Main »

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

06/09/2024

The XMPP server has been chugging along just fine, along with the other services I've been running. I guess there was some interesting downtime on a fediverse server I've been administrating for almost two years now. That ordeal ended up helping the dev shore up some code. I was expecting more issues like that because it wasn't a popular implementation, but it's been relatively rock solid. The software you ask? It's Mitra. I've got back into experimenting with local AI stuff again a little, I need to do more now that I have an Nvidia card again and I can run multimodal LLMs (models where you can send it a picture and text and receive back a description). I've wanted to make a database that can naturally query images and videos. Would make searching for "the right meme" much easier. Maybe I'll have something to report with that next month. For now the only thing I've done is some custom RVC training (AI voice changing) and a little Stable Diffusion image generation again.

In the crypto world I've been interested in Ethena Lab's synthetic dollar. I haven't staked directly to sUSDe, or anything but I have done a little liquidity providing on the USDe/USDT uniswapv3 pair which was paying a decent yield, I may get back into that or do some direct staking. In more traditional markets I've taken some more shots after no real successes earlier this year. Copper miners, sugar, BABA, and a bit shorter term, Yen/USD. I wish I was more of a pack follower sometimes and just bought and held NVDA. Music, I haven't done much at all. I started a track, but nothing caught me and I sort of fell away this last month doing other things. Like cutting down the dead tree in the back here, that was a bit of an adventure, but it's almost complete, just have some of the smaller branches left to get hauled off.

I've been working with Bedlam Creations trying to get them to print off some custom water slide decals, but it's been very difficult. I paid on May 16 and getting very slow responses. It was fast at first though! I have a resin printer project that I'll post once I get those in, but I sort of want to wait to complete it before posting.

The garden has been popping off, and some of the squash look like they're actually growing and spreading out this year... I think I have finally found the sweet spot for planting and putting up the shade! I just need to plant a little earlier, or start the seeds indoors because they didn't flower at all. Maybe they'll survive the summer and flower in the fall?

garden-5-2024

That picture is from 5/22 and everything has grown quite a bit more since then. I've collected a handful of dried bean pods and there's plenty more to harvest in the next couple weeks I'm sure.

I've also been listing and selling stuff on ebay and taking my grandma to appointments quite often lately. A pretty long drive to the big city from where I'm at, but at the same time, that's why I didn't move too far away either, just far enough that I wouldn't have unexpected visits! A necessity for me to feel comfortable.

solar-rellenos

I've also done some solar cooking, only chiles rellenos and some frozen chicken nuggets and stuff like that. I still need to do stuffed zucchini, that always turns out good and is the perfect shape for the evacuated tube cooker.

Due to a decent NFT pump and sales I've decided to upgrade a few material things in life as well (that's where the new Nvidia card got justified). I also upgraded keyboard and mouse, got a weight bench so I can do bench presses and pull ups again finally, along with dips which I've never really done before. I also picked up some things from Holy Cross Monastery in West Virginia after they sent an email blast out saying they had received some donated icons and items that will support both the church construction and orphans/the mentally ill.

theotokos icon

I've also done some creative video editing, and posting, but nothing really worth repeating here. I think that's probably enough for this update. There's always something!

05/04/2024

Last month was the Total Solar Eclipse and I took a trip out to Texas to be in the path of totality. The weather was looking pretty dire, but the clouds opened up in time and we were able to see the ring of fire, the sun's corona in all it's glory!

eclipse totality

Along with some subpar footage (posted to Odysee) I was able to capture a field recording of the eclipse leading up to totality and a bit of the aftermath.

field recorder

After getting back home I made this Solar Eclipse Field Recording and Simulator browser app that let's you listen to the recording and "see" where the eclipse was in it's progression. Using Reaper I was able to listen and place markers for interesting events, I put those in a dropdown selector that allows for you to quickly navigate to interesting events and timestamps for the eclipse (first contact, totality, sounds of nature etc). I also used Reaper to process the recording to try and compress the wind noise and bring out some of the subtler sounds of nature.

