11 min read

Identity Crisis

Identity Crisis
A plan all coming together!

Opening Monologue

I've got about 20 pages left in the book I've been reading, The E-Myth, which I may have mentioned last week. It's given me some interesting frameworks to contextualize building Seaport Systems as a business in the long term, and how to think day-to-day. The book has a two key points I've found interesting.

1) Build your business as if you were planning on franchising, and you need to sell your business to people, not your product! Document everything, build systems around every process you do. Make it as turn-key and easy as possible.

2) There are three personas in all of us, and they're all at odds with each other. There's The Technician, The Manager, and The Entrepreneur (the most depressing Narnia book?). The Technician creates, builds and assembles things. The Manager organizes people, processes, and things. They create the structure Technician's want. The Entrepreneur dreams up ideas and pushes everyone else's buttons.

He goes on to say that a lot of companies are started by Technician's who have an "Entrepreneurial Seizure" and then fail because all they do is build, when they really need to balance all three personas.

There's approximately a metric shit ton of bad business advice out there. Some of it intentionally ignorant or misleading, some of it from people who got lucky and claim their way is the only way, very little of it actually well informed and researched. The author of my book certainly has his share of questionable takes, but after years of working with startup advisors, successful founders, and business veterans, nobody's come close to articulating the Entrepreneurial Seizure - which is exactly what's happened to me!

I'm going to try and make my point without a huge history lesson, or massive amounts of gatekeeping, but something tells me I won't succeed...

Silicon Valley was built by Technicians creating transistors, integrated circuits and processors. They had their Seizure, moved west and started building. Nowadays, it doesn't seem like that's what happens as much. We've romanticized and mainstreamed Silicon Valley to the point where we are now: Entrepreneurs shouting about complete nonsense on the Internet. They're able to do the Entrepreneur part, dream all sorts of insane ideas, but can't execute, or manage the execution.

Most modern day (unsustainable) business advice seems to be predominantly given by and for these people! I've very rarely felt understood in today's startup world (I don't even want to consider Seaport Systems a startup) and have spent a lot of time frustrated with what my gut felt were bad strategies, ideas and advice. Unfortunately, I don't really know anything else and resigned to just being the odd duck out. That is, until I came across this explanation of the three personas, and the Entrepreneurial Seizure - it has been thoroughly life changing!

It seems simple, balance execution, management and vision and you'll be running a fantastic company in no time! But simple doesn't mean easy. Lean too heavily on The Technician and you'll have a bunch of really cool, but potentially useless contraptions that nobody knows about (this is me, for now). Give The Manager complete control and you'll end up like Boeing, with planes falling out of the sky. Blindly follow The Entrepreneur and you'll be WeWork...

I know full well that I'm a Technician, and suppressing that is hard. Building physical things you can see, touch and count is the easiest way to feel productive. A colleague of mine was talking this week about how hard it is to feel productive as a manager. It's impossible to know how impactful the thirty emails you sent this morning will be.

The takeaway from all this essentially boils down to constantly asking myself this question:

Am I balancing my effort between being a Technician, Manager and Entrepreneur?

If I can keep myself honest and do that, I think life should get drastically easier, organized, and fruitful.

When you're lying to yourself about balancing the three personas of business

This Week

MB-X/XB-X Top Collar Updates

You've seen some photos in previous updates, it's the flashiest piece of hardware on the buoy. If you'll recall from last week, I wanted to make some changes to the two face seals - these keep ocean water out of the electronics housing. They used to be slightly different sizes, but I've made them exactly the same. This means the o-rings can be the same which keeps part count on the buoy down; reduces complexity during assembly; and satisfies some idiosyncrasy of mine.

110005/001 - TOP COLLAR
110065/001 - TOP COLLAR, now with more bolt holes and identical top and bottom o-ring grooves!

On the top of the buoy, there's the top collar, which has a groove that an o-ring sits in, then there's the top cover which sits on top of the o-ring. You bolt the cover to the top collar, and when you tighten those bolts, you sandwich the o-ring creating a reliable seal. The distance between those bolts is important, and the second change I made to the Top Collar. I increased the number of bolts, reducing the distance between them, which will ensure that the seal is clamped evenly. If the distance between the bolts is too big, the parts might bow, and there might be gaps in the seal.

Simplified buoy assembly, to aid slightly in my description of o-ring seals

MB-X/XB-X Electronics Housing

Just like the hull, the electronics housing is vacuum formed plastic. It doesn't have to withstand the brutal exposure that the hull does though, and so it doesn't have to be made from such a thick and durable material.

Top Collar with Electronics Housing and Bulkhead test fitted

I had the mold for vacuum forming made last week - it was supposed to be made from MDF like the Hull mold, but due to some complications it ended up being made out of some kind of foam. Unfortunately, during vacuum forming, it melted to the inside of my part! So I got one good Housing, but had to very very carefully chip away at the mold, peeling it bit-by-bit out of my part.

Usually, the biggest issue with vacuum formed parts is getting the excess material cut away from the pulled part, but after digging the mold out, it was smooth sailing! I was able to cut away most of the flashing with the bandsaw, then I put it in the laser cutter to do the precise work. First I laser cut the top flange of the Housing that sits into the Top Collar, then I laser cut the bottom where the Bulkhead sits and bolts into. It looks way cooler than it sounds.

MB-X/XB-X Latch

For those of you following along on the 'gram, I've been doing a lot of rapid fire 3D printing and prototyping for the latches. The Hull slots over the Top Collar, and the latches keep them from sliding apart, and also helps engage the radial seal around the perimeter of the Top Collar.

