Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Carnegie-Mellon Robotics Club - Club Rebuild

 Yesterday I was in Pittsburgh for a CMU related board meeting and got to visit my son, who is a senior there.  When I say visit, well he allocated me a few hours to come and pitch in while he and his fellow club members rebuild the Robotics Club.  Sean is the President of the club and its the oldest robotics organization in the USA.

I get a kick out of the kid working on the drone on the workbench despite the construction all around him - progress must be made!
 El Presidente himself, posing for a rare photograph.
The club has a very nice workshop in the back with an amazing array of tools and 3D printers.  However, the most impressive is this WW2 Navy surplus metal lathe that is still going strong.  It's a beast of a machine and very beautiful in it's own way.

Here's a link to the robotics club website.

Take a look at some of their projects, including my favorite "Couchtron" a self driving couch.  In all fairness, it's my son's project, so theres a little bit of bias.  I'm hoping he builds one for me!

Sean's really proud of the rebuild and the club is his techno-geek form of a fraternity.

I wish I could to college again.


Monday, October 16, 2017

Analogue Hobbies Challenge VIII: "The Ocho"

With the start of the next Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge on the near horizon, it's high time I began to restock my lead (and plastic) pile.  I haven't painted a miniature since mid July and the "urge" is coming upon me.  Posted is a rare action shot of the snow lord himself tallying his arcane painting scoring algorithm.  Spine-tingling action photography.

Past Challenges have seen me focusing on building out the forces needed for a summer convention game but I'm still undecided on what to do for Historical 2018.  Leaning towards a redo of this year's games (DAK & Dragons and SOCOM & Sorcery) but with better terrain and more refined rules.  Then again, I may go back to the ACW as I've got two 28mm scaled ironclads just gathering dust.  But there are other options like a Pirate game using the superb Blood and Plunder minis / ships.  Ahhhh - decisions, decisions.

In any event I have made "trips" to the Empress and Perry Brothers websites and have suitable reinforcements on the way whichever way I go.

If you haven't participated in the Painting Challenge (Ivor and Mike, I'm talking to you) then I highly suggest you give it a whirl.  It's a lot of fun.  Space is limited so, if you do want to participate get your sign up in fast once the call from the great white north has gone out.

As for my participation, I'm a definite "in" but am thinking of competing more for quality than quantity this year.  In the past three years I've been shooting for the top spot in painting output which is both fun and challenging, plus there are those lucrative endorsement deals.  It can also be a bit of a grind and my painting skills have stagnated.  Knock out a 24 figure Confederate regiment in 28mm in under 6 hours with "ok" quality - I'm your guy.  Paint up a figure that can win a competition? not so much..

So I'm strongly thinking of focusing on quality this year during "The Ocho".  Of course, I may find my skills can't get any better which may allow the competitive jerk in me to still win out....

:)

Current Stuff slated to be painted:

- Blood and Plunder Factions
     - - French
     - - Unaligned
     - - Dutch (if the kickstarted arrives in time!)

- Moderns
     - - Lots of newly ordered Empress mini's

- WW2
     - - North Africa Campaign Perry Stuff
     - - A bunch of Warlord plastic sets
     - - Maybe some 15mm stuff

ACW
     - - 4 regiments of confederates and Union to raise my total forces to 20 regiments each, cause you can never have enough.

I'm, sure I'll be adding to this list

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Wood Working for Wargamers: Troop Transport Care, post 11

 I had a few hours free this morning and managed to rough out the storage draws for the Troop Transport Case.  It's beginning to look a bit more than just a plywood box.
 This picture shows the installation of the supports that will hold the fixed top tray.
 A close up of one of the drawers.  Rather than use storage bought draw runners, I'm using 1" inch plywood strips that are attached along the sides of each drawer and then....
Along the bottom  of each case side.  I'll need to sand and then wax the runners but this should work fine and saves me $30.00 of so bucks from metal slides.
Planing the front of each drawer before affixing the face plate
 Face plates attached - it's hard to see them when recessed.
 The top storage tray - great place for rule books and dice and rumor has it it may have a built in dice tower
A short with the drawers pulled out.  I'll attache some drawer pulls later - after I figure out how to make them.  This project should be done in a post of two

Friday, October 6, 2017

Important News: US Sail Boat Show in Annapolis

This weekend is the US Sailboat Show, which rivals Historicon as one of my favorite events.  This year will have close to 200 different boats on display.

