Category Archives: Steampunk

CW Oscillator

The shack/radio bench is rapidly evolving. I have been working on several radio projects, most of which have been relatively small. The most recent project is a CW (Morse Code) practice oscillator. It allows me to practice sending code while I learn.

I had built a transistor based oscillator which worked okay but the tone wasn’t that stable, or loud enough to be that useful. I had a drawn up a simple transistor amplifier that I planned on adding to the circuit board, but the design is still less that optimal from a stability standpoint
After building the transistor version I decided to try an IC (integrated circuit) based oscillator. The tone quality, stability, and volume are much better than the transistor type. I built the oscillator on a breadboard to test the circuit out and make sure everything was in working order.

After checking everything out I started laying it out on paper the way I would actually wire it all together on a proto-board.

Everything worked great so I was ready to get to the next phase of the project, building the housing for the whole thing
The plan for the case was to build a wooden box with as much of a vintage (read steampunkish) look to it so it was time to move operations from the shack/radio bench down to the workshop.

First up was to design a basic box. I chose Douglas fir for the frame pieces and mahogany plywood for the panels.

Since I was going for the steampunk look, brass, lots of brass. Everything was stuff I had around the shop so there was no waiting. More importantly, I have lots of the stuff so I can experiment a little.

 

The box was all hand cut and assembled. Everything is held together with glue though I did use brass pin nails for accent. The brass speaker grill doubles as a retainer for the analog acoustic speaker. I didn’t want to use the cheap plastic one in the project. The sound just isn’t the same as the paper speaker.

The other end panel was going to just be wood and nails, but I decided to go with an accent that would double as a way to open the panel. This panel needs to be removable because the battery is on this end. I went with a key hole on a whim, it just looked right. It was a bugger to hand file the whole plate but I think it’s worth it.
The box took two days to plan, cut out all of the materials and to assemble. The brass work was done the second day as well. It took a third day to apply the several coats of linseed oil that I used for the finish.

Once the box was all done and the finish was dried it was time, on the fourth day now, to plan out exactly how I was going to install the guts.

I know this was not a very thoroughly planned project. I planned out the electronics pretty well, but the case, well that was very much an on-the-fly thing.

Any way, back to the timeline, with all of the case work done it was time to relocate back to the shack.
Back in the shack I worked out the bugs in case design, well, I developed the work-arounds for the issues that arose from the case design. What can I say, one of the reasons I am doing this project is for a learning experience and I have learned a few things about project design, and project housing design in particular.

There are several things I would do differently if I were to do this project again. One would be to reconsider trying to stick mostly with hand tools. I could have saved myself a ton of time had I built the frame using my router.
I could have routed a single channel strip on the router and just cut the pieces and mitered it all together.

Another change would be to use tiny screws to hold the panels in. I would have had much better access while installing the guts.

As they say, hindsight is 20/20. Lessons well learned and worth learning.

Below is a short video of the oscillator in operation.

Until next time,
~FlyBoyJon

The Great HD Crash of 08

There has been a lack of posts on the blog since the “Great HD Crash of 08”.

I have been under a great deal of stress, as of late, and a lack of sleep doesn’t help. The club gig has come to an end. Less than the stellar ending I had hoped for, but this is good in the long run, it doesn’t help with the stress right now, but “it will all work out“. I must admit, I didn’t expect it to go longer than a year, so thirteen months is not far off. After the issues surrounding the big awards show, things deteriorated nuke-backgroundwith some interpersonal relationships that where not expected to recover. I stuck it out because I wanted it to end gracefully. With all of the software and hardware problems poking there ugly heads at me regularly, basically telling me its time to hang it up, I gave it the old college try, but in the end, there was little to salvage.

