Thursday, August 25, 2016

Duck-less Dynasty

  Hi everyone.  Just an update on how things are progressing.

  In one word- superb.

    For starters sales are growing slowly and steady.  Revenue matched the best year ever and there are still 4 months to go. And the advertising budget remains a steady $0.  I have reached the conclusion after being literally crushed with ads that there are enough out there already. When I try to read the news and there are dozens of ads around, amidst, and across the article while 3-4 tiny videos play that more are not needed.  The community is doing a great job of spreading the word and I am extremely grateful of that.

  Meanwhile, I have found a new game and realized why my interest in gaming has vanished. Almost all new games feature a specific set of rules and minis to go with it. My boss has been talking about Kings of War and there are 2 local shops with gaming groups.  I bought the books and like it quite a bit. It has inspired me to open up some dusty old boxes and bring out the troops. Tonight I am venturing out with a few veteran units to join the fun. Kings of War has very few specific rules so it seems right up my alley.

   However, I am going to need some unit damage counters.  This is a printed prototype and I will be mass producing them shortly. The product will be made of green plastic. The skull beads are made in the USA but not by me. I will by them in bulk and supply them with the counters.


 

  Pretty useful, and the spacing allows you to count up to 19 wounds. I colored mine with a sharpie. The counters are going to be out as soon as I get the time, as I am going to need them.

  More importantly, it got my motivation going to get cracking on that army I have been planning for some time.
     
 
 
    The metal block goes in to the big CNC for roughing and locator pin milling. I am now using the proper oil for cutting that looks a lot like milk.
 
 

  The little CNC gets the fine work. I removed the coolant system since graphite gets cut dry. There is a dust collector now installed on this machine that takes away the debris.

  
 
 
  These are the roughed in blocks for the first figure set, scout archers.

  I made a test graphite block and then a final one. Keeping track of all the settings is important. The goal is to standardize everything to increase the speed of making the mold and to allow repeatability.

 

  The small round circle is my stop point. When that touches the EDM work is done. Only a small portion of the block is ever going to be burned, and the cavity has been pre-milled so only about .020" has to be removed.
 
 
    With the fine settings the details are pretty good. The one things that still causes problems is the heroic nature of most gaming minis. Some of the details on this mini are pretty small but in proportion. I shelved my female sci fi troopers for a bit until I can make a woman with heroic boobs hold a heroic gun and make it look natural. Currently they look like the Michelin man playing bag pipes.
   Meanwhile, these troops are planned to be kicking ass next summer at local tournaments! Not just these, but the rest of the lot. The whole bloody range.
 
   There are still a LOT of things that can go wrong of course. Like the EDM of death.
 

  There are a couple of setting that are the most important. First of all is output. Imagine if you were sanding something by hand, output would be the amount of force you are applying. At 1/16 you are lightly sanding fine furniture. Frequency is the same as the grit of the sandpaper.  250 is very fine, while .5 is a chain saw.  Getting these 2 right is the next challenge. Go too light and fine and you will be measuring cutting time with a calendar.  Go to harsh and there will be no details and a rough finish.  Stay tuned, I am sure I will screw this up the first few dozen times..........................

  Which brings me to the final update. What about those ducks? It is a tale worthy of J.R.R. Martin. A story that starts bad and grows steadily worse. Grab your happy pills and read on.................

 

  We kept them safe until adulthood, when it was discovered that this breed is a flightless variety. The thing about buying ducklings from Tractor Supply in the spring is the knowledge that in a few months they simply fly away. Once in a while they come back to eat but eventually they blend in with the other ducks. So by fall they have joined with some wild ducks and off they go.

  These 3 are too big to fly, which raises the perplexing problem of what to do over the winter. They were named Moe, Curly, and Larry by my daughter in a blatant but effective attempt to make me like them. As they grew Curly turned out to be a female, while Larry became the alpha male. The 3 of them chummed around together with me wondering what to do with them. Winter is Coming...........

  One day 2 local dogs broke free and showed up. I was called out to the barn by my panicking daughter. A half grown great dane and a pit bull were attacking them. The pit bull had a steel cable hanging off him so he must have broken free.

