Rebuilding

Well, it’s been an interesting weekend. Ordinarily where I work, it’s 40 hours maximum for hourly associates. Well, with it being a holiday and them being extremely shorthanded Friday night, another guy and I were allowed to go in for approved overtime. So, I’ll be getting 8 hours at time and a half on my next paycheck. It also means my weekend was only one day, instead of two, but that’s OK. (extra money is good) So, what did I do with my weekend? What I didn’t expect: tore apart two computers and put one back together.

So, about a year and two months ago, I bought a computer on Amazon. It was on sale and it was a sweet deal, especially for the Radeon RX580 graphics card that was included. That thing was amazing. Keyword: was. One of the reasons I bought the computer was for the Windows license, as those are expensive and by the time you buy the hardware, the license is basically free. I wanted to use some Windows only software, and hook up some devices that use USB and interface with some Windows software. Well, the build of Windows 10 that I have doesn’t like older USB devices, so getting said devices to connect when I wanted them to was extremely frustrating. Then the RX580 didn’t work right with Linux, which made me salty. So, I wound up putting my old EVGA Nvidia GTX950 in it. Most recently, the mouse started acting stupid (no biggie, pack in peripherals are shit) but worse, the computer has started not booting correctly. Sometimes, when I turn it on, it won’t do anything, not even load the boot splash. Since that’s stored on the motherboard, I’m thinking it’s a motherboard issue. Not good. The final straw was when I went to beta test a build for a Linux distribution I use. I got that all set up, got my bootloader where it needed to be, and it will only boot that OS, it won’t even let me choose the other Linux distribution I have installed. (I had unhooked the Windows drive, but that wouldn’t have affected the Linux drive) So, I messed around in UEFI, updated the bootloader in Linux, but nothing worked. So, I jettisoned the whole thing.

Enter my old gaming rig. Total custom, I built this beast from parts about 6.5 years ago. At that time, it was pretty cutting edge, and it’s no slouch now. It has a Gigabyte AM3+ motherboard, AMD FX8120 processor and 2x 4GB Crucial RAM. I put that GTX 950 in it, and two of my 1TB WD Blue hard drives. I also put a DVD-RW drive in it, just because I could. 😉 I have two of those, but I hardly use optical media in computers anymore, so one is enough. I was going to use the case for the newer computer, but the front panel uses a newer connector for the USB 3.0 ports that the Gigabyte motherboard doesn’t have, so I used my old Antec 600 gaming case, and my Rosewill either 400W or 450W PSU (can’t remember which it is.) Anyway, pictures:

I got everything pretty well cleaned up. There’s still some dust, but nowhere near as bad as it was. I also did what I could for cable management by carefully routing things and using wire ties, but the Antec 600 wasn’t really made for cable management. I do have some Patriot RAM on the way, it will be here tomorrow. I’d looked into getting a couple more Crucial 4GB modules, but it was going to be over $100 to get ones like I have. So, I just looked into totally replacing the RAM. They’re 1600 MHz DDR3, the Patriot RAM I ordered is 1866 MHz DDR3, 2x 8GB memory, so I’ll just totally swap the Crucial for the Patriot and have double the Memory. Then, I can get two more on down the road and max out the RAM for that board. 😎 I also have some 120mm Rosewill fans on the way, they’re supposed to arrive Tuesday. I have one Linux OS installed right now (the one I’m beta testing) and I’ll probably add a second sometime this week.

So, that’s how I spent my weekend. Fun fun.

I also got a book in the mail yesterday:

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It’s really cool. The guy who took the pictures is the same guy who photographs systems for Wikipedia, which has some awesome pics. It says in the back that there were a number of systems that he couldn’t get, but there are way more than I knew about, from the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972 to the Nintendo Switch in 2017. Great stuff. 🙂

I’d tried getting this book from Amazon in December, but it was backordered. I didn’t want to wait, so I ordered it from Books-A-Million, who claimed to have it in stock. A few days, later, I got a notification that it wasn’t in stock and they canceled my order. I remembered about it again the other day and ordered it from Amazon, as it’s in stock now.

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New Beginnings?

So, I’ve started a new project. This is a project on multi fronts as I’m once again trying Blender. I’m also trying a different Linux distribution than the one I’ve been using for years. I’m trying Solus OS, which is an independent rolling release OS, meaning it never needs to be reinstalled, it can be updated endlessly. This has a lot of advantages over most Linux distributions, which are good for a few years at most, then they reach end of life and never get any more security updates. So far, the testing of Solus is going well, I’m 3 days in and have had no major issues.