On the positive side; I took the time to review a couple of other projects I had in the wings, so to speak. The Steam Faire project is moving along, slowly but steadily. The website now has 50 members, there was a good turnout for the first organizational meeting, the second meet-up looks like it will be successful, and I have leads on a couple of sponsorships. The over all plan is maturing quickly. There are several scheduling things that need tending this coming week, a few appointments need to be set, venue, sponsors, promo items, and the like. I have a very good feeling about the project and the support received thus far. Response has been positive, and with a little promotional push this began rolling beyond the initial buzz.

Galeatus AerNavis

AirshipPilotThe second big project is on a slower development track. There are several tie-ins with Steam Faire, mainly in the promotional arena. If I can garner some financial interest in the basic project concepts and development track, the public “roll-out” could be as early as January. I am hesitant to push for public support as a “grass roots” movement until getting some feed back from a potential interested party.

A number of successful companies have used a similar structure and tactics by opening up to public contribution and support, providing full scale development funding with only subsistence funding from the investment sector. The advantage of this approach is a lower initial investment, typically from an “angel” type investor, low dollar, high return potential. This kind of venture is seat-of-the-pants boot-strapping, and pure risk capital. With smaller investments, and funding commitments at key developmental benchmarks it spreads out the cash flow, and risk for the investor.

~FBJ

Frackin computers!

computer-stressI have been working with them for a while now, (20+ years) and I don’t think I like them much.

I spent way too much time trying to get a network drive back on line tonight. I don’t have the one cable I need to connect a laptop directly to the drive. I have literally thousands of cables in various configurations. Just not the one I need.

I guess I am off to Fry’s in the early AM to pick up that pesky cable and give this another shot. I also need ink for the printer so it’s not like the trip wasn’t going to happen any way. I just wasn’t expecting the tech-fest in the morning. I have a meeting for the SteamFaire project in the afternoon, and things to do to prepare for that.

I have another project that is taking form that ties into SteamFaire and the Daedalus project as well. It is the Galeatus AerNavis project. I will be posting more on this project as it fleshes out, which should be soon. I have been doing the web development on it for a couple of days now and the project details are coming together.

TTFN,
~FBJ

At least once a week

PosterBoyI committed to keeping up with posts at least once a week. What I didn’t consider was that I was going to have three different regular blogs and one, BETA/blog/something-else-not-entirely-describable. Oh, and lets not forget all of the feeds I am subscribed to as well as other friends blogs I read that are not included in my feed list. It has become almost a full time thing to just keep up. 😉

The SteamFaire.com project is doing well. in less than a month I secured over 45 subscribing login members and almost 200 casual subscribers. Not bad. I have been meeting with other event coordinators, and I am getting ready to start seeking out sponsors for the event.

I had a meeting with the organizers of the “California Steampunk Convention” in San Francisco today. The meeting went well and I think there are some cross promotion possibilities there. They offered a special promo code for early reg for there event to my member base. I know this is to drive more subscribers to there site, but I am hoping they will reciprocate with a link. I know they are monitoring my site and can see that I have followed through. Lets see if they follow through.

Getting used to WordPress, this blogging software, as a business website platform and foundation for a commercial/retail site is going well. SteamFaire.com is a decent example of a business site without retail. I installed a forums plugin that seems to work. It’s not exactly what I wanted, but it works well enough, is easy to set up and it got used in the first twelve hours it was live. I also found a good shopping cart program that is working well in BETA. I am hoping to use it to full advantage soon.

It is remarkable how much things have progressed in the last fifteen years. When the wife and I first got together I was managing a two line BBS and had a shell login account for internet access on a 9.6kbps modem (I upgraded from a 300bps). Oh how the wheels are turning. In coding news, I guess I have been picking up PHP well enough, I ran into a problem with a plugin and found the problem in the code and created a workaround. I know its not a “real” programing language, but I still consider it coding.

I have been kicking around the Idea of buying/building a balloon or airship, before you say it, I know, don’t start another project. Actually it ties in to several things. I need to look into this a little more. You can expect to be reading about lighter-than-air craft soon.

