Window Shopping & model making

Huh, well look at this. It’s only been a little over a week since my last post. That’s, like, a new record for me. Anyway…

Read part 1 here

As I began getting the ideas down for the guitar body, I needed to start figuring out the sizes and shapes for everything so I could fit them in the body. Spoiler alert: I didn’t do a good enough job and some of my assumptions were waaaay off, so I had to do a lot of hand shaping to fit everything after cutting the body, but I’ll get to that later.

First thing I wanted to know was how big could the guitar body be. That would help me finalize the outside dimentions of my guitar body design, and help define what extra bits I could wire up. As I mentioned in my last post, I wanted 2x tone pots, 2x volume pots, 1x blend pot, and 2 humbucker pickups, and it all had to sit so that my wife could use them without being in her way.

I found 4 main sites that carried body blanks that I was interested in purchasing in. The first,, pops up any time you google for guitar making supplies. After looking around for a bit I had a better idea of the names for things I was looking for. A body, neck, and fingerboard (or fretboard) blank. After searching for electric guitar body blank, guitar neck blank, and guitar fingerboard blank, along with StewMac, my second site kept coming up, And after a long night of searching, I came across my third. I can’t remember the details, but they had some beautiful wood and the option to select your specific piece. That site is Another spoiler: I have since purchased from all of these sites, and was happy with all of them. But note, Maderas Barber is shipping from Spain, and the wood you’re buying can be pretty heavy, so be prepaired for some shipping fees, and be prepaired for some shipping times. My wood was shipped fast via Fed Ex, but stalled out in one Franch depot for about a week and then again in New Jersey for another 4 days. But again, they had some beautiful woods, I was able to pick my specific piece, and the people I had contact with were super friendly, helpful, and quick to get back to me.

Going through these sites, I found that I could count on 20 inches * 14 inches * 1.75 inches. So I created myself a block with these dimensions in Fusion360 to act as a guide and then imported my sketch from Illustrator, trimmed some lines, added some others, and made a few extrusions and I had a base body to work with. I tried a few different ways of chamfering the edges, but but I’m not great at modeling and ultimately decided I would shape the edges by hand.

Next I went looking for pickups. That’s the little boxy thing that sits under the strings and generates the signal that heads out to your amp. Pretty important. At first I thought I could make one myself. After all, they are basically just magnets and coils. About the same as an electric motor, just spread out in a different arrangement. But to get the wire into a nice, clean coil I would need some kind of hardware. I could buy one, but I have never needed to wind a coil myself before, and would probably not need to do so in the future so that wasn’t practical. I could probably 3d print one, but I looked at the designs out there and wasn’t convinced they would be worth the time and frustration. I could try by hand, but thousands of rotations just sounded like an error-prone headache, and thousands of chances to screw up. So shopping I go.

Now I’ll admit, flashy packaging kinda got me this time. While looking for pickups, this one design kept sticking out to me. The Lace Music Alumitone Deathbucker. I mean, it just, just look at it.

After some research and reviews, I decided it might actually be worth trying. There are a few different colors available that will let me compliment the wood I get for the body. So I grabbed the demensions from the page and tried to model it into the guitar body. I didn’t want to use any pick guards so that I could show off more of the wood, so I had to cut through the back of the guitar to install everything. That was fun (note the sarcasm).

To work on something easy, I went looking for pots (potentiometers, aka the knobby things). For this I just picked some up on along with some knobs that I knew my wife would like. Then I grabbed the dimensions and started putting them into my model.

Now when I say I added something to my model, I mean that I created a rough shape fitting the part and used it to cut out part of the body model. But when I got to adding the pots, I began having problems with grabbing just the parts I wanted and moving them, and if I made a change to one pot I had to keep going back to the others to make the same change. This is where I went back and created a new model file for each item and then imported them into the body model so that when I needed to change a piece, I could change it in its file (complete with change history) and then just update the reference in the body. They were still just simple roughs of the shapes, but I could quickly update them to add detail or change something else and basically leave the body alone.

Other than the neck and fingerboard, I was almost roughly done with the model for the body. But I’d need to model the neck too to know what to do with the body, so I leave that for later.

