Friday, February 10, 2017

Meetup- here it is

  Hi folks,

  I finally started the Meetup group for being creative.  Here is a link.  enter the madness

  The group is restricted, meaning I have to approve people joining.  There are 2 questions to answer, and already I have used those questions to screen out several people.  I will see how things go. It could be a waste of $60.

   One of the problems with meet-up is the volume of complete strangers you are going to end up meeting. I guess that is the point, but it is also supposed to be a method to find people at least partially of similar mindsets. As long as there is no gun play all should work out fine. The location is a comic shop nearby.

   After the event I will fully detail the good, bad, and ugly of the continuous quest to find the right folks to collaborate on projects. Right here on this blog.

  This is an interesting weekend at the house. I am going through the lead pile and cataloging every single model, entering it in a database, and storing it away in a referenced location. At least that is the plan. A casual observer would describe it as shuffling junk around. Again.

   I will also be purging the collection of areas I have no plans to dabble in. I have been doing that a lot of late. At a certain point it becomes evident that time is not a renewable resource. There are a lot of things that will simply not get done. The new goal is to finish the important ones. And figure out which ones are important.

  Anyhow, if you want to learn every secret I know, stop by the meet-up. 

  Spoiler alert- it is really not a great volume of knowledge.  More like a few tips.............

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Overloaded-3000 pounds of potential.

  Hello again folks,

  Well the year is off and running.  I guess a re-cap of last year is in order and as usual an insanely optimistic and completely unrealistic set of goals for the new year. All of which I will fail utterly to achieve, but try again anyhow.

  Last year was actually pretty amazing. Shipped 6400+ items plus some wholesale orders. I kept off forums for the most part, only once making a fool of myself and getting some strangers to vow never to buy from me. Forums are interesting. Some really great people and a couple of folks with an insatiable desire to flame. Not worth getting involved with the latter. Just raises my blood pressure.

   Speaking of which- I am on some new meds for said condition. Which lists these actual side effects:
Constipation; indigestion; dizziness; faintness; dry mouth; cold extremities -hands and feet; confusion; depression; insomnia; nightmares; edema; fatigue; lack of energy; hallucinations; sensation of pins and needles; skin reaction-rash, hives; blurred vision; difficulty speaking and hearing; unsteadiness; wheezing; stomach pain; low fever; dark urine; jaundice; bloody urine; lower back and side pain; swelling of face, fingers or lower legs; vomiting; weight gain; black, tarry stools; bleeding gums; loss of vision; bone and joint pain; disturbed color perception; double vision; feeling that others are watching you or controlling your behavior; feeling that others can hear your thoughts; feeling, seeing, or hearing things that are not there; halos around lights, night blindness.

  So nothing really negative and free nightmares as a bonus.

   Last year I picked up a lot of hardware and got it configured. A new PC with a Quadro graphics card, the EDM rigged and functioning, new controls designed and wired up for the Arburg, a new dust collection system for the ACT machine, actual non-toxic coolant for the Novakon,  and a 3D printer working. I printed out some tooling fixtures to hold and standardize things. So that was some progress.
 
  A couple of general points that may have good or bad implications this year. I am currently working 40+ hours per week in order to get health care and keeping up with orders in my "free" time. So far things are going well. Slow selling items are not being re-made until everything else is caught up. I will make them as time allows. My full time job is looking very promising, as I have a new staff person starting at the end of the month which will grant me the usual 2 day weekends.

  There has been a change in leadership here in America and it might mean a change in the health care law. If this happens I could be back at Proxie working full time a lot sooner than I expected. Not sure if anyone reading this is a small business owner, but trying to pay for mandatory health care is very difficult. Hence the full time gig.

  The only problem that has been really causing trouble is lack of time. Too many things to do and not enough time to do any of them properly. Gaining time through efficiency has helped a lot but things are moving along at about 1% the speed they should be.

  Some more positive developments.  A location to host meet-ups has been spotted. It is not my house, but the gaming area of a local comic book shop. I have to work out the details on times but this is going to happen within weeks, once those elusive weekends make an appearance. I loaned them my 28mm sci-fi scenery. I am selling off a lot of it and pretty much leaving behind this scale for sci-fi and switching to 1/72. So they get some scenery and I can some room to use once in a while.

