3D Prints May 2024

May 31, 2024 9:35 pm

With a 3D printer, I feel I should catalog the things I've designed and printed this month. I imagine there will be fewer in general in the future.

Sliding-door latch cover

First was a cover for the sliding-door latch. The original one came off many years ago now. I think we found it but didn't know what it was. So it sat on the kitchen counter for months until we gave up and threw it away. Of course, it was only then that we realized it had probably been for the sliding door--which was now just a bit of bare metal. But not anymore!

Designed in Bambu Studio. I would export to an STL, but it fails due to self-intersections in the mesh. But it prints fine.

Curtain-rod hook cowl

The little cowl that holds the curtain rod in place snapped off many years ago and the rod has sat lying on the window sill since then. But, less than 1 cent later, it's back up and working again.

Designed in Bambu Studio.

Kinfire Chronicles: Night's Fall organizers

My most ambitious project so far, I designed a set of organizers for the Kinfire Chronicles game. They stack in the box where the riser, loot box, and spacer foam originally sit.

Tan would work better for the color scheme than the yellow I used, but I didn't have any tan filament.

I designed this entirely in Bambu Studio and again had issues trying to export STL files. I started recreating it again in SolveSpace as a way to learn that program, but I haven't finished yet.

I had to take a detour to implement text kerning in the SolveSpace code base. I have an open pull request on that project to get the new feature merged into the application.

The cardbox models came out ridiculously large (96 and 10 MB each) when I converted them as much to meshes as I could. Hoping that won't be problem when I finish re-implementing them.

R/C Car Part

I bought an R/C car from RadioShack when I was in middle school and it's followed me around since then. Several years ago I pulled it out and let Heather drive it around. She ran it into a curb and a bracket that attaches the front-left wheel to the chassis snapped. Not really her fault, the plastic was just old and brittle.

So it went back on a shelf in the garage waiting for me to figure out a way to repair it. I tried a number of things, but nothing functional. It needs to hold a smooth cylinder for the wheel joint to pivot in, so I couldn't just glue stuff together.

I took this as another opportunity to learn how to effectively use SolveSpace and carefully measured all the parts and recreated the bracket. I printed two, making adjustments each time, before realizing that was a dumb way to fine-tune it. Especially since I couldn't actually see what the problems were. Instead I took a picture and overlaid it on the part I was designing to make the final adjustments (which were down to tenths of a millimeter).

That worked great, the part fit, and the car is back in business.

Designed in SolveSpace. The original file, a STL export, and a STEP export:

Games May 2024

7:18 pm

I managed to get a fair bit of gaming in this month and did fairly well over all.

Started out by going and playing games at a friend's house on May 4th.

First played a quick game of Faraway (which I lost). It has an interesting mechanic. You play cards that earn points based on the other cards you play, but you score them in reverse order of play. That is, you start by playing a card which will only score points if you play other cards to fulfill the conditions. You're acquiring a new card each round, so rather than building on what you've already done, your kind of playing backwards. You've done something and now you need to acquire and play the cards that make it useful.

After Faraway, we played a long game of Star Wars: Outer Rim in honor of "May the 4th be with you." Choose a character and then explore the Outer Rim on your way to fame and fortune. Take on jobs as a bounty hunter, smuggler, or mercenary. Upgrade your ship. Bring on new crew. I enjoyed the game--probably better the second time around once you have some idea of how things play out and how to run your character. I lost.

After finally wrapping up Outer Rim, we played a much-shorter game of The Guild of Merchant Explorers. Though I was the only one to have played previously, I did not win this game either.

As a family we finally got around to playing the second half of the Escape the Crate Sled Race mission (we played the first half back in March). We were thoroughly victorious and brought the diphtheria antitoxin to Nome.

Jess and I played Wyrmspan on Mother's Day. I won that one. And we played another time with friends and I won that one too.

At a board-game meetup I played Concordia. It's a game about establishing trade routes in ancient Rome. Decent theme, competitive but not particularly adversarial. I lost.

Jess and I continued our adventure in Kinfire Chronicles: Night's Fall by completing Quest 5. It came down to the skin of our teeth, but we survived. We got to play using the new organizer I designed and printed, but we'll get to that in another post.

Jess and I played a game of Everdell (the base game) with friends. I won that. Which I was surprised by because I started out with a pretty lousy hand and went in to autumn with a single green production card in my town.

