New trackball bearing kits are live!

June 1st, 2022

The new bearings

For the first time in my life I get to say “New and Improved” unironically!

After months of prototyping, I finally have the new trackball bearing kits up for sale on eBay. And they are both new, as in completely redesigned, and improved in several ways. They are also significantly cheaper, which is definitely an improvement.

How are they better?

The new kits are 3D printed with a shape that exactly fits the factory bearing supports. This brings several benefits:

First, this means they fit perfectly without any play, and the trackball is now supported at exactly the same height as it was with the factory flanged bearings. With the original brass-sleeve bearing kits, it was raised 0.2mm. This doesn’t sound like much, but it caused some 8-ball style trackballs to fail to track.

Second, 3D printing is a lot more fun than hand-shaping tiny bits of brass as spacers. Sure, I’ve spent several months and a lot of trial and error getting them to print correctly, but it was still fun. This means they are a lot cheaper! Because I really wasn’t having fun sitting in the garage with a respirator on, covered in brass dust.

So much error

Finally, they’re purple. Matte purple, even. The matte filament is a pain to work with, but it’s very pretty. I do like purple.

It’s really more of a lavendar

My biggest problem now is that my supplier of awesome high quality bearings has started sending me awful low quality bearings, so supplies may be limited until I find a new supplier. But at least the bearing rests are sorted out.

Buy some now

So, if you have a CST2545 or compatible laser-tracking trackball, and it needs bearings, my ball bearing kits are now cheaper, fit better, and they’re purple. Go buy one now before I run out of smooth bearings! https://www.ebay.com/itm/133327761655 Do it! Click! Quickly! The link’s right there! I know you can hear me!

I learned how to 3D print stuff just for trackball bearings

May 25th, 2022

As I wait for replacement parts I thought I’d post a quick update on the state of CST trackball bearing replacement kits. In short: new 3D printed kits are in the works. This has absorbed a lot of my time and put me behind schedule with the new guitar pedal prototypes.

Right now, on eBay, is the last of the hand-machined brass kits. These have great bearings in them and work just fine, but they are very not-fun to make. I started charging more for them just to make it worth the time I spend wearing a respirator in the garage, but people wanted them so I kept making them. Even so, I think they’re too expensive. I started thinking: what if the little adaptor bushing spacer thing was 3D printed?

Advantages:

  • Can offset the height so the trackball will no longer be 0.2mm high
  • Pretty
  • Can be the exact diameter and shape of the bearing holder slot
  • Easier to assemble – I can sell them cheaper!

So, I bought a used printer off eBay, which immediately needed new bearings, new fans, and a lot of modification. The first thing I learned is that printing tiny parts with exact dimensions is more of a craft than a science. But I’m using prototype bearings now and they are very cute.

So, after much trial and error, new bearing kits should be ready soon, in quantity, at reasonable prices. Of course, I’ve been saying this every day for a month now, but I’m almost there!

“Crossroads of Twilight” by Robert Jordan: Review

March 31st, 2022

tl;dr: Just skip to book 11, or simply stop reading the series. 1/5 only because there is no such thing as a 0-star review

I read the series back to back, right up to book 10. The first few books I got new, then books 4-6 I got at the library. I had to wait for them to be returned by others, and they were “on hold” by the time I returned them. They were very beat up! I did not have to wait for books 7 and 8, and they were in much better condition. Book 9 looked almost new, and 10 was in quite good shape. It took me a while to read Crossroads of Nothing here, and it was overdue when I finished. Nobody had requested it, so there was no particular hurry to return the book.

If you were dating the Wheel of Time, it would go like this: You and she hit it off really well in the beginning. You were even holding hands and kissing goodnight, and you could see that this relationship was going to be all sparks and fire! You couldn’t wait to see each other! And then something changed. On your sixth date, you ate at the same restaurant and saw the same movie you saw before. The next few dates were the same, but you also got no goodnight kiss. Disappointing, yes, but you suppress your impatience, knowing that good relationships take time to build. But, on the last date wouldn’t hold hands with you, and on this one she barely makes eye contact when you talk. She won’t talk about anything that interests you, just keeps going on about how the tea isn’t good enough. Clearly she doesn’t even care about you, but she’s perfectly willing to let you keep paying for dinner. You feel like a sucker, but you enjoyed it, right? She wasn’t using you if it was your idea to go out, right? But now you have to admit it: whatever passion you had at the beginning is gone.

You could edit this book down to less than 150 pages, after which it would be fun to read. Maybe 125 would be enough. The other reviewers describe the book beautifully, but just for the sake of completeness, I’ll repeat what you’ve heard elsewhere. Yes, the writing is OK, but It’s slow. It’s very slow. And this is the point where I would normally warn you about:

**spoilers**

Not this time! Joke! Nothing happens in the book. There’s nothing to spoil. Really. It’s that slow.

Matt’s story is mildly entertaining, and I assume this is why the few opening and closing chapters of the book are his story. In that story they travel about 30 miles and, um, there’s some foreshadowing. Exactly two interesting things happen. These are the high points of the book. They are strategically placed near the beginning and the end so you will remember that there were actually high points.

In Rand’s story, there is some foreshadowing.

In Perrin’s plot, a new subplot (yes, *another* one) is introduced, and there is some foreshadowing.

In every other plot… there is some foreshadowing.

Throughout, people spend a lot of time looking meaningfully at other people while they talk about what happened in the previous book.

What I don’t understand is how he can make this last almost 700 pages (hardcover). Yes the prose is good, but at one point in the middle, I realized that I spent two long pages reading about how different people walked up a hill. Augh.

I regret wasting my time reading this book. Don’t waste yours.

[Update]
In the months since I first wrote this review, I’ve read some fiction. I’ve read some technical manuals. I’ve read philosophy. And in that time I’ve had a revelation. There wasn’t one part of this book I genuinely liked. More importantly, I’m remembering the hundreds of pages of torture. Literally hundreds of pages that I actually disliked reading. You forget those parts because you’re in a hurry to finish. I hate Perrin and every part of that stupid drama now. I never ever want to see or hear about Egewene or Elayne ever again. I want them to fail. I’m sick of Rand’s whining and… you know I’m sick of all of them. The only character with any charm left is Matt and that’s because he doesn’t care–I can identify with that. I don’t care either, at this point. I’ve come to take back that second star I gave you.

I like to be nice, but I shouldn’t lie to you. I actually /hate/ this book.

I know, hate is such a strong word.

That’s why I used it.

Originally posted as an Amazon book review, but now that their review system is slowly and systematically removing anything that might prevent you from buying a product (you know, “fake reviews”) I thought I would put it here where it is safe.