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Mind's Forge

An almost monthly life and project blog. I miss the old internet. If you're looking for something from my old project site, check the Internet Archive snapshot.



The daily Bible readings are being uploaded here now. The Varnish setup seems to work so far and I've uploaded all my old YouTube videos to the ServaRICA storage server. I still need to generate pages for videos, music and upload things I've put on Odysee too. It's still very basic, it would be nice to scrape all the descriptions and thumbnails from Odysee for the readings, I'm still uploading there for now.


Here's the new diagram of how things are actually setup at the moment

I have ordered some more PCBs:

  • Demon Core: A new experimental design using an IR LED and phototransistor to detect the reflector hemisphere position. The idea is that as the gap increases less IR will be reflected back into the phototransistor. I've also changed back to using a physical switch to turn the power off, and am going to experiment with a 3 position to allow for OFF, ON (pulse) and ON (simulation). The nice thing with this design (if it works) is that there is no need for all the opamp circuitry and steel bit for the magnetic sensor. The Hall sensor itself is relatively expensive too.
  • Mail Detector: This design uses a reed switch instead of the IR reflector. Funny how one design is going away from IR and another is trying it. It's more of a tamper switch now that flashes an LED if something is opened for a few seconds and can be reset with a tactile button. The enclosure that I designed for the previous iteration should work fine.
  • HVSP Adapter: I opened up the drill size for the through hole jacks/plugs. Removed most of the ground plane on the side where I ran the data lines and shrunk the board down slightly. Hopefully this will be the final design and I can list it on eBay. I could probably move the optoisolator to the other side or just make a "dangerous" version without it altogether, which would make the board smaller. I could also probably make a version that turns the boost circuitry off when RST isn't being used.

Outside of "project land" I've gone out to a couple things: A local hamfest that was in walking distance, didn't end up buying anything, but had a couple good conversations and was inspired to do a WSPR project (still waiting on some parts from China). I also went to a bluegrass festival which was a fun little diversion. I still think about doing a "space music" under the stars event and invite people to bring their own chairs or buy a ticket that includes a lawn chair. Then just play some space music and do a live set and maybe eventually bring on other ambient artists. It's cool how you can still see the milky way out here.

That's about it


Hello again, with the fall of LBRY inc. and YouTube twisting the arm of ad block users, I decided it was prime time to work on my own video hosting again. I ran a PeerTube instance in the past, but I deleted it. Too much software for what it was IMHO. I've come up with this architecture (so far):


I should be able to add more backends or a loadbalancer if needed (I probably won't need to). ServaRICA is priced the same as it was when I picked up the plan a couple years ago ($48/yr). Hopefully by next month I'll have a front end setup and all my videos and recordings uploaded to the polar storage. In the future I hope to have some sort of IPFS pinning in the architecture as well, maybe even a way to link to others hosting their content on IPFS.

The PCBs for the High Voltage Serial Programmer arrived and the circuit worked:

hvsp adapter

I only messed up by not making the holes big enough for one of the two jacks, so I had to use female jacks on both sides. There was inconsistent code flashing too. I thought maybe there could be noise from the voltage boost circuit getting into the data lines or maybe there was connection issues between all the adapters. These days it seems to work pretty consistently (who knows what changed), but the early behavior makes me hesitant to try and sell them like I originally wanted to.

flowerbuds openflower

The Stapelia Gigantea produced a lot of flowers this year, maybe it was the extra hot summer that triggered that?

I've been reading the Philokalia along with the daily Bible reading, some really deep spiritual things along with very pragmatic advice like:


I also finally got the code working as expected with the Demon Core project and made a half hour video going over everything:

The code for the mail detector is also working. I'm no longer exploring wireless links and it's become a simple light flashing project. It has a single button that either calibrates (long press) or turns off the blinker for out going mail (short press). It wakes every second, checks an IR distance sensor and then blinks if something more than the calibrated "empty" value is detected. I'll have to make a video about that, but first I need to design the housing. Until next time, peace


First an update on where we are with the "Demon Core" desk toy project. We're on revision 3 of the PCB, revision 2 worked as expected! I decided to replace the potentiometer with a simple chip resistor and the power switch with a couple solder pads that will be shorted out when the screwdriver is stored in the side of the base.