Sadly there will be no Alerions (my boat) as the manufacturer has gone belly up and no one has picked up the license.  Such are the travails of the sailboating world.

I'm not really in the mood for a new boat - well that's what I told the wife!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Fall on the Eastern Shore

 It's officially Fall over here on the Eastern Shore of Maryland - it's my favorite time of year and I thought I'd take some photos of the fall colors in out yard.


 This photo of a butterfly in flight came out nicely with the sun's rays and pool in the background
 Nice reds and
 yellows throughout the garden.
 Our vegetable garden is on it's last legs.  Some of the tomatoes are dying off and the rest are on a race to ripen before the first frost on October.

 We did get buckets full of tomatoes this year and have a few gallons of sauce stored in the freezer to help get through the darker months of the winter.  My wife's tomatoes sauce is the real reason for my painting productivity during the Painting Challenge!
 A few more tomatoes and behind those are some Zucchinis and Peas.
The lettuce on the left is doing nicely.

We've got 2-3 weeks left before the first frosts take the garden.  Still it was a good year.

Monday, September 25, 2017

WoodWorking for Wargamers: Troop Transport Case, Post 10

 Ok, how about a project that is actually relevant for a wargamer?  Over the next few posts I'm going to build a Troop Transport Case for ferrying troops and game materials to and from different theaters of operation.  The plans I'm using are for a Jimmy Diresta tool box that I've scaled down a bit (please see the link to the video at the bottom).

Troops, Tools - Tomatoe', Tom'atoe, it's still just a box with some attitude.

The first picture shows the 1/2 wide (12mm) plywood I cut out.  Eventually, you'll need most of an 8x4 sheet for this project.  I'll put the dimensions and cut list at the bottom of the post.


After cutting the basic parts, I decided (on the fly) to use 45 degree bevels to join each end.  Why? because I'm not that good cutting bevels and needed the practice.  I was originally thinking of using box or finger joints buy didn't have time to make the jig to cut the joint.

As in all hobby projects, you'll make decisions on the fly which usually adhere to the path of least resistance principal.  The use of 45 degree bevel joints is no exception - I'll need to go back and figure a way to strengthen the joints.

The second picture is the initial glue up.  Nothing to fancy here other than my Rockler 90 degree clamps.  I need to get 2 more!  They are wonderful.  As state earlier, one can never have too many clamps in a workshop.  It the same principal that applies to unpainted minis.

 In this picture the box is upside down as the front sides are glued on.  Why is there a 9 inch open gap?  I'l be adding some drawers for hold troops.

A picture of the case the rightsize up.  There'll be a storage tray on the top (4.5 inches deep) to hold rule books, dice and any other gaming supplies.  Just below that will be the drawers which is where the troops go.

A close up of one of the joints - it's ok bit not the best.  I need a lot more practice.
 So what are the final dimensions?

The box is 21 and 5/8's inches long - given the width of the plywood is 0.5 inches that provides an interior with of 20 5/8 inches.

The box is 14.5 inches tall
and it's 14 3/8 inches wide, again that provides an interior width of 13 3/8 inches.

Why the odd dimensions? - my table saw sled was off a bit as I was cutting the 45 degree bevels.  The box is square but I was a little off, hence the "non-multiple of 5" dimensions.  In other words, "I screwed up"

We now have a decision - how many and how tall should the drawers be (actually thats the same question).  We have a 9 inch space for drawers which means either 2, 4.5 inch high drawers or 3, 3 inch high drawers.

