DaVinci Jr. 3-D printer doing bizarre offset print job.

This is a tale of joy and woe, all in one. I got my homemade heated print bed to work, keeping prints from curling up at the edges. This was a big victory after quite a bit of tinkering. But, after two failed attempts, I am yet to get a useable print of a back-cover for a project case completed. This time the fail is a bizarre shift of the print, halfway through the print job. The bed has not moved, the glass has not shifted, etc. The printer just decided that it wanted to print the thing a half-inch north of where it should be. Argh!

Fwiw, my current version of XYZWare is 2.1.12.2, and the firmware is version 2.2.8.

DaVinci Jr. butchers up print job by offsetting the print! Argh!

The tale of the Salt Lick brisket

Brisket from The Salt Lick

Let me tell you a tale of brisket; specifically a brisket from The Salt Lick, a famous barbeque eatery located in the Austin, TX area. I came to know about The Salt Lick while listening to Jerry Prevo preach on the radio one Sunday morning. He indicated getting brisket from The Salt Lick is mandatory for any visit to the Austin area, and he also indicated they have a location in the airport.

I happened to be in Austin for training just a couple of weeks ago, and planned on picking up a brisket at the airport on the way home. I got through the dreaded TSA gauntlet just after 5:00 a.m.. when the Salt Lick airport location opens up. Except it wasn't open at all.

Rather than pout, I decided to send the folks at The Salt Lick an email containing a summary of the airport non-brisket experience; all worded in a truthful-yet-polite manner. To my joy, I got a reply the next day. Fortunately, my loving wife was reading the reply, because it contained a blurb I failed to comprehend in my typical speed-reading. They were going to send me a free brisket! Those things sell for $60. Wow!

What they sent was not the 3-1/2 - 4-1/2 lb. brisket they list online. They sent a near-10-lb behemoth, and included a sauces and dry rub gift pack, which retails for $20. They sent it packed in a custom foam cooler box and the trip from Austin TX to Anchorage AK did the brisket no harm whatsoever.

The instructions with the brisket said to let it defrost for several days in the fridge, and that's just what was done. On Memorial Day (today), per directions, half of that brisket was grilled on our barbeque over charcoal. I went for an internal temp of 170 f. instead of the suggested 180 f., and this turned out to be just right.

Deli sliced brisket

Not being a professional brisket slicer, I decided to get out our trusty deli slicer, and it did it's magic; yielding bacon-thin slices which were just right. The outer crust of the brisket, which looked as if it was overdone, was turned into a perfect crunchy char. Thin-slicing this brisket was the way to go for sure.

The taste? Oh, it was exquisite. The pics here do not do this brisket justice. I should have taken the brisket to a portrait studio for proper photographs. Tender, juicy, flavorful, crunchy, meaty everything! This was the sort of decadence where you cast aside all cautions and consume the fatty bits and are glad for having done so.

Brisket, pineapple slaw, green beans

We paired this fine brisket with some green beans and a pineapple slaw; all of which is Whole 30 compliant. While I cannot vouch for the brisket itself being Whole 30 compliant to the core; I can tell you the dry rub they sell has no sugar or unwanted additives; and the brisket appears to have been dry rubbed and smoked. Anyhow, if you are that worked up over it, fine, don't eat the brisket and leave more for me to consume.

So as I type this, I am yearning for maybe some peach cobbler and vanilla ice cream, but will make do with maybe some cashews and an apple. The remainder of the sliced brisket is in a gallon bag for dinner later on in the week. The other half of the whole brisket has been vacuum sealed for grilling pleasures another day.

Overall, I must give Crystal Smith and the fine folks at The Salt Lick a huge "Thank you!" for coming through, and turning a brisket disappointment into a brisket fantasy come true. Crystal is the rep there at The Salt Lick who decided to comp me that kingly portion of brisket. Should I ever find myself in Austin TX again, I'll have to be sure to drop in on their regular location for a proper meal.

Whole 30 Pineapple Slaw

Pineapple slaw

Ingredients

  • 1/2 head cabbage, finely chopped
  • 2 cups crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I made my own)
  • Splash of vinegar (I used Coconut Secret vinegar)
  • Pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste

Directions

  • Cut the cabbage up first. I used a mandoline slicer to get the coleslaw pretty finely sliced.
  • Sprinkle salt on the cabbage, and allow to rest for at least an hour.
  • Rinse the cabbage, and spin in a salad spinner to dry.
  • Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.

While it can be eaten immediately, it will be better if you place it in the refrigerator and eat it the next day.

The making of Whole 30 mayo - Success at last!

