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Pat Was Interviewed on The Creativity Podcast

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Earlier this year, my friend Jeremy S Cook asked if I would be interested in being interview by his podcast, The Creativity Podcast. Of course I said yes! I told him to watch out, because I’m good at talking, and if he and Max Maker don’t slow me down, I probably won’t stop.

I haven’t even managed to listen yet, but I started telling everyone on Twitter and Discord that the interview was live, and someone is already explaining to me how magnets actually work, so I must be doing a good job. Right?

These are some of the things I remember talking about:

Did I mention anything weird or obscure? Did I make any mistakes? Leave a comment here, leave a comment on Soundcloud, or stop by the [Butter, What?! Discord server][bwd] to tell me about it! Or just harass me on Twitter!

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patshead
795 days ago
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Plano, TX
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DIY Peakshaving Powerwall, Gourmet Pop-Tarts, and a 3D Printed Rack Lock

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I enjoy Jehu Garcia’s videos. I fly FPV freestyle quadcopters, and that hobby requires me to find good ways to make electricity portable. Jehu is often building one kind of battery pack or another, and I’m often jealous of some of his portable battery builds.

This time, he’s showing off his peakshaving battery and AC power-delivery setup. He’s charging the batteries at night while electricity rates from the power company are at their lowest, and he’s discharging the batteries during the day to power his air conditioning.

I am fascinated by solar power, battery backups, and finding ways to lower my electricity bill. I don’t know how I’d feel about running a DIY setup like this, but it sounds like you can build this battery pack for around $1,000. How would you feel about using something like this at your home?

I enjoy watching Claire from Bon Appetit attempt to create gourmet versions of all my favorite foods. Her successful attempt at recreating Pop-Tarts is definitely one of my favorites.

She had expensive, amazing-looking strawberries shipped in from Harry’s Berries in California. I don’t know how much these cost, but she claims each Pop-Tart costs about $35!

If you enjoy this video, you should check out the series where the Bon Appetit crew attempt to make the perfect pizza. The parts on the crust and the cheese were my favorite episodes in the series.

I enjoy 3D-printed mechanisms like hinges, snaps, latches, and locks. This week, Makers Muse showed me a lock mechanism that I’ve never seen before: a rack lock. Not only did he show off the mechanism, he recreated it in Fusion 360 and 3D-printed a few of them!

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patshead
800 days ago
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Plano, TX
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DIY Folding Workbench, Making Over a YouTube Channel, and Making a Picture Frame with a Table Saw

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I’m only just realizing that two out of today’s three videos are already pretty old. I’m OK with that, because at least one of those old videos are new to me!

Pneumatic Addict made an awesome looking DIY folding mobile workbench. As soon as I figured out what she was building, I added it to the long list of things I need to build for my workshop!

The whole table folds up quite small. I’m excited that it won’t stick out far from the wall when stored, and it looks like a super sturdy build. Not only that, but the build is well within my meager woodworking capabilities.

I watch almost every video from Peter McKinnon. I am a photography enthusiast. I have to use photography for my blogs. I’m also trying to do a better job when it comes to producing my YouTube video content.

Peter always has good tips, and this video where he shows us how he helps step up his father’s YouTube game is fantastic. They make some small changes to the set, like moving a duct out of the way of his father’s head, and they make some simple lighting improvements.

Sure, Peter used some expensive, professional lights, but you don’t have to spend that much money. We already featured a video on the DIY Perks channel about how to make your own studio lighting a few months ago.

I absolutely love Matthias Wandel’s YouTube channel. I found his content when I was working on my arcade cabinet back in 2009. My brother-in-law and I were absolutely fascinated by this screw advance box joint jig.

In this video, Matthias makes a beautiful picture frame almost entirely using only his table saw. He cuts miters, coves, and curves. It is impressive work.

If you need to make a picture frame, and your only tool is a table saw, this is how you would do it!

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patshead
815 days ago
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Plano, TX
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3D Printing A NAS Server Case

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It’s good to back up, and despite that, few of us do. [Brian] we suspect is of the more diligent persuasion, given his strong enthusiasm for network attached storage. Recently, he found himself looking for a new case for his DIY build, and decided to go the 3D printed route.

The case is the design of one [Toby K], who sells the design online. [Brian] set out to produce the case himself using a Prusa i3, investing much time into the process. Total print time for the successful parts alone was over 227 hours, not including the failed parts and reprints.

