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Operation Fireball

11/14/09 @ 11:02:47 pm, Categories: Shiny Things, 428 words, 1252 views  

Some other things I have going on now include a plan to make a sophisticated RGB lighting solution for the figma Drossel figure from Max Factory. Until last week, I thought Drossel was just Hatsune Miku as a robot, lol.

Drossel— or Drossel Juno Vierzehntens Heizregister Fürstin von Flügel —is one of the characters in the short animation series ‘Fireball’, run on the Disney channel in Japan. The show itself is rather hilarious, being somewhat nonsensical and centered around jokes involving wordplay and the occasional non-sequitur, although towards the end hinting at some more serious story about an impending human invasion of the robot city. (Granted the series of 13 2-minute shorts spans like 200 years, but whatever.) It’ll be interesting to see where it goes from here.

And there WILL be more. The show has a huge cult following, surprising given that the whole series adds up to less than a single episode of anime. It just so happens that Drossel is now one of the most popular figmas ever. Considering that earlier entries in the line include various versions of the casts of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu and Lucky Star, that’s saying something. (I want the goddamn Golgo 13 figma. Duke Togo is the baddest motherfucker in existence.)

This little project started when someone linked to a post on about adding lights to a Drossel figure, and I made comments about how easy that would be and how cool it would be to do it with RGB LEDs and whatnot, and he immediately commissioned me to make a version of what we were looking at for his, for $20. Basically a 20mm coincell holder wired to an LED, and it’s got a peg glued to it so Drossel can wear it like a backpack using the hole for attaching her to the figma stand. (Which is unnecessary most of the time as she can stand up pretty well on her own, hell I’ve seen people put her in unsupported hand-stands just fine.) It just occurred to me as I was writing this that I never took any pictures of it though… ^^;;

I took some wirewrap wire, bought some wide-angle white LEDs from eBay, took a battery holder and an SMD switch I already had, and went to town on it. Glued a small bit of gunpla polycap runner to it for the peg, and it was done. Oh well, I’ll take pictures when I make a second one for myself. (I ordered a figure of my own with the help of his $20, from Otacute)

On absent-minded preparedness...

11/07/09 @ 03:23:58 pm, Categories: Life of Baka, Magical Blue Smoke, 536 words, 2635 views  

People often hassle me about all the random shit I acquire despite no clear need or desire. I continue to prove the necessity of such hoarding any time an unforeseen obstacle pops up.

Today, I finally received the EPROM programmer I bought from Hong Kong last month. Nothing fancy just a ‘Willem’ type parallel port burner that cost me all of $16…but it should be enough to burn BIOS ROMs for my NEO-GEO boards and things like that. I also bought a USB->Parallel adapter on the off chance that it would actually allow it to work, since none of my computers have Parallel Ports. (My older machine and my father’s machine, which have the same motherboard, have a header for a parallel port at least)

Well, the adapter doesn’t work, of course. So I knew I needed a DB25 at the end of a 26-pin IDC ribbon cable. That isn’t a terribly common thing, except for this exact purpose. I went into the storage room where all my electronic junk will continue to stew down into a mulch for the next thousand years. There, sitting atop a box, is the stripped carcass of an old VTech IBM XT knockoff that someone offered me and I didn’t see any reason not to take it. (And then they also gave me a hugef00k dotmatrix printer and a little CGA monitor) I had recently gutted it for a couple reasons; for one, I wanted to get some steppers and stuff from the floppy drives. I also wanted some random boards to work on with my soldering station.

Sitting in the middle of the mostly gutted skeletal remains of the computer, was an expansion card slot DB25 port with a 26-pin ribbon cable. However, when I removed it, it turned out the DB25 was male, and not female. This struck me as still being rather lucky, since a male DB25 suggests it was a Serial port, and DB25 serial ports hardly ever have all their pins hooked up… (In fact, only the same 9 pins as a DB9 serial port and an additional ground are needed.) Nonetheless, I needed a female connector for the parallel port. I have a DB25 F-F gender changer somewhere, but I haven’t seen it in years… F-to-F cables? Don’t think I have any. Hmm… That’s when I remembered a lot of connectors I purchased off eBay several months ago. Mostly I jumped on it because it had nearly every conceivable type of USB board and cable connector (And lots of them) but it also had DB25 and DB9 male and female ports, both PCB connectors and solder-cup style with bolt-together housings. (Not bad for $25, since that’s what a couple DB15s with housings cost me a while back from Digi-Key)

Now, all I need to do is snip the ribbon cable, and solder the wires to one of my solder-cup DB25 connectors to create the correct header cable for my ASUS M2N32 SLI mobo, and I’m up and running. (But first, breakfast!)

And there you have it, whenever something like this comes up, chances are I will find everything I need amongst the things I have collected with no particular need in mind.

A little birthday wish... - Part 1

02/27/09 @ 12:56:21 am, Categories: Shiny Things, Life of Baka, 324 words, 1065 views  

So, sometimes I’ll find myself with some money, looking for an excuse to do something for myself…

The way this impulse expressed itself this time, was fulfilling my childhood desire for a ‘real’ R/C car. Not one of those pieces of junk from RadioShack, a REAL R/C car. The kind you have to put together from a ridiculous number of small parts, and then buy the electronics and stuff.

