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Archive for January, 2014|Monthly archive page

Lux: A 100% Open Source Camera

In Uncategorized on January 16, 2014 at 8:07 pm

I’m a bit of photographer so this really appeals to me. I might try this.

Hackaday

luxCamera

[Kevin Kadooka] recently finished his open source camera. The Lux Camera is 100% open source. Lux uses no parts from other cameras – not even a lens! To date we’ve only seen this with achieved with pinhole cameras. [Kevin] isn’t new to camera hacking. He was the man behind the Duo camera, which had a successful Kickstarter campaign in February of 2013. Duo is a DIY camera, but it still required lenses from Mamiya-Sekor, and a shutter from Seiko. Lux is a different animal. It has a manual focus 65mm f/5.6 Single Element lens. The shutter is [Kevin’s] own solenoid based leaf shutter design. Just as in the original shutter, an Arduino controls shutter operation and timing.

The main camera body and many of its parts are 3D printed. [Kevin] got some very nice quality parts from Shapeways 3D printing service. We have to say that some of…

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Chasing the Fog

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2014 at 6:05 pm

A problem with living somewhere that is always beautiful is that it makes it easy to procrastinate photographing it. “ya, it’s great out there. but it will be exactly the same tomorrow so i’ll take the camera out then instead. i’m just going to watch tv today.” Now that I will be moving at the end of the month my days here are numbered and I know that I have to be out with the camera everyday. Yesterday I was walking back from the laundry room and a bank of fog rolled in out of nowhere. I went and grabbed my camera thinking I could get some cool photos of palm trees in the mist. As I started towards the beach the fog bank receded such that I was always just outside of it. I would see a cool shot and by the time I got the camera up the fog would be gone and the scene would be bathed in sunlight. As I was headed towards the beach everyone else was leaving it. I started seeing people coming out of the fog. All of the joggers where out as well. They were running in and out of the mist. I saw a parallel between me literally chasing the fog and the joggers running towards the fog. My focus shifted and these are the shots I got that I liked. There are 3 shots that turned out more or less as I wanted and one happy accident caused the by the autofocus getting lost in the fog.

fog-4

fog

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fog-3

Nevermind…

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2014 at 7:30 pm

Printer is dead again. Not sure what the problem is. Doing the same thing it was before. It starts up and then very quickly just shuts down again. No time or energy to mess with it. Updates when I get a chance.

It’s ALIVE!

In Uncategorized on January 7, 2014 at 7:31 pm

The printer is back up and running. The the new screw connector terminal block arrived yesterday. I was able to get it soldered on to the board today and have everything hooked up and printing as we speak.
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I did get one extra little blob of solder on the board by accident. I should have vacuumed up that little blob but honestly I just didn’t think about it until right now while I was adding the photos to the blog. Otherwise I think it looks pretty good. The discoloration was from the wicking used when I was desoldering the previous piece. I hooked everything back on and turned the heat up on both the hot-end as well as the print bed. Both came up to temp pretty quickly and it did not appear to have trouble maintaining the heat. I started a test print after letting it sit like that for 10 minutes or so. I’m trying to print the new pawn design for the test. I did configure things a little bit differently this time. Originally I had the cooling fan hooked up directly to the power supply on the advice of the company I bought the kit from. This time I’ve hooked it up to the board so that I can control the fan speed with the software. I need different amounts of cooling for ABS and PLA so it made more sense to do it this way for me. It’s one less shoddy connection into the power supply harness as well which appeals to my OCD. Hopefully I’ll have some photos of the new pawn today, tomorrow at the latest. I’ll let you know how it goes.

-h

Whew!

In business, money, moving, planning on January 7, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Well good news on the “leaving town” front. My landlords are awesome. If you ever need an apartment in Santa Barbara or Goleta, CA I highly recommend Victoria Management. They are possibly the best landlords I have ever had. They will let me out of the lease without penalty as long as they can get it rented. Worse case scenario for me is that I pay an extra month’s rent. Good news on the “closing the business” front as well. The credit card reader/service I was using (EPS, electronic payment systems i think) is very easy to deal with as well. I’ve been very happy with them over the 1.5 years we’ve been using them. The charging service just requires a letter and the date I want them to stop processing credit cards. The only hold back so far is the actual credit card scanner which is leased through the Merrick Bank. I haven’t been able to get a hold of somebody to see about canceling that. According to my lease agreement that should only be a $95 cancellation fee. I just need to get whatever paperwork they need to make it happen submitted. I think the bad weather their direction is probably to blame for my difficulties getting a hold of somebody. I don’t expect any problems with the process. That should be the last of the issues I have to deal with. The rest is just working out the month and getting utilities and such changed over the new owners. I’ll have a few final bills to pay next month but otherwise it’s just a matter of working and moving. The big decisions are made. The big hurdles appear to have been cleared. Most of the stress over this stage is slowly fading. I’m feeling much better now that I’ve been able to talk to my landlords. That is the bit that I was dreading because I really like them and don’t want to leave them in a lurch and because they could have charged me rather a lot if they wanted too.

