PLAful kittens

Apple Broke Something Again

The hits keep coming, as the richest company in the world breaks their own app store, making it impossible for users still running High Sierra to install anything. Reminder: Apple frequently blocks perfectly good computers from upgrading to new OS releases. When they don’t brick perfectly good computers that try to upgrade, that is.

Cats, food

Porch Cat Prime is slowly adjusting to the new reality where there’s no longer a mutilated screen door for him to scratch on when he wants food or attention. He was very confused the first few days after I removed it, and even tried hanging on a window screen once, which was met with a face-full of water from the spray bottle. He will come into the house if I don’t block him.

Nearly-Identical Porch Cat (a cool gray instead of a warm one) shows up when he detects others being fed, but is very much the junior of the bunch. He’s pettable sometimes, but defers to the others if they decide they want what’s in his food dish. He’s smart enough to grab the meaty sticks first, though.

Solid Gray Porch Cat definitely lifts. He’s a bulky tom who’s all muscle, and despite his obvious health, is always ravenous when he shows up. He wolfs down whatever’s put in front of him and then checks to see if someone else is eating too slowly. Which is why Prime’s dish is up on the grill side table; Solid’s not much of a jumper. He shows an interest in coming inside, but hasn’t pushed his luck yet.

(I suspect they’re all getting much more interested in coming in, as temperatures drop into the 30s at night)

PLAing the field

Tried out a third-party filament for the first time last night, the well-regarded Hatchbox PLA (in a nice dull primer-gray). The one catch with the Dremel 3D45 is that it takes a slightly smaller, narrower spool than most third parties ship, including Hatchbox. This is because Dremel stores the spool internally, both for a more predictable feed path and to keep the filament warmer and drier. The downside is that even their new spools only hold 750 grams of filament instead of the common 1 kilo. So first I had to roll half a kilo onto a recently-emptied Dremel spool. I won’t do that by hand again; next time I’ll use one of the power-drill spool adapters.

The first thing I tried to print with the new stuff was a sewing thimble, because it looked like a quick job with some nice surface detail. But it wasn’t something I’d printed before, so when it showed signs of shifted layers along the Y axis, I wasn’t sure if it was the filament, the settings, or the Y-axis belt. Checking the settings, Dremel runs their PLA at 230°C with the bed at 60°C, while Hatchbox recommends no higher than 210°C, with no specific bed temperature.

I made a custom config at 210/50 and printed a known good part, my monorail koma. Worked perfectly. I might try out the thimble again in one of the Dremel filaments, to see if it’s just something that slices oddly in Dremel’s version of Cura. I found some forum posts where people had layer-shifting issues with some similar prints that went away if you rotated the model before slicing, and I remember a rounding issue in a gcode generator I used with the Nomad CNC as well.

Why go to all this trouble? 750g from Dremel = $35, a kilo from Hatchbox = $20.

Next up, hairspray on the bed.

…for getting the first layer of a print to stick to the glass bed, as opposed to the glue sticks Dremel recommends. I’ve only had a few minor issues with parts/supports not sticking, but sometimes they stick so well that they leave a completely clean spot that’s hard to fill in. I have a second print bed, so I can switch back and forth to see which method I prefer.

Afternoon puzzle, 3:30pm edition

If five Amazon packages haven’t left the warehouse yet and are all supposed to arrive tomorrow by 10 pm, how will they be shipped and what day will they actually show up?

One pin only, please

The clever bit

There are about a thousand filament-spool holder designs on the various 3D-printable download sites. I found this one noteworthy for one specific element of its construction: the lazy-susan component rides on wheels attached by pins clipped directly off the filament spool. That is, the axle on the wheel and the holes to secure it to the frame are ~1.75 mm in diameter, so you just grab some leftover filament, stick it in the hole, and clip it off.

I’ve seen a number of ways to align and secure multi-part prints, but that one is by far the simplest and most effective.

A day late and a phony ballot short

I just received the following spam at the email address I use with my domain registrar. Let me repeat, this one arrived today:

Subject: Limited Edition - Biden Harris 2020 T-Shirt Collection!

* Presidential Election 2020 gift Ideas for Men Women and Youths.

* Vice President Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the perfect
  candidates to stand against Donald Trump and the Republican
  policies. Wear this to a political rally, campaigning and on debate
  night. Vote Uncle Joe and Senator Kamala Harris in the 2020

This makes the perfect political gift for the Liberal, Progressives,
Democratic men and women. The U.S. needs leadership and who better
than two experienced politicians. Senator Kamala Harris is the number
one contender for Bidens Vice President in 2020.

