tatjna (tatjna) wrote,

Progress! Of the progressive variety

On Friday I bought myself a soldering iron. People wot are in the know seemed interested in what kind it is - it's the kind they had in stock at the wattage the book recommended. Yep. It'll do the job. I also bought some solder, which is more complicated than you'd think. You've got your lead-free, you've got your rosin core, it's all very WUT. But I got lucky and got the right kind apparently.

Then on Saturday I went to Jaycar (local electronic hobbyist shop) and got a bunch of other stuff. I had deliberately avoided getting everything at Jaycar because there's nothing like going into a shop like that with a list that includes wire, resistors, switches, buttons, LEDs, a soldering iron and some solder to let everyone know you're a n00b. Why do I care so much? Well, I already have female paranoia*, and I'm not interested in reinforcing any stereotypes or being patronised. Call me silly if you like, but lessons learned early stick with you, you know?

Anyway, I got my stuff and then trotted off to see Happy and tieke, where I got a crash course in scrubbing floors (hey, it was there and appealed to my OCD) and soldering, and general traps for young players. After which I went home, head exploding with newfound knowledge and excitement.

Aaaand, did nothing with it. Because some of the parts I need to get going on the next stage of this process are still in the mail, and probably won't arrive for another week. Unfortunately, there's no jury-rig I can set up for this, so I just have to be patient, run myself through the theory occasionally, and work on learning more code. So that's what I did:

That is a binary die. It's reading 5 in that picture, and it's My First Breadboard Thing. It's just an exercise designed to teach basic breadboard use and circuit building, along with the basics of random number generation in software. Yes, those resistors are bigger than Texas, that's because when confronted with literally thousands of options in the electronics shop, those were the only ones with the right resistance, that also looked anything like the ones I already had. I have since learned that the little blue ones will do the job, but are also harder to find on the carpet when you drop them.

After that I progressed to adding a button into the circuit, and that's where I stopped. Push button, light light. It's thrilling for me, but not very exciting to photograph. And there's only so much "Wow Tats, a single LED!" I can expect from you lot before you start wishing I had stuck with the sheep, eh?

The other thing that's been bugging me lately is the lack of progress on the Magister's Staff. As I've mentioned before, I was persuaded to opt for laser cutting for the vane slots in the acrylic tubing, but then there was a series of snafus and it never materialised. This weekend I got sick of waiting, and decided to make some progress, any progress, on it. First I attached the battery casing:

Yes, that is actually a sprinkles jar. Don't worry, it's not just taped on with masking tape, it's screwed on. It's still not as strong as I'd like it to be and I may reinforce it with glue, but the whole lot's going to be covered in the ubiquitous plaster mache eventually, and it'll be quite strong then I think.

Then I very carefully had a wee chip at the edge of the tube with my fine-toothed hacksaw. Lo and behold, cutting 50mm/5mm acrylic tubing with a hacksaw is orders of magnitude easier than cutting 2mm aluminium sheet with a coping saw. Good to know. And in less than an hour, I had my slots cut and could fit the vanes into them. It's not as neat and tidy as a laser would have done it, but it's actually done, and that counts for a lot. Most people who've played Dragon Age will recognise this:

I R PLEASED. This is real progress. Because now, all I have to do is insert the convex mirror (cunningly fashioned by grist using some reflecty plastic stuff, a light bulb and a heat gun) in the top of the tube:

And then add the LED gubbins in the bottom end of the tube, add a switch and the fiddly stuff's done. Then it's a matter of doing the sculpting part, adding the plaster mache to create the overall look of a Magister's Staff, and putting the finishing on, and it's done. OMG about bloody time!

So while my soldering skills didn't get any exercise, my hot glue skills sure did. And while the Brainfart project didn't get much attention, I know that will eventually be the only project, and it'll take ages to produce a result, so getting these others done in the downtime is quite nice. Also, my confidence that I can do stuff with electronics is increasing.

I can kind of see why people go for digital projects and electronics projects in some ways. I mean yes, shiny. But also, they don't have the same levels of downtime. Like, my ice crystals have been drying for four days, and that's the second coat of stuff that's on them, and when I started I had to wait for the first coat to dry before I could tell if it was going to work. Electronics is more or less instant gratification. But in my opinion, if you don't have a modicum of the other kind of art in there, you end up with things like the first photograph - a nifty thing that does stuff, that isn't visually attractive. And where's the fun in that?

So yeah, I'm not chucking out my sewing machine and paints just yet, eh?

Meanwhile, I've been contemplating using tatjna.com to make a stash of my making-related things. I've made a lot of things across a very broad spectrum of arts and crafts and whatnot over the years, and while pretty much all of them have made it onto here sooner or later, I'm crap at tagging so they are hard to find. It'd be nice to have them gathered in one place. To start with, a lot of it would just be posts from here, reposted there, along with pictures. And tagged in a more organised way. I'm not about to abandon LJ though, this is my home on the internet. But I would quite like to use my domain for something, and I've mostly been short of a theme. It occurred to me over the weekend that Tats Making Stuff is a theme.

(it could also have a section called Breeds Of Sheep I've Shorn, because everyone wants to know about that, right?)

*ahem* Anyway, good idea? Silly idea cos nobody would read it? Silly idea because it's just another fucking project that will eat my time when I could be changing the world?

Heroin course tonight. I'm looking forward to it.

* The conscious expectation that by going into this environment as a woman, you are opening yourself up to experience sexism. To Jaycar's extreme credit, I have not experienced anything that resembles sexism in their shop. They do have hot pink wireless keyboards 'for her' though. *shudder*
Tags: brainfart, magister staff, ohai i am a n00b, sometimes brute force is better
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