Drawer Decisions
At this point we need to decide what material will the drawers be built of off.  I'm going with 1/2 plywood for the sides and 1/4 inch for the bottoms.  The interior dimension of each drawer would be:

Interior Length (both options):
Length of 20 5/8 inches less 1 inch for the sides and 1/8 for clearance so 19.5 inches interior length

Interior Width (both options):
Outside width of 14 3/8 inches less 1 inch for the sides and 1/8 for clearance equals 13 1/4 interior width

Interior Height 4.5 inches high:
4.5 inches less 1/4 for the bottom and 1/8 for clearance equals 4 1/8 inch interior height

Interior Height 3.0 inches high:
3.0 inches less 1/4 for the bottom and 1/8 for clearance equals 3 5/8 inch interior height

The interior height is important as the maximum for how tall a mini can be.  Most of the tournaments I play in use 28mm troops (Bolt Action or Saga) and both have minis that are taller than 3 inches (tank models for one and troops with flags for the other.  If I was just transporting 15mm mini's then the interior height of the 3 inch drawer would be fine.

I'll be going with 2, 4/5 inch drawers for this project.

Given the the interior dimension of a drawers is 19.5 inches by 13.25 inches, that implies a storage capacity of 258 square inches (19.5 x 13.25).  If we allocate 1.25 inches per mini that means each drawer can hold 206 28mm figures.  A lot of my stuff (ACW, Napoleonics) are based on 4 figures per 40mm square base so I could fit 100 bases (at 2.5 square inches per base).

Dimensions & cut list for the outer case

1, 21 5/8 x 14.5 inch back panel
2, 14 3/8 x 14.5 inch side panels
1, 21 5/8 by 4.5 inch front top runner
1, 21 5/8 x 1 inch front bottom runner

3 21 1/8 x 13 7/8 bottom panels

Rough Project Plan (I doubt I'll actually stick with these steps)

- Installing the bottom panels with rabbet joints

- Drawers construction

- Installing the lid

- Reinforcing the Joints

- Wood finishing and clean up

- Hardware and other bling

Project Inspiration
I am "stealing" these plans from a Jimmy Diresta video, which is referenced below - Mr Diresta is a master craftsman and makes interesting videos.  I suggest you take a look to see how to build the case correctly rather than my haphazard way.






Thursday, September 21, 2017

Wood Working for Wargmaers: What is it - a Lumber Cart, Post 9

Ok, it's not the most exciting of projects but it's really useful and fulfills my pledge to the Mrs. that the garage could be used to house her car.  It's relatively small (4 ft long by 30 inches wide) but can store a moderate level of stock.  Sheet goods go on one side (the right in the picture) and boards on the other

I still need to add a rack along the top of the left side for stock longer the 5 ft and will do that tonight.

The largish bin on the left side is a great place to store cut-offs and other remnants as I can roll the bin up to whichever tool I'm using and just toss the off cuts in.

I made this from a set of plans that were had a design of 8 in length but I've decided the best place to store lumber is - at the lumber yard.

With my solemn honey-do pledges completed, I can move on to more interesting and more directly related to wargaming projects.

Next up:  Either a troop transport chest or dice tower...

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Wargames Illustrated Issue 360 - Shameless Self Promotion

Issue 360 of Wargames Illustrated is now out (at least in electronic form) and includes some very nice coverage of Historicon.

It even has a picture of my game, which I always find very rewarding.  I suppose I should sit sit here and wait for those huge wargaming endorsement contracts to show up....

Maybe not.

I am thinking about what to do next year.  Return to the civil war, war of 1812 or reuse my skirmish rules from this year.  I do want to share the table with some other gamers so I don't run as many games!

