I Hate Winter

I know I’m not alone. It’s not winter so much as what winter brings with it. Like a cold. I was sitting in my recliner this morning and decided I wouldn’t go out today. I then proceed to take an unplanned nap for about an hour. That settled it – I decided that I wouldn’t budge from the house today and try to suffer out this one day with a cold as comfortably as possible.

I’ve been watching YouTube videos, editing web pages, writing blogs, and just plain vegitating. I need to rest up for the Mansfield Hamfest tomorrow for which I need to get up at 3:30 AM. I’m definitely crawling in bed early tonight.

Along with the cold weather there’s the gas bill – $200+ last month. Not really unexpected considering our sub zero (or sub -20C) temperatures we had in January.

I’m trying to become completely metric in my everyday life. I realized some years ago that when I encountered a metric length measurement I just naturally thought in metric. Why convert? Temperature is another matter but I think I’m getting the hang of it now – 20C is almost warm, 25C is comfortable, 30C and above is hot. 15C is cool (flannel shirt), 10C is light jacket, 5C is medium jacket, and anything below 0C is heavy winter coat. Speed is another place where I still have to convert a bit. I don’t really have that down yet but there is no real need to either since everything I encounter is in MPH.

The most problems I have are with conversions. If I’m talking to someone else they always want to use SAE measurements and I have to think what that’s equivalent to. Some day we will all be there – the rest of the world has been for a long time now.

Enough rambling for now.

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What’s Been Happening

With the 3D printer cured of it’s ills I’ve been doing a few other things. Nothing spectacular but stuff to pass the time until spring arrives.

Of course I’m thinking about enhancements for the printer. The one biggie is some better lighting. I’ve figured out that I could mount some LEDs right on the end effector (the end where the plastic gets squirted out of). This would shine the light right down on the center of action and should light things up nicely. I’ve got the LEDs (1 watt) and I’ll be using three of them – probably at about half power. I can crank up the power if I need to but based on some experimentation I think this will be enough.

I’m working on some projects at the train club and I’m hoping we can start opening up the layout sometime this spring on a once a month basis. I think it will happen but there are some important things to get squared away before then.

I spent yesterday recovering from some malaise that had me feeling cold and generally run down. I did NOT have a fever so I’m not sure what was going on. It seemed to be a 24 hour type of thing so it’s all over now.

I’m also investigating which better 3D printer to buy next. I’m pretty sure it will be a Creality Ender 3 and the initial cost is about the same as for the Monoprice Mini Delta. The Ender 3 was on my short list when I was originally looking at printers but it lost out mostly because there was a significant amount of tweaking and fiddling to get things right. The Monoprice was simply a take it out of the box and plug it in situation. At the time I didn’t know how involved I might get with 3D printing so I opted for something low cost and easy to get going with. The Monoprice is also very portable.

None of the tweaking for the Ender 3 is individually complicated or expensive but there are quite a number of them. It’s mostly silly things like a shroud for the electronics fan (lest stuff fall inside) or a guide to reroute the path of the filament. Most are things that can be printed (some on the Monoprice) and cost only what the filament I already have costs. Some don’t need to be done right away.

The big advantage of the Ender 3 is it’s build volume – 220 x 220 x 250 (12,100 cc). Compared to the Monoprice’s 110 diameter by 120 height (1,140 cc) the Ender 3 is HUGE. Of course bigger things take more time to print. The Ender 3 is also much more upgradable with options for using flexible filaments and higher temperature filaments. It’s a matter of possibilities. I’m in no hurry. I’ll wait at least until the next burst of special deals comes along for the printer.

That’s it for now. Stay warm and think SPRING!

So Where Have I Been?

I know, I’ve been lax on posting updates. This will be a long post.

3D Printing

I’ve done a lot with the printer. I have some pretty good settings that make printing pretty reliable. I’ve printed a bunch of stuff, some useful, some just fun. I’ve bought more filament including one spool of PETG (everything else has been PLA). I now have Silver, Red, Blue, White, and Black (PETG). I know I need a few more for variety but I think I need to wait a bit before ordering..

My success with PETG has been variable but I think I have it zeroed in now. More heat (required) but none on the build surface. Cover the build surface with 3M GREEN painter’s tape (used to stick on concrete and such) and all goes well. I wasn’t able to use the blue tape because it would curl up and unstick itself from the build surface. The green stuff sticks well but has an odd smell. The PETG itself seems to be odorless which makes it an easy choice over ABS. They both have similar characteristics. I’ll be using the PETG for special things only.

