SitRep

Updates, I suppose.

  • I worry my riding season might be over- the weather has been rubbish, I’ve been sick, and there’s been very little time. I’d like to get another ride or two in before the year is over, but… we’ll see.
  • My prototype bag has been in heavy use now for a few weeks- and, oddly enough, it’s holding up (thus far). I still haven’t ordered final fabrics, but that’s ok, as I need (at least) a few more weeks of testing before I’d even think about finalizing. Still, I’m leaning towards the X-Pac V42 for the body of the bag- with something much lighter for the liner.
  • Studio 3.0 has made much progress, strangely. I still need to build the new rack mount cabinet to hold gear, but a lot of organization has been done and things have moved along nicely. Obviously, some odds and ends linger, but I figure I’m 2-3 good efforts away from v3 being finished.
  • I haven’t put out a newsletter in… a while. I’ve had one pretty much done for weeks, but I’ve just not had the… I dunno- energy? to send it out. I don’t know if that means I’m done with sending them (I’ve been putting them out pretty regularly for three years or so now), or if I’m just stretched too thin emotionally to stomach the inevitable unsubscribes that follow (regardless of how good the newsletter is). And yes, I know I shouldn’t take unsubs personally.

 

SitRep

And so.

  • The new prototype bag I’m building has been stuck at a half-done state for a week now- I’ve been waiting for fabric samples and zippers to come. Those showed up yesterday, so it’ll be time to put in the top, zipper, handles, and strap- and start testing this thing. Leaning towards X-Pac for the final bag, but nothing’s set in stone yet.
  • I’m barely riding right now- it’s gotten very wet and pretty cold, so it’s not been too possible to get out much. I hope this isn’t the end of my season, but that’ll depend on what the weather does. I just started debating a group ride this weekend- I’m uncertain about it. I went last year and didn’t have a very good time. I’ll take some of that blame, as I seem to have gotten in the wrong group- but it wasn’t an overly friendly group. We’ll see if I go this year.
  • When I put in my fabric order for my bag, I’m going to get some other cuts as well- new seat rolls (I’ve been running prototypes of these for a season, and it’s time to finalize). It’ll be fun to have some new stashes of high tech fabric kicking around.
  • I’m still shooting/editing/posting lots of videos. I dunno why, really- maybe it’s taking some of the place of writing these updates? Some sort of public record of what I’m up to? Regardless, I’m enjoying thinking about how to tell these (little) stories, and that’s good for my brain.
  • I finally finished setting up my PiHole kit from Adafruit. Seriously: think about getting one. It’s a much better browsing experience.
  • Things will likely get quiet here for a bit (what with the craziness of the holidays and whatnot), but rest assured: I’m still on that grind (is that a thing people still say?).

SitRep

Better late than never.

  • I’ve been putting up YouTube videos much more regularly. I’m doing a variety of topics (bikes, making, literature…), and I’m trying to keep to something of a release schedule. Gotta keep the creativity moving. No idea what my end goal here is.
  • As part of that effort, I’m working on a new bag for commuting. It’ll be a shoulder bag (or a soft briefcase), and I’ve got the basic design sorted. It’s time to build the prototype out of cotton duck cloth (10-12 oz), and we’ll see how the design works. Then I’ll have to build a finished product out of the actual materials (which I still haven’t settled on).
  • My mountain bike continues to evolve- recently, that meant a pair of flat pedals and a dropper seat post, and now I’ve pulled my stem back from 100mm to 60mm. We’ll see- that puts it much more inline with modern bikes (in terms of total reach), but that doesn’t mean I’ll like it.
  • I’ve been recording many/most of my newest videos with external audio- I’m using a lavalier mic run into an iPhone in Voice Memo mode. Honestly? Better than it has any right to be. And since I’m editing in iMovie for simplicity and speed, even syncing two cameras to an audio track isn’t too bad.
  • I kinda want to buy a serger. Maybe.
  • I’m tired.

SitRep

Progress on many things.

    • Got my @ManifestButter -style patch made, and I’m pleased thus far with how it turned out. Time to make more!

       

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    • Built some new wool felt pouches for better organization of my bike riding tools & parts. Inferred how to make better labels from @ryannagata and added those, too.

       

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    • I’ve been doing a better job of making videos- and while my production values haven’t gone up (per-se), my frequency has, and that’s something. I’m figuring that instead of endlessly mucking about in an attempt to some day make one “perfect” video isn’t an especially good route. Instead, I’m trying to make less than perfect videos much more regularly, and I’m wagering that the higher volume of production will improve my quality.
    • I’ve been shown the neat keyboard work of Andy Clymer, and now I kinda want to order some boards and build some periphery input keyboards.
    • I ended up on a mountain bike ride with a high school team over the weekend- totally unexpectedly. I bumped into them on the trail, and I happened to know two of the adults leading the ride, so that was kinda fun. It was only my second ride with platform pedals, so that was… interesting. I was not at my best, let’s say.

