I’ve been playing a lot of Luigi’s Mansion lately (1 and 2, I don’t have a Switch for 3), and decided to combine costume ideas. Luigi in a modified Ghostbusters uniform.
I started with the base jumpsuit with the Ghostbuster patches removed.
Then added Luigi’s hat and gloves. Mine is compatible with touchscreens!
Now for some replacement patches. I got the custom name patch from GBFans.com.
And the No Boo version of the No Ghost patch from a vendor on eBay.
Belt & Accessories:
I liked the vintage style flashlight that Luigi carries at the start of the games before he picks up the backpack. I did some hunting on eBay, and acquired this one:
The bulb was dim and flickering, so I decided to replace it with an LED of equivalent size. While I had it open I removed a bit of corrosion from the battery spring and taped the split glass lens together to make it sturdier. I also found a holster to hold the flashlight on my belt.
I also needed Luigi’s version of a PKE meter, the Gameboy Horror. After a bit of eBay auctioning and retrofitting, I’ve got my own! I may cover more of what went into that in another post, but here’s the final result.
There is also a clear plastic clip that was sold as an aftermarket item to match.
I’m using the standard web-belt from the Ghostbusters uniform, so nothing fancy there.
This portion will definitely require a post or more of it’s own. I’ve acquired most of the parts, but I’ve barely started on construction on it. I’m starting from this toy vacuum cleaner as the base:
I can’t claim credit for this part of the idea. I thought someone had likely tried to build this pack already, and of course someone had. I did a quick search on youtube and came across this video.
I’m not planning on building the pack the same way he did, but it works as a good enough base. Mine is going to be my own interpretation of a mashup between the Ghostbusters proton pack and Luigi’s Poltergust.
Where I am so far:
So, just about everything except the pack is ready. Also, I’m not gonna be grooming the mustache or wearing a fake one, so I’m waiting on a cloth mask with a print of the lower half of Luigi’s face on it!
I’ve been doing some training to improve my 3D modelling skills with Autodesk Fusion 360 (not sponsored, that’s just what I use) lately, and in one of the videos the instructor mentioned that he happened to like using a 3D mouse to rotate the models and help his workflow be just that bit easier.
Around the same time, someone happened to drop this link in the cyberdeck discord chat.
It’s the instructions for a homemade spaced mouse with 3d printed casing. It uses a small arduino board and some inputs (buttons and a clickable joystick) to make a space mouse.
Hmm… I can build a space mouse for a fraction of the cost of one I could buy? I get a new device for my workflow AND a project to practice a bit more with electronics and code?
Well, that’s a no-brainer. Project ahoy!
So, I started following these instructions, and built my space mouse.
Side note: every time I use the term space mouse I think of Mickey in a spacesuit. I don’t know if anyone else has that issue, but I just had to share.
I don’t think I’m gonna get too in depth covering it, as that feels redundant with the instructable above. I will point out a few things form my experience though.
This project made me very glad that the arduino boards came in a multi pack. I botched the first attempt HARD.
I put pins along the entire length of the soldering locations. Where are the wires supposed to solder to if you’ve put pins in all the holes? WHERE???
Turns out I wasn’t reading the instructions closely enough.
In addition, I was attempting to solder things while the board was embedded in the case. That didn’t work to well either. There was nowhere for the iron to really fit. While I was at it, it reminded me that I was using a very cheap soldering iron that I had only bought for something to do heatset inserts with, which wasn’t as precise or controllable as I needed.
So, with all that, I decided to make a few changes to my process and equipment.
1. I reprinted the case. I’d… kinda melted the board into the original case already and couldn’t get it out.
2. I carefully reread the instructions, found a diagram of the pinout for the board, and made myself a detailed diagram to work from before soldering ANYTHING.
I only needed a few of the pins that came with the board to make things to mount the board to the case, not the entire row.
3. I used thinner, more flexible wires. The originals were waaaaay too inflexible to fit where I needed them.
4. I did all my soldering away from the plastic, then carefully installed the parts in. No unintentionally melted plastic.