And, finally, I played a game of The Wolves at a board-game meetup which I also managed to win. It's effectively a wolf-life simulator game. You have a wolf pack and need to expand your pack, hunt food, and defend your territory from other packs to earn the most points.

Books May 2024

6:21 pm

Books I finished reading in May 2024. Designing and 3D-printing things sucked up a bunch of my free time this month, but I still got some reading in.

The Returning by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Not sure how I ended up with this book, but it's been sitting on my ereader for years.

The writing was pretty good, but the antagonist was kind of a Saturday-morning-cartooon, mustache-twirling, caricature.

Civil unrest in a sci-fi setting.

Silo 49: Going Dark by Ann Christy

Fan fiction of Hugh Howey's Wool/Silo world. This has also been sitting on my ereader for years.

Well written and edited, decent story. I enjoyed it. Explores what happens to a silo besieged by illness with a failing population.

The Worlds I See by Fei-Fei Li

Our most recent book-group book at work. A sort-of-memoir, sort-of-history of the work on artificial-intelligence and machine-learning systems.

Though I found it a little grandiose to compare the (impressive, yes) improvements in AI capabilities of the past ~5 years to anything close to the revolution in chemistry and physics that was quantum mechanics and relativity.

Motel of the Mysteries by David Macaulay

I saw a description of this in a internet discussion and it sounded interesting. However, it was disappointingly shallow and short.

The concept is someone in the year 4000-something falls into an old late-20th-century motel and draws erroneous conclusions about the purpose of the contents found therein.

Games April 2024

April 30, 2024 11:00 pm

Jess and I continued our campaign in Kinfire Chronicles: Night's Fall successfully completing quests 17 and 4 with Feyn and Roland making their way to the great city of Din'Lux.

We played two games of Wyrmspan while in Arkansas for the eclipse (of course we brought a suitcase full of games, do you not when you travel?). I won one (by 1 point!) and lost one.

Also while in Arkansas we played Ex Libris, which I lost.

I also played a few rounds of Cobra Paw (have the fastest paw to collect the tiles) and Exploding Kittens (be the last one standing after all the kittens have exploded) with the girls in Arkansas.

Back at home we introduced friends to Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle by playing year 4; we lost. This is a game some friends introduced us to years ago. I was skeptical at first because there are so many money grabs where a crappy idea is skinned over with a popular theme and they sell a million copies just because. But it actually is a solid game at its core and the theming generally only enhances the mechanics.

It's a cooperative deck-building game which increases in complexity and difficulty as you move up the years (representing the years in the books). You must enhance your deck with more powerful cards to defeat a set of villains before they take control of a set of locations. My biggest complaint is that the difficulty can vary wildly depending on the ordering of the villains.

At a board-game meetup I jumped into a game of Millennium Blades--which seems to be as post-modern as you can get in gaming. It's a game in which your characters are collectible-card-game players (e.g., Magic: The Gathering). In the game as your character, you buy/sell/trade cards to form a deck and then you play tournaments of the inner-game card game against the other players.

Points are awarded for how you rank during the inner-game tournaments. The game alternates between these inner-game tournaments and a buy/sell/trade/deck-build phase until you've held three tournaments. We didn't have time to finish the whole thing. We did 2 tournaments and one buy/sell/trade/deck-build phase. I lost. It was a bit of a strange game.

At another board-game meetup I played another game of Mystic Vale. I lost. I still find the core mechanic interesting from a technical perspective, but the game doesn't really speak to me.

After Mystic Vale, we played The Guild of Merchant Explorers which I really enjoyed. It's a quick game with simple mechanics, but I found the core concept and theming to be very engaging and fun. It's the first game in quite a while that I played and then immediately put on my wishlist.

It's a "group solitaire" kind of game played in 4 rounds. In each round you build out trade routes on your map (everyone has their own, identical map--no resource contention with other players). Everyone can play each turn simultaneously which keeps things moving. With your trade routes you score points in various ways (connecting cities, exploring ruins, building villages, etc.). Most points wins.

The game comes with 4 different maps to play and several different objective cards (3 used per game). There's randomization of how you can build your trade routes and players get asymmetric special-building powers that really drive differences in play between players. So there's some decent variety built in. With 3 of us playing for the first time I think we completed a 4-player game in 30-45 minutes.