Cool Stuff I Found This Week (2022-W07)

Last Updated: 2022-02-14 10:30:00 -0600

Getting flexed on by the James Webb Space Telescope, turning AnComm Simulator into even more of a chore, turning your helpful FDM robot into a helpful SMD robot, an itty bitty Kaiju, the sudden appearance of a Shining Trapezohedron, and one or two more, all under the cut.

The Incredible Mobility of the JWST Mirrors

The James Webb Space Telescope isn’t the fursthest we’ve ever flung a science sattelite, or even the furthest away we’ve put a telescope, but out in orbit around L2, the Lagrange Point (which themselves are VERY cool things) out beyond the orbit of the moon, it’s far enough away that we’re not just hopping in the shop pickup and rolling down there to fix it. That means it needs to be able to adjust pretty much every aspect of its profile, which is something that’s fairly easy to predict.

The good news is, a lot of very clever engineers worked on the JWST and I wanted to highlight one tiny piece of engineering that is going to otherwise get overlooked: the mirror actuators. Let YouTuber Breaking Taps explain how they got six of the mirror’s seven degrees of freedom into one actuator, made that viable for the operating conditions in space, and give tips for 3D printing a replica.

Compulsive Planners Scratch Your Itch During Animal Crossing Terraforming Operations

It’s sort of a strained use of the term, but players of Animal Crossing: New Horizons refer to the game’s later-stages landscape modification tooling as “Terraforming”. For the first time in the series, players have the ability to reshape the landscape outside of their homes as freely as they can decorate within them, and this has lead to a lot of really aggressive “terraforming” projects where all the properties are moved out of the way and people entirely rebuild their islands.

I’ve been tinkering with such a project myself for months, on and off, and I can tell you it’s not easy. The island isn’t large, but holding that kind of information in your head and making your dimensions line up is non-trivial at best. When you’re an intermittent player like me, it’s even harder to keep track of what the plan was - it might be two or three months before I pick up the game again (though admittedly, the last time was because the left joystick on my Lite ate it).

That’s why I’m glad that someone built a feature-rich island planner for the game. Built by Eugeneration on Github, the editor offers the ability to save your finished map as well as to interpret a screenshot duirectly from the game into its editor files.

I think that’s going to make my life a lot easier once my “town” core is finished and I’m ready to tackle the rest of the island, which will be a little more wild and chaotic.

Someone Wants Patch to Build a Fabrication House

Yesterday afternoon, I became aware of a tweet by Stephen Hawes advising that a project he’d been working on, LumenPNP, was now available for sale as vetted and pre-produced kits - handy for me, since the open-source files would only get me so far without the tooling to make it!

Having a kind of home-scale pick and place machine could be quite convenient for someone like me, and if I partnered it to a reflow soldering oven, I could concievably produce small-run batches of PETI hardware at home. The eagle-eyed among you who are following that project will have noticed that everything I’ve designed for it so far has been through-hole, and that’s because I’m not set up for, nor skilled with, SMD work. However, the final designs for at-minimum the standalone/toy version of the device will have to be SMD to meet my size requirements. That’s going to mean either working with a fab shop or buying something like this, and honestly… for the price? I’m strongly considering it for sometime late in the year.

HEY! That’s MY Stomping Grounds

In a move that surprises exactly nobody, I’m a huge fan of retro styling in games, especially when one does a convincing job of attempting to stay in the limitations of the time period they’re emulating. Such is the case with Ikamax by AcursedPixel, a cute little GB-Like which was built by them for the Kaijujam, a game jam focused around Kaiju as a theme. Now Kaiju aren’t really my think, but cephalopods are, and this game was a bit of a hoot for what it was. I recommend you check it out.

The Haunter in the Glow

You didn’t think I was the only vitromancer in the world, did you? Honorary vitromancer Inanna Malick recently released a writeup on a truly impressive artifact she willed into being - an Infinity Mirror Hypercrystal, the design for which she coaxed out of our favourite homonculus, the Poisoned Sand That Thinks With Lightning. The video itself makes the object appear the most delightful kind of cursed, and the build process itself, which involved a generative algorithm, is a fascinating read.

Rainer Popp’s New Popplock is Out!

It’s a surprise to nobody at this point that I’m a little bit of a puzzle obsessive. I’ve talked before about my desire to build and obtain interesing puzzle boxes of all kinds, and before escape rooms became a thing, back when Gen III was the current pokemon release, I desperately wanted to grow up to run a Puzzle House like that one NPC.

One puzzle maker that exists at the intersection of pretty much 2/3 of my interests is Rainer Popp, a German machinist who is particularly famous for his Popplocks, an annually-released series of limited edition puzzle locks. His locks are always nice, but this year’s entry, the T13, had a rather clever solution (requiring rather clever machinery) and if I wasn’t certain they were all sold already (and out of my price point regardless), I’d want one.

Bury Me in the Noise: Two Cool Things, Because Stereo

I go through a lot of phases with music, but the general theme is that I like it. I come back to electronic music sources a lot, of course, and over the weekend I was made aware of Look Mum No Computer by way of his video about the electromechanical LED chaser he built for ThisOldTony as a secret santa gift. After a considerable binge of his content about other electromechanical systems I fell into the rabbit hole of his main interest - synthesizers.

Watching him build arcane synths got me vaguely interested, so I also downloaded VCV Rack 2, a cross-platform emulator for euro-rack modular synthsizers. I’m finding it surprisingly approachable so far that the attitude of a synth takes a lot of my limitations away and lets me play with things I actually understand - electronic signalling and primitive music theory.

I haven’t gotten very good and this isn’t about to turn into a musician’s blog, but if you have the time and the inclination, go play with it. It’s fun stuff.

Oh, and while you’re on Sam’s channel, check out his Gameboy Megamachine 48-Gameboy Polyphonic Synth build.

The “Cool Stuff I Found This Week” series is an ongoing mostly-weekly event here at Arcana Labs to spread around some of the joy of the arcane that people are creating and crafting out there in the world. If you have a submission for a cool thing you found and want to make me aware of it, send @PatchArcana a DM on twitter or join the Arcana Labs Discord. If you would like to support the development of this, or any of the other projects I’m working on for Arcana Labs, and you wanted to show your support financially, your best avenue is via my Github Sponsors account or by making a one-time donation to Arcana Labs via or through other avenues detailed here. Github Sponsors also get access to a special patrons-only section of the Arcana Labs Discord Server, where we talk about the ongoing super-secret project.