Category Archives: Department of DIY

On World Mental Health Day

I recently started to get treatment for my depression and PTSD after suffering more than 40 years with it. As many posting to Twitter have mentioned about their depression, mine was initially dismissed as teenaged angst, then as “just they way you are” and “being serious for a change”. There was also the problem that more than 40 years ago when this mess started 1) there was no such diagnosis as PTSD 2) even if there was nobody would believe you could get it by changing schools several times at the wrong point in your life. I think that started some time in the ’90s when the DOD noticed that adults who had been military dependents as children had suicide, drug addiction, and alcoholism rates almost identical to combat veterans from Vietnam. I never went through any suicide attempts and couldn’t afford drugs or booze, I think that was the only reason I didn’t join that statistic. There was also the mistaken belief that young people couldn’t get depressed, mainly because at the time nobody knew that depression can happen to people not actually in serious conditions because it is a disease, a disease that manifests as an emotional state, not just “being real sad” all the time. To give an idea about how much I changed from before to after depression I got a “Motormouth Award” at scout camp for being lively and talkative and joking all the time. That was the Real Me (Not Depressed), in the 7th grade. By my senior year in HS, less than 5 years later, I had already had one major and countless minor bouts of depression.

So, several things here: 1) Mental Illness is a category of real illnesses, like heart disease or kidney failure. 2) Anyone can get Mental Illness at any age. Seriously, it’s like childhood cancers or Type 1 diabetes. 3) Having Mental Illness does not mean you have a weak mind or are morally deficient or any other negative stereotype, it means your brain is not functioning within design tolerances. Nothing more, nothing less.

Please share this with your friends.

PSA, Opus the Unkillable Badass Poet.

I spent most of yesterday unconscious, also a large chunk of today

There is something out there that is trying to kill me, and not even aware of what it’s doing. Some tree, weed or grass is attempting to reproduce and in the process is making me miserable. I have burning eyes, a nasty post-nasal drip, and a hacking cough from the post-nasal drip. I have a treatment for it, but that treatment is also the same thing I use to go to sleep at night, and the known dose for treating allergies is twice what I use as a sleep aid at night. So I have a choice between awake and miserable, or asleep and not feeling like I’m stuck underneath a stampede of small cattle. That caught under the stampede feeling is because the intercostals in my chest are exhausted by all the coughing caused by the runny nose/post-nasal drip.

On the Mini Sprint-T front I have almost determined the length I need to cut the rear axle tube so that the rear tires track is the same as the front. The stock for the rear axle tube protrudes exactly 0.125″ inside the hub, and the brake disk has to be 0.1428″ from the front of the wheel mounting surface for a scale caliper to fit between the hub and the disk. Subtract the .0675″ thickness from the front of the mounting surface to the back of the hub as received and the back of the hub needs to have .0753″ of added material for the mount for the brake disk. That means the front axle will have (2 * .1428) + 1.92 inches or 2.2056″ between the mounting flanges, and the rear axle tube would be 2.056 – (2 * .0675) + .250 or 2.3206″ long, leaving .68″ for making the standoffs for the front hubs which would be the same 0.200″ as the rear hubs. Yay! for having more than enough raw stock on hand. I’m still pondering the choice of material for sculpturing the back side of the hub for mounting the disk.

Off on another tangent, I madecollected $6 this weekend from that game app on my phone that pays me to play it. So Yay! money from playing on my phone like it was a job. This is the same source of funds that I used to buy the rice cooker/vegetable steamer back in July, so perseverance and patience will get me good stuff. I have also used these funds to purchase most of the things I am using to make the Mini Sprint-T. The kits I bought for inspiration and as a source for making the body, the engine for the SBC version, the tires for the street version, and all the raw stock for making the frames, were all sourced through Amazon. The water pump and front engine mount, the LS7 engine and the 700r4 transmission for the SBC engine were sourced through VCG Resins, while the wheels, hubs, rotors, and rear axles were sourced through Ron Coon Resins . Those items were bought with money from other side gigs.

And that’s pretty much all I had to say today.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable Badass Poet

I live, I die, I LIVE AGAIN!

OK if that sounds familiar it’s a quote from Mad Max Fury Road. And it’s perfect for the day I started composing this post, because 15 years ago I died. Not that I try to keep that a secret. But yeah, one more year and I can drive again.

Now, I promised that my next post would have pictures of the new wheels and rear axle for the Mini Sprint-T.

First up, what fell out of the bag after I broke the seal.

