Admittedly it’s been a busy 5 months. I try to keep this mostly to a project log, but occasionally real life does intrude. My wife had some complications following the birth of our kiddo, and ended up hospitalized a couple of times. Eventually it was diagnosed that she had a condition where the bottom of her cerebelum was basically poking into the spinal column and blocking flow of CSF fluid. She went through a surgery to correct it… then a second surgery when that one leaked… then finally after 2 months she had to have a shunt installed as apparently she was producing too much CSF fluid. The surgery process began at the beginning of June and as of this last Friday, she’s well enough to go back to being a full time mom. For a while there it was all I could do just to try and keep up with the kiddo, work, and taking care of her, but these days it almost feels back to normal… I mean living through a pandemic normal, but still so much better than a few months ago… so… projects!Continue reading “A Scant 5 Months Later”
Wow I’ve been slacking on writing stuff! On the plus side I haven’t been slacking on doing stuff! I think probably the biggest change lately is my new obsession with VR and VR kit. I picked up a used HTC Vive and I was instantly hooked. In fact, within a couple of weeks the obsession started taking a darker turn:
VR Racing with a wheel, clutch, shifter… oh it’s so good. It’s like you’re there, you can look through the corner just like you would on the track, and honestly it feels nearly as mentally fatiguing. You don’t quite get the same ‘fear’ moments of approaching a corner too fast, but it’s really really good. Thing is after playing a racing game in VR you can’t really come back.
Funny I look back and it’s been a couple months now I think! I’ve been trying to make as much progress as possible in a couple of fronts, so I that’s prevented me from writing all that much. Big news is:
818’s motor is in!
Well this is a bit embarrassing. Last weekend I was staring at my engine parts, vowing to call a motor shop on Monday and just have them deal with it! You see there’s two problems with this motor.
Wow… I must say this has been a pretty spectacularly eventful few days. Since I last wrote, the Mazda has had it’s alignment and then served as a faithful companion on a 6 hour road trip to visit my wife’s best friend in Joseph, OR. It was a nice trip. I made some delicious steak and skewers (care of our friend Heidi’s excellent purchases), then I remembered that of all the things I’ve done in my life so far, rode motorcyles and driven cars on racetracks, jumped out of perfectly good aircraft, learned…mostly how to windsurf and kite landboard, worked in machine shops on live explosives…no…the scariest thing to me is F—ing cable trams… I find them deeply, deeply unsettling. I love a good rollercoaster, but sitting gently swaying at 20-50 feet off the ground…not okay. Not even a little okay. I guess it’s just kind of funny, I’ve done things that I though would terrify me and not really felt affected, but then something that shouldn’t bother me at all, like the Joseph tram or pop-sickle sticks, no…that’s what’s really scary!
Anyway, I digress… the real news is that one of my long term projects is closer to fruition than ever before. As of Friday I committed to purchasing a project Subaru WRX! I cannot wait for this machine to arrive (luckily as we were soon to be leaving, the current owner agreed to hold it and deliver it next Sunday). So here’s the deal. It’s a 2003 WRX that had the headgasket blown, so the current owner sourced parts to build up a forged internals version of a 2.5L STI motor. In WRX circles it’s known as a hybrid build, Standard 2.0L WRX heads with a thickened gasket paired to a 2.5L bottom end. He had a machinist assemble it. I’m hoping for receipts to prove it…we’ll see. That said, the motor looks great. It’s still in the plastic packaging. Yes it is a jumble of parts and one hell of a big project, but I have plans brewing. Regardless this machine looks like it’s got a lot of good parts. Tein Coilovers (one needs a rebuild), a turbo or two, the original block, actually a pretty nice shape interior, and one hornet nest as a bonus! Okay not so much a bonus, but the current owner’s willing to deliver, which makes my life WAY easier. Can’t wait to tear this monstrosity apart and rebuild it in my own design. I will also admit with a delightful sense of…history? That this is nearly identical to the one my brother had back in the day… so if I can rebuild as something substantially more impressive that’ll just be icing on the cake of a very fun car.
