Thursday, August 22, 2019

Prusa I3 Mk3S - Thermistor Woes and Superb Customer Service

Last night I kicked off a 15 hour print for a "secret LWTV" project.  Ok it may not really be all that secret - I was just trying to sound cool.  Anyway, the print seems to have stopped at the 94% completion point and I was seeing a mintemp error on the printer's control panel.

After inspecting the printer it looks like one of the wires to the Thermistor has broken from wear and tear.  I'm 99% sure this is from use error as I've been struggling a bit with the filament jamming and have taken the print head apart at least 5 times so may have not made sure the wire was clear the last time I reassembled the printer.

I went online to the Prusa support site and was able to quickly diagnose the issue via their superb documentation.   I took the picture you see above and then opened a chat box with Prusa support.  Horsa jumped on the chat with me and quickly confirmed my diagnosis and just sent me a new Thermistor for free.  Thermistors are cheap but this unit is coming from the Czech Republic and postage isn't free.  I was very impressed with the customer service and the lack of a nickel and dime attitude that I see with a lot of other tech companies.  As I think the break is due to my error, I would have gladly paid for the part and postage but this issue was never raised.

I highly recommend both the Prusa company and the I3 Mk3S printer.  Get the kit - it's a little cheaper but the process of putting the thing together really does teach you how these things work and makes it a lot easier to diagnose issues.

For clarity, the initial problem I had with the filament jamming seems to be from using Cura as my slicer and that software not being fully tweaked to work with the Prusa printer - yet another "user error" on my part.  Once I switched over to the free slicer software from Prusa, I've had no jamming issues.

3D printing isn't for everyone as it's still a developing technology but if you're a tinkerer at heart its a lot of fun and I highly recommend you incorporate it into you miniature gaming hobby.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Waterloo Campaign is Coming to an End

 Not the most exciting game from the campaign last Monday, but one that was rather grim for my French.  2nd and 3rd corps are being chased by the entire Prussian army and were nearly caught.
 # rd corps maneuvers to block the Prussians advancing to the south, while 2 corp tries to make it through the woods.  There are Prussians advancing from three directions direction
Third corps manages to get off the board as do 2 brigades from 2nd corps
This escape came with some cost and I'm afraid 3rd corps is running out of real estate.  Strategically they have done their job as the majority of the Prussina force is concentrated on them.  Will it be enough?  We shall see..

Friday, August 9, 2019

Sailing and Dog Sitting

 A lot of time was spent on the water last weekend, sailing around on the Bucentaure.  The weather and wind were great and I was able to make sure everything on the boat is in good order.  We're hosting a lot of different groups at the house over the next few weekends and the boat will get a good bit of use.  The first picture shows the Inn at Perry Cabin's "Star Bright".  It's also an Alerion like mine but a bit bigger at 38 ft. We always have mock races when we're both out on the water and I usually loose - as you can see here.  Most of you are familiar with the Inn as it was the setting for the wedding scenes in the movie "The Wedding Crashers".  Despite being in a somewhat crass but very funny movie, the hotel is one of the best I've ever stayed at.
 Got the sails in a nice butterfly setting while running down wind.
 Boat traffic got a little heavy later Sunday afternoon and I decide to head in - it's no fun getting tossed about by big boats

 We also dog sat for some friends who were out of town so I got to pretend I had a dog for a few days.  Master Otis was a very well behaved visitor.

One of the Restaurants in town, Ava's features an outside patio that both allows dogs and has a dog menu.  Here you can see Otis enjoying his chicken and sweet potatoes entree.  My wife was away attending a board meeting so it was just Otis and me for the first part of his stay.

 He's a funny little dog who enjoys watching videos.
 We do have 2 cats and they and Otis all decided it was best to ignore one another - this is about as close as Izzy would get to him.  This level of mutual detente held up until Mary Beth returned.  Otis really likes Mary Beth and would chase any of the cats away from her - it was really funny until Otis discovered cats do, indeed, have claws.

Well some lessons can only be learned the hard way.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

LWTV D-Day Game

The D-Day video from Little Wars TV is out.  This was the first of the club's games I was lucky enough to get a chance to play in and it was a blast.  You may see me again in a future, more nautically themed episode.

As you will see, the game itself was huge and simulated the entire D-Day landing (all 5 beaches!) at the battalion level using 6mm minis from Tony's collection.  I was in command of the  German 84th Corps and held the center around Bayeux. We used the Rommel rules set from Sam Mustaffa.  It was my first time playing Rommel and I really liked it.

I've played in a lot of games, but few of this scope that are so well staged and never any that have been filmed (on purpose).  During the course of the game, there are serval breaks where the players from both sides scurry off to either consult or give their impression of how the game is going.  These little "pauses for reflection" were really interesting and provides a formal recording of the ebb and flow of success or failure on the tabletop battlefield.

The game was played on June 1st, 2019 which was pretty close to the actual 75th anniversary and I think that added a little to the "drama".