  I was rejected for insurance again, and this time I was as charming as possible. So a friend offered some very sage counsel. "Don't let idiots in the shop".  A simple yet effective method to ensure there are no injury/lawsuits.  I can use the comic shop to meet and greet and cast a first level "detect idiot" spell over the crowd. Here is an example of what to look for-

   See what I mean? Of course I have to exempt my self from the policy.
 
   The shop is filled with supplies also.
 This is the low tech delivery system used to bring in plastic. This box holds up to 1500 pounds. There are 2 of them unloaded in the shop. One is neutral and can be died in to any color, and the other is black. 3000 pounds can make a lot of bits and it is nice to start the year fully supplied with materials. This is the smallest size box to qualify for free shipping and it just saves so much money to buy in bulk.

  Updates will be posted as things happen. If things go as usual this post will most likely be copied and pasted next year. Or maybe something better will happen. Or it could be another hallucination.

  Have a good day everyone!
 
  

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Falling Down

   Hi folks!

   Ok, so it has been a while. I managed to keep my mouth shut over the election so as not to alienate anyone.  People get uptight real fast and foaming at the mouth seems to have become a national pastime. But keeping my head down and mouth shut no one was offended. I hope. Anything you say will piss off someone, including saying nothing.   Thank God its over, although the next one has started I guess.

  What have I been doing? Playing Oblivion. This is a great game and I put it aside when Skyrim came out. Since I beat the game of Skyrim's main quest I thought I would go back to Oblivion. Pretty neat to go through it again. My previous save game was from 2011 so I started a new character and made it to 13th level before becoming afflicted with Vampirism and had to retire. I could not bear being a Wood Elf force to guzzle healing potions because the sunlight is burning my flesh off. It was humiliating.

   Just one tip; avoid the town of Hackdirt. I found this area and was given a hard time by the shop keeper. In fact everyone in the village is a jerk and the squabble escalated until each and every one of them lie dead and their meager possessions were looted. What a crappy town.

  So last time I played video games was during a period of healing, and this time was no different.  I stopped for an oil change and the mechanic tried to sell me an air filter. As I walked out to tell him "no" a bad thing happened. It turns out there are these large holes in the ground under your vehicle, placed so as to swallow up the unsuspecting. Let me tell you something, 32 feet per second per second does not really sound all that fast, but it feels like it. Luckily I made my saving throw and only took half damage. By grabbing my truck bumper on the way down I managed to dangle by one ankle and a few fingertips and pull myself back up. My knee bent the wrong way and took all my weight, tearing some ligaments. The ankle was also twisted around and got all purple and swollen. So it had to be elevated and hence the weeks spent playing Oblivion.

  In the meantime I have not progressed on my mold very much. In addition to shredding my leg I got a promotion to supervisor at my day job. Apparently supervisor means "person who fills in unlimited hours for missing staff".

  But all is not lost. I seem to have a new enthusiasm for a project I recently undertook, which I will elaborate on as it comes to pass. Just something I am doing for me at this point. Pretty much everything I make is something somebody asks for or I want to have for myself.  It is just fun and creative and I find it very enjoyable.

  There are a few new things in the shop. Some new pill bases and a damage tracker I made for Kings of War.




  I thought they would enhance my troops a bit, but I have not really been able to stand much or find time to play. Just something little I knocked together one day.

  What I am really focused on this year is getting some more people involved, and that means insurance. One thing my recent plunge into the grease pit has taught me is how easy it is to get hurt and how quick people are to sue. Almost every person I told my story to assumed I was going to call a lawyer, which I did not do. But it really drove home the fact that I have to be insured before opening my shop up as the Maker Space I want it to be.

  So now it seems some of my posts on this blog were not that wise after all. Sure it is fun for me to talk about tricking out a milling machine by boosting it from 24 volts to 220, and preventing all my neighbors from listening to AM radio at the same time. But a potential insurer seems to balk at things like that.

  Here is a typical conversation-

[insurance person]  " Ok, so you want to take discarded industrial equipment with unauthorized modifications, and then invite total strangers in to your home to operate this equipment. And, I might add, strangers with no experience or training."

[me]  "Yes. And don't forget my discount for having a fire extinguisher and band aids."

[insurance person]  "Get out."

[me] [incredulous]  " What?, are you from Hackdirt?"

  In any event, that is what has been happening. I will post more as things progress, or less if I find a cure for Vampirism. Sorry, but someone has to close those Oblivion gates.

  I hope everyone has a Great Holiday Season.  Whatever you are doing, enjoy yourself. That is what makes life worth living.
 

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!