It has been a fun month. Chris decided to head out of town for two weeks. She’s cruising to Puerto Rico, then spending a week with her family in Georgia. That means I have to fend for myself. I had to do the grocery shopping, and I had to remember to take the trash and recyclables out on the correct day. So far, I’m doing a good job. I hope.

Update on the coffee grinder situation

The coffee-grinder situation seems sorted out. Even after taking everything apart and swapping to an old, stiffer-feeling adjustment ring, it still wasn’t working right. I ordered a fresh stash of replacement plastic parts for my grinder, but they’re not here yet. I took it apart again, though, and swapped back to the adjustment ring that I assumed is bad, and I’m making good coffee again.

There are three pieces of plastic that hold the burrs in place on the Baratza Virtuoso and Preciso. They’re rather inexpensive. The primary burr holder is about $4, and it is designed with thin plastic tabs that are meant to break in the event that you try to grind something that will damage the much more expensive burrs.

I like to keep spares on hand, and my supplies are gone. I’ve ordered replacements.

Update on Dead Cells

Dead Cells on 3BC is no longer kicking my ass. Not only did I make it to 4BC, but I even managed to earn the achievement for beating the Hand of the King without taking any damage!

I feel like I cheated a bit, even though I didn’t do anything that isn’t allowed by the game. I played a tactics build with two Great Owls of War, a Sadist Stilleto, and Throwing Knives. I made sure to pick up any owls with bonus damage to bleeding and poisoned enemies.

Here’s the part that felt like cheating. I played a good seed where one of the starter weapons was a set of Throwing Knives with an affix that creates a poison cloud on hit. I played that same game about two dozen times before I finally made it to the Hand of the King. Once I did, he melted under all that bleeding and poison bonus damage the owls were dealing. I think I only had to dodge three times.

4BC is mean, but not as mean as I was expecting. I’ll let you know how it goes next month.

We made some new FPV friends!

After meeting up with Alex Vanover, I wound up attending one of our local MultiGP races. The next week, I competed. I did better than I expected, and even better than I thought I did while I was actually racing. I already wrote about that at length.

At the races, I met Tanner. You should check him out on YouTube and Instagram. I told him about our local flying spot in Plano, and he thought it sounded awesome. He came out the next day to fly with us, and he brought some friends.

We all met up again the next week, and we set up a little practice race track. We’ll be doing it again next week, too. I imagine we’ve accidentally started a regular meetup!

Repairing my 3” and 4” Kestrel builds

My 3” Kestrel hasn’t been flying quite right for a long time. I prefer the 4” anyway, and I have plenty of quads to fly, so I didn’t really want to sit down and replace any hardware. Besides, adding some filters in Betaflight got the 3” flying reasonably well. Sort of.

Then my 4” Kestrel broke. One of the ESCs burned out. This is a surprise, because I used a fairly expensive ESC in this build that is rated for 50% more voltage than I’m using, and it is meant to be used on 5” racing quads. I figured it would be bulletproof with my tiny motors.

I ordered a pair of Diatone Mamba Mk2 stacks. You get a 4-in-1 ESC and flight controller for $38. That’s about what I paid for just the ESC in my 4” Kestrel! It is the new revision of the stack I’ve been using in the 3” build.

I swapped out a fresh flight controller and ESC into the 4” Kestrel, and it is flying like brand new. I only swapped out the ESC in the 3” Kestrel, and that’s all it needed.

I also cut fresh bottom plates for both drones using my Shapeoko XXL. I’ve been getting wobbly HD video footage out of both of them. They’re running my original prototype carbon fiber parts, and those first bottom plates have more cutouts than the current revision. That gave the fuselages a lot of flex, and the replacement parts stiffened that up quite a bit.

I don’t remember them being so loose when I built them. The rubber grommets have gotten softer over time, and I think repeatedly crashing has loosened up the original spindly frames quite a bit. We’ll see how the beefier bottom plates hold up!

