I didn’t think I accomplished all that much since my update last month. We did a podcast, I published at least one blog post, and I did a handful of things that definitely warrant two or three paragraphs each.

I did a better job than I thought. I even made sure to start writing this sometime around the middle of the month. Then I forgot about it. It is about to be April, and I haven’t finished writing this post.

We interviewed Rex Krueger on The Create/Invent Podcast

This month on The Create/Invent Podcast we interviewed Rex Krueger. It was a fantastic interview. Rex is extremely knowledgeable. I knew that before the interview, but I didn’t quite fathom just how deep his knowledge of the history of woodworking goes!

Rex’s goal is getting people who are interested in woodworking up and running without spending a fortune. He focuses on hand-tool woodworking, and his Woodwork for Humans series is fantastic.

This was definitely one of my favorite episodes of The Create/Invent Podcast so far, and I think you’d be missing out if you don’t give it a watch or a listen!

Thinking about upgrading from 40-gigabit to 56-gigabit Infiniband for free

I still have a pair of 56-gigabit FleixbleLOM Infiniband cards here. I’ve been thinking about having PCBs made that would allow me to use these cards in PCIe slots. I can’t make use of the extra performance, but the upgrade would allow me to test out 40-gigabit Ethernet. That’d be neat!

Then there was a comment on my blog from a gentleman named Marcus. He said something like, “Hey Pat! You’re a dummy! You can flash the 56-gigabit firmware on your 40-gigabit card!” Can I really?!

He says he’s done it. He linked me to a forum post on servethehome.com talking about how to do it. It looks easy.

I’m going to give it a try. Just not today. In the worst-case scenario, I turn one of these cards into a brick and I’m out $35 for a new card. That’s probably not going to happen, but I’ll have to survive without Infiniband for a week if that happens.

I need to plan accordingly. Upgrading the machines I use every day to do real work is scary!

My self-hosted cloud storage server has been shipped off-site

I think I need an elevator pitch for my Raspberry Pi server with its 14 TB hard drive running Seafile and Tailscale. Seafile works much like Dropbox, except you host the server yourself using your own hardware. Tailscale is a VPN that lets me directly access any of my own machines from any of my other machines.

Every port on this Raspberry Pi’s Ethernet interface is blocked by the firewall except for the Tailscale port. It boots up, gets an address from DHCP, then connects to my Tailscale network. The only way to access my little server is via my Tailscale network.

In theory, this means I can drop my Seafile server on an Ethernet port anywhere in the world, and my tiny server will be reasonably safe. Of course, if someone has physical access to your running Raspberry Pi, there isn’t much you can do to keep it truly safe.

I am currently syncing around 4 TB to my Seafile server. That would cost me around $200 per year with Dropbox or Google Drive, but this entire setup cost me less than $300. Assuming I don’t have to replace a failed hard disk, this will pay for itself in less than 18 months. It feels like a fantastic value!

My Seafile server is an important component in my backup strategy, and it absolutely needs to be off-site. So where did I send my Seafile server? I drove it over to Brian Moses’s house. He had it plugged in and running before I even managed to drive home.

I told Brian that he needs to colocate a Raspberry Pi here at my house. That way our use of the buddy system won’t be so lopsided!

I’ve been underutilizing my Sony ZV-1

I wrote this heading two weeks ago, and it is unfortunate that it is still true today. Early this month, I wrote a follow-up to my first blog post about my Sony ZV-1. I had just barely enough new to say that I felt it was still worth writing, but I realized that I am not using my ZV-1 as often as I should.

December through February or so have been rough months here. We had medical emergencies with humans, medical emergencies with cats, Texas froze for a week, and we’ve just had a lot of rainy or cold weather. I figured that by now I would be out riding my electric unicycle, flying FPV drones, and recording random vlogs to post on YouTube. I figured I’d set up an overhead camera rig at my workbench and shoot something over there.

I haven’t done any of that. I’ve recorded several episodes of The Create/Invent Podcast. I’m excited about that, and I don’t need to use the Sony ZV-1 for anything else to make it a worthwhile purchase.

I’ve started piecing together an overhead camera rig using things I already have on hand. At the moment, it is a precariously placed tripod being kept upright with a C-clamp and some paracord with an IKEA Tertial arm lamp on either side for light. We’ll see how that goes soon.

I got out flying for the first time in months

Not only did I get out flying for what feels like the first time all year, but I’ve been out flying almost every single weekend in March!

I haven’t forgotten how to fly, which is nice. More importantly, though, it is a chance to get outside and safely hang out with my friends. On the first warm Saturday, I think we had seven or eight people out at the golf course. Don’t worry, we always do a good job of practicing social distancing!

I have walked into a bit of a conundrum here. We’ve been playing the Velocidrone FPV drone simulator on Discord every Thursday night, and we tend to do the same races a lot. I am not a racing pilot, but my best lap times on the Tower of Terror 2 race started out in the 45 to 50 range. Over three or four weeks, I got that down to 26 seconds, and I was really proud of this!