Anyway, my reasons for trying Blender again are several. One is (obviously) the fact that it’s cross platform, so no reliance on Windows. I booted up to Windows the other day and my hard drive was being accessed continuously. I didn’t have the TV on, so I could hear it making noise. I looked at the task manager and couldn’t find out what was accessing the drive, so I rebooted back into Linux. But, even with my on again off again romance with Windows, the main reason I’m trying Blender again is Lightwave itself. I upgraded to Lightwave 2018 last year and things seemed immediately better than Lightwave 10, which was several years older. However, I ran into some issues, the worst of which being issues rendering anything using reflections. Rendering with reflections causes white dots (fireflies) to appear on the object. This hasn’t been fixed, and I have the latest version of Lightwave 2018, which is 2018.7. So, in 7 revisions this hasn’t been fixed. I use reflections a lot, and they’re necessary to the way I do bussard collectors. So, them not working is a no-go for me. I have no guarantee that they’ll be fixed in Lightwave 2019. I could try a demo, but it’s a $400 upgrade, and the last $400 upgrade didn’t go so well. I could, of course, just go back to Lightwave 10, but I decided to try Blender again first.

Deciding on something to build first in Blender was a challenge. I was going to modify one of the designs from Discovery to look more TOS era appropriate, but decided not to do that first. Then I looked at the Saladin-class destroyer, but also decided not to do that. (I’ll do that after I inevitably build a TOS Enterprise) So, I decided to go back to the pre-TOS era and do a Daedalus-class. I loaded up Masao Okazaki’s schematics for the ship and planned to do a canon model, but then decided to switch tracks and do my own thing with it. I’m not very far, but I have the main shapes blocked in:

Amazingly, I still remember a lot of keyboard shortcuts for Blender. Some of them are more sensible than the ones in Lightwave, just as I like some of the tools in Blender better. But, I like some Lightwave tools better too, so it’s a give and take. More progress will come as it happens, I’m gone from the house a lot of hours for work each week. (over 55 hours a week)

Star Trek: The Art of John Eaves

So, I bought a new book the other day:

The book without the dust cover is cool, as we see a yellow line version of Eaves’s concept for the Borg cube from First Contact.

Anyway, I’ve been a fan of John Eaves’s work for years, I have his old sketch book from the movies Generations and First Contact. Eaves’s Star Trek career spans over 30 years, as he started out in Greg Jein’s model shop for Star Trek V, and he also drew concept work for the Klingon disruptor cannon and the Starfleet shuttlecraft, though the shuttle concept wasn’t used. He moved out of the model shop and into the concept art department for TNG and DS9, continuing to the TNG movies and Enterprise, and has done concept work for the first two JJTrek movies and Discovery. He not only designs ships, but props as well, as everything in a Sci-Fi movie usually has to be made and needs concept work to visualize designs.

Anyway, good book. I’ve only read the Discovery part, though I skimmed over some of the rest. I wanted to know why certain things were done they way they are for Discovery, and this book answers some of that.

So, that’s what I have for now. Good book, especially if concept art fascinates you as it does me.

Enterprise 2019 Part 9

So, I finished up the details on and around the impulse engine, and I tweaked my glow a bit too.

One thing I wanted to do was add some reaction control system (RCS) thrusters to the impulse engines. This is real world technology that started appearing on Star Trek ships in the 1970s. Back in the early days of suborbital space flight, they experimented a lot with the rocket powered X-plane series to try out different technologies for space flight. One thing they had to solve was how to maneuver in a zero gravity environment. They tried various things that were unsuccessful before someone had the brilliant idea to put little thrusters all over the plane for course corrections. This worked, and RCS thurusters were born and have been used on NASA spacecraft since then. By the 1970s, when Star Trek was getting its revival, a number of NASA scientists volunteered their time as scientific advisors on the attempts to create a movie and a TV show that resulted in TMP. I’d assume they’re the reason Star Trek ships have had little thrusters on them since the 1970s.

