Packing up my wargaming stuff

I have decided to pack up my wargaming stuff for the foreseeable future. I had high expectations when I started. I really needed a hobby where I would be making stuff and then playing with it. Wargaming has this in spades. I did make and I did play, but in 3 years of time, effort, and lots of money I have made very little and played very little. Too little to warrant continuing when there are other draws on me.

The best aspect of this period was meeting the Wednesday Gamers. I am very grateful for Al's, Leo's, Kim's, and Maurice's fellowship, encouragement, information, insights, and, of course, the games we played. Leo and Maurice always have prepared or are in the process of preparing scenarios in the worlds of Lord of the Rings, The Lost Regiments, dark ages, American Civil War river conflicts, and WWII. All I had to do was show up and play. When we played Saga, however, I would bring my Welsh and Viking miniatures.

Al has hosted the Wednesday Gamers during this time. He and his wife are retiring now and by the end of June they will have moved to Tennessee. Now seems like a good time to make a break. I will play an occasional game with the Wednesday Gamers in Maurice's basement -- if they will have me.

Back to packing up my work table.

Update 1: The work table's paints, tools, and junk are packed up. Owen and I are using the big table to play the Firefly board game. (We can't play these long duration board games in the house as the the cats want to play too and, well, they don't follow the rules nor turn order.)

Update 2: Owen and I finished our first game of Firefly. We really enjoyed the game. And if, like us, you enjoyed the TV series then there is real joy when you get Kaylee or Wash to join your crew!


Product Idea #1

While walking Milo this morning we passed several groups of disc golfers wondering around in the scrub looking for lost discs. I suggested to Milo that perhaps the disc's should come with an embedded bluetooth beacon. He thought the idea was a good one, but that it would cut into his flushing work. I reminded him that, here, on this walk, there are always lacrosse balls to find.

Later it occurred to me that if the discs just chirped that would be sufficient.

$10 Plasma TV

Another project taken care of this weekend. I found a Vizio VP322 HDTV10A plasma TV last year that looked too new to be broken. So, I took it home and found that it was broken. It would remain powered on for a few seconds and then it would shut down. A check on the internet found that this model was built with capacitors that frequently failed. After opening it up I found that, sure enough, there were two "jiffy pop" capacitors. I bought replacements from Mouser and today installed them. The TV now works. Total repair cost was around $10.

I will keep it powered on for a few more hours to see if anything else breaks. Until then, I have plugged in a Chromecast and have DIY videos running in the background.

The hardest part of fixing the TV was not the soldering, but forgetting where the speakers' ground wires were connected and which screws were for which holes. I clearly made good guesses, but I do have several screws left!

The capacitors that Vizio had been using may have come from the manufacturer that had been making knock-offs from design documents stolen from a competitor. The problem, as I understand it, was that the documents were incomplete and so the materials created for the knock-offs was wrong and of a poor quality. When you open the back of any TV you will find many dozens of capacitors and, together, this adds a substantial cost to the manufacturing. So, that cheap TV from Walmart is cheap because it is made of marginal quality parts. But you already knew that.

123D

It is frustrating when you are using a new tool and don't know how to do something that you know is obvious to everyone else. How do I copy and mirror the "engine" of this space dreadnought? I need to track down a local 123D Design expert.


The Synchronicity War

I have been listening to The Synchronicity War. Initially this was because I saw that it was a free ebook and then I saw it was a $2.99 audio book. The story itself is not original, but as an operational description of fleet and squadron command it is a lot of fun. I stopped listening to it as fiction and started listening to it as documentary. It reminds of the Honor Harrington and Lost Fleet series.

A useful resource for spacecraft design and space navy doctrine.

Update: The action is non-stop. I found myself listening to it even when I only had 10 minutes available and I never do that. It ends with a cliffhanger, but I am going to give myself 48 hours before I impulse buy book two.

Update 2: I didn't wait 48 hours. I should have. There is nothing wrong with the 2nd book. I am just burnt out on the story's operational details.

Update 3: I finished the 2nd book. The beginning and middle of the book was a good continuation of the 1st's story arc. The last third seemed forced and rushed. It really could have been the introduction of the 3rd book. Unlike the 2nd book, I do not feel compelled to read the 3rd right away -- or even at all.

Hard time committing to painting ancients armies

I am having a hard time committing to painting my 6mm ancients armies even though I have mostly completed all my other modeling tasks. (There is always some task yet unfinished on everyone's desk or painting table.) These ancients were the first figures I bought since starting miniatures wargaming a few years ago. I have a feeling that my heart is just not in this period yet.

A Blogger Grumble

Slight grumble. For bogging I do like Blogger's simplicity. I also like that with it being part of Google the content is quickly indexed for searching (within the Googleplex, that is). However, the postings editor is low in features and WYSIWYG editor is buggy. Sometimes it is hard to understand how the same company can create Blogger and Google Docs (I like Docs).

