Subscribe to RSS feed - electronic brain surgery since 2001


DIY Board Game

Last weekend I felt like I wanted to create something with my hands again instead of sitting in front of my computer for hours. So I looked for a little project that wouldn't take too much time. Of course I spent more time than anticipated.

Originally I only wanted to build my own version of Quoridor which I found on BoardGameGeek. But then I saw that I could easily support the Viking game Hnefatafl as well if I'd just make the board a little bigger…

For Quoridor I needed walls that could be put up beween the individual fields. At the local hardware store I found a mat with small marble mosaic stones. For the walls I bought an aluminum slat that I cut into pieces with a Dremel.

Ideally the aluminum walls should have fitted between the stones on the mat, unfortunately the stones weren't glued on it precise enough. I ended up ripping them off the map, sanding the glue off and hot gluing them back on a piece of plywood. It only took me three or four tries to get the distance correct :-?

For the box/cover I built a simple plywood box. At first I thought about nailing it together but that proved to be difficult and the wood began to splinter. So I used wood glue and a rubber band to hold it together while the glue dried.

To decorate the box I transferred the print of a viking ship drawing to the box by making my own carbon copy paper by blackening the back with chalk. I then transferred the lines by tracing them with an edge. Finally I carved the lines with my Dremel and stained the wood.

The pawns I ordered from whose owner was very helpful when I fucked up my order by failing to count how many pieces I really needed.

I think the end result is pretty enough.

diy, boardgame, games
Similar posts:
Last updated: 2018/01/12 16:45 · Permalink · Comments

Network Trouble

So here's a story about how I spent my weekend.

I am dissatisfied with my home network, mostly with the network capabilities available in the bedroom. Because, as you know, Kaddi and I like to play adventure games on the Steam Link which needs enough bandwidth and low latency to be able to stream the game from my PC to the TV.

So in general, Wi-Fi sucks at my place. I measured it right next to the access point and on 5GHz I get a meager 23 Mbit/s. 2.4ghz is even worse. I guess it's just because the airspace is totally overcrowded - I see about twenty or more different networks.

Since I rent a place, there's no sensible way to set up network cables. So my network relies on Power LAN. Which is Voodoo. Everyone knows that it never ever reaches the advertised speed outside a lab. But I'm not asking for much. I had a couple of 650 Mbit connectors mixed with some older 200Mbit ones. And connection speeds in the bedroom were horrible. The Steam Link just did not work with that. With the sucky Wi-Fi it was at least somewhat usable - lots of freezes, stutters and shit, but bearable for slow paced adventure games.

So I thought maybe it would help to replace my mix of Power LAN adapters with all the same ones. I ordered four 1200 Mbit ones and it turned out okay in the hallway where speeds now reach up to 450mbit. However in the bedroom it still was not much more than 10 MBit.

Now because I know that Power LAN is Voodoo, I tried the power socket in the hallway right next to the bedroom door and that brought about 110 Mbit. Not too bad. I then switched the new 1200 adapter for an old 650 one and the speed was still about 110 MBit. So I guess it makes not a difference if you mix different speeds as long as they are nominally higher than what you can realistically reach.

So the new plan was this: send back two of the 1200 MBit adapter and use the old 650s instead. Use the hallway socket and lay down a cable into the bedroom. Not terribly sexy but bearable from an aesthetics standpoint.

However I need to connect two devices, the Smart TV (for Netflix and Youtube) and the Steam Link. So I needed a switch. I ordered a network cable and a switch from Amazon on Friday and they offered free same day delivery. Woot! I waited eagerly all day. DHL package tracking sucks though - you barely get any info until the mailman rings. The package finally arrived around 8pm. When I unpacked the switch, I properly read the labeling for the first time: “Fast Ethernet”. Shit, that's 100MBit max. I wanted my 110Mbit!

Back to Amazon on a Friday night. I picked a slightly more expensive Gigabit switch than necessary, just to be eligible for free overnight shipping.

The next day, Kaddi and I spend some time for neatly laying out the network cable, reordering aand fixing up all the other cables with cable ties - you know, making everything neat. Because in all those years I still seem not to have learned a thing about doing this kind of shit before testing the setup…

Anyway the new switch arrives in the evening and we hook it up and decide it's time for a game.

I boot up the Steam Link and it says that it cannot connect to the network and then freezes up. Shit. Reboot. This time we manage to start the game. Which freezes and stutters. A lot. Like unbearable lot.

I notice the lights on the switch behave weird. They flicker as they should for a while, then they all go out at once, then come back up all together again. A bit of flicker and the same spiel again. As if the switch is resetting constantly.

What the actual fuck? I have no idea what that's supposed to be. So I grab one of my old 100 Mbit switches I still have lying around and wire it up instead. It works. From time to time the game stutters a bit with a slow network warning, but not too often. Maybe a bit less than it did when we used the Wi-Fi before.

So, I guess there's another piece of hardware going back to Amazon. I spent a lot of time and in the end, didn't really achieve anything. I dunno what the moral of this story is. But this is my blog. If there's any place where I can tell pointless stories, it's here.

network, powerlan, wifi
Similar posts:
Last updated: 2017/11/12 20:15 · Permalink · Comments

Project: Personal Finance Information

I'm very lucky. Unlike many other people, I never have to worry about not having enough money to buy food or to pay my rent. I'm not super rich, but I live comfortably. However if you had asked what exactly I'm spending my money on and how much, I'd draw a blank.

So to answer that question for myself, I was very busy coding the last few weeks. The result are two new tools: TheBankster and TheCashster1).

Last updated: 2017/11/04 15:03 · Permalink · Comments

Weekend Project: Label Designer

I own a Brother QL-500 label printer. It's a cheap little machine that thermo prints self adhesive stickers. The printer is attached to my router which provides a simple print server on port 9100.

Of course the printer only comes with Windows software, but it's possible to run it with CUPS and use gLabels to create labels.

However I found that super cumbersome. Whenever I wanted to print a label I was fighting with CUPS not doing what I wanted. On some machines labels where cut off at the wrong places, on other machines the labels looked good, but more often then not the printer would just simply do nothing at all.

So I was very happy when I came across the Brother QL project by Philipp Klaus. He implemented the PTouch printer language in a pure Python library. That means you can send images directly to the printer – no printer drivers, no CUPS involved.

All that was missing was a tool to easily create the needed image to send to the printer. I wanted something web based that can run on our local Raspberry Pi. So that's what I build:

The BQL Label Printer software is available on Github.

Last updated: 2017/10/06 13:38 · Permalink · Comments


We're back from two weeks in Scotland and here's the usual picture dump. The weather was actually better than the photos suggest. But yes, we saw a lot of rainbows :-)

photos, vacation, scotland
Last updated: 2017/10/04 19:41 · Permalink · Comments

Older Posts are available in the Archive. Keep up to date with the RSS Feed.


Older Articles are available in the Archive, subscribe to the
Full Content RSS Feed to stay tuned. You can also subscribe to the Link RSS Feed.

← Flattr me ;-)