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Uncategorized

Minecraft – Upgrading to a 1.16 Server

Yeah, it’s a big deal with the nether update. Lots of gold farms, lots of new areas, and people are excited to see everything.

However, care must be taken when upgrading to Minecraft 1.16. Lots of posts and videos have been made on how to upgrade a singleplayer world, but even more care must be taken for multiplayer, as you have a lot of other players depending on you, the sysop, to maintain their builds, their contraptions, their stuff.

I myself run a Spigot/Paper server for myself and my inlaws, and the question came up today, “So would you guys like to go explore the new nether biomes on Saturday?”

I had to remind them that, “Hey, Minecraft 1.16 may be out, but Spigot usually takes a few days and Paper is going to be behind THAT, so we may not be able to make this Saturday work. We’re relying on the punctuality of those developers. And even if we do get Spigot or Paper by Saturday, chances are very high that our favorite server plugin, EssentialsX, which gives us the /tpask, /home, and /spawn commands will not have been updated on top of that. I will do everything I can to make sure we can have some fun with new, cool things on Saturday, but I can’t guarantee it.”

As a failsafe my plan is to temporarily run the vanilla Mojang server straight-up. We’ll lose performance, and we’ll definitely lose support for the few plugins I run, namely EssentialsX, Dynmap, and DiscordSRV, but we won’t be dead in the water without those.

But this is multiplayer. I can’t magically wave a hand or flip a switch and suddenly we’re playing on 1.16 and everything works still.

Rather, I will need to spend time taking the server down temporarily (which, with only four of us is not a big deal – sometimes we go days without anybody logging in).

Once the server is down, the plan is to make a full folder backup, archive it away as “Final 1.15.2 Save.zip” or something.

Verify Backup Integrity

Optionally I can also take the world, world_the_end, and world_nether folders from the save, create a new 1.15.2 instance with my launcher and copy the save file in as its own world. There are some folder finagling steps that must be done, though.

  • Copy world/ in as .minecraft/saves/worldName
  • Copy world_nether/DIM-1/ in as .minecraft/saves/worldName/DIM-1
  • Copy world_the_end/DIM1/ in as .minecraft/saves/worldName/DIM1

Through some testing, the playerdata/ and level.dat files in the world_the_end/ and world_nether/ folders seem to be either unused or duplicates.

Loading up the server world in singleplayer 1.15.2 should prove that yes, the server save was backed up correctly.

Verify Upgradeability

Once this is confirmed, exit and copy the entire save directory to the 1.16 saves location (if using the Vanilla launcher, this may actually be the same folder and can be loaded with a different version. But if you’re like me and using something like MultiMC, this is an entirely different instance of Minecraft so as to avoid version clashing, and so the save must be copied in full to the v1_16/.minecraft/saves/ folder).

When loading, the warning that “This world was saved in an old version of Minecraft. Upgrading is irreversible. Are you sure!?” Well we’ve already created the backup, so like with every other Minecraft Backup tutorial out there, we just say, “I know what I’m doing! Proceed with upgrade.”

Now the world is loaded in 1.16.x. Open it to a LAN with cheats, fly around, check out key builds and contraptions and confirm that they’re working.

Next travel to the Nether. If you’re like me and have only explored out to, say, (500,500), (-500,-500) that entire area will be deemed nether_wastes, and no ancient debris will be generated down at lower bedrock because …there is nothing to generate. HOWEVER, as I tested and confirmed, generating new chunks by flying past these borders do generate new nether biomes properly.

A newly generated salt flat (Basalt Delta) at (600,-600)
Soul sand valley at (1000,-1000)
Rain in the a Crimson Forest? Only when watching nether chunks generate whilst flying in a straight line into unexplored territory.

Upgrade the Server

So with the key builds listed out to re-verify, run the upgrade. For Spigot and Paper, this should be as simple as

wget -4 -O BuildTools.jar https://hub.spigotmc.org/jenkins/job/BuildTools/lastSuccessfulBuild/artifact/target/BuildTools.jar
java -jar BuildTools.jar --rev latest

or downloading paper-<version>.jar and changing the startup script with the new version number, and then just starting up the server like normal.