Assembly caused some headaches, with various hinges and dovetails not fitting together perfectly first time. Not one to shy away from some proper down and dirty making, [Brian] was able to corral the various parts into fitting with a combination of delicate hammering, filing, and reprinting several broken pieces.

Overall, accounting for the filament used and hardware required, [Brian] spent over $200 producing the case. For those who just need a housing for their NAS, it doesn’t make a whole lot of financial sense. But for those who enjoy the build, and like the opportunity to customize their case as they see fit, the time and money can certainly be worth it. As [Brian] states, there aren’t too many cases on the market that ship with his logo on the grill.

We’ve seen other 3D printed case builds before, too. Video after the break.

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patshead
816 days ago
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Plano, TX
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What the Shuck is Going on Here?!

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As a DIY NAS builder, there are no two ways around this fact: storage winds up eating up the biggest chunk of your budget. While the other components can be pricey too, the hard drives generally have accounted for 65-80% of the cost in nearly every one of my DIY NAS builds. I don’t generally wind up getting to practice what I preach in my own builds, but I try and encourage people to be methodical and look for special deals in buying their storage as a good way to save money.

However, lurking out there is a great tactic that I’ve never—until now—leveraged in either my own DIY NAS build or any of the ones that I have written about in my blog!


Shucking External Hard Drives

For some completely unknown—at least to me—reason, external hard drives are cheaper than their internal counterparts. Logically, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, as there’s more hardware (the enclosure) and cost to the manufacturer in creating an external hard drive. About the best guess I’ve seen to explain this is the fact that oftentimes, the external hard drives have shorter warranty periods than that of an internal drive. In the example below, a Western Digital external 6TB hard disk drive is 33% cheaper than something comparable as an internal drive!

So what does shucking an external hard drive mean? Effectively, it means removing the hard drive from its USB enclosure and then using it inside your machine—just like you would an internal hard drive.

You might be asking yourself, “What’s the catch?” Here are a couple reasons you might not want to shuck an external drive for your own DIY NAS build—or any other PC build either.

  1. You’re likely voiding your warranty: Once you crack open any manufacturer’s seal, that shorter warranty period I mentioned previously is very likely to have come to an end. If that hard drive winds up dying because it’s defective, you’re probably going to have a hard time getting the manufacturer to replace it.
  2. It may not even be possible: For all you know, when you crack open the case, you might find that the draconian manufacturer might have completely removed the SATA connector from the back of the hard drive and soldered it to the USB circuitry, making it next to impossible for you to use in your DIY NAS.
  3. It could look and sound easier than it really is: If I had a dollar for every time I watched a YouTube clip of someone doing something and said, “Hey, that looks simple!” and then four hours later I’m fed up and muttering profanities under my breath, I’d be a wealthier dude.
  4. You never know what you’re going to get: Often-times you’ll hear people share that they got a hard drive from a particular coveted product line ideally suited for DIY NAS duty to the delight and envy of even the snobbiest DIY NAS aficionados, but there’s nothing guaranteeing that you’ll have the same experience. You may just wind up cracking open the case and finding that it wasn’t the primo hard drive you’d read about elsewhere.

All of the above are risks. Assuming that all of the above are true, there are a few scenarios up there where you could find yourself up the proverbial creek without a paddle. There’s a risk-reward calculation in here that needs to be done. If the reward is great enough and the risks can be mitigated, I think it’s something that you should strongly consider.

Your best bit of risk mitigation is probably sitting right at your fingertips: open up Google and type in the external drive’s model number and “shuck” into the search engine and look over the first page or so of results.

Why the shuck haven’t you been doing this all along, Brian?

So why haven’t I been shucking external hard drives all along? I guess above all else, I have striven for simplicity and avoided risk in the creation of my DIY NAS builds. I’ve placed a premium in my builds, hoping to make them seem simple and straightforward. Shucking external drives was an added bit of complexity that I typically avoided.

Up until researching and writing this blog, my own risk-reward calculation said that the money saved on shucked drives was not yet significant enough to offset the risks and effort. However, the price differences between the external drives and their internal counterparts have reached the point to cause me to rethink my position on shucked drives!

Brian shucks an External 8TB Hard Drive

I’ve written about this before, but I’ve been in a long process of replacing all of my 4TB hard drives in my own personal NAS with 8TB hard drives. For the longest time, I’ve had six 8TB hard drives in my NAS and one 4TB hard drive. Because of the drives’ quantities, size, and my own raidz2 (two redundant drives) configuration, I’ve been stuck sitting at 20TB of actual usable storage and wasting 4TB of space on each of those 8TB hard drives.

