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When I first offered LED conversion kits, I got the inverters I modded for free from forum members who sent their spares, supplemented by bulk lot buys of used boards from eBay. For the first 200 kits or so, I paid on average about $5 a board, which I then modded with the custom LED hardware.

The supply of X60 and X61 inverters is drying up, which is not to say they're no longer available, but they're now well into legacy pricing. Min price is about $20 apeice now.

Building complete inverters from scratch was probably always cost effective, but I just couldn't find the discontinued connectors I needed. I think I have those secured now, so I spent a few days of free time consing up a new inverter board design.

The prototype is off to OSHPark for fabbing! It's nearly the same schematic as the TLD3, but the layout is from-scratch to make it easier to assemble.


Nov. 29th, 2017 07:48 pm
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I'm about to ship my 250th ThinkPad LED backlight kit, all hand-assembled and soldered. I had no idea. I expected there to be demand for about ten. The kits are for models over ten years old... and demand is still increasing.

Not pictured: The stack of 30 different headless ThinkPads I use for kit testing.

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...so yeah, I'm apparently also in the custom Thinkpad LVDS cable business now. This one lets an X61/X62 motherboard use a 4:3 12.1" SXGA tablet screen. I'm still practicing, but I've found a source for 100 cables cheap...

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....w00t! Found the missing Thinkpad inverter stash! That should hold me through Christmas.

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Here's one of the little server mods I worked on over thanksgiving: flowGrab

flowGrab patches the server to also allow grabbing liquid flows (ie, non-source liquid blocks) with a bucket, and that includes buckets in dispensers. Non-source liquid in a bucket does not become a source when placed, it just flows away, but it does mean you don't need to sacrifice a source block to get a water bucket or a lava bucket.

This is no big deal with water, really. Water sources regenerate in Minecraft. Lava sources, however, do not regenerate. Use one up and it's gone.

I think you see where this is going.

It means you can grab as many lava buckets as you want out of a flowing lava stream, and use them to power furnaces.

It also means you can use a single lava source to power a machine like an autosmelter indefinitely.

WHOO SUSTAINABLE ENERGY! Your world's industrial base is no longer limited by however long it takes to completely mine out the Nether!

The patch applies to a clean decompile of MCP 9.40 updated to Minecraft 1.12.2 in the usual manner.


Nov. 19th, 2017 07:13 am
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A cold, wet dawn outside the workshop in NH today, sleet hitting the windows...

It's nice and snug inside, though. Time to get some French Toast on.


Nov. 15th, 2017 11:04 am
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I haven't forgotten about Workbenchapalooza2017, it's just that work got busy and ate all my weekends the past couple of months. I've been stealing a few hours here and there.

I finally completed initial assembly of the prototype/archetype workbench I'll be using in the workshop. Design criteria:

  1. Inexpensive materials
  2. No fussy joints; it's all flat-stock glue & screw.
  3. Stong and rigid; top section is a 7.5"-thick box-beam that will take a sledgehammer blow.
  4. Easily replaceable top surface; it's just a trimmed sheet of 3/4" particle board with some optional edging.
  5. Storage; "I could count myself the king of infinite space were it not that I needed more flat surfaces."
  6. Drawers are just an optional insert.
  7. Disassemblable; it tears down into several flat panels.

I have dubbed the design 'Bork', which is either short for Borkwench, or alternatively in honor of Ikea. Your pick.

The assembly fit is a little subpar as it was the working development prototype, but I think it's also good enough to be the first production unit. Now for a bunch more.

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...only 1000 left to bin on this reel....

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View from the [soon to be] woodshop this morning. Somehow I missed it snowing overnight.

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Hmmm... George is squinting in each picture. I wonder if he needs glasses already.

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Ovenbirds are my favorite of the warblers, so I was heartbroken earlier today when I heard a 'THUNK' against the window behind me, and looked outside to see an ovenbird stretched out on the ground on its back, not moving.

I went outside to check it, and it was still breathing erratically. After about ten minutes of twitching, it finally righted itself and looked around briefly, but was still too stunned to do anything. It did not object to me being next to it, so I figured I'd sit and guard it until it either regained its senses or finally succumbed. After another fifteen minutes or so, it clumsily staggered into a bush, where it hunkered down and curled up. This was the longest recovery I'd witnessed for a stunned songbird, and I didn't expect it to make it.

In late afternoon, about eight hours later, I checked it again and it had not moved. Breathing, yes, but still apparently 'asleep'. Cam agreed this did not bode well.

