Raspberry Pi – Stupid Beginner Electronics

I’ve been doing all the drone stuff, which is a lot of electronics. I have some knowledge, like really basic stuff, but I’ve never really played with hobby electronics stuff in the past. My dad and I built a computer from parts, and from there my interest has always been in software. I like typing, and I’ve always felt like I could make a computer do anything. With hardware, I’ve let the magic smoke out more times than my wallet is happy with!

I bought a Raspberry Pi a month ago, because we’re looking at building some race timers for the drones, because…why not. But now that I have this thing, I started looking at other fun things I could do.

One of the things in my head has been to try to teach electronics to some of my wife’s little-cousins and nephews and nieces (she has a few). So I’ve been thinking about how to do that, and it starts with an easy project like…

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Attach some wires to a breadboard, put a resistor (180Ohm) and an LED in. Write some code to turn the light on and off, because I want to show both sides – hardware and software. Here’s the code, in Python, which I’ve never written anything in before yesterday:

import RPi.GPIO as gpio
import sys
gpio.setmode(gpio.BCM)
gpio.setwarnings(False)
gpio.setup(18, gpio.OUT)
if sys.argv[1] == “on”:
gpio.output(18, gpio.HIGH)
else:
gpio.output(18, gpio.LOW)

I started doing some reading on how to explain electricity and electronics to kids. It’s not an easy concept, and analogies can help. Some people think of it like a water-pipe – it all has to be connected in a loop to work, water flows through the pipes. But resistance is weird, and voltage as an analogy to the force of the water is weird.

I wondered if using “force” as a starting point was a better idea: hold out your hand, and I press against it. This is voltage. When I press harder, that’s more voltage. When you try to stop me, that’s resistance. Amperage gets lost here though, but I was thinking about moving to objects-in-hands – this brick (cause I’ll totally have a brick handy) is more amperage than this feather?

One article I read suggested not trying to teach the concepts until you’ve done through the examples, and lots of different examples. Probably a better idea, since you don’t need to know how many amps are running from the Pi to know that it will power that light. You do need to know to put a resistor in the circuit with an LED though, I’ve read you can blow out your Pi that way!

Skaven – All done!

Because of the vague mysteries of scheduled posting, I appear to have done a lot of progress on this team in a short span of days. Truthfully, I did that work a week ago and then spent a week on the campaign app, and then a day ago got upstairs to take some photos. 😛

Super happy with how this rat ogre turned out. Particularly as I’m painting some more Concord right now, and the more I paint them the more I wish I hadn’t decided to try a white colour scheme, why not, it couldn’t be that hard. baaaaaaaaah. Give me nice clean colours, well rounded muscles and a clear set of focal points any day!

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And lastly, here’s the whole team!

 

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Those of you with advanced counting and memory skills will note that there are only 15 models in this photo, but Blood Bowl teams go up to 16. The box set doesn’t have enough linerats in it to fill out as many as you need for a full team. And I didn’t want to buy a second box just for 3 models, particularly since I got these sculpts done. And then, there’s the “issue” with skaven, which is that you’re very unlikely to not lose a model every single game. 

My team has been on life-support this entire season. I was down to 10 actual members on the team at one point mid-season, and have slowly built my way back up to a mostly full roster. Then I lost two more linerats. >.>

They look so good with the pink and green and blue-ish silver! And I’m stoked they’re finally done!

Blood Bowl – Skaven Rat Ogre and Thrower

This was a super productive night! I made dinner (plus lunches for a few days), watched a movie with my wife, did some work on my top-secret coding project and got a bunch of shading done on these guys!

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Once again I tried one of the Secret Weapon washes, and once again I was disappointed. I was only planning to use a little, but the dropped bottle had clogged and ended up spewing Red Black all over my palette. At which point I figured I’d use it, since it was there. But it again left a glossy sheen over my model. >.< Luckily it was an early step after basecoating, so there will be lots more pigments to go over it.

Really happy with the big guy! It’s a really nice model, with nice big muscles to shade and good composition for my colour choices. He’s going to look super awesome on the table! I want to drop some green onto his base to keep it in line with the rest of the team, but the more I paint it the more I think it just looks great as-is.

My defensive thrower is looking less awesome, but still pretty good. I think he needs a nice black rim on his base…

 

Antares – “Race for the Vermillion Star”, and campaign app.

We’ve been playing Blood Bowl for a long while now. There are a few reasons I think why it has had success: small model count, utilizing models people had already, there were a good number of people who already knew how to play when we started so the community was easy to build, the league structure that our commissioner built up, the games RPG-like elements, and lastly: a good app to track it all.