HOWEVER, if you’re like me and don’t have any essential plugins that will break your entire world if you were to leave them out, consider, at least temporarily downloading server.jar direct from minecraft.net and changing the startup script to load that directly rather than the Spigot or Paper variants.

Once this is done, it will definitely be prudent to log in, op the player or switch into creative and fly around to those various key builds and verify that they’re still functional and uncorrupted.

Vanilla back to CraftBukkit/Spigot/Paper

SpigotMC has not updated to 1.16 yet. Nobody knows how long it will be. It’s lead developer is like so many others – aloof and mysterious. However, it will be presumably updated quickly. It may be today, it may be tomorrow, it may be next month. It’s hard to gauge based on historical evidence.

And PaperMC, while known to be quick with updates, also has to wait for Spigot before it can move forward. However, Paper is also known as a drop-in replacement for Spigot that overlays on top of Spigot’s config files VERY well and only adds its own tweaks for performance. Therefore, reverting to Spigot can likely be done immediately and the re-migrating back to Paper, if there is any delay from their release after Spigot’s, will be extremely straightforward.

That said, Spigot plugins are ALSO subject to waiting for the SpigotMC core release. And plugins are even less predictable than Spigot itself! With no sarcasm, it may be months of waiting for something like Dynmap or EssentialsX to become available. A bit of hunting for some hidden beta ore pre-releases of these plugins may be available somewhere, but it will be prudent to re-add them carefully.

So as soon as Spigot updates, the plan is to carefully follow the previous backup plan. One cannot be too careful with these sorts of things. It would be wise to first revert to Spigot/Paper, making sure the server is up to date, and starting it plugin-free. Once everything is started, it will be a fairly straightforward, though possibly lengthy process to re-download new versions of plugins, load them in one at a time, restart the server, verify that they work, all of that.

Dynmap with the new Nether

This is gonna be nasty. With so many new blocks and new terrains I have very low hopes that Dynmap’s developers will be able to get something out very fast. From my sketchy knowledge of how Dynmap works, they will probably want to generate new shaders for the nether, and possibly new perspectives given that the nether is now more honeycombed than ever before, what with “vertical biomes” having been introduced.

The v0.3 branch is their default, and there seems to be no other one that has any recent developments or any telltale naming that would indicate one could self-compile it for 1.16. However, when it does finally become available, I’ve written a gist that explains my techniques of mapping the Nether Roof which also has a few steps on how to re-render an entire map from scratch, make changes in situ, cancel and re-start a render again.

Conclusion

Not much of a conclusion, as I’m only halfway through this process at the moment. I want to give SpigotMC a chance to become updated before I go whole hog and run this thing from Vanilla for the next week and a half. If they I don’t have a good, solid server version from Spigot or Paper, I will plan on switching temporarily to Vanilla.

Categories
Life Writing

My Vicci, Part 2

Let’s see if I can finish some more of this six months after the fact.

That last “I love you” was the last I heard. I waited all day to hear something, assuming Ivy would be able to get my number or contact me eventually, or that Vicci was just super quiet because she was undergoing emergency heart surgery or something.

I even had my volunteer team at church pray for her that evening around 6pm.

After I got home, I realized I had a message from someone in NV via Facebook telling me that she found me on Instagram via my sister who was more active and not so anonymous, and to please contact Ivy at such-and-such number, that they were trying to get ahold of me all day.

I called immediately and was asked, “Are you with anybody right now?” My heart refused to sink, and I said, “No… but please go on.”

And I heard the words, “We lost Vicci today.”

Her next words are a bit of a blur, though I understood that as soon as Ivy arrived, she went about taking care of cats for the day, gathering up a few things, continually checking with Vicci as she tried to figure out how to get her to the car and the ER.

