Saturday, April 9, 2016

That Moment...

...when inchoate purpose strikes the breakwater of complexity thrown up by the dark underwater shoals of the unknown unknowns. 

One of the things I emphasize in this journal and in the Instructables I have published is methods. By which I mean not the actual craft techniques, but the planning and problem-solving methods that tell you what you need to research, and more than anything else give you milestones and sanity checks to help tell you if the project is actually on track.

And in particular. You plan out tests, proofs of concept, rough models, massing sketches, sanity tests, all to see if an idea shows promise or not before you invest a lot of time and money in research and purchasing and construction.

The Holocron is fairly far down the development path. My plan called for three tests before I proceed into the details of the final design; a lighting test, attempts to solve a flaw in the previous iteration of the control circuit, and a scale check for the overall Holocron.

It failed the lighting test. By itself, the "Cree" 3 watt RGB won't smoothly light all six faces of the cube. This leaves me, well, floundering a little. The PCB design is all about driving a Cree. I have some ideas towards surface-mount or even neopixels, but I don't have ideas yet on how to wire them so as to achieve 180 degree coverage. All I can say at this point is that an internal "ping-pong ball" diffusor shows some promise.

Which means circuit design stops dead until I can come up with a new lighting scheme and then give that a test.

The Wraith Stone is faring worse at the moment. The assumption is that I'm casting something that will go over/around a circuit board that will provide an internal illumination. The problem here is in the nature of the material. The artist's renditions are rather unclear as to what this material really looks like. Are these quartzite veins? Nodules? Is the stone metallic or more like obsidian? How opaque is it?

The known unknown is that different casting (or printing) materials are going to behave very, very differently to internal illumination. Unfortunately, this is something that calls for extensive experimentation, and I have neither funds nor patience to try out every resin additive in the catalog.

What I hit today is lots of unexplored territory I didn't even know was out there. UV-sensitive additives to casting resin, for instance. The potential of "cold casting" (aka, mixing actual powdered metals into your cast). 

I keep edging at some sort of idea of creating spaces, either with a special mold or a lost wax method or something, pouring in a dark material, then following it up with a clearer one. Or maybe create little beads or appliqué and drill behind them? I don't know. I can't form any ideas in a concrete enough fashion to point at proper experiments.

Which means all I can really do is a scale check with a rough Sculpey, err, sculpt, and maybe try out some vague ideas I had towards a black stone base with the relief elements brought out with Rub 'n Buff. 

Sigh. A weekend isn't enough time to really do this. I look forward to my new job schedule. Spent much of this morning getting the latest M40's ready for shipment...only to discover the local branch of the Post Office has stopped having Saturday hours.

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