But I did need to figure out how to suspend the strings. This normally involves a tailpiece to secury the strings at the body, a bridge to align the strings and lift them over the pickups and high enough to clear the frets, as well as terminate the vibration wave at the body end, the knut to align the head section of the strings and end the vibration wave at the head end, the head to hold the tuning machines, and the tuning machines that wrap the string around them to pull them tight and hold them in tune. But I found a cool way around this. A headless bridge!

The way a headless bridge works is that the strings at the head are secured in place with a sort of non-adjustable knut, and the body end of the strings go over a saddle, just like a normal bridge, but then connect to a tightening machine that is mounted horizontally instead of vertically. Instead of reaching for the head to turn a machine to tune your guitar, you reach down behind where you normally strum and twist a knob to tune your guitar. Now, I have to admit, this was going to be more expensive. Probably the most expensive piece of the whole guitar. But the whole point of this guitar was to be a gift for my wife, to be unique, and to be damn cool. Not to build a cheap guitar. So I grabbed the dimensions on the site and created a model.

Lastly, I wanted a Fender style jack that plugged into the front of the guitar. That was fairly easy to find, but the dimensions were not. So I had to look for references in the images, like the length of a plug, a finger, whatever, and create a rough model as a placeholder. Caps (capacitors) were the only thing left to find, but I could wait until I was buying to figure those out because they weren’t going to take up more space in the body.

I now had a better idea of what the body was going to look like, where things needed to go, and about how big it was going to be. I knew that I needed to at least get some kind of wood shaping hand tools, and my mill bits needed to be able to clear about 1.5-2 inches. Christmas was getting close and I needed to get working. I figured I needed at least 2 weeks to get everything done.

Bwahahaha. I was so wrong.

A 4+ month late Christmas present

As I mentioned in my last post (way back) I decided to make an electric guitar for my wife. For a ton of reasons, it’s taken me much, much longer to finish than I expected, and it’s taken way longer than it should have. But I am now approaching the end, and wanted to start a set of posts to document all that I went through.

When first deciding to make the guitar, I was pretty ignorant to the work I was taking on. None of it was necissarily hard, but some of it was time consuming, some was frustrating, and all of it was something new I had to learn. I didn’t even really have a solid idea of the shape I wanted. All I was really sure of is that the neck had to be comfortable for my wife and the guitar had to be cool. Cool sound, cool wood, cool shapes.

I did some initial research on the size of a guitar body and found a few places that sell body blanks, a slab of wood, usually around 21x15x2 inches with some variation for specific situations. Once I had a size to work with I hopped into Adobe Illustrator to start messing around with some shapes. After a bit of getting a feel for the size, I headed over to Etsy to see about picking up some svg files in the shape of some critters I knew would fit her tastes.

First, I bought some bat svg files, and tried throwing a guitar body together with that, intending to make it look like bats flying in front of the moon. I pretty quickly abandoned this failure:

Design with bats silhouetted against a circle

Maybe I’ll come back to that later and make it better with a future project.

So, my second attempt was to try to turn a shape more like a squid into a guitar. Cephalopods are my wife’s favorite creatures, so back to Etsy I went to get a svg or two of squid and octopus designs. After a week of working on the design and disliking where it headed each time, I gave up on the animal based design idea altogether. I disliked the designs so much I don’t even have a copy left on my computer!

Feeling bummed after having spent most of my November just trying to come up with an idea, I began looking at guitar designs for inspiration. There are so many sweet looking guitars that I had to just start taking screenshots to remember the shapes.

After having seen this latest season of Stranger Things, my wife has been all about Eddie Munson, and I hovered over the B.C. Rich Warlock guitar design. (I grabbed this picture from musician’s friend’s listing. I’d have just linked to it, but I hate when my images go dead because they change their url style or whatever.)

B.C. Rich Electric Guitar

But there was another guitar that caught my eye. The ESP E-II FRX. It looked sharp and soft, dangerous and beautiful at the same time. So I set that up as my background and began throwing curves over top of it.

I didn’t want to rip it off exactly, so I let my curves go wide, moved some here, some there. I knew I wanted tone and volume control for each pickup, so I designed mine for 4 nobs along the bottom edge. And though the ESP doesn’t have a switch, I wanted to let my wife play around with the tones between the pickups, but didn’t want to put a switch in. So I designed mine with one more nob on the top edge and tried to put it back far enough to keep it out of the way when she’s strumming. The initial design of the guitar body took me a good 100 hours or more. Some of that was trying to figure out how to do something I wanted to do, some of that was designing dummy plugs to design as cutouts in the body. And a lot of it was fighting with curve handles that wanted to jump all over the place without warning.