Then she heard, “Oh God,” rushed in and found Vic gasping for breath, convulsing, and quickly asked, “Do I need to call an ambulance!?” She got a nod, and in 5 minutes paramedics were on the spot, performing CPR, trying to get her calmed down, wheeling in a gurney, and carting her out.

An hour and a half later, Ivy, still at the house, got the call that they made it to the hospital, but they were not able to stabilize her.

This conversation ended with me pacing frantically up and down my hallway, not able to think, not wanting to breathe myself… Ivy asked me if I had family I could be with. I said yes, but it was an hour’s drive. She said, “Please don’t let yourself be alone, but please be careful.”

I thanked her and kept pacing. Calling my mom, I tried to explain everything in tears. She said to get over there, that she could send Dad to get me. I told her I just needed a little bit to calm down, pack a bug-out bag, feed the fish.

On the drive there, before I could call Mom, my sister and her husband called.

They didn’t know what to say, but they offered to put me up as well, that they were heartbroken for me, that they didn’t know if it was too soon, but that they knew that I was so good for her. I told them my thoughts, my fears on her eternal soul, that …is there even any chance that I could pray for God to give her one more chance even NOW. Andy had the best words:

I think that these are the mysteries that God keeps from us. We always ask these questions, but we get no clear answers because He wants us to trust Him. If He is truly a loving Father, He has our best in mind, and NOTHING He does will be for our harm. With that trust, sometimes all we can do is say, “We won’t know until we’re there ourselves,” and at that moment, we will be given that understanding, and everything will make sense.

It was a sleepless night at my parents’. Sunday my sister invited me over. I took them up on it, talked with them, tried my best to calm down.

I was in frequent contact with Ivy, who told me that they had the family down from Cedar City, UT to look at things, that she had Vicci’s mom there, that they were really at a loss because nobody could find a will and everyone was trying to frantically figure out the legalese of probate and such. I told her I didn’t know if I could get off of work to come help, but I absolutely knew I had to make something happen.

I stayed with Andrea and Andy on Sunday night, a bit more restful, but not great.

Monday I went into work, having emailed the upper management with the details and that I may need to be taking some vacation to take care of things.

They were shocked, supportive, and said, “When you figure out what you need to do, just go. Go take care of it. We’ll be here when you get back.”

In the middle of they day, I got a call from Ivy saying, “We REALLY need your help here. The family is unable to function and we’re making very little progress with decisions.” I said I’d try to take care of it, and wracked my brain on how I could scrounge up some money when I realized I had a round-trip ticket for January 1st. Some research revealed that I could get a credit refund for almost the exact amount that a one-way trip would cost, and I would just worry about the return trip when I figured out what I was doing and how long I needed to stay in Vegas.

That night, I packed up from Andrea’s and had Dad take me to the airport. Monday night I was landing in Vegas and meeting with Ivy and Vicci’s mom, Julia. A quick trip left us at the house with the cats and a lot of memories, but no Vicci.

And this is the point at which I’ll stop for now. We’ll see if in six months I’ll be able to put in ANOTHER large portion of this story, though things are becoming easier to deal with emotionally.

Categories
Computer Games Graphics Minecraft

Shaders in MultiMC Minecraft

Gathering all of the resources of the Internet, I finally pinned down the technique to install an Optifine shader in an instance of Minecraft from the MultiMC launcher. Specifically since I started playing again in a major way from v1.14.4, installing mods is not as simple as it used to be, and Optifine is no exception, especially when it comes to a third-party launcher like MultiMC.

Requirements:

Process:

In the vanilla launcher create an “installation” of the Minecraft version for which you are running the shader. In my case this is 1.14.4.

Run the new installation to download that version of Minecraft from minecraft.net, then exit.

If it hasn’t already downloaded minecraft.jar for this version, it will do so, and then launch the game.

Quit this instance of Minecraft.

Having the Optifine jar downloaded (in this case, it would be named OptiFine_1.14.4_HD_U_F5.jar), run it directly by either double clicking it or invoking it from a command line.

