What do you do when the program head is away on vacation?

Well, if you’re like me (you poor sod), you download a copy of Sketchup and give it a go.  My vision of 3D modeling programs is skewed by years of coping with the powerful but complicated Blender.  By contrast, Sketchup is easier to work with and highly intuitive.  On the other hand, one gives up a degree of finer control in return for that intuitiveness.

I wanted to try Sketchup because when I was looking for software to use with the library’s new 3D printer, it was the name that I saw most often.  I also found, at their official repository of models and scripts, plugins for exporting files into a printer-friendly STL format.  I found it very easy to pick up, so much so that I jumped into modeling right away.  My choice of project will come as no surprise to anyone who’s known me for more than, say, five minutes or so:




This took me roughly eight hours to complete, and only that long because of frequent stops to Google questions, watch tutorials, and generally play with the buttons to see what they would do.


Hey, at least I’m teachable

A silly mistake, but my heart sank in those first few moments.

“But I did everything right!” The brain protests. Well, everything but one, it turns out.

I haven’t handled a soldering iron since 1995, when I was training to be a SEN switching system operator at Fort Gordon, GA. They basically gave us irons, made sure we were holding the right ends, and had us make a metal glob on a plate. I guess they figured a sergeant would be on hand to tell us what metal globs went where.

But I digress. Make makes a wonderful starter kit that served to get me up to speed, and included no less than five of those little badge kits as starter projects.

Now, what to do next…?

(Actually, I know what to do next: Find a video editor that doesn’t degrade the picture quality like Windows Movie Maker has done for me.)

MAKE’s Billy DiResta makes paper letters

I do a lot in the way of on-the-job papercrafting, especially around the holidays. This neat little video demonstrates an easy way to make professional-looking 3-D lettering without needing to say a single word.

And then the brain starts popping off into multiple directions at once: Can I do this with, say, clear plastic? If so, how would I go about using lighting? What would be a good adhesive to use?

Theoretically I’d be looking for a clear plastic that would be about as easy to work with as posterboard. Guess it’s time to browse around the Michael’s again.

Taking the first step up the learning curve.

I’ve been working with the Adafruit ARDX Experimentation Kit for Arduino, coming from what I’d consider a minimal electronics background.  By that I mean that I can swap out parts on a home computer, and I know what a static strap is for.   The arcane hieroglyphics of electronic diagrams, the yin and yang of watts, volts, and ohms, the fundamentals of building a gadget from the ground up, these are all a book I’ve just barely begun to open.

My hope with this blog is to document my walk along this path, as hopefully my knack for technology catches up with my enthusiasm for it.

What to expect:  Videos of progress, along with showing off any new toys that fall into my hands.  Books.  Music.  “The thoughts that kept me out of the really good schools.”*  STEM vs. STEAM, and a middle-aged ex-punk in the middle.

Do come along.

* – George Carlin