I try not to spend money on anything so purely frivolous, but it was my birthday, so I said ‘fuck it’, you know?

I settled on a Tamiya TA05 chassis, which is just plain awesome. This is not a toy. This is a racing car that just happens to be radio controlled. For serious. Let me break it down for you: Four wheel drive. Four wheel independent double-wishbone suspension. Front and rear ball differentials. Oil-filled shock absorbers. Fully adjustable ride height, camber, caster, toe-in/out, suspension stiffness and rebound stroke, the whole nine yards.

How I got here was itself an amusing story. I had been looking at small high performance DC motors to make a little desktop drill press for drilling circuit boards, and started looking at R/C car motors, which got me looking at R/C car related stuff, which rekindled the desire to have an R/C car.

I bought all the parts for the car from Tower Hobbies in Illinois, an establishment whose catalogs I would acquire second hand and endlessly flip through when I was a kid. I spent a lot. I didn’t really HAVE to… I mean, the car kit was $175, the radio rx/tx and servo set was $100, and the electronic speed control was $100… But somehow I ended up spending a bit more than that… ^^;

Anyway, just got the car all nice and clean again after taking it out for a spin. I had intended to make this longer, but that didn’t happen. More later!

It's a Sony.

12/13/08 @ 04:48:18 am, Categories: Life of Baka, Magical Blue Smoke, 523 words, 989 views  

If you don’t get the title, don’t sweat it. (Though you really should watch Kannagi, it’s hilarious.)

Lately, I’ve been really busy with ideas and things, and sort of keeping to myself a lot. So, in case I get hit by a bus, lightning, a de-orbiting Soviet satellite, or a micrometeorite tomorrow, I want you all to know I was working on great things.

For instance, I went on a jihad against all my optical drives, in the end having disassembled four drives. Leaving just the three drives in my current machines, and some older SCSI optical drives I was on the fence about dismantling.

I’ve been trying to build a CNC machine for a while now, and the only real obstacle has been the engineering involved in the precision rails and other portions of the drive and chassis.

My primary need for a CNC at this moment is for etching PCBs for rapidly prototyping circuit designs. The current favorite method for doing so among hobbyists involves printing a mirror image of the circuit with a laser printer, and then using an iron to fuse the toner to the copper clad board, removing the paper, and using the toner as an etch-resist when chemically etching the boards.

That’s easy enough, but it’s labor intensive. You have to soak and soak and peel and soak and peel and peel and soak and peel to get the paper off the boards, and it’s not a 100% proposition in the first place; it doesn’t always come out right.

I saw a different take on this sort of non-traditional etch resist method, some folks sprayed the copper-clad board with black spraypaint, and then used a laser to burn off the excess paint, leaving just the circuit design as an etch resist. Much faster, more accurate, and apparently more reliable than the toner transfer method. But you need a computer-controlled two-axis lasing setup.

Well, you only get a working area of 1.5″ x 1.5″, but a pair of optical drive chassis rigged together is very precise and sturdy. You have the option of using the two chassis as an X-Y table to move the workpiece, and building a stationary tool (Presumably with a Z-axis), or having a stationary workpiece with the two chassis suspended above it, and keep the laser unit in the second one.

Besides being able to burn etch resist off a PCB, the laser would also be powerful enough to engrave and etch plexiglass and other materials. (As well as cut some plastics.) Though, unlike with PCBs, the 1.5 sq. in. work area limits the usefulness for cutting and etching tasks. (Since I’d be working with surface mount stuff primarily, small boards aren’t that big of a problem.)

The first task for it, upon getting its bootstrap version working, is for it to produce its own custom control boards, to replace the Arduino and breadboarded circuits that would control the prototype.

Oh, yeah. And since both of the chassis are from Sony optical drives, I will be naming the unit ‘IT’S A SONY Mk.I’. I’m thinking it needs a chibi Nagi etched onto one of the acrylic panels. :3

Magical Blue Smoke - Part 1

06/09/08 @ 12:42:05 pm, Categories: Shiny Things, Magical Blue Smoke, 1165 words, 1168 views  

You no doubt know the joke about letting ‘the magical blue smoke’ escape from your computer. Well, let me tell you, I still don’t know how the stuff gets in there in the first place. BUT, I have learned some cool shit the last couple weeks.

A couple posts back, I was talking about a foray (or rather a return) into the world of electronics… But you may ask yourself ‘Why?’. Why am I all of the sudden interested in building electronics? Well, it’s not all that sudden, I mean, I have all these varied interests, and my ADHD basically turns it all into a Magic 8-Ball. What’s Baka interested in this week? Shake it up, turn it over, and find out. But above all else, I have an overwhelming interest in making stuff. And electronics is just the most accessible canvas for me at the moment…I guess you could say.