Rendering of the latest version of the latch assembly

This can be tricky because you want to apply enough pressure to secure everything, but if you apply too much pressure, you're stressing the latch parts and it either doesn't lock right, they parts break, or both!

So it's been a lot of experimenting and learning, but I think I've got it all squared away as of this afternoon. I put six sets of latches on the 3D printer, I'll check them out tomorrow morning.

The latch mechanism really highlights how incredible 3D printing is. Each set of parts takes about two hours to print, give or take, and so in a single day I can iterate three or four times! Imagine trying to do the same thing, but each set of parts took a day, a week, a fortnight even. Inconceivable!


I think mechanism design is super fascinating, but needs (and deserves) a little bit more length than this update section for adequate explanation. For now, the self-motivated of you can check out this awesome video on over center mechanisms.

DB-X Internals Redesign

The DB-X got some love this week. Most of the redesign effort has been around the electronics, more specifically cable management and the removable/swappable battery. 4 inch pipe might seem impressive, but when you get down to business, you've gotta be really intentional with how you use it. We have to make sure the cables are all managed properly, there isn't any strain and there aren't and sharp turns or corners. Your phone charger usually wears out because you've folded it over all the time, or you're always wrapping it up and re-wrapping it. We can't have those failures in the DB-X! So I've bought half a dozen different cables and cut/modified/frankensteined a half dozen others.

Most of the cable management issue actually comes from the fact that Raspberry Pi's, the brain of the DB-X for now, only properly support input power from a Micro USB port on the side of the board! Not necessarily ideal for a production product. I'm designing around it for the first few batches, and it'll be totally fine. In the near future, it would be incredible to switch to the Raspberry Pi Compute Modules with a custom circuit board that adds some additionally functionality that would serve the DB-X well!

The design tweaks are pretty much all done, and I started making new parts in between latch prints.

New DB-X Top Cap

Next Week

Demo and Deploy

On Wednesday I'm scheduled to demo the DB-X with Coastal Measures, and on Thursday I'll deploy the first XB-X of this season with Ferda Farms! Super exciting stuff, always great to have a deadline to work towards. That being said, there's still a ton of work to do. The DB-X is pretty much wrapped up, just some time needed on the 3D printer. The XB-X has an unfortunately large amount of work left, mostly stemming from the software side, which is better than the hardware side. Certainly better than last year when both the hardware and software were lacking!

Honestly I'm not sure what else...

I'm too focused on everything standing between now and the demos and deployments to think about the second half of the week. I guess we'll figure that out when we get there.


Electronics Housing

This was kind of an unknown I was hoping would go smoothly. The part I assumed would cause problems went off without a hitch!


Week 1 of the blog this was a big win. I've had some good and bad weeks since, but I feel like I'm really hitting my stride. I'm finally having fun working out, I do it consistently 3 to 4 times a week. Most importantly, I'm starting to feel like it's making a difference. I can run longer, I can lift more. The hardest part about exercising I think is getting to the point where you're feeling progression. Once you notice that, it starts to be a game, not something that just makes you sweaty and feel horrible.

Sweaty, everything hurts, but somehow I've tricked my brain into liking it?

Funny enough, one of the harder parts of running and cardio specifically for me has been my attention span. I get bored way to quickly to do the same thing for, humor me here, dozens of minutes at a time. I don't have this problem with weight lifting because it's basically doomscrolling for your body. One thing for a minute, rest, another thing for a minute, rest, rinse, repeat. Ashley brought up an interesting question: do I think running randomly around outside is easier than running on a treadmill or the same route outside? Yeah, I think so, but I'll have to put that to the test.


Fantasy Baseball

I lost in Week 2 to my brother Will, I'll probably lose this week to my Dad. It wasn't really even close if I'm honest. I drafted pretty poorly according to Yahoo, but what the hell does Yahoo know. My pitching staff is decent, but my position players could do better. I've been making some moves, focusing on stolen bases - I think that'll be a fairly neglected category, easy points. Guys with stolen bases I think are also more likely to squeeze out extra bags on base hits, so I hope to see an OPS bump as well.

Things are not well in fantasy land

Electronics Housing Mold

I don't know how else to put this, it's literally dust now. Will have to remake, out of MDF this time so it doesn't destroy the part it was meant to make.

Train Track of the Day

I'm gonna nuke this segment. It's super annoying to choose a track, find it on both Spotify and Apple Music, copy the embed widgets, then take pictures of those, crop them and insert them with a regular link because emails (where most of you read this) don't allow those widgets in them, all just to put the real widgets back in after the email goes out.

I'm basic. I almost exclusively listen to the Tron Soundtrack, Taylor Swift, and music from when I was in high school.

If anyone is super curious, you can check out my live listening history here whenever your heart desires.

Closing Monologue

My entire work week is spent creating little bits and bobs. If everything goes right (which it does sometimes, rarely, but sometimes), it means Friday is spent assembling things together, making last minute tweaks and fixes, and testing out my latest creations! This doesn't leave a lot of time for the blog. Last week I made the executive decision to push the blog to Saturday so I could do more of whatever it was I was doing, and I did the same thing again this week. I'm gonna make that a permanent change.

The blog will remain weekly, but now it'll be a surprise! You might get it on Friday, you'll probably get it on Saturday, but in rare cases you might get it on Sunday or Monday. But never Tuesday, that'd be a gross violation of the unwritten contract we have.

Thanks for reading, tell your friends, enjoy your weekend!