2018 – Week 1

So, the first post in an effort to ensure I write something every week, if for no other reason than to keep track of time across the year, similar to what I did with my ArtStart Diary posts.

Week 1 was a fairly quiet affair – I went to see local punk band The Chats play live in a little venue in Nambour. Had a lot of fun watching the weird combination of fashion choices the local kids are into now – some of them dress like baby-boomers did the 1980s. Saw a group of a dozen people, all wearing the same shoes.

On the Sunday, there was a trip up to Montville, and out to a creek for a bit of a picnic, though my knee wasn’t really up to the scrabbling over boulders part of it. We came back via the scenic route.

view
From the Blackall Range down to the sea.

2018 – Week 2

Week 2 was the worst week so far of the year. Ha.

It started with me waking up on Monday morning, feeling ill, and checking my email to see a new tripod I’d bought in the last couple of days of 2017 was waiting at the post offie. I drove over, picked it all up, and just had time to unbox and look at the new piece of kit, before I was floored by a catastrophic case of what I assume was some variety of Norovirus.

That was most of my week – trying to stay hydrated while being sicker, and feeling more wretched, than I can recall in recent memory.

By Sunday, I was up to playing around with divider configurations in my main camera bag, trying to figure out a way to fit my new travel tripod into it.

2018 – Week 3

Week 3 has been productive. On Monday and Tuesday I was in Brisbane, checking out an L-Bracket and quick release plates for my new tripod. Unfortunately the L-Bracket wasn’t going to work with my Blackrapid straps, due to not having enough room for the connector to screw in. I ended up buying a quick-release plate from Blackrapid, and took the tripod out for its first test run.

Temple, with ferris wheel.
Southbank, Brisbane.

On Tuesday, after a yum-cha breakfast, I took a look around a few camping stores in an attempt to find a low-profile water bottle that would go in the side pockets of my camera bags. Everywhere I went, no options. Finally the salesperson at Paddy Pallin mentioned they knew of one, checked the shelves, and found they had one in stock – a PET plastic hip flask by GSI Outdoors. This is a major win, because round water bottles have been a real thorn in my side for camera bags. This one doesn’t expand the lines of my bag too much, and hopefully won’t stretch out the elastic of the side pockets.

Once I returned home, I couldn’t get the idea of using the L-Bracket out of my head. On Wednesday, I took the Blackrapid connector to a local engineering shop to see if they could modify it on a lathe. They couldn’t, but they suggested checking out Noosa Men’s Shed to see if anyone there could do it.

After my previous sculpture experience, I was reluctant, but pride doesn’t get you anywhere, so I went over on Thursday, and sure enough, one of the guys there checked it out, and said he had a solution.

So, I’ve bought the L-Bracket, and next week I’ll be back over at the Men’s Shed to do the modifications necessary. Once that’s done, I’ll have a good couple of articles to write, covering my developing mobile photo kit.

2018 – Week 4

This week was spent on making projects.

Monday I went down the coast a bit to a plywood merchant who CNC cut the benchtops for my new work tables. They were originally supposed to be 15mm ply, but after I’d paid for the job, they called to let me know they’d discovered the 15mm stock wasn’t up to the necessary quality, so they offered to do them in 18mm for no extra cost.

After a quick revision of the model I’d made, I confirmed everything would work, and gave them the go-ahead.

Once I’d picked the timber up, I checked it with my tape measure, to calibrate the dimensions of all the framing timbers against the tops, and fed those into my cutting list spreadsheet.

Cutting List
Cutting List spreadsheet auto updates the lengths of framing timbers, based on the dimensions of the table-tops.

Tuesday, it was down to Brisbane to use a mitre saw (and pick up my new L-Bracket), with stops at Bunnings along the way to pick up the necessary timber. A couple of hours work, and I had everything chopped up, and ready.

timber cut to size.
DIY flatpack.

Wednesday, I brought in all the newly cut timber, and took some spare timber back to Bunnings. I also went down the coast again to visit a chandlery supplier to try to find a suitable shackle or buckle to create a Blackrapid slider for the strap of my small Lowepro camera bag.

Thursday it was over to the men’s shed, to see if we could get the Blackrapid connector successfully modified on the lathe. Everything was going well until disaster struck, the part became uncentered, and bent. I had a backup part in case something happened, but because of time issues, the guy working on it couldn’t start over that day. It’s going to be ready next week.

Then I hit a snag with the L-Bracket.