The "flux rings" I had laser cut from SendCutSend arrived today and now all we're waiting for is a PCB (and components) for a high voltage TPI adapter for the USBASP. It turns out that if you want to use the ATtiny10's reset pin as an I/O you have to disable it, and then use 12 volts on the RST pin during programming. I thought I could get away with using it without disabling the reset. If the adapter ends up working it might be a nice little product to sell since I didn't see anyone else selling them, but ran into a few similar projects.


I like my design the best so far (if it works!), because it simply plugs into the USBASP and changes the RST signal from "low" to +12v, that's it, no switches, no BS. The 4 blank PCB pads are for an optocoupler.

And MORE electronics stuff... yesterday I put together an IR "mail detector" sensor and made a short video about it. Once I figure out the 433mhz chips I plan on using for this project it should give me a head start on another project I've wanted to do since being a caregiver. I want to make a call button and fall/motion detector built into a pair of comfortable silicone bracelets, one for the caregiver that has a alerts (vibration, beep, light). I used a wireless motion detector to set off a bell when my dad got up in the middle of the night and a wireless door bell for a call button.

Starting to plan a road trip to DFW Texas next year for the total solar eclipse in April. Might try and camp a night or two at Chaco canyon in NM too, not sure yet.

Dealing with some house stuff (a gopher has shown up). I have a culture of isopods (fast sow bugs) that's doing pretty well. My ostracods are barely holding on, I have a bird bath that has some and some falcon test tubes with some, the hardest part is keeping mosquitos away, so I end up dumping a culture when larvae show up.

That's about all I can think of right now. Hope next update we'll have a complete demon core toy and some good progress on the next projects.


demon-core-pcb-fail1 demon-core-pcb-fail2

First (failed) version of the demon core PCB. I screwed up the footprint of the opamp (U4 in the pic) when moving from the simulation schematic to the physical design. I fixed the issue, rerouted the board and sent off for another set of PCBs which just shipped out from OSHPark today. I've been working on other parts of the design, like the CAD model for 3D printing and realized that the switch would be buried too deep for how large the battery holder is to keep the lower hemisphere looking good and the switch usable. So I started wracking my head to try and figure out a solution which lead to a spiral of (over?)engineering.

The third revision of the board will probably have two less "expensive" components (the switch and the variable resistor). The resistors I'm using are 1% tolerance and should be able to ballpark the sensors output without the trimmer and then I can set and map the PWM range in software (hopefully). The switch will also be replaced with software if I don't run into any problems. I think I should be able to use the ATTiny's watchdog timer to have it wake up every second or so, check if a pin is shorted to ground and turn on the system if it's open. On Stackoverflow there was a clever solution for single pin polling by charging a capacitor and checking to see if it's still charged after a millisecond. I'll be testing that solution out today, I just hope that it doesn't drain too much of the battery, that's the nice thing with just disconnecting everything, you know there isn't any current being used. I plan on just having a couple pads on the PCB that will be tinned with solder and have a slot in the design to hold the screwdriver (which will short those pads out when pressed in), so you can see how the screwdriver will act as the conductor in the "switch". I had messed with the ATTiny's INT0 interrupt, but ran into limitations (like the necessity of having a CPU clock running to obtain rising/falling edge to trigger the interrupt). One simple solution could be to just get a tactile NC switch that when depressed by the screwdriver breaks the connection of the battery to the system... so many ways to skin this cat.


Got a pile of miniature screwdrivers to go with the final product, and I picked up a toaster over from Goodwill yesterday to convert into a reflow oven... I wonder if I'll even have to build a run by hand or if I'll just do a crowdfunding thing that will have enough volume to just have a PCB house pick-n-place and solder everything for me. I'm afraid the reflow oven conversion will become it's own project because a lot of the solutions on don't look very good.

In trading I've finally got my TradeStation back to trading for a few days now. A few more NFT orders went through, seems like some volume is coming back to those markets, or at least prices are moving into areas where I'm willing to take the other side. Still feels like that stuff is relatively back burner. I have been listing and shipping stuff on eBay. It's funny that the post office is next door to a Goodwill so every time I ship some stuff I'll look for deals at Goodwill to flip. I've also found some good books there, surprisingly found Vol. 1 of the Philokalia, I guess it's not that rare of a book, just unexpected, I found an icon there as well, so maybe I shouldn't have been too surprised. I also picked up a pile of C.S. Lewis books, I've been reading one, "Mere Christianity" as the additional reading on the Harblinger Odysee channel.