-h

Twinkle in the eye

In business, education, moving, planning, ramblings, therapy, travel on January 6, 2014 at 6:15 pm

I have the beginnings of a plan. It isn’t solid. It isn’t final. It might not even be vaguely realistic. Such is the way of things in the beginning I guess. I am looking at moving up the coast to my mother’s house. (the shame of having to move back in with your mom is something all men rightly fear.) This gives me a little bit of time to sort things out if needed. I’m looking at the community college where she lives. They have two programs for welding. One is an associates degree the other is just for certification. Both teach autocad and have some other more industrial and machining oriented courses as well as well as ornamental ironwork. It sounds like it is right up my alley, creative and anal all at the same time. 🙂 The college has somebody who’s job it is to help vets get what they need. I’m a vet so I approve of this. I will be using him even though most of my questions could probably be handled by admissions. Their new quarter starts in April. I will probably try and go to the east coast for a couple of weeks in the meantime. I hope to get out of the current mess without any debt so the only bills I will have are my phone and my car insurance in the short term. I’ll be able to be a bum for a little while so I want to go visit friends and family (and mooch off of them) for a bit. Hopefully that will give me back the energy I need to go forward. I’ve been pretty isolated from them while living in Santa Barbara. That is probably the hardest thing about the last couple of years. I’ve made some friends on-line through various video games and they have helped out more than they know. (btw MechWarrior online and WarThunder are the two I am currently playing. Both are great, both are free to play. Check them out.)

I am still researching some other options as well. The second one in priority is going back to Montana to attend Montana State University Billings. I attended MSU Bozeman for 4 years and have most of a BA already. I could step in with those existing credits and pursue something else. The Billings campus has programs for software develpment that include programing, app building, and data bases. This is pretty much all the computer oriented options I am interested in and they are all part of the same degree program. It’s a strong possibility if the first option doesn’t work out.

I had hoped to be moving to the Pacific Northwest when this chapter was over but right now it just doesn’t seem to be in the cards. This is more due to money than anything else. Because of the timing of the sale I will be making about $10-12k less than I had hoped. My mom’s house and Billings are the two cheaper options at the moment. There is a third option along that front as well but I have not really begun to explore it as it is even farther away from sister and her little girl and frankly, I didn’t think of it till yesterday. That is to move to North Carolina and live with my Grandfather for a little while. I haven’t asked him about this yet as I know if I tell him I need some place cheap to live he will worry. But I think he would be glad to have me. I can probably pursue any of the above courses in North Carolina as well. But I don’t have residency there and I don’t know how far away schools and programs would be from my Grandfathers house. He lives in a very small town so I would have to commute, probably to the Raleigh-Durham area. It’s an option, and an attractive one, but it’s probably 3rd on the list right now due to the unknowns and the distance from where I want to end up.

That’s it for now. It’s a work day for me and I have to start figuring out what needs to be done for the transfer of ownership at the end of the month, how to get out of my lease, etc, etc.

-h

Sold!

In business, money, ramblings on January 6, 2014 at 1:25 am

I sold my business today. At the end of the month I walk out the door and the new guys take over. I get $25k. $8-9k of that goes to pay of the company credit card. $3k goes to pay off a loan i took out when I bought out my original trouble-making partner. I will have spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $45k of my money and I’ll be leaving with $12k-ish. Sometimes you have to cut your losses. As a very great man once said: “you got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away, know when to run.”

I will get some of that money back. My soon to be ex-partners have some personal debt on the company card and that money will be paid back. I have the guarantee of their new partner that a portion of their share of the profits will go to me until that debt is settled. In the mean time though, I have to eat that cost. My ex-partners will get the exact same dollar amount (actually a touch more) of shares in the new business as they had in the old business. They should be in a stronger place now then they were this morning. I don’t think they really understand that. I believe that their expectations were still too high. Mine were when we started but reality has a way of beating down expectations. While reality has been working on me the last 7 or 8 months it just showed up at their house today. As things stand though the only one losing money on this deal is me. My conscious can except that. I would hate to bring everyone down with me just because I failed at something. Having said that, I did fail at this. The business made money the entire two years but it was never quite enough for us to get ahead. It was just enough to keep stringing us along as the company slowly did worse. I was at a point where I knew what we had done wrong and I knew what needed to be done to fix it. Unfortunately I didn’t have the money to fix it. It was quickly becoming one of those “it takes money to make money” situations. Anyway, that chapter of my life will soon be over. There is no point in beating myself up over it anymore. Easier said than done. 😦 My friend Chad says that I always do things the hard way. He’ll be happy to know I haven’t changed much in the 25 years I’ve known him.