5. I improved my soldering equipment and process. I made liberal use of solder flux (I’d shied away from it in the past), added a fume extractor to avoid having to work with the door open, and got a much better soldering iron after conferring with other makers about their recommendations. It was my third iron after all, it was time to get something that would work well. Finally got myself a Hakko.
Also took a little bit of time to do some reading/viewing so I’d take better care of this iron and have better soldering results.
This was a series that helped me, by the way. Sometimes you gotta go back to basics… and realize your bad habits that you’ve gotta fix.
6. For connecting to the joystick, I used solderless connections to save my sanity, since it came with connector pins on the stick already.
Anyway, after all that on the hardware side, I finally got the thing built. All the wires soldered, the thing assembled and closed up.
I used black for the optional button extensions because I thought it’d be easier to use with contrast.
I ran into an issue with the thing slipping around on my glass desk, so I pulled out the rubber tape that I used for my arch lamp to make this nonskid as well.
Now it doesn’t move anywhere unless I deliberately pull it off the desk.
Once I got the thing assembled and plugged up to the computer, I loaded the code included with the instructable.
The code was written primarily for this thing to work with Autodesk Inventor not Autodesk Fusion 360. The shortcuts are different in those two pieces of software. It took a bit of reading (particularly looking up the shortcuts for Fusion, figuring out the Keyboard. h code, and the firmware itself), but I eventually got at least the ability to orbit (rotate the view around the models) and zoom to work.
… also kinda had to swap the X and Y axes in the firmware. I might have gotten those two pins swapped on install. It works now, though!
Once I’ve used it a bit more, and thought more on what commands I use frequently, I’ll have to take the time to reprogram the buttons to do something useful.
Anyway, I got a new toy, got some more experience on these kinds of electronics projects, and had a reason to finally upgrade my electronics setup to be something more useable. Win!
Note: Yes, I know that isn’t the common spelling for useable, but usable doesn’t look right to me, and IT’S A VALID SPELLING, DAMMIT.
So, you may have noticed that I appeared to drop off the web for about a month. Well, I was busy trying to build a full-size cyberdeck in a month for VirtCon 2021. I took Adam Savage’s advice from his book Every Tool’s a Hammer and took advantage of the competition to set a deadline for myself in order to build a concept that’s been floating around my head for a bit.
Now I get to share the result with you.
I decided to continue with the transforming feature from the last one, and the musical instrument theme from the first one, so here’s the ΠTar Flying V Cyberdeck.
A 3d-printed deck based around the general outline of a Flying V electric guitar, folding from guitar mode to cratetop cyberdeck mode. The neck is made of 2020 Aluminum Extrusion (aluminum extrusion was one of the requirements of the competition).
Here’s how it transforms:
I haven’t yet documented this one as thoroughly as my last build, but I can share with you some of what I do have this time. I may be posting more about this down the line as I sort through my photos.
Here’s the in-universe “sales flyer” as if this were being sold at a small shop as a custom item. It includes the general specifications and basic operating instructions.
Competition A: Design a thematic t-shirt for the cyberdeck.cafe group to use for merch (additional requirements on the above link).
Prize: VOXELAB Proxima Monochrome Resin Printer
Wow. A resin printer for a prize? Pretty awesome. But that’s not where my talents or interests lie. I’m more interested in:
Competition B: Designing a portable cyberdeck (additional requirements on the above link).
Prize: An EZFlex build plate or your design printed on a large 3d printer.
I have about a month to design and present a new cyberdeck, this time using aluminum extrusion or piping. Conveniently, I’ve had the basics of a design that fits these requirements in the back of my head for a while, but insufficient motivation to build it until now. The prize is nice, but I’m really in it for the impetus and deadline to build another design.
I tend to get a bit… quiet about the details of my competition builds, so you’ll probably have to wait to see the design until I’ve submitted my entry to the competition. I can tell you that I’m definitely gonna be using some components and concepts familiar to anyone who has seen my previous builds.