Wheels and hubs and the brake rotors in a small plastic bag.

The rear axles, center sections and axle tubes. The 1/1 scale center sections are stout but light.

The brake rotor on the hubs as delivered does not leave room for a caliper.
If you look carefully you can see the hub resting against the rotor. Not good.

Wheel outer half, hub, and rotor sitting separately.

The hub in the wheel.

The axle tube will become the standoff for the rotor so there is room for a brake caliper between the hub and the rotor.

The hub on the tube with the rotor.

Now you can see how the standoff is supposed to work.

And you can see the problem with the wheels and tires as a team.

You can see how far the whole wheel sticks out past the tire.

As you can see I have a bit of work to do to make these fit the models, all the hubs need to be fitted with the standoffs and the axle tubes trimmed to the right width for the car, the standoffs need to be slightly sculpted to match the 1/1 hubs so I will be buying some Sculpy to bridge the gap between the hub and rotor. But this car build is moving along.

The next issue to take care of is the differences between Henry’s Tin and Speedway’s Fiberglass. As I was laying out the frame I noticed the body wasn’t lining up properly, so I did a bit of measuring on the model body and the Speedway body and a bit of research on the Internet I found out that the kit body was pretty close to the 1925 car it was modeled on, and the Speedway body had been “stretched” a bit to fit “late model” humans in width. With the cowl problems I already noticed that means I need to do a lot to make the kit body fit my frame. So what I decided to do is a 3 step process to go from the AMT kit body to the Mini Sprint-T body.

Step one is filling all the holes in the AMT body with plastic Goop-ed in place and pulling a mold off that. Then I can remove the fill pieces and use the kit body as intended for the kit. Using this mold I cast a hard resin plug to use for stage one of the body mods, work the plug over to correct the contours of the cowl and back but don’t widen it yet.

Step two is taking the cleaned up plug and pulling another mold from it, then pulling a vacuformed body from that mold. The vacuformed body is then corrected for the width issue, filled with resin and cleaned up to make another plug for another mold that I can use to vacuform the final body. If I like the way the final body turns out I might do a run of bodies until that final mold wears out. If there is enough interest I can then use the final plug to make another mold and the process continues until I get tired of it or people get tired of buying the body. Step 3: Profit!😀

And a little late posting, but here we are.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable Badass Poet

The parts came in today!

The hubs, wheels, brake rotors, and rear axles for the Mini Sprint-T came in the mail today! Yay!

Everything is going to require some kind of modification from the delivered state except the brake rotors for the front wheels, they are within a couple thousandths of an inch of being the right size and only the rears will require any change in diameter since they are about a half-inch smaller in 1/1 scale and that would be noticeable in 1/25 scale.

The wheels measured out as 10″ wide bead-to-bead in scale, with the street tire wheel needing to be 8″ and the race tire wheel needing to be 14″, some work needs to be done on all of them. The back half of the wheel measures out about 2″ too wide for the street version, so narrowing that to the right width will get most of the adjustment for the street tire. The back half measured too narrow for the race wheel by a couple hundredths of an inch and the front half was over 0.1″ too narrow for the race tires. Both of those will require some finicky work to get the right width.

One thing that will require work is getting the rotors the right distance away from the back side of the hubs. As delivered the rotors mount to the rear face of the hub with no clearance, but 1/1 the rotors are spaced away from the hubs in different widths depending on the brake calipers being used. The solution for that is very easy. The rear axle tube is just the right size material for this and the tube will have to be trimmed a large amount to get the width right in the back. So the hubs and rotors will be glued to the rear axle after trimming for the right width and brake rotor offset, then the leftover bits of the rear axle tube will be used to build the front spindles to the right size and brake rotor offset. The tires won’t roll, but that is a small price to pay to get the offset right. That does leave me with two metal axles that run inside the rear axle for the tires to roll that are redundant. The front wheels won’t turn left and right either as my tools won’t let me work that small.

Naturally all of these modifications will work much easier with a lathe for making square cuts in round parts. Hint, hint.

I’ll have pictures ready for tomorrow’s post, I promise.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Poet

More on not being depressed, this might get a little repetitive

So far this week I have gone to the Lab Rat Keeper, and bought a stamp and mailed a letter at the post office in one day, taken a 2 mile walk to buy cat food, fixed dinner (beans, rice, and vegetables) and had a conversation with Mrs. the Poet on another day, took another two mile walk and had another long conversation with the Mrs. on another day, had a shorter conversation with Mrs. the Poet, went grocery shopping, had another two mile walk and stopped to correct a $0.40 mistake on the grocery bill yesterday, and so far today I had a conversation with Mrs. the Poet plus all the regular maintaining life functions stuff and the day’s barely half over. The conversations are what has Mrs. the Poet excited the most. Seriously this is like meeting an all new person for her as I was already depressed (but didn’t know it) when we first met.