If you were to continue using the vanilla launcher, you could click the Install button. However we’re using MultiMC, so we want to Extract, which will give us the actual drop-in mod jar that we can load into MultiMC.

At this point, we now have two files for Optifine: the original installer and the new “OptiFine_1.14.4_HD_U_F5_MOD.jar”.

Open MultiMC and create a new instance, picking the same Minecraft version as before.

Once created click the “Edit Instance” button and move to the Version tab from the left.


Click the “Install Fabric” button on the right and choose the latest version it will allow. Fabric Loader will be added to the list of versions for this instance.

At this point, move to the Loader Mods tab in the instance window. Click the Add button and locate your Optifabric jar as well as the OptiFine_*_MOD.jar extracted from the previous step. These two mods should now be visible in the Loader Mods list.

Click the Launch button at the bottom. At this point if you had your file explorer open to this MultiMC instance, you would notice as Optifine is being loaded for the first time a few folders are being created and the console giving you a nice, verbose output.

After a point, Minecraft will launch as expected, though it will now include Fabric with the version and display the OptiFine mod to indicate that it was loaded successfully.

At this point, all of the Optifine options are available in Options/Video Settings both from the start screen and from in-game.

Assuming you are running a version of Optifine that supports shaders (in preview versions this may be grayed out to indicate that support for Shaders has not yet been implemented and tested to a level that sp614x has re-enabled it), click the Shaders button.

Initially only two selections are available: OFF and (internal).

The internal shader does offer a few more options by ungreying all of the buttons on the right-hand side of the shader selection window, but leaving all of those options on default displays a fairly typical Minecraft render.

To load the new shader (in this case Sonic Ether), you do not need to exit Minecraft!! Download the shader pack from the website, saving the entire ZIP file into some location.

Restore the MultiMC launcher window. If the Instance editor is also open, switch to the Version tab and click the “Open .minecraft” button at the bottom right.

Navigate into the “shaderpacks” folder from .minecraft and copy-paste SEUS-Renewed-v1.0.1.zip in.

Switch back to Minecraft. SEUS-Renewed-v1.0.1.zip should have appeared in the Shaders selection window. Again, Minecraft does not need to be restarted manually. The entry in this window will simply appear as soon as Optifine has detected the presence of the file in the shaderpacks directory.

Click on it the new entry and watch as Minecraft performs a soft reload of the window. The Shader Options button will now be ungreyed, and a few different settings can be tweaked from here, but at this point, SEUS should be running from your MultiMC instance when the world is loaded!

For example, the Lighting & Shadows/Shadow Resolution=4096 improve the overall sharpness of the shadows cast.

Shadow Resolution = 1024
Shadow Resolution = 2048
Shadow Resolution = 4096

Left clicking these options will increase their value, while right clicking will decrease them. Additionally, the hover tooltips display what they are, though many are advanced and should probably be researched and experimented with before tweaking dramatically in one direction or the other.

Anyway, this is my first time using this, and I’m definitely looking forward to playing around with it!!

Resources

Categories
Life Writing

My Vicci, Part 1

December 7, 2019 I experienced what I never thought I would so early in life. My girlfriend of five years passed away suddenly due to respiratory and heart failure in her home in Las Vegas.

She had stayed home from sick the day before because she could not catch her breath and didn’t feel like she could function at work. I told her that this sounded like the same symptoms my dad went through when he had his heart attack.

The next morning, she messaged me early asking if I could call and talk because she was lying in a pool of her own sweat having a massive panic attack over the possibility of said heart attack symptoms. I immediately called and we talked for a good hour and a half with the sole purpose of just calming her down. During this time she dozed off, but I could hear on the phone her labored breathing and was tempted at one point to even call 911 and have them redirect me to the Henderson emergency services.

She woke up and we started talking again, and she eventually asked how my dad managed to handle a heart attack and asked to hear all the details. I gave them freely, telling her that once they had him, they hooked him up to every machine and had him stable within a half hour and were super awesome about it.