Despite my changes, though, you can definately see the inspiration. All of the design from here on out is done in Fusion360 (with one minor exception a ways down the line).

Cad Drawing of guitar
Wireframe cad rendering of guitar
Shaded Cad rendering of guitar

Next, it’s time to start doing some window shopping and research.

Holy shit, what a year!

I feel like a lot has happened this year, so I’m sure I’m going to miss out on a number of cool things, but lets give it a try and see if I can get most of it.

I began building a Voron 2.4 3D printer. Two of them in fact. One for myself, and one for my wife. She’s been taking up all the time on my printer and that’s been making it hard for me to fit in some of the stuff I want to print. So, we’re buying it bit by bit, and as of writing I’m stalled until some other projects close out and free up my time and money.

I killed my Qidi Tech I. This was my only filament printer at the time. While trying to figure out why my prints would suddenly begin failing and then give me tons of trouble getting level again, I broke the wiring on one of my thermisters and didn’t have a replacement. After some more intense observation and measuring and wating, I was able to figure out that the matte PLA filament my wife loves was eating up our nozzle. Because the hole on the nozzle was getting larger with every print, it would end up with an under-extrusion situation where it was trying to feed 0.4 amounts of filament to a 0.6 hole and the glob wouldn’t get enough nozzle pressure to push it to the plate and get it to hold.

So, how did this lead to me breaking the printer?

Well, the Qidi Tech I is a dual head 3D printer so when the thermistor wire broke, I swapped over to the other head and kept printing. When I finally figured out the problem I ordered some abrasion resistant nozzles. While I was doing that, I decided to replace the thermistor and get back up to full capability. I had to remove the power lines to the board (24v) to replace the wiring for the thermistor. I checked and double checked the polarity on the board, and made sure to wire the red lead to positive and black to negative. As an American, this made sense. But I guess in China, where Qidi is located, the wiring goes the other way around. So the power from the relay was wired the Chinese way, and the board was wired the American way.

When got everything else wired and plugged in I was ready to get printing again. I had Voron parts to finish! When I flipped the switch to power up, the display lit for a second, there was a small little sound inside the printer, and then nothing. I switched the power off, tipped the printer on it’s side so I could open the bottom and see if anything obvious happened. When I flipped the power again, smoke began rising from an IC and then it looked to be glowing red. I turned the power off again and looked closer and saw that probably 1cm or so of the PCB lead near that chip had burnt. For me, that was it. A dead board.

To make the rest of the story short, I bought another board and promptly shorted that one with a screwdriver. Finally I got a real upgrade, a Bigtreetech Octopus v1.1, a set of TMC2209 stepper drivers, a bltouch, a filament runout sensor, and some new, lower profile, limit switches to give myself just the tiniest bit of extra print space. I couldn’t just put marlin on the board because that would be too normal. So I spent a day re-wiring the whole 3D printer and then 3 days configuring Klipper, which included me wiping the whole Raspberri Pi disk to start over 4 times.

Everything was working, I did a number of calibration prints and things were looking good. Except the lighting. I thought the lighting was crap. So I got some RGB LED strip lights and wired them up around the top of the printer. But, while wiring up the LED lights to the control board I accidentally plugged something back in that shorted the 24v rail to the 5v rail. This fried the board and a number of components. I got another Octopus because my wife didn’t like me being mopey. Once I got it back in and wired up, it was a long game of guess the fried component. I fried another BL Touch playing this game but got to the place I am now, everything seems to be going okay, but the BL Touch won’t register the touch, so the printhead crashes into the plate. And then I got pulled away onto another project and haven’t been able to make progress on it.

I built an OpenBuilds CNC machine for my wife. I actually didn’t have much problem with it. But building the table to put it on kind of sucked. I had to buy a new 3d printer to print the corner joints, and the only filament I had was some dark green PETG. So the table is strong, but has a ton of flex. But she’s been cutting almost non-stop since July, so it’s not really a concern yet, though I do want to get some CF infused Nylon to reprint the pieces.

