• Archives

  • April 2017
    S M T W T F S
    « Aug    
  • Recent Comments

Micro USB power connector for Nintendo 3DS

I bought a 3DS recently, and I’ve had a lot of fun with it. But when I bought it, I was kind of shocked to learn it is sold without a charger. How can people be expected to continue to use their new portable game system after the first few hours of use without the means to recharge its battery?
The answer, of course, is that the proliferation of USB as a power port for small devices has rendered dedicated chargers largely obsolete. However, the system itself doesn’t have a USB connector: it has a proprietary connector. In a sense this isn’t a significant issue: third-party USB charging cables for the system are inexpensive online.
However, I did get a bit fed up with the situation: When I misplaced my charging cable, I couldn’t use the system. And if I took the system on a trip and forgot the cable, my opportunities to buy a replacement would be limited, and expensive. My phone, on the other hand, uses Micro USB cables. I can buy those for a few bucks at a gas station if I have to, and they’ll usually be among the cables supplied at charging stations. I love that convenience. So I decided to replace the system’s proprietary power connector with a Micro USB connector.
Read the rest


My 3D printer project (“Cheezbot”) has been progressing at a slow pace over the past year. It’s not up and running yet, but a lot has changed since the late-2014 post I made when I had just powder-coated and assembled the frame.

Makeit Labs, where I store the project and do the majority of the project work, is roughly 45 minutes away, so I don’t get over there too frequently; usually only about once a week. Usually I try to go on a day when I can spend most of the day at the labs, so I get a good 4-6 hours of time in working on the project, with some additional time set aside for various things like printing things on the labs’ 3D printers, playing video games, helping to clean and organize the space in the wake of our recent move, visiting the local comic store and drooling over their substantial assortment of Gundam kits, etc. In the course of this project I’m also struggling with my limited skills on various tools I need to use, as well, so seemingly simple problems can be significant challenges.

But basically, since assembling the frame much of my effort has been spent adding laser-cut acrylic panels to the machine, installing the electronics package, and building the X/Y gantry which moves the print head.

Read the rest

Target: SCGMC

In the months leading to the 2014 Southern California Gundam Model Competition I had some projects lined up for completion for the show. But in the last weeks prior to the show it became clear those projects weren’t going to be ready, so I decided it was time for a last-minute change of direction. I considered two options: the first was to complete my half-finished HGUC Geara Doga. The other was to start fresh with another kit: a high-quality kit with simple construction and paint scheme. I chose Plum’s Assault Suit Leynos kit. I started work on it about a week before the competition, and quickly dropped the Geara Doga in favor of it.
Finishing any project in just a week is a tall order. I tried it last year and failed: but even so, I did good work and made significant headway on the project. I felt I might have better chances of pulling it off this time due to the simpler paint scheme and construction. It still didn’t work out in the end, but I had a lot of fun with this kit. My initial impression of the kit was that it was way overpriced for what it is, but after working with it, I love it. I plan to buy another one soon.

Read the rest

Hackerbot Project

Earlier this year I decided that I’d like to have a 3D printer. I’d considered getting one for a while but I’d felt that they were too much hassle for not enough quality. This year I reconsidered and finally took the plunge. After considering my options I decided on a set of design features I wanted: an enclosed build area for better temperature control, independently-controlled axes, and modular construction to make it easy to change things in the future. I found the Hackerbot Project and decided it was just what I was looking for. I made a few minor changes to the design (made it taller and replaced the one big door with two smaller ones) and I ordered my parts and got started.

Read the rest

RGB upgrade for the Nintendo Entertainment System

For a long time I was completely unaware of this: the composite video output that comes out of the NES is pretty terrible.
When I got my first HDTV in 2007 and tried my Nintendo with it, I was able to see the problem clearly: straight edges were jagged, shapes staggered oddly as they moved across the screen, and other strange artifacts were appearing as well, like “checkerboard” echoes of on-screen shapes elsewhere in the frame. Initially I thought my NES was in need of repair, but all these things are pretty much normal for the system. It’s all part of how the system renders video. It all looks fine on an old, low resolution TV, but it starts to look pretty terrible when you hook up to higher-quality displays.

Read the rest

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Once my plan to complete the MG Rick Dias in a week for Patcon fell through, I started aiming for Granitecon, roughly a month later. For various reasons, I lost a lot of my potential work-time leading in to the event, and again fought down to the wire trying to complete the project for a show. It was at this point that I got the first coats of primers on the parts, and various mistakes from earlier in the project came back to haunt me. These posed various challenges, but none worse than the seams on the legs, which for some reason have given me a world of trouble.