The letter was an order to Ron Coon Resins in NE for 8 Wide 5 hubs, 8 disk brake rotors, 8 wheels, and 2 quick change rear ends. I’m at the point I can’t do the front axles without the actual hubs I’m going to use, so this will let me move on with the build(s). Yes that was a plural on the build, I’m making the “ultimate” build with the LS7 engine at the same time as the “most probable” build with the Small Block Chevy, so I have a 3D blueprint for making either one of them. I’m still trying to find brake calipers for the rear brakes, I found some good ones for the fronts but GM Metric calipers are very hard to find in 1/25 scale. In contrast 1/25 or 1/24 scale 4 piston calipers are common. Most are not cheap (except the Model Car Garage die-casts at $5 a set of 4) but they are available.

On another note I have been thinking of how I could get some pedal time in while I’m on the computer, but I’m at a technical impasse. Anyone know how to make a Chromebook shut down gracefully when the voltage is taken away from the charge port? I think this would be a software thing. I’m trying to get my computer to run on a pedal-powered battery charger and use the battery to keep everything going in sleep mode when I quit turning the pedals. I’m thinking connecting the pedals to a car alternator to make dirty 12VDC then filtering that to the clean 9VDC the computer needs with lots of caps and “stuff” to make an LC filter and a linear regulator for the final output with another filter cap across that output to make it absolutely ripple-free, and then plug that into my computer.

Billed @€0.02, Opus

One week until my Death Day celebration

That’s right, next week will be 15 years since I died. I’m trying to decide how to celebrate it, I’m thinking another zombie theme party complete with Jello “brains”. But I am open to suggestions. This is a celebration that while I died, I didn’t “stay dead”. I think the same thing that enabled me to fight through 40 years of depression without giving up completely also wouldn’t let me stay dead in the street after I got hit.

This year I would like gift cards to Starbucks or Amazon, or a small lathe if anyone has one they want to get rid of. I could do so much with something that would let me turn stuff up to 2″ diameter and down under 1/16“. I could make my own tires as a fer’instance. I could make my own rims from aluminum barstock, or widen and narrow kit wheels to fit other tires. There would be a lot that I could do with a small lathe, things that I could monetize. Building a model race car and need some oddball size race slicks? Easy peasy. Making road tires would require turning the tire to size and somehow carving the correct tread pattern into the blank, I’m not sure I could do that as I’m not a sculptor. Thinking about it I can follow a pattern that I could print off and transfer to the blank, by making the pattern from a picture of the tire in question. That would be time-consuming but doable. And then cast a rubber tire from a mold made from the blank. Thinking about it some more I could also make tires that don’t exist but could, like a 26X16.50R-15 Hoosier Pro Street. Currently the shortest 14″ wide tread Pro Street is 29” tall, that nobody makes a scale replica of anyway.

But enough of lathes and what I could do with one. What kind of party do you suggest?

PSA, Opus

It’s amazing what can happen when you’re not depressed

I went for a walk today to get some cat food from the store and to max out the captures on the phone game I play that pays me money to play, then I sat down with my wife and had a conversation. Pre-medication I might have been able to do the first, but I probably would not have been able to do the second, and doing both in the same day, much less one right after the other, would have been a miracle. That’s the difference between mild depression and none. Mild depression I can go to the doctor, or cook dinner, or sit down and have a conversation, but not all on the same day. Without depression I can walk two miles to the store in the heat, have a long conversation with my wife, and cook all of dinner all on the same day without feeling like I was drowning, or some other overwhelming feeling.

Mrs. the Poet was like “Who are you and where did you put my husband?” over the difference. She has never known me from before I was depressed. I’m not sure but I think she likes the non-depressed person better. I know I do.

PSA, Opus

Sorry I haven’t written…

OK catching back up, I’m on antidepressants long enough to have them adjusted twice now, and I’m “officially” not depressed, and the side effects are easing off. This particular med has some side effects that are distinctly unpleasant if you have had a UTI and that’s all I’m going to say about it.

