5 min read

Buoyant Dreams and Chessboard Schemes

Buoyant Dreams and Chessboard Schemes
100041/01 half scale machined part

Despite being the Captain's Log, I think it'd probably be too far to recount the current star date...

This Week

Consulting projects...

I haven't taken on any outside investment, so money has to come into the business one way or another. Revenue is tricky, especially in early stage companies, and even in the best of times I'd say it's pretty volatile. The best way I've found to stay afloat for the time being is random consulting agreements. This week I've committed just about every waking hour to wrapping up a project I've been plugging away at for the last few months. I'm still in the thick of it, but I think I see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Obviously not the most thrilling update, but it is what it is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Next Week

XB-X/MB-X Top Collar (100041/01)

In the XB-X/MB-X design, the top collar is the foundation of the buoy. It interfaces with nearly every other component. I really like the design of it, and it makes sense in a lot of ways, but its big shortcoming is machining. Rather, my shortcoming is machining... It looks like it should be super simple, but it's got some weird workholding quirks. It's proving challenging to machine because: it's on the larger side (~12 inch outer diameter stock); I'm not a particularly great machinist (yet); and I'm most likely making this more complicated than it needs to be. Stay tuned for next week, I'll hopefully have a fully machined, full scale part (public accountability, love it!).

XB-X/MB-X Hull Post Processing and Top Collar Interface

In the 1st Generation XB-X/MB-X design, the hull was 3D printed in 5 sections, the sections were coupled with bowties, then the whole assembly was laid up with fiberglass. Ultimately this design had some flaws, functionally and practically - the most notable of which was the fact that it melted and warped in my truck in the heat of the sun... So, the new hulls are vacuum formed. The mold has been milled. The first test articles have been vacuum formed. I need to do some post processing on the mold to make parting easier. I also need to work on the trickiest part of vacuum forming, which is cutting the part out of raw stock. Then finally, I have some work to do finalizing the interface between the hull and top collar.

DB-X Prototyping

I'm feeling really good about where the DB-X design is, but there are two outstanding tasks: fins/stabilizers/bumpers and antennas. The fins keep the buoy stable/less susceptible to currents/waves; they hopefully prevent it from getting wrapped in debris; and they look cool as hell. But I have no idea how to mount them yet - so lots of 3D printing next week! The other big open item is antenna selection. The DB-X is equipped with a GPS and 4G LTE modem. These both require antennas. Getting reliable signal at the water's surface can get pretty tricky. The waves and ripples can disperse signals preventing good reception and the buoy can bob below the surface where signals can't penetrate. I ordered new antennas this week, they should deliver early next week. I just have to figure out how to integrate them into the DB-X, and then do some testing to make sure the signal is consistent and high enough quality for desired operation.

Little sticker antennas aren't gonna cut it in production


Maintaining a Baseline Sanity

I don't have too much to say on this one. As I mentioned earlier, closing out this consulting project has been incredibly intense. Under similar pressure a year ago, I think I would've cracked pretty bad. In 26.5 years of whimsical existence, it never occurred to me that stress was something people managed intentionally. That's probably worth exploring at a later date, but the point is, I think I did a good job of managing stress in healthy ways (nothing revolutionary, but you have to understand we're starting from nothing right now) - eating healthy, exercising, all that basic nonsense. While I know Ted Lasso wouldn't approve, I even went as far as drinking tea. The pomegranate adds a certain je ne sais quoi (lmao) to the hot brown water that makes it tolerable.

The Fact That This Blog Actually Exists

Incredibly meta, but still a win. I've got plenty of work I could be doing, all of which feels more important than taking time to write about working. In the short term that's true, but the blog is a long term play - it's crucial to prioritize it or it'll never happen. Cheers to forming habits!


Project Firefighting

Usually, I'm all over the place, doing anything I could to avoid the critical work. "side-quests" as my friend Anthony (of RiverSonde fame), calls them. This week has been the total opposite, I've been completely locked in to a single project. Come the end of the week, I'm kind of regretting not making even minute progress on other projects. I'm not really sure if this is a victory or loss. The wind is blowing it in to the loss category for now, but there's an argument it should be in some kind of gray area, or DMZ.


I'm trying to substitute garbage time use of Instagram for Chess.com. It's definitely a stop-gap measure, but I feel like it's progress. I've never been particularly good at chess, but I always enjoyed it, and could usually hold my own. Lately though, it's been an absolute blood bath... I'm not really sure how to count my record, but I've legitimately won 1 game in the last 6 weeks, 5 games my opponent abandoned the clock, and I've lost 13 games... 1-13. I'm starting to feel a lot like the Pats. Maybe I can find a sketchy janitor lurking around my building who can berate me into being a chess prodigy.

The red means I'm not very good

Train Track of the Day

A time honored tradition from the All American Amtrak Adventure Tour days.

I forgot to give this entry a title! I gotta go do that. Anywho... If you enjoyed, awesome; if you didn't enjoy, well, sorry I guess? I don't really know what to tell you. Either way, thanks for reading!

P.S. I didn't really want to come up with a title, so that's provided courtesy of ChatGPT, but as always, the rest of this blog is provided to you 100% Certified Organic.