SitRep

On the mend.

  • The Pi Hole kit from Adafruit came- it’s up and running now, though I still have some configuration of the display screen to finish and whatnot. Still- a lovely thing. And considerably better experience web browsing for everything in the house, now.
  • I finally bit the bullet and ordered a dropper post for my mountain bike (and some platform pedals). I’ve gotten back to the point of comfort and control on the bike and I’m now hindered by the equipment- so it was time to join the modern masses. I’m cautiously optimistic about it. Now I’m thinking about a (still) shorter stem, too. I’m at a 100mm right now, but having reviewed the numbers on my frame (and some current-geometry frames), I’m thinking about going shorter.
  • I’ve been making videos more regularly again- so that’s good. I’m still sorting out a decent workflow and method- what the general process for a shoot for me should be, but it’s nice to have a creative project like that going.
  • I’ve taken yet another swing a building a camera strap I like. I struggle with these for some reason (despite their apparent simplicity). This one is adjustable with a strap adjuster, and I’m hoping that makes the difference. It’s attached to my Canon EOS M that I use for video work, and I’m hoping to make it easier to carry it more often (with the vague hope that bringing it with me more often will mean I shoot more often).
  • I’ve become somewhat enamored with the folks at Manifest Butter. They’re doing one-of-one design work on all-weather jackets, and all of those things are super interesting for me. Now it’s got me researching what sort of markers and paint pens are the right move. Testing testing testing to follow. (and, clearly, none of the paint markers I already own will possibly work for this)

SitRep

Horrors.

  • I’m sick, again. Bronchitis this time (though I suppose I should be happy it’s not yet-another-round of pneumonia). I’m hoping to be back in one piece in a couple of days.
  • I put up a new riding video (for the first time in months). It was nice to get out a ride a bit- though in retrospect, it seems I was likely riding while pretty sick. That’s my excuse for my slowness while riding. So that’s good. I’ve been focusing on body rigging my GoPro for better dynamic shots, but I think it’s time to start including both static shots and dynamic- a combination of what I used to do with what I’ve been doing. Optimal results await, I’m sure. Fame. Glory. Etc. I think I’m also going to experiment with external audio recording, too- it might make it easier to narrate when I’m riding.
  • I’ve been fixing some speakers that were given to me- a set of Boston Acoustic A40’s. They are/were lovely bookshelf sized units, and they cam with a pretty nice NAD receiver/amp, so I was excited to put them to use in my studio. They were making terrible noises, and that’s when I realized the foam surrounds on the woofers were gone- a typical outcome for speakers of that time. So: with kits to re-foam them difficult to find, I put my plotter/cutter to work and ran some tests. Plain 1.5mm sheets of EVA craft foam sealed properly, but were far too stiff and were hurting the speaker’s performance. Also, my first glue-ups were less than optimal. So I ran some tests with using my cutter to stipple the foam (to give it more flexibility), and that seems to have worked. Tests on one speaker yielded much better performance. The second unit is drying right now, actually.
  • I just ordered (at the recommendation of my Dad) an Adafruit PiHole kit- that’s a Raspberry Pi 3 B with a case and screen that functions as an internal DNS server- which seems unnecessary. But: when your computer sends it a DNS request, it simply doesn’t query ad sites- so the request for data never gets sent. It’s better than an ad blocker because it’s invisible, and it’ll work on any device on your home network. Pretty excited. I’ve been running the Ghostery extension on my browsers for a while, and it makes some sites useable (that previously would be very, very slow).

SitRep

What’s new? This week has been exhausting. Emotionally, physically… just a mess. I’ve not looked forward to a weekend this much in a long time.

  • I’m seeing Hamilton in Boston this weekend. I’m pretty excited- I enjoy theater a lot, and I’ve been hoping to be able to see this show for a long time.
  • The new car is on order. If I understood the dealership properly, it’s on a boat right now- and it’s due in some time in mid-October. I did some hunting around to see if I could find one in stock we could buy sooner, but all the model/trim/color we’re buying are on the same boat, apparently.
  • New phones are here. I’ve long-since stopped being overly excited about cell phones, and this isn’t really an exception to that. It’s nice, mind you- bigger screens are good. And FaceID is pretty slick. But it’s a phone, right?
  • I still need to replace the chain (again) on my mountain bike. It’ll be the second or third chain this season, I think. I’m not sure if my chain failed and took my chainguide with it, or if the chainguide failed and killed my chain. Either way, I need to install a new one.
  • Salsa cycles has stopped production on the tandem I was looking at buying. That’s ok, I suppose, as I’m (apparently) buying a car right now. On the other hand, it’s going to make eventually finding a reasonable bike that much harder.

