Research List #37

Things I’m digging deep into:

  • Re-tailoring jackets- especially jackets with felled seams.
  • Making picture frames (larger format…)
  • Real-time digital dashboards (importing custom data?)
  • Analog representations of digital data
  • Vegas cubes
  • Cable Cord cutting (as it exists in 2016)
  • Custom firmware for hand-wired mechanical keyboards
  • Nomenclature/Directory structure for logging large amounts of digital footage
  • Rack-mounted large storage arrays (see above)
  • TIG welding

SitRep

Things I’m up to (the real quick version):

  • Mechanical Keyboard Proj #2 is wired- working on firmware now.
  • My Chip and Dip from NTC finally came (needs to be flashed and whatnot)
  • Fly Rod Tube proj is painted- needs mounts made next
  • Working to source Grip Heads and 5/8″ pins for mounting monitors
  • Shoe re-sole proj (v2) parts are ordered and on the way
  • MTB #1 drivetrain (v3) parts are en-route (1×9 w/ a Narrow/Wide chainring)
  • Mechanical Keyboard Proj #1 is shipped- should be here shortly (custom key caps are already here and waiting)
  • Working on lighting options for the garage (led work strips?)
  • Working on web-based dashboards for realtime updates
  • Beginning to source frames for a massive art-hanging project

SitRep

Here’s what’s going on:

  • Mini Keyboard project #1 is underway. I’ve de-soldered the original keyboard, cut down the switch mounting plate, and remounted the switches. It’s pretty small- 40 keys or so- and the diodes, wire, and Teensy 2.0 to run it should be at my house when I get home today. So: wiring, then case mounting/building, then programming the AVR, then it’s a keyboard.
  • Micro keyboard #1 is also underway- I’ve got the key layout template finalized, and now I just need to cut the acrylic plate. Then it’s time to build an enclosure and source switches and caps. And then build the rest, I suppose.
  • Basement Shelves v1.0 is done, and I’m slowly making some auxiliary record storage (mostly for the 10″ and 7″ records). Always more to go there.
  • Working on a better web-based dashboard setup for displaying relevant information on screens. That’ll likely mean running a lightweight web server on some hardware in the house (and having that compile and format the data) and then using low-weight hardware to drive the displays with that data. Baby steps.
  • Garage storage is at the top of the list right now- new rack shelving needs brought in, a bunch of older junk needs to go out, and bikes need to get hung on walls. There’s just no other way.
  • Material storage remains a challenge in the garage, too. I’ve got a stack of supplies out there, and I need better ways to manage that. Given the headroom I’ve got, vertical seems to be the move, but I’ll still have to give it some thought.
  • My re-tailoring of a jacket is taking a while, as I’m trying to figure out if I can/need/should undo the existing seams, or just cut them out and redo from there. Dunno. Yet.
  • I’ve got a pair of shoes that need re-soling, and I need to source a decent sole for them. They’ve got smooth rubber on the bottom now, but I want to put a pow-profile lugged sole on instead. Sourcing is a problem.
  • I can feel Backpack v2.0 coming- I’m working up the steam to put in the cloth order and get going on it. Honestly, I need to decide on a color. v1.0 is black, but I’ve been rattling around doing something else. The design is vaguely military-esq, and I don’t want this thing to scream MALL NINJA, so I think I want to stay away from Coyote Brown or OD Green or whatever. Definitely no camo- no other patterns either.
  • Working on more/new content for here. Always.
  • Newsletter is up to #65. Subscribe in the sidebar.

More to come.

SitRep

Lots of balls in the air right now, as it were.