I took several days off right when Mrs. the Poet got back from NY to go to my 40th HS reunion. I found out my face hasn’t changed much since I graduated based on the number of people who recognized me at the pub during the pre-reunion meet and greet. I also found that there were a number of girls wanting to go out with me if I had just asked, but since I didn’t…

I’m finally getting enough parts to start building the Mini Sprint-T. The order for the wheels, hubs, brakes and rear axles goes out tomorrow. I’m building two versions, so I’m getting the running gear for both in the same order. The main difference is one car I will have to narrow the wheels for, the other I will have to widen them. One will have 10″ street tires on 8″ rims, the other will have 14″ race slicks on 14″ rims. One car will have the LS7 and the other will have the SBC backed by a 700r4 automatic transmission. Both will have EFI, it’s just that the one on the SBC looks like a 4bbl carburetor with an extra fuel line and electrical cables.

I have found the steering box I’m going to use Classic Performance Products VEGA-PSB Power Steering Box. This box has almost the same ratio as the $600 Sweet 800 box for a lot less money and is a lot easier to integrate into the front end. The Vega box is much smaller than the 800 box and fits the same mount as the Vega manual box. I went to the manufacturer’s web site and downloaded the dimensions so I will be able to accurately model it.

And that’s pretty much everything I didn’t mention last time I posted. Opus

Play me as a race in D&D 3.5

I was thinking about it after a late night discussion of what real-life me would be like in D&D 3.5. One of the things we talked about was serious levels of natural armor and damage reduction, along with quick healing, and some other things. So, I present Opus as a D&D race.

Race Opuses

Opuses are a peaceful race distantly related to trolls and halflings but with skin tones that suggest human as well. They are less hairy than halflings, but males are known to have monobrows that extend to the tips of their noses. Hair color for an Opus is much like an anime character, almost any color in the spectrum (including infrared and ultraviolet) can be a natural hair color, and beards and eyebrows are not restricted to the same or even similar colors as hair anywhere else on the head or body. It is not common but even beards and moustaches can be colored differently on a male Opus. Male body hair can even have patterns like a cat, but that is unusual. There is a strong sexual dimorphism about body and facial hair for Opuses, with males getting furrier as they age while females have little to no body hair and barely have eyebrows.

Body appearance for an Opus is like a miniature troll, rounded head with a strong eyebrow ridge and long arms and torso with short legs. The legs are usually muscular with large calves because Opuses spend so much time walking or using strider horses, wheeled contraptions that allow them to move as fast as a horse on level ground, and much faster going downhill. We would call them hobby horses or balance bikes. They are common items in Opus villages.

The Opus’ deity has one commandment: “Make something awesome.” Some interpret this as “every day” while some interpret it as “before you die” with varying degrees of what constitutes “awesome”. But everyone tries to follow this commandment. This makes crafting a religious imperative, with one skill point per level assigned to crafting. Because of their deity Opuses are craftspersons of many things, with some specializing in one kind of thing and making that as well as Opusly possible. Opus tools are highly prized as objects of art as well as things to make other things, with ornate carved handles and etched and engraved blades. Similarly Opus clothing is either highly ornate or highly functional or sometimes both with the decorative touches meant to add another layer of functionality. It is not uncommon for Opus cloaks to be reversible, with one side meant to conceal and the other to attract attention, like a hunter’s vest that had a woodland pattern on one side and was bright orange on the other. There is also the skill “craft everything” that when taken allows an Opus to make nearly any non-magical item from whatever is available and have it be serviceable. It probably won’t be pretty, but it will work and will hold up to repeated use. As an example an Opus with this skill could mine the local dirt for meteorite dust that he could then forge into a knife or sword using a stick as the hilt. This is a valuable skill for an adventuring party. Warlock Opuses level 10 or higher can also use Eldritch Blast to forge metal without a fire or hammer. Opus are also very good cooks, partially because they need to eat 3 times as much as a human because of the natural armor and DR.

Almost all Opuses are magical to some extent, with 3 out of 4 being Warlocks with natural magic, half of those not a Warlock being a Wizard, and the final one in eight having no effective magic. The rare Opuses without magick are not all that crippled as they don’t share the -3 Cha penalty the rest of the race gets. As a race Opuses are the only Warlocks with healing spells, having “reversed engineered” Sickening Blast invocation to Healing Touch, with d8+level HP restored up to 20 times a day. This magical ability is stacked on whatever class the Opus player selects at startup.

In battle Warlock and Wizard Opuses use ranged spells and invocations to cover as much of the battlefield as possible while retaining as many options as possible. Those with Healing Touch will try to stay within a one-step distance of “squishies” for a quick healing if needed during battle.