I’ve been ordering filament from MatterHackers and have been pleased with the results.

I’m going to get some photos of what I’ve been doing in the next post.

Cuyahoga Falls Amateur Radio Club (CFARC)

About 3 years ago I parted from the club. I was a member since early 1998 and had been heavily involved with various activities including handling of the web page.

I got a desperate call from one of the members who had been working on a new web page for the club. He tried something and then thought he put it back but something went awry. It took me a while but I finally had one of those ‘A-HA!’ moments and fixed the immediate problem.

There were other issues and I decided that I could help out a lot with some of the areas where things seemed to be falling apart. So, I’m back with the club now working on the Hamfest and web pages. I’ll no doubt get involved with other things but I’m going to try to keep it down a bit from what I was doing. Although I love Field Day my participation is not going to be at the level I had done in years past. I have to draw the line somewhere.

Promises …

I have been pretty busy lately but that’s no excuse for not putting more in here. I’m going to try to set up something on a more regular basis. I’m going to try for twice a week on as yet to be determined days.

Traffic Circles

I can hear it now – “I hate them!”.

You’ll have to get over it. More are coming every year. They provide for increased and quicker traffic flow when used properly.

How often are you at the front waiting to enter the circle only to have someone exit leaving a nice gap – but you weren’t ready. You didn’t know you were going to get a chance because they didn’t use their turn signal.

Traffic circles work best when the flow of traffic is smooth and continuous. That only works if drivers exiting the circle let other drivers know they are exiting. If you have ever been through Tallmadge circle in rush hour you know it can work pretty well. That’s because people who use it then have learned how to use it properly.

I know there’s more to it to make it better but good communication is a good start.

So don’t be afraid of traffic circles – and use your turn signal.

Driving in the Rain

Driving in the rain, particularly in the early morning or evening, can be a bit of a challenge. It’s important to be able to be seen and to see other vehicles.

That’s why, in Ohio at least, you are REQUIRED to operate your headlights if you are using your wipers. It doesn’t matter why you operate your wipers – you just need to turn on the headlights.

NOT your PARKING LIGHTS! Parking lights are for PARKING. You can be cited for moving while you have only your parking lights on in Ohio.

This is not that hard. It’s mostly to make you more visible during nasty weather. It’s for YOUR OWN GOOD!

A New Motherboard for the Desktop PC

After more than 6 years I figured it was time to upgrade the hardware. There is nothing (almost) wrong with the old hardware – it’s just a bit dated.

The old motherboard was populated with an AMD Athlon XP 250, 4 GB of ram, an ATI video card, a 4-port USB 3.0 card, and an Adaptec 29320 SCSI card. Windows 10 did not like the USB card and the video card had a fan issue. Otherwise it all works fine. If I was to reuse this board somewhere else I would probably just drop the video card and use the on-board video.

I upgraded to a new motherboard (Asus with a B350 chipset), CPU (AMD Ryzen 2200G), and memory (8 GB). I kept the SCSI card but otherwise everything else is new.

I had a few issues:

1. I use two monitors (one is actually a TV) and the board supports up to three using the usual three different connectors – after you install the real drivers. The problem was that the Windows driver picked one – the TV. An annoyance of course but at least I could start the ball rolling. My first attempt at drivers was to install from the DVD that came with the motherboard – almost always a bad idea. It was in this case too. The result was basically unusable. I downloaded the CURRENT drivers and all is well now.

2. My backup software (Backup4all) didn’t like that I changed the motherboard and invalidated the license. I’m still working on this but if I had known before the upgrade I could have ‘disconnected’ the license then reactivated after. I’m waiting on a response from them for a final solution but I have a temporary workaround.

3. And Windows 10 was not happy. When I tried to reactivate it said ‘NO!’. There is a pretty good explanation of what to do after a major hardware change but it didn’t work because I don’t use a Microsoft login. There was no way to associate a previous activation so I could reuse it on the new hardware. A call to Microsoft was super unhelpful. Fortunately I had a spare license key which worked perfectly.

If I had set up a Microsoft account for login BEFORE I upgraded the upgrade would have gone smoothly. If you are not using a Microsoft account login I recommend that you set it up NOW before you need it so your license can be associated with the Microsoft account. You can turn it back off later and go back to a local login.

4. One last observation about this process – Allow a FULL day to do this kind of update. Don’t start at 8 PM like I did. Without problems that would have been plenty of time but I should have known better – Murphy was just waiting for me on this one.