Huion Tablet USB Cable Realignment

The Huion tablet on my desk has its USB cable sticking straight out of the left side, whereupon it must loop around to burrow under the shelf under my monitor on its way to the port on the back of the PC case. The loop snagged on all the clutter atop the desk and I finally got around to Fixing That Problem:

Huion tablet - rerouted USB cable
Huion tablet – rerouted USB cable

Of course, it wasn’t quite that simple.

Right angle USB Mini-B connectors are still a thing:

Huion tablet - USB angle adapters
Huion tablet – USB angle adapters

Which is a “left angle” adapter and which is a “right angle” adapter depends on which supplier you ask and how much you trust their descriptions / product photos, so you should get a set containing both: it’s the only way to be sure.

The one on the right (a “right angle”) shows a bit of carving, which came after the completely unsurprising discovery that the stylin’ curves on the side of the tablet collided with the rectangular adapter:

Huion tablet - misfit adapter
Huion tablet – misfit adapter

Some diligent X-Acto knife work carved away enough of both the adapter and the tablet case to snugly join them:

Huion tablet - plastic surgery
Huion tablet – plastic surgery

The hackery over on the far right fits around the USB cable’s molded connector. I simply cut away any parts that touched until the adapter seated firmly in the USB socket and the cable exited parallel to the edge.

Part of this involved not carving deeply enough into the adapter or cable connector to expose the internal wiring. I assumed the tablet didn’t have anything vital immediately inside that fancy curve, so that’s where I dug deepest.

Stick adapter + cable to the tablet with good-quality electrical tape and now the cable points directly to where it should go.

Declare victory and move on!

Gidget II Sewing Table: Temporary Juki Insert

Mary’s new sewing table just arrived, but the laser-cut acrylic insert fitting around her Juki sewing machine is still a month or two away. Until then, a simple cardboard replacement must suffice to fill the gap:

Juki temporary table insert
Juki temporary table insert

The rectangle just to the left of the needle is a hatch for bobbin changes. Sheer faith and an interference fit between layers of Kapton tape holds it in place with surprising force.

I wanted to tape the cardboard edges to the machine and the table to smooth out the transitions, but her Supreme Slider slippery sheet may solve the problem without adhesives:

Juki temporary table insert - Super Slider
Juki temporary table insert – Super Slider

The “insert” is a 1/4 inch thick double-layer corrugated cardboard sheet, utility-knifed from a huge box. She layers cardboard under the wood chips in her Vassar Farms garden paths to discourage the weeds; this seemed like a perfectly reasonable diversion.

CNC-3018XL X-Axis Recalibration

Plotting the backlash / calibration target on both the CNC-3018XL and the MPCNC quickly showed, contrary to what I expected, the MPCNC was dead-on accurate, albeit with some wobbulation and a trace of backlash:

MPCNC - Backlash test - detail
MPCNC – Backlash test – detail

Although it looks ug-u-lee, the (lower speed) drag knife cuts come out nice and, because the entry and exit moves match the main cut, the minimal backlash wasn’t a problem.

Turns out only the X axis on the 3018XL had a problem:

Cal Target - 400 step-mm - merged
Cal Target – 400 step-mm – merged

Apparently the longer leadscrew I installed as part of the “XL” conversion has a small thread pitch error: about 1 mm short in every 250 mm of travel. I don’t have any (definite, non-handwavy) method to measure the pitch directly, other than by running the follower nut and measuring the results, but it’s consistently short.

Quite some time ago (after blowing up the OEM controller board), I set up the Protoneer CNC board in 1:8 microstep mode, making the GRBL $100 setting a nice, round 400 step/mm for a two-start leadscrew with 2 mm pitch and 4 mm pitch:

400 step/mm = (200 step/rev * 8 µstep/step) / 4 mm 

After a few more measurements suggesting the leadscrew actually traveled 249.2 mm, the correct value will be:

401.28 step/mm = 400 step/mm × 250 mm / 249.2 mm

To verify I understood the problem and solution, I set $100 to a few integer values around the goal:

Cal Target - stacked - 399-402 step-mm
Cal Target – stacked – 399-402 step-mm

The top image shows the leftmost line at the 10 mm mark on the scale, because it’s easier for me to match the ink line with an engraved line, rather than the non-line at the end of the ruler.

The other images show the results for $100 set to 399, 400, 401, and 402 step/mm, respectively. The results last two results bracket the desired 250 mm outcome, with 401 step/mm being Close Enough™. GRBL accepts a floating point step/mm value, so I set $100 to 401.28, but I was unable to convince myself the result came out consistently different than 401.00.

Plotting both the tick marks (green) and the knife path (red) on the 3018XL, then cutting the bare paper on the MPCNC, showed the two machines now agree on where the knife should fall. The outer end of the tick marks extends 1 mm beyond the cut line to ensure small misalignments do not produce an obvious white gap around the edge of the deck.