I wandered off to shoot a few targets (setting up a new bow! yay!) and once the sun was well behind the trees, was wheeling the portable target block back to the garage. I passed the bush where the ovenbird was holed up, and it popped out, looked startled, and flew off. It was clumsy getting into the air, but it managed. Perhaps a recent fledge?

Good luck little birb.

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Given their long-distance migrations to southern climates, I always thought of monarch butterflies as exotic creatures that bred elsewhere and only visited when passing through. Of course, that's not true. Still, most of my formative exposure to monarchs led me to believe that, around here, they only thrived in elementary school classroom monarch hatchery kits.

We have a decent amount of milkweed growing around the house in NH. George and Cam spotted quite a few monarch caterpillars a few weeks back, and we'd been watching the perfect green chrysalises. When we got in Friday, George excitedly pointed out a 'newborn monarch" pumping its wings open!

Another hatched a little later, and a few more of the chrysalises are starting to darken. So perfect and shiny...

...and the autofocus on my Nikon seems to be off... But just look at that face!

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Flashback: T-2 days to eclipse.

I looked around the workshop and noticed I have boxes of left over optics that didn't work out in various projects over the years, including some nice big achromats I grabbed from Anchor and Surplus Shed a good ten years ago.

And then, later in the day, all the empty shipping tubes from McMaster in the garage caught my eye... Read more... )

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after more practice stick-welding aluminumium, I can proudly report... I still pretty much suck at it. Getting better at maintaining arc at least.

Anyone got tips for fillets on inside corners? With Al, the arc always snaps to one side or the other, and trying to drag across the corner either sticks the rod (because of waaay fast consumption and a tendency to ball up) or blows out the arc.

(Remember I'm working on sheet and, at thickest, 1/8" plate--- I can't just crank up the amps and linger.)

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The band saw's intended function is cutting multi-inch-thick metal plate. More often, though, it's really the only tool I have that can open those freaking clamshell packages without a good chance of injury.

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Finally, assembly... and confirmation of non-embarrassing results.

Read more... )

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There's one thing left to worry about. The left hand focus knobs are, for whatever reason, set in toward the centerline of the focus block about a quarter of an inch compared to the right. The coarse knob almost-- but won't quite-- clear the SZH's uniquely wide microscope body.

If only I had some roughly 80-mil plate with which to fashion some spacers! Oh right...

(/me fishes spacer pieces from previous adapter attempt out of the scrap aluminum pile)

OK! First I need a ring spacer to set the coarse focus knob further away from the centerline.

Done! Now, the fine focus knob needs to be set away as well.

I considered making a shaft spacer, but it will weaken the overall assembly. Instead, I heated the brass inset in the fine focus knob until the ABS softened, then pushed it in 80 mil. I did use a guide to make sure it pushed in straight and flat-- no wobbling allowed.

The fine focus also has a spring-loaded friction mechanism to add a little resistance to it drifting. One side is built into the knob, which I just moved out 80-mil. So I need an 80-mil spacer to take up the slack.

Don't worry, the hammer in the background is a specially designed precision optics hammer.

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That's more like it.

And a Micromill ain't no toy.

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I've set myself three requirements for the focus block graft:

  1. No modifications whatsoever to the original SZH microscope body
  2. End result has to work exactly as intended. No half-functional hacks.
  3. The end result must look professional, bordering on factory quality.

My original plan: Remove the microscope body mount from the block's dovetail, cut the ring part off, machine the remaining bit flat and add some additional bolt holes to secure it to the SZH.

And that kinda sorta works!

Unfortunately, the remaining block is not quite deep enough for the adjustment knobs to clear, nor is it tall enough to reach all four mounting holes on the back of the SZH body. That means I need to machine a spacer that would have to bolt to the mounting block, then those two pieces could mount to the dovetail and the scope.

Then I thought 'what am I doing?', chucked it, and grabbed a piece of aluminum that's actually the right size to start with.

So let's do this part again.

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Sadly, no Chinese manufacturer to date has cloned an SZH, but there are clones of other Olympus focus blocks.

None of these will fit as-is of course, the SZH is weird. But several look to be moddable with a little effort. So I chose a clone of a nicer Olympus coarse/fine assembly.

And now, a review of the FYSCOPE STEREO ZOOM MICROSCOPE COARSE AND FINE FOCUS ARM A4 76mm Size! Read more... )


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