Here are some "behind the scenes shots"

 Greg giving the allied generals their briefing while the germans look on.  The D-Day table was 12 x4 feet and looked superb.  Greg's artistry when it comes to tabletop design is second to none.

You can also see in the bottom right of the picture one of the club's secret weapons in making great You-Tube content - Doughnuts.  Is there nothing they can't do?

 A look down from the other end of the table.  There were four allied players and three Germans.  Two of the germans were really good players (Tom in the white ball cap and the wily Ed, who can just be glimpsed to the right of this picture.  Ed moves to fast to be captured by a simple I-phone camera.  Sadly the Germans were burdened with a moron - ME!  I'm pretty sure both Tom and Ed made Greg mad sometime in the past to deserve that fate.
The game began with a handful of night turns to simulate the allied airdrops.  As Germans, we didn't have much of an ability to reacts during those night turns.  What movement I had was used to rush a few extra battalions towards Omaha beach.

As dawn broke at 6:00am on June 1st, the first American troops made their way ashore at Omaha - you'll need to watch the video to see what happens next....

D-Day, Day1

D-Day, Day 2 (Yes this is a two parter!)

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Double Blind Disposable Heroes at the Club

 Keith ran a fantastic game at the club using his Diposable Heroes II rules and a double blind movement system.  The scenario was set in 1939 Poland, I was the Poles and Greg and Josh the Germans.  We had very small forces and no knowledge of what the other side had.  Keith marked off the game board in 6 inch squares and Greg and I reported out movements to him.  Keith would determine when a unit could see something and then on the board it went.

I had a fantastic time playing the game and found the hidden movement Keith was using added a lot of tension to a rather small unit game.
The game came down to the last turn when Greg's machine gun section assaulted my pinned down section.  Greg and Josh beat me but I'd play this game again.  It was a blast.

My wife and I are dog sitting Otis and I brought the puff ball to the club as he's a very nice dog and is rather scarred of out cats.  At the stat of the game, when things were going my way, Otis was on my side of the table.  As Greg and Josh's attack gained momentum I noticed the little turncoat had moved over to the German side of the table.  Loyalty seems to be a flexible condition with this little dog.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Great Wargaming Survey of 2019!

If it's August, then it's time to fill out the Great Wargaming Survey from Jasper and crew over at Wargaming, Soldiers and Strategy magazine.

Here's a Link:

The WSS gang have been doing this survey since 2014 and it garners up to 8,000 responses a year from across the globe.  It's become a very important tool for learning how to expand the hobby and has pointed out some challenges we'll all nee to overcome it we want this hobby to continue in a meaningful way.

This year's survey has been streamlined a bit so will be even easier to fill out.  Please be candid.  When taking surveys like this I always have to guard against responding as the gamer that I am, rather than the gamer I aspire to be.

Sadly, you may have noticed me in a few segments analyzing the survey results to date.  As part of the LittleWarsTV crew (a very small part), I've been helping Jasper and team look at the data and try and figure out some trends.  The data has proven very interesting with both some positives and Negatives.

- We really are aging as a population
- Women make up only 1.5% of historical gamers

- Historical categories (namely WW2 shows up in the top three of all age groups proving young people still have an interest in history
- Once in gamers are remarkable loyal and excited about the hobby - that's a very relevant insight for marketing segmentation for industry participants

As a math geek, I'm always looking for ways to ply my arcane craft and finally have found something that's socially positive - analyzing the state of the wargaming hobby.  It's up to you to keep me occupied here so that my math skills remain employed for good and not evil.  It's very true that the devil makes work for idle hands and doubly so for mathematical calculations.  Proof?  During the early 1990's, while at Capital One and not involved in the hobby, I created the algorythm's used as the basis of assessing credit card late fees.  They're still mostly in use today.  You're welcome, by the way.

So if you don't want me looking for even more creative ways to financially fleece you, fill out the damn survey.  You've been warned.


Some of survey segments that I'm on:

LWTV Wargaming Spending (I look like a disheveled lunatic)

WSS Podcast (I do have a face for Podcasting but maybe not the voice for it)

Friday, August 2, 2019

Ice Cream with my Sweetie

Last night the Boss and I went out to dinner at a new place in Easton, MD.  We had great expectations which were dashed by an awful restaurant experiences ever.  I can say we should have bailed early on this place as the server did tip her hand for what lay ahead when she responded to one of MB's questions on how a dish was prepared with "I don't know, you just get what you get, OK?".  This line was delivered with that exasperated tone that to date I thought could only be delivered by a surly teen to their parents.  It was downhill from there.  Perhaps, the less said about this establishment the better.

But fear not, for across the street was Jo-Jo's Ice Cream & Cupcake Parlor and SWMBO lifted my personal ice cream embargo - a most rare and welcome occurrence.  We binged on ice cream and had a lovely evening.  Nights out that end with ice cream can never be bad.  Sadly, MB did remember to reinstate her embargo decry as we drove home later that evening.

