Monday, January 29, 2018

Book of Grudges

     Hi again.  I am in a bit of a melancholy and yet fiercely defiant mood this morning so please do not get offended. There is some good and bad news on all fronts.  The plan is to post every 2 weeks regardless if the only thing to say is " All is lost! Game over, game over!" or, " I am addicted to playing Tigers on the Hunt, no progress this month."

  There is a scene in the Firefly pilot episode where Zoe and Captain Reynolds are trying to conduct a business transaction in a canyon and the tactical situation is not at all good. Zoe says to Reynolds, "They will have the advantage over us."  And Captain Reynolds replies with a sense of resignation,  "They always do".

  And so it is.

     Ok, you may have noticed in a recent post the declaration that prices are not budging as long as I can possibly make that happen. Well, the post office just increased first class shipping to $3.50 minimum. I get a slight discount by printing online and if I keep my seller rating up on E-bay.

    But margins are thin enough on dirt cheap products and an extra $.50 added is pushing things even further.  There were a couple of options, from increasing prices per pack to adjusting shipping. The best solution for the customers was to increase shipping on the first pack only. It was the single pack buyers that are impacted me the most by this change.  I truly wish there was an option, but this is the absolute best that can be done.

  Now, of course the post office is happy to deliver products from China for free. No increase there.

  As Teddy Roosevelt said, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."

  Now that Grudge is out of the way, let's look at number 2.

  Working Class York Maker Space is not going to happen. Not soon, and maybe not ever. Government regulations have groin stomped the life out of another dream.  Hey, its for your own good.

  How to resolve this problem?  There is another Makerspace I just found located in Dillsburg which is not that far away. Great place, more tech oriented and less dirt and flames. Still it was a fantastic find.
  So both problem number one and number 2 are sorted. Never give up.

  And finally Grudge 3.

  Novakon is dead again. I hate this machine with the white hot intensity of 10,000 suns. Gremlins are back again with a vengeance.

  Here it is stopped in the middle of a program. A lot of wasted hours. It has started to just randomly, after several hours, re-boot itself.
  So I changed the settings so it will not reboot and now it gives the blue screen of death. I have recorded the error codes and will be conducting my usual repair protocol. Keep buying new parts until the bad behavior stops. Awaiting some new RAM chips from E-bay and hope that will solve things. (why I have time to write today)
  And now for some good news. That is the way life is, conflict and then least on TV.
  There is a Chromecast on the TV in front of my painting desk and it allows viewing of You Tube while painting.  Watching Tabletop Minions has really inspired me and made me want to try out some new painting.
  I actually painted a few of the Reaper Bones models lying about.
  And still working on making some custom slot cars.
 Someday it would be great to own a real one, but this is at least a nice car to race around with at 1/24 scale. If I live long enough the price on used ones will drop until I can afford it.
And work is not all bad. Most mornings I wake up as happy as the drummer from Powerwolf as I look forward to what ever the day holds.
  By the time the day ends I am  feeling more like Lizzy Borden. Die gremlins, die!
 The drivers side car mold has a buddy now. It takes 9 pieces of metal to be cut to make the car body mold. 7 are done. More are required to make the hood, grill and bumpers but this part is the hardest and it will get done if I have to tear the entire PC out of the Novakon and replace it.

  The CAD designs are getting easier, and if this CNC machine would work more than 10% of the time Proxie Models would be as big as Google by now.
  Here are a couple of things designed and awaiting their turn on the mill.