Most of the parts are at the sanctum or will be arriving soon. Most of my concept seems like it should be straightforward (which I think means I’m not grasping something) except for one thing the whole design hinges on, which might get iffy.
Points where I have been or will be doing some learning:
Components new to me for this build so far:
Aluminum 2020 extrusion
Fan-based cooling on a Pi
PiSugar 2 Pro for a Raspberry Pi 4B
Processes I have a bit of concern over:
Printing large objects without warping:
I’ve been running tests this past week trying to adjust for some warping issues that I’ve had with large objects. I’ve built a temporary enclosure to reduce issues with drafts causing unequal cooling (I’d post it… but I think the current version is a rickety potential fire hazard that I don’t want to condone for others). I’ve also changed some of my print settings to help with adhesion. These include checking the bed levelling (I still may need to redo this), increasing the first layer temperature, adding a large brim… and simply avoiding the area of the printer that seems to run into the worst problems. Side benefit: I’ve rebuilt the arch lamp, and didn’t have to use tape or glue.
I’m currently planning to use MDF for part of the design to cut down on the parts count. I can eliminate about 12 3d printed parts from the design if I use some kind of sheet material, and MDF seemed appropriate. There are two methods I have access to at the moment that I plan to try: 1) cutting with a reciprocating saw or 2) attempting the “score and snap” method. I’m expecting some difficulties with this, but even if it takes me a few attempts and a bit to figure out, it should still be better than printing all those additional parts. It should be a simpler and stronger build this way.
As you’ve probably been able to tell from the dedicated page on the website, I finished the Pi-Tar months ago, but I never got around to explaining the final construction of it. 2020 was a hell of a year.
Looks like I left off after adding a power switch to the casing. I apologize in advance for lack of detail on certain aspects, I’m catching up on something from months and a few projects ago.
In order to offload some power requirements for additional USB peripherals from drawing power through the Pi, as well as to make a more convenient location for plugging things in, I decided to add a powered USB hub. As an added bonus, this one came with an SD card slot and a microSD card slot.
This did add some complicating factors, though. I needed the wires to fit through some pre-existing holes in the casing AND the thing uses USB-C. I ended up having to buy some additional parts to make this work, which got rather weird. I had to find a USB-A to USB-C cable that would connect to the Pi on one end and fit into the existing hole into the casing. I made that part work, but it took some finagling with the wires.
I also had to find a USB-C to USB-C connector to connect that wire inside the case to the USB hub.
I also had to add a micro-USB power switch cable to connect the hub to the power bank (as mentioned in a previous post), and I attempted to modify the cable coming from the Pi to avoid drawing from or backfeeding to the Raspberry Pi (I can’t remember if I ever got that part to work without losing power, but that was the intent).
Once I figured out the wiring, I then had to figure out how to attach the thing to the exterior of the casing. Originally I was going to use the USB hub as the basis of some sort of pseudo-cartridge system with USB drives, but eventually cut it down to just being a conveniently accessible hub.
As part of this, I also decided that I needed to move the large audio port to the exterior of the case, and add an additional regular-sized audio jack. Moving the port freed up the existing hole in the casing to pass through all the wires for the interface hub. This meant I didn’t have to try to cut or drill a new whole in the interface between the two halves of the shell.
The 3D modelling and physically attaching that in was troublesome, but electronically it was simple. I just added an audio splitter cable to the end, putting one female end exterior to the case and the other connected to the adapter I had already been using.
I went through a LOT of iterations with the interface module (one of the names I’ve been workshopping, may be subject to change), and eventually settled on a two-part assembly that screwed onto the casing through existing holes. It took a LOT of measuring and iterations to get it to fit reasonably, both with the electronic components and the actual casing. I designed it in two parts, with the larger portion (containing the hub itself) screwing directly onto the casing, and the smaller portion (containing the audio jacks) sliding onto the larger part, and then screwing into both the casing and the larger interface section. The smaller section also served the purpose of covering the hole that the wires went through.
