A hell of a lot of stuff, man. A lot of stuff. Man. This is my rare and lovely yellow lady slipper orchid, blooming it’s face off this spring.
Let’s start shortly after my March post earlier in the year. Now that 2014 is almost over, I want to give some perspective, because I get down on myself all the time for not finishing projects, yet I’ve been ceaselessly working on a whole bunch of different stuff since then, and have gotten a lot done. Sometimes you have to work on the thing that motivates you the most at that time, whether it’s the thing you want to finish and release first or not! Here’s what’s been going on for me this year.
Started the summer right, with a hike in the mountains of lower Southwest Virginia. Rhododendron Gap. Just being up here is inspiring as all hell. On the 4th of July, we blew some shit up as is customary in ‘Murica.
My next project has to do with my future plans for building amazing live action film props. I finally caved and got an Arduino board. I always had heard about it, wondered about it’s capabilities, knew I would need something like it for upcoming projects, and just decided, what the hell, I’ll order one. Arduino is a $25 microcontroller board (a tiny little computer that you can program to do neat things!) that uses a programming language that’s sort of a weird hybrid between basic and C. I am not a math person, I am not a coding person, and Arduino is billed as an easy way for more visual artist types to get into programming and electronics. And it’s glorious. I was up and running in about an hour, and had gotten some LEDs to light up, to sequence, made use of a decade counter chip (you “poke” it, and each time you “poke” it, it outputs on a different pin – Knight Rider lights anyone?) The magic of Arduino is that it opens the door to bigger projects, and you don’t need an entire Arduino board for your project, just the chip itself and a few cheap components! And, the chips are cheap! $2 or so a piece, provided you install the Arduino boot loader on them yourself. I’m building a custom made programming board to do just that. Electronic components are fairly cheap, so I stocked up with a bunch of awesome stuff, and put together an Arduino tool kit. I also scoured my existing caches of “pretty” electronic components and got together a whole bunch of usable stuff.
Mad science is not complete without a mobile Arduino lab. A fishing box makes a great box to keep all your experimental components in.
Another side project actually, was the divergence meter from Steins;Gate, which I built the summer before, but using a pre-programmed microcontroller. Bask in the warm glow of those glorious nixie tubes. I have more of them, I have big plans for those. (This photo below was also taken with my new camera, a Canon 6D, which I was super excited to finally be able to purchase. I was dumbfounded by how nicely this picture came out. It almost looks like a 3D rendering! Shot on a 24-105 lens.) Big plans for the Arduino in the future.
I also put together a neat little project back at the start of the summer. I had wanted for a long time to build a computer specifically for playing anime, movies, games, you name it, on my LED TV. I had the TV connected to my PS3 for quite some time, and would serve files off my desktop to the PS3, but that became a bit of a hassle, and sometimes I would run into instances where the PS3 would flag my video streams as not being legit. Yeah, to hell with that. I wanted a small, quiet, dedicated media computer that I could leave running 24/7.
These are the parts that I chose for the build. I’ve never built a computer using a micro ITX motherboard before, these things are tiny! I’ve always been a big fan of ASUS, and this board is just as good as their big stuff, really excellent build quality and placement of everything, makes for a very compact build.
I got a 128gb SSD, which is mounted directly to the motherboard, and 4gb of DDR3 memory. For the CPU I selected a Haswell i3, the thermally limited 35 watt model, which stays under the heat rating for the Akasa fanless case I paired it with. In the pic above: testing the machine to make sure it boots. In the pic below, fanless case, waiting for the motherboard. The motherboard bolts right onto the CPU heatsink, and the case itself disperses the heat from the CPU!
And finally, all put together. During normal operation, playback of HD video, and even some light gaming, this thing only gets warm to the touch, and is plenty powerful enough to handle whatever media center needs I throw at it. Also makes a nice storage box, with a 1tb Western Digital Red 2.5″ hard drive. Which is mostly now full of anime.
In the spring, something else happened.
Fuck. I had just paid my car off, my first ever new car, in April, and then literally got into an accident and totaled it a week later. I am one of the safest drivers out there, so this was super infuriating to me. Pulled through a busy intersection after looking carefully, but somehow there was a car there, and I hit them. Failure to yield. I still don’t know how it happened. Nobody hurt, no big deal, insurance took care of everything, but dammit. RIP Yuki ;_;
I lucked out, a local dealership had a very decent used one, a year newer than mine, but with a bit more mileage. Still a very solid car, decently priced, and even the same color. Yuki MK II. I’ll probably never buy a brand new car again in my life. I was going to drive the first one literally as long as I could, doing my own maintenance, all that good stuff, but still somehow managed to not only TOTAL the car, but somehow it was MY FAULT. I got over it pretty quick. There’s a great remedy in life for the blues:
Digging some holes, burning some wood.
To be continued.