New Toy

So, I got my Federal tax return last week, which is always that great annual lump sum payout for paying too much in taxes the rest of the year that gives you some nice spending cash, cash for bills, whatever. Well, I don’t have a lot of bills, so I took advantage of the extra spending cash. So, I bought another expensive toy.

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For those who are curious, that is a Steam Machine. Basically, it’s a tiny i7 powered PC that runs SteamOS natively and hooks up to your TV for couch gaming. SteamOS is based on Debian Linux, making this first computer I’ve ever bought with Linux preinstalled. So far, all I’ve had time to do is hook it up and update, which borked controller (it’s a common issue.) I’ll fix it when I get home from work tonight. At the price I got the thing, I’m not complaining. Since retailers are trying to get rid of them, I got this majorly reduced. The i7 is the top of the line, $800 MSRP. However, I got mine for a little over $450. That’s close to half off. You can’t buy or build an i7 powered tower with 8GB RAM, a 1TB HD and an Nvidia GTX960 for less, so I’m happy. I’m going switch my PC games over to this and use my desktop for other stuff.

Lightsaber Upgrade Pt. 2

Just a quick follow up to yesterday’s video.  This one details some configuration changes I made to the board, including changing sound fonts and changing my blade flicker settings.  I also increased the swing sensitivity.  I love how simple this board is to configure.

Meanwhile, adding blog posts with my phone is a pain in the ass.  But, I didn’t have time to post this before leaving the house. ::)

Lightsaber Upgrade

Some of you may remember my Aeon LE V4 stunt saber I got many months ago from Ultra Sabers:

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Now, some people complain about the look of Ultra Sabers, saying they’re too plain looking. Well, to each their own is all I can say to that. To me, this is a wonderful looking hilt that I lucked out in getting, as I ordered it as a grab bag, which is their random hilt buying option. Anyway, I’ve been wanting to upgrade this wonderful looking saber for sound, so today I did exactly that.

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Another Switcheroo

After having fun with my Dark Sentinel yesterday, switching it to green and going with the opposing silver switch with the black bezel, I decided I wanted to do another. So, I grabbed the switch that came with that saber and the other grab bag saber I got in that order, my Aeon V3. Sentinel Yellow is one of my favorite colors, ever since I first played Knights of the Old Republic. I pad $10 extra per saber for this color on my Aeon V2s, so I was for sure going to use this LED, even though I switched one of the V2s over to orange. So, I decided to put it in the V3. I really like how this looks.

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Going Green

Not a huge customization here. I got this Dark Sentinel from Ultra Sabers some months back, during the second Summer Raffle, I think. I couldn’t afford to enter the raffle, so I bought a couple grab bags, I got this hilt and an Aeon V3. The Dark Sentinel came in Fire Orange, which is a nice enough color, but not necessarily my favorite. I have a friend who really likes orange blades, so I plan to give him an orange saber, just not this hilt. A while back, I transferred the orange LED to one of my Aeon V2 hilts, which I plan to give to him eventually. At that point, I left the hilt disassembled, because I couldn’t decide what to do with it. I thought about doing some sanding, but I still haven’t decided if I want to turn this into a two tone hilt. And, if I do, I can always do it later. I have a big upgrade planned for my Aeon LE V4, in fact I want to add sound and Flash on Clash to it. To get FoC, I’ll need a Tri Cree LED anyway, so that means the green LED in that hilt is up for grabs, as is the silver latching unlit AV switch. So, I decided to switch all of that over to the Dark Sentinel, as I have two black hilts with blue, but I don’t have any with green. I also decided to give the hilt a hint of silver by transferring the AV switch, but only the switch. I used the black bezel, to make it look more like the switch is built in and not just tacked on. I really like how it came out.

