Category Archives: Ramblings From the Sanctum

COM|POST 01/21/21: Painting Progress and Disaster averted

I’ve been enjoying painting minis with my new setup! I’ve been painting my 3D printed mini collection. I decided to start with an adventuring party, and these are the ones I’ve started with so far.

I’ve gotten a bit sidetracked from my original schedule by a new challenge. One of the kids in the family is reading The Hobbit for the first time, and is going to be tracking the movement of the characters on a map that they are going to draw. I’m making miniatures for them, based on how the party gets divided a few times in the story.

Gandalf, Bilbo, Thorin, and a dwarf to represent the other 12 dwarves.

In random news, either through glitch or user error, my Roomba began vacuuming unexpectedly… and the room was NOT prepared for it. The room that just happens to contain my painting setup right now.

The only thing that was disturbed was the paint table, and the vacuum clearly caught on the thin wire connected to my newly built arch lamp….


Thankfully I had stuck the switch for the lamp to the table with blu-tac, and the cable had a breakaway point, so after being yanked around the room a bit the cable came away from the table without pulling the lamp down or knocking stuff off the table.

WHEW. Crisis averted.

The cable got chewed up a bit, but is still functional, and I didn’t lose any work as far as I can tell.

Loot Drop: Google Stadia

Youtube Premium recently had a promotion for their members to get free Google Stadia, with one of their upgraded Chromecast Ultras and a Stadia controller.

I hadn’t really looked into the Stadia, not really knowing what it was, but free is free, so I decided to try it.

Apparently, Google Stadia is based around streaming a game from the internet using their controller to control it, and casting it to a screen via Chromecast or other device that can handle streamed games.

Here are my thoughts on it:

The controller feels really comfortable in my hands, and appears to be well made.

I appreciate the upgraded Chromecast. I’m not noticing a difference for streaming things other than a game that needs low latency, but I assume it’s beefed up to handle the higher throughput needed for gaming.

You better have a high speed internet connection and/or not be competing with anything that uses a lot of data on your home network. I was downloading and installing something on my computer in the other room, and the network couldn’t handle doing that while trying to play a game in the other room. I do like that the software made it clear when there wasn’t enough bandwidth to play games at the same time. Icons on the screen changed colors to indicate that there was a problem. If you don’t have plenty of network bandwidth available at the time that you are trying to play, don’t bother.

You may want to make sure that your idle screen on your Chromecast always shows the log in code for your stadia. It took me a bit to realize why Stadia wasn’t loading when I turned on the controller. The controller wasn’t linked to the TV automatically!

I’ve realized that I am not the intended audience for this device. I invest in my own gaming rig, and I don’t see this supplanting that investment. For someone who hasn’t done so, particularly someone who has a good internet connection but not a lot of high-end hardware, this could be a convenient way to get into gaming without spending a huge amount of money. The hardware running the games is on the internet, and it’s the job of Google to keep their hardware up-to-date on the other end. All you have to get is the controller, a device to connect to (likely a Chromecast), a screen, and pay for the service. Supposedly you can play high-requirement games (they have Cyberpunk 2077, for example), but I haven’t tested that out as I’m not investing more money into games on an alternate system.

That was just my quick thoughts on the subject, I’ve been rather preoccupied with other things at the moment, (*cough* 2077 *cough*) and like I said, I’m not the target demographic for this system.

COM|POST: Warhammer 40K: Mechanicus

Recently I played the game Warhammer 40K: Mechanicus, and I really enjoyed it. It’s a turn-based strategy game in the Warhammer 40K universe. The player customizes and commands a squad of Adeptus Mechanicus Tech Priests (heavily modified cyborgs who worship technology) and assorted others to stop a Necron (undead alien techno-zombies) world from awakening from dormancy. It really hits that technomancy vibe for me.

I started playing while they had a free weekend, and decided it was good enough to actually spend money on.