This eventually convinced her that she should just pony up the $400 copay for the ER, call her friend Ivy, and have her come over to take her in.

Ivy was unavailable initially, so we talked for another half hour. Eventually she said, “Ivy is on her way over,” and then ten minutes after that, “Ivy is here. I’ll try to keep you informed. I love you.”

Categories
Electronics Life

CB Radio

I got all inspired when I went camping with my brother-in-law in September. His friend from Fort Collins has a fully tricked out off-road vehicle complete with a CB radio. Well, I got excited about that because, since the late 90’s we’ve had my grandfather’s old Ford van, and he was big on CB, having a camper and secretly being a tech nerd before it was cool. I still have his mobile CB radio, which we tried out at the end of this camping trip.

Except I can’t seem to get it to work. It turns on, it hisses, and the squelch feature seems to work to some extent, but I get absolutely zero variation in the noise, even when moving the little 3-foot whip antenna around, mounting on the truck roof for grounding, and everything else I could think of.

That’s when I decided to “invest” in a Monkey Ward 775 CB radio. I’m assuming this is probably also a mobile model due to the u-bracket on the top. However I’m looking up how to make a home-brew antenna for this, and I’m guessing it’s the 3-foot whip that makes a mobile station mobile. Maybe a base station has more features and such, but I’m new at this anyway!

However, the issues I have at the moment are crippling: The radio came with a power input cable of two wires and two tab connectors, a keyed microphone, and a user manual. That’s it.

So I need to come up with a proper power connection of 12VDC, and somehow create an antenna that will work and be ideal while still not violating the HOA covenants of not having anything over the roofline of the house. Additionally an 8-Ohm speaker or headphone converter may be necessary if the keyed microphone doesn’t also have something built in.

But on to antennas! I found this website from the Thunder Mountain Radio Group. They say that ideally, a base station antenna for CB frequencies needs to be around 102 inches (a quarter wavelength of ~11 meters). And this is not a single whip antenna, but a combination of two antennas in a dipole arrangement, each at 102 inches.

That’s 8.5 feet of wire extending from a center point where 50-ohm coax is connected and runs all the way back to the actual base station radio.

My idea when it comes to this antenna – since I’m not permitted to mount this thing so high up that I’d be able to talk to people in Denver, how about I instead run the antenna wires horizontally beneath the top bar of the vinyl fence that runs along the side of my property? It’s actually kinda perfect – minimal metal to screw up the signal, and sort of out of the way of everything else except for a few aspen trees. It’s not THAT ideal, but it’s at least something better than a 3-foot whip. The only other solution I could think of would be to take the rig all the way to work and mount it on the roof there. I know Steve at Mountain States Electronics has always had a nice setup of his own. Maybe I could talk down the block to him.

Then comes the coax. I am thinking standard 50-foot RG-58 spool, which I can buy with UHF connectors pre-installed for $17 on Amazon. Or I could get a single connector from Digikey, a spool of RG-58 for $20, and make my own.

Categories
Web Youtube

The Reddit Thing

Yesterday I got a notification from Youtube stating that COPPA/Made for Kids was being forced come January. I’ve largely ignored these messages, as my channel is not that big, not very expansive, and not terribly interesting. However, when these settings apply to everyone, and I am a member of everyone, well, maybe it’d be worth paying attention to.

And boy, was it worth it! The Made for Kids deal coming through Youtube does a number of things to videos which I imagine more money-minded people will care about more:

  1. Only child-friendly ads/no ads
  2. No comments
  3. No watch later

I read a few articles and watched a few videos on what counts as “Made for Kids,” I realized a lot of my stuff actually does count, even if I didn’t actually make it for kids. What comes to mind are my old LEGO animations, Minecraft sessions, and a short Disney Christmas clip that was uploaded as a ‘check out this 30 second clip encouraging duck cannibalism’. My account isn’t largely going to drag the kiddies in by the bucketloads, but there are some things. Therefore, I’ve taken Youtube’s instruction to mark my channel as “NOT Made for Kids,” but will piecemeal the few videos that are, and deal with it.