3 Legged Thing QR11-LC L-Bracket
3 Legged Thing QR11-LC L-Bracket

The machining on the short arm’s arca-rail was slightly out, which meant that when clamped into the tripod head sized for the long arm, the short arm wouldn’t fit, but when the head is sized for the short arm, the long arm would slide about.

I tweeted this to the company’s official twitter account, and they offered to send me a new one. This brings up what I like most about Twitter, for all its flaws, it allows consumers to put a subtle pressure on companies, by notifying them of problems in a public fashion. For companies, it lets them show off being pro-active about providing good customer service, and standing behind their products, so a win all round.

Thursday night was spent seeing a punk gig in Noosaville, which is all sorts of odd.

Friday, I made some adjustments to my websites, to get everything running under https, and took a file to the L-Bracket to see if I could re-machine the short arm to match the Long’s profile.

L-Bracket and bastard files.
L-Bracket meets The Bastards.

Saturday, the L-Bracket fix was complete. This bracket has a bit more Frankensteining due next week, to enable it to play nice with my re-machined Blackrapid connector.

 

2018 – Week 5

This week has been another relatively productive one.

On Monday I published my second VR related article, which I also mirrored on medium.com.

Tuesday, I was over at the Men’s Shed again, picking up the modified Blackrapid connector. It wasn’t quite as modified as necessary, unfortunately. Therefore, most of the day was spent with a file, manually cleaning up the lathe work, and removing material. Important lesson – never use a power tool, to do something that a hand tool can accomplish. The hand files have produced a beautifully even result.

blackrapid lug
A universal Blackrapid lug.

I kept working on the Blackrapid connector throughout the week.

I also did a bunch more modifications to the 3Legged Thing L-Bracket, which involved taking some material out of the back so that the Blackrapid connector could be screwed through the plate and into the camera.

L-Bracket.
3 Legged Thing L-Bracket – now Blackrapid Compatible.

It’s not the prettiest result, but it works. That little cutout gives the Blackrapid connector’s loop the necessary room to rotate. It’s a simple design issue that could have been avoided, by just making the cutout a bit longer so that the threaded part of the slot was equidistant from the edges on all sides.

There was more extensive surgery to follow.

post-modification L-Bracket
That part in Tim Burton’s Batman, when The Joker asks for the mirror after surgery…

While the bracket is “universal” and specifies the Nikon D800 as having first tier compatibility, there’s still a couple of protuberances on the side of the camera that limit how snugly the bracket can nestle against it. One of these, is the attachment point for the rubber covers for the ports on the front of the camera. Another, is the thumbnail catch for the door covering the side ports, and another is a slight curve in the body’s geometry.

So it was back to filing to pull a bit of material out.

Now, this wouldn’t ordinarily be an issue, except that I’m trying to save every millimetre I can in overall camera width, so that I can pack it into my camera bag without taking off the L-Bracket. With these modifications, I was successful – the bag can zip closed, and the camera produces no visible bulges or bumps on its profile.

Thursday night was a meetup to talk about grants and funding as a followup from the Immerse conference, in conjunction with the Horizon festival. It was great to see the same faces, and get to the point where we know each other’s names.

Friday was a bit of a down day, but I bought a little pack of micro-files from Bunnings. They’re brilliant – don’t know how I made do without them in the past.

2018 – Week 6

This week has been quiet – the major project being a documentation of the photography kit I’ve been working on, which when I posted it on Twitter with @mentions to the companies whose gear was featured, received likes from 3 Legged Thing (as well as a retweet), Peak Design & Blackrapid.

Sunday evening was a cruise on the Noosa River, organised by the local creative community. There’s some formidable talent here – I spent an hour or so chatting with one of the 3D effects artists from the original Tron, and met a couple who are 3D animators, and fellow former Sydney Goth scene folks. We’ve probably been in the same nightclubs over the past couple of decades, despite having never met before. Small world.

2018 – Week 7

Another relatively quiet one – the big event being that I started my TIG welding course. Hopefully, as a result of this training, I’ll be able to make delicate welding projects, like under 10mm stainless steel armatures. With that, I’ll be able to start on a series of small, figurative sculptures I’ve been planning for a while now.

On the same day I was going to the welding class, I had the laughable misfortune to get my first taste of being the target of an internet troll. Having been part of a group decision to remove a member from a Facebook group, as a consequence of their use of abusive and libellous language towards another member, and having drawn the duty to announce that to the group, I then found my phone going nuts with notifications as this person found me on Twitter, and started sending abusive replies to dozens of my recent tweets. So,  after screenshotting everything, I blocked him, and he became a nonentity within my Twitter world.