I tried making mayonnaise twice, using the Basic Mayo recipe found in the Whole 30 book. Both times the result was a disaster; an oily yellow soup that had nothing remotely to do with mayonnaise.

Third time was the charm. Today, March 28th, 2016, I got it to work. The secret? The right oil and the right mixer.

The oil? This stuff right here. "Bel'Olio". Got it at Costco, two big ol' bottles for $19 or so. The key is that the oil is olive oil, and says "Light tasting" on it. You don't want mayo that tastes like an olive. Well, maybe you do, but not I. Just get your hands on light olive oil.

The blender? Use an immersion blender, those "stick" blenders. The one we have at home is 20+ years old, but still runs somehow.

My failed attempts involved using WalMart olive oil - "Great Something or other", their house brand. Anyhow, their oil might work to grease a squeaky door hinge, but it Does Not Make Mayo. I also used a blender, not my awesome Blendtec blender, but our old-school one with a glass jar. Made for easy cleaning, but did not make mayo.

So, use real olive oil, and use a stick blender.

And the actual recipe? Here is what I did, which is just about what was in the Whole 30 book:

  • 1 egg, at room temp (or warmed in a glass of warm water for 5 mins.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup light olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Start with the egg, muastard powder, salt, and about 1/4 cup of oil in the immersion blender cup (or some other tall skinny cup of your liking). Blend until you think you got some mayo. Start adding in the remaining oil SLOWLY, it might take you 5 minutes to get it all worked in there. As you add in more oil, it will be necessary to work the immersion blender up and down in the cup so as to get the added oil incorporated. You should see mayo forming. To prevent the mayo from overheating, I put the immersion cup into some cold water while working it. The idea is to remove any heat build-up from the blending, not to actually chill the ingredients. Anyhow, after you got some real mayo blending up, add in the lemon juice, and blend it enough to incorproate it fully. At that point, you should now have a seroiusly decent tastying mayonnaise which contains no sugar and is compatible with just about any eating plan which allows mayo at all.

Custom cupholder for 1995 Mitsubishi Diamante

There never was a cupholder in the center console of a 1995 Mitsubish Diamante. There is an absolutely horrible drinkholder in the dash, which is beyond useless. Seee in this pic where I've got my travel mug? Mitsubishi, in their 1995 year wisdom, had this comically useless "coin tray" there, that was about 5 millimeters deep. Useless beyond useless. A tragic waste of space. Prying out the coinholder revealed ample space for a real cupholder. 

I picked up a DaVinci Jr. 3-D printer off of Amazon, and sought to correct this lack of realistic drink transport capacity. After forcing myself to learn the basics of FreeCAD, I put together a basic design, and after a few model revisions, I arrived at the result seen above.

Here is the cupholder finished within the Da Vinci Jr. The tape underneath the cupholder is blue painter's tape; a common hack for otherwise expensive and hard-to-find printer bed tape. The print job took about four hours to complete. There was some lifting of the print from the bed, but fortunately it wasn't too bad.

Custom tempo controller for the BeatBuddy drum pedal

This is the result of over a year of causal tinkering. Doesn't look like much, I'm sure. The box to the right is not of my creation, it is a BeatBuddy, probably the greatest drum machine ever created. The device is rich with features, and even has an accessory switch pedal similar to what I cadged together. What it currently does not have, though, is an external tempo adjustment stomp box. Now one exists.

At a future date I'll spell out more details on the build, but the short version is this:

The tempo controller started out as a Fender guitar amp switch. I gutted it out and added an Arduino Nano microprocessor to speak to the BeatBuddy. Pressing the left button decreases tempo 5 bpm. Pressing the right button increases tempo 5 bpm. The BeatBuddy itself has been modified to add an external 1/4" jack for its tempo control knob. A 1/4" TRS cable connects the BeatBuddy to my pedal, which I'll cook up some sort of fancy name for.

So, in the future I'll stick together a better work-up on it, with a parts list, the Arduino Nano code, etc. And yes, I'm aware that there is a MIDI controller on the BeatBuddy, and there are probably a dozen better ways of going about what I built, but it works, right? Right!

Whole 30 Recipe: Spaghetti El Pato

Scratch your spaghetti itch with this flavorful alternative to the typical "jar of Ragu" spaghetti experience.

For those of you not familiar with yam noodle, it is a white noodle made out of some sort of mystery yam. The noodles possess zero calories, carbs, and anything else. You might as well be eating plastic. The noodles have a neutral flavor, but come packaged in a foul smelling liquid that certainly needs to be rinsed off before use.