I quickly learned in that process to only print as much of a model as I actually needed to test the fit of parts, in order to reduce turnaround time and materials wastage. I also found out that parts moving in different directions can lead to weird shenanigans, like installing one part causing another to become unplugged.
Once I got that figured out and painted up (along with the new power switch), I finally assembled it for the last time. That was… interesting.
There are a lot of parts of this assembly that have to be done in a specific (and weird) order or else it physically cannot be assembled. Connecting the Raspberry Pi, it’s case, and the interface between those wires and the shell is a very delicate process of going back and forth and making sure that you don’t crush ribbon cables while also carefully routing wires before and after attaching the cable interface (the bit with the universal greeblie).
Connecting the top and bottom halves is also fraught with issues (having to carefully move wires to lay properly while closing the shells), and you have to do that before you can even start on attaching the interface module. I know I’ve missed many steps in documenting this process, including some that anyone crazy enough to attempt recreating this might want, but I’ve only got so much time and patience at the moment. What madman decided to design from a pre-existing case this way?
Oh, wait, that was me. Ahem.
If you have further questions, please let me know what you would like to know more about and I can see about adding it.
Note: the stuff on the end of the grip handle and anything in pewter color is purely decorative and non-functional.
This has been a long project and a valuable learning experience. I learned more about Raspberry Pi (both from a hardware and software perspective), spraypainting, 3D modelling, 3D printing, electronics work (soldering), managing the details of a project, and working with professionals when I needed parts that I couldn’t yet make myself. I’ve even made new hobby contacts in the process who have helped me pick up more skills and helped out on other projects such as the Warp Core Lamp and encouraged me to make the Pioneer Falchion as another project.
I call this project “complete,” but as with a lot of other makers, this is more of a “project made it to baseline.” I’ve got some improvements I’d like to make (better power supply, attaching a headmounted display, making the Pi swappable as new models are released), but I’ve at least reached the initial goals I made before too much scope creep got in the way.
You may see more of the Pi-Tar (and possibly a sequel?) if/when I make upgrades to it.
I finally got around to deciding to paint my 3D printed miniatures, so I needed to tool up and learn painting skills. That all started with a learn to paint kit, some brushes, and lighted magnifier glasses that I received as gifts.
This escalated quickly. I’m going to cover a lot of the things I’ve added or built on the setup here, because if I did it as individual Sanctum Upgrade posts they would stretch out pointlessly and my blog would be nothing but painting posts for the next few months.
If you want to see a more succinct form of this setup (whether out of impatience or for better reference), I’ve added a page for my current setup under Manufacturing Setups.
I had seen people use painting handles before, and they appeared to help a lot, so before I started painting I 3D printed one for myself, along with a lot of “pucks” to attach miniatures to in order to paint.
Here are some of the results of my early painting setup.
I love how the mail came out on the orc.
I’m pretty happy with these early results.
As I painted the miniatures, my painting setup has rapidly evolved.
It might be easier to cover various sections’ evolutions rather than try to keep track of them as setups. Here’s one of the earlier ones, and where it’s currently at.
Originally I used a couple of red solo cups, one for clean water for use in mixing paints (with a dropper in it to measure when thinning washes), and one for rinse water. These were tall and easy to knock over. Not good.
I then switched to smaller plastic disposable cups, with labels on them so I didn’t get them mixed up. After watching some videos on painting and having some discussions with people who paint (a buddy of mine put me in touch with some other people who paint miniatures), I added a second rinse cup, because that appears to help clean brushes more thoroughly.
Finally (so far), I’ve switched the rinse cups to a couple of small plastic cups that aren’t as likely to tip, while still keeping one of the disposable plastic cups for clean water.
Paint Mixingand Cleanup
The painter’s kit recommended using kitchen parchment paper for mixing paints, but that got old fast. The parchment paper had to be cut into sections to be useable (yes I know that’s spelled weird, I don’t like standard spelling of “usable”), and it kept curling, making the paint run. I ordered some circular plastic paint palettes, and they work much better.