  • Custom re-work of a NOS Desert Storm-era fishtail parka. Re-fitting the entire coat, as it was designed as an over-over-coat, and that’s not my intended use.
  • Backpack V2.0 needs attention. Fabric choices, paints (yes, paints), hardware, etc all to be picked- but progress!
  • Roof top fly rod tube- for transporting multiple fly fishing rods. Finalized hardware today, started amassing parts and paints for the build. Not a complicated thing, but the paint job is non-trivial. Pictures will follow.
  • Just finished a small “impossible artifact”- it’s a ceramic set of “brass” knuckles made as if NASA during the Apollo era might have spec’d such a thing. Sort-of. They were a fidgety thing to make- air drying clay is fickle, and free-handing a red worm NASA logo as an embossed thing into the clay? Yeah. Again: pics to follow.
  • Custom macro keypad (as mentioned in the previous post). I’ve got the key layout done, the keyplate bought (but not cut…), and I’m making progress on the enclosure. Some hardware sourced, some decisions still to be made.
  • New camera storage unit is built- needs some tidying of wires and whatnot, but it’s holding all the cameras and looking good.
  • Project Xserve is complete- it’s up and running 10.11.4 with no problems, it’s got a new video card and a USB 3.0 card (with a separate controller for each port), and tons of storage. Odds and ends to come, I’m sure, but for now: done.
  • My 1970’s KLH speaker overhaul drags on- turns out making wooden ring spacers is tricky. I’ve not given up yet, though.

Annnnddd that’s it for now. Plenty of other things, but those can all wait until next time.

obsessions.

The obsession with mechanical keyboards that I seem to have developed is… troubling. To the degree that I’m thinking about building a macro-specific¬†keypad Keypad Layoutfor a number of the repetitive tasks that I handle on a regular basis. So, for example, one layer of this keypad would make the Mod 3 and Mod 4 keys the Edit In and Edit Out commands in FCPX, with the Mod 1 and Mod 2 maybe triggering transitions or media imports. Alt 1 would be to show video scopes, and so on. Then, with another layer, Mod 3 and Mod 4 would become Cut and Paste (in a single key press), with other keys (maybe) being mapped to insert small batches of heavily used HTML. Or something. Regardless, I’m figuring out parts lists and where to order key caps and switches and whatnot. AND how to get a Teensy 2.0 to act like a keyboard and handle all the macros and whatnot. All doable, mind you.

 

Research List #36

Trying to do these more regularly. Though I’ve no idea who (besides me) finds them useful.

Current Research:

  • Mechanical Keyboards (as in mechanical-switch actuated vs membrane switch)
    • 35% vs 40% vs 60% Keyboard form factors
    • Custom Keycaps for said mechanical keyboards (for mounting on Cherry MX Clear switches)
    • Fully custom aux keyboards for media keystrokes
    • Aesthetically pleasing USB -> Mini USB cables
  • Alternate graph paper patterns
  • Curing Air-drying clay without cracking
  • Sizable Mid-Century Dining room lighting
  • TIG welding rigs (110v units)
  • Military Nose art

ResearchList #35

I haven’t done one of these in entirely too long.

Current Obsessions:

  • Desert Storm Night Camouflage
  • Document Boxes (aluminum)
  • Rack Mounted Firewire 800 (or, maybe USB 2.0) Storage solutions
  • New Shoulder bag design parameters, referencing
    • TOPO Designs
    • Able Archer
    • The Hill People
  • Air-Hardening Clay
  • Custom Palet racks

SitRep

Oh man, I’m in deep.

My (most) current obsession is monochrome everything.¬†Here’s the run-down of how that’s manifested (thus far):

  • My iPhone’s home button has been set to toggle the entire phone into greyscale mode with a triple press.
  • I’ve installed Lenka on my phone- it’s a camera app that only does B&W photos. I know you can apply a B&W filter, or that you can set the stock camera app to B&W mode, but you can’t make the camera stay in that mode, and applying the filter after-the-fact robs you of a B&W viewfinder.
  • I’ve spent a mildly embarrassing amount of time researching B&W only digital cameras. Yes, there are (a few), but they’re wildly expensive (Leica) or super-specialty (custom conversion).
  • I’ve got my analog film processing gear all located and ready- I’m likely due for some new fixer, but we’re nearly ready to develop the growing backlog of film I’ve shot.
  • [edit] I’ve also just swapped the display on this computer to greyscale, too. Lovely.

I bought a new computer.

Ah, so. The time had come.

My “current” computer is a very (10!) old MacBook Pro- it’s been great, but it’s gone all glitchy, and keeping it up and running has become entirely too time consuming- and inconsistent. I’ve written before about my affinity for Plex as a media serving solution, and this machine had been pulling Plex Media Server duty. It’s gone so flakey that it can’t be relied upon for that anymore, so it was clearly time for something new.

