I’m gonna need to get some sand paper to smooth out some parts I messed up on (I’m new to spraypainting).  Later I’ll put on another layer (I missed some stuff) or more.  Then it’s back to maybe sanding a bit, stickering, clear coating, and matte coating.  Here are a few images of where things stand now.

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Keytar Whole.jpg

I’m still debating how I want to paint these greeblies.  Maybe a metallic color of some kind?

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And here is what I’m thinking of for stickers at the moment.  I’ve got a bunch of other random stickers from a Ready Player One bundle that I’m considering layering under these, but I wonder whether I should do that, or if it might cause problems.  Also might cause these top stickers to not stand out as much.

Proposed Stickers.jpg

 

 

Costume Update:

I’ve been updating my Ghostbusters costume this year.  I’m able to fit into an actual jumpsuit this year, so I got one.  And it’s a bit too big on me (yaaaay for weight loss, but boooo, I was hoping for a good fit).  Still, at least I can wear it!  And I can (kinda) use one web belt instead of needing two.

Anyway, new jumpsuit means I need to sew patches again… or if you are lazy like me (and know that you are gonna get another suit later) you attach them to Velcro for easy transfer.  Still had to sew the name patch onto the Velcro strip that came on the uniform, but just had to attach the adhesive Velcro panels for the logo patch.

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I also decided since I suddenly had free time to work on projects that I’d go a bit further, and make the connectors and tube that hang off the left side of the uniform.  3D models were available on Thingiverse here:

Ghostbusters Leg Hose Connector on Thingiverse

I printed that sucker out, ordered some magnets that I superglued in, and attempted to dye the hose.

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The dyeing didn’t go too well, but at least it is slightly greenish, which was kinda my intent.  Yes, per the first movie they are supposed to be yellowish… but I didn’t like the catheter explanation for the tube that the color implies.  I went with the video game option that implies it has something to do with slime, and tried to dye it neon green.  I think I didn’t account for some things in the process.

Also, on the printer right now is the LifeGard II monitor that the Ghostbusters wear on their belts.  Apparently it was a thing firemen would wear that would alert people if the wearer wasn’t moving for an extended period of time.  Mine is nonfunctional, just a shell, but I like adding detail.  I’m having to do it at 80% scale because anything larger wouldn’t fit on my tiny printer.

Lifegard II 3D Model on Thingiverse

 

Random Printing:

I can’t remember why or how I came across this box on Thingiverse, but I found it interesting, so I printed it.

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Inro Top.jpg

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I also thought I could use a screw tray with all the screws I’ve been taking out of the keytar prior to painting, so I printed this one (after running it through the customizer) and used some of my extra magnets on it.  I was too frustrated with superglue at the moment (I forgot that it kinda spews when it’s first opened) so I just have painter’s tape holding it in the slots right now.

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Customizable Magnetic Screw Tray/Box (with optional lid) on Thingiverse

 

Gaming:

The Outer Worlds came out last Friday.  This game is AMAZING, and I’m already getting ideas of costume props that I would like to either find or create models for.  There are a lot of cool technological bits on the outfits in that game.

I think I may have to do a review of this at some point because I LOVE THIS GAME.  Briefly:  companion social interactions are believable and contribute to the narrative, I’m not constantly chasing weapon upgrades, and I’m not bogged down in junk collection.

PROJECT UPDATE 10/11/19: Test Assembly For Maker Faire

Soooo…. I need to check the Maker Faire website more frequently.  This past Sunday I was looking to see if there were any maker faires coming up at any point in the relatively near future.  Only one I saw… this upcoming Sunday!  It’s the Downtown Columbia Mini Maker Faire, in Columbia, Maryland.  Nothing else shows up on the map in my area right now, so it’s this or nothing for a while.

Enter panic mode.

I need to network and meet others in the hobby, so I’m definitely going.  I think it’d be better for conversations if I had something to show… but the only thing I had going on at the moment is the keytar project, and it’s not gonna be finished for a couple more weeks.  I’m waiting on my logo decal and I need a Saturday or Sunday morning to epoxy the greeblies and let it set for most of the day outside so I don’t fill my home with fumes.  Then letting it set, priming/painting, decals, and another few rounds of painting with clear layers.

Buuuut, I figured I could get it assembled (I had to quickly order some more parts) and have an early version of it on hand as a demonstration of what I do.  So that’s what I’ve been busy doing.

I went ahead and remade a couple of pieces to fix a couple of things I wasn’t happy with and add a grip to grab the keyboard more easily.  I also sanded and wiped down all the plastic parts I’m planning on painting, since I had already started the process.

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Here’s a new reference photo for the retaining nuts, by the way.

