It has been almost a month since my last update. I haven’t been working on a single, big project, but I’ve been making progress on several fronts.

Roasting more coffee and goobering up my coffee grinder!

I roasted just about everything in my first 4-pound green bean sampler from Sweet Maria’s. I ordered another four pounds of mostly Ethiopian beans, and I roasted most of those. Another 9 pounds of beans showed up at my door at the end of last month, so I can safely say that I’m all in on this DIY coffee-roasting thing.

One of the beans I ordered was a honey-process coffee bean from Sumatra, and it looks different than every other bag of green beans. The shade of green is different, and it is definitely a darker color. I stopped the roast shortly after the first crack, and they were the darkest beans I’ve ever roasted.

The smell was interesting. I told Chris that they smell like a pizza shop. She says I’m crazy. I say the smell of these beans reminds me of oregano or something.

My grinder was not happy with these beans. It was struggling to grind at all, and before even finishing a double-shot’s worth of coffee, the motor bogged down and the machine got stuck!

I had some trouble getting my Baratza Preciso grinding correctly again, but it seems happy now. I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to taste the coffee that smells like a pizza shop!

I gave the beans that I roasted to Brian. He uses my grinder’s little brother, the Baratza Virtuoso. He grinds much coarser for his Aeropress than I do for my Rancilio Silvia, so maybe he’ll be OK.

Dead Cells is kicking my butt

I have three boss cells (3BC), and I’ve been stuck at this point for a while. Before the last update, all my successes were using brutality builds. That wasn’t getting me any farther, so I tried some survival builds, and I tried to learn to use a shield. I didn’t like it.

The recent update made some of the difficult levels on 3BC a little easier, and it also added some awesome new survival mutations, so I switched back to survival, and I thought I was doing well. I started out using a Torch and Hokuto’s Bow combo, but I wound up switching to the Sadist’s Stiletto and Throwing Knife.

I don’t know when I realized that the stiletto and knife also scale with tactics, but when I did, I decided to try running a pair of Great Owls of War. This build is just bananas.

I’m still getting my butt kicked, but I managed to make it all the way to the Hand of the King, and I even managed to survive long enough to take away more than half his health.

I always die to something stupid. I haven’t gotten nearly that far on any attempt since, but I’m going to keep trying!

Cutting a handful of carbon fiber prop tools

I’m excited. I think I’ve typed those two words every time I’ve written about my carbon fiber prop tool. It isn’t an original idea. You can buy something similar from Race Day Quads for $4.50.

I need things to send to my Patreon patrons as a perk for subscribing. I’ve also been looking for a way to use up the small scrap sections on my used 2mm- and 3mm-thick carbon fiber sheets.

Since adding the engraving on top, the prop tool has gotten a little too big to actually reuse much scrap material, but I’m still excited. I ran a job over the weekend to cut four prop tools. It didn’t take long, and they came out just dandy!

This time, I tried using several different colors of nail polish. I’ve come to the conclusion that v-carving carbon fiber is going to be problematic. I’m damaging some of the lettering while removing the excess nail polish. Carbon fiber is strong in the direction of the fibers, but the only thing holding the center of the lowercase E in place is the strength of the resin. I’ve knocked too many pieces out of place while trying to decorate them.

I’m going to scale back to the smaller prop tool without the logo. The design is open-source, and my current revision is hosted on Gitlab in the same repository as my open-source quadcopter frames.

I helped Brian make sound-absorbing panels for his video studio

I’m going to tell everyone that this is why I didn’t have any major accomplishments this month. Do you think anyone will believe me?

I helped Brian make insulation-filled, fabric-covered, wood-framed panels to hang on the wall in his recording studio. We made eight panels, and the four that will be visible on camera have RGB LEDs attached to the back. I like them. I am jealous. I’m going to have to work on something similar when I get my studio up and running!

You should pretend that we finished attaching LEDs to all four panels, even though we only got through half of them! No one needs to know that the project isn’t quite finished yet!

