Trains and Sawdust

In the past year, besides working on the truck and my rose gardens, I’ve been writing a program, cncDraw, to create G-code to drive my CNC milling machine.

I call it a 2 1/2 D machine. The working dimensions are approximately 12″x15″x2.5″ (X,Y,Z). It’s considered to be an engraving machine and I’ve made some nice name tags for my roses.

Screen shot of my program.

The first thing I designed was an outhouse, because the 4 walls can be cut in one piece.  The black lines are V-grooves. Red lines are cut through and the green areas are slots cut with an end mill.

Currently I’m working on a model of my house.  Originally I used a scale factor of 24:1, but that turned out to be huge.  The trains are nominally 22.5:1.  The final version uses a scale of 32:1.  This may be a bit small, but it will fit inside some of the loops in my garden railroad.

The structures I had were built from plastic kits.  When I took them in for a hurricane, they mostly fell apart.  Florida sun and humidity are not kind to the glues that come with kits.

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More about trains

I’ve been working with JMRI which has really nice graphics, but so far I haven’t been able to figure out how to set up a schedule and let the trains run automatically.

So I thought I’d look at Rocrail, which is supposed to be good at that.  The graphics are not quite as nice as JMRI’s and the GUI interface can be awkward.  For one thing, the fonts are too big to fit into the boxes on the screen.  Another thing that I find annoying is that clicking on OK after updating the info on a locomotive takes you right out of the locomotive section.  One thing that I do like is having pictures of the locomotives in the GUI.  Being able to pick “that one” instead of having to remember whether it’s the Rugen or Waldenburg locomotive is great.

Here are the pictures that I took for Rocrail.

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Catch up

As you can see from my previous posts, I have been having a lot of fun with my truck and the Sunshine chapter of the Studebaker Drivers Club. I am now managing the Sunshine Chapter’s website.

In the mean time, I replaced the Davis Vantage Pro with an Oregon Scientific WMR200A station. It lasted about 3 months before the rain gauge failed. I now have a Davis VantageVUE connected to a MeteoBridge. That’s a neat gadget from Ambient Weather which is a linux (naturally) computer measuring about 3″ square and less than 1″ thick. It talks to the weather station via a small radio a little larger than a thumb drive. It is also connected via ethernet (or wifi) to my local network and the internet. It periodically sends data to Weather Underground and a MySQL database on my server. The server then updates this web site.

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I’m Back

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve updated this blog.  So here is a summary of my current status.


I’ve cataloged 9401 books in Koha.  Most of them are fantasy/science fiction or young adult books.  A lot of good fantasy is published in the young adult category.  Can you say “Harry Potter”?  There are a lot of mysteries and other fiction yet to go.  That should bring the total up to around 10,000.


My main workstation and my server are running KDE on openSUSE 12.3.  I have another machine running IPFire as a firewall to the internet.  There is also a testbed multibooted with whatever Liinux distributions catching my fancy.  The most recent is openSUSE 13.1 release candidate 2.

I’m still using my ASUS 1201N netbook, mostly for debugging networks.  I’ve fallen in love with my Motorola XY-Board (XOOM 2).  It has a 4G Verizon link.  They wanted $35/month to add it to my phone account giving me 4GB combined download a month.  For $30/month on a month-to-month plan, I get 4GB for each.  I think my new phone at the end of February 2014 will be a plane phone with no data.


I’m currently driving a 2012 Hyundai Sonata and loving it.  I recently got a 1950 Studebaker ½ ton pickup.  What fun.

Netbooks and KDE network manager

I’m currently running an ASUS eeePC 1201n netbook/laptop.  It has a 12″ screen and a full sized keyboard;  sort of on the border between a netbook and a laptop.  It’s small enough to carry around comfortably and large enough to see and type.  I tried running openSUSE with KDE on it, but KDE has a major problem with the network manager.  It cannot connect to a wireless station with a hidden SSID.   Bug 209464 has been open on KDE since October 2009 and still marked NEW with priority HI and severity NORMAL.

My wireless station is not broadcasting the SSID and is using WPA/WPA2  personal with a pre-shared key.  I’m not about to change that. There is no point in broadcasting the SSID and letting the neighborhood know that wireless access is available to anyone with a good key cracker.

There are some workarounds which I’ve tried with limited success.  The Gnome network manager works fine.  I’ve also tried LXDE and Enlightenment successfully.  Come on KDE, that bug has been open over a year and a half.  If Gnome and the others can do it, look at their code and fix it.

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