I use cut up wooden coffee stirrers to mix paints now. Originally I used some toothpicks I had. I should probably use plastic because of paint absorption, but so far it doesn’t appear to be a major wastage issue, since I’m not frequently running out of paint mixes before finishing what I’m painting. If I start painting a lot of minis in the same colors (if I were to start painting armies, for example) it might become an issue.
Cleaning the palettes was a bit of a challenge at first, but then I started keeping a container with a mixture of dish detergent and water nearby. As soon as I finish with a palette, it goes into the container. When I run out clean palettes, I use a stiff cleaning brush I keep in the container to scrub off any paint that managed to remain stuck to the palettes, then rinse and dry the palettes. It takes so much less time that way. At first I was trying to scrub with my fingers or a cloth and it did NOT go well.
Eventually I want to get a smaller dedicated container for this with a lid, as that pot is my general crafting pot that I want to free up for anything else I might need it for.
The glasses I mentioned earlier provides some additional lighting where I’m looking, and my usual workbench light originally provided the primary illumination, but it often required moving it around.
I decided to build something I had seen before on Thingiverse, an arch of LEDs providing light from various angles simultaneously, hopefully reducing the need to move a light around periodically while painting and photographing.
It seems to work decently for now, though I’ve only been using it for one day’s work at the time of writing. I covered the building shenanigans last week here:
I was originally painting on my primary workbench, covering up the area with a piece of foam core I cut to protect it, and moving stuff around. It allowed me to use the existing lighting at the work bench and mean I didn’t have to pull my auxiliary workbench out (it takes up living space).
This got annoying quickly, as with my 3D printed miniatures I have to clean them up before priming, so I had to keep switching the workspace back and forth. For now my painting setup is going to be a temporary or “deployable” setup that will occasionally live on my auxiliary workbench (aka the other folding table, yes, I like being pretentious sometimes). I still need to figure out storage for when I pack up my painting supplies, but that’s a problem for down the line.
I covered the table in brown paper to protect it (like I generally do for projects, thanks Adam Savage) and have run my extension cable over to it for the lights. I just had to remember to run the wire a certain way so it’s not in the way of my rolling stool. Don’t want to fall off and injure myself because I forgot there was a wire there!
Paint Brushes and Holders
The kit came with a couple of starter brushes, and I was also gifted a nice set of fine tipped brushes. For the first 3 minis, I only used the brushes from the kit, as I wanted to learn more about brush care before putting any wear and tear on the nicer ones.
I also ordered a set of wider brushes for priming, which I’ve been using on all my 3D printed minis. I haven’t used the fine tipped brushes yet, but I’ve definitely been seeing places where they’ll be useful when I paint certain details.
For holding the brushes when not actively in use, I initially just propped them against a small tin.
I 3D printed a brush holder that holds them over the tin very soon after, as the brushes kept rolling around.
I also wanted to see what additional brushes I had available. I couldn’t leave them just lying out on a flat surface as they could roll off or I could damage them by putting something on them, so I finally added a rotating brush stand.
Now I can see an access what I have. I still want to go back and label it to keep it organized.
Paints and Primers
The minis in the kit did not require priming (Reaper Bones minis are like that), so I didn’t need any for that. The kit did include a number of paints to get started with, though.
For the 3D printed ones I’ve been priming them, and I’ve got primers in two different colors. The white was for one thing that I still wanted to be white when I was done. I was hoping the gray would be darker so it’d be easier to distinguish from the white while I’m hand-priming (I’m kinda sick of spraying paints from my time with previous projects), but it’s still not that far off from white.
The starter kit covered a lot of colors, but it was missing some colors I’d want to use for my general collection (flesh tones and red, in particular… which sounds much more ominous than intended when I phrase it like that), so I did a bit of looking and decided to get the next kit in the series, which had the colors I was looking for, as well as more brushes, minis, and instructions. Now I think I have enough selection to paint the rest of my collection (after I get additional practice with the included minis).
That grid for holding the paints in place moves around and kept being a nuisance for regular use, so I locked it in place with hot glue.