We shall see

Monday, September 18, 2017

Wood Working for Wargamers: Hmmm I wonder what this is? Post 8

What could this become?  It's 48inches long by 30 inches wide and will be a huge efficiency gainer for me.  For the few of you in the world that cling to that dubious metric system that equates to 122 cm's long by 76.2 cm's wide

Any guesses?

and no, it's not a really badly made picture frame.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

My New Friend in St Michaels


I met one of our neighbors while working in the Garden - a very elegant Northern Rough Greensake.  These are very small snakes that spend most of their time in trees.  This young lad or lass was about 24 inches long and rather docile.

 I was able to pick him/her up without any aggressive response.  These snakes primarily eat insects so are welcome garden area residents.
Kind of cute, in a reptilian sort of way.  After a short somewhat one-sided conversation I put the snake back in a tree and he was on his way.

Friday, September 15, 2017

To the UK and Back in 2 Days!

 I had an unscheduled and short trip to London this week Flew in Monday am and flew out Wed am.  Sadly on the ground for less than 48hrs.  The weather was very nice as the picture of Nelson's column attests to.


 While in London it's a legal requirement to spend time in a pub, and I'm all for following the rules.  This pub pictured was named "The Jugged Hare" and was very nice.  It's located about a block away from the Barbican Theater.  The pub does get overrun with Lawyers which is something to watch out for.  My favorite pub in London still remains the Black Dog in Vauxhall.

Pictured is Justin getting another round from the barman.    Justin is CEO of one of our companies, ClearScore and I'm on his board.  If you search the ClearScore website there's some information about me and (gasp) even some pictures.  I'm really ugly so it's not worth looking up unless you feel the need to be punished visually.

On the flight back with a glass of Chilean red.  I started to watch a really bad movie titled "King Arthur" - and thankfully fell asleep about halfway though.  This one was directed by Guy Ritchie and I find most of his stuff to be very tiresome.  Perhaps it's a sign that I'm aging.

I'm scheduled to be back the week of October 9th and will try to stay over that following weekend to see if I can get some gaming in while staying in Ole' Blighty.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Woodworking for Wargamers: Miter Saw Workbench Done!, Post 7

 When last we left the Miter Saw Workbench saga, a bunch of old plywood had been cut to make a swinging arm.  That's not really a cliff hanger but stick with me,

 Here's the arm mostly assembled - I made it really sturdy (aka heavy) to hold up to a lot of abuse.

The first test fit of the arm in the extended position - drat, I'm a little off as the arm is just a tad lower than the saw platform.  It's about 1/16th of an inch so some flat washers should do nicely as shims.
 The next step is to make the guides that go along the tops on the arm and bench.  It's critical that these be square to both the platform and the saw itself.  Why is the front part 3/8 of an inch lower that the back?

So I can fit some T-Track from Rockler along it.  The track will be how I move the stop block along to set specific cut lengths.

 The base platforms are all installed.

 Cutting the T-Track to length.  I prefer to use a hack saw rather than my table saw.  The table saw blade can cut metal but it shortens the blade's life a good bit.  I only had to make 3 cuts so it wasn't so bad.

 Installed the guides - it's critical these all be square with the saw, which is where a 4 ft level comes in handy.
 I've got the measuring tape in place and about to make my first test cut... Going for 17 15/16 inches (why go for an even number that's boring.

And...
 Bang spot on!

Some of you might be really bored by all this but having a saw dialed in to exact measurements really improves productivity.


A really bad shot of the fully assembled saw (well mostly fully assembled - I still need to add the cabinets underneath).
 A picture of the swinging arm in the extended position.

 The saw itself - it's a DeWalt and I really like it.
 A shot with the arm down.  The bench will be much easier to store this way.
Close up of the hinge and guide blocks I added to prevent racking.
 The back of the workbench.  OK that's a really boring shot but there's plenty of room to add vacuum hoses for dust control.
And, lastly, the swinging arm - it's go a T-Ney with a bolt that I can use to adjust the height of the arm as needed.  Wood moves and in order to keep the arm level with the saw, the support arm needs to have an adjustable height.