Friday, December 28, 2012


The magnets don't work.  Next project, I'll plan how I'm going to fasten down the lid before I finish the sculpts!  So hot glue is going to have to do.

The dress nuts I ordered don't fit my buttons.  Which didn't look right anyhow.  So I filed down the shafts of the buttons until the new nuts would fit over them, pried off the buttons, clipped down the stems and painted the stubs black.  Then epoxied them into the holes (as they are now way too big.)  The decorative nuts were superglued over that.  Inevitably, at the last part of this last stage one of the buttons stuck, and in my frustrated efforts to free it I dinged up the new paint job.

Was also working on a very slight weathering.  Mixed up an acrylic wash, but it pooled and looked spotty and didn't seem to want to stay in the panel lines and around the letters.  Also mixed up a lighter color and dry-brushed some edges.  And it was all very messy and annoying and I have a headache now and at the end of it came back with a fresh coat of base color to knock most of that down because it didn't look very good.  Now I'm putting down coats of Krylon Crystal-Clear to seal it and make a sturdy finish.  Which is gloss, not the matt I'd prefer, but I'm not running out and buying yet one more can of paint at this point!

At least the water slide decals seem to be working now.  Given my experiences with dinted paint, the fragility of the decal, and the fact that there are buttons glued into their holes instead of threaded with proper nuts, the boxes are going to be more fragile than I'd like.  Not exactly the kind of thing you can toss around.  So one more thing to learn how to do better.

The desk is still covered in electronics scrap.  I just need to throw some minimal effects into the Medkit and I can clean up the desk/clear the decks for new projects.  Like the microphone repairs I'm sure to need before the next show opens.  Or the robot I may be building with my niece!

Next entry should be pictures of the finished props.

Oh:  just for laughs, here's an approximate list of the different "threats" the randomizer will pull up when the CBR Kit is set for "Simulated Threat" behavior. 


 The list is not meant to be complete or even representative; it is mostly a list of reasonable size of simulated threats that look okay on the display.  Seven-segment, 8-digit display, remember.  So "X, M, N, V, W, T, K" are all very hard to work out, "R, U, N, B, Q" are all lower-case, and "I, O, S" all look like numbers.  So "SARIN" displays more like "5Ar1n" and "NOVICHOK" looks something like "n0u1CH0H."

As the client and I have discussed, if war holds off for another decade the Morrow Project upgrades to LCDs or character displays.  And if they made it to within the current decade, it would be full-color OLED screens!

To add argh! to argh! as soon as I soldered the speaker down, clipped on a brand-new fresh 9V battery, and hot-glued the top of the case down, a software error showed up.  I still don't know exactly what is going wrong but after several hours of work I traced it down to one program line and commented it out.  So, now, when the simulated radiological threat is in the penultimate stage -- just before the Rad Alert triggers -- only the last two digits of the displayed number continue to change randomly.  Instead of the last three digits, as I had originally programmed.

I have suspicions as to what is going on, but it looks very much like a problem of interaction.  A problem where the engineering gets real instead of done cargo-cult style, that is.  I'm actually surprised I didn't run into trouble before, what with PWM'ing and playing tones at the same time, plus what are probably jolts of back EMF coming off the speaker.  It looks very much as if at some point, a buffer over-runs. seems to work now!

Another complete oddity.  While the problem persisted, over the entire simulated radiological threat display sequence, the VFD would not display all the segments of an "R."  Every other letter or number was normal.  Not "R."  Which sounds even more like somewhere, a buffer is running over and something is leaking into program space where it isn't supposed to be.

Well, the Medkit is simpler.  I'm actually looking at three different functions (one power switch and two "easter eggs") but there is no micro.  Everything is hard-wired.  In fact, one of the easter eggs won't even share a power supply.

I think.  I will test if the VFD will fire up on a 3v supply but... 

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