I can’t do much about a lot of that stuff, but the last 3 we can build. I partnered with a friend who wanted to do a map-based campaign to write some rules, and I set about writing an app. This is what has been taking up all of my free time for a few months, and I’m ready to show off the “first draft”.

Goals

I had a few goals going into this project.

  • Simple, but not too simple.
  • Each game has to have meaning, within the context of the greater campaign.
  • Ensure that no one misses a game because of a lack of opponent.
  • Make it easy to join, and easy to leave. I’ve seen to many map campaigns die because 3/8 people stop being interested.
  • Allow scheming. Everyone in my club is connected through WhatsApp, so we should be able to get some devious moves going on.
  • Allow a narrative to be written. 40k has taken some flak in our group from “forge the narrative”, but it doesn’t have to be so serious. A story is as simple as “we all need to kill Chris because he has a movement 10 gutter runner!” That’s a story, and although it isn’t one that will sell novels, it’s worth writing about.

How I met those goals:

  • Maps are pretty simple. I also had a couple friends go over the app to ensure it was somewhat user-friendly. This was a good idea, as I hadn’t “killed my darlings”, as they say in the writing trade. 🙂
  • We added a point-system whereby players gain 1 point for winning a game, and points for playing games at the end of themonth. Points can be spent on things like attacking anywhere (instead of adjacent map spaces), placing extra terrain on the table and gaining a few extra points on the table. (but not too many).
  • I’ve currently missed on “no one misses a game”. I wanted to include rules to allow in-faction fighting, but not necessarily encourage it. We left those out for now, with plans to include them should we notice a problem.
  • The campaign is entirely faction based. In other campaign systems, you hold sections of the map personally. In this game, you hold them with your faction. This means that players can drop out if they lose interest, and join if they think it’s interesting, without needing to allocate or de-allocate sections. The trade-off is that players may feel less ownership, which could lead to a lack of interest.
  • There is a front page news feed that displays information from campaign-creators, as well as players who fill in their entries.

Rules

While I was writing the app, myself and another person were working on a set of campaign rules that would fit with my goals and would also be fun to play. This was the result. This document drove all of the “game-like” aspects of the campaign (the game outside of the game), which strives to give the reason why someone would play in a campaign at all. It’s gone through a lot of revisions, and I expect it will see a few more once it actually hits the pavement.

Video games start with a design document, which outlines what the goals of the project are, and a little bit of what someone could expect when they play the game (which hasn’t been written at that point!). I think of these rules as my design document for the app – the game must be playable with just the document, and the app has to facilitate that play.

Photos

I’m deliberately not posting a link, because it’s not ready for public use right now. I want to run a full campaign through it locally, and make a few more user-friendly features before I offer it up to others.

These pictures are all from my development copy of the app, so some of the text will be gibberish. 🙂

The app has been designed to be game-system-agnostic. It tracks wins and losses and the map, but doesn’t tell you how to drive those games. You just could as easily play Backgammon.

At the front page, there is a news feed. This comes from 3 places: sites administrators can post news, campaign-creators can add news, and players can add a narrative to their games. Only the news from the campaigns you’re a member of will be shown here.

News

On the left, there are a few buttons. Clicking the “Campaigns” button opens a side bar that shows a list of all campaigns in the app. Here you can Create a Campaign, as well as click on an existing one to look at it.

CampaignList

 

Entering a game

To join one, you’ll click on a campaign in the sidebar and it will bring you to a screen similar to this. I’ve already Joined this campaign, otherwise there would be a Join button at the top. Campaign administrators have a gear button to give them some extra options. Regular players click on the map to select which section they wish to attack. They can only attack sections adjacent to their existing territories.

At the top, there is also information about:

  • Phases. This is a generic term to denote a period of time. We’ll come back to this.
  • Materials. You gain materials for winning games. They can be spent in game on some special things. You can also give materials to your faction-mates!
  • Mandatory attacks. Each phase, each player in a campaign must attack a certain number of times. This is to motivate people to play at least one game per phase!
  • Optional attacks. Each phase, each player is allowed to attack a few more times. We limit this, to ensure that someone with infinite free time doesn’t steamroll.
  • VPs. Who is winning!

InProgress

After you click a territory, you come to this entry page. Here you’ll fill in how many points you got, and how many materials you used, as well as the same information for any opponents you played in the game. You can also fill in a narrative for your game, if you want.

Lastly, you’ll Save it (if you want to come back to fill in information later) or Finish it (if you’re completely done).

CreateEntry

 

Creating a campaign

If you click Create Campaign, you’ll be brought to this simple entry form. Give your campaign a name, enter whether it is a Simple campaign (no map, no meta-game features) or a Map campaign. I have thoughts of adding some other options here as well – a tournament is one possibility.