Well, the ad-nerfing I don’t care about, as I don’t monetize my channel at all. But commenting? That’s the biggest deal to me. Since I don’t care as much with “view counts”, comments are really the biggest dopamine rush that Youtube will provide for me on my stuff. Namely that Donald Duck Christmas clip.

So what did I decide to try to do? I started a subreddit at reddit.com/r/ppsstudios!

Besides, I like to reserve my “brand” of PPSStudios anywhere I can. So why not just squat on that page if anything?

Right now, it’s marked as completely private, so nothing should be visible (even though 8 people were lurking around last I checked), but eventually my grand plan is to drop in a link and direct video viewers to that page via an end screen and video description on every Youtube video.

Or perhaps for my Dungeon World campaign on another Youtube channel, there can be some conversations there. I don’t know.

Is there a Reddit replacement for the WordPress Comments system? Sorta like Disqus?

I’ll have to think on this.

For now, though, feel free to check in sometime when I’ve got a little time to set it up!!

https://reddit.com/r/ppsstudios

Categories
Computer Games Minecraft

Minecraft

History

It’s interesting that I purchased my old Alienware M14x R2 just to play Minecraft.

Years ago, a friend I knew on Achaea said that they really enjoyed Minecraft, and that I should try it out. Well, I totally did, and totally regretted it. That’s because at that time, all I had was my Dell B120 from college, and for no strange reason, the game would not run at all, or if it did, the lag was so severe that I waited for 20 minutes for the FPS to progress for one frame. So instead of the minimum desired FPS of something like 60 FPS, I was getting something more like 1200 SPF — great sunblock, terrible game experience.

A few years later, in 2013, another friend from another MUD recommended I try it out. He’d been playing for a long time before I started, and knew quite a bit, and I gave him a rundown of my experience. I also told him I was still super interested in this, and that we’d just bought my mom a new laptop, and that it would maybe be able to handle it. I gave the demo a shot on her machine, which required quite a big Java update, and pretty soon was running successfully (albeit with still-pretty-severe lag) Minecraft 1.4.7!

It got me hooked immediately. I played a good, solid week in the evenings, installing a few optimization plugins installed (namely Optifine) and managing to get it running semi-decently on my B120. However, the lag was such that after a while, I found no progress being made due to resets and deaths and all sorts of other things. Not the ideal learning environment to say the least.

So after a few months of saving up, I bought the Alienware, and did not regret the decision. After that we had a single player shared out to a port and were going multiplayer. Hooray!

Today, NoDumbQuestions!

Fast-forward to now. A podcast of which I’m a huge fan, called NoDumbQuestions, has a moderator on Reddit who goes by mvoviri. Quite a while ago he started a Discord server for some of the fans, and I jumped in on the ground floor which, in typical Discord fashion, means that I haven’t felt like the newcomer, and have stuck around. A couple months in, he asked, “Hey, would anybody be interested in playing Minecraft?” and I was quick to respond, having set Minecraft aside every since about 1.7.4.

A few weeks later, there was the announcement, and he and another guy were quick to set up a spawn area, and I jumped in, and immediately remembered why I shouldn’t have stopped playing when I started galavanting about and died immediately, lost the starter equipment, tried again from scratch, lost everything again, and couldn’t even stay alive long enough to get a chest made.

It was a couple of weeks after that that I gave it one more go, and stuck with it. And in the past few months, I’ve done way more progress here than I have in any other server or single-player world! Well, besides my own server that I run from work, and play almost exclusively in Creative Mode on.

NDQ Minecraft Base

I’ve picked a cliff-top Taiga Mountain (half snow) area on which to build my main area. This was chosen specifically due to the dark overhand just from appearance alone. At the base of this cliff is a fairly wide Sunflower Plain with a few rises where I decided to place the livestock, since a mountain-top doesn’t offer many flat areas unless I were spending the time to get good tools, which I don’t usually.