Character creation. An Opus has +3 bonuses to Int and Wis, and a -3 penalty to Cha, unless the Opus has no magic. An Opus has no AC bonus for Dex (effectively always flat-footed) but gets a d6 bonus to base AC for Natural Armor (not bypassed by Touch attacks) at character creation and gets a d20 DR at character creation that stacks with any DR from class progression. Opuses have a ranged deduction on spot checks of -2 per 5 feet increment, but a natural +1 per level on listen checks. An Opus gets 1 extra skill point per level for crafting that can’t be used for any other skills, including at character creation. Opuses also get bonuses in any skill that can also be used to create things like rope skills and others of that nature at one point per level. To get Healing Touch the character has to have Sickening Blast and used it at least once. This is normally done during formal Opus education at the primary level so that as many Opuses as possible know how to use this invocation, but some Opuses don’t get Sickening Blast until they reach higher levels, and one in 4 is not a Warlock.

An Opus is a Medium size creature with a movement of 20 on foot, 15 swimming and climbing, and 100 on the strider horse on flat terrain, with normal 20 uphill and as much as 300 downhill. In addition a strider horse can carry 5 times the character’s carry on back limits of cargo with a half speed reduction going uphill. These are so common in Opus villages they almost seem like they are grafted to the villagers. All Opuses are ChG alignment and can play as any class that can be ChG. Any Warlock or Wizard Opus would have to multi-class to play as any other class, those are permanent parts of the race.

Opuses speak and read Common and Elvish plus Opus, which is a variation of Troll not understood by any other race. The written language for Opus uses the glyphs used by Elvish but pronounced differently (like Japanese uses Chinese characters), so someone who reads Elvish would read Opus as gibberish in Elvish.

Opus get whatever HP they get as a class or d10+Con per level, whichever is higher.

PSA, Opus (not the D&D race).

More parts came in

Well not parts per se, raw stock to make parts from. The .080″ stock for the front axle came in yesterday. Now all I need to make the front axle assembly are the Wide 5 hubs so I can get the geometry right for the steering and brake calipers. I’m still trying to decide if I want to put the steering arms on the back of the axle and the calipers and coilovers on the front, or vice versa. That’s one of the “things” about building a model first, you can find out what runs into what and move them so they don’t, for a lot less than starting out in full-scale or buying a 3D CAD program and then spending hours learning to use it. Plus when you’re done with the model you have something, something you can hold in your hands and say “I made this thing!” and feel proud of what you did. You can’t do that with a 3D rendering.

There’s not much to see of the raw stock, it looks pretty much exactly the same as the .060″ stock unless you throw the micrometer or digital calipers to it or put the two side by side. Otherwise it’s just two pieces of round rod plastic, one slightly larger in diameter than the other. The thing is that when you put them on the model and you don’t use different size round stock for the pieces it just ends up looking wrong, especially when you use the smaller size where the bigger should be. In my case it would be like using 1.5″ tubing to make the axle when it should be 2″, it would be obvious real quick that I had used the wrong stock.

The coilovers are being made but I’ll have to wind the springs myself over a blank because that’s just what you have to do to have coilovers in this scale without carving your own molds and casting resin replicas of coilover shocks. And besides being outside of my skillset, that would be a pain. Getting back to the springs, I’ll really have to wind 16 springs to match the 1:1 Sprint T in both versions I’m trying to decide on building. I was planning on using a dual spring with a slider to get the spring rate and travel for street use, with a jam nut that hits the slider between the springs to stiffen the suspension for racing or to reduce the impact if I hit something big enough to blow through the full 4″ of compression travel from static ride height. BTW the formula for finding the spring rate when the slider is unencumbered is A*B/A+B so the dual spring will have a lower rate than either of the two springs individually. The softest chrome spring in the catalog is 150 pounds, which is more than the 100 pounds I need at the front but less than the 250 I need at the front for racing. So plugging the 150 and 250 springs into the formula gives me an initial rate of 94 pounds at ride height, close enough for gov’t work. In addition to giving me more rate options using 2 springs is less expensive than buying a single spring long enough to fill the gap between the spring seats on the shock absorber when it’s extended fully at full rebound/droop. Seriously that’s like almost 20″ and those super-long springs are hella expensive. Also there is the esthetic to consider, having one chrome and one bright yellow spring at each corner is like saying “I can be civilized when the situation calls for it…”

And I have to get back to doing thing in the Real World™ so this is the end of this blog post.

Billed @€0.02, Opus