100% Printed in the U.S.A - Ship Worldwide
Limited Edition and Only Available for few days. They will never be
sold again or in stores. Don't delay, they will sell out!

The unsubscribe button goes to a Google form, the “view more designs here” button goes to a URL shortener to hide the final destination. The sender is using a Gmail account, but probably not with the knowledge of its actual owner…

Package deal

Today’s delivery will contain filament (including a spool of duckie yellow) and magnets. Tomorrow, coffee and a water filter. Wednesday, meat, meat, and more meat. Those should get me through the apocalypseholiday season.

Reply hazy, ask again later

I have no idea what’s going to happen between now and January 20th. The one thing I’m sure of is that Team Blue is not acting like a group secure in the knowledge that they won fair-and-square; they’re flailing around like someone trying to put out a grease fire with mineral water. The ruthless mockery and silencing of dissent is what you might call a “tell”.

The thought that comforts me is that they’re already starting to turn on each other. Hatred is the only thing binding the Left together, and if you take away Trump, it’s every Commie for vyxself.


Frozen bats full of Corona-chan cousins found in Japan and Cambodia.

(this probably is good, in the sense of “lab freezers full of potential evidence about the history of covid”; as long as keep track of all those freezers…)

Boys Over Cocogoats

You can take that award and shove it right up…

…ooh, that’s gonna hurt.

No Yuuna for you!

The English translation of the Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs manga apparently changed publishers, to one who isn’t supporting ebook releases and is charging a lot more. And didn’t overlap with the previous publisher, so the last one I bought was #9, and they’re starting with #11. Yo ho, a pirate’s life for me!

Parts is parts

My 3D-printed accessories for the baby takadai went over well with the group yesterday. Turns out I wasn’t the only one who bought a 3D printer and started making new koma, but the other person liked my design better than hers and asked for the STL files, which I was happy to share. The upcycled filament spool was as amusing as expected, and they really liked the more practical version as well.

(and, yeah, it really is too small for 37 bobbins, especially as light as these are; tension goes out the window when they’re piled up on each other)

Been there done that

Tried to watch The Boys, mostly for Karl Urban. Found myself distracted by the feeling that the creators are patting themselves on the back for doing something bold and different, evidence that they’re kinda new to comics.

(this quest is a great introduction to the cryololizombie Qiqi; no, I don’t have one yet)

The Sacred Texts

1st the end trouble You studied many
Even tomorrow will make efforts
Day sets and the time of the under school
Stepping on the shadow that grew I will come back cheerfully
However, I wait a little bit I see the surroundings Is not it strange something?
The thing that attached to the head be what?
The thing that protruded prettily be what?
Be careful! fellows are coming to there
Escape early! fellows are next to you
Do it! Attach the ear of a cat!
Do it! Attach the ear of a cat!
Raise both hands! (highly toward the sky)
Raise both hands! (More highly toward the sky)

(Classical Reference)

(only known download link for full-quality AVI)

(only known reference to the creator, Kanden Chui)


MatterControl is a free 3D-printer manager/slicer/dicer from an online retailer that sells lots of filament, accessories, and printers (including their own models based on the open-source Prusa design).

I had a small part that required just a hint of support, and the Dremel version of Cura is all-or-nothing when it comes to generating supports. Since this software was next on my list to try, I fired it up, decrypted the user interface (universally foreign to all the platforms they support), loaded my part, selected from a library that included working settings for all of Dremel’s branded filaments, sliced, saved, and sent the gcode over the network with my little Bash script. Part came out clean and sturdy; “will slice again”.

I’ll get to try it out the next time I start loading up the baby takadai with bobbins, since it’s a small tool designed to make that process easier. The first version of the part was workable but clumsy, and I think the changes I’ve made in v3 will make it even easier. There might be a v4; still tinkering with how it attaches.

The braid in the middle is the PU/steel wire, in the same pattern as the one on the left. The one on the right is my first attempt at Sasanami reduced to 37 tama. You can see some tension and beating issues that I don’t know if I can solve on the babydai; the weighted bobbins (ezee-bob, bob-eez, whatever) are too light, and the frame is a bit small for me to really beat the weft in.

