Welcome! I am an engineer, programmer, designer, and gentleman. You may be interested in some of my electrical and mechanical projects. Take everything you read here with a grain of salt and remember to wear your safety glasses.

3D-Printed Roasting Thermometer Probe Organizer

Alton Brown's brought a lot to my life, including one of my favorite kitchen tools, the probe roasting thermometer. I use mine for everything: roasting meats, grilling, even baking salmon (absolutely foolproof, this). But it's brought one major annoyance to the kitchen too: that unruly tangle of probe and oven-proof braided wire left in your hand after cleaning up from the evening's roast. Now, in the list of things I should have done years ago I can finally include taming that snarl—with 3D printing, of course.

Here's a simple puck-shaped wire organizer I designed and printed in PLA plastic. Insert the probe end into its receptacle, secure the bend of the probe in its slot, then wrap the cable around the spool. Finally, plug the connector end into the top of the organizer to keep everything tidy.

Halloween Blinking Creature Eyes with LEDs, Arduino, and Laser Cutting

I made this blinking-creature-eyes lamp as a small gift for my father, who loves to scare neigborhood children during Halloween with a heavily decorated entryway. It's suitable for hiding in foliage, under a chair or couch, in a darkened window, etc. You can make one easily if you have a laser cutter and some way of making printed circuit boards, although a cardboard box with cutout eyes and some LED strip would work just fine as a quick way to get started.

PCB design in Eagle

This design was heavily determined by parts I happened to have on hand. The LEDs are high-brightness red 5mm devices; I bought a whole sack of these once from Electronics Goldmine (they made an appeance in the Goldfinger laser among other projects). Although I could have controlled the blinking with a 555 timer or similar circuit, I had some surplus Arduino Trinkets from Adafruit, and programmability is nice to have in a project like this one.

More 3D-Printed Bins, for Milwaukee Organizer Boxes

Many tool companies offer “jobsite organizer” boxes for small parts. Our local home stores carry DeWalt, Stanley, and Milwaukee products that are all on the same pattern: plastic briefcase-style box with a handle, a clear lid, and removable bins inside. Some of them can also be stacked and linked together for more storage. But since I'm not a contractor (the usual customers for these), I tend to acquire smaller quantities, but in a greater variety, of most classes of part: screws, plumbing fittings, crimp terminals, etc. So I usually want more resolution, i.e. more and smaller bins or dividers, than the organizer offers. For that, I have a 3D printer.

I selected the Milwaukee 48-22-8030, despite it being red, because it was the only one that had metal latch hardware, because the handle placement gives it the best ratio of internal to external volume, and because the Milwaukee organizers can be opened while linked to each other (the linking latches are only on the lids). In Onshape I designed a bin that would subdivide the smaller square bins diagonally.

Adding "Edit with Emacs" to Windows

I've long wanted to be able to right-click any file in Windows and have “Edit with Emacs” among the options there. Upgrading my desktop computer after many years gave me the right motivation to finally implement little productivity improvements like this one. The following is a registry file that I've tested on Windows 7 and 10. It is hardly original—many others have posted similar things on Stack Exchange and elsewhere—but I'm documenting this version of it here really so I don't forget it myself.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT*\shell]
[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT*\shell\openwemacs]
@="&Edit with Emacs" 
"icon"="C:\\emacs-26.1\\bin\\emacsclientw.exe"
[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT*\shell\openwemacs\command]
@="C:\\emacs-26.1\\bin\\emacsclientw.exe --alternate-editor=\"C:\\emacs-26.1\\bin\\runemacs.exe\" -n \"%L\""
[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shell\openwemacs]
@="Edit &with Emacs"
"icon"="C:\\emacs-26.1\\bin\\emacsclientw.exe"
[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shell\openwemacs\command]
@="C:\\emacs-26.1\\bin\\emacsclientw.exe --alternate-editor=\"C:\\emacs-26.1\\bin\\runemacs.exe\" -n \"%L\""

Building a New Desktop PC After Nine Years

In the last month I assembled a new desktop computer for myself. This is my first significant upgrade in nine years, a timespan that my teenage self in the mid-nineties would have found unbelievable. At the time the upgrade cycle was something like three years long for anyone, even non-gamers, trying to keep up with typical software demands. In other words, the slowing of that cycle has allowed me to skip two major upgrades entirely, and I might even have kept going for a few more years except that my old video card was starting to fail with increasing frequency, and it wouldn't support DirectX 10. Although I'm not much of a gamer anymore, I had become aware of Planet Coaster, a sort of spiritual successor to the RollerCoaster Tycoon that consumed quite a lot of my time in the early 2000s, and obviously I had to play it.

AMD CPU after nine years, on the left, and the new motherboard, CPU cooler, RAM, and video card on the right.

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