Tough Week

Last week found me putting over 60 hours in at work, leaving me no time to really get any of my projects done. That was mainly due to the fact I had an employee resign and also had an employee on PTO, so we were very short-handed.

I’m currently developing a schedule for this coming week for my personal time, and hope to be more effective.


A few days ago, I attempted to upgrade my Ender 3 3D printer from the stock motherboard from Creality to a new revision of the board. The original one doesn’t have a bootloader or the ability to easily flash the firmware, but a newer rev does. So back in October of 2019 I picked up a v1.1.5 board (mine was v1.1.4) and finally installed it this past weekend.

After installing it, I realized the printer’s Z-axis was “broken”, in that the carriage with the nozzle/extruder would go up but not come down. I did a bunch of troubleshooting and thought it was the new board. So, I ordered another board, but this time, decided to upgrade to a 32-bit processor and move from the Arduino-based platform from Creality. So, I got a BigTree Tech SKR Mini E3 v2.0.

That arrived last night and I installed it, and the Z axis still didn’t work right. So, I started troubleshooting and found out it was actually the JTS connector on the cable for the Z limiter switch. I built and entirely new cable from scratch, and, voila! Fixed. Tonight I’m going to add new springs to the bed levelling system, and then I should be able to do a print with the new system.

Closing Out the Time Off

Well, day 10 is coming to a close and I feel like I truly was able to rest and also be productive over this break.

Today I completed several small tasks/projects around the house. I wrote some code and a couple of short scripts. Now it’s time to stop thinking while I sit and watch Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

New Equipment, Continued Building

As I was building out some electronics over the past few days, I realized that my setup was lacking, so I ordered some new tools.

I started off getting a Hakko FA-400 fume extractor to remove the solder smoke. For some reason I’ve never had an extractor, and I decided this week I needed one. I researched the cost and time it would take to 3D print and build my own, and the effort just wasn’t worth it to me.

Next up is the Kaisi Silicone Repair Mat. These things are great as it prevents parts from rolling off the workbench onto the floor and from getting mixed together with its built-in trays. Also, since it’s silicone, the parts that you place on it don’t slide around a lot.

Lastly is a two-piece system. I saw a great review on the QuadHands Workbench Mount over at The Makers Workbench YouTube page. This system is really nice with it’s strong magnetic helping hands and heavy metal base. As is seen in the video, I also got a PanaVise Model 201 to mount in the center. These are great for holding large parts or circuit boards you’re trying to solder. Here’s a picture of the new setup with only one helping-hand attached:

New soldering station setup.

With all this in place, I decided to build a the Indie Badge kit from HackerBox 57. This is essentially a badge you’d get at a (nerd) convention.

The fully assembled Indie Badge from HackerBox 57.

This unit has an IR transmitter and receiver, composite audio and video out, a joystick with two buttons, a small speaker, all backed by a TTGO ESP32. As you can see at the top of the picture, I’ve also wired up an old 3.7V 1530mAh cellphone battery so this thing can be mobile.

The TTGO board is pretty amazing. Full color 1.14″ screen, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, plus a battery connector that allows you to charge through the onboard USB-C connector. I’ve never really used an ESP32 before, but I’m considering starting to now, with or without display.

Anyway, as I slip into day 7 of my time off, I’m feeling relaxed and rested. I intend on spending the remaining time relaxing more and getting some more electronics and coding projects done.

Added to movie library: Synecdoche, New York


I fixed the vertical blind in the living room, but I forgot that the lawn service usually comes on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, so I’ve postponed applying the fertilizer until after they’ve come.

Instead, I spent some time cleaning up my desk and organizing. I still have a stack of magazines to go through, so I’m going to go take a shower and then spend the rest of the day reading. Since this is vacation day 4 of 10, I feel I need to be somewhat productive in a relaxing way.

I’ve also gone through HackerBox #57, “Safe Mode”, I may start working on that too today or tomorrow.

The contents of HackerBox 57 “Safe Mode”.

All Taped Up

This morning I finished capturing all of the DV tapes. In total there was about 17.5 hours of footage. The next step will be to figure out how to also capture the roughly ten or so 8mm/Hi-8 tapes, of which I don’t have a camcorder or deck for that format. I’ve ordered a capture card and need to get my hands on a playback device.

Next up is doing some work around the house. Going to go apply fertilizer to the lawn and then I need to fix one of the vertical blind blades.

Added to the movie library today: Capote