Mystery Caterpillars

This being caterpillar season, we put a mystery egg mass on a Swiss Chard leaf into a small container:

Mystery Caterpillar - eggs on Swiss Chard

Mystery Caterpillar – eggs on Swiss Chard

I think the darker egg was a dud, because two days later they all hatched and ate their egg cases, leaving that one behind:

Mystery Caterpillar - hatched

Mystery Caterpillar – hatched

Mary deported them to the trash, put two on a leaf in an aquarium on the kitchen table, and, eight days later:

Mystery Caterpillar - 8 days

Mystery Caterpillar – 8 days

They’ve been chowing down on spare garden greenery; unlike Monarchs, they eat what’s set before them.

One has dark “fur”:

Mystery Caterpillar - black morph

Mystery Caterpillar – black morph

The second is lighter:

Mystery Caterpillar - brown morph

Mystery Caterpillar – brown morph

A third caterpillar escaped the trash can apocalypse and also resides in the aquarium, albeit stunted by its ordeal:

Mystery Caterpillar - pale morph

Mystery Caterpillar – pale morph

They’re too bristly to be Wooly Bears. I’m sure they’ll turn into nondescript brown moths.



Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillars By The Handful

Monarch butterfly eggs occur in onesie-twosies on each milkweed plant, but Tussock Moths carpet-bomb the leaves with eggs that hatch pretty much all at once:

Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillars - detail

Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillars – detail

With a population density like that, the plant doesn’t stand a chance:

Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillars

Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillars

A few hours later, they were gone and so were the leaves! Presumably, they’re traveling across the ground to the adjacent milkweed plants; one or two may find our patio.

Despite all the egg-laying we saw, we haven’t seen any Monarch caterpillars out there.


Tour Easy Daytime Running Light: Pile of Prototypes

Although I wish I could come up with a finished design in one pass, usually I end up with a big pile of nope before producing the one I want:

Fairing Flashlight Mount - Iterations

Fairing Flashlight Mount – Iterations

The mounts on the left show the progression from large hemisphere balls to the same-size finger ball to the smaller finger ball, with the smaller cyan arch clamp in the foreground still festooned with its support structure. The stack of plates to the right (with the original faded & distintegrating ABS plates in the bag) comes from reprinting in cyan to match the small mounts now on the bikes:

Fairing Flashlight Mount - rounded

Fairing Flashlight Mount – rounded

Hey, it’s time for a ride!

, ,


Tour Easy Daytime Running Light: Annotation

The flashlight mount need not be symmetric after applying all the rotations, so recording how it’s aimed and which end goes forward seemed appropriate:

Fairing Flashlight Mount - Mount Annotation

Fairing Flashlight Mount – Mount Annotation

Optionally, with rounded ends just for pretty:

Fairing Flashlight Mount - Mount Annotation - rounded

Fairing Flashlight Mount – Mount Annotation – rounded

Because the rounding comes from resized spheres, the plate gets a ridge along the top to (maybe) lock the nylon screws / wing nuts in place:

Fairing Flashlight Mount - Mount - rounded

Fairing Flashlight Mount – Mount – rounded

Or discourage them from turning, which would be OK, too. After the second tightening, they don’t seem to come loose, so this may be overthinking the problem.

All in all, they look pretty good in cyan PETG:

Fairing Flashlight Mount - rounded

Fairing Flashlight Mount – rounded

Believe it or not, that’s aimed so the top edge of the beam is roughly horizontal to keep the hot spot out of oncoming traffic. They’re plenty bright, even on the “low power” setting.

The flashlight mounting balls produce a decorative brim that ought to be useful for something:

Slotted ball on platform

Slotted ball on platform

Maybe earrings?

The OpenSCAD source code as a GitHub Gist:



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Wasabi NP-BX1 Batteries: FAIL

I just got a new pair of Wasabi Power NP-BX1 batteries for the HDR-AS30V helmet camera, charged them up, and ran them through the CBA:

Sony NP-BX1 - Wasabi FGHI - 2017-08-08

Sony NP-BX1 – Wasabi FGHI – 2017-08-08


The new ones (H and I) cost near twice as much as the 2-1/2 year old previous pair (F and G), while delivering less energy at a lower terminal voltage. Tested ’em twice to be sure and the curves overlay just about perfectly, so it’s not a fluke.

The rep assures me the replacement cells will deliver their promised capacity. We shall see.

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Monthly Image: Cross-striped Cabbageworm

In the normal course of events, this critter would become an undistinguished brown moth:

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Right now, it’s a two-day-old cross-striped cabbageworm. Its kin are voracious consumers of Brassicacae out in the garden and Mary’s raising it as a show-n-tell exhibit for her Master Gardener compadres; she advised it to not start any long novels.

Taken hand-held with the Pixel XL through a clip-on 10x macro lens.

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J5 V2 Flashlight: Switch Tightening

From the start, the (second) J5 V2 flashlight had an erratic switch that flickered the LED at the slightest pressure. Not enough to switch modes, as it does with a half press, but enough to show something’s not quite right inside.

Taking it apart requires a pin wrench, which I have, but the deeply recessed ring required more reach than any of the tips I’ve made over the years. Introducing a pair of stainless steel 10-32 screws to Mr Grinder added two more pins to the collection:

J5V2 Flashlight - custom pin wrench

J5V2 Flashlight – custom pin wrench

The lock ring in the flashlight cap turned out to be finger-loose, certainly contributing to the problem. Removing the lock ring, peeling the rubber dome out of the cap, and poking with a punch sufficed to drive out the guts of the switch assembly:

J5V2 Flashlight - switch parts

J5V2 Flashlight – switch parts

Which is, as you’d expect, the cheapest possible parts that don’t immediately fail.

The (steel) tab sticking out of the actual switch (in the upper right) contacts the inside of the (aluminum) cap. I bent it slightly outward, added a trace of DeoxIT Red, reassembled everything in reverse order, and it’s all good for the first time in its brief life.

I’d rate J5’s QC as Below Average, given that the first light arrived with built-in dirt and its replacement (this one) had an alien egg next to the LED, plus this loose switch lock ring + crappy tab contact.

The J5 V2 light claims 750 lumen output, but the spot is nowhere near twice as bright as the LC40 lights on the bikes and much dimmer than the LC90 light (which is too big for the bikes), all tweaked for equivalent-size illuminated areas. Given that lumens measure total output and candela measure lumen/steradian, there’s some wiggle room for misinterpretation.

Won’t buy another, for sure.