Smashed Glass vs. Epoxy

Just to see what happens, I laid some smashed glass in puddles of epoxy:

Smashed Glass vs epoxy - samples
Smashed Glass vs epoxy – samples

Backlighting with the LED light pad reveals more detail:

Smashed Glass vs epoxy - backlit samples
Smashed Glass vs epoxy – backlit samples

The chunk on the left is the proof-of-concept shot glass coaster with a form-fit black acrylic mask atop a clear epoxy layer on a clear acrylic base. The chunk at the top is raw shattered glass fresh from the pile. The two chunks on teardrop acrylic scraps are bedded in transparent black and opaque black tinted epoxy.

A look through the microscope at all four, laid out in that order, with the contrast blown out to emphasize the grain boundaries:

Smashed Glass vs epoxy - magnified comparison
Smashed Glass vs epoxy – magnified comparison

You may want to open the image in a new tab for more detail.

The raw chunk has air between all its cuboids, so it’s nicely glittery. All the others have much of their air replaced by epoxy.

Clear epoxy produces an essentially transparent layer where it fills the gaps, because its refractive index comes close enough to the glass. The stretched contrast makes the gaps visible again, but the backlit image shows the unassisted eyeball view.

Transparent black dye sounds like an oxymoron, but it fills the gaps with enough contrast to remain visible. The overall chunk is not particularly glittery, but it’s OK.

Opaque black dye produces a much darker tint; the slightly tapered thin layer between the glass and acrylic (the small white circles are air bubbles) cuts down on the transmitted light. The gaps remain nearly as prominent as in the air-filled chunk, although with very little glitter.

Bedding the glass in epoxy against an acrylic sheet should reduce its tendency to fall apart at the slightest provocation, although the proof-of-concept poured coaster showed the epoxy must cover the entire edge of the glass sheet to bond all the slivers in place.

Hyde Edge Recharge Vape Pen Teardown

Now that vape “pen” refill cartridges are (mostly) dead, roadside debris has gotten chunkier:

Hyde Charge Vape Pen - as found
Hyde Charge Vape Pen – as found

It’s a Hyde Edge Recharge vape pen or it could be a counterfeit. You (definitely not me) get “up to” 3300 puffs from the 10 ml container, with 50 mg of nicotine ensuring you can’t get enough and will come back for more. Although I don’t follow the market, “disposable” vape pens can still contain the fruity flavors prohibited in refillable pens, with the added decadence of throwing the whole thing away when the tank runs dry:

Hyde Charge Vape Pen - components
Hyde Charge Vape Pen – components

My admittedly inexperienced eye says the “tank”, which is really just a fiber cylinder soaked in fruity juice + nicotine, still has plenty of hits remaining.

The Basement Shop may never smell the same again.

Of more interest, the silvery lump wrapped in a white felt strip is a 600 mA·hr lithium cell that slurped 406 mA·hr through its USB Micro-B jack when I recharged it. Perhaps the user victim sucker tossed it when the battery “died”, being unable / unwilling / ignorant-of-how to recharge it? The yellow aluminum case seems faded on the mouthpiece end, but that might be a stylin’ thing.

A closer look at the electronics payload:

Hyde Charge Vape Pen - electronics
Hyde Charge Vape Pen – electronics

The two red wires over on the right went to the coil in the draw tube to the right of the “tank”. Not being interested enough to care, I wrecked the coil while extracting the rest of the contents. Comfortingly, the red and black wires from the PCB go to the positive and negative battery tabs.

A closer look at both sides of the PCB:

Hyde Charge Vape Pen - PCB detail
Hyde Charge Vape Pen – PCB detail

The SOT23 IC sports an LTH7 topmark corresponding to an LTC4054-4.2 Standalone Charge Controller (Analog Devices absorbed Linear in 2017). The two LEDs to its right glow red during charge and white during each puff.

The black felt disk covers an anonymous pressure sensor activating the coil during each puff. With four pins, the sensor must be far more complex than just a switch, but nowadays puff sensing could require an entire ARM microcontroller.

Speaking of microcontrollers, there’s always this fate:

Hyde Charge Vape Pen - Arduino battery
Hyde Charge Vape Pen – Arduino battery

I fought down an almost uncontrollable urge to amputate my arms at the elbows and cauterize the stumps …

OMTech 60 W Laser: Failed HV Power Supply

Setting up a piece of MDF and hitting the Frame button produced a lightly scorched line around the part perimeter, plus a slightly diagonal track leading from / to the Home position in the far right corner:

Fire while framing tracks
Fire while framing tracks

Doing another pass with LightBurn’s rubber-band frame produced the faint dotted circle.