Or, I should say, new-er. I had planned to ante up and grab a 27″ iMac Retina of some flavor- by all accounts a lovely machine. It’s minimally user-serviceable, though, and the most you can really do is upgrade the RAM a bit. And: $1500 base price. So I also looked at a Mac Mini, but the price of those can be stiff, and they’re not user upgradable anymore, so… used? Nope- they hold value like crazy, and you’re effectively better buying a new one. So that’s out. And I don’t need the portability of a laptop.

Enter: Xserve. They dropped this line in 2010, but these were rack-mounted Macs meant for use in data centers. They are proper servers, too: dual redundant power supplies, lots of space for disks and RAM, dual gigabit ethernet, etc etc etc. I bought one on ebay, and it should be here early this week. Mine’s from 2008, and you might be thinking that I’m nuts to have bought an eight-year-old machine, but let me point out a couple of things:

  1. It’s faster than the iMac I might have bought- mine has 2x 3.0ghz quad-core Xeons, and the benchmarks for the machine are still pretty quick. It’s roughly a 6x improvement over my existing machine.
  2. It’s got plenty of RAM- mine has 16gb, but it’ll handle (at least) double that.
  3. It’s got space for 3 hard drives. Mine has 3x80gb, but I’ll eventually swap that to 3x2tb, so I’ll have 6tb of internal storage.
  4. It has an internal super drive (HA! well, useful for ripping existing parts of my DVD collection…)
  5. I paid $200 for it. Plus $90 for shipping, since the thing’s a TANK and is coming from the west coast.
  6. It’s entirely user serviceable. All the parts can come out and be swapped- it’s a industrial computer, after all.

Some downsides, of course:

  1. It eats power. It idles at 150W or so, but I’ll be running it on a scheduled boot/shutdown cycle to minimize that problem.
  2. Officially, it’s only supposed to be able to run 10.6.8 as an OS. Really, though, it’ll run 10.11.x without any real trouble- Apple dropped support for it’s video card, but I’ve got a much more modern card en-route that will fix that issue.
  3. It’s huge and rack mounted- but I don’t care, as I have a rack in the basement anyway.
  4. It’s loud under load- again, irrelevant, as it’s in the basement, and I’ll be managing it via screen sharing remotely anyway.

I’m excited. It’s been a very long time since I had a proper work-horse of a computer, and it’ll be nice to finally have my data and projects all consolidated onto one capable machine. The next stage will be monitors for it- the new video card will push 2650×1600 resolution, but I can’t figure out of that’s across one screen, or if that’s each on two screens. Whatever- it’s enough either way, really. I’ve got a 24″ 1920×1080 kicking around that’ll do in the meantime.

I figure even if I only get a few more years of life from it (which, honestly, seems unlikely- these were built like brick houses, so it should keep ticking along), it’ll still have been less expensive than an iMac, and I’ll have roughly the same speed and power, so that’s a bonus. And, given the price, if I want a “couch computer” for browsing, I can grab an iPad or Chromebook or whatever, and still have the total cost be less than an iMac.

SitRep

Oh, my, how times flies. Things that have/are happening:

  • The shelf project lags on. Honestly, I’m polyurethane away from being done, but the temperatures have just been too low.
  • New computer project- progress! A slightly batty solution, perhaps, but interesting none-the-less.
  • Summer shoe purchase has arrived- the spiritual successor to my favorite summer shoes of all them, the mesh slip-on converse all stars (which, for reasons I don’t understand, they don’t make anymore).
  • At work, I’ve been working on some best practices for online video- and now I’m at the storyboard-it-out phase. I’m not looking forward to being on camera for this end product, but that’s part of the job, you know?
  • I’m shaping spacers to replace the tweeters on my vintage KLH Model 30 Speakers- these are hopefully destined for the study room, and they’re two steps away from done: new tweeters installed and speaker grill fabric replaced with something less hideous.
  • This site saw a bit of a behind the scenes overhaul- there were some nasty people trying to brute force their way into the WordPress install here, and I had to take some steps to deal with that. Done, anyway.