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I assembled as much as I could, waiting on the other parts to come in before dealing with the inevitable cabling issues.  I forgot how many little components needed to be added back in from the original keytar!  I had to go tracking them down from the various containers I had put them in.  I had forgotten about this thing and the button associated with it.

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Exterior

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Interior

This piece right here still needed some holes drilled and unnecessary parts trimmed off.

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The screw assortment was a LIFESAVER!  DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS SORT OF BUILD WITHOUT IT!  I kept finding out that the screws that had worked previously didn’t always work the best, or interfered with changes that had been made since their original fitting.

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I ordered a belt amp and matching audio cable to connect to the keytar to continue the whole “decker disguised as a rocker” motif.

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As some of you probably see coming, I forgot that those cables use a much larger connector.

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Facepalm

Amaz… I mean technosummoning to the rescue!  I ordered an adapter.  I checked to make sure it works by playing the Ghostbusters theme on my phone.  Works great!  Now I just have to figure out how to get comfortable with the other settings on the amp.

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I’ve designed and printed a sleeve to interface the adapter into the case through the big hole that until now served no purpose on the case.

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For now I’m using a dab of hot glue to hold it in place.  I think I can remove it later for the paint job.  First time I’m actually using this particular hot glue gun.  Anyway, a bunch of tape, command strips, and screws later, I finished getting this assembled.

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Exterior

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Interior

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IT’S ALIVE!!!

Turns out this thing is heftier than I expected.  Main thing I’m trying to figure out I’m going to carry this while walking around.  It appears that the way the strap is mounted, if I just try to rotate the sling to the back the load directions change and cause the strap to slip off the knobs.  This might have to ride slung under my arm this trip.  Maybe later I can figure out a better way to carry it.  Right now I’m just hoping it doesn’t rain, because PLA can absorb water a bit, and the case overall isn’t sealed.

Anyway, I’ve got it put together, I’ve tested it with some music on the belt amp, and I’m trying to get everything together for going to a maker faire (maker coins, additional accessories, etc).  But at least I have something more to show than just claiming I do some 3D printing.  I hope to meet people at the faire, make some contacts, and maybe get some suggestions on how to solve a couple issues.

 

In other news:

I felt I needed another thing to have on display regarding 3D printing, and since I don’t have a booth of my own it needed to also be wearable.  Well… when I was thinking about it, I was watching Extreme Ghostbusters episodes, so I decided to make a miniature of the ghost trap Kylie wears on the back of her armor.

I didn’t see one on Thingiverse, so I decided to design one from scratch on Autodesk Fusion360.  Then I had to do a bit of splicing of files for the twist lock and belt clip.  It was supposed to come off easily for handing to people to look at, but it fits a bit too snugly and I don’t really have the time to adjust the connector.

Here’s the result:

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Note, the parts for the connection are combined from other files, and they will be noted as such in the final Thingiverse entries.

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So, yeah, now I have something I can have on me to hand people to look at if they have questions or want an example.  And for any other Ghostbusters fans, I know some people are gonna disagree with the layout of the feet on the trap, but as an engineer looking at the reference picture I had, this is how they appeared to be laid out.  Three feet and a handle spread out as if there are 4 feet.

Project Update 09/30/19: Keytar Tray

This past weekend I finally drilled the holes and test fit the screws into the nuts hidden inside the backs of all the tray mount pieces.  Here’s how I have those concealed.

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Retaining nuts

The screw hole is premade into the model, and there is a corresponding slot for the nut to slide into.  The slot is shaped to prevent it from turning.  With all these bits installed, here’s the keyboard held in it’s tray for ease of access to the inside of the case.

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Keyboard in tray… finally

For reference, here’s what the backside of some of the pieces look like.  The groove at the bottom is to match the screws that punch through for the hinges.  You can also see a couple of the screw holes.  I was gonna show more… but I really don’t feel like disassembling the whole tray right now.

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A couple of these holes weren’t centered quite correctly, but conveniently I was able to gently carve out the holes in the direction I needed to shift them with my 3D printing chisels.  Well… except apparently I misaligned one of the holes within a 3D printed component with the retaining nut slot, but the piece seems on solidly enough without it.  If I care enough to later I will fix the model and replace the component.  The way I’ve designed it I can replace individual parts later.

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The back of the tray with my adjustment marks.

Turns out I was still missing some screws earlier this week, and I got fed up with getting screws piecemeal when I’m always using #6-32 machine screws.  So, through great technomancy (Amazon) I summoned this kit.  It’s got everything I could possibly need in #6-32 machine screws.

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I’m sorry Home Depot, but we’re not exclusive

I also tried yet again to fix the underpower issue with the Pi itself.  I ordered this battery, and a cable with inline switch that is specifically supposed to be for a Raspberry Pi.  For a little while it seemed to work… and then I started seeing that annoying lightning bolt again.  This battery is supposed to have smart output of 5V and up to 3.1A (depending on what is attached), but it still showed a power warning.  For reference, a Pi is supposed to use 5V and 2.5A.  It may be because I had another peripheral (a thumb drive) installed at the time.

