Groundhog Day the movie – in real life

I don’t know about you, but social distancing is beginning to feel like Groundhog Day. Every morning starts out the same, with the same possibilities in front of me. As I consume most of the things-to-do around the house, the options have narrowed. The items I end up tackling are ranging wider and wider afield.

Yesterday, we dusted off a Wii that hadn’t see the light in many years and I was able to get the Wii Fit working. That provided several hours of distraction as I discovered the various Yoga poses I could no longer do as well as a few I probably never could.

Part of the process of each day is to discover where we’re going to go to today (Mr. Peabody). Today I am going to replace most of the traditional light switches in our house with decorator light switches – this is a project that has been on the back burner for 2 years. I’m also going to tackle setting up Zoom meeting for our ham radio group and the woodshop board.

3D printing replacement parts for a Sunbeam toaster

During this time of isolation there is time to tackle some of the annoying things that have never been annoying enough to correct. This is a brief story about addressing one of those.

I have a great Model 20-3 AG Sunbeam automatic toaster. This was a wedding present my wife and I received long ago. They don’t manufacture this device anymore, unfortunately. This toaster is a descendant of a long line of Sunbeam toasters that are probably the best toasters in the world.

It has always had a slight problem in that it did not go down and start reliably. This is easily corrected by adjusting the tension on the toaster.

The annoying problem we’ve had is that the control knob on the front of the toaster cracked, fell apart and was lost long ago. Now that I have a 3D printer though, that issues should easily be addressed. The design it may not be the same as the original, but I was hoping for something close enough to pass inspection by my wife.

First, I had to find some pictures of the toaster showing the control, from th

First, I had to find some pictures of the toaster showing the control, from the Internet.

Then I had to measure the post that fits into the control. It turns out it was about 5 mm wide, 1.5mm mm tall and 8 mm deep.

Next, I created geometry in Microsoft 3D builder to mimic my impression of the ellipses removed from a rectangle to create the shape, as well as the small rectangle used to represent the post that also needs to be removed. The black objects are the removed geometry.

I then subtracted those design elements and ended up with:

Finally, I printed out the resulting model in white PLA and tried it out. For the final version I used a 0.12 mm layer height and 20% infill. The final result came out looking like:

I could have made the knob a bit narrower, but my wife liked the feel of the wider knob. I uploaded the knob on Thingiverse.

A changing perspective on the event horizon

Don’t know about you but I’ve been spending quite a bit of time lately in a socially distant mode. When the Wired magazine showed up, I thought “What a great distraction!”. I then saw that it was totally dedicated to climate change. It was a distraction, but not in the way I expected.

That topic of climate change (though important) seems less of a priority in these trying times. With the stock market and the economy in shambles and the grocery store shelves relatively empty around here – strategic issues pale in comparison.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is coming into play like most of us have never experienced. There was a CNBC article a few months back stating that 40% of the world’s countries will witness civil unrest in 2020. We will likely look back and view that as optimistic. Be prepared: plan for the worst and hope for the best.

Good luck out there – stay safe. Get some projects done that you’ve never been able to concentrate on before.

Coronavirus and ham radio here at home

Disasters that disrupt communications and daily life and have historically involved the response of amateur radio operators – whether it is hurricanes, earthquakes or forest fires. ‘Hams’ have stepped up to provide assistance when other forms of communication fail.

Here in Sun City Hilton Head the response to social distancing has been to close the indoor amenities, shutting down many clubs. This did not hold back the Sun City Hilton Head Amateur Radio club (SCHHARC). They just moved their meetings ‘on-the-air’ facilitated by the Internet and Skype to facilitate presentations…

History of Amateur Radio Emergency Response

Ham radio dates back to the 1890s. It wasn’t until the Radio Act of 1912 was passed, that federal licensing to ham radio stations took place. Ham radio stations in the United States are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In 1935, the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) was established by the American Radio Relay League to help assist the public in the event of a disaster. In addition, the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) was established in 1952, serving as a civil defense radio service that activates in emergencies. Following Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) protocols, ham radio operators have authorization to transmit during emergencies after the president invokes these powers.

History of the SCHHARC support

Our club was one of the charter clubs within Sun City Hilton Head. This club works with local fire and emergency response personnel to test and maintain their radio systems. They’ve installed systems in all the Beaufort County fire stations, additionally both Beaufort and Jasper counties have ham radio installations associated with their emergency response centers. We work with them to ensure that this radios are working and that they can communicate between the facilities on a regular basis.

Where you can learn more about SCHHARC

This club regularly holds nets on Sunday and Wednesday nights each week, as well as monthly member meetings. We also participate in the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) field day once a year on the 4th full weekend of June. For field day, we normally set up in Pickney hall and operate for a few hours on that Saturday, using emergency power and antennas — testing our emergency preparedness.

We also plan to participate in the Sun City Open House related to the 25th anniversary. We’ll likely set up by the fountains near the tennis courts.

Pi day 2020

Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th (3/14) around the world. Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159.

Pi is the most recognized mathematical constant in the world. Many Scholars consider Pi the most important and intriguing number in all of mathematics.

The most important element for me on Pi day is to eat pie — pizza, cherry…, it doesn’t matter.

Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point. As an irrational and transcendental number, it will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern. Yet only a handful of digits are needed for typical calculations.

Here is a link to some of the most usual facts about Pi.

An Intro presentation to CNC

I recently gave an Introduction to CNC presentation to the Woodshop here in Sun City. So I thought I’d share it here.

The presentation and demonstration was fairly well received, though I did make a few tweeks, this presentation is the revised version. I am going to give it again next month, so we’ll see if it needs to be improved again.

I don’t claim to be an expert. I am just sharing what I’ve learned along the way and try and encourage others to share their knowledge and experiences.

I also continue to give an Introduction to 3D printing presentation that I pulled together a while back.

Port Royal Sound in Wood

Port Royal Sound

I have been looking for something challenging to try with my CNC machine and landed on cartography. I took a map bitmap and converted it to a Scalable Vector Graphics file using Inkscape. Imported the SVG file into Fusion 360 and turned that into G-code for a 2 mm bit flat end bit (for the big water area removal, a 1 mm bit for the shoreline and finally a V-carve 60 degree bit for the tributaries.

After I got the board cut, I then thought “How can I make this look better?” So I painted the whole thing light blue and lightly sanded off the top later to let the wood show through. The final result is the picture above. My wife wants me to put a frame around it.

The picture shows Hilton Head, Bluffton, Beaufort Parris Island and the Port Royal Sound. Hopefully, you can see the resemblance.

The next time I do this though I will paint the whole thing a dark color (e.g., black) and then do the cutting to let the light colored wood shine through. That should allow all the finer detail to shine through.