CreateCampaign

You will also add as many factions as there are in your campaign here, and they will be automatically assigned a colour. When you’re done, click Save or Generate Map.

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A map is generated automatically for you, but you still need to place your factions on the map so they have a starting point. It is a simple drag-and-drop interface to give factions their start sectors.

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When you’re all done, you Save your campaign!

The Future

I’ve got thoughts, but most of them have to wait until we actually get this campaign going and I get real people running through the system.

  • I’m not happy with how the “in progress campaign” screen looks. The map is large and unwieldy, and looks awkward. I keep looking at Google Maps for inspiration, but they get to use a map that fills their entire screen. The map isn’t “out of place”, because it’s the reason you’re on the page!
  • Clark wanted me to add tournament support, and I don’t see why I shouldn’t be able to.
  • User customization of things like number of squares, size of the map, colours, themes, etc.
  • Whether to monetize some of it. I look at the Roll20 app and think that I’m not that far away from having something that might be worth a few bucks to some people.
  • The public…

But for now, it’s going to be about running through the stuff I have with real people who are actively trying to use the system!

 

 

Antares – Concord Plasma Cannon Team

I totally forgot I asked Mike to buy these for me, and picked up the D2 drones a while back because they were actually available whereas this guy was not at the time. I wanted some heavy firepower, as my opponents were starting to bring res 12 models to the table, and the plasma support team is a relatively inexpensive way to bring that down to res 6.

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But now that I have the bikes, I have a different plan. An “eggs, meet basket” plan. I’ll take the bike squad, and buy a compactor drone and stuff the plasma cannon into it. I’m planning for Wet Coast, right, so flexibility is good. The bikes are a super mobile unit for taking objectives, and when they get to their destination they’ll be a giant piece of artillery too.

Could also be a terrible idea, a 200 point unit that loses their super gun on a lucky shot. >.>

Blood Bowl – Skaven Rat Ogre and Thrower

I finally made enough in-game money to buy my rat ogre!!!!

This is a big deal. I’ve had about 16 games this season, and I’ve been saving up to buy him since the first one.

I bought one a large number of games ago, but he died 3 turns into his career. Like dead, apothecary, re-roll to dead. I’ve been living from paycheque to paycheque since that day, having many dead rats and needing to buy basic linerats to keep the team going. I’ve rolled twice on Expensive Mistakes and lost 50k to it. I almost played a game where I got 800k in inducements. >.<

But finally, my last game I got my break. I rolled a 3 for cash, won the game and had +2 FAME. I took the chance and re-rolled the treasury and it came up 6!

So now I have to paint the guy. And also this thrower, who is also a big deal.

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One guide I read recommended an offensive and a defensive thrower. The off. thrower has all the good throwing skills – accurate, extra hand, +ag, etc. The def. thrower you give him block first skill. You put him on the table because you want a model with Pass and Sure Hands so you can get all the defensive touchdowns.

I almost forgot to put paint on the thrower, but managed to get some colours on him from the remnants of the base coat I used on the rat ogre. These are the last models in the team that don’t have any paint on them, (although not the last models to be finished — lots in a “half done” stage) so it’ll be nice to have a “fully painted” team. Hopefully I can keep this painting up into the next month to finish the team off. 😛

Antares – Concord Bikes

Wet Coast GT is being planned, and Clark is planning to run Gates of Antares at it and I’m doing helper-monkey things and planning to play in it. I finally broke down and decided that if I was going to try to win a game (I did win one, a few weeks back) I needed bikes. Speed is going to be the name of the game, and bikes are the best speed Concord has.

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Similar to the D2 drones I started (and didn’t finish), I drilled into the existing flying-stand holes in these models to allow the flying stand peg to sit deeper into the model. The guy in the back has an unnaturally long stand, but I’m confident the other two won’t fall over when you look at them.

These are nicer models than I gave them credit for in the photos. I thought they looked dumb and disproportionate, but I’m pretty happy with them on my desk. Except the heads, which are the softest cast I’ve seen out of Warlord. >.>

Shadow War: Armageddon…Orks???

It got weird. GW is doing things that make sense. Like communicating with their customers and selling things that people have claimed they want to buy for years.

I’m torn about the release of Shadow War. On the one hand, more excitement about a Necromunda-based ruleset is good. On the other hand, GW has yet to prove to me that they haven’t forgotten how to write an army list that could be considered close to balanced with its peers.

