Thursday, October 28, 2021

Google Cloud and Static Sites

 I moved my site from a GCP Instance to a Bucket 💪

This wasn't because I wanted to, it was because Google changed the 'Free' Tier of the GCP VM's, sorry Instances. I ended up getting charged $12 for my website that sees about 3 visitors a month.

Running the Instance was, fun? I had a Gopher space page on there and of course my main page. I will probably spin up another Gopher page, but right now I wanted to get a blog up and running. So I copied my www folder off the old Debian 9 install, shut down the instance and removed it and it's storage. Rest easy 'ol stretchy.

Following Google's own guide to hosting a static site, via HTTP. I do plan on setting it up with HTTPS again using another free tier instance, this time with the correct settings for 2021. Following their guide was easy and I was able to share the bucket and host the static page successfully. 

The site itself is about a year out of date, I do plan on updating it to mention the delays I'm having and the failure to open the BBS by 2020. Also the public files download stopped working, I'm sure its just a matter of adjusting the link to the bucket itself instead of the old WWW server folder.

Overall it was easy to do. I don't have to maintain the OS, Server, etc. I just make the files/folders public and we're off! Once I get the effort to update the HTML I'll probably put it behind a load-balancer to offer the HTTPS certificate out.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

3D Printing With Lasers!


I have a Creality Ender 3 FDM 3D Printer. It's a workhorse. I've modded it, upgraded it, tweaked it, you name it. New Bed, Extruder, Motors, Springs, tons and tons. I also bought a laser for it.

The Creality company offers a Laser Engraving Kit, which I of course picked up. It was $37CAD on sale with Free Shipping. Took about 3-4 weeks to get here during the end of Summer '21.

It's a 500mW 24V Laser Diode. It's roughly around the 445nm wavelength. This means we can engrave most woods, especially soft wood. I of course experimented with a bunch of different materials, who wouldn't? The laser sticks to the printer via magnets. It just sits on the front of the fan cage for the printer's hot-end. You could mount the laser module to its own gantry and replace as required, but the magnets handle my workload just fine.

Since I have a newer Ender 3, not the V2, I had to perform a little firmware modification. My Ender 3 came with the Creality board 4.2.2 also known as 4.2.x. This thing has a 'bug' that has been open. These Laser Modules are Laser Diodes with some PWM guts. This kit included a Y adapter to allow me to split the power/signal from the parts cooling fan. This fan operates on 24V PWM and so does the Laser. The bug is that the PWM frequency is so low that the Laser cannot get enough power. The fix is to change the timer for the header since it's already in use. The GitHub issue is here.


So what can this thing do? Well it started out rough. I used the software that Creality has and it's rough. I dug around for others and found some web-based tools and such. Nothing with great results. Pic related.

The bottom image was first. The laser wasn't shutting off for 'white' parts of the image. This was just a PNG/JPG of Dickbutt. The top part was done after when I figured out that the laser needs to be 1% to 'shut-off'' or else there is a delay in firing the laser. The image isn't very detailed and the lines are rough. The reason for this Creality's software can only fire the laser on/off. It doesn't have the ability to PWM the power.

LightBurn to the rescue? 

A friend of mine owns a business that does CNC/Laser work. He suggested LightBurn. This software is used for Laser Cutting on bigger machines, and smaller now! LightBurn offers a Marlin/GCode version that allows me to either copy gcode files to SD or connect my printer directly to the USB port on my Laptop. 

LightBurn properly controls the laser using PWM in the ranges that I select. I ran several power, speed and interval tests and found my butterzone. Overall I'm pleased with the results. I'm going to be offering custom made C64 stuff on my Tindie store and can't wait to see what else I can do with it.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Out of Stock

 Well I'm out of stock. Not just any stock, all of it.

For those that don't know I design, make and sell a couple of things for the Commodore 64. I sell these using Tindie. Volume is crazy low. I make design them via KiCAD and then ship them off to a PCB House in China, usually PCBWay. I then assemble the boards in my basement, and flash if required. This can take months due to the shipping times from China. I want to get away from using a PCB House and get back to making them by hand using either a CNC or my Laser Cutter. Someday.

The delays in shipping from China have gotten worse. So bad in fact that with my low volume I cannot even get them within 6 months. This makes it really hard to keep some in stock, especially when I don't know when to order!

So, my store is empty right now. If I order 20 boards I won't get them till about Feb '22. If you're looking for a C64 WiFi Modem or Breakout Boards. 2022 is your year!


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