Until next time,
~FBJ

Busy Bee Buzzing Blissfully

desktopSo much going on. Over the weekend, Thursday the 22nd through Monday the 26th, I was fi/fantasy/media/costume convention and actually did stuff. This year was also a year of firsts, I was not working the con, I paid to attend, I was a contestant in the masquerade costume contest (in a group), the group I was in, WON Best in Show for Presentation!

There was drama within the group that caused stress for a week now, but I think that is over with. I do love costuming and theatrical presentations. I always have fun.

On other fronts, the SteamFaire project is moving along nicely. I was able to do a great deal of meet and greet at BayCon and had nothing but positive responses from everyone. With over 40 registered users on the SteamFaire.com website I am moving forward… wait for it… full steam ahead. Sorry, I couldn’t help it.

I have called for a meeting on June 8th to move the planning to an open forum for discussion and input. I expect there will be a great deal of creative and interesting things brought up at the meeting.

Tomorrow, back to the gristmill. I have to something about that.

~FBJ

Today, where to begin

FlightPlanningFor starters, today is my wife and my 15th anniversary. Though I know many people who have been together for longer, in todays society it seems like this is longer than most. Not that I’m lookin’ to get out mind you, I lover her more every day. So I have been thinking about her more than usual the last few days. I am feeling a little clingy today.

After coffee this morning with the Mrs. I went up to Alameda/Oakland to met with someone from the club and pick up mail at the PO Box. The person I was meeting with, is someone I have been butting heads with for a while now. That actually went well. I picked up the mail then headed back to the South Bay.

When I got into San Jose I meet with a friend and business supplier, we talked about a deal I facilitated for him and some mutual projects I have been poking at lately. I always like going to see him, he has a great work ethic and outlook on life. I love to steer business his way.

After that, I headed home. I have been catching up on my own blogs and those of friends. There have been several good developments in the SteamFaire project that have come about via email. The registered user list on http://www.steamfaire.com/ has grown to 34, not bad for a few weeks in existence. I have some emails to get out and there is some web site work on a couple of domains that need to get done before the day is up. Now that I have had a break I guess I should get back to work. 😉

~FBJ

SteamFaire

PromoPosterMini250x320As previously posted, I have been kicking around an Idea for a con/faire for some time now (3-4 years at least) now that I have come across a genre that I can sink my teeth into and feel good about extending the effort, I am moving forward with SteamFaire. I have not yet put down much of the data rolling about in my head. This is something I will be working on a lot over the next few weeks to get the ball rolling.

If Steampunk is your thing, and you would be interested in a SteamFaire check out the site at SteamFaire.com

~FBJ

A new project is developing

AirshipPilotAs many of my friends and associates know, I have been producing events for many years. Over the years I have toyed with the idea of producing an annual historical reenactment event. This is a tough field to get involved in with most of the established genre.

There is a genre that does not currently have that many organized events devoted to it. There are hundreds of fans in the local area, and many more in the region. I don’t want to go into it to much right now, but I am developing a position sheet and project outline. Once the paperwork is done I will post them and move forward with more info on this site.

I will go so far as to say that the concept is for a Steampunk Faire to be held somewhere in the greater San Francisco Bay Area with the possibility of additional events along the west coast or nationally. Another aspect is a Guild association of some kind. The guild portion I need to ruminate on a bit more.

I am very familiar with kind of operation after years of convention and ren faire work in all levels from volunteer to board member, and from actor to guild master and guild association member. There are many drawbacks to the fire format over the convention format, however, there are a lot of benefits to this direction as well. It sound crass to many of the participants when you start talking money and cost / benefit analysis, but it is a business, and I do intend to make a profit, otherwise the event wouldn’t keep going.

A group up in Washington state is starting a convention in the genre, but they opted to go the 501(c) route. Having been down that road and knowing what ultimately happens, I am not going to contact them for collaboration as I original wanted to. I wish them well and will do my best not to interfere with there operation. I do want to go to there event.

~FBJ