Then, he started sending me abuse in Facebook Messenger, and commenting on Facebook, as my Tweet about this was crossposted there as a public post. The more the guy went on, the more unhinged, or at least mentally unwell, he seemed. So, I started deleting his comments to protect his reputation from himself, and then blocked him from commenting. He tried to rejoin the Facebook group a couple of times, so we just blocked him entirely.

A friend who saw the exchange noted that he lived only a stone’s throw away from him, found pictures of the guy from newspaper articles in a local paper, and made a prediction as to where he probably hung out, given the demographics and location involved.

Felt very Spook-y for a moment there.

Anyway, the welding course was OK – not the best organised theory session I’ve attended, but we’ll see what happens when the practical classes start. Driving back from Nambour, I was treated to an impressive lightning display, and the air, the whole way back, smelled of wood smoke. No rain, however.

 

2018 – Week 8

This week had my second TIG welding class, where I finally got to use the machine. It’s a difficult process – keeping the tip a constant distance from the material you’re welding, while also moving it along, and bringing in a filler rod to add material to the weld, is problematic with unsteady hands.

 

In the photography world, I’ve been re-entering my panoramic photography process, trying to put together a demo of some of my panoramas for an event happening at the local council chambers next Monday. Once again, I’m struck by how clunky, and poorly implemented, the tools in panoramic software are.

2018 – Week 9

The week started pretty well, with a group event at the local council chambers, organised by Create Noosa. A bunch of people involved in various forms of tech – VR, AR, photography, robotics and video held a showcase in the council chambers to talk about what we do, how we do it, and what the utility of all our workflows could be.

Wednesday, I had my third TIG welding class, and made some significant progress:

It’s all a matter of learning the muscle memory, and setting up to have a good work-angle, so you can control the direction the weld pool is going to slump into. Also, I’m finding that working at a slightly lower amperage on the arc, which means it’s a little cooler and slower to liquify the material, gives me a bit more time to think and reposition.

Gotta say though, the hand injury I did a while back is still causing problems which I’m having to work around.

2018 – Week 10

Well, I quit the TIG welding course.

I’d had reservations about the course from day one. The opening night was a theory class, that frankly wasn’t particularly professional in its delivery.

Week 2 and 3, I made some progress, but spent a lot of time dicking around with the machine to try to get it into an optimal state – which means that I never got to know if the problems I was having were a result of my physical technique, or a misconfiguration of the machine.

This leads to a side rant:

Students should always be given tools that are of sufficient quality, configuration and maintenance, that they can learn the physical practice of a skill, isolated from any influence the tool might have.

The other problem came from the fact that there were just too many students for a single teacher, which meant that when you had a problem, you had tens of minutes to wait before he came over to address what was wrong, which when it happens a couple of times per class, means you’re losing a pretty significant hunk of your course time.

Oh yeah, and to find the teacher in order to get help, you had to walk down the corridor between the welding bays, where half the students had their welding curtains open while welding, which means your eyes are exposed to weld-flash – not the best idea when you’re driving home at night in the rain.

Added to that, the class roll wasn’t “computerised”, whatever that was supposed to mean – which amounted to every class starting with people having to pass around a piece of paper, find their student number, and write it down with their name and signature – something the teacher could have done beforehand, meaning we’d lose 30 minutes of our 3 hour class before we’d even started.

So, on the 4th week I cracked – 30 minutes on the roll, then angle grinders to prepare my pieces of metal, that had their wheels worn down to nubs. My machine was in a state of disrepair from the previous user, and the parts I needed to set it up for my use were nowhere to be found amongst the mess of  bits and pieces in various boxes on the workbench. I went to ask the teacher for a new critical part, and sat down to wait for him. 20 minutes later I was still waiting, so I attempted to make do with a part I thought might do the job, but the machine room I needed to use to clean it up was offline. One thing after another conspired to stop me getting any significant work done.

It wasn’t until 15 minutes before the class was due to finish that the teacher came to check on my progress, and seems mystified as to why I haven’t gotten stuff done. So, I told hi what a joke I thought the night had been, and that I was going to seek a refund. Then I left.

I sent a complaint letter, an angry complaint letter, and they responded, saying I’ll get a full refund, and that they’re going to be reviewing OH&S practices.

Aside from that, I went down to Brisbane overnight to see a gig at a venue which wouldn’t let me take my camera in, so I had to walk back to the hotel, drop it off, then come back. I am getting really sick of this “no professional cameras” garbage that seems to be springing up all over the place.