I started working on this blog post on September 6. I’ve completely forgotten to write these posts or been late several times this year. I wanted to make sure I did a good job this month.

All things considered, I think it has been a good month. Not all that much got completed, but a bunch of stuff got started or made a bit of progress!

Working on my network toolkit

I might be more excited about this than I should be. I’m planning to build a CNC cut tool kit to keep in my laptop bag. I have a tool kit with things like crimpers, pliers, cutters, and a screwdriver in my bag, but it is rather large. It has tools I don’t need, and roughly 1/3 of the height of the kit is wasted space. I can do better!

When I tweeted this blog post out, I got some interesting tool suggestions, though most of them wouldn’t actually go in this toolkit–they’d go right in my laptop bag! Part of the idea here is to keep most of my sharp objects in one place so I can more easily keep the TSA from confiscating them!

I’ve done some test cutting on the Shapeoko, and I’m already amazed by how well I’m doing. I took a photo of one my wire cutters, manually traced it with Bezier curves in Inkscape, nudged it around a bit in CAM, then cut a pocket on my Shapeoko. The hole was a bit oversized due to my nudging, but it cut quickly and cleanly in my scrap piece of particle board!

I ordered a 1/4” ball end mill, so my next attempt won’t have sharp corners at the bottom. I’m also planning to cut a small bevel around the top of each tool slot.

I’m excited. I expected tracing the tools to be difficult, tedious work, but my first attempt went quickly, and I wasn’t far off. This part shouldn’t be too difficult!

Now I have a lot of choices to make. Which tools should I make room for? Should I cover the inside in fabric? Should I use plywood or a solid block of wood? Do I use a hinge, or should the lid be removable? Do tools go in the lid, or does the lid push down on all the tools to keep them in place? There are so many questions.

I’ve done the test cut for the wire cutters. I did a test layout and full cut to start replacing the broken case for my Harbor Freight socket set. That seemed like it would be a good practice project!

The next step is figuring out how I want the lid to attach to the box. Do I want a hinge? Maybe. I definitely want to seal the container with magnets. I’m going to start working on some small boxes with some sort of flange around the edge and magnet holes in the corners. I might have to order some magnets!

Cutting wood on the Shapeoko?!

I’m reasonably sure that the first couple of test cuts I made on my Shapeoko were made in wood or particle board. Since then, I’ve done a long, slow test cut in aluminum, and I have cut A LOT of carbon fiber plates.

Cutting carbon fiber is slow. I have to use tiny 2mm end mills. I can push the speeds quite fast, and the Shapeoko will tear through the carbon fiber plates like butter, but it won’t leave a clean finish.

Holy crap! Cutting wood with a 1/4” end mill is so fast! I used the default wood settings to hollow out a pocket, and it just plowed through my scrap piece of particle board so quickly!

I’ve decided I need to do more woodworking projects with the CNC machine. Babysitting the machine for 90 minutes while it cuts a custom miniquad frame is quite boring, even if the end result it usually fun. Cutting wood is so fast that I spent more time setting up the material and tool than I spent waiting for the gcode to run!

Putting more miles on my Gotway Tesla electric unicycle

I did a bad job throughout the month of August. We had a lot of heat and rain here in Dallas. This meant there weren’t a lot of days where I was excited about the idea of riding my EUC. I believe I had only ridden twice since the first half of August, and there were nearly two weeks separating those rides.

This was much more detrimental to my riding skills that I would have guessed. In a way, it is a lot like riding a bike, because I surely didn’t forget how to ride. I was quite uncomfortable out there, though, after such a long hiatus.

When I was first learning to ride, I noticed that it was easier to ride smoothly while talking on the phone. In a way this seems counterintuitive, but riding an electric unicycle is something your body just learns to do. You don’t pay attention to every footstep when you walk, and you don’t pay attention to exactly what your feet are doing when you ride.

Taking a break has me paying attention to the little details again, and it is making me less stable. Not a lot less stable, but I definitely feel a bit off, and feeling off is making me a bit nervous. This tends to start a cycle.

I’m trying to get back to riding at least three or four times a week again.