I have no plan for the future right now. I have a couple of ideas but nothing is fully researched and I have no idea how realistic those plans are. One is go back to school and get a degree in programing. One is to take some tech training and become a DBA. Both of these will build on my previous experience as a sys admin and government contractor. The third option is get a welding certification and do that. This is the one that appeals to me the most, but it is also the biggest unknown of the bunch. I’ll try and keep you up to date as I explore these three options. For now though… I’m scared.

-h

Pissed

In business, money, ramblings, therapy on January 5, 2014 at 6:44 am

I own a business. I have two minority partners. I started it a couple years ago with a different partner, a friend. We will call this fellow Bob. Bob’s friend Barney was where our business opportunity started. He had a larger business and wanted a smaller independent business in a specific market. He though Bob would be good at it. Barney thought it would take $10k to start the business. I ended spending closer to $20k to get the business started and another $5k to move back to the US. When I got back I was told that Barney had also spent money to get things going. I was told this number was between $6k and $8k and that I would be provided with all the receipts. I said that we would try and get him paid back but I was a bit alarmed that the $10k start up actually cost closer to $28k. In the mean time Bob has realized he didn’t like the business and owning a company means that you have to do a lot of work. It isn’t just ordering around other people. He essentially threatened to tank the business unless he got bought out. He didn’t bring any money to the table in the first place. He was supposed to be bringing managerial experience and time (while I was still working my day job on another continent). It turns out he was pretty worthless on both counts and I keep learning about stuff he lied to me about. Bob wanted $15k to walk away. At this point I don’t have $15k. I have about $5k. I use that and I borrow money from family to come up with the rest. Bob is gone.

Bob and I had a friend in common. We will call this friend George. George was between jobs and driving around California in a beat up RV with his girlfriend (how about Abby for the girlfriends name) at the time. While I was still out of the country Bob had asked George to come help out getting the new business up and running. George and Abby drove down and helped Bob out. When I get there it turns out that Bob wasn’t paying George or Abby and he was requiring much more out of them than he was out of himself. Most of this comes to light when Bob leaves. Because George and Abby had helped out I gave them the opportunity to buy into the company. For $15k (the amount I paid to get rid of Bob) the could become %50 owners. We agreed they would have 2 years to pay off the $15k. In the mean time they would be treated like half owners and they would be paid as half owners. This was a mistake. I will never do this again. I tried to do the right thing by the people who did the most to help while getting everything up and running. It was still wrong.

The first year we made decent money. We spent some that we shouldn’t but we had every expectation that things would continue in the same vein. Barney did not get paid back. He didn’t get any receipts to me until after the summer rush was over. During the winter we broke even most months and lost a little bit in February. We had enough put away to survive the winter and handle a couple of emergencies. The second year the money was much worse. The business still made some money but not enough for the good times to continue. I had planned on paying Barney back in whole over the summer but we just never had any real extra money. We were paying our bills but not making any extra. In the meantime the building our business is in has problems. Much of the work that Bob and Barney had done was done very badly and sometimes with the wrong supplies and parts. I am spending money having to redo everything that Barney had contributed money for. We survive the summer but winter is coming. George has been pretty much worthless through most of this while Abby has worked hard but disagrees with me about everything and wants to fight about it. Combined they have paid $4.5k of the $15k they owe.

Winter is here. We are making enough to cover the business’ operating expenses but not enough to cover our expenses. I make just enough to pay my rent but nothing else. Barney wants his money. He now claims that we owe him $13k. Now is when I start hearing about stuff that he paid for but I was told lies about from Bob. I had already decided that I was done at the end of the next summer. I would use whatever money we made over the summer to pay off the company credit card and any other bills that I could. When my apartment lease was up at the end of the summer I was leaving. If George and Abby wanted the company they could have it as long as my name was off of everything. Barney shows up out of the blue and wants a meeting.

While talking to Barney, he asks if I really want to keep doing this. I tell him no. I am ready to leave at the end of the summer. He offers me $25k for the business and we forget the debt to him. I said that I have partners and I need to know that they will be taken care of. Barney says he will talk to them and offer them jobs with the opportunity to buy in to his business. I suggest that the $4.5k George and Abby have already paid in might be transfered to Barney’s business. He says giving them a partial stake worth that much as part of the deal is a possibility. He agrees to meet with George and Abby so that they can talk and hammer out their side of the deal. Getting the three of them together was like pulling teeth, but it finally happened tonight.