Then we went out to fly real quads, and I learned that racing fake drones had me off my game a bit, because my virtual quad isn’t QUITE set up the same as my real machines. I was overshooting so many snap rolls, and it took me two batteries before I managed a power loop I was happy with.

Then we went back to Velocidrone a few days later, and I couldn’t get anywhere near a 29-second lap. I was lucky to manage a 45-second lap!

The simulators are great for learning to fly FPV. They’re great for safely and quickly learning new tricks or maneuvers. They may not be so great for your muscle memory!

I laser-engraved a slice of bread

This is fun. My friend Alex bought a 7-watt NEJE Master laser engraver from Banggood for a good bit less than $200. After we accidentally burned a duck cartoon into his workbench, he let me take it home for a few days to upgrade the firmware and play around with it.

The first thing I wondered was why on Earth I might want to own my own diode laser. They’re underpowered, but they’re also cheap. I have access to a much larger 80-watt CO2 laser that can cut through thick sheets of plywood. What am I going to do with this dinky little thing?

My only goal was to engrave a Butter, What?! logo on a real slice of bread. That was easy enough. I also had no trouble putting marks on cardboard, and the NEJE laser can definitely cut through paper.

Alex pointed out something interesting about this laser, and it isn’t just the $170 price tag. This laser has no enclosure. You can just set it down on any flat surface and start engraving. As we learned from his workbench, you can engrave and cut things that won’t fit in an ordinary laser cutter’s enclosure.

You could engrave on your hardwood floor. If you can find a way to hang it vertically, then you could engrave directly on a wall or a door. That’s pretty cool!

I tried out the new Sweepy 2.0 dust boot from Carbide 3D

The fine folks at Carbide 3D were worried about my lungs, and they heard that I’d been watching like a hawk waiting for the Dewalt-compatible Sweepy 2.0 to be released, and they were nice enough to send me a free Sweepy 2.0 Dust Boot as soon as they were available. How awesome is that?!

I’ve only had one opportunity to try the Mr. Sweepy so far, and I didn’t have time to set up a camera or lighting, and I didn’t clean up my workspace. I had some parts I needed to cut, and I needed them right away. I learned a lot that day!

I was immediately worried that my tiny 2-gallon Harbor Freight vacuum was going to be too small. It also has a tiny hose, so I had to 3D-print an adapter to hook it up to the dust boot.

A lot of carbon dust didn’t get sucked up by the boot, and it got stuck in the crevices between my parts. Am I hosed? Is my vacuum too tiny for the task?!

Maybe not. I decided that it was time to stop neglecting my vacuum and finally empty the poor thing. Boy was it full! The little filter sock was packed with fine carbon fiber dust, and the bucket was half full of carbon, sawdust, and aluminum. Yuck!

I always put off emptying the vacuum until next time. Emptying a vacuum full of carbon dust is messy and potentially unhealthy, and the right time to do it is after a job is done. The trouble is that by the time a job is done, I’m usually hot and ready to go inside.

The good news is that the vacuum sounds happier now, and it has so much more suction! I have to cut some parts before the end of the week, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m expecting this little vacuum will be up to the task.

I was hoping to hit 1,400 miles on my Gotway Tesla V2 in May!

I wrote this heading around the second week of March. I had right around 700 miles on my Tesla, and my blog says I stared riding it early in May of last year. At the time, I wondered if I could double that mileage to 1,400 in a little over two months.

In two or three weeks, I’ve only managed to put another 70 or 80 miles on my Gotway Tesla. There’s no way I’m getting to 1,400 miles by May 9. It was a random and arbitrary goal anyway, so I’m not too upset that I won’t make it. Maybe I can put in a few sprints to break 1,000 miles?

At any rate, I’m quite pleased with how the Tesla V2 is holding up after a year. It hasn’t taken any serious hits, but it has tipped over a few times. The shell is a bit scuffed up, but there are no serious problems. I noticed after a 9-mile ride the other day that my battery was still at 93% charge, so the cells must be holding up well.

The battery in my InMotion V5F is kaput!

This is a bummer. I bought this refurbished InMotion V5F in January of 2020. I put about 400 miles on it before upgrading to the Gotway Tesla. At that point I pretty much parked the V5F until someone needed to learn to ride an electric unicycle. At that time, the battery still seemed to be in good health.

Some months later, I loaned it to a friend. He said it wouldn’t charge past three out of four bars. I’m sure this was the beginning of the end.

Then I loaned it to another friend three or four months ago. He learned to ride, but then the V5F just gave up and wouldn’t power on anymore.

I suspect there’s a dead 18650 cell in its power pack. I’m not exactly in a hurry to figure out how to take this thing apart, but I figure it’d be worthwhile to sniff out and replace that bad cell just to get the machine back up and running. It’d be nice to have a spare wheel, and even nicer to have a wheel I can loan out!

Lithium-ion cells don’t like to sit around at full charge, and they don’t like to sit around fully empty. If I left this EUC sitting around for a year at full charge, I would expect to lose some range, but I certainly wouldn’t expect a cell to die. It is quite disappointing!