My local group has decided, under the tyrannical rule of Mr. Nick, to play Shadow War: 30k rather than Shadow War: Armageddon when it’s released. I’ve been told that Orks don’t exist in 30k, which is why I don’t play 30k. But Nick took pity on me and let Orks into the club. Then, in a totally unrelated conversation I linked a photo of a gangsta with his arms crossed, and then this sprang into my brain:

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Uhh…or something similar to it that I would be incapable of puttying. But this is the most amount of putty I’ve put onto a model in a long while, and I’m not displeased with it. I sculpted an entire ork arm once upon a time, so I figured I could do it again. Putty is an 8 headed hydra, always snipping at your left while you focus on the right. I prefer the regular sort of ork conversions, where you kitbash something until it looks awesome.

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The left shoulder in particular pissed me right off. Nothing I did could make it look good, until I finally got it good enough and then I fucked it up again. I considered tossing a pauldron over it, but that would be cowardice, both for me and for my waaaaghlife thug who just needs his guns and his shades to protect him.

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If Shadow War turns out to be a terrible game, at least I got one more ork boy out of the exercise. 🙂

Blood Bowl – Skavens!

I committed to myself and my club that I would paint at least one model before I played again.

I scheduled a game for Wednesday. Then ran out of time to paint a model.

Mid-Wednesday, my game got cancelled because of various reasons, and I was unable to find a new one. Some might say it was a sign. So I painted two models today to stave off the wrath of Nuffle!

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The nice thing about these models is that they are mostly done before I get to them right now. The first steps are super simple, but care needs to be taken with the shading which is where I’ve been stuck for a few weeks (months). With these, I’ve finished my Gutter Runners and got the first of my linerats done.

 

Photography

I’m still playing with this stuff. With the Orlocks I used my 25mm lense, but it has a much longer focus range than some other lenses I have. The macro lens I used in the previous Gutter Runner post is a little to close to keep my ego intact – plenty of people adhere to the “2 foot rule” when it comes to models, and the more I paint and photograph, the happier I am with keeping people (and the lens) a little further away to minimize the effect of brush strokes and tide marks, etc.

With the photos here, I used a 20mm lens which gets a lot closer physically, but is notably further away focally. I cropped the photos down a lot to bring them as close as they look above, which works due to the quality of the sensor in my camera.

Necromunda – Orlocks

Some folks in the club started talking about Necromunda again, and I love that game so I got involved. Once again though, I have the choice between my Orlocks (who have been my first love) and my Cawdor (who I never loved, but who look way better). I sent out a link to my last old models post, to give people an idea of what my Orlocks actually looked like. Someone was disappointed that there were actually no photos of Orlocks in that link, so in order to procrastinate painting some more I thought I’d take some photos! I don’t remember exactly when I painted these. It was after the Dark Elves for sure, but before I worked at GW and learned a lot about thinning paints. 🙂

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After I finished painting them, these 4 juves were in every gang list I made. They were cheap, and as long as you didn’t get into close combat they were almost as effective as a ganger. I tended to run them in pairs so they could support each other if they got into combat. I also really love the models!

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Gangers have always felt kind of interchangeable to me. Sure, these guys all have different weapons, but in the end you just put them on the table and hope that the weapon you’re holding is good enough to hurt the person standing across from you.

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I love this leader model too, although I’m disappointed that the new Community Edition rules don’t allow his meltagun in the initial gang. If I run Orlocks, I’m going to convert something I think. Boltgun/sword is a good combo for a leader. I’m surprised to find the stubber merely primed, since the rest of the gang is actually painted and I ran him in every list I made until I picked up a plasma gun (see further down).

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These guys have a variety of stories. The pit slave on the left is likely a model that doesn’t belong to me, I think it’s actually Gavin’s. The dude next from the left is a conversion I made from a tank commander body and some plastic legs and a bolt pistol and flamer and I used him either as a scum or mercenary (I forget which). Gavin had the exact same conversion and I thought it was so cool I made my own. The next model in is a pyromancer, whenever I ran him he didn’t do to much. And lastly the guy on the far right I think ran as a telekinetic because I thought they seemed cool. He’s just an Empire wizard model from that era, I think.

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After a large number of games, I got tired of running the same weapons over and over again and bought some Catachans to get some more weapons. I don’t really like them as Orlock replacements, as the Orlock models are a lot less “beefy”. Still, they aren’t bad.

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Lastly, and this is also disappointing, two special edition models I grabbed at some point. It’s Scabs from the Kal Jericho comics and a PDF trooper, I think. The disappointing part is that I can’t find Kal!! Likely he was at Gavin’s at some point and now he has my Kal and I have his pit slave. Poor trade. 😛

 

As for the photography, there’s something missing from these photos. They don’t have the “luminescent” quality that I think they should have. Possibly my lights were poorly angled or not strong enough. I like the last photo, but not the other five.