The Reticulum/NomadNet experiments have been back-burnered as well. I played a little bit with other LoRa mesh technologies though, like and Meshtastic, but I haven't done any range tests or multinode setups yet. I did get a text message to send with a LILYGO board, that was neat:

send sms success text recieved

but I really haven't done anything with that either besides a test, though I did make a note page about that.

I also went out for a bit, spent a few days at a casino and played 3 poker tournaments, ended up final tabling one and cashing. During that I also went to Game On Expo, mainly to get my Fishtank poster signed by the winner, spruce it up!

And a video of ton of ostracods (that I ended up killing 90% by letting the plate dry up, seems like I was able to revive a few)



Reticulum and NomadNet

I started seeing "Reticulum" pop up on my fediverse feed so I finally dug around and started experimenting. Check out my notes here as I continue to experiment.


That's a screenshot of the included NomadNet integrated text browser connected to my node's index page. I like the balance between low level protocol and higher level application design in the project, as well as it trying to be physical layer agnostic (the NomadNet client even has commands for using paper messages). I like how fun it is to just jump in and start experimenting, feels like Geocities (I wasn't around for the BBS days). I plan to keep messing around and have some ideas sketched out on my Node page (off screen), track down PanzerNet and see for yourself! Or connect via LoRa if you find yourself nearby, I'll be messing with more RNodes after my LILYGO order arrives.


Jaspers Equipment Rack (and music)

I finally built some holders, the price comes out to be around $10/pair, (plus labor) not bad! I have an idea to make something that is 2 tiered so I can have two TD-3 synths almost vertical, but locked in... we'll see if that works out.

9inch-holders-diy td3-holder new-holders

In the last picture, the TD3 and the keyboard are using the DIY holders, while the 2600 and RD9 are using the ones that came with the stand. Getting closer to having a decent setup for producing. I finally produced a song using the Reaper DAW, recording multi-track and editing. It was pretty fun! Have a listen: Worm go eeouh. It was just the 2600 and RD-9 with almost every effect pedal I have being used. I didn't do too much in the DAW except notch out some digital noise around 3KHz, mix/arrange tracks, and compression (but the compression didn't turn out as well as I wanted... still have to figure that out, seems overall "quiet"). Expect more!

Demon Core Toy

The electronics/programming is taking a bit longer than I expected. I did receive the ATtiny10 micros and got PWM and ADC code running on them, I'm able to see the LED brightness change with change in magnetic field... BUT, I need more resolution so I'm working on an OpAmp circuit between the sensor and the uC. I just ordered 100 LM321LV rail to rail chips after figuring out a spice simulation that seems to indicate they would probably do the trick:

attiny10-penny spice-opamp demon-core-blue-led

The small sine wave is representing voltage from the Hall effect sensor, which goes either above or below 1/2 Vcc depending on magnet polarity. Tomorrow I'll work on adjusting the voltage divider so the output voltage goes between 0-Vcc when the input is above (or below) 1/2 Vcc giving the ADC full resolution for one way magnetic strength. At least that's the plan, I might be missing something, or the simulator might die, I noticed it had trouble simulating when running the opamp into the rails too long...

Oh, and I got the accurate blue LED!


I'm doing other stuff too, still doing Bible/spiritual reading. Currently finishing Matthew and the explanation by Bl. Theophylact, I recommend the explanation series for the Gospels if you have any interest in diving deeper, for most everything that seems confusing there is a spiritual meaning. I found his explanations regarding the names of the towns and how Jesus traveled among them really stood out to me this read through. Also in the middle of reading "The Orthodox Church: It's Faith, Worship and Life" by Rev. Antonios Alevisopoulos. The first few chapters lays out spiritual structures very succinctly and with clear language (he used the term "ontological chasm" a couple times, try and understand what that means).

I'm still doing solar cooking, did a few rounds of stuffed zucchini. And I plan on cooking some frozen fried fish in it tomorrow, maybe some french fries too.

Haven't been doing much active trading the past few months, been holding some NFT bags (finally got a sale yesterday though! Maybe it's a sign of things to come?) Also have had trouble with a futures broker for what seems like months, hopefully I'll be able to iron out whatever issues I have this week and maybe I'll do a video series on how to do the opposite of retail selling volatility with some skin in the game examples of workflow using readily available tools.

I've also been mixing up my own energy drink again. It's tempting to revisit the idea of getting it formulated and distributed. I wish they didn't make caffeine powder illegal, it's annoying cracking open 30+ capsules for a months supply of concentrate! I stayed up much later than expected writing this out. Until next month, keep an eye on my notes until then.