Read the rest

The One-Week War

It’s a classic story: the deadline for some modeling contest creeps up on me, and then I rush to get something ready to show. It never works. But this time it was at least a lot of fun, and I made a lot of great progress on a new project.

I got this kit as part of a trade, kind of on a whim, but when I got my hands on it I decided I really liked it. Bulky kits are just really cool, and while I wouldn’t call this thing anime-accurate, its chunky design style gives it a very bold look.

This time the event in question was Patcon, the show held by my local IPMS club. This was the first Patcon held by the club in several years, and I was excited to see it back. I wanted to be a part of it, so I took a bit of time off and spent most of the last week prior to the con working on my Rick Dias.
Read the rest

The arena is empty except for one man, still driving and striving, as fast as he can…

SCGMC is only about a day away, and for me that day is a travel day. So, sadly, the Zaku FZ won’t be ready. I actually realized yesterday that I had run out of time to make molds for the parts that needed to be duplicated. By the time a new 2-part mold would have cured, I wouldn’t have had any time left to cast parts in it… And the parts that needed duplicating weren’t all ready anyway. It’s really a shame that it didn’t work out, I’m going a long way to attend SCGMC and I would have really liked to have something new to show apart from the HG Zaku. But I don’t feel too bad, the trip will be fun, it’ll be nice to see everybody and the model work at the event and so on, and even though this burst of activity working on the FZ hasn’t resulted in the completion of the project, I feel really good about what I’ve accomplished in the past couple weeks of working on it. Even though it didn’t work out, this is the first time with this project that I’ve dared to draw a line in the sand and say, “this is when it’s gonna be done.” Pushing for completion on the project, and looking at it as a practical, tangible goal has made a big impact on this project. I didn’t complete all the parts I needed, but because I treated the project as an attainable goal with a fixed deadline, I was able to motivate myself to focus on the project, and get past some perfectionist obsessions that had been holding me back. The project’s not done, and I didn’t even get far enough to hack together something showable, but I made a lot of progress, and I feel that I can keep on making a lot of progress and maybe finish this thing by the end of the year.
Read the rest

Try Not

With SCGMC looming, I have at last set myself to work on the Zaku Kai project once again, with the goal of getting it into some kind of presentable shape by the time of the con. Lately the work on this project has been pretty intensive, as I’ve done my best to get back to work on these parts and whip them into shape.
Personally, I can’t discuss scratch building without bringing up the thing that, to me, is one of the greatest obstacles to completing a scratch build project. I have trouble articulating it sometimes but I think it could be described as a lack of confidence. Many people in the hobby see scratch building almost as a kind of black magic beyond the reach of mere mortals. This attitude is poisonous, and it infects everyone it reaches. Kit builders think they can’t scratch build, and since many of them never try, that belief is never challenged. In my case, the problem is a bit different: I have had this project in the works for over six years now, with design drawings going back farther than that. It almost feels as though I have always had this project in the works, and that I always will. I have become too comfortable with that, it’s too easy to look at the parts or old WIP posts and think, “Gee, I did some nice work there.” The confidence issue also comes into play when I consider issues like, “How good is good enough?” I have tended toward an overly rigorous approach to this build, I think, because I lacked the confidence in my own ability to refine a part to precision after its initial construction. But after all that work trying to make the initial build as good as possible (using data from the Blender model, etc.) I wind up having to go through the same refinement process anyway.
Another problem I face is that the way I approach the work can have a big impact on whether I get the kind of results I need. A lot of the time I’ve approached certain parts with the intent of making some good progress on them, improving them or finding a way to check their symmetry or whatever, or starting work on a new part, for which any amount of progress will be a major improvement over nothing at all. The result, it seems, is that by setting these goals short of my true aim, I satisfy myself that the work is still progressing, but without pushing any parts all the way to completion.
This is why I’ve rolled out a Yoda quote for the title of this WIP post. “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.” I’ve got to stop “trying” and start “doing”. That’s exactly what I’ve done for the last couple of weeks, and so far I think it’s been pretty successful. By aiming for completion, rather than progress toward completion, I have changed my mindset and my approach. I don’t know if I will succeed at getting the model ready for SCGMC, but I intend to do everything I can to make it happen.
Read the rest

HG Zaku Complete

Every year I attend the local IPMS model show, Granitecon. When possible I like to have something new to show there, so I’ve been working to finish up the HG Zaku in time for the show. Since the model was painted and the decals were on, it was mostly a matter of finishing steps – but there were some complications along the way as well. As usual, the work came right down to the wire, but in the end I think it turned out pretty well. Due to the hectic pace of the finishing work, I didn’t document much of it along the way.

Read the rest