This is my last update for the year. It was Christmas Eve when I started writing this. I’m sure it will be a few days before I finish. I hope you had a merry Christmas, and I hope you have a happy New Year. It has to be better than 2020, right?!

I haven’t done many things worth writing about this month. We’ve had Chris in and out of the hospital most of the month. Her story isn’t really mine to be writing about, though. She’s doing OK right now, so you don’t have to worry about her.

We did our first live stream on The Creativity Podcast

I had absolutely no idea how our first live stream was going to go. We decided to host a call-in show using Discord. We had a few hiccups. Jeremy had some trouble getting his video chat going in Discord for the first time, and I didn’t know I had a browser tab open with our live stream ready to autoplay, so we had some feedback for the first 30 seconds.

We had an interesting chat with a caller telling us about all the problems he’s been having with his Glowforge laser cutter. He’s had the entire machine replaced under warranty a ridiculous number of times, and he had complaints about how the Glowforge only works when you’re able to connect to their cloud service.

I agree with much of what he said. I’d get mad if a $10 smart outlet stopped working. I can’t imagine how I’d feel if my $6,000 laser decided not to cut due to scheduled maintenance at Glowforge or a minor Internet outage.

He’s using his Glowforce for manufacturing, and I have a feeling this isn’t the audience Glowforge is targeting. If you’re prototyping hardware, or you’re cutting customized parts two or three times per week, and you want to get cutting right away without a steep learning curve, then the Glowforge is probably the right machine for you.

If you want to put the work in and save $4,000, then Jeremy’s red-and-black laser cutter might be the sort of workhorse you need.

I installed some OoberLights in my computer case!

The plan all along was to install OoberLights boards in optical drive bays of PC cases. I’m not sure why I didn’t design a simple cover like this sooner. I’m really excited about this!

I would like to get the cover a little closer to the LEDs, but the prototype boards have a couple of cut traces on the front of the PCB that I had to bridge with a dab of solder. The solder bead is nearly twice as tall as any other component on the board!

I’m excited about how these lights look in my case. The final version of the board will have three sets of LEDs, and I think that will look amazing. We’re at the point where I can start creating some new animations, so it is definitely possible to start displaying disk utilization or network speed on my computer. I just haven’t gotten that far yet.

I’ve cheated a little. I haven’t designed any mounting brackets to attach to the drive rails. The board is currently held in with a small piece of poster tack on each corner. Please don’t tell anyone!

I accidentally had a tweet go viral

This was totally an accident. The tweet isn’t my video. It isn’t my content in any way.

I saw the video of the Unipiper taking down the AT-AT while playing the bagpipes on Imgur. I don’t know where I was at the time. I think we had just brought Chris home from her first medical procedure of the month. I was tired. I thought it was funny. I figured I’d paste it onto Twitter so my friends could see it.

I didn’t even write a comment about it, yet somehow here we are. It had over 1.5 million impressions on the first day, and it is just shy of 2.4 million impressions right now.

I’m excited about the impressions. I’m excited about the 10% engagement rate. I’m excited about the extra 120 followers this tweet seems to have gotten me. I’m bummed out that it isn’t my own content, and it is just a random video that I thought was fun.

Overall, though, I’m excited. Someone needs to recreate this using an electric unicycle!

I optimized some CNC toolpaths for Tindie orders

This improvement is roughly half optimization of material and half optimization of the toolpaths. I’ve been cutting my ducts for Tindie out of 2mm sheets of carbon fiber.

I had tried 1mm sheets. Those sheets are still overkill and make fine ducts, but I hate cutting 1mm carbon. It is just too flexible.

The first 400x500mm sheet of 1.5mm carbon fiber that I ordered measured 1.9mm thick. My 2mm sheets measure 2.05mm or so. Either sheet takes the same number of passes to cut, so it didn’t really matter which one I used.

The most recent sheets of 1.5mm carbon fiber that arrived do actually measure close to 1.5mm thick. I’m able to cut these sheets with one fewer passes of the tool, and I’ve bumped up my cutting speed by around 12%.

I am now able to cut a pair of ducts for Tindie in just under 7 minutes. I can’t find an exact time for the previous 2mm ducts, but I recall it taking right around 10 minutes. It feels like I can cut three sets of ducts in the time it used to take me to cut two, and that is definitely a nice win for me!

Rootin’ Tootin’ Cowboy Shootin’ 2

I am late to the party. Red Dead Redemption 2 has been around a long time, and even the PC and Steam releases are getting old. When it was released on Steam, it was extremely problematic trying to get it working with Proton and Linux. I didn’t want to deal with that.

I enjoyed playing through the original Red Dead Redemption on the PlayStation 3, and I played a bit of Red Dead Redemption 2 on Brian’s PlayStation 4. I’ve been excited to try it out on my own hardware. I know that my Nvidia GTX 970 GPU isn’t quite comparable to the PlayStation 5, but it isn’t all that far behind, and my overclocked Ryzen 1600 should be a good bit faster. I expect my experience to be somewhere between the two machines.

Valve’s new experimental version of Proton was recently updated to play Cyberpunk 2077 on release day, and one of the first updates after that announced that Red Dead Redemption 2 was now working out of the box, and you could even play online. Since the game was 33% off during Steam’s sale, I figured it was time to pick up a copy.

I’m not sure how I feel about how it runs on my hardware. I was getting around 40 to 45 frames per second at 2560x1440 with most of the settings somewhere in the middle. If I drop the rendering to 66% or 75% or so, that goes up another 10 frames. I’d like to see at least 60 frames, and it would be amazing if I could match my monitor’s 102 frames per second. The consoles are locked at 30 frames, so maybe I’m doing all right.

NOTE: I’m playing instead of doing science, but I did look up some videos of Red Dead Redemption 2 on the PS4 Pro. I’m getting nearly double the frame rate, and I don’t want to give that up, but it sure looks like I’m getting there by turning down shadow and lighting quality settings.

ANOTHER NOTE: I discovered the a command line of %command% -USEALLAVAILABLECORES -cpuLoadRebalancing -ignorepipelinecache. By itself, that didn’t make much difference, but I’ve since been able to increase my shadow and lighting levels quite a bit without dropping my frame rate by much at all. Before the new command-line switches, I was dropping down to around 35 frames per second with fancier lighting options. Now I’m still usually up over 50 frames per second with those same options. I think. I’m not doing a whole lot of science here.

I haven’t played much yet. Once I saw it running, I was in a hurry to just get to the first save point. That seemed to take forever! I’m saved. My graphics settings are reasonably tuned in, and I turned up the mouse sensitivity quite a bit. I’m ready to play when I get some free time now!

Conclusion

This is the part where I usually tell you what sort of projects I might be working on between now and the next monthly update post. I have absolutely nothing planned at the moment.

I hope you all had a happy holiday season, and I hope 2021 winds up being a better year than 2020 for all of us!