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January 25, 2013

Canucks vs. Ducks, version 2

Filed under: Hockey — Bob @ 10:13 pm

The Canucks faced off against the Ducks tonight, this time it was Anaheim’s home opener. Last Saturday it was pretty silly, the Canucks were embarrassed at home losing 3-7.

This time it was our turn.

Cory Schneider gets another shutout tonight, with a game that likely humiliated the Ducks at home. Corey Perry showed he is really “the worst sore loser in the league” (as said in the SportsNet telecast). Yeah, that guy is an idiot.

Canucks were the NHL’s best team on the road last year, and this year they are one for one. Good start!

January 19, 2013

Ouch!

Filed under: Hockey — Bob @ 10:57 pm

We were at tonight’s Canucks game.

I get that nine months away will have an effect, and all players will have to shake off the rust. But still. They played terrible, especially after the first period. While the Ducks got better as the game went on, the Canucks got worse. Cory Schneider certainly didn’t look like a strong number one goalie. Mike Gillis is going to look like a genius for not trading Roberto Luongo.

One game done, forty seven to go. Good thing there is another game tomorrow – they need the practice.

January 10, 2013

Munchkin

Filed under: Games — Bob @ 10:03 pm

cover_smQuite a few years ago I received the card game Munchkin as a gift from mom. I recall reading through it, finding it quite silly, then putting it away and never actually playing it. I regularly play lots of other games with friends, but never this one. Everyone once in a while I remember Munchkin, sitting on a shelf, but I’d never actually played it until today.

Tonight I played a round with friends after work and it is great. Wow! I was really missing out! The silliness does add to the fun, but I must say the mechanics of the game really work. Its not a long or complex game like Twilight Imperium or even Battlestar Galactica. You can play it in 45 minutes with three people, if everyone keeps the pace moving.

Can’t wait for another round. Highly recommended!

January 5, 2013

Looper bonus

Filed under: Commentary,Movies — Bob @ 10:39 pm

MV5BMTY3NTY0MjEwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTE3NDA1OA@@._V1._SY317_CR15,0,214,317_We saw Looper in the theatre and really enjoyed it. Not long after that we discovered that the director Rian Johnson (who also wrote the script along with help from friends) recorded a soundtrack intended to be listened to in the theatre.

He is very specific to say that you shouldn’t listen to this commentary the first time you watch the film, and I’d agree as it would otherwise ruin a good story and a well-made film. But we were intrigued enough to want to listen to the commentary as intended, while watching the film. We never made it to the theatre again, but we did watch it on iTunes tonight via our Apple TV (an awesome product that we get quite a bit of use from).

The experience was really good. The film was good to see again, but more significantly we really enjoyed the background on what scenes were trimmed, which were cut entirely, and how the remaining scenes were made. Once again we were reminded that films aren’t made as a single piece of work but instead are crafted, refined, re-cut, re-shaped, and polished until it becomes “just right” – something deemed good enough to release.

I’d recommend the same experience for anyone who is a fan of film-making.

January 3, 2013

First experience with 3D printing

Filed under: 3D Printing,Robots — Bob @ 7:01 pm

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These pictures show the final result of my 3D printing experience. Its a bracket to hold four Parallax Ping))) ultrasonic sensors. This replaces the original three-sensor mount that I fabricated myself from Delrin and Sintra parts, using my Sherline mill. You can see that in the videos in this post.

I created the model in Blender. I can’t really say too much about Blender, other than its best attribute is that it works for what I needed it for, the price is great (free), and its a myth that Blender can’t create parts to specific sizes (it can, it just doesn’t do it by default, and the correct setting isn’t obvious). Its complicated to use, but it did work for me (eventually). It probably took me about 20 hours to learn the software, experiment with it enough to design my part, and create the final model as you see it. There are many, many tutorials online and I’d recommend starting with those if you want to learn anything about Blender.

I printed my parts at Shapeways, a commercial 3D printing service. The service was excellent, very similar to using BatchPCB e.g. create an account, upload the design, pay by credit card, then wait for the results in the mail. My rationale for using Shapeways instead of something like the Makerbot is economics and quality. Although quick turnaround time would be great, the cost plus hassle plus poor quality of the DIY printers (like Makerbot) just isn’t worthwhile to me. I could print 20 of these brackets for the price of one Makerbot. That doesn’t include the cost of my time and frustration figuring out the “science project” required for great results when operating these machines. Its the same argument for why I use BatchPCB instead of making my own PCBs.

The pictured item is actually my second attempt at a 3D print. My first attempt was successful (in as much as it was printed exactly as it was designed) but it wasn’t really robust enough. I learned a lot about wall thickness, joins, etc. In addition to making it stronger, I also improved the design such that no extra pieces were required. If you look closely at the final part, you’ll see that the sensor board mounts are designed right into the part. Just tap the hole then use 4-40 screws to attach the Ping))). So much more convenient than the original part I fabricated myself that required multiple brackets.

My summary: 3D printing is a fantastic technology for making certain types of parts, especially complex shapes from plastic. After a lot of research and observations of people using the Makerbot (and similar machines) I concluded that these DIY printers are too finicky. I’m sure the technology will improve, and I believe I will eventually buy/build a “home shop” 3D printer, but for today Shapeways is a much better deal.

By the way, Shapeways offers metal printing as well as more traditional plastics, but the price is quite high, and I don’t have high hopes for it being as sturdy as something I’d make by milling down a block of metal myself. But 3D printing makes certain designs a lot easier to create. My milling machine and lathe will still get used for many future projects, but sometimes certain objects lend themselves to 3D printing a lot better.

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