El Pato is a Mexican tomato sauce that is quite spicy, and contains no sugar or other Whole 30-incompatible ingredients. So, you should be able to enjoy this just fine while eating on the Whole 30 plan.

What you will be enjoying is a bold, hearty spaghetti with very little runny sauce. The sauce, if you can call it that, will be hearty enough to use for other recipes where you need something meaty, such as maybe a dinner salad.

Ingredients

  • 1 14-oz bag Shirakiku Yam Noodle
  • 1 lb organic ground beef
  • 1 7-oz can El Pato tomato sauce
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1-1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (i.e., a bunch of mushrooms)
  • 1/2 carrot, diced or julienned
  • 2 small red peppers, diced
  • smoked paprika, to taste. Add twice as much as you think you should.
  • garlic powder, to taste
  • dried or fresh cilantro, to taste
  • dried or fresh chives, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • olive or avocado oil

Directions - Yam Noodle

  • Get a large pot of water on the stove and set to boil.
  • Using a fine mesh colander, rinse off the yam noodle in sink.
  • Use a pair of kitchen scissors to snip the yam noodle a few times. You'll find the noodles to be much more manageable if you do.
  • Add yam noodle to boiling water, and turn off heat. Leave yam noodle in water while preparing spaghetti sauce.
  • Drain yam noodle when ready to use.

Directions - Spaghetti sauce

  • Add a splash of olive or avocado oil to wok.
  • Heat wok on high, being careful to not scorch oil.
  • Sautee diced onion and mushrooms. Allow to brown. Add in carrot and peppers, and sautee.
  • Push ingredients to side of wok and allow bottom to heat up.
  • Add in 1 lb. organic ground beef and allow to brown. Use a wooden spoon or similar tool to break up ground beef as it browns.
  • Sprinkle on garlic powder, cilantro, chives, smoked paprika, and salt. Use your discretion.
  • Add in 1 7-oz can of El Pato tomato sauce.
  • Allow mixture to simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Serve over yam noodle.

Whole 30 Recipe: Chili Fire Scrambled Eggs

This quick-to-fix recipe makes a great meal for any time of day. The dish jazzes up otherwise bland eggs, and the walnuts add a nice crunch to satisfy your bored mouth.

This recipe should be compatible with the Whole 30 program; the Sambal Oelek does not have any sugar in it. And of course, being from Huy Fong, the makers of the real Sriracha, you know it'll be fiery.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup uncooked spinach
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 2 Tbsp Sambal Oelek
  • 1 cup (or one small can from Costco) diced mushrooms
  • Garlic powder (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil

Directions

  • Heat wok to cooking temp.
  • Add coconut oil.
  • Add mushrooms, and brown. Sprinkle with garlic power if desired.
  • Add eggs and stir, so as to scramble the eggs.
  • Add spinach and walnuts. Stir and continue to cook until spinach is wilted and eggs look done.
  • Add Sambal Oelek. Be careful, this can fill your home with pungent vapors if the Sambal Oelek gets overheated.
  • Serve immediately, and enjoy

lifehack: fresh gym bag

See this car air freshener? If you leave your gym bag in the car like I do,  you may be tempted to get this air freshener and hang it from your rear view mirror. The overpowering"laundry soap" scent of "Black Ice" renders the car uninhabitable, but what to do about it?

Toss the air freshener into the gym bag.

The potent power of Black Ice overcomes typical gym bag funk, leaving your gear smelling like freshly laundered clothing. Your car will smell better,  your gym bag will smell better.

Slightly better print quality when using painters tape for 3-D printing

UPDATE 26 Mar 2016: The below suggestion to scuff the tape only helps with small objects, with maybe a couple square inches of contact surface on the bed. Any larger than that and you'll be lucky to obtain a useful print at all with the Da Vinci Jr.

In a previous post, I mentioned using ordinary blue painter's tape as a cheap alternative bed tape for 3-D printing. I'm using a XYZprinting Da Vinci Jr. 1.0 3D Printer printer. While blue painter's tape works, it does have some drawbacks. The surface is a bit too smooth, resulting in prints where the far corners of the surface touching the bed end up lifting slightly. The result is a print where the edges are peeled up a bit from the middle, distorting the shape.

There is a cheap fix for the cheap tape, though: A wire brush.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After laying down the painter's tape, scuff the top surface with the wire brush. This will give the surface enough texture for the PLA material to stick to it during printing. I have not had difficulty removing a print after trying this out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If scuffing the tape surface produces any "fuzz", you'll want to remove that with a lint roller, a vacuum, or another piece of tape.

 

 

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