Blog Summary: 2020

You can’t make up results like this for a techie kind of blog:

Blog Top Post Summary - 2020-12-31
Blog Top Post Summary – 2020-12-31

Given my demographic cohort, bedbugs suddenly seemed downright friendly.

Overall, this blog had 109 k visitors and 204 k page views. The ratio of 1.8 pages / visitor has been roughly constant for the last few years, so I assume most folks find one more interesting post before wandering off.

My take from the increasing volume of ads WordPress shovels at those of you who (foolishly) aren’t using an ad blocker continues to fall:

Blog Ad Summary - 2020-12-31
Blog Ad Summary – 2020-12-31

The CPM graph scale seems deliberately scrunched, but the value now ticks along at 25¢ / thousand impressions, adding up to perhaps $250 over the full year. Obviously, I’m not in this for the money.

The ratio of five ads per page view remains more or less constant. Because Google continues to neuter Chrome’s ad blocking ability, I highly recommend using Firefox with uBlock Origin.

WordPress gives me no control over which ads they serve, nor where they put ads on the page. By paying WordPress about $50 / year I could turn off all their ads and convert the blog into a dead loss. I’m nearing their 3 GB limit for media files on a “free” blog, so the calculation may change late next year.

Onward, into Year Two …

Makergear M2: Platform Z=0 and Alignment Check

After replacing the nozzle and filament drive on the M2, it’s definitely time to verify that the Z=0 point remains at the platform surface and the whole affair is properly aligned.

Distribute five thinwall open squares across the platform:

Calibration Boxes - platform alignment - 2020-12-11
Calibration Boxes – platform alignment – 2020-12-11

Because they’re well separated and only 3 mm tall, I set Slic3r to print them sequentially to eliminate a whole bunch of back-and-forth travel for each layer.

Print and measure the results:

Calibration Boxes - initial M206 Z-2.50 - 2020-12-11
Calibration Boxes – initial M206 Z-2.50 – 2020-12-11

The outer numbers come from the skirt around the whole platform in units of 0.01 mm: 22 → 0.22 mm. The five inner numbers are the eyeballometric average of four measurements across each square.

They came short enough that adding 0.25 mm to their height would improve the outcome. The scribbles in the upper right corner show the initial Z offset was -2.50 mm, which means -2.75 mm should do the trick; remember to save the new value in EEPROM with M500.

Print the same G-Code file with the new offset and measure:

Calibration Boxes - M206 Z-2.75 - 2020-12-11
Calibration Boxes – M206 Z-2.75 – 2020-12-11

Can’t get much closer than that!

The skirt gains only 0.1 mm for reasons unknown to me. It’s a good diagnostic tool for keeping an eye on the overall alignment without having to run more calibration squares, though.

Comparing the center squares (bottom layers facing each other in the middle) from the two sets shows the difference:

Test Squares 2.73 3.01 mm - 2020-12-11
Test Squares 2.73 3.01 mm – 2020-12-11

The bottom three layers got pretty well squashed with the previous offset. It’s missing about a full layer, although the nozzle wasn’t mashed flat / blocked against the platform. All the layers in the post-adjustment square look identical, as they should.

The wall thickness on the latter squares runs from 0.40 to 0.44 mm, with an eyeballometric average around 0.43, so tweaking the Extrusion Multiplier down by maybe 5% would be in order if I were being fussy.

Overall, not bad for a new setup!

Monthly Science: Batmax NP-BX1 Status

After powering my Sony HDR-AS30V helmet camera for nearly all of this year’s riding, the Batmax NP-BX1 lithium batteries still have roughly 90% of their original capacity:

Batmax NP-BX1 - 2020-11
Batmax NP-BX1 – 2020-11

Those are hot off the Official Batmax charger, which appears identical to other randomly named chargers available on Amazon.

They’re holding up much better after a riding season than the DOT-01 batteries I used two years ago:

Sony DOT-01 NP-BX1 - 2019-10-29
Sony DOT-01 NP-BX1 – 2019-10-29

Empirically, they power the camera for about 75 minutes, barely enough for our typical rides. I should top off the battery sitting in the camera unused for a few days, although that hasn’t happened yet.

Of course, the Batmax NP-BX1 batteries I might order early next year for the new riding season have little relation to the ones you see here.

Roadside Overgrowth: Life Finds a Way

A few years ago, this traffic splitter had a magnificent overgrowth goin’ on:

Traffic splitter bushes - Vassar Rd at Pine Tree Dr - Streetview 2018-07
Traffic splitter bushes – Vassar Rd at Pine Tree Dr – Streetview 2018-07

Eventually, somebody (perhaps the NYS DOT) cut the bushes off at their bases and probably hit them with defoliant to keep them down:

Traffic splitter stumps - Vassar Rd at Pine Tree Dr - 2020-11
Traffic splitter stumps – Vassar Rd at Pine Tree Dr – 2020-11

I don’t know that the stems cracked the concrete, but they surely eased the slabs apart.

The signpost had a substantial bush at its base:

Traffic splitter stumps - signpost - Vassar Rd at Pine Tree Dr - 2020-11
Traffic splitter stumps – signpost – Vassar Rd at Pine Tree Dr – 2020-11

It’s tough to keep civilization running ahead of Mother Nature

Monthly Science: Chestnut Weevil Damage

The dried chestnuts looked undamaged in their husk, but three groups of weevil grubs surely left some damage behind:

Chestnut husk - dried
Chestnut husk – dried

Gingerly prying the seeds out revealed holes in all three:

Chestnut weevil damage - exterior
Chestnut weevil damage – exterior

The weevils converted the nut meat into what looks like solid frass:

Chestnut weevil damage - interior
Chestnut weevil damage – interior

Having eaten themselves out of house and home, they moved on to the next plane of existence.

For most of them, that would be bird food.

Brita Water Filter Innards

Having replaced our disintegrating Brita pitcher a few years ago, I finally got around to opening a used filter to see what’s inside. Start by cutting off the flexible rim (intended as a seal against the pitcher) to reveal the joint, then pry the lid off:

Brita pitcher filter - opening
Brita pitcher filter – opening

Stand it upright before getting the lid off, because the filter contains a zillion charcoal granules and two zillion ion-exchange resin beads:

Brita pitcher filter - granules
Brita pitcher filter – granules

The inside of the lid has mesh screens to keep the innards in place while distributing the raw water:

Brita pitcher filter - lid
Brita pitcher filter – lid

Similarly, mesh on the bottom drains let the filtered water out:

Brita pitcher filter - emptied
Brita pitcher filter – emptied

No surprises, but now we all know what’s in there.