The worse part of the editing process is that when you switch between WYSIWYG and HTML editing modes Blogger changes the HTML. Your careful preparation of text, tables, and images in correctly nesting containers gets replaced with a series of HTML break (BR) elements.

It would also be helpful when editing in HTML mode if image references were local to the posting: So the first image is, for example, "image-001.png" rather than "http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-FUkHMJZHKnw/VVisJCRaS_I/AAAAAAAAoQM/Sk0YJw00LkY/s1600/2015-05-16%2B15.52.53.jpg" and the anchor tag leading to the slideshow presentation be equally simple. Overall, the HTML editing experience is not good. But then, I am not their typical user.

The upshot is, unless you want a constant battle, live within the features of the WYSIWYG and accept the fact that sometimes your posting will need to be reentered.

Weekend Workbench

Boxes ... This weekend has been mostly one of tidying up. My 10"x4"x4" cardboard boxes arrived and so is it now time to glue magnets to the inside bottoms for the figures to stand on. Which means that my figures need ferrous metal bases. All of my newer standing figures are on 1" fender washers, but the older standing figures and all mounted figures are on the plastic bases supplied with them. I had considered rebasing the standing figures, but decided that I want to play with them more than rework them. For these I am just going to glue a washer to the bottom. I wish I knew of a source for a thinner ferrous rounds.

For the mounted figures I cut rectangles from a sheet of 0.008" steel. I used a guillotine to make the cuts so it might be possible to find a "scrapbooking" circle punch to solve the problem for foot figures.

Last year I had bought 7"x4"x2" boxes for the same purpose. While I like the smaller boxes their height is not sufficient for mounted or figures holding spears vertically. The spears poke through. I would have prefered 7"x4"x3" boxes, but these don't seem to be available at a reasonable cost. (One of the best tools I have is Amazon Prime. I rarely buy anything from any other online or physical store anymore when what I want can be had from Amazon within a few days. Well worth the yearly subscription cost.)

Boards ... Last year (hum, a pattern) I built a 3'x3' framed board for playing DBA and small skirmish games. This week I decided that it was time to actually put a landscape on it. Since this is not a display board it needs to be flexible for many scenarios. However, I was not going to accept a flat field of felt with creases! I have spent far too much time painting my figures to have them play on such and ugly, non-naturalistic landscape.


My plan is to incorporate into the surface a gentle slope in a, roughly, horseshoe shape. I used a hand sander to scoop out the hollow I wanted, but it was difficult to get the shape right. In part, this was because I would catch the edge of the sander on the surface and the sander would carve out a "cliff" that I did not want. And in part, because making something that looks natural without an example to replicate is a fool's decision. I wanted it completed today and so what I made would have to do. I covered it with felt, ironed before applying, and glued it down with 3M's 77 Super spray adhesive. I will add color to the surface later.

The results are acceptable for a first try. Final judgment will come when I to see how it affects game setup and play.

Note: A non-flat surface of a uniform color is impossible to photograph!

Paints ... Assembling before painting the Large Earth Elemental was a mistake. There is no way I can get under the arms to paint them and the torso correctly. So it found itself in a bath of Simple Green after removing the arms with Super Solvent. I kept the head attached.

Now primed, I am ready to paint. I like the instructions at Painting Rocks Step by Step for painting stones.

Space fleet action games

I want to play a space fleet action game. I like what I am hearing about the new Star Wars: Armada, but it seems that there are too few models available today to make for an interesting variety of game play. However, in the end, I would rather have less specific models that can be played with many different game rules. And so I have been thinking about ships and design issues.

The Wikipedia page Interstellar Travel and the blog posting Spaceship Design 101 and its commentary are good places to start. Engines, radiation protection, heat dissipation, and life support seem to be the primary factors driving (real life) designs. Each factor helping to solve problems with the others: An annealed solution. But I still want cool models!

The web has a huge amount of creative work in this area being shared. If you look on Deviant Art or Pinterest for spacecraft you will find far more than you can reasonably review, especially without a plan. My current plan is to pick a rule set's ship design section and then using the point values for ship capabilities & capacities determine a visual volume of their sizes. For example, Warcosm has the following sized ships:

Typical ClassificationModulesNovas
Pinnace1010
Cutter2525
Corvette4050
Frigate50100
Destroyer60150
Cruiser75200
Battleship85300
Carrier100400
Dreadnought120500

I have then used this to calculate volumes with the proportions of length × width × height = 5n × 2n × 1n. I then use 123D Design to look at them and make an esthetic judgement about the relationships between the ships at high and low point size. For example, here are a horizontal and vertical Dreadnought next to a Cruiser and a Pinnace.

The question now is do the size differences look right?