Getting caught up in Dead Cells on the Nintendo Switch

I’ve been playing Dead Cells on Steam since late 2018. When we bought the Switch, it was one of the first games I installed. On Steam, I’ve progressed to 4 boss cells. That means I’ve beaten the game on 5 different difficulty levels. At the end of August, after playing off and on for six months or so, I finally caught up to my progress on Steam!

Catching up has been a challenge, and I’m not even all the way there yet. Dead Cells gets a pretty serious update every few months. The game is very different today than it was when I first got to 4 boss cells. Just getting used to the new enemies and maps has taken time.

Grinding to unlock better equipment at the forge has been a challenge too. My Steam save game has everything unlocked, and when I put cells into the forge on Steam, you were allowed to max it out much earlier. On 3 boss cells, you’re now only allowed to unlock a 50% chance at S-class gear. When I finished 3 boss cells on the Switch, I was only at 35%.

So far, I’ve been failing pretty hard at 4 boss cells on the Switch. I went back to 3 boss cells to put as much into the forge as possible. I’m now at a 50% chance of S-class drops, and I’ve practiced enough that I’m doing passably well at 4 boss cells.

How many months before I make it to 5 boss cells?

I spent several hours repairing a $15 tripod!

The head on my cheap tripod snapped. This is the tripod I take when I travel, and I really needed it a few weeks ago to hold some extra lighting.

I should have bought a new tripod. This is a generic tripod that I will never find again, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is identical to this AmazonBasics tripod.

I’m sure I spent enough time designing, printing, testing, and reprinting the part that it would have been cheaper to just buy another one. That seemed wasteful, and I have a brand new Prusa MK3S next to my desk. I haven’t been flexing my 3D part design muscles lately, so this seemed like a fantastic way to test my skills.

I made two or three small mistakes on the first attempt. Two of those mistakes could have been ignored, and the third could have been fixed with a file. The top of the tripod just couldn’t sit flat, so I needed to shave a millimeter or so off of the top.

Two minutes in OpenSCAD fixed the problems, and an hour later I had a good part.

After it was all together, though, I noticed another problem. The screw that tensions this part of the tripod couldn’t thread in all the way without bumping into another piece of plastic. I printed a cylindrical spacer and called it good, but it wasn’t obvious why my part wasn’t working.

I didn’t notice until a week later when I was throwing away the broken part. My design is actually missing one finger! I’m glad it is, because the original part seems to have broken right near that finger. There just isn’t much material in the part where it meets up with the base.

I’m going to leave my design as it is!

I’ve cranked up the speeds on my new Prusa MK3S 3D printer

There’s one thing I knew when I ordered my Prusa MK3S. I was going to be disappointed with the printing speeds out of the box. I’ve watched Brian’s MK3, and it seems abysmally slow 3D-printing speeds. Especially compared to my old MakerFarm printer that I had cranked up to 11.

I recall Brian saying that he didn’t have much luck cranking up the print speeds, but I think it has been a couple years since he messed with it, so I don’t know what sort of issues he had.

Comparing printing speeds is tough. Your printer has limits on how fast it can accelerate. If you print a Marvin keychain, you’re never going to be approaching your top speed even on the fastest printer. If you’re printing something that takes up most of your printer’s surface, the difference becomes much more dramatic.

I achieved about a 15% speed up over Prusa’s 0.15mm SPEED profile on a Marvin keychain with similar quality with my 0.16mm profile, and I achieved a 40% speed up on one of my own functional parts over Prusa’s 0.3mm DRAFT profile with my 0.32mm profile.

This is approaching the speeds I was getting on my old printer, but the Prusa’s quality is still significantly better. I think I’ve landed on a good compromise here, though I’m sure I’ll be tweaking things a bit more in the future!

What’s up next month?!

I didn’t mention the OoberLights this month! Life has gotten in the way of progress on the software side there, but I won’t be surprised if efforts on several fronts come together before next month’s update. I have my fingers crossed!

Other than that, I don’t have any particular plans outside of these small projects I’ve already started. I expect there will be good progress on everything I’m currently working on during the next four weeks!

What do you think? Am I doing a good job? Is my network engineer toolkit a good idea? Do you think I’ll really get three or four rides on the unicycle in every week? Have I pushed my Prusa MK3S speeds far enough? Let me know in the comments, or stop by [the Butter, What?! Discord server][bwd] to chat with me about it!