Instead of designing a "folding equipment rack" from scratch I ended up discovering Jaspers equipment racks which seemed to fit the bill. They had a lot of options, but I eventually settled on this 5 tier keyboard stand:


You can see the 2600 in the upper left (Gray Meanie), the RD-9 (Behringer's TR-909 clone) and the Zoom LiveTrak on the bottom tier. I just stuck the power strip on a rack for the moment, but it's pretty useful there, so I'll probably just integrate it into the pedal board that will occupy that level. I haven't even really begun planning the pedal board yet, will probably just get a bit of 1/4" plywood and just wing it from there. The main thing I'm working on now is finalizing some bootleg DIY Jaspers compatible holders (the official ones are pushing $40 for each pair):


I'm using 3/4" extruded aluminum because it's hard to find 20mm square channel in the USA (Jaspers is a German company), but that's 19.05mm so really not a big difference. I am using the same sort of nuts and bolts and will post up a project page with STLs and instructions once I get everything figured out. Once I fabricate some more holders I'll be able to jam out on a bunch of equipment at once! Looking forward to it. I haven't even tried connecting the LiveTrak to a DAW yet, besides audacity to do my Bible reading recordings and it does seem to work as expected, exposing 14 tracks.

I also watched the Getting to Blinky KiCad course which did a great job of exposing newbies to KiCad and giving examples of schematic, PCB footprint and PCB layout. I've been wanting to learn KiCad for years, but never was able to stick with it until this tutorial. This got me to remember all the projects I've had floating around my head the past few years. One of them being a Demon Core game. I ended up spending some time making a miniature model in FreeCAD to prototype the idea. After 3D printing the parts and sticking a 3mm LED in the "core" I took some pics:

critically-closed tickling-the-dragon dark-shot no-lid

That's a tiny eyeglass screwdriver. The pics were a hit on fedi and I considered just making a model/toy of this size. I ordered some tiny blue LEDs for accuracy, along with some 3503 Hall effect sensors to start prototyping the circuit to try and simulate the increased radiation from lowering the top hemisphere. I'm considering adding a tiny speaker too for radiation clicks, like a Geiger counter. I was considering using a 7555 timer chip to control the LED brightness (and the Hall effect sensor controlling the PWM coming out of the chip), but I also remembered that microcontrollers can be cheaper than 555 chips surprisingly... At qty 1 the cheapest 7555 is just under a dollar, while a ATiny10, with ADC (to read the sensor) and PWM peripheral is around 44 cents at qty 1. I considered using the 555 a bit longer because I wasn't too concerned with saving $ and wanted to just have fun making a little project, but I realized that it would be be way easier to just use the ADC to read the sensor and adjust the PWM, with the 555 I'd have to come up with circuitry with potentiometers to adjust brightness where with the micro I could just put it into "init mode" and have it read the sensor with the lid off and fully closed.

There's a lot of other stuff I want to make too, but I chose the thing that seemed the simplest. Other things include toy robotics/solar robotics, tactile TENS matrix computer interface, music modulated TENS, a marble run, some micro modular synth stuff that could plug inline with patch cables and modifying this Big Mouth Billy Bass to play custom stuff -- I might use a WiFi Raspberry Pi for that, it would be funny to have one hanging on the wall and then just send stuff to it with a mobile app or something. But I'll take this mini demon core thing to completion first, I plan to do a run of ~50 units and go from there.

Also experimented with AI generated stuff, nothing too exciting (because it's already saturated with excitement I guess), but it felt good to get models running and producing output locally. I feel like many are not prepared for what's coming, I mean this in a very worldly sense, but spiritually even more so.


Music stuff is still going, haven't produced many tracks, or uploads lately though. I'll be mostly posting to NEET NEET on Odysee. I did pick up an Behringer RD-9 and upgraded the Mackie mixer to a Zoom Livetrak recorder+mixer so I can actually do multitrack. Hopefully will start making some more actual tracks to release along with my more raw experimental stuff soon. I'll probably be doing preliminary sketches for a folding equipment rack because hunching over a card table for extended jam sessions isn't the most comfortable, and it would be nice to have multiple tiers to have access to more gear at once. The BARP2600 isn't even pictured!


The garden is coming along, not sure if it'll produce anything, I tried to start earlier, but I think having the shade up prevented early germination. If I try again next year I'll leave the shade down when I plant in Jan/Feb. The beans are looking nice though.