Started with a small-ish house right on the cliff edge, and dug in to create the mine. Found a few natural caverns, and popped out on the back side of the mountain into a deep canyon where I built a small run of weird wooden letters “ATWHA” at semi-regular intervals. All with iron tools, because I haven’t played Survival in 5 years and even then never learned a THING about enchanting.

Hermitcraft

At this point, I started watching MumboJumbo in Hermitcraft Season 6. And oh my gosh, if you make it your profession to play this game, can you do some really cool stuff! I had no idea that half of the things these people were doing were even possible. Elytra? What in the world is THAT? I mean, I’d heard of it, but never even tried it in Creative.

Also watched Grian in the same series, and was super impressed. My goodness, two points of view make quite an interesting source of inspiration. Needless to say, I’ve got to expand this clifftop house into more than just a building underneath which lies a boring strip mine.

In this time, watching both of those Youtuber players through the entire season to date (11/2019), I’ve started a real strip mine with two block spacing, a series of nether portals that lead to an underwater stronghold (you can’t just build an end portal? I thought you could…) and an island not far away from it where I’ve made a remote base with good ocean proximity, and found one other player on the server selling fully enchanted elytra for 1 gold block.

After watching numerous Hermitcraft episodes, I now have so many ideas rattling around in my head.

Current Activities

I’ve made a huge amount of progress in the NDQ server, touching on pretty much everything that I can think of that I never saw before (enchantments, potions, elytra, mapping, ocean monument near the stronghold, economy with other players, automated redstone farming, and the nuances of mob spawning and contemplating why the creeper “farm” I built won’t spawn creepers at all!

Yesterday I tried mapping out the map blocks in and around my area. Then learned that ClearItems for Spigot is the most annoying, most brute-force method of saving server memory that could exist. I hit the ground too hard while flying around, and died. Okay, if I run back really quick I might be able to find all that expensive armor and weapons and tools. Not behind this rock. Maybe behind thi…. <[ClearItems] Deleted 29 items to reduce lag.>

Needless, this weekend did not see much progress in terms of big, fun projects, due to having to mine up new diamonds and paper for villager trades and enchantments.

Then late last night, I made a small, but fully automated sugar cane and bamboo farm. I had another one set up on the mountain near the house, but the weirdnesses surrounding minecarts and solid blocks were faulty, plus the room I had to work was very small, so I started a new one and put it down on the flat ground in the valley. It’s not too compact, but at least it works!

This morning, while watching Iskall85 doing his thing, I remembered ConCorp‘s “logo” map item that they’d made in-game and got the idea to do the same, only with NDQ’s logo. Quick made an empty, Zoom-level 1 map, hit the “teleport me to a random place,” and found a nice, relatively flat area and marked out the corners, then pasted the map along with screenshots up in my house. Thank goodness for /home and /spawn. They’ve made life much, much easier!

Categories
Computer Electronics

Discoveries in 3D Printing Services

At work, we’ve been playing around with 3D printing services, namely the international chain or distributor known as 3DHubs. A coworker described it very accurately as “the uber of 3d printing services” where people that have access to printers apply for certification, and people who don’t place an order on 3DHubs which then distributes the workload among the certified people with the equipment. Kinda cool, but there are weirdnesses.

Specifically, of the five separate designs I’ve placed in the past two years, about half of those have been good, solid parts, and the other half have cracked and broken with varying degrees of damage and recovery methods.

I figure this can be my own reference on “what I consider a functional print method and functional material for something more than a mechanical prototype.

The three print methods we’ve used so far are probably the three most common: FDM, SLA and SLS.

FDM – Hot Glue Gun

Melt a plastic filament in layers over a baseplate and build the model up layer by layer.

SLA – Liquid and Lasers

Built from the top down, from what I understand a UV laser …basically cauterizes a liquid resin at certain points on the liquid surface. The vat sinks and the solid model emerges layer by layer, stuck to the underside of the baseplate.

