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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.


News

01/26/2024

First update for the new year! To begin, I feel like I should write what I haven't been working on. I haven't done anything with the Demon Core project, still wondering if I should just design a PCB that makes use of the DP3T switch to break the connection to the components preventing in circuit flashing. I haven't been working on the in house media delivery setup. What I've got so far seems to be working for the Bible readings (Varnish and Caddy servers) with a script that does a static site generation and upload. I need to make something for my music now too, since I've been doing "Jamuary" (making a song per day) this year. For now I have been uploading to an Odysee playlist. I did end up getting a line array + sub PA unit, might keep an eye out for another one so I can run full stereo, but a singular one sounds really good and gets very loud in the wide open desert.

Finished the "Writings from the Philokalia: On Prayer of the Heart" book yesterday and have been reading the daily Orthodox scripture and some Lives of the Saints for the daily reading/recording this year. I plan on digging into "Christ the Eternal Tao" book for additional reading next.

I've been checking on a new social media app, Maven, that is (co)founded by Kenneth O. Stanley, I highly recommend his "Why Greatness Cannot Be Planned" book and was intrigued by the idea behind Maven (connecting people based on interests without having outrage being a big part of "the algorithm").

Not really much else to write about so far this year. Good luck and God bless!

12/22/2023

This will probably be the last update for the year 2023. Looking through my entries from this year and it looks like these are the highlights:

  • Bible reading
Finishing 2 Chronicles, Zechariah and Malachi at the end of the month will have brought me through the complete Bible. I'm not sure what I'll be doing next year for reading, but I plan on continuing recording, it's a good habit and the M'Cheyne plan is decent but I think I'll be switching it up by reading along with a family group text and maybe the Orthodox daily reading as well. I have some more "extracurricular" books I need to finish like Christ the Eternal Tao as well. I might even mix in some "basic" science books because I see a disturbing trend of misplaced faith in extremely naive empiricism, I won't list the "meme" theories as to not draw the ire of these fanatics, but I hope that by reading and discussing "The Nature of Solids" along with scripture and spiritual writing we can synthesize and make sense of the interpenetration of eternity and this temporal world of senses and "matter".
  • Making Music
Acquiring and setting up music gear along with recording has been a fun hobby to get back into. I will probably try and do the 2024 "Jamuary" where I'll record something every day for January. I recorded and arranged what I would consider my first "Space Music" song about a month ago: Space Music One. I've been slowly getting used to the Reaper DAW and the physical equipment. I still have to get used to MIDI routing, that's always been a pain. I'm also getting closer to being ready to play music out in the desert under the stars (researching PA systems).
  • PCB design
It's been good to get back into PCB design again, along with coding on the ATTiny10. I have the IR version of the "Demon Core" sitting here and have had trouble flashing it in circuit (the LED/Phototransistor seems to break the flashing process, so I'll have to cut that trace and solder a couple wires to make a simple switch for prototyping). The Demon Core project feels like I've put WAY too much time and effort into it, I guess it's become a sort of pet project that I can't help but keep re-engineering. Maybe I'll do some work on that today since it's just been sitting off to the side. I decided the IR method for the mail detector device wasn't reliable enough, so I redesigned everything to just use a magnetic reed switch which seems to work fine, I just need to get and enclosure printed for it. The 12 volt reset converter board works, I had to redo the footprints for the jacks because of a datasheet misread, I just need to list them on eBay now. Looking forward to doing more designs next year!
  • Software stuff
I'm a "computer guy", so I spend a lot of time here, setting things up, trying new things out, etc. Playing with generative AI this year was new, Stable Diffusion, LLMs and I'd like to have a server setup eventually to run an LLM, a multi-modal would be ideal where it can take images and produce descriptive text. I have a couple ideas for that. I think I setup Nextcloud this year, started using LineageOS, and more recently started working on the infrastructure to host my own media files (the front end is still absolutely bare bones though, if there at all). Next year I will continue working on making a better front end for media and maybe even switch from using PMWiki to Zola for everything, but that really hasn't been a priority. I'm even thinking of moving away from Void linux, but it's tough to justify the effort when everything else needs to get done. Jellyfin has been a great Plex replacement, ZFS has been working fine and I'm working on moving my main storage over to a ZFS mirror setup. Just have to keep shoring things up, making things tighter and better!

I think those are the main things taking up my time. I do spend too much time looking at charts, trading and have recently got back into playing low stakes poker online. I did an actual hike for the first time in what feels like forever yesterday:

vulture-peak0 vulture-peak1 vulture-peak2

Until next year, peace

11/22/2023

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.

mindsforge-diagram2

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

10/24/2023

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):

MindsForgeArchitecture

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:

arguing

I also finally got the code working as expected with the Demon Core project and made a half hour video going over everything: https://odysee.com/@MindsForge:9/demoncore-explainer:3

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

09/21/2023

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.

freecad-pcb-screwdriver

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.

HVSP-adapter

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.

08/22/2023

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.

mini-screwdriver-pile

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 tindie.com 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 disaster.radio 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) https://odysee.com/@MindsForge:9/ostracod-farm:0

Peace

07/17/2023

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.

PanzerNode

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.

rnode

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!

Other

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.

06/23/2023

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:

equipment-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):

diy-jaspers-holder

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.

... News Archive


chris@mindsforge.com

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