Our hot water heater failed, and we added a hot water recirculation pump

When we bought this house from my friend, Brian, in early 2018, he left us with a 38-gallon gas hot water heater with a 2002 manufacture date stamped on it. He’s upset about this, because he seems to recall the real estate agent telling him that the recently replaced hot water heater was a positive feature of the house. Don’t tell Brian, but a lot of time has gone by. It probably was fairly new when he bought the house, but time is going by really quickly!

A complaint I’ve had since moving in is how long it takes for hot water to get to our master bathroom. I used Google Maps to measure, and it is about a 130 foot journey. I asked the plumbers for a quote on installing a hot water recirculation system.

This will get its own blog post at some point in the near future. I need to insulate the hot-water pipes in the attic first. Here’s the short story.

We upgraded to a 50-gallon hot-water heater, and it cost us an additional $500 or so to have them install a Grundfos pump. These Grundfos pumps are $370 on Amazon. There are similar pumps from other manufacturers listed at less than half that price, too.

Today, I have hot water at the sink in my bathroom instantly, but it depends on your definition of hot. I don’t have a proper thermometer, so I tried measuring with my infrared contraption. It won’t read water, but it will read the temperature of my hand in the water.

The water is probably 95 to 97 degrees when I first turn on the tap. It is a comfortable enough temperature for shaving, so I’m quite pleased.

Flying with Captain Vanover

Brian’s wife, Julia, somehow arranged to hire Alex Vanover to spend an afternoon hanging out and flying freestyle quads with us. Alex is a professional drone-racing pilot. You may have even seen him racing on DRL on NBC. I had no idea what to expect.

We had a great time. I learned a lot about drone racing, and that’s a topic that I know very little about. I just know they take quads like my freestyle quad and fly them as fast as they can!

Alex is an accomplished freestyle pilot, and I already knew that there’s a huge difference between what he can do and what I can do. It was amazing seeing that in person. The first thing he did was burn through one of my brand new 6S batteries on his 5” racer in less than 2 minutes.

I could dedicate an entire blog post to the couple of hours we spent with Alex, but I’m supposed to keep these posts brief, right?

I’m going to tell you the most important lesson I learned from this experience. It is something I already knew, but I don’t think I realized just how important it is.

You need to fly with people that are more skilled than you. If Alex wasn’t there, I wouldn’t have tried to hit that gap on that power loop. It isn’t that he egged me on or anything. When I didn’t get the hole lined up on the first try, I was already planning to try again. Just knowing he was watching from his goggles was more than enough reason to try something that I normally wouldn’t.

Of course, I did have to go back up and try again after replacing the busted props. Hitting the tree the first time sure helped me understand exactly where it was, which helped me avoid hitting it on the next attempt!

That said, the last thing I wanted to do was get stuck in a tree. Flying for a couple hours with Vanover was fun. I would have been embarrassed if I had to tell everyone that I spent two hour fishing quads out of trees with Captain Vanover!

You guys should definitely follow Alex Vanover on Twitter!

Working out more Ooberlights details

I’m still excited about our Ooberlights project. The project was inspired by dekatrons–vacuum tubes with a spinning array of lights on top. We’ve riffed on that idea a little. We’re using RGB LEDs, and instead of a ring of lights, we have 3 or 4 concentric rings. The plan is to fit these in a drive bay in your NAS or in a stylish case on your desk.

OobertLights PCB Layout

Life and inexperience have gotten in the way. My friend who is working on the PCB design has some concerns. He’s really a software guy, so he’s worried that his first complex PCB layout won’t go well, and he’s worried that I’ll waste a bunch of money having a couple of prototypes made.

We’re talking about ideas of how we can scale back a bit, and split the prototype into two PCBs. Life is still getting in the way a bit, but we haven’t forgotten about the project!


I didn’t remember doing much of anything over the last month or so, so I expected this post to be extremely short. Somehow I’ve managed to write more than 1,600 words. How the heck did that happen?