I went to meet with George and Abby after their meeting tonight and find out how it went. George is pissed. He says he refuses to work for anybody else and will only work if he is the boss. He is pissed that Barney wants more than $15k total for him to be a %50 owner. Barney also (quit rightly) wants the money up front rather than payments. George wants the money he gets from this business so that he can continue to work on other projects. He doesn’t do anything for the business at this point accept the bare minimum expected from an employee. It sounds like he is trying to tank the whole sale while blaming this on everybody else. He keeps talking about all he has done for this business and how terrible it will be if he doesn’t get a %50 ownership out this deal. It’s my fault apparently. He has been paid as a %25 owner (Abby was paid for the other %25) while he only paid for about 1/3 of that over 18 months or so. I don’t see where this sense of entitlement comes from. I’m ready to sell the entire thing regardless at this point. I’m so pissed. I try to take care of these people and they just use the opportunity to stab me in the back and blame me when things don’t work out perfectly. Opening a business is risky. I knew this going in. George and Abby were told this when they were offered a share. Coming out of this with no debt is not the worse thing that can happen. They were paid for 2 years. They got to live in a beautiful part of the company and I hope learn a lot about business in the process. For George to tell me that if I sell this business that he has gotten nothing out of this after all his hard work is such bullshit. His hard work lasted all of a month and since then he has been a burden, not a help. He was paid and I tried to do right by him once again even though it screwed me when I did the first time. The only person coming out of this with less than they went in to it is me.

I can’t afford to walk away from this company right now. I have a lease I can’t afford to break. I have some debt on a company credit card. I owe Barney money. If I sell the business to Barney that gets me out of the money I owe him but not out of the company credit card. Each of the three partners has about $2k on the card. George has the most. Abby and I are probably about even. The card is a company card but was opened in my name. I know from past experience that this means I am responsible for this card, not the business. So it needs to be paid off and the account closed or at least my name taken off of it before I leave. I still owe a couple thousand on the $10k loan that was taken out to buy off Bob. I could use the money to pay off all this other stuff and walk away. But I can just as easily pay off Barney over the summer and let George and Abby have the business (and any other debt it has as long as my name gets taken off of all the credit cards and bank accounts) after August and walk away. Either way, I’m out and I have no money. The best option for me is to sell the business at the end of the summer as I originally discussed with Barney. I use the summer income to pay off the credit card and take the $25k on my way out the door. The company pays off George and Abby’s personal debt on the credit card in exchange for their shares in the company. They come out of it square. Nothing gained, but nothing ventured either. I come out behind no matter what. But at least with some money in my pocket I will be able to do something else. I am so pissed tonight after talking to George that I want to just kill it all right now. Declare bankruptcy on the company and walk away. I won’t, but God do I want too.

Barney wants a meeting tomorrow. I don’t really know what his take on the talks today is. I don’t know if he wants to wait till after the summer is up. It didn’t sound like that was his plan after talking to George. But I can’t really except anything George has said at face value right now. If he wants it right now, I need $55k. As the sole owner of the business he should more than make that up over the summer. That would let me pay off the credit card and break my apartment lease. I would pay George and Abby back their $4.5K so that they have some money in their pocket to survive off of. George has expressed interest in the corporation I formed. I would be happy to remove myself from that and give it too them as part of the deal as well. Once I’m out I don’t really care what happens to it.

I wasn’t going to write up most of this. I was planning a blog on the final deal and maybe some of the behind the scenes stuff and lessons learned. But nothing personal. Nothing somebody could look at and say “he is talking about me. and he isn’t being very nice.” But I was so angry about everything tonight on top of the stress of dealing with this day-to-day that I needed to get it out. There will be another blog or two on the subject I’m sure. But for now, I’ll let this stand as it is. I hope everybody else’s new year has brought more promise than mine has…
-h

De-Solder Success (probably)

In 3D Printing, Crafts, Electronics on January 4, 2014 at 7:34 pm

Sorry for the long time between posts. I’ve got a lot going on in the background that will eventually warrant some posts. Everything is still up in the air at this point. I don’t have anything concrete to write about yet though. I’m just waiting and wringing my hands while everything hinges on other people. I know this is vague but I don’t want to influence anything the wrong way at this point. Whatever happens my life will be changing and I will be leaving Santa Barbara. Exactly how that will go down… I just don’t know. Stay tuned.

On the chess set and 3d printer topic… I’m still waiting on the replacement screw terminal piece. The new soldering iron did arrive yesterday. I was able to de-solder the old screw terminal and remove it. I hope to get the new piece today. I ordered it at the same time and from the same people as the soldering iron so I’m hoping it won’t be too far behind. Here’s a photo of the de-soldering job. When the new piece gets here I’ll post some new photos and updates. Hopefully I’ll be able to include a shot or two of the printer working again.
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