Huh. Didn’t useda do that.

The laser should not fire while framing and, having just installed LightBurn’s 1.2.01 update, suspicion instantly fell on the most recently changed thing.

Which turned out not to be the case, as LightBurn’s tech support pointed out:

This is generally an indication of a failed high-voltage power supply, not a software issue.

OMTech’s support requested a video of the equipment bay, which didn’t seem like a useful way to convey the situation. Instead, I sent pix.

This picture shows the status of the 60 W laser power supply while the laser is incorrectly firing:

OMTech 60W Laser - uncommanded framing fire
OMTech 60W Laser – uncommanded framing fire

The power supply has two LEDs on what looks like, but is not, an Ethernet jack near the bottom:

  • Orange P LED: good water flow
  • Green L LED: controller’s PWM signal

The LASER orange LED near the top turns on when the HV output is active and the laser should be firing.

In this case, L LED is off and the LCD shows “Laser signal OFF”, but the LASER LED is on and the LCD shows 2 mA beam current: the laser beam is ON, even though the controller has not activated the PWM signal.

Not only that, but I discovered the laser would fire while framing even with the lid up and the “safety interlock” sensor active.

Totally did not expect that.

For comparison, the power supply status during a manual pulse at 49% power:

OMTech 60W Laser - manual pulse 49%
OMTech 60W Laser – manual pulse 49%

In that case, the L LED shows the PWM signal is active, the LASER LED is on, and the LCD shows 14 mA of current to the tube. That’s how it should work.

Although the function of the TEST button seems very lightly documented, pressing it did not turn on the output (the LASER LED is off), despite lighting the L LED:

OMTech 60W Laser - Test button pressed
OMTech 60W Laser – Test button pressed

OMTech confirmed my suspicion:

We are afraid that the laser power supply is defective

A replacement should arrive in a few days.

Protip: always practice laser eye safety.

Kensington Expert Mouse Scroll Ring: More Data Points

A note from Alan adds more data about troubleshooting problems with the classic Kensington Expert Mouse trackball scroll ring:

I have two comments and a question: first I made the mistake of purchasing 4 used expert mice on ebay etc and each had a different problem but 3 of 4 also had faulty scroll rings. 2nd: one of them was dated 2020 (a wireless version). so they definitely haven’t fixed this issue and it’s very wide spread (or maybe why shady sellers decide to part ways with their trackballs).

question: from reading across your quotes it’s not clear but it seems like there is no real consistent fix to this issue nor a really strong conclusion as to what causes it? My futzing with a couple of these does seem to suggest that alignment of the ring makes a difference but not a lasting one.

As far as the alignment non-fix goes, tweaking the detector position just changes the amount of light passing through the wrong side of the reversed IC, without solving the problem. That’s what we’ve all done, with essentially the same results: feels good, doesn’t last.

Kensington (whoever they are these days) may have fixed the problem with a different quadrature detector oriented in the proper direction, but that’s not something we civilians can accomplish.

It should be possible to unsolder the reversed detector (if, indeed, it is), aim the lens (if that’s what it is) at the emitter, then somehow resolder the leads to the same pads. Perhaps flip it to put the leads on the top, away from the PCB, secure it with a generous blob of hot-melt glue, and connect jumpers from pads to leads?

So far, the two new-ish units on my desks continue to work well, depriving me of sufficient motivation to dig into my junkers.

If anybody is willing to hack their defunct trackball, please let us all know what happened!

Because you may be reading this in our future, comments on this particular post will probably have been disabled to reduce the attack surface for spammers. Send me an email / use the comment form (linky over on the right), or comment on the post of the day and I’ll sort it out. Thanks!

Coaster Generator: Rounded Petals

Making a coaster with petals from the NBC peacock turned out to be trickier than I expected:

Chipboard coaster - rounded petals
Chipboard coaster – rounded petals

Protracted doodling showed that I cannot math hard enough to get a closed-form solution gluing a circular section onto the end of those diverging lines:

Chipboard coaster - rounded petal geometry doodle
Chipboard coaster – rounded petal geometry doodle

However, I can write code to recognize a solution when it comes around on the guitar.