I think this setup is settling towards a form now, but being this early in this new hobby I wouldn’t be surprised if there were further changes upcoming. At some point I want to replace the lamp with a better-made one, and I’ll probably swap out the wood coffee stirrers with plastic when these run out. Some people have recommended adding a wet palette to my setup, but I don’t yet see the need for one.
I’ve been enjoying priming and painting my miniatures, and look forward to gradually painting my 3D printed miniatures collection.
However, it’s too big for my workspace, and it’s complex enough that I need to study it some before attempting scaling.
It’s a beautiful lamp, but doesn’t work for my original intent of painting on my primary workbench. It also would take a lot of space to store. I also wanted something I could construct quickly so I would have it available ASAP since I had paints coming in soon.
Assembly, barring some issues I’ll get to further in this post, was rather straightforward. Cut the LED strips to length at one of the marked locations. Slide it through the guides section by section, coming in where you see the wire in the pictures below. Make sure that the LEDs are facing out of the slot. Then do the final attachment of the sections together.
When finished, set the arch upright, and turn the LEDs on. Then you’ll have lighting from many angles at once while working on your projects.
I did run into a couple issues while building this.
Issue 1: Warping
It’s become apparent that I have some warping issues with my 3D printer that is large enough to print these parts.
I ended up working around this by using a chisel to remove one of the pegs in each section, and using a lot of tape. It’s not perfect, but at least it gets it functional for now until I can reprint it properly.
Issue 2: Height
The arch is a bit short to comfortable use with the painting handle that I use for painting. While priming I don’t think that it’s so big of an issue, as I can easily just use the pucks to hold the mini, but for stability I’m going to want more space for both the stand and the brush in my hand.
To fix this, I designed and printed some extenders to raise the arch up approximately 2 inches. This gives me more space to work with.
They are designed to just stack the arch on top, and route the power cables out the back.
If you want to build one of these lamps with the extender pieces, you can find my extenders here:
My current hope with this arch is that I will not have to use my workbench lamp on my secondary workbench, and can keep my painting and 3D printing workflows separate as much as possible. I also hope this means I’ll be able to see what I’m painting more clearly without having to move a lamp arm and my head around so much.
I did in fact finish that project just before Christmas of last year, in time to hand out as presents.
When I last left off, I had designed the top portions of the staff, but had not figured out how to get the threads I wanted to connect it to the broom handle. I ended up remixing a model that someone else had made:
I just left the extra gap in there since it wasn’t really hurting anything. As a point of comparison, this is also how I test fit the other components.
Once I found out that everything fit, I had to paint the pieces. I used a primer/pigment spraypaint, with a couple coats of a clear gloss coat to minimize the occurrence of the paint rubbing off on things.
I simply clearcoated the “crystals” so light could still pass through.
Another modification I made was to the light of the flashlights themselves, by ordering some red filters sized for maglites, so that they wouldn’t interfere with people’s vision at night. Apparently the lenses are a bit vulnerable to heatwarping from the LEDs, but I didn’t think it was a significant enough issue to warrant leaving them out.
Since I knew these walking sticks would also be brought and stored indoors a lot, and I didn’t want to get parents angry at me for damaging their floors, I added little rubbery caps to the end of the walking sticks. Usually these are meant for chairs, but by boiling them and zip-tying them on, I think they were able to stay on well enough.
With that done, I had my semi-final products.
I say semi-final, because these were rather tall for the kids. I got some help from the rest of the family to figure out what height they needed to be, and then cut them down to their final heights for the kids.
I did find out quickly some modifications I may need to make for future versions. With all the lockdown times this year, I realized I still had leftover parts from making them, and started working on a variant for myself, incorporating what I had learned from the originals.
I still have work to do on it, but I think I like it. I need to reprint a couple parts with adjusted tolerances, then paint, glue, and assemble. I’m also thinking of making a connector to hang just this top portion from my belt if I feel like it, as a belt greeblie for cyberpunk costuming.