(that is, Sasanami is a warp-faced braid, where you shouldn’t be able to see the weft peeking out from underneath the thick ribs. The white threads should completely disappear instead of looking like a dotted line. The red isn’t as obvious against the background, but still peeks out)


There will be a v4. Or maybe I’ll go back to v2. v3 was a bust.

Kinky parts

Cool! No, wait…

I only check the catchall mailbox for my domain about once a month, because it’s almost entirely spam sent to randomly generated addresses. As I’ve mentioned a few times, a fair amount of it is in Japanese.

Checking it last night, it seems I’ve started getting weekly newsletters from a kinky church in Japan. Wait. Stop. I meant a church in Kinki, Japan. That’s not nearly as interesting.

I actually got one in Korean a few months ago, and online translators tell me it was one of those “pay up in bitcoin or we’ll release the webcam photos of you stroking it to nasty online porn” scams. Sent to a randomly-generated email address at my domain, so good luck with that one, boys.

I’ve never really understood those. Even if you hacked my computer’s webcam, you’d only see me from about mid-chest up. To get my dick into the picture, I’d have to stand up and risk keyboard damage. Yeah, try explaining that one at the Genius Bar.

Analysis: true

The vast majority of 3D-printable designs available online are parts and tools for making 3D printers. Still. I’ve only printed one of them, an Olsson torque wrench, because nozzles wear out, and I’d really hate to strip a thread changing one.

D&D minis and dungeon tiles are also available in quantity, but most look like crap unless you print at the highest resolution, which takes hours to days for each one. And many still require substantial post-processing. In addition to painting.

According to Schultz…

We see nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

And more nothing.

German Unicorn Chaser

That’s what she said

Hillary Clinton on the election:

“No, it doesn’t kill me because he knows he’s an illegitimate president. I believe he understands that the many varying tactics they used, from voter suppression and voter purging to hacking to the false stories – he knows that – there were just a bunch of different reasons why the election turned out like it did.”

Oh, wait, she means Trump, not Biden. I guess that was what gracefully conceding looked like four years ago.

Little, Plastic

Brought To You By Apple,…

“Where QA is for the little people, and by that we mean paying customers.”

3D roundup

Made a more realistically-sized take-up reel for the baby takadai, to replace the entertaining-but-cumbersome filament spool. Belatedly remembered that bridges need two ends, and printed separate top and bottom pieces instead of a mess of spaghetti. More precisely, I halted the print before it started printing the spaghetti, and then made a snap-on top piece. 😁

Printed a Pokemon Go aiming device. Not because I have any great interest in running around Maskifornia catching mons, but just because I need to open the game up occasionally now that you can transfer them directly to Home (and in many cases, to Sword/Shield), and I might as well catch a few while I’m there. I liked the way this one was customizable, so I could enter the specific measurements for my phone and case. I did not like the fact that the creator has never heard of curves, so I had to sand the sharp corners.

On that note, I also printed sanding sticks. Cute little things, complete with printed screws.

I also printed a set of TUSH, a very popular design for an open filament spool holder that uses common skateboard/inline bearings, which I had enough of. This came in quite handy when the first attempt to print the sanding sticks failed completely due to lack of filament. This is the spool of ECO-ABS that came with the printer, and about halfway through it was miswound. I had to unreel about 8 feet of it to find the overlap, then wind it back on and feed it back into the machine. The spool of red PLA that I used up completely didn’t have this problem, so I’m 1 for 2.

I did not download and print this girl. She’s clearly expensive and high-maintenance. Also high-poly. Clever idea for the glasses, though.

Still a ways to go, though…

PU/steel wire kind of sucks

One of the things that made the baby takadai kits a bit complicated for many of the buyers was that each one came with a small spool of some exotic plastic-coated fiber. I got a pretty thin polyurethane over an even thinner steel core, and I’m very glad I didn’t try to use it first, as had been suggested. I did a little sanding with emery boards to make sure mine was smooth enough not to snag yarn/string, then made a few test braids.

Since it was so thin, I figured I’d use two strands per bobbin, and started tying it into a loop with my usual fisherman’s bend to attach it to the leader cords. It snapped. After several tries, I learned just how much I could tighten the half-hitches so they’d hold without breaking when I pulled the knot tight.

Then I started winding them onto the bobbins, and my fingers quickly reminded me that I was working with a loop of thin wire, as it dug in and abraded the skin.