To that end within hours of arriving home (as soon as the temperature dropped a bit) I spent a few more hours in the garage and managed to secure myself a new engine workspace! The garage, sadly still needs a lot of work. The triumph today was that I made a new home for large power tools and really cleaned off the former CNC workbench. I think it’ll do the job nicely for an engine/rebuild bench. I still need to go through the stuff underneath. There’s a kiln a single stage compressor and a bunch or other terrifying items below. Nonetheless…progress!
Oh and Thursday I had a fun game of Infinity! With a similarly detailed/cartooney battlereport. Those are pretty fun to make.
And a wonderfully productive one at that! We’re getting set up to go on a bit of a road trip this weekend out to visit Aurora’s best friend in Joeseph. Should be a nice weekend, though on the warm side for my taste. That said this week has been about preparing! There’s been a handful of things I’ve been putting off for a while to my detriment. Firstly the Mazda has had an intermittent check engine light related to low coolant. Most likely a stuck open thermostat. Not really a huge issue or anything, just an annoyance that’s made the more annoying because it’s intermittent. So after watching a video showing just how buried the thermostat and housing are, I sent it to my local shop, J+S Automotive (nice place! I like them quite a bit) and just had them do it. They also found that the left rear tire was worn badly to the inside, and probably needs alignment. The rears are pretty old, so I picked it up during lunch and dropped it off at Discount Tire for two new rears…hooray more money! This weekend road trip’s getting expensive! (yes… this event is expensive in routine maintenance?). So now it’s scheduled for alignment on Thursday.
That’s all well and good but I have a pair of front struts in the garage that have been nagging me. A while back we discovered the front struts were leaking and worn, so I ordered some middle of the road KYB’s to replace them…well then I didn’t do it…for a while… (cough… as in months… cough cough). Thing is when you put struts in it’s usually a good idea to get an alignment just to be safe, and I have an alignment in two days. Luckily with the help of my lovely wife, we managed to knock it out in about 2.5 hours after I got off work! I was really surprised we got it finished so quickly, especially because these struts are arranged in a weird sort of press fit that I’ve never seen. The top hat’s still 3 bolts like normal, but the bottom, instead of two thru bolts, has basically a C-Clamp much like a triple tree on a motorcycle or a battery post clamp for a car. Seems fine until you realize it’s a big heavy cast and machined piece that has been press fit in place by the weight of a car…Then you realize it’s going to take a good sized hammer to rearrange this problem and it does. Still went quicker than I thought, so good news.
Next up! Registration! I’ve been a bad person and let my Mazda’s registration lapse…and also my truck and motorcycle registrations… It’s funny I remember getting at least one of those notices and thinking ‘oh I’ll do this tomorrow.’ but it still hasn’t been tomorrow yet. It’s always been today when I wake up. This time though, it’s 1:30 AM…so I’m doing this today! So I went a scrounging for titles to fill out all the paperwork, and as I did I found this!
That is the original form from when I got my dog Spectre. February 2009…hard to believe it’s been so long! Puts him at about 8 years, in spite of the form the Vet was pretty sure he was at minimum 2 years old. That’s a 10 year old dog who truly has the spirit of a dog that’s only 1.5 million years old. Truth be told he’s been getting a bit more spry (for a glacier) now that he’s on this new Thyroid medication. He’s lost some weight too. I think he was clocking in at 35 lbs and he’s back down to 25 lbs or so. Of course you look at that scraggly dog in black and white above…and that 17.5 note…that was his weight on admission. Poor guy looked (and acted) like he hadn’t eaten in weeks.
He’s been a good dog/inanimate object that you feed.
In seemingly alternating bursts. I’ve actually been up to quite a bit in the last week or so since writing here. In relatively chronological order, I’ve been playing a good bit of Infinity! Undeniably my favorite miniature wargame. It kind of catches me coming and going because I love the ‘orders’ system. Then you add to that my love of the futuristic (but good future) sculpts and background…it’s pretty much a solid hit for me. I just don’t feel the appeal for the ‘grim darkness’ of the future…because if we’re looking from even the 1950s to today, things have generally gotten a lot better in my opinion. It’s definitely not perfect, but in my tiny corner of the universe the people I know and work with really seem to be trying to make it better. Hmmmm… Actually retyped this several times after waxing too philosophically! Opinions are not in fact like assholes, because everyone has LOTS of opinions, and I’m determined not to make this some opinionfest… Evidence! That’s what we need! So here’s evidence of my most recent Infinity games in the StrikeZone Wotan campaign. I decided to put them all in one place so far. Might come back add new ones or just make new posts. We’ll see.