Before:

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A Tale of Three Sabers

This is my eighth order from Ultra Sabers, constituting Ultra Sabers #10 and 11, with an entry in the Winter Raffle, which earned me Ultra Saber #12. Here’s a group shot of my order and winning sabers, then we’ll break down everything into a review:

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Left to right: Dominix LE V4 in Guardian Blue, Dominix LE V2 in Adegan Silver, Lost Gray in Consular Green

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Lightsaber Build

Well, I built my first lightsaber today. I decided to do my first one using a Dominix V3 hilt from Ultra Sabers. This hilt wasn’t very expensive, less so than ordering parts and putting one together. Since I had a lot of other stuff to buy that I won’t have to buy next time, (soldering iron, solder, etc.) I figured to keep costs down on the saber itself. Now, just to be clear, this isn’t a money saving way to go, as opposed to buying the saber itself from Ultra Sabers. Complete with blade, this saber is $69.99 USD. I paid probably a bit more than that for all my parts and didn’t get a blade. Plus, I ordered electronics from another site, so I had to pay for shipping there as well. This is more of a challenge thing than a money saver. Truth be told, you can’t build a saber of this quality for less than Ultra Sabers charges for them.

Anyway, this is what I started out with:

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I have my hilt, LED, thermal tape, optic holder, optic, switch, heatsink, resistor and battery holder.

And, of course, I also had wire, heat shrink tubing, soldering iron, solder, heat gun, safety glasses, wire snips, tweezers, helping hands (soldering tool) and electrical tape.  I wasn’t going to use the tape, but I accidentally ordered the wrong size of heat shrink tubing and I can’t find small enough locally.  I didn’t want to pay for more shipping, so I just went with electrical tape.

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Lightsabers

I mentioned the lightsabers I own in my previous post.  Since I mentioned them, I figure it’s only fair to show them.  These are my seven Ultra Sabers stunt sabers:

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Left to right: Initiate LE V4, Sentinel V4, Aeon V2, Aeon V2, Aeon LE V4, Aeon V3, Dark Sentinel V4

All of them are stunt sabers, meaning they have no sound.  But, I can pretty easily upgrade all of them, except the two Aeon V2s.  Those are thinner, so putting sound in one of them would be problematic. While these are “plain” hilts, the upgrade possibilities are nearly endless. Also, if one were to try learning lightsaber combat and/or spinning, any of these hilts would be ideal.

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Changing Times

Some of you may have noticed, the blog got a new title.  Well, there are a few reasons for this.

As I’m sure many people of noticed, my more recent posts have nothing to do with CGI.  Now, this doesn’t mean I’m not going to do CGI anymore, this just means my hobby focuses are shifting.  One thing that’s great about CGI is that it’s cheap, compared to many other hobbies.  Many hobbies require a constant inflow of currency, money spent to buy materials.  CGI is one of the exceptions.  With free software being what it is these days, you can literally start with no more out of pocket expense than a decent(ish) computer.  Of course, what you will be able to do with said computer depends on how much money you put into it.  However, even a budget laptop can be used to create models, if little else.  I believe I’ve touched on this before, but I was unemployed for quite some time.  While I was struggling to find work with an economic recession and faulty criminal background checks working against me, (common name) CGI was there for me.  With an OK computer and cheap or free software, the sky was the limit.  All it takes to make CGI models and do images, animations, etc. is time and patience, of which I had plenty.

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Beyond

A few months back, I went and saw Star Trek Beyond in the theater and really enjoyed it.  In my opinion, it’s the best movie in the Nu Trek series.  Since then, I’ve been patiently waiting for the Blu-Ray release.  I’d had the Amazon gift set of the film pre-ordered because I wanted the model of the Franklin it came with, even though I don’t need a 4K or a 3D copy of the film.  Well, I cancelled that the other day and decided to just buy the movie at work.  I’m sure glad I did, because I like the Walmart gift set much better:

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Standard Blu-Ray, (works great for me) a DVD I’ll give to my Dad, a digital copy I’ll never use and three little ship models.  All for around half the price of the Amazon gift set.  The models are OK, they’re about Micro Machines size and quality.  Though, from one of the reviews I read on Amazon, their model isn’t any better.  (I guess someone paid for some ultra fast shipping, which can be done)  Anyway, I’m glad I got this set, it has the discs I want, three models and I got it a lot quicker.  Here’s a couple quick snaps of the models:

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Sorry for the kind of blurry pics, best I can do.  I did do a little enhancement in GIMP to make them a bit better.  Also, ignore the stuff behind them, my desk is my catch-all.  😉