Point P3 at the center of the end cap circle will be one radius away from both P2 at the sash between the petals and P4 at the sash around the perimeter, because the circle will be tangent at those points. The solution starts by sticking an absurdly small circle around P3 out at P4, then expanding its radius and relocating its center until the circle just kisses the sash, thus revealing the location of P2:

t1 = tan(PetalHA);
sc = (Sash/2) / cos(PetalHA);

<< snippage >>

P3 = P4;        // initial guess
r = 1.0mm;      // ditto
delta = 0.0mm;
do {
  r += sin(PetalHA) * delta;
  P3.x = P4.x - r;
  dist = abs(P3.x * t1 - sc) / sqrt(pow(t1,2) + 1);
  delta = dist - r;
  message("r: ",r,"  delta: ",delta);
} while (abs(delta) > 0.001mm);

P2 = [P3.x - r*sin(PetalHA),r*cos(PetalHA)];

The dist variable is the perpendicular distance from the sash line to P3, which will be different than the test radius r between P3 and P4 until it’s equal at the kissing point. The radius update is (pretty close to) the X-axis difference between the two, which is (pretty close to) how wrong the radius is.

As far as I can tell, this will eventually converge on the right answer:

r: 1.0000mm  delta: 13.3381mm
r: 6.1043mm  delta: 6.2805mm
r: 8.5077mm  delta: 2.9573mm
r: 9.6394mm  delta: 1.3925mm
r: 10.1723mm  delta: 0.6557mm
r: 10.4232mm  delta: 0.3087mm
r: 10.5414mm  delta: 0.1454mm
r: 10.5970mm  delta: 0.0685mm
r: 10.6232mm  delta: 0.0322mm
r: 10.6355mm  delta: 0.0152mm
r: 10.6413mm  delta: 0.0071mm
r: 10.6441mm  delta: 0.0034mm
r: 10.6454mm  delta: 0.0016mm
r: 10.6460mm  delta: 0.0007mm

Obviously, efficiency isn’t a big concern here.

Having found the center point of the end cap, all the other points fall out easily enough and generating the paths follows the same process as with the simple petals. The program performs no error checking and fails in amusing ways.

As before, laser cutting the chipboard deposits some soot along both sides of the kerf. It’s noticeable on brown chipboard and painfully obvious on white-surface chipboard, particularly where all those cuts converge toward the middle. I applied low-tack blue masking tape as a (wait for it) mask:

Chipboard coaster - tape shield
Chipboard coaster – tape shield

Whereupon I discovered the white surface has the consistency of tissue paper and removing the tape pretty much peels it right off:

Chipboard coaster - white surface vs tape
Chipboard coaster – white surface vs tape

Putting the chipboard up on spikes and cutting it from the back side, with tabs holding the pieces in place (so they don’t fall out and get torched while cutting the next piece), should solve that problem.

In the meantime, a black frame conceals many issues:

Chipboard coaster - rounded petals - front vs back cut
Chipboard coaster – rounded petals – front vs back cut

I must up my coloring game; those fat-tip markers just ain’t getting it done.

The GCMC and Bash source code as a GitHub Gist:

// Round Petals Test Piece
// Ed Nisley KE4ZNU
// 2022-07-17 Coasters with round-end petals
layerstack("Frame","Petals","Rim","Base","Center","Tool1"); // SVG layers map to LightBurn colors
// Library routines
FALSE = 0;
// Command line parameters
// -D various useful tidbits
// add unit to speeds and depths: 2000mm / -3.00mm / etc
if (!isdefined("OuterDia")) {
OuterDia = 100.0mm;
if (!isdefined("CenterDia")) {
CenterDia = 0.0mm;
if (!isdefined("NumPetals")) {
NumPetals = 6;
if (!isdefined("Sash")) {
Sash = 5.0mm;
// Petal values
PetalAngle = 360.0deg/NumPetals; // subtended by inner sides
PetalHA = PetalAngle/2;
PetalOD = OuterDia - 2*Sash;
PetalID = CenterDia + 2*Sash;
PetalOAL = OuterDia/2 - Sash - (Sash/2)/sin(PetalHA);
//message("petalOAL: ",PetalOAL);
P4 = [PetalOD/2,0.0mm];
// Find petal vertices
P0 = [(Sash/2) / sin(PetalHA),0.0mm];
t1 = tan(PetalHA);
sc = (Sash/2) / cos(PetalHA);
if (P0.x < PetalID/2) {
a = 1 + pow(t1,2);
b = -2 * t1 * sc;
c = pow(sc,2) - pow(PetalID/2,2);
xp = (-b + sqrt(pow(b,2) - 4*a*c))/(2*a);
xn = (-b - sqrt(pow(b,2) - 4*a*c))/(2*a);
y = xp*t1 - sc;
if (FALSE) {
message("a: ",a);
message("b: ",b);
message("c: ",c);
message("p: ",xp," n: ",xn," y: ",y);
P1 = [xp,y];
else {
P1 = P0;
P3 = P4; // initial guess
r = 1.0mm; // ditto
delta = 0.0mm;
do {
r += sin(PetalHA) * delta;
P3.x = P4.x - r;
dist = abs(P3.x * t1 - sc) / sqrt(pow(t1,2) + 1);
delta = dist - r;
message("r: ",r," delta: ",delta);
} while (abs(delta) > 0.001mm);
P2 = [P3.x - r*sin(PetalHA),r*cos(PetalHA)];
PetalWidth = 2*r;
if (FALSE) {
message("P0: ",P0);
message("P1: ",P1);
message("P2: ",P2);
message("P3: ",P3);
message("P4: ",P4);
// Construct paths
PetalPoints = {P1,P2};
OutArc = varc_cw([P2.x,-P2.y] - P2,-r);
OutArc += P2;
PetalPoints += OutArc;
if (P0 != P1) {
PetalPoints += {[P1.x,-P1.y]};
InArc = varc_ccw(P1 - [P1.x,-P1.y],PetalID/2);
InArc += [P1.x,-P1.y];
PetalPoints += InArc;
else {
PetalPoints += {P0};
//--- Lay out the frame
if (CenterDia) {
repeat(NumPetals;i) {
a = (i-1)*PetalAngle;
//--- Lay out internal pieces for oriented cutting
// baseplate
relocate([OuterDia + 2*Sash,0]);
// central circle
if (CenterDia) {
relocate([OuterDia/2 + Sash,-(OuterDia - CenterDia)/2]);
// petals
repeat(NumPetals;i) {
org = [PetalWidth/2 - OuterDia/2,-(OuterDia + Sash)];
relocate([(i-1)*(PetalWidth + Sash) + org.x,org.y]);
// Debugging by printf()
if (FALSE) {
move(OuterDia/2 * [cos(PetalHA),sin(PetalHA)]);
# Round petals test piece
# Ed Nisley KE4ZNU - 2022-07-17
Flags='-P 4 --pedantic' # quote to avoid leading hyphen gotcha
SVGFlags='-P 4 --pedantic --svg --svg-no-movelayer --svg-opacity=1.0 --svg-toolwidth=0.2'
# Set these to match your file layout
ProjPath='/mnt/bulkdata/Project Files/Laser Cutter/Coasters/Source Code'
Script='Round Petals.gcmc'
[ -z "$1" ] && petals="6" || petals="$1"
echo Output: $fn
gcmc $SVGFlags \
-D "NumPetals=$petals" \
--include "$LibPath" \
"$ScriptPath"/"$Script" > "$fn"
view raw hosted with ❤ by GitHub

Epoxy Mixing Rack

First you mix the epoxy, then you blend in the dye, then you dispense it into the thing you are making. If you’re using many colors, this is obviously not the right way to go about it:

Acrylic Coaster - epoxy coloring
Acrylic Coaster – epoxy coloring

A bit of pondering converted some scrap MDF into a rack holding the little cups and dispensing pipettes:

Epoxy Mixing Rack
Epoxy Mixing Rack

The bar magnet holds the backplate against a bench block to keep it at right angles to the base while the adhesive cures. The base is three layers of MDF with no, small, and large holes fitting the cups. I expect many epoxy spills; scrap MDF reduces deep emotional bonding to the result.

The LightBurn project has the sign outline as a tool layer to simplify aligning the victims with the laser path, plus one layer defining the cuts for the three plates. I exported it as an SVG image with the same information as colored vectors for use in whatever laser control program you might use.

The SVG image as a GitHub Gist:

Sorry, something went wrong. Reload?
Sorry, we cannot display this file.
Sorry, this file is invalid so it cannot be displayed.