 The second picture is of car #2 I would like to make. I had a real one a long time ago but a huge tree got in my way one night and it died a terrible death. I walked away somehow.........
 And, some more altered state of mind and changing of direction.
 The huge volume and quality pouring out of China via Kick Starter has caused me to turn away from trying to make models for the gaming industry. I stated this before and publicly.  Frankly, it seemed utterly pointless. The big companies can leverage their buying power to exploit the free shipping and cheap manufacturing from China.  Plus, it is time consuming and a lot of things can go wrong. It is easier to pick the low hanging fruit.  
  There are a couple of things I still plan to make for my own personal use, and also offer to others. It has occurred to me that there still might be a market for low priced items, as in $5-10 range. Because if you happen to have $10 and want to buy something in the table top hobby you are pretty much S.O.L.   Keep your eyes open and see if something new pops out soon.
  This week the archers actually got a little progress. This is pose 2 being shaped on the ACT machine.
On the ASL in minis front there is an interesting choice to be made.
These are locking hex holders to allow the construction of hex boards with easy to change configuration. GHQ makes some Styrofoam in 4" hexes and these locking devices will hold them in place.
  In the near future- (once the Novakon is working..............) these will be made in 3" and 4" sizes. This will allow for people to make some very nice 3D terrain boards without the hexes sliding about.
  You can use marble bathroom tiles, cardboard, or cut your own tiles out of wood. However, the ideal material I think would be 3/4" insulation board from Lowe's or similar. (blueboard) It is denser than Styrofoam and a little tougher. It can be cut easily with a hot knife to shape hills and whatever. 3/4" will allow for some epic 3D scenery.
  After the hex holders are done the idea is to run a kickstarter to purchase a laser cutter. I know where a used one is at and around $10,000 will secure it and pay for costs to pick it up and install it in the shop. It has dual lasers and will accept a 4 X 8 sheet of material. It is so large I will have to tear the wall out of my shop to get it installed.
  The kick starter will be for plastic holders, blueboard hexes, and cutting tools to shape your hills.
  If it funds it will save people a lot of work in making tables. If it does not fund, the plastic holders will still be available and I will just  cut my own and not purchase it or offer the hexes for sale.  The problem is that hexes are a pain to cut out by hand and some people do not have a truck to haul around large sheets of blue board.  This would be a big help to a lot of people.
   The pricing on this is going to be tricky, as it has to be cheap enough for someone to create a table for a reasonable cost. But not so cheap it loses money.
  This plan is not 100% decided.  I am not willing to put that kind of money out of pocket, which is why the thought of using kick starter came to mind. Essentially if I could get enough orders for plastic holders and blue board hexes for the machine to pay for itself I will do it.
 More details will emerge as my brain sorts it. Right now I seem to be having the biological equivalent of the blue screen of death in my head.
  Ok, there it is. 2018 and I am keeping my goals to write more stuff. And paint some stuff. And work on some stuff.
  So far so good.
Have a great day everyone.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Mid January, resolve is cracking........................

  Just a quick update on some little things.

  The car is coming along. Broke the last ball mill and am awaiting another. Trying to squeeze in work between bitterly cold bouts. So far it is working. We went from 0 on Monday to 60 on Friday and back to 11 on Sunday. What a week. The 0 and 11 are weather, but the 60 is global warming and will require a new tax..................................

  On my last blog I declared I would be starting nothing new. That resolution has been sorely pressed, starting on January 2nd.

    I was informed I have a large credit at my local store................ Can you get me Advanced Squad Leader stuff?

  No. But look at this new Necromunda ................

  Can you get me Plastic Soldier Company stuff for my Squad Leader miniatures project?

 No, but have you seen the new 40K?................

  Perhaps some units for my old Warhammer armies, which would not be a violation of my oath. A new unit of 20 witch elves and 20 Sisters of Avelorn.  A small addition to the good and bad armies would be great................ Wow, even with free money it hurts to pay those prices.......................

  Oh well. Here are some pics of the Squad Leader to minis project and some pics of other people's take on it. It seems there are 2 schools of thought. First you can print out large map boards and play like that.  Hex Draw allows me to add custom textures so the maps can look more realistic.

 I spent (wasted) some time getting aerial tree photos and damaged road textures and neat wall graphics. And printed out with 4" hexes it looks pretty cool and the 15mm minis fit well in it. But it is still a printed map board.

 Second option is to make your own hex terrain.

  GHQ makes 4"Styrofoam hexes, which I owned a few of 20 years ago. I found them fragile and it was too easy to knock them about during play. Just google GHQ terrain maker and look at the images. Very neat stuff.

And this guy has developed a tool to cut the Styrofoam to matching angles.  hex cutter tool kit

There is an ASL in Miniatures Facebook group and the guys share ideas. one of the guys cuts his own hexes out of wood, which is the direction I am leaning. The printed maps look great, but it is just not the same.

 This is a recreation of board 78 by the founder of the group. He developed a really neat locking mechanism to hold the tiles in place. At this point that looks like the best option.

 So that is hobby stuff.

  The car parts are coming slowly in the mail. I have 100 axles, 100 gears and 100 motors already.  Pretty easy to see the problem, as cars have 2 axles each........Awaiting spacers to get dimensions to spec out the chassis.

The crock pot is here, and it melts metal so that is nice. Graphite is stockpiled and ready for use.

 I really need to clone myself...............................

 And final note- still no word from the York Makerspace.  If this falls through plans will be set back again. Not sure what is happening, some sort of red tape must be causing them to delay opening.  I can only hope things fall in to place and we have that place to meet and collaborate.

 Ok, that is my promised more frequent update with out a lot to really report on. More in 2 weeks.

 Stay warm folks!