  Larry stood his ground and gave battle while the other ducks made it to safety. He was in the tiny pond and he was not routing as the others had. He had enough room to submerge and swim at them to pop up and startle them which kept them occupied. When I arrived I took the cable and put a lease on the great dane. We walked them a half mile to the owner identified on the tags. She actually complained that they were muddy, which is the equivalent of a murderer bemoaning their blood soaked suit.

  The other ducks were fine, but Larry had a fair portion of his rear end torn off. In the summer heat he suffered, but flies swarmed around him and his walking was slow and difficult.

  Enter Curly, his previous girlfriend, and Moe. Moe starts attacking the injured Larry with a vengeance. Over and over I chased him away but as soon as he could get at him he kept attacking. Larry would try to find shade from the sun to rest, but Moe was relentless. This was outrageous, and on par with draft dodging hippies spitting upon soldiers returning from Vietnam. Finally, in a moment I grew to regret, I shot Larry with the BB gun in the wing. It seemed like he needed a little Karma to settle his violent nature.

   The plan worked, but now I had 2 injured ducks. At least Larry got to suffer in peace. I took this picture that last morning I seen him alive. I do not know where he went, but I think he died in peace. Although watching his girlfriend run off with the idiot you died defending had to be a real downer.

   So about 2 weeks passed and then bird Karma finally caught up with Moe and Curly.

 
  I found their bodies right outside the shop. The attack happened midday so not likely a fox. The female had been mostly eaten and a huge pile of feathers surrounded the body. Larry was 2 feet away with no injury other than a surgically severed head.  There is a hawk around here most days, as I hear its screams. Researching online revealed plucking of feathers is characteristic of a hawk attack. I am guessing the hawk pounced down to eat the female and Larry finally grew a spine and tried to object, only to find out a duck bill is no match for the talons of a predator.  I was reminded of the old song Screaming for Vengeance. 

  So, one less thing to worry about.  Real life Game of Thrones plot line, eh? Pointless, relentless horrible things happening.  (I still do not understand how that guy got rich peddling that garbage)

  Ok, have a great Labor Day and I will update with some more info as it happens.
  

 
 
 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Feel the burn!

  Hi folks,

  Well things are going Ok lately. I got some odds and ends to update.

  As I disclosed previously the EDM missing word is Auto.  Is it a mere coincidence that this important word was smudged out and all the safety circuits had been bypassed? Perhaps.

   I decided a suitable warning label was in order.

  I actually burned something this week. It is a pretty neat machine once you overcome your fear of massive electrical arcs in a solution of flammable oil. It has a clear door in the front and under power it sizzles like bacon frying. There are a great deal of charts telling you how to alter the settings. You have a gap setting, because the 2 pieces of metal never touch each other. There is also a power adjustment to determine how fast you want to cut, and a frequency adjustment to decide how many pulses per second you want to burn. This is going to be another trial and error process for sure.

  And here is a burn I made this week.


The dark block at the top is a block of pencil style graphite, just a little higher density. The cavity suffers from me getting bored with slow progress and cranking it up to see just how fast it can go. Overall it seems a neat little piece of gear.  This is the old method of doing these things.

  Here is a pic of a very old mold made in the 60's by Aurora.


  Things like this have been a huge help in the goal of trying to re-learn many things that were lost over the years.  ( maybe a new word here- Archeo-industry?)  One new advantage we have over the 60's is the use of 3D printers to test things out. Here are some bits printed out this week to test for size.

  The waist on the girls is too small in relation to the hips so I am going to re-size.  I already increased the guys legs by 120% to keep up with scale creep.

  Here is the new Arburg controls. I installed audible and visual warning lights and all new matching temperature controls, fuses and relays. It works like a dream! It previously was running on a single functional control with the nozzle wired directly to 110 volt electric and the second heating unit having to be switched on and off manually resulting in erratic temperatures.

 If you open the door wires will explode out like a bundle of spring loaded snakes. Note the advanced inventory system on the left and new mold storage on the right. I built that out of 2X10 lumber because those molds are heavy enough to sag lesser boards.

  And speaking of springing out like a bundle of snakes......


  I suspected there was a snake under a rock just outside the workshop and was surprised- (horrified) to find a hideous pile of snakes instead. Luckily I found out a garden hoe is actually +2 vs serpents and you automatically gain initiative if the serpents are caught unawares. Looks like the pond is safe for another year!