The Y axis continues to match:

Tek CC - 2022-02-14 - Y detail
Tek CC – 2022-02-14 – Y detail

And now the X axis looks just as good:

Tek CC - 2022-02-14 - X detail
Tek CC – 2022-02-14 – X detail

The drag knife corners are rounded, as you’d expect. The cut seems slightly offset from a small origin touch-off error, but the scales now match.

Underwriter’s Knot

Found inside a fluorescent desk lamp being salvaged for possible use as an LED task lamp:

Fluorescent Desk Lamp - Underwriters Knot
Fluorescent Desk Lamp – Underwriters Knot

It’s one of the few Underwriter’s Knots I’ve ever seen in the wild. Many recent (i.e., built in the last half-century) lamps pass the cords through a plastic clamp or depend on simple bushings, with some just ignoring the problem.

This anonymous lamp sports the usual Made in China sticker, but also features a genuine-looking UL sticker complete with elaborate holograms, so it may well have been sold by a reputable company. IIRC, it came from a trash can in a Vassar College hallway, back when in-person meetings were a thing; perhaps Vassar required known-good electrical hardware.

Inkjet Refilling: End of an Era

Just before the turn of the millennium, I bought what turned out to be a never-sufficiently-to-be-damned HP 2000C inkjet printer that served as my introduction to refilling inkjet cartridges. A few years later, a Canon S630 printer joined the stable and worked fine for perhaps five years before succumbing to a printhead death. An Epson R380 that might have cost fifteen bucks after rebate took over, drank maybe a gallon of knockoff ink through a continuous ink supply system during the next thirteen years, and finally suffered progressive printhead failure during the last year.

Something recently changed in the inkjet market: Epson (among others) now touts their “Ecotank” printers featuring large internal reservoirs refilled by 70 ml bottles of color ink priced at perhaps 20¢/ml, obtained direct from Epson via Amazon. They proudly note you can save 90% off the cost of cartridges (“Kiss Expensive Cartridges Goodbye”), without mentioning how their previous extortionate cartridge business made that possible. Of course, Ecotank printers cost far more than cartridge-based printers, but that seems reasonable to me.

Because the ink bottles fit neatly into the printer through a push-to-flow valve interlock, I can finally retire this relic:

Inkjet refilling towel
Inkjet refilling towel

That’s maybe fifteen years of accumulated splotches.

I hope my refusal to buy their cartridges helped immanentize their eschaton, just a little.

Good riddance.

Mystery Not-Copper Line Cord

Harvesting a line cord for a widowmaker test setup revealed its inner secret:

Mystery not-copper wire - as found
Mystery not-copper wire – as found

The conductors are as thin as I’ve ever seen in an AC line cord, with 0.5 mm² = just under 20 AWG. The color code doesn’t match USA-ian standards, but neither does the labeling, so I’m not surprised.

If the individual strands seem unnaturally straight, they are, because they’re made of (presumably) copper plated on a (presumably) metallic core. Here’s what they look like after bending them sharply around my fingernail:

Mystery not-copper wire - bending
Mystery not-copper wire – bending

Wonderfully springy, utterly non-magnetic, and surprisingly durable.

Scraping the 0.02 mm strands with a sharp blade reveals a silvery interior, so it’s (presumably) not copper-coated plastic. Aluminum springs (ahem) to mind, but I’d expect tiny aluminum strands would snap (or at least deform) when bent and erode quickly when scraped.

Each wire measures about 1 Ω / m from the plug (a convenient 40 inch = 1 m away), which is the resistance you’d get from a single hair-fine 5 mil = 0.13 mm strand of 35 AWG solid copper. An 18 AWG aluminum wire would have the same resistance as a 20 AWG copper wire, both of which should be 32 mΩ / m: a factor of 30 less than this crap.

I have no idea what low-end Chinese factories use in place of copper, but it’s gotta be really cheap.

A hank of the wire goes into the Box o’ Springs, in the event I ever need a tiny straight spring rod; you definitely can’t wind this stuff into a coil! It might be fine enough for a crosshair / reticle, at least for crude optics.

Euphorbia Horrida Flower

A Euphorbia horrida (one of the prickly plants) on the shelves just inside the front window burst into bloom:

Euphorbia Horrida - flowers
Euphorbia Horrida – flowers

The flowery part looks unappetizing, but some critter must find the blooms attractive:

Euphorbia Horrida - flower - side
Euphorbia Horrida – flower – side

The small reddish balls look like the desert equivalent of nectar, as they’re viscous to the point of solidity:

Euphorbia Horrida - flower resin - top
Euphorbia Horrida – flower resin – top

I’m unwilling to experiment, but the resin ought to very sweet, lethally toxic, or wildly hallucinogenic. Maybe all three at once?