When Augest was almost over, I began working on some of our new Halloween decorations. We usually like to buy one decoration a year, and build the rest ourselves. Well, I began by building some realist size hay bales for a new section we were starting in our side yard. I also built a scarecrow. But the one decoration we bought required some kind of protection to be outside, so I spent all the rest of the time leading up to Halloween building a shack for him.

And as soon as Halloween was packed up, my wife set me on all things Gcode, manufacturing her gifts, 3D printing on both the new 3D printer, and the resin printer, as well as setting up and running her jobs on the CNC machine. But I’m just biding my time until I get my chance to build a gift for her. I am building an electric guitar from scratch. I have learned a lot about guitars and building guitars.

Well, that was a lot longer than I had planned on it being, but I think we’re mostly caught up now. I wonder what my next obsession will be.

Wow, I finally made it back

You ever have one of those things where you know you have to do it, and you mean to do it, and you plan to do it, but when it comes time to do it you just don’t do it? That has been posting here for the past here. I’ve planned on writting a post catching up with everything but when I get some time to write a post I feel like it’s too much to post and end up doing something else. But now I’m forcing myself to do it.

Update 1 – I’ve got my electronics workbench to a state where I feel comfortable working on stuff. I have a soldering and reflow station, a nice overhead light, a work holder, a controllable power supply and a lot of little screwdrivers and pliers. I’ve fixed a couple of computers and even a Game Cube (the nintendo console) at the workbench so far and I have a couple of projects I’m working on for fun. One of those is a universal remote for my house. I have ceiling fans in every room that are controlled with RF remotes and I want to control them from anywhere in the house, along with the IR controls for my TVs and Apple TVs. Another project is a programmable light controller for my wife’s shadow boxes. I still have a queue of projects to fix for family too, so I have plenty of use for this hobby.

Update 2 – Using my electronics workbench I’ve finally fixed my 3d printer and have gotten back into that. My wife has given me a queue of things to print that’s probably going to take me a year and hundreds of dollars in fillament to finish, and between those I’m working with FreeCAD to design my own parts for various needs around the house. Nothing big, just a tray for some electronics projects, some spacers for a computer stand and things like that. But I guess learning to design parts in CAD software is another skill that I can further develop.

I’ve also cleaned up and recalibrated my resin printer. Prints still seem to be failing after a few layers of supports, and that’s frustrating, but I’ve been reading and it looks like maybe if I lay out my prints a little better that problem could be resolved. It sure would be nice to have this printer back up and running so that I can print high resolution models. But right now it’s a lot of stink and a lot of mess for a lot of frustration.

Update 3 – I’m back into book making. I decided to make books as some gifts for Christmas and it reminded me of how much I love doing it. My mom asked me what I mean when I say I make books. I cut and fold the paper. I sew it together and build a spine before attaching end papers. I cut a material for the cover (mostly leather remnants but I’ve been looking at expanding to cloths). Then I cut some backing board, which usually ends up being chipboard but I’ve also used thin wood boards too, before gluing the cover to. I turn in the cover and then attach it to the book end pages, super (a cloth part of the spine that sticks out far enough to glue to the backing boards) and spine. So I tell my mom that when I say I make books, I mean I make books. And I love doing it. I have decided though that I need a few tools. I’ve been doing this with just a stack of books, a hammer, and a razor. I have begun building some of those tools with my clumsy excuse for woodworking.

Update 4 – I’m building a CNC mill from my first 3d printer. My first 3d printer was a delta printer. That’s the kind with 3 arms and no horizontal moving parts. It uses a bunch of triginometric transformations to determine where to move the arms to push a center piece to a point that you want to print. But of course with my little tweaks here and “upgrades” there it became mostly unusable. I’ve harvested some parts for other projects but still have the 3 motors and control board and various other pully parts. So I’ve decided to build myself a 3 (or is it 4?) axis cnc mill for cutting aluminum parts out for projects that need something stronger than a plastic 3d print. For now I’m working with only parts I have in the house, of which I have a lot because I take apart any electronic or mechanical thing my wife wants to throw away. I can also 3d print many of the parts I need and don’t have until the mill is working and I can mill replacements from aluminum. The only parts I know I’ll need to buy for sure is a motor for the spindle and the milling bits. I also have to figure out how to get the RAMPS board to handle CNC GRBL code instead of 3d printer G code (which is a repurposed and non-standardized GCODE).