On the way back home I planned a route through New Mexico that would take me near some old uranium mines. I was really nervous when I finally worked my way over to an area with a bunch and first started looking around with my GMC-300E Geiger counter in a wash area. The roads that were going to BLM land were gated off and I was too afraid to start poking around since I wasn't armed and there were "NO TRESPASSING" signs dotted all around the area making it difficult to know if I was going to be entering private property or not... I found nothing in the wash, so I gave up and looked at the map again. Noticing that there was a mine fairly close to the dirt road leading out I decided that I'd pull over there and just check the rocks by the side of the road for radioactivity. That's where I found a couple pieces of radioactive ore! The first one wasn't very radioactive (~500cpm) compared to the 2nd one(~2000cpm). I put together a short video showing the counter and the ore on Odysee.

radiacode spicy rock

Later, I ended up picking up a Radiacode 102, in the picture above which is much much more capable than the tube Geiger counter. The app even works with LineageOS (the gamma spectrometry, just not the map).

It's the day before Pascha, Holy Saturday as of this post and had a couple long days of reading from the OCA daily scripture page. Yesterday was the Crucifixion, tomorrow He rises. I found this article about Great and Holy Thursday by the Rev Alexander Schemmann to be really good, recommended reading. Glad I'm following along with the scripture reading this year even though I'm not fasting. Also have been reading from Apocrypha by Stephen De Young. That got me to read the book of Enoch which had been sitting on my shelf for a few years now. Once the daily reading calms back down to shorter passages we'll get into reading about 2 Enoch, Slavonic Enoch.

I guess that'll be it for now, I know I've left some stuff off, like how my garden grows or my foray into resin 3D printing, music making, or trading stuff... but that'll have to wait until next time. That's what I get for skipping a month!

EDIT: Ok, I'll add a little more, I just setup a Prosody (Jabber/XMPP) server and can be contacted here now: chris@chat.mindsforge.com -- I can also setup accounts if anyone wants one. I'm trying the Dino client.

Also I should post the last few tracks I've made:

03/01/2024

I don't feel like I have much to report, but let's give it a go. Received some new PCBs for the Demon Core project that use a couple jumpers that should allow me to do in circuit programming. I haven't populated them yet, so they remain untested. I'm really thinking of simplifying the circuit to not have the "simulation" mode and just make it pulse, flicker, solid and off... something like that. It would be interesting to make resin figurines to hold the screwdriver too.

Crypto markets have finally heated up again, Bitcoin ETF and halvening is pouring fuel on the fire. I've been studying for a real estate license so I can be more hands on with that stuff for my next move. I looked at moving out here as a "trampoline" to something else, and I was hoping I would've been able to move more quickly, but at the same time everything has to happen in due time.

I did end up reading Christ the Eternal Tao for the "additional reading" for the recordings. It's been excellent and am currently reading through the last appendix. I'm still not sure about restarting catechesis, but moving closer to a church would be a reasonable thing to do since I'm still drawn to Orthodoxy. It's just difficult being more of an outsider (at a few different levels), but at the same time, that's the whole point of becoming catechumen, to integrate.

Haven't done much music-wise. Picked up a used MPC one, not sure if I'm going to keep it, might sell and try a Maschine out or some other sampler instead. I've been trying to wrap my head around song structure and mixing/mastering. I dissected the Blade "blood rave" techno song (New Order Confusion Pump Panel Mix) because I intuitively could "call" when there would be changes, and sure enough it fit a formula:

confusion-structure

and I did end up mixing a the Jamuary tracks together into a set, I'm not that satisfied with it because I did it live and screwed some stuff up, but it's listenable (to me), not really a "megamix" either. Also have my Eventide Space pedal open right now, I was trying to troubleshoot what's causing it to shutdown with relatively low temperature overheat. Might run a few more tests and close it up and just deal with it shutting down after 3 hours (hey, at least it's better than 1 hour...)

I also hiked Vulture Peak a couple more times, it's intense. I took some GoPro video of the final ascent/descent and still need to post it somewhere. I built some stairs in the desert in a place where I like to go shooting, should make it easier to get out there now:

stairs-before stairs-after

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.

... News Archive


chris@mindsforge.com

edit SideBar

Page last modified on June 10, 2024, at 05:22 am

^