Those have actually been properly fun to put together. I’ve been using Prisma for the filter and then PicSay Pro to add captions. It’s just kind of entertaining; I know what ‘happened’ in a game, in terms of X shot Y, Y punched Z in the face…but when you sit down after the fact and try to write out what actually happened, you find yourself starting to name the characters and making up a more cohesive story of what happened.
Bonus! I also learned more about photo editing in GIMP. It’s how I made some of the images like the featured image for this post. As I’ve learned taking close ups of miniatures on a camera phone, depth of field is a complete jerk, so what I’ve now learned to do is take multiple photos holding as still as possible (yes I should have a tripod…but that’s pretty inconvenient in the middle of a game), then go back later import them into Gimp and try to overlay the focus of each photo. Kind of a fun process and pretty new to me.
Oh…lastly…more work in the garage today… It feels like a bit of the end of an era. I decided it’s finally time to dismantle the CNC machine. Amazing how quickly something like that comes apart…and sad in its own way. The poor CNC machine was just a victim of too many problems. On the one hand it could only cut plywood and some hardwoods…very very slowly… It also had a ridiculous toolchain ie: design the part in whatever CAD, import to Heeks CNC, basically extract the outlines which sometimes mostly sort of worked, then make sure you have the right bits, speeds, feeds, etc set up, run the G-Code creator… put the file in the shared folder… shut down windows and boot into Linux to run Linux CNC… realize you made a mistake… boot back into Windows… screw with the gCode… etc… Also as an added bit of wonderful functionality, the lack of breakers in the garage meant that I had to power up specifically and I could not operate any other devices on that circuit… I also had to watch it to make sure it didn’t light itself on fire… you know again… It was also insanely loud. So that left me with an overall process that took a long frustrating time to get the part to start cutting THEN left me sitting there staring at it, because I couldn’t do much of anything else while it ran…
All that whinging on though…the CNC did its job. I did learn a HUGE amount about CNC, gCode, toolchains, tooling generally…and I had a lot of fun building it. It’s also left me with the confidence to design or build one again…this time knowing SO much more. So yeah…Project Success! Not a brilliant success, but still a good one!
It is amazing how months of work went into it and it took…oh maybe an hour and half to have it pretty much disassembled and any of the valuable components stripped off… Admittedly a CNC machine made of MDF and some bolts does not have many valuable components remaining…
Spiderwebs are nonconductive right? I’ll definitely keep all the stepper drivers for the next project…that serial controller though…what a pain to deal with! Either use linux or Windows XP…Linux is fine it’s just all my other CAD/CNC stuff is Windows only…
Bah! I’ve been typing too much! Time for bed!
Well hello new domain name. Fancy meeting you here at this hour.
Time to start work on exactly what this little journal/blog/site is currently about. An open log of projects. For tonight, in spite of the higher than pleasant temperatures, I committed to an hour of working on cleaning up the garage. See the thing is, the garage used to be a place of quiet and solemn construction of new and interesting things. Between a spate of tedious house projects like new flooring, new ventilation ducts, new bathroom tile, the garage became home to many a half finished project and leftover house materials. Example:
So yes! Some clean up is in order. Thing is this is enginerding time, so we need a decision tree!
Incomprehensible?! Absolutely, but fairly simple in execution…if it’s a project that I just can’t see myself getting back into, it’s out the door. And if it’s not something useful in a future project it’s out the door… ‘course…that’s what trips me up a bit… Well of course 6 different sizes of thin gauge brass tubing aren’t useful right now…but in the future?! (answer: No…they still won’t be useful because I will have long since forgotten I have them!) Sadly if there’s one thing I do know it’s that my memory for my current inventory of raw materials is pretty bad when designing something new. I tend to just go to McMaster and download a new model, then order exactly the parts I need. Nothing wrong with that, it’s more expensive, but it also means that when I have excess parts they’re often wasted. Ah well…such is the way of things.
Although maybe this go-round I can finally figure out a system to file and inventory raw materials…not a bad idea… Just have to make sure the cost of keeping such a system does not exceed the cost of the materials themselves… McMaster-Carr is only a few mouseclicks away after all.