Update 5 – I’ve taken up jewelery making. Well I guess for now it’s only lapidary work. I started with a 2 lb rock tumbler and then moved on to hand grinding stones with sandpaper while those tumble. Oh god that takes for ever. I’ve made a teardrop shaped cabichon from pink opal and a 4 sided die from some gray stone that I’ve not identified yet. My wife bought me a wire wrapping kit and I’ve been drawing up my own designs and trying those out. Just last night I finally got the okay from my wife to get a cabachon cutting machine and I’m excited for that to get here. I’ve found a couple of places online where I can get some cool rough rock for cheep and can’t wait to get some of those made into jewelery. Maybe this summer I’ll even get a hat and go out finding rocks locally. That’s a challenge because I break out in hives with too much sun, on top of burning within half an hour. Still, with some spf 9million and a wide hat and long sleeved clothes I should be good. We have some really cool places to find minerals here.

Misc – My wife still plans on doing her etsy store this summer, and I’m planning on using some of my hobbies to help her populate it. So my job is to build up some inventory of books and jewelery. Once my skills get more refined I may open my own shop, but right now I have no interest in that.

I’ve promised my wife to focus on these hobbies: writing, jewelery making, book making, and tinkering to support other tasks. That means no more working on my car, no more music production stuff, no more film making stuff, and no more flittering to new hobbies… for now. Let’s see if I can make that stick.

I’ve also promised to take my narcolepsy treatments seriously. That means taking my meds in the morning and really trying to sleep at night. How hard this is is really underestimated by anyone who doesn’t have to deal with it. But I’m going to give it my best.

Oh, I mentioned writing above. I actually managed to bang out about half a book over NaNoWriMo. It’s a decent start. I’m not happy with it yet, but once I finish and begin re-writing and editing the real magic happens.

Well, I feel like that’s a pretty decent update. I’m going to post more frequently, though I can’t promise daily or weekly.

It’s been a while

So, yeah. I’ve been meaning to post, like every week since my last post, but couldn’t really get myself to do it. I guess it’s been a bit of a low time for me. The thing about my bipolar mood changes is that I’m the last person to notice them, so I don’t know how long really I’ve been down.

But, on the up, and down, side, I’ve kept up with my latest obsession. Comics! I’ve spent way more than I probably should have. I don’t know how much I’ve actually spent, I haven’t really kept track of it, but I know I bought at least $900 worth of comics since the last post, maybe more. I keep trying to talk myself into stopping, but there’s always “just one more” for me to buy.

I’ve also been trying to keep myself going along with the electronics and game dev interests too, but they feel like so much hard work right now. That’s probably the depression talking. I pretty much just spend my days working, then napping. Comics are something I can do without a ton of extra moving, but the other two take much more brain and energy, and I can’t muster that right now.

I keep hoping to flip the other direction, but I don’t really have control over that. I’ve tried skipping some meds to help alter my brain, but I just end up getting the brain zaps. And while they can be a little fun at first, when I start feeling them in my lips and can’t keep balance I know it’s time to take my meds again.

I’ll try to post again soon. Wish me luck.

My Current Obsession: Game Development

I’m still eagerly awaiting my first comic book shipment. My first comics were added to my shipment today! Still, it’s not going to be shipped until the 14th of April. I have to do something to keep myself from checking atomic empire’s site every 10 minutes.

I’m not sure how my interest got peaked this time. Perhaps I was looking at Steam? Or I was just looking through my installed apps on my Mac for something to distract me and saw the Epic Game launcher which also performs as the Unreal Engine launcher. Whatever the way, I decided to install the latest Unreal Engine (4.26.1) and began looking through the market place for plugins.

In all I have ended up with 27 free plugins that I felt I could use, and another 31 paid plugins on my wishlist that I really feel I could use. I’ve also downloaded and installed Blender and Daz 3D.

Funny side story. I used to work at a software company that developed retail software. As in, Point of Sale (cash register), inventory management and ordering, scheduling, etc. In the same building was a small, one office company called Daz 3D. I had no idea what they did, but when I’d go out to smoke, their lead QA would sometimes be out there too. It took me over a year to ask what they do, and he told me that that they had replaced Poser and now manage sofware for character design and whatnot. He worked on the online warketplace. When I’d played with Poser in the past it seemed like an expensive toy. I asked him what people use it for and his anwer was, “people animate characters for games and CG. But mostly it’s used for porn.”