Actually braiding with it was a real pain in the ass because, again, wire, so it was stiff as I worked the sword through to open the shed, and then held all the kinks I introduced in that process. I was ready to quit after about four inches of braid, but I settled for swearing to never touch the stuff again and give it away at the first opportunity. As soon as I’m done, I’ll take a picture and switch to something that better shows off the potential of my new koma and take-up reel. (which may not get finished in time, but as long as I can get some good pictures showing things you can’t do with the stock parts, I’m good)

Classical Reference

Upcycling versus epicycling


Next weekend there will be a Zoom gathering for folks who bought the baby takadai, to share tips and show off their braids. I’ve only made three braids so far, because I got caught up in epicycles of projects on how to improve it, including of course the full tinkertoy-takadai project.

So I decided to just strip off the tape, glue it together firmly, and start braiding with the new koma I made two weeks ago. Then I found myself staring at an empty filament spool…

Okay, now I’ve got a firmly-glued frame with an extended take-up spool, so I can make braids an inch wider than before, and approximately 90 feet long!

(and, yes, I could have printed a more practical spool at the same time I made the stand, but this one will be a lot more amusing to show off on Saturday…)

Black Ducks Matter

I know, I know, why wasn’t this the first thing I made on the 3D printer? Because I didn’t stumble across the model until yesterday, of course.

I need to try it again at higher resolution, in a more appropriate filament color. Or else buy new mini paints; the old ones are all dried up now.

Minkowski means never having to say your CPU is too fast

After I finished printing the new filament-spool makitori-bō, I grabbed something simple to try, namely a strain-reducer for masks. It included OpenSCAD source for precise sizing, so I opened it up. And waited. A lot. As I watched, the 38-line file chewed up more and more of my CPU and memory without even displaying a cheap preview.

Because for no good reason I can see, he implemented the shape with minkowski(). I left it running for a few minutes, and the only change when I got back was that it had passed 2GB of in-use memory with nothing to show for it.

Dear Apple,

When you’re through figuring out why your new releasebeta OS is bricking customer laptops, could you maybe explain how the brand new Time Machine full backup I made on my NAS “does not support the required capabilities” for an incremental backup. I ask because after the last Catalina security update, my USB Time Machine backup drive won’t even mount successfully…

Always scratch a monkey mount

I spent three hours this morning petting a cat. No regrets.

(Porch Cat destructively ordered breakfast early, and since it was cold and foggy out, I sat down on the stairs and petted him for a few minutes before completing the trip to the front porch and loading him up with dry food and meat sticks. Twenty minutes later, he was scratching on the back door again, and the leftover food out front said he wasn’t still hungry, so I sat on the stairs to pet him for a while. He promptly fell asleep, so I carried him over to the couch and let him nap on my chest until he wanted out. Which was 2.5 hours later. Some people would say I have a cat; I can’t understand why)

(there’s very little AsoIku fan-art on Pixiv, and even less of the minor characters; this was the only recognizable Antonia I found)

“Well, fuck me silly, that worked the first time.”

While designing a fully-parametric set of connectors for my tinkertoy-takadai, I decided to add screw/nail/pin holes and angled supports. The supports are simple right triangles that were easily implemented with a series of if/else statements, but trying to reuse that code to create holes on any face that didn’t have a support was lumpy spaghetti with no sauce.

So I tore it out completely and wrote a little matrix:

pipes = [ up, down, left, right, near, far ];
all_faces = [
  [ 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, V_UP,    ORIENT_Z ],
  [ 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, V_DOWN,  ORIENT_ZNEG ],
  [ 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, V_LEFT,  ORIENT_XNEG ],
  [ 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, V_RIGHT, ORIENT_X ],
  [ 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, V_NEAR,  ORIENT_YNEG ],
  [ 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, V_FAR,   ORIENT_Y ]

A dual loop from 0-5 tests each side of the central cube for the presence of a pipe, and if it doesn’t have one, rotates to it and makes a hole in the wall. If it does have one, it checks each adjacent side. If that side doesn’t have a pipe, it translates into the pipe, rotates to face that side, and makes a hole in the wall. Yes, I’m punching holes in faces.

The new code worked, first time. And now I can reuse it to create both the supports and the actual pipes, eliminating about 80% of the original code.

Burning Bridges

I finally got curious to see just how large an unsupported span the Dremel could bridge without me having to get fiddly with temperatures and print speeds. With PLA, the answer seems to be “at least two inches, so stop wasting plastic on supports”:


Getting behind on games

I immediately recognized this as Sucrose. Genshin Impact really builds up your skills…

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”