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New Battery

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New Cable

In the middle of editing this, while taking photos, I noticed this on the back.

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D’oh!  This appears to have a 2.4A limit per port like some of the others.

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Anywaaay, I’m gonna keep tweaking this thing, and see if it has something to do with a USB drive being plugged in or a change I made in the OS a while back that was supposed to use more onboard memory on the Pi rather than on the SD card.

Wish me luck!  Or, better yet, if you have any suggestions on mobile power supplies for Raspberry Pis (that don’t involve adding a hat inside the semi-sealed case of the Pi), please let me know.

 

In other news:

Still playing through Borderlands 3 as Moze.  Kinda hard to say no to having my own mech.  I bet you can guess my main in Overwatch back when I played.

I think my filament spool had a couple discontinuities in it.  I was trying to do a long print overnight this week, and this was the result.

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No power of Greyskull.  I am le sad.

I assumed that the filament had tangled and snapped.  When I went to unsnag the spool of filament… I found this:

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A segment of filament that was disconnected on both ends.  Makes me wonder if I had a faulty spool and just hadn’t come across the break in the section yet.

 

Side lessons:

Don’t ever get attached to a character in Dungeon Crawl Classics, they will die unexpectedly.  And I’m not just talking the level 0s you would expect to die.  I think I’m gonna adopt the Goblin Slayer Abridged method in the future.

NO NAMES

PROJECT UPDATE 09/25/19: The Return of the Keytar

Okay, so it’s been a while since I had made some progress on my keytar cyberdeck build, mostly because my 3D printer had broken down and I had to send it in for replacement.  As seen in last week’s post, I have the printer back and I was testing it out with some other prints that I’d been wanting to do.

This week I’ve printed the remaining components for the tray mount, most of which had been waiting on the SD card already.  Except that bottom middle piece…. I had to shave 2.53 millimeters off of the model, re-export, re-slice, and re-print it.  Oh well, more experience in modifying parts in Fusion 360.  I’ve been learning a lot about that program while using it… including that it sucks when they run an update to change the interface at inopportune times!

To make sure the finish quality was as good as possible I printed these parts at the same settings I used for printing miniatures.  Takes longer, but it was higher density, thinner layers, etc.

Now I’ve got to figure out how I want to measure where to drill the holes, then continue the litany of things to do (order more stickers, redesign the power system, prime, sand,  sticker, clear coat, matte coat, assemble).

By the way, if anyone happens to be interested in looking at the models, I’ve posted them on thingiverse here with a really lengthy name:
https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3880609

I should note that these files would need tweaking if anybody else were to print these.  The tolerances make the connecting bits fit loosely.  They’re more like guidelines to help get the parts where they need to be, but not a solid fit.  By the time I realized it I was very much not interested in going through every connection point and adjusting.  I’ll add that to my mental lessons learned folder: design test fit parts for the connections before going into full production mode.  Just make the connection you are trying to test and a bit of material to be able to handle it for testing.

New Logo/Maker Coin

So, if anyone’s been paying attention, I’ve created a new logo for this site, based on a new maker coin that I designed.

For a brief explanation/history of these, here’s the guy who came up with them.

Video made by Maker’s Muse, please support his videos

It’s an object you can use as the equivalent of a filament swatch and to show people what 3D printing can make.  It’s helpful as a “1 standard print” for testing filaments, printer calibration, and slicer settings.

I thought it was about time that I made one of my own.  Then, through some manipulation in a couple programs, I converted it into a logo.  I think the symbolism is kinda obvious.  Technology + magic + a medieval wooden door = Technomancer’s Sanctum.

If you want to print one of your own, you can find it on Thingiverse here:

Technomancer’s Sanctum Maker Coin

This one I printed (in two pieces) on my replacement 3D printer, which finally arrived today!  Seems to work pretty well.  The parts printed fine on the first attempt, and the center door pressfit solidly into the coin!

 

In other news:

Borderlands 3 came out last week, so I’ve been playing that over the weekend, and having a blast.  I’m playing as Moze, so when the fecal matter hits the cooling unit I can jump into my mech and lay waste to my foes!  Still… in the words of the greenskins… NEED MOAR DAKKA!  I’m gonna have to see if I can fire more bullets per second.  I’m playing a gunner, after all.

I have business cards now!  I got tired of trying to find a scrap of paper to write down the web address for my blog when I get questions about my hobbies, so I’m now carrying some business cards wherever I go.  It should make it much easier to get the word out.

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)?

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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.