SLS – Laser-Blasting Powdered Plastic

From what I’ve read, a UV laser fires into a bed of powderized plastic, melts and resolidifies its surface in very small places and the solid emerges layer by layer


I’ve created orders with 3DHubs for 4 different combinations of methods and materials:

  • Duraform PA – SLS
  • HP 3D High Reusability PA 12 – SLS
  • ABS-Like Tough Resin – SLA/DLP
  • ABS – FDM

The Duraform PA nylon part that I had made was VERY thin-walled. It built up nicely but due to a <0.7mm wall, it cracked with very little strain. A second part that formed around this was super solid, though. So as long as my wall thickness was > 1.0 mm, I had no problems with it.

Duraform PA Nylon
Duraform PA Nylon with SLS Process

That and a few design changes required that I reprint a revision of the first part with PA 12 nylon with a minimum of 1mm wall thickness. This was VERY good quality in comparison with the first revision. Like the Duraform, it was structurally sound, and as I maintained a minimum wall thickness, I had no problem with it. The only oddity that I didn’t like about it was its grainy texture and unrefined feel. But it does mill nicely afterwards.

PA12 Nylon with SLS Process

A year has elapsed, and in the past two weeks I’ve been ordering new parts for a new project. Not remembering what we used before, I started the choice from scratch. That and 3DHubs overhauled their entire interface, anonymizing the vendor experience, and making it a LOT easier to pick and choose materials along with automatic costing and such. As such, the first material we ordered was “ABS-Like Tough Resin”. I didn’t know what SLA meant at the time (with its liquid factor and all), but now it makes sense and really acts nicely, save for the springy feel and tendency to peel and wrinkle with any lateral pressure such as scraping it with a penknife.

ABS-Like Tough Resin with SLA Process

The final method we’ve been using (and having the least amount of success with) is straight ABS using the FDM process. The layers here are clearly evident, and even their structural stability is super easy to balk at, as any little pressure in a weak spot “delaminates” the part. Plus the finish is messy and not ideal to work with. But we figure we can still make the parts we have work without needing to re-order them in a different process and material

ABS with FDM Process

Now I HAVE been toying around with the idea of getting a printer for the shop (or more for myself with a loan policy).

From what I see, though, FDM printers run anywhere from $200 to ..reasonably expensive, and are dependent mostly on cubic volume you have to make a part. Filament is about $20 a kg. Between price, volume and ratings, I have my eye on the Creality Ender 3 Pro (approximately 8 cubic inch volume) for $260.

SLS printers are the MOST expensive of these three. A number of factory-direct models are well over $10k. Based on price and technology, I’m GUESSING this is the laserjet of 3d printers. And Amazon’s selection of jars of “Sinterit Powder” is quite pricey too. I’m not even considering this as a viable purchase for personal use.

SLA printers seem to be in the middle, price-wise, with the smallest at $150 (4.75″ x 2.5″ x 5.5″), a good median of $500 or so, and bigger models no less than $1000. Like FDM, SLA resin is around $40-$50 a kg bottle. From what I see on Amazon, my best bet, knowing that the above dimensions is going to be an ANYCUBIC Photon or ELEGOO Mars (each giving me the above working volume) for $400-$429.

All this to say: I have no idea what I’m doing here. I’m really displeased with the FDM process. Seeing how these parts turned out has really discouraged me from buying even a cheap Monoprice, despite the reviews on Amazon. However, the prospect of making something like this work is very attractive, and if I can save up for something that would give me a better quality part, whether it’s a toy or a D&D figurine model bought on HeroForge, or whatever, I would totally do it. But it’ll DEFINITELY be one of those things I research the heck out of before I hit “buy now.”

Categories
Gardening Life

Botany v2

Remember this little guy? Read all about him here!

https://www.ppsstudios.com/blog/2009/07/botany/

Well guess what! This little orange tree from seed is now an actual tree! It is still alive, and doing very well, save for the periodic bug problem. It occurred to me that having written about it in July 2009 means that I probably planted it about around April, ten years ago!

Happy 10th birthday, little orange tree.