The tack at the bottom is holding a piece of metal in that positively retains the end cap of the maglite without just relying on the glue, which was a failing of the originals.
If at first you don’t succeed, iterate, iterate, iterate!
If anyone is interested in making their own (of the original design, I’m not sure if my personal one will be posted), the files are located here:
This project is part of what first got me to get my first 3D printer, but I got discouraged at the time with print quality and later by my replacement printer being too small.
But I finally did it!
A while after I originally wanted to create it, someone updated the quality of the models and manufacturing methods, making it more feasible to do.
So, earlier this year, I posted about how I had printed the parts (though it took me a couple attempts).
One of the nice things about this version is that most of the parts were broken into easier to print and clean up pieces. There was a bit of a tradeoff, though. It required coat hanger wire for some parts and replace others with stainless steel rods.
It was easy enough to buy the rods, and purchase and cut the steel coat hangers… but I was unable to cut the rods myself. I ended up supporting a local business and contacting my local machinist (who I’ve gone to before when there were metal parts I couldn’t fix or fab myself). It was kinda pricey… but precisely and cleanly cutting and finishing stainless steel is no joke, and this guy did an excellent job of it.
Unfortunately, I found out later that the lengths I have him did not precisely match what was needed for some of the 3D printed parts.
This led to a bit of experimentation with modifying the 3D models and reprinting the “tension members” to “cheat” them to a length that would work with the steel rods. That took a bit longer than it should have due to unexpected 3D printer problems.
By the way, if you’re wondering where the coat hanger wires went, they are inside those gray pieces around the clear section, spaced between the steel rods.
Getting the lights in there and getting them to work took a bit, but I finally finished that recently. The system runs off of an Arduino Nano board, with a small board to break the wiring out. Before I get to the final stuff, I want to share a lessons learned.
If you use a breadboard of any kind… check how the the holes are connected! For some reason I thought this board left the holes unconnected and that I’d have to spread solder between components to form connections. Turns out they were connected and it hadn’t occurred to me to look at the back of the board until after I had soldered the resistors on. This is also why it is a good idea to buy spares of parts (or multi-packs) when working on a project. Otherwise it could cost you a lot of time and extra shipping.
A new board and a lot of soldering later, this is what I ended up using:
I realized that this time on a project I didn’t want to trap myself with my directly soldering disparate wires to the board, so I added connector pins so I could have removable cables for disassembly/modification. I wasn’t gonna bet on getting it right the first time!
To keep the count of LEDs and wires down a bit, I used the diffusers someone else had designed (links at the bottom).
It uses a “light pipe” design to spread the light around in a mostly circular pattern. There was even a special one for the reaction chamber…but I ended up not using that.
Wiring the LEDs took a while, but it was more tedious than it was difficult. I think it was mainly because I took the time to plan out what I was doing before I started in more detail, rather than trying to wing it and label a bunch of wires afterwards.
To avoid going insane with trying to glue in each LED and try to solder all the connections with reasonable spacing, I designed and printed spacers that I could simply stick the wires of the LEDs through. I think the wires would have held, but to make things simpler on myself (and so they wouldn’t push out during soldering) I hot glued them after putting them in.
To drastically cut down on the number of wires required, I soldered all of the negative terminals to a common grounding bus bar made from a bare copper wire.
Referencing the drawings I had made earlier, I soldered some ribbon cable to the positive terminals, allowing me to have traceability through color-coding. The wiring is mirrored on the opposite side, so that each control output from the electronics board controls the lights in the mirrored position on top and bottom of the warp core lamp. This keeps the number of control pins needed down, and simplifies the coding.
These lights on the spacer bars fit snugly into the diffusers.
As mentioned in the note above, I forgot to wire the ground wire first on the top section, meaning I had to add it in last, connecting it at the far end rather than the close end. In the bottom section I did it first, because I really needed room for the power/programming USB cable to fit in.
These segments then slid into the corrugated sections.
Here’s how the wires connected up before the final closing of the casing.