I really don't get out much, part of me thinks it's sort of sad, now that I have the opportunity to "go out" I've lost my desire to. There's a Deadmau5 concert in Phoenix that was tempting, but I've been to enough concerts by myself (and with 'friends') that I feel like I know what that's like already. Maybe I really am destined towards monasticism, who knows. I did go to an interesting place, St. Joseph's Shrine. It was a nice day trip and close to where I live, read all the plaques, prayed and enjoyed the relatively quiet visit and sculptures.


I've also switched my FreeBSD installs over to Void Linux. I had FreeBSD on my mini server that I was mostly using for Plex (which has been changed to Jellyfin now) and also had FreeBSD on my T480 Thinkpad. Void is nice and the more I get used to it, the nicer it is.

I'll wrap things up here for now. Until next time~


Hello again, just finished reading my entry from January of this year and I feel like patting that self on the head and saying, don't worry little buddy. It turns out the NFT project I was working on was canned (through ghosting after guy saw the ~$100+ gas price required to deploy on the main Ethereum network), don't blame him, I still haven't committed to deploying a project on the Ethereum network, and honestly I'm not really in any hurry to do so, the proof of stake blockchain just doesn't sit right with me. I did deploy a project on the Ubiq blockchain, Bubbles, which was a moderate success. I should have made it an edition of 100, but at the same time I wanted enough "space" to allow for interesting samples from the random generation to occur... and maybe someday Ubiq will go viral and people will be scrambling for NFT projects to invest in and I'll have Bubbles there as a chalice of good fortune.


I've been drawn back into more serious music production. I saw a photograph posted on the fediverse of a synthesizer shop and spotted a Behringer RD-9. In the back of my mind I knew Behringer had been working on some clones, but it hadn't really struck me that they were out now. So I started thinking about what was necessary to setup a small recording studio again, I had a Behringer mixer in the past, but I ended up selling it along with a handful of other instruments like a Korg ES-1, microkorg, Dave Smith Instruments Evolver and maybe some others. So I knew I'd need a mixer and audio interface, I picked up a Mackie ProFX 12 channel mixer, which acts as a USB interface as well, but I'm thinking I might need something actually multi-track, but this will do for now. I pulled the x0xb0x, Kaoss Pad 2 and ER-1 out of storage and picked up power supplies for those that were missing. I also got some studio monitors and headphones, nothing super fancy, but nothing super cheap either, Adam Audio T5Vs and Sony MDR-7506. I was thinking of getting the Sennheiser HD25 because they're classics, but decided on the Sony's for half the price after reading reviews saying they weren't worth the premium. After I began jamming with the ER-1 and x0xb0x I wished for a MIDI sync delay effect and discovered that Line6 recently released the mark II of the iconic DL4 looper/delay pedal. Years ago I was eyeing that pedal for other reasons, but never pulled the trigger, instead I settled on the much cheaper Boss RC-1... I decided to pull this trigger on a eBay deal, very pleased with it so far as it also has a bunch of creative reverb effects as well as MIDI sync delays. You can hear a jam using those 3 devices here in An Acid Jam Rises made right before Easter. It sounds good on the monitors here, but in the car the synth tends to get lost in the kick bass... hope it sounds good on your system. I'm also expecting a shipment with the Behringer TD-3-MO and their ARP 2600 clone, looking to make some sweet space music and maybe do some live performance sometime. A performance of space music under the desert stars is a dream that I'm working towards.

The Bible reading group has seemed to have shattered, I'm still going though. It reminds me of when my friends and I joined ROTC in high school and they gave up in a week and I stuck with it for a few years. I've been adding additional reading to the recordings as well (I was streaming, but switched to just doing recordings and uploading them). I re-read the book Beginning to Pray by Anthony Bloom, which I highly recommend. I also finished up the Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives book, another great one, but I've only read through it once. I've been starting to read part of The Arena by St. Ignatius in the past few recordings, from where I had left off a year or two ago.

I planted a garden this year too, I planted twice because nothing germinated in mid-February, I ended up having to take down the shade screen to get enough warmth to cause germination... I'll have to remember that for next year. I have a feeling this is going to be another fail, but maybe the shade will help as the sun turns up the heat.


That's all I can think of for now. Good luck, God bless.

... News Archive

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Page last modified on November 22, 2023, at 08:17 pm