I finally decided that I would upgrade to that seventh 8TB hard disk drive, and I’ve been keeping an eye on prices, waiting for a good deal to shuck my first external hard drive. Because I’m pretty risk-averse, I wound up doing quite a bit of of research into which enclosures were easiest to shuck and what kinds of hard drives people had found them in. I wound up going out and reading quite a few forum posts, watching a few YouTube videos, and reading quite a few posts on /r/DataHoarder before deciding to buy the Western Digital Essentials 8TB.

Based on my research, the Western Digital Essentials 8TB was likely to have a white-label version that was either the same or very similar to the Western Digital Red 8TB HDD. And based on the Western Digital data sheets for their various hard drive product lines (ie: Blue, Purple, Red, etc…), I wasn’t too concerned if the hard drive that I found inside the enclosure wound up being a bit different than what I’d learned from my research.

Conclusion

I’m a bit less conclusive in my YouTube video about shucking drives, but I now think shucking external hard drives is a no-brainer for DIY NAS builders! As of the writing of this blog, the Western Digital Red 8TB hard drive is over $80 more expensive than the Western Digital 8TB Elements Desktop Hard Drive. At that price, it’s 38 percent cheaper! I wound up picking an external hard drive that has a reputation for being easy to shuck, but it could get considerably more difficult and still wind up being an excellent value in my opinion.

What do you guys think? Does my experience have you interested in shucking drives for your own DIY NAS? Or, if you already used shucked drives in your DIY NAS, what has your experience been like? Have the shorter, and likely voided, warranties come back to bite you? Please let me know how things worked out for you in the comments below!

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patshead
823 days ago
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Plano, TX
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Extreme Long-Range Miniquad Flights, Room Divider Made on a Maslow CNC, and a Mini Gauntlet Arcade Cabinet

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I am an FPV drone pilot. All my flying is short range. Sure, the GPS module on my quad tells me that most of my flights cover more than two miles of distance, but I rarely fly even 1,200 feet away from myself.

KababFPV posted a video last week, and I just have to show it off. The video isn’t from any of his quads, though. The video clips were all recorded by his friend, Paul Cristian Mijoiu.

Paul has an interesting quadcopter setup. His build isn’t all that much different than my own quads, except that he’s using a custom six-cell 18650 pack. That battery pack weighs only about 30% more than the LiPo batteries I fly, but has more than double the capacity. He won’t be winning any speed contests, but he’s out for distance.

He’s able to fly for 25 minutes and travel distances of more than 7 kilometers; that’s 4.5 miles or so!

This video is breathtaking. Slow flights over snow-covered mountain. Light shafts breaking through the clouds. Amazing sunsets. Diving down through a rocky crevasse. You should watch. It is amazing!

Another week, another CNC video, eh? This one caught my eye for two reasons. I thought it was interesting that Tim Sway was recycling the faces of hollow-core doors, and this might very well be the first time I’ve seen a Maslow CNC in the hands of an end user!

The Maslow is a machine that I’m thinking about adding to my workshop. The Shapeoko XXL is fantastic, but its size can be limiting. I could build four Maslow CNC machines for less than the cost of my Shapeoko XXL, and the Maslow works on full-size 4x8’ sheets of plywood!

As you might expect, there are plenty of trade-offs. The Maslow is less accurate than my Shapeoko, and it is an awful lot slower. I don’t know about you, but I can accept those deficiencies to gain the ability to work on such large sheets of material!

Not only that, but the Maslow cuts with the material mounted vertically. This means that the Maslow CNC might actually take up less floor space than my Shapeoko XXL!

I spent a lot of time in arcades when I was a kid, so it isn’t a surprise that I’m a huge fan of old-school arcade games and arcade cabinets. I built my own arcade cabinet ten years ago, and that build was what inspired me to start blogging!

This week, I came across this video from RetroManCave on YouTube. He started his miniature Gauntlet arcade cabinet eight years ago. He found the old cabinet in his attic and decided to pick back up with the build where he left off.

I may be biased, because I’m a huge fan of Gauntlet, but I really like this tiny build! I don’t know that his build is quite to scale, but I don’t care. The proportions definitely look close to me!

On the full-size original, that giant control panel has plenty of room for four players. On RetroManCave’s miniature, he’s populated the control panel with a single joystick and six buttons, so you can play just about any single-player arcade game you could think of on this thing!

He’s done a fantastic job, and I would love to have one of these machines in my home office!

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patshead
836 days ago
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Plano, TX
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