Friday, July 29, 2016

Now I Understand What Happened at Canadian Customs

I have been watching a series called Border Security: Canada's Front Line which is apparently a spinoff of a similarly named show about Australian border security.  As I mentioned several months ago, when my wife and I flew to Edmonton looking for Northern Lights, we were sent to a station in Calgary (our first landing in Canada) called Secondary Inspection, where were questioned in a rather detailed way about why we were visiting Canada.  "Northern Lights" produced no laughter but it was clear the officer did not believe us.  Then they questioned us about our criminal history (none), and if we knew anyone in Canada.

From watching this show, it appears that Secondary Inspection is where the shady or suspicious sorts are sent to get them to trip up and say something that provides a reason for more detailed searches or questions.  I had no idea we were such shady looking characters!

Watching this show gives the impression that potheads from California have been shaving off IQ points that they can't afford to lose.  Many of these people did not bother to find out what Canada's pot laws are, just assuming that because Canada has medical marijuana, they can bring it with them because they have a California medical marijuana card (in many cases for treating teenaged ennui).  Canada does not allow importation of marijuana, and many of these fools were sent home.

First rule of lawbreaking: figure out your story and stick to it!  Contradictory answers make them dig until they can prove you wrong.  First rule of decent people: tell the truth.  It's easier to remember than a contrived story.

Compression Shims

When I first started making the ScopeRoller product, I made the sleeve that goes onto the tripod leg by boring out a recess in a cylinder of acetal.  I tried to make them +-.001 of the diameter of the tripod leg.  As you might expect, the results were frustrating.  Not everyone measured their legs correctly, and manufacturing variances from lot to lot, especially for Meade and Celestron, were often substantial.

How do you bore these?  Start by making a hole slightly smaller than you want.  I did this by drilling a pilot hole with a drill, then used a series of progressively larger Forstner bits.  (Forstener bits are primarily intended for making smooth flatbottomed holes in wood, but they work great in acetal; not so much in aluminum--I tried once.) As a result, I have a Forstner bit set that goes from 1/8" to 2 1/8" diameter, and one monster that is 2 3/8" diameter.  The rest look like dwarves by comparison.

I put the Forstner bits in the drill press and found how slowly these cut acetal.  I started hanging weights on the bar that lowers the dell bit down.  This way, I could start it, and come back every few minutes, allowing manufacturing and blogging to operate in parallel.  Once at that diameter and depth, you put in the lathe and use a boring tool to get the precise diameter you need.

This was slow and frustrating for the reasons described above and my wife had a brilliant idea over dinner: Make sleeves that fit various similar sized legs.  In many cases, they are within .1" of each other in diameter.  So I started using round aluminum tubing for the sleeves in which the legs go.  I use hex head bolts to hold these onto the legs, which tends to get everything centered in the sleeve.

Customers were happy and I have since switched to square or rectangular tubing: easier to center and tap the holes for the hex head bolts.  But I really wanted to improve centering in the sleeves and protect the tripod legs from being marred by those hex head bolts.  The distance from interior of sleeve to leg is typically .1" or less.  So now, I ship these with what I call "compression shims," cut from .020", .032", .050" or .100" aluminum.  Four of them go between the hex head bolts and the tripod leg, both reducing space and spreading the bolt's load over more area.

How well do they work?  In the manufacturing process, I put the tube sections into a larger square tube in which I have bolts threaded to lock the sleeve in place.  Originally I did this for round tubes.  (It is not easy to clamp a round tube with a C-clamp.)  But when I ratchet down these bolts on to the tube, it leaves little circles that have to be sanded out for cosmetic reasons. Today, I used some of the .050" and .100" shim aluminum between bolts and tube being held, and no little circles on the aluminum.  So if ratcheting doesn't push damage through the shim then customers using a small wrench should not be a problem either.

So many lessons learned.

Lenovo USB Dock 3.0

I have a Lenovo USB 3.0 Dock (not sure if 3.0 is a version number or just indicates USB 3).  It has an Ethernet connector, and to simplify taking the notebook with me, I was using that port instead of the built-in one on the notebook.  But it has never worked real well, so I have been plugging my Ethetnet cable into the notebook.  I have seen complaints by other Lenovo users about this.  The solution?  Disable the built-in Ethernet port under Network and Sharing Center->Change Adapter Settings, and enable the USB Ethernet port.  Then reboot.  It appears that having both enabled even with only one plugged in was causing IP address conflict problems.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Blogging Will Be Light For a Day or So

The guy putting up siding accidentally stapled the cable from the roof antenna down the wall.  Not surprisingly, removing the staple did not solve the problem so I am using mobile hotspot on my cell phone to blog this.

Remember the Biggest Victims of ISIS Are Muslims

7/27/16 CNN:
A suicide bombing killed 48 people, among them women and children, Wednesday in northern Syria, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
A truck bomb exploded near buildings belonging to a Kurdish security agency and other governmental departments in the city of Qamishli near the border with Turkey, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reported. The observatory said 140 people also were hurt.
ISIS claimed responsibility and said in a statement that one of its members drove a truck rigged with explosives to reach the Kurdish administrative complex where defense, interior and military recruiting departments operated.

    Glad to Know They Aren't Angry

    7/27/16 BBC:
    France responds to attacks with calls for peace and understanding

    Ultimate Agricultural Vehicle

    I hate the soundtrack.  Turn down your volume first.