So, I kinda felt naughty downloading Daz 3D, but I figured I could look into using it for character animation.

Last night I spent about 3 hours trying to remember how to use blender, though I was never really good. I think I may have to start off with goofy looking characters to start with.

Now I just have to get to it. Finally an obsession I don’t need to buy stuff or wait on. If I ever get something done, I’ll post a link on this site.

My Current Obsession: Comic Books

So, I’m not sure what triggered this one. Just, one day last week I started looking for comic book subscriptions. That night I asked my wife if there were any comics she would want. She listed a couple and I was off. I created an account at and started adding stuff for subscriptions. Before I knew it I had something like 50 comics on my list.

After having a hard time trimming the list down, I asked my wife how much I could spend per month. She said probably no more than 60. So I kept trimming down the list.

I finally got it down to 20. But I keep adding them back. I’m back up to 35. I don’t think I want to miss out on some of these. I also secretly bought all the back issues of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for my wife. Maybe to convince her to let me keep them.

Since then I have ordered some comic storage boxes and comic dividers. Last night I organized all the comics we already have and labeled the dividers and put them into one of the boxes. We have allmost a whole box full already. It’s mostly filled with my Fight Club 2 and Fight Club 3 comics and variant covers, but also includes my wife’s Cable and Ghost Rider comics. I’m pretty sure with 30+ comics coming a month we’ll finish filling up that box and start on the next one in no time.

Next I have to hunt down all the back issues of the comics I subscribed to too late to get issue #1 of. The 2019 run of X-Men, Spawn, Miskatonic, 2021 Suicide Squad, Vampire: The Masquerade, New Mutants, Children of the Atom, and Strange Acedmy. Below is a full list (at time of writing) of the comics I decided to subscribe to:

  • Alien (2021)
  • Aquarius: Book of Mer
  • Black Beacon
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2019)
  • Carnage: Black, White, and Blood
  • Cherry Blackbird
  • Children of the Atom (2020)
  • Cojacaru the Skinner
  • Cult of Dracula
  • Cyberpunk 2077: You have my word
  • Future State Gotham
  • Great Gatsby
  • Harley Quinn (2021)
  • How to Read Comics the Marvel Way
  • John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction: Hell
  • Joker (2021)
  • Lady Baltimore: The Witch Queens
  • Locke and Key / Sandman: Hell and Gone
  • Minky Woodcock: The Girl who Electrified Tesla
  • Miskatonic
  • New Mutants (2019)
  • Nightmare Before Christmas: Mirror Moon
  • Picture of Everything Else
  • Red Room
  • Rise (2020)
  • Shadecraft
  • Shadowman (2020)
  • Silk (2021)
  • Silver Coin
  • Spawn
  • Strange Academy
  • Suicide Squad (2021)
  • Vampire: The Masquerade
  • Way of X
  • Women of Marvel
  • X-Corp
  • X-Men (2019)
  • You Promised Me Darkness

About that video

After hours and hours of learning to use Adobe Premier Pro, more hours and hours of editing frame by frame, and two weeks of not posting because the video wasn’t done, I have decided to skip it. I realized that it’s not going to be something I want posted on youtube, and wasn’t going to be good enough to even show what I did with the grounding. I promised I would included it with my next post, and so I held off writing any new ones. So I’m cancelling the video. Once I get into doing more exciting things, I’ll be more excited to post them.

Anyway, I’m including a list of the parts I used to set my workstation up with a grounded anti-static mat. I’m excited to get working on projects, and not worrying about working on a video that is going to make me depressed anyway will give me a chance to get started on them.

You can click on any of these images to be taken to the amazon link for the product.

First the mat:

I got a mat large enough to cover the desk I linked in the previous post. In fact, I got one too big and had to trim it down. Luckily some sewing scisors cut right through it like butter. The top of the mat is rubber and the bottom has a static dispursing plastic film. It’s quite a bit heavier than I expected.

Grounding snap kit:

To install the grounding kit, you will have to cut a small hole into the mat. I just used the tip of a box cutter. Be careful though, the box cutter is easy to make a cut that is too large for the kit. You only need the tip to go through, just enough to stick the screw through to the other side. Once you have that, you just put the screw into the snap side you need, then the washer, and then press it into the hole and screw on the back side. Tighten up with a screw driver and it’s done. The wired plate snaps right on to the mat now to carry away any of that pesky static.