The player chooses a squad of Tech Priests and an assortment of their servants (kinda like hirelings in other games), and sends them on missions. The hirelings you customize entirely by choosing which ones to use. The tech priests you customize by changing out their upgrade trees and choosing which augments (technological upgrades, usually in the form of extra mechanical limbs or attachments) you give them. I chose to specialize each tech priest as I unlocked them, making each one better at a single area of capability rather than making them interchangeable jacks of all trades. One guy’s job was to be super fast and generate as much of the game’s combat resource, Cognition Points, in order to feed the abilities of the other tech priests that required them. Another guy was designed to be a tanky front-liner with an axe. Yet another was specialized as a long range character dealing as much damage as possible.

It was rather addicting, but at least it was satisfying. Plenty of lore dumps, turn-based squad combat, extremely customizable units, and a very thematically appropriate soundtrack. If I ever get into the tabletop game and play as Adeptus Mechanicus, I think I’ll want to play the soundtrack in the background!

Technomancer’s Spellbook aka Codex Technarcana

There are oftentimes bits of information that I frequently need to look up. Originally some of the stuff was on bits of paper, or I would have to repeatedly look up documents online. I got annoyed with trying to keep track of it across multiple locations, so I decided to get a binder or something. Then I decided to lean fully into the wizard/technomancer theme, compiling my everyday references for my technological hobbies as a “spellbook.”

One thing I liked from reading gaming rulebooks about wizards was their description of their spellbooks. How they could vary, and how there were two general categories of spellbooks: workbooks and grimoires.

The workbook is an everyday spellbook that had their notes that they cobbled together as they traveled. It can be messy, and written on all sorts of bits of paper that they tucked together in a cover. They could add new information as they came across it rather easily, and they could be carried around anywhere.

Grimoires were fancy neatly written books that require preplanning, and are often kept locked away somewhere (like someone’s gilt-edged special editions in a private study).

I decided to make my own workbook, and instead of going with a plain binder, I did a bit of looking around online, and found a place that sells custom laser-engraved leather binders. These awesome people here:

Murdy Creative Co.

After a little back and forth on the customization, and swapping out the chicago screws binding with ones I liked better, this is what I’ve ended up with.

In here I collect my notes for commonly used bits of information, divided by categories such as 3D printing, software, etc. I’ve thrown in some of my favorite inspirational quotes, too.

The 3D printing section in particular includes my notes on what temperature settings work best for the various filaments I have, my versions of procedures for calibration, modeling and slicing considerations, and a handout on checking bed levelling.

I’d show you guys more of the contents, but for now it’s not exactly an IP friendly collection.

At any rate, I highly recommend putting together your own for your own maker hobbies. It doesn’t have to be as fancy as a custom leather binder, a folder or slim 3 ring binder would work just as well. My main recommendations for building your own are these:

  1. Either get something with pockets or a way to store hole-punched sheets. That way you can insert printouts our handouts that you get, and not have to rewrite everything if you were using a notebook. It also gives you the freedom to reorganize later.
  2. Pick something very portable for your workbook/spellbook. A 3-inch 3 ring binder might be able to hold a lot, but it’s rather unwieldy to carry.
  3. Include information that you frequently need to look up or often forget (for me it’s partly the tolerances and temperatures I often need to check).
  4. Include some blank paper in there somewhere so you can add stuff in when you become aware of it, and not have to track down more paper.

COM|POST: Look Carefully Before You Complain

I’ve long complained that one of my printers, the Monoprice Select Mini Pro, was not designed well for maintenance. The vertical column does not seem particularly accessible. The column is made of a couple pieces of bent sheet metal that is structural but can’t be removed without fully disassembling it, and I had no idea how to do that and be able to put it together again.

I was in the process of photographing it to point out to someone where there should be a door on the design so you can access the Z-axis screws and rods for lubrication. And I noticed something.

Wait a minute…

That silvery piece is not one continuous piece of metal!

In fact, it’s cut in places where I would want to be able to remove a panel!

I had to open up the bottom and carefully look for what appeared to be the appropriate screws.

Screws circled in red.

The screws on the top of the column were pretty obvious. Once I removed it, my hunch bore out. It actually was an access panel. I’d been trying to lubricate it the hard way.

I cleaned up the overspray from previous maintenance cycles, and directly applied lubricant to the rods and rails this time.

Sometimes we really should take more time to get thoroughly acquainted with the inner workings of our tech!

At least now I know how to get at parts. That had been driving me nuts ever since I’ve had one of these.

HFY Stories I Like

I’ve been reminded of one of my favorite story genres nowadays, and decided I’d share some of my favorites (I’ve probably mentioned a few elsewhere on the site).

For those who don’t know what it is, HFY stands for “Humanity, F— Yeah!” It’s generally about reversing the old science fiction trope of humans being the weak rung on the ladder compared to aliens, whether it’s via strength, intelligence, or other.

Usually it involves humans being crazy enough to try things no sane species would ever try, and that gives us our edge against other species in the galaxy.

A lot of stuff in that genre can be found here on Reddit:


One of my top favorites, that I read the new chapter of each month. Humans need not fear the scariest monsters of the universe. They fear US.

It stems from the theory that Earth is what’s termed a “deathworld,” in that we may be an edge case for what is survivable for intelligent life to develop on. Our gravity being stronger, our background radiation more severe, and the everyday perils of our world in general being much tougher than what most lifeforms in the universe have to deal with, making us tougher as a result.

The link below goes to the first chapter of the story, and covers the premise. It was originally written as a one-off, and then the author found out people had been talking about it and adding to the universe, so they continued it as a series.

Deathworlders: The Kevin Jenkins Experience

Stabby the Space Roomba

Why Vulcans Let Humans Run the Federation

Star Trek Mad Science

This one explains why humans are in charge of the Federation. It is hilarious. If you’ve watched much of the shows and the movies… I think it’s a fair assessment of humanity.

PM Seymour VA’s Humans are Space Orcs Compilation

Week In Review: 09-06-2020

It’s been another hobby filled week here at the sanctum. I’ve been working on a few things here, sadly I can’t fill you in on quite all of the details, as some of it is being kept secret for a competition.

To start out with, I’ve been doing a lot of work towards an online competition with the Cyberdeck Cafe. Here’s the flyer:

And here’s the link if you are interested:

The short version of it is that we were given requirements and a short timeframe to design a cyberdeck based on a pi zero. The winner gets their design printed in resin and constructed by one of the judges, and sent to them. I’ve been spending a lot of time running through prototypes, though hopefully I’m just in the fine-tuning stage at this point. I’d tell you more… but I know some people from the associated Discord occasionally check this site, and I want to maintain the surprise on my entry. I’m fine with not winning the competition, I just don’t want to lose to someone using my idea and doing a better implementation of it.

While running off prototypes on my printer, I’ve been trying to use up what’s left of a few partial spools of filament. It’s past time I clear out the stock of old filament. I’m planning on transitioning over to better grades of filament, but it would have been a waste to simply throw out the older filament. And I needed to use it sooner rather than later, because the filament can degrade and get brittle (hence one spool’s remnant being tossed out due to frequent breakage).

I’ve been putting the finished off spools to good use, as shown in the cover image for this post. I have a second miniatures tower on a turntable to more neatly store my minis. At this rate of minis production lately, I may have to make a third when I have the spools. And I should probably learn how to paint minis at some point…

With all this 3D printing, I finally got a test and validation of one of my upgrades. I think I posted way back that I had put my 3D printers on a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) in case of power failure or tripping a breaker. A couple nights ago I tripped a breaker while printing on both printers (and having some other loads on the system), but since I had both printers and the control system on the UPS, I didn’t lose these multi-hour prints! Successful test of 3D printing on UPS backup!

Mini Project Update: “Medieval” Backpack

Years ago (before I started this blog) I made a medieval-ish backpack for Renaissance Faires and the like. I had wanted something to carry stuff around at events while in costume without carrying a very obviously modern backpack. Recently I’ve decided to take a crack at fixing/updating it. Here it is when I first built it years ago.

One of the “features” that I was not happy with, and prompted the repair work, was that the leather support straps would sometimes pull out in the direction of the furniture tacks holding them to the frame. I removed the leather straps, sanded the wood a bit, and used wood glue while reattaching the straps to the frame, clamping it to make a stronger connection.

I also reinforced a couple connections with the posts that hold the box in place on the frame. I placed glue in the gaps, and hammered the posts back in tighter. My guess is that they had been pulling out from the frame from the load of the box.

When the glue had 24 hours to dry, I worked on my next annoyance: I had never cut the leather straps flush to the wood. The corners stuck out past the frame, contributing to the straps coming off in the past when things caught on a corner. After some experimentation on some scrap leather, I used an exacto knife to cut the leather, and only then removed the clamps from the frame. Why add unnecessary stress to a recently glued item?

Since I was working on it anyway, I decided to tackle another thing that had always bothered me: the shoulder straps. Here’s another old photo:

Note the rope being used for terrible shoulder straps. At some point between then and now, I swapped them out with some belts from cargo shorts. These are the belts I’m talking about:

They were MUCH more comfortable, but still doesn’t look quite right. None of them match, and it still looks crude. I did some thinking and researching, wanting to swap them for leather ones. I had always wanted leather ones, but after a while I had kinda written it off and forgotten about them.

This time, though, I came across some sword belts that looked like they might work with the frame, so I ordered those. Unfortunately, it was not as easy a swap as I had hoped, and I’ve still got work to do. Here is one of the belts that arrived:

If you look closely you’ll note that all the metal fittings were corroded prior to arrival. This stained the leather and made me loath to use those fittings. The buckles would require heavy cleaning, and the chicago screws were pretty much a lost cause. The leather should be fine, though. That did inspire me to look for some upgrades. I’m replacing the buckles and all the screws, all with antiqued brass.

It’ll look better than it would have if they had come through properly! However, I’ve still got to do some leatherworking, as the straps are actually too long for their intended positions. Also, the holes were not positioned correctly for wrapping around objects of the size of the rungs on the pack.

At least nowadays I have a workshop set up, and more tools to work with, so it’s a much less daunting task than when I originally built the pack! It shouldn’t take too long to do, but I want to make sure that I take my time and do it right, so I’ll have to make sure I have a solid block of time to work on them.

Sanctum Upgrades: Surge Protection

I’ve been dealing with a lot of thunderstorms lately, and got kinda fed up with my old habit of unplugging my sensitive electronics every time they come through, so I decided to finish fully surge-protecting my primary workstation and my router.

The internet connection required a few changes while I was at it. Here it was before.

I kinda dropped a whiteboard on the coax connector a while back, and was worried that it might have been damaged a bit in the process, so I replaced it just in case. Also, the coax cable stuck out of the wall, taking up a bit more floorspace than necessary, so I replace the cable with a shorter yet more flexible one and installed a 90 degree connector. I added an in-line surge protector on the coax cable, and replaced the wall surge protector (I wanted to use the other one somewhere else).

Now it doesn’t stick out as far, and I don’t have to worry about surges going through the router. Though, I guess I kinda went a little redundant on protecting the PC from power surges on the internet connection, as the the ethernet cable was already routed through a surge protector. Oh well, there is no such thing as overkill.

While I was making some changes, I also replaced the old surge protectors for the computer’s peripherals. Here are the old ones:

And here is one of the new ones. I’ve installed them on the walls to be neater. Hopefully the command strips will hold in this configuration.