One thing that bugs me about the ships is that they have a few thrusters here and there. I guess the assumption is that, with them placed where they are and with centuries newer tech, less thrusters will get the job done. That’s all fine and dandy, but one thing that seems to be somewhat missing on a lot of Star Trek ships are thrusters that point directly forward and backward. We know they exist, because they’re referenced a lot, but they aren’t shown a lot. It can be assumed that the thrusters can be pointed in different directions to achieve directional flight and maneuvers, but still. Some ships hardly have any thrusters. (looking at you, Constellation class) I like to try and make my ships somewhat realistic in the thruster department. Though, I’m no scientist, so I may not necessarily get it “right” either, but I do understand the basics of how these thrusters work. One ship that’s the exception to this is the NX-01, it has more thrusters than most Star Trek ships, including plenty that point directly backward. There are some near all four impulse engines, which makes sense. Plenty of backward thrust for moving the ship forward on thruster power. I decided to do the same here. There are screw holes in the back of the impulse engines of the actual model, to attach the part to the ship. I put the thrusters pretty much where those holes are.

Anyway, to achieve my idea for the thrusters, it was necessary to build the saucer ones first. Not really necessary, but I like to do those first and base all of the other thrusters on the ship after them. So, I did those, then I added the 12 nozzles to the impulse engines. I decided to go with a design between the NX-01 and the Enterprise refit. The NX has bell thrusters, similar to what are on real NASA spacecraft, where the refit has squared holes sunken into the model. So, I did round nozzles that stick out slightly and are sunken in. No glows on the thrusters, because I’m not a fan of stuff glowing just for the sake of it.

I’m not overly fond of the windows and thrusters being so close together, but these things happen. The windows are placed where they are on the series ship, and the thrusters have to go there. Well, they don’t have to, but 45 degrees rotation in relation to the ship’s axes is the most efficient place to put them.

Enterprise 2019 Part 8

This is the first time I’ve felt like working on this ship in a few weeks. And, I don’t mean that in a “I just didn’t feel like it” sense, I mean I’ve literally been sick the past few weeks. Some kind of nasty flu, or something like that. I even had to call in to work a couple days, and I’m the type who almost never calls in.

Anyway, I’ve been working on the impulse engines:

I probably would have done more, but this is also the first time I’ve loaded up Windows in a few weeks. It told me along the way that it had downloaded an update. I opted to wait, but then decided to install the wretched thing a while later. It took almost an hour just to install this stupid update. I know how long it took because I was watching a stand up comedy special that was slightly over an hour. I started the update towards the beginning, and it finished just before the comedy special did. So, that was frustrating.

Badges? We don’t need no….

No, seriously, badges are cool. Especially when you’re talking about Star Trek badges. I used to see where they’d sell the Star Trek badges and rank pins, etc, especially back in the ’90s, but I could never buy them back then, being a teenager and all. Plus, that was before online shopping and you had to mail order a lot of stuff like this. But, now we have Ebay. I found this little beauty on there:

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Now, the copyright on the back is 1992 and the seller says it’s new. I know these were produced for a number of years, so it’s possible to have unopened stock from back then. It’s also possible this is a recast copy from China. I really have no idea. It wasn’t in any kind of packaging, but I don’t know if they always were, especially if they were for a convention or something. I’ve seen some stuff like this selling on there with the old “Star Trek: The Experience” packaging. I know a lot of stuff like this was officially reproduced for that. Either way, I like it, it’s cool. I love the TWOK style uniforms, and I’ve always liked this badge. I’d love to have a TWOK style jacket, but I don’t see that happening. All the ones I’ve seen are prohibitively expensive, plus I have issues finding jackets with long enough sleeves. If they’re not available in tall sizes, it’s a crap shoot. So, I’ll be content with the pin. 🙂

By the way, getting a pic of this was a bitch because it’s so shiny. The flash just made it dark, so I had to take the pic without it. Having it not reflect my phone and everything else was a chore too. So, I took a photo in relatively low light and then played with the brightness and contrast in GIMP.

Enterprise Test Renders 2

I fixed the issue with the window. I moved it forward so that it’s only intersecting two faces, instead of four. That’s what was causing the fuglies.

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Also, here’s a good look at why I do the test renders, as opposed to just taking the 3D viewport’s word for it:

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You can see some of that stuff that was visible in the render with the window farther back in the 3D viewport, but it doesn’t show up in the higher quality render.

Enterprise Test Renders

This is why we do test renders.

I did some to test my window cuts in the teardrop. You can see some slight “pinching” around the round window in that last pic. This is caused by the angles of the faces and a few other things. I’ve got a plan to fix that, but if it doesn’t work I may just have to take that window out. Fortunately, I have an incremental save file with the unmarked teardrop, so I can just delete the window and then replace those faces, then try it again.