SitRep

It’s not been an awesome week. A roundup:

  • I’m suddenly and unexpectedly staring down the barrel of a possible car purchase. It wasn’t on the list of things to do, and certainly not with this car (my car was up for replacement next).
  • I broke a nearly-new chainguide on my mountain bike, and while I think I’ve fabricated an acceptable replacement part, I’m not entirely pleased. We’ll have to see how it works. If it explodes (again), I’ll have to decide if I want to replace it with another chain guide, or if I want to replace the chainring with a unit with more aggressive chain retention- right now it’s a Shimano ring, and they don’t really do narrow-wide rings. A new guide likely costs less, though.
  • The new chest harness for my GoPro is pretty awesome- it’s exactly the right point of view, and I’m pretty excited to ride with it on more. In my test footage, the camera’s in-built stabilization seems sufficient, but of course GoPro has to go and release a new camera (Hero 7 Black) that has such good digital stabilization (apparently) that a gimbal is unnecessary.
  • New phone is ordered. My better three-quarters’ phone came today, but I have to wait another week it seems.
  • I’m lifting weights again. My wife started a month or two ago, and that’s been a very good motivator to start lifting again. I’m doing really short sessions right now, and I’m trying to do them two or three times a day (because they’re so short).
  • The having my google voice number patched into a regular old-school house phone has been excellent- it’s nice to keep the cell phone free and get calls done around the house.

 

SitRep

Updates.

  • I ordered a new phone. Xs MAX might be the dumbest name yet, but that’s what I’ve got coming. 64gb, Space Grey. Got an Xs for the better three-quarters (64gb in Gold). I figured that my 6s+ was getting a little long in the tooth to be relied upon, so there we go.
  • I’ve been experimenting a bunch with my new Cricut Explore Air 2. Being able to cut vinyl is useful; being able to cut 1.5mm craft foam is cool. Lots still to learn (and I’ve not even touched upon heat transfer vinyl, yet). Heck, I’ve got it plotting out a lavishly detailed exploded diagram of a Nikon F3P on craft paper. It’ll take it… a while.
  • Got a new phone line in the house. Ok, technically it’s VOIP, but it’s got wireless handsets, you know? Seems to work a charm.
  • I moved my newsletter from tinyletter to substack. There were nasty rumors about tinyletter going away, so I got proactive and moved. Substack allows for charging for a newsletter- don’t worry. I’m not doing that. I am, however, approaching the 100th edition. That’s something!

SitRep

Time to gear up some new projects:

I need to make a big push to finish the new studio. The rack needs built, the large-format art storage needs built, the room dividers need built- it’s something like a day or two of concerted effort and I have a fully functional work space.

I took a look at re-purposing an old Mac laptop keyboard as a USB desktop keyboard- and while I’ve not given up just yet, it’s not looking great. The internal interface isn’t USB (what with a 30 pin connector), so I’d have to assume that it is a matrix- that might mean I could hand wire it to a Teensy 2.0 and upload QMK firmware to it, but I’d have to map the entire matrix blind (and probe for each keystroke). That’s not sounding overly fun right this minute.

I’ve been planning longer-term to add a Tandem bike to our fleet. Right now, assuming I buy a new bike, that’s looking like a Salsa Powderkeg. It’s a steel framed MTB tandem with a rigid fork and 29″ wheels. That makes it especially well suited as a gravel-capable bike, but I’m trying to plot ways to take it offroad on New England singletrack. That likely means a suspension fork of some sort (though they publish a travel limit of 100mm, so that’ll be a challenge). The frame has clearance for 2.4″ tires, but I’m always curious about things like swapping the wheels to 27.5″ and running 3″ tires. Who knows?

I’ve been working on some sketches of a cable cam rig to use with a GoPro Session camera. It’s a long run of cord with a powered pulley car that can run along that cord with a camera suspended below. That’s pretty simple from the outside- just a couple of wheels and pulleys, a motor, and a frame. But: I’d like to be able to set a variable speed, and I’d like to have a delay from when I push “go” until it actually takes off. That’s still not a crazy build, but I need to figure out some stuff before I start buying parts.