Note the removable connectors for all the wires in case I needed to adjust anything. The colorcoding made connecting them to the board a breeze. The USB cable goes out the bottom for programming and power.
Now we get to where I kinda got angry. Here are the parts just before I was planning to connect the last couple wires and close it up.
Look at the circuitry. Look at the diffuser that’s supposed to go into the central reaction chamber. Now look at the reaction chamber. Do you see it yet?
THE DIFFUSER AND THE CIRCUIT DON’T BOTH FIT INTO THE CHAMBER AT THE SAME TIME.
I had planned for this somewhat with the board, but hadn’t fully taken into account the flexibility of the wires or the added height of the removable connectors.
1) the diffuser isn’t 100% necessary (though the light would look better in that section
2) the diffuser was weak
3) RAL CAN CRUSH DIFFUSER WITH BARE HANDS AND EXTRACT LEDS INTACT
I kinda went barbarian on it in my desire to finish. I ripped the central diffuser apart, and just shove the LEDs in the compartment with the rest. Also, after a test fitting and plugging it in, I realized that the arduino had red LEDs that clashed with the color scheme, and put some electrical tape over them to get rid of the distracting red glow.
I closed the thing up… and then got to do something that still makes me chuckle a bit.
I pulled out the rubber mallet and began gently tapping on the end of the warp core to make sure all the rods were seated as well as they could be.
After a bit of updating some code I wrote for this years ago (and cursing at two different computers for a few hours because they didn’t want to behave with uploading to the arduino) I finally got it turned on.
I went through a few iterations of code and pseudocode (and had to remind myself that with this board the counting started at 2 rather than 0 or 1), and finally got it to a state I liked.
Here’s the initial light pattern I went with:
I’ve got an intermediate version of this one somewhere with an extra delay built in after the FOR loop because I didn’t like that the light jumped immediately from the bottom LED to the top again. It just seemed jarring.
Here’s what I’ve most recently decided to use:
This one has 2 or 3 “waves” at a time passing through each end to the center. It looks less like a jarringly looped GIF than some of the other iterations I went through.
I originally planned on plugging this into the raspberry pi that I control my 3D printers with, but apparently Octoprint gets confused by the extra USB connection, so I have it connected to a USB wall adapter for the moment. Though I have realized I can plug it into the USB adapter in my car as well…
I hope you all enjoyed this, and I’m glad to have finally finished this project after years of wanting to build this, and I was finally able to take this off my project board.
Reference Links For Construction:
Here’s the original I saw that inspired me years ago:
Now that I’ve submitted it as my entry for the 2020 Zero Day competition, I feel like I can share what I’ve been working on lately.
This may end up being the first in a series of “Standard Runner’s Constructs,” and the instructions are written as such, in an in-universe style. The idea is that runners are trying to make sure their future teammates are properly equipped and educated. If you “can’t find good help anymore,” sometimes you’ve gotta train your own.
I present the 𝝅oneer Falchion, a pi zero w based micro cyberdeck (or microdeck).
I took inspiration in designing this from the Austro-Hungarian M1853 Pioneer’s Falchion. I had gotten the first inkling of an idea of a blade shape from the shape of the keyboard, and then went poking and asking around to find a blade with a somewhat similar shape. That’s what informed the shape of the hilt and the placement of the quillions in particular.
The features include a micro-USB charging port on the hilt end, two USB-A “data-quillions”, a touchscreen display, and a wireless keyboard that folds on a hinge along the back of the “blade” into the operating position under the display. The power switch is accessible through a hole on the backside of the device.
I designed and built it for the competition hosted here:
The gist of it is that we are holding a mini virtual maker faire, with a competition portion. The competition requires using a Raspberry Pi Zero (or Zero W for the wireless version) as the core of a cyberdeck that we designed in a limited amount of time, with a limited number and volume of 3D printed components, and including the required models and instructions as our entry.
The winner gets their design printed in resin and shipped to them.
As part of the competition I had to submit the 3D models and instructions, but I also have them hosted here: