Category Archives: Ramblings From the Sanctum

Random Updates 08/28

I’ve been working on a few things crafting-wise lately, none of them too major at the moment.

Minis-Painting:

I decided to paint a few minis again. I’m hoping to print some minis for a game of Shadowrun soon, so while I’ve been tinkering with the printer I’ve been painting a few small things. A couple of minis that wouldn’t be out of place in-genre, and the Mound of Dead Bards from Gamers: Dorkness Rising. That last one took quite a bit of work.

3D printer tinkering:

I’ve so far never managed to get the Monoprice Select Mini Pro to print minis as nicely as the other printer. I’ve been tinkering with some settings, and also with the hardware. Main thing I want to change is to improve the part cooling. I’ve gone through a couple iterations of air vent modifications and swapping in a better fan, but I really think it needs 2 fans. Unfortunately all the designs I see that include 2 fans are for different configurations or models, so I’m having to do some model splicing and editing. The main issue I come across is that the bed levelling/z axis sensor is mounted in a specific location not present on earlier versions of the MPSM, so I’m having to carefully splice that mount in in a way that is compatible with the air mods. I’m also doing a bit of experimentation with freehand modifications with the 3d printing pen, but the improvement has not been significant.

Bag of holding repair/upgrade:

I’ve had a bag of holding from Thinkgeek for years. Used it in my college days until I overloaded it with weight and damaged it beyond my ability to repair at the time. I’ve carried it with me from place to place, and occasionally used it (with some safety pins over a busted zipper or two) for thematic appropriateness or something “close enough”.

Recently I came across the bag again, and decided to work on it, inspired by finally going to a tabletop RPG night again. So far I’ve repaired the failed zipper, reinforced all the zippers, and added pull tabs on the zippers to make them open and close more easily. I repaired the fabric where the stitching had been coming loose, such as on the zippers and the strap where it attaches. Since I’m gaming in a high traffic makerspace, and I recall these bags being somewhat common, I’ve been adding patches to make it more identifiable. Most recently I decided to finally test out tge chemical NeverWet, and a “magic bag” seemed an appropriate use of it

I’m currently waiting on the neverwet to dry. I was able to use an old pressure fit curtain rod to hole the bag between two posts for spraying. Thankfully the fumes died down after a while. They were pretty bad, and got throughout my home, even though I sprayed outside.

Still Alive… just busy

I’m still here. I’ve just been busy with other things.

Things I have been tinkering on in the meantime:

Replacing the hotend on the Colido DIY. The thermistor was showing early failure signs (discontinuities in temperature telemetry). The model of thermistor for the hotend that came with the printer is no longer available, so I’ve replaced the whole hotend with a similar one, a reprap mk 8. Even have a silicone sock for it now. However… the board doesn’t read the thermistor correctly. I’ll have to spend some time adjusting the firmware. Numerically the thermistors are the same… but the old one was externally mounted and the new one is internally mounted, so it’s overreporting the temperature.

Sanctuary upgrade: Small shelves. I got tired of knickknacks in my way on my regular shelves, so I’ve started putting up some command strip shelves just for them.

My fantasy themed shelf

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….

BLU-TAC SAVES THE DAY!

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:
r/hfy

Deathworlders

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: https://www.cyberdeck.cafe/post/deck-builders-competition

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!