Oh don't worry there will be some more miniature gaming related content this month, including a project to revamp my Jungle bases and maybe, just maybe build a multi layer Mayan pyramid for a convention game.


Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Prusa Progress: Done!

 Whew - the printer is now fully assembled.  Despite an insufficient supply of gummy bears, this was a really fun little project.  I made a few mistakes and had to backtrack a bit but I enjoyed building this sucker.

Now it's time for my first test print:

 Well, that didn't seem to go all that well.  I'm pretty sure the Prusa logo isn't an abstract piece of art.  The troubleshooting guide on the Prusa website is very well done and I quickly diagnosed there were two problems - one of the drive belts (the one that moves the platform) was too loose and the print head was too close to the base.

A little repair work and let try again.

The printer does comes with a first layer calibration routine which I ran about 20 times tweaking the settings.  It prints a single line in a zig zag pattern and a small flat piece.  Useful for diagnosing, boring to blog about.  SO you only get to see the test results of full items.
Boom printing like a champ.

If you are considering getting into 3D printing, remember there are a lot of setting s you need to tweak to get the unit set up.  Also, since there are a lot of mechanical parts, you periodically need to readjust the printed as it's used.

I've got some new projects to get started on.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Et Sans Resultant! (ESR): First Test Game at the Club

Russian initial deployment
Last night I ran my first game of Et Sans Resultant! (ESR) at the club.  We refought the Battle of Vitebsk from the Master of the World campaign book (Invasion of Russia).  The battle was fought in July of 1812 and involved a Russia rear guard action outside of Smolensk.  The Russian forces consisted of two infantry and one calvary corps were attempting to delay Murat who had the IV Corps and Nansouty's reserve calvary division.  The French had a slightly advantage in numbers and commander quality.

I choose this scenario because of the wide range of unit types and command structures and lots of calvary.  The French Objective is simple - get off the far end of the board.

The Attack  of the French Cav Corps
The French elected to delay their entry by two turns but march on the board fully deployed.  They also wasted no time in launching a furious calvary charge lead by the 1st Heavy Calvary Division again the Russian calvary corps (upper center of the picture.  IV Corps two large infantry divisions split their efforts.

I wonder if the water's cold?
 Simon's French division prepares to cross a stream.
The calvary action was very bloody - the Russians managed to repulse the 1st Heavy Cav and effectively take it out of the game but were two weakened to hold off the following French light Calvary division.  Calvary is both very powerful but also brittle in this game system.

at the bottom, Simon's French Division is now ready to launch it's attack on the Russian right flank

Simon's attack goes in but the Russians counter the attack and throw in one of their reserve division.  There were several turns of fighting but eventually Simon was outflanked and his division broken.
The situation at the end of the game.  Both sides left flanks have been broken but the French can exit the map and the 1st heavy Cav has been rallied and is moving up so the game was called a marginal French Victory.

So what do I think of ESR?  I liked it, I liked it a lot.  This is a large scale game where command is the central component - trying to sequence your order issuance is both difficult and fun.  Calvary is very flexible and enemy calvary can be most troublesome when you're trying to orchestrate the movement of thousands of men.  I really liked how the game played and we will definitely play this again.  I think we got 60-70% of the rules right.  There are a lot of nuances that need to be discovered with how order types and formations combine so this is a game that take 2-3 plays to really get a feel for.  Players take the role of army / corp commanders so a lot of the tactical detail common in most Napoleonic games (forming squares, attack columns etc is ignored.  Formations are either deployed (ready for combat) or ployed (in march column).  The tactical details are left up to your tabletop subordinates.

These rules are published by The Wargaming Company and both the rule book and campaign guides are stunningly presented.  Everything is printed on high quality glossy paper and then spiral bound (a big plus for laying flat on a table.  The rules are extremely well laid out and provide all the information you need to field armies from just about every Napoleonic combatant.  The campaign guides present 8-10 historical scenarios from a specific campaign and detail the map layouts, briefing's for both sides and forces involved.  They also have superb uniform painting guides for all the units involved in the depicted campaign.  I highly recommend the campaign guides for anyone interested in Napoleonic gaming with or with out using ESR.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Prusa Progress: Extruder Complete and LED attached

The extruder/print head is finally done.  The instructions indicated this was the most complicate step and I can attest to the veracity of that statement.  Each individual step made sense but there were a lot of them!  I will say the instruction manual is superb.  I also recommend using the online version which has a few more pictures and toy can zoom in on them.

Next step is the assembling the heated bed and then hooking up the power unit with the electronics.

There is one GREAT LIE with Prusa 3D printer assembly.  The company includes a nice package of gummy bears that you are supposed to eat as rewards for completing certain steps.  There just aren't enough gummy bears relative to the work.  Somehow my gummy bear stash has been depleted before the uni is done.  Perhaps I should substitute beer for the remaining steps.

What could go wrong?