Plug kit:

There are two screws you need to undo to get the grounding kit wired up to this screw. The first is the outside, to remove the cover, then there is the one on the grounding post (the bottom of the 3 posts in a US plug). Make sure to thread the wire through the housing before mounting it to the ground post. Then you just put everything back together the same way you took it apart. I had to bend the post inside the plug a little to accomodate the grounding wire, just make sure it’s not shorted to any other post. Because the other two posts are not wired internally, they are an open circut and no power flows through the plug, it is simply grounded. Now you have a grounded plug.

Power strip:

I wanted a plug that would attach to the desk so that I could easily plug things in near to where I was working. Nothing special about attaching this. Just opened the jaws all the way and slid it on over the desk frame and top then tighted the jaws. Easy.

And that’s it. My workstation now has a grounded anti-static mat and power strip. It is ready to accept electronics tools. I haven’t been able to afford any yet, but I did hunt down my old soldering iron and heat gun. It’s not really the kind of heat gun you’d use for electronics, but I probably can use it for desoldering surface mount components. Next up I need to get a lap for lighting my work better.

Electronics workbench

The first part of my electronics workbench came about a week ago, but I was waiting for more parts to put it together. But my wife, the supportive person she is, put it together for me while I was streaming on saturday. And like I promised in a previous post, I have a picture of it for you.

A desk in front of window with electronics on top.
Start of my electronics workbench

As you can see, I’ve selected a place in front of a window so that I can open it for venting any fumes. I also have a power outlet nearby. And on top, I have my first little project. We bought a cheep receiver but never purchased any speakers for it. We just couldn’t afford a good set. And while it was sitting there it got bumped around or something. We finally did get some speakers a few weeks ago and the receiver no longer output any signal to the speakers. That was frustrating. But it is kind of exciting for me. I get a bunch of components to harvest. I get some practice desoldering, identifying componets and testing them.

I have my anti-static mat and grounding cable on it’s way. Should be here today. I’m thinking I’ll make a video of setting it up and post it on youtube. I’ll post the video in my next post!

Almost got me

Yesterday I talked about looking at IMUs for a project. I thought I had found the unit I wanted. It is a Bosch BMF055. It includes the Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnometer, and also an SAMD20 32biti Cortex M0+ processor. All for about $10 on digikey. Sounds nice, right? Does all the things I wanted, right? Yep.

But then I was going over the datasheet for like the 5th time, and saw this section:

“8.2 Programming and debug interface
The MCU can be programmed and debugged via Atmel debugging tools using the SWD interface.”

Okay, I thought, what does that involve. So I searched for what that involves. Wll, it looks like it involves aditional hardware. I can save up for something small. It looks like this is the required piece of hardware for programming atmel chips. Fine, I think. I can just add that to my collection of required tools for electronics. I’m sure something in the future would end up needing that and it would be good to already have it.

So, does that require anything else? How does this get the code into the chip? Is it just a loader like the Arduino IDE? I looked into the user guide and found:

“1.3 System Requirements
The Atmel-ICE unit requires that a front-end debugging environment Atmel Studio version 6.2 or later is installed on your computer.”

This means it does require specific software. I spent some time hunting around for Atmel Studio and after some time found out that Atmel is now called Microchip, and Atmel Studio is now Microchip Studio. After a bit of hunting I found that Microchip Studio is free, which is nice. But from reading a bit on the allaboutcircuits forum, it seems that Microchip Studio might be going away, and I’d be forced into purchasing MPLAB, which is also free. But will it support the hardware programmer?

And on and on it goes. Looks like there is some beta support, and what I really should be using is is something like this debugger/programmer. That is definately cheaper, but it may also require this little helper. And it would also require I use MPLAB.

So, instead of having this one chip decide all this difficult dev chain for me, I think it’s probably just going to be easier to find an IMU without the MCU and need for programming. So, now I’m leaning more toward a chip like this one. This chip looks like it’d be much easer to get programmed since it uses I2C and is only programming interrupts.

I’m going to have to remember to always check these things on all the chips I want to select for my project. Good to remember, and I’m glad I found this before I bout 5 or so IMUs.