Experimenting with inexpensive mechanical keyboards

I’m not new to the world of mechanical keyboards. I’ve used an IBM Model M keyboard for most of the last 20 years. I had a short time when I was using a crummy Dell Bluetooth keyboard. I liked the tidiness of not having any cables on my desk, but the experience was terrible.

I’ve been posting cheap mechanical keyboard deals here on Butter, What?! I can’t buy all of them, but I figured I should dogfood some of them. I ordered one of those keyboard for my wife. I also bought one of the tenkeyless keyboards with blue switches for myself.

I thought the biggest difference I would notice between my Razer BlackWidow Ultimate and this Z-88 keyboard would be the switches. I hardly noticed the change from the authentic Cherry MX Green switches to the significantly softer Outemu blue switches.

What I keep noticing is just how small the Z-88 is. The keys are full size, so typing is exactly as you’d expect, but the edges of the keyboard don’t stick out as far. My left palm just barely touches the control key when I’m resting on the home row, but my right palm doesn’t touch anything. This is disconcerting to me.

I’m also having trouble in the dark when playing Team Fortress 2. When I move my right hand back from the mouse, I don’t always end up where I expect. I’ve even turned the RGB LEDs on at their dimmest setting just to assist me, and I find this quite embarrassing!

We’ll see how I feel in another month or two!

Designing a stand for my backpack

My office is a mess, but we’ll get to that in the next section. One of the problems I have is figuring out where to keep my drone backpack. It is huge, and I have to open the flap all the way every time I get ready to go flying. In this way, I have to use it more like luggage than a laptop. I have to check my props, and constantly swap batteries between my charger and the bag.

I usually put the open bag down on my recliner. It takes up to an hour to charge all my batteries, so the backpack often ends up being in my way.

Here’s my plan. My drone-charging and spare-part storage area consists of an IKEA Hemler drawer unit with a Bat Safe charging box on top. I’d like to construct a sort of rack on top to hold my ThinkTank backpack.

I want to be able to set my backpack down on top of everything, and I want the backpack to be standing up almost vertically. It should tip backwards just enough to keep everything from falling out, but I’d like it to be tall enough that I don’t have to bend over to arrange its contents.

Then I’d like to add a shelf below the bag to hold the Bat Safe. I’m going to put that shelf on drawer slides. That way I can pull it out to load it up with batteries, and I can push it out of the way underneath the backpack when not in use.

The Hemler is made of sheet metal, so I would feel safe enough storing my batteries in the top drawers. Of course, those batteries would be brought down to a safe voltage first!

I currently have all sorts of random quadcopter stuff in my Hemler. I plan to pare that down to only things that will wind up going into my backpack. That will be mostly consumables: props, batteries, and maybe GoPros.

I’m excited, because this will be my first woodworking project on the Shapeoko CNC!

Cleaning up my office

My home office is a mess. I’ve started moving some things out to the garage, and I’ve been trying to get more organized. It is still a mess, but I’m getting there!

I completely tidied up my desk about a month ago. Random stuff has begun to accumulate on my desk again, though. I’m going to need to nip that in the bud before it gets out of hand.

A few weeks ago, I completely cleared off my office’s electronics workbench. Don’t worry, it is already getting a bit cluttered, but I’m trying to keep on top of that, too!

My problem is that as I’m organizing one area, I disorganize another. I find some things that need to be sorted on my desk, so I put them on the 3D printer. I find things on the floor that need sorting, so I put them on my workbench.

The important thing is that I’m making progress, right? Right?!


I’ve had a lot of fun this month, but it isn’t all that interesting from your perspective. I’m mostly just working to improve or repair things I’ve already documented. Since they’ve already been documented, and I’ve already made videos about them, and that means there’s not much new content for you to consume!

I am hopeful that I’ll make some progress on my backpack stand. That should make for some interesting new content!