First off, let’s go into some detail on some of the items I picked up…


The Week of a Thousand Things - Part 4

02/18/08 @ 08:22:29 pm, Categories: Shiny Things, Life of Baka, Baka-chan on Games, 155 words, 966 views  

I talked before about HL2 and giving my HL2/HL2:EP1 gifts to my father’s account… Well, my videocard, the Sapphire Radeon HD 3850 Ultimate, comes with an awesome bundle. Not only did it come with a full version of PowerDVD, and 3DMark06…but it even came with an activation key for HL2 ‘The Black Box’… The Black Box was to be The Orange Box without HL2 and HL2:EP1 for people who already had them, and it would cost $20 less. Valve canceled The Black Box, and that’s probably where the offer to gift your redundant Orange Box games came from.

But I have a copy. :D

Peggle is pure goddamn crack. It should be illegal. Maybe I’m a little biased given the name of this site, and what Peggle resembles, but my god… I played clean through Peggle Extreme (A demo version with a Half-Life theme which comes with The Orange Box) in a sitting…

The Week of a Thousand Things - Part 3

02/18/08 @ 11:40:57 am, Categories: Shiny Things, Life of Baka, 155 words, 980 views  

You know you built your machine right when you get results like this…

I just played CoD4 for about an hour with the resolution set to 1280x1024@75hz (My LCD’s maximum res/refresh) with all the graphics turned up as high as they go…

First of all, it ran beautifully.

Second, my CPU core temps never reached 40°C and my overclocked videocard just barely reached 50°C.

My computer is almost silent. The CPU and videocard are passively-cooled. The whole case is cooled by two 1200rpm fans, and one 500rpm fan. (Scythe Kaze Jyu-Ni 12cm sleeve bearing fans) The CPU performance no doubt due to Scythe’s massive Ninja Cu copper heatsink, in conjunction with Innovation Cooling’s micronized synthetic diamond thermal compound. (I’m not making this shit up!)

Until I finish the write-up on the construction process, here’s some Hardware Porn™ for you to drool over. (And more of that to come, as well.)

Project Baka'cade - Part 2 - Baka'troller Revisited

01/16/08 @ 12:08:00 pm, Categories: Shiny Things, Life of Baka, Baka-chan on Games, Project Baka'cade, 453 words, 3046 views  

So, back in September I talked about the Baka’cade project, and the controller I had made. I still haven’t gotten it into a real housing yet, and that sort of irks me… But I’ll get it sorted out eventually.

I’ve had a small surplus of money that’s been burning a hole in my paypal account, and I’ve been itching for something to do with it… I finally settled on taking the next step with the arcade project.

I revisited and picked up the parts needed for the 2P controls. As well as some T-Molding and other items. Only came to $43 shipped. One of the ‘other items’ was some custom made leaf switch units that are drop-in replacements for the standard microswitch package that is used in most arcade buttons. Leaf switches have a couple advantages such as less activation travel and reset travel, less resistance, no click, smooth operation, faster response times, etc. These things sound really cool, and they’re custom made by Ithaca Digital Visual Technologies (The name of the company behind GroovyGameGear), so I just had to try them out! I bought three of them, to replace the ‘punch’ row of my controller setup. (Since I use Ibuki, my most critical moves depend on the punch buttons!) If they’re all they’re cracked up to be, they’re definitely replacing everything except the player start buttons. (Wonder if I can use them on the joysticks…)

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Project Baka'cade - Part 1 - Baka'troller

09/17/07 @ 07:10:16 pm, Categories: Shiny Things, Life of Baka, Pretty Pictures, Baka-chan on Games, Project Baka'cade, 797 words, 6360 views  

So a couple weeks ago, I got the urge to play some good ol’ fighting games. Not just on my PS2 or something, mind you… Real arcade fighters. So I broke out MAME and got my hands on some ROMs… It was fun, but something was missing… I was playing them with a Dual-Shock2, which wasn’t really suited to the task.

I saw an arcade controller on Play-Asia a while back, and it got me thinking…

I mean, I know people have built their own upright cabinets to play MAME, and there’s plenty of commercial solutions out there… How much would it cost to build something like that? It turns out, not much. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

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Some good tunes, and good photos!

07/12/06 @ 01:57:43 am, Categories: Life of Baka, Pretty Pictures, Credit Where Credit's Due, 177 words, 1265 views  

So, we Middlebury folks are in the midst of the Festival on The Green, here. It's a six-day-long event featuring free concerts, that takes place on the village green. I went out to see if I could practice my event photography...not really going for the music, as it's usually not my thing.

I caught the tail-end of the WDEV Radio Rangers' performance, walked around during intermission, then came back for the next performance, which was 'Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem'. Still not my thing, but MAN can they play! Good music. And I got some good pictures. Unfortunately, it was a terribly low-light shoot, and my pics came out grainy as hell and full of color noise. The better ones made great black and white photos though.

I'm going to finally put up the damned gallery soon, sorry kayaker guys...this is normal for me. When that happens, I'll post the rest of the good ones. In the meantime...

Rani Arbo on fiddle.
Anand Nayak on guitar, and doing lead vocals on a song he wrote.


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A peek inside the mad, mad, mind of Baka-chan. Animator, artist, hater of stupid people, and evil genius. Look upon the undoing of all order in the universe, and tremble.
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