Category Archives: Ramblings From the Sanctum

Super MAGfest

I was at Super MAGfest (Music And Gaming festival) this past weekend.  It’s in National Harbor, Maryland the first weekend of January every year.  As you would think from the name, it’s mainly focused around music and gaming… but there is a LOT of cosplaying and associated photography as well.  It’s been recommended to me for years, and this is the second time I’ve gone.

Super MAGfest

Convention Prep:

I did another temporary build of my raspberry pi keytar cyberdeck to show off at the convention.  I loaded it up with 80s music and often had it cycling through songs as I wandered the halls of the convention center.

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It was extremely gratifying to get stopped in the hallways and/or called over to answer questions about it!  When you’ve worked on something for months, it’s satisfying to find that other people think it’s about as cool as you think it is.

Since I had the cyberdeck running, I decided to do a somewhat subtle cosplay as a Decker/Netrunner/Console Cowboy (depending on your cyberpunk franchise of choice).

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I picked up some new gear before going to the convention, just to be prepared.  I stopped by REI and picked up a backpack cover (to protect the keytar when I was walking outside through rain) and a 20L water resistant nylon backpack that compresses to be smaller than a soda can (an adventurer’s gotta have a lootbag).  I was so glad I did, as it was raining much of the day Saturday.  I was able to keep my keytar and loot dry, and able to carry a good bit more than my satchel would hold.

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Convention Shoutouts:

I figure the best way to describe most of my experiences at the convention this year is in the form of shoutouts to some of the awesome people and groups that I met while there.

 

NOVA Labs:

NOVA Labs Main Website

NOVA Makers Meetup Group

I talked to these guys in the convention makerspace they were hosting (which I think is an AWESOME idea).  They have a permanent makerspace facility in Reston, VA.  I had a good conversation with those guys about some things people do with 3D printing, CNC milling, and CNC embroidery.  Also some mutual fandoms.

 

YNOT Cosplay:

YNOT Cosplay Instagram Page

I ran into this guy in the hallway a few times.  He’s a Ghostbusters cosplayer who has done an AMAZING job upgrading his Spirit Halloween proton pack.  I mean, way beyond anything I had dreamed of doing.  The lights and sound are awesome, the proton pack has an overheat sequence inspired by the 2009 video game, and he’s soon even gonna add a smoke dispenser to cap off that sequence.

He also had a really cool custom belt gadget (I can’t remember the name at the moment) with nixie tubes and other interesting electrical bits.

 

Duffy Austin:

DuffyAustin.com

This guy is a tabletop game designer who was having people playtest a new game he’s developing, called Scrap Packs: Deckbuilding RPG.  It’s in the very early development stages, but it’s a highly entertaining game based around the following ideas:
You are handed randomly drawn cards with equipment on them, and THEN you design your RPG character based on the setting the gamemaster sets.

When you name the character you give them a title, which the GM might later use to justify or deny whether you have the ability to do something.

You can combine these cards, along with a currency called Skrap, to make new items, as long as you can give it a name and describe it’s function.  The GM makes the stats on a simplified system to facilitate flexibility.

Plot elements are a combination of what cards come up as the game progresses, and how the gamemaster decides to implement them.

Example of my experience:

I began with a rusty spoon, a ballpoint pen, a feathered cap, an aluminum bucket, and a lucky coin.  We were told that our characters were from a high school, going to a cabin in the woods scenario.  I called my character “Eric the Survivalist,” and declared that he was a guy way too into “surviving” and who nobody trusted with anything dangerous because he might hurt someone with it, so things like guns would be yanked out of his hands by the party.  Hijinks ensued, including stabbing aliens with a rusty spoon (his weapon of choice), and using the skrap mechanics to have the party build a human sized slingshot and launch him at the lead alien while wielding a rocket-powered hammer and screaming “LEEROY JENKINS!”

Fun times.

I look forward to seeing the fully developed version of this game.  It’d be great for when I wanted to get people into RPGs while being rules-lite and not prepping a lot in advance.

 

Justin Wood:

This artist’s work caught my eye.  He had a couple comics in a series called NPCs, where NPC characters are dealing with the aftermath of a new hero’s inciting event (the town burning down) and coping with losing people and rebuilding without the help of the town’s strongest guy.  I’m enjoying it so far, and hope to see more!

I’m having trouble tracking down his webpage or listing, or I’d include it here.

 

Cait May:

This artist makes a lot of RPG related artwork, a lot of which seems to be inspired by The Adventure Zone, Critical Role, and her own D&D adventures, though what initially caught my eye was an Animorphs based painting.  I really like her art style, and she draws some comics, too.

CaitMayArt.com

Irregular Comic

 

Glitch Gear:

These guys had some fun apparel.  I got me another “Trust me I’m an Engineer shirt”… but this time with the Team Fortress 2 Engineer on it.  At this rate I might be collecting these as a theme.  Sadly, they were out of the other shirt I wanted.  Hopefully they’ll restock the “Use More Gun” engineer shirt.

Glitch Gaming Apparel

 

Miscellaneous:

I didn’t end up going to any of the scheduled events I had originally planned to go to, but that’s alright.  I was able to try new games, catch up with friends, meet new people, snag some loot, and see some cool things.  There were museums for the history of video games, performances of music all around the convention center, a large merch floor, and game demos galore (both tabletop and digital).  It was all around a well spent day for me.

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.

Keytar Parts.jpg

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.

Ghostbusters Patch.jpg

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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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.

Downtown Columbia Mini Maker Faire

I went to the maker faire today.  Definitely a different environment from one of the bigger maker faires, and felt more casual (and comfortable).  Also kinda nice that with it being outside I got to enjoy some fresh autumn air.

Here are some of the people I came across and chatted with while I was there:

Tech Changers  www.techchangers.org

  • As I recall they teach various tech-related subjects in schools.

Sayakat Cosplay www.sayakatcosplay.com

  • A cosplayer who demonstrated some of the techniques for making cosplay armor with foam and a heat gun.

Turta LLC turta.io

  • A group that was showing a variety of Raspberry Pi hats.

ChocolateFrogs ChocolateFrogs Flickr

  • LEGO designs!  I particularly enjoyed the Stargate gateroom with Jaffa fighting SG-1.  Also, the 11th Doctor with Finn’s face, from Adventure Time.  And THE DREAD GAZEEBO!

Digital Harbor Foundation’s 3D Print Shop www.digitalharbor.org/printshop

  • A youth operated 3d printing shop.  Neat.

Rebel Legion www.rebellegion.com

  • Star Wars cosplayers.  There was a woman dressed in a well-made Rey costume, multiple lightsabers, and a guy in a really elaborate cosplay of Baze Malbus, complete with 3d printed heavy repeater cannon!

MoCo Makers www.mocomakers.com

  • These guys had some interesting stuff, including a few kickstarters they were running.  Some things that caught my attention were that they had some chips made at one point, and they had a cool display program running that changed live camera footage into outlines in an image.

Circuit Breaker Labs CircuitBreakerLabs Etsy

  • This shop makes jewelry from circuit boards.  I thought this one was particularly appropriate for the technomancer theme.
  • I got this cool necklace from this group.20191013_204010

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.

Screw Case.jpg

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

Pi Switch.jpg

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