  I actually have ducks again and so far have managed to keep them from getting eaten.
  Although one day this behemoth was spotted walking in the creek and I think their luck may run out. This snapping turtle was so big I just let him go on his merry way. Maybe 15-20 pounds? You could actually hear him crashing through the grass as he approached.



    Now for some other odds and ends. The tyrannical local government will not allow me to add any more room to the workshop so we still have no place to house the laser cutting machine. The previous rule was things had to be 5' off the property line. That was increased to 10' and now 15'. In addition all structures require footers and a building plan approved. This old style pole barn would not be allowed to be built today.

  The other problem is the local overlords- (school board) will tax the living shit out of anyone and anything they can. If you so much as put a railing on your porch they can re-assess you and make you pay for that railing everyday for the rest of your life or until you finally break and can not afford it. Then they forcibly toss you in the street to die and confiscate your house.  ( but hey, its for the kids!) I see so many really great empty buildings for sale that I could buy and have a great place to expand. But the iron boot of the teacher's union is ready to stomp on every throat. If I expand I have to leave this area and move to a more business friendly locale.  Not going to happen. Too old and lazy. Plus this equipment is too hard to move.

   The idea of a Makerspace for gaming is also facing one gigantic hurdle. Litigation. If anyone stops by to use any of the equipment and gets maimed it pretty much is the end of my life as it exists today.  So the reality is that for as far as I can see in the future progress will be limited to the glacial pace of a single fat old geezer. Me.

  Sorry for that pessimistic bit, my intent is for this this blog to give people ideas and inspiration. I also try to keep it as real as possible.  It is my firmly held conviction that the world's economy is going through a lot of changes and will continue to do so. We are living in a lie based economy, where everything is as honest as an ex-cons resume. Fakebook and the internet seem to exist so people can avoid reality and pretend to be something else. People are bombarded all day long with the false images other people are presenting.

  Someday a house of cards will tumble. The rise of robots is also going to make for a lot of extra humans roaming the planet with no real purpose.

  There is a certain joy in making something with your imagination and your hands. People just need to find the right combination of tools and help and everyone can benefit. Life can be a win-win situation. Contact with collaborators is ongoing, some works out some does not. I am in contact with some amazing artists and hopefully you will someday get to have a look at some of their work.

  So with that cliché soaked pep talk, let's get out there and go team!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

More show info

  Sorry, but I should have provided a link to the show-  http://mfcashow.com/

 And while I am at it, a few pics my brother took!





















  That is about all the awesomeness I can take for one weekend!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Inspiration!

 Hello again.
 The mystery word is "AUTO". A setting on any machine that deserves the fullest respect.

 But more importantly-

 Minutes ago I walked in the door from the miniature figure show at Valley Forge. I am going to post a bunch of photos which have humbled me as a painter for sure! There would be more pictures if my photography was not so shaky. Darn it I wished some of these had turned out better.


  There were plenty of vehicles on display. I really liked the ferry built to invade England and of course the tank diorama is a timeless classic.

 





 

 
 
  The dioramas or vignettes on display were really epic. You could look for hours and see something new. The artists were putting little details in that I was in awe of. Look at the coverings on the jousting horses.
 

 

  Look close at these hand painted details. These knights were about 54mm scale, but still plenty small enough to make these sort of details amazing.










  There were  also a lot of busts with great creative artwork on them. The German soldier's binoculars are so realistic with weathering.



  Some 40K stuff was also in the competition.





  Chariots with some impressive bling. The hand painted Medusa face on the Greek chariot took some effort. All of the hand painted Persian rug and plaid stuff was really impressive.











 
  And of course some fantasy stuff.

  Very inspiring.

  In addition I recently downloaded the entire set of 9th Age rules and printed them out. Maybe it is time to dust of some minis and try it out!

   Since re-prioritizing my time to make more time in the shop almost everything has made a dramatic improvement. The Arburg is up next and I am rewiring and replacing all of the heating controls. Right now it is a chaotic pile of wires with no hope of repair, pretty much an average day.

   All of the other equipment has been cleaned and refurbished. The EDM has all of the missing safety components in place. This Maker space is really starting to gel.

  I will post more progress when I can. All the pieces are coming together, so things are looking great.

  Have a good spring!