Jukebox Title Strip Creator

Well, There’s quite a few title strip creators available on the internet and I’ve been using them for quite a while.  They all work pretty well.  So why create another one?  Well, I really wanted to have a custom image put on a strip for my Christmas song selections this year.  That’s it.  Once I started doing that, well, I took it a bit farther and combined some of the best features of a variety of the available options.  I freely admit that this is based on code originally generated by others.  If you’d like my code, I’ll freely give it to you as well.

Features I’ve added:

  • Ability to save and load the text associated with the files
  • Enhanced color selector.  Default colors as well as any color you want.
  • Ability to have the strips butted up together, or spaced out.
  • A variety of strip formats
  • Ability to put images on individual strips.
  • Ability to enter a url pointing to custom images to include.

Isolated Desert Compound Jukebox Title Strip Creator



If you find that there are any features you might want added, let me know and I’d be happy to consider it.


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Robots, with Frickin Lasers – Early tests

I can’t claim these are the best work I’ve done.  There’s still a lot to learn.

Creating content from scratch is pretty easy using Inkscape and the laserengraver extension from this instructables post. I should also note that I’m using a laptop running ubuntu and Universal G-code Sender to control the machine.

So, Like I said, straight vector based graphics are pretty easy to manage and come out quite well.  But an awful lof of content you might want to play with are raster based.  I’ve experimented with 2 methods of generating gcode from raster images.

The first is to use Gimp to edit the file and adjust the color levels to try and get an image that has only black and white in it.  This can be easier said than done, and may require some manual clean up work.  Once doing that, you can transfer the bitmap into Inkscape and use the ‘Trace Bitmap’ tool to convert that into a series of paths (? still learning inkscape and its terminology).  That method can require quite a bit of clean up of the paths, depending on how good of a job at converting to black and white you did.

These two are examples of that method.  The one on the left I might need to decrease the speed of the laser to burn a little deeper.  The one on the right, you can see some speckles in it that I later cleaned up by removing the paths that made up those dots.


Another method is to use LaserEtch by JTech Photonics.  You still need to convert an image to BW, and do some clean up.  It then generates G-code that will etch the image by going back and forth and turning the laser on and off.  This method will be very useful for creating PCB’s, but it’s can also be used to burn an image that you might not want to turn into vectors.  Here’s a pic of a logo I threw together quickly for a great radio show you can hear on Thursday nights.  It’s Zorch Radio on Real Punk Radio.  Hell, Tune in to the entire Wrecking pit and listen to Gone Mental at 6:00pm and Zorch Radio at 7:00 till 10:00pm.

I think with a little manual edting of the file I can clear this up quite a bit.  Took me 5 minutes to convert the image, and rendering probably took around 45 minutes for a 95mm x 20mm image.


Edit: Inverted the black and white and did a little cleanup to make the letters more separated.  Turned out much better.


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Robots, with Frickin Lasers – GRBL Settings

While setting up my NEJE 500mw Desktop violet laser engraver, I found there was absolutely no documentation.  It came with a version of grbl on it, but I updated it to the latest Grbl 0.9j.

These settings are working pretty well for me.  I’ve tweaked the dir port invert mask to make the origin (0,0) take place when the gantry is closes to the circuit board.

Grbl 0.9j ['$' for help]
>>> $$
$0=100 (step pulse, usec)
$1=25 (step idle delay, msec)
$2=0 (step port invert mask:00000000)
$3=2 (dir port invert mask:00000010)
$4=0 (step enable invert, bool)
$5=0 (limit pins invert, bool)
$6=0 (probe pin invert, bool)
$10=3 (status report mask:00000011)
$11=0.010 (junction deviation, mm)
$12=0.002 (arc tolerance, mm)
$13=0 (report inches, bool)
$20=0 (soft limits, bool)
$21=0 (hard limits, bool)
$22=0 (homing cycle, bool)
$23=0 (homing dir invert mask:00000000)
$24=250.000 (homing feed, mm/min)
$25=250.000 (homing seek, mm/min)
$26=250 (homing debounce, msec)
$27=10.000 (homing pull-off, mm)
$100=80.000 (x, step/mm)
$101=80.000 (y, step/mm)
$102=80.000 (z, step/mm)
$110=750.000 (x max rate, mm/min)
$111=750.000 (y max rate, mm/min)
$112=500.000 (z max rate, mm/min)
$120=1000.000 (x accel, mm/sec^2)
$121=1000.000 (y accel, mm/sec^2)
$122=10.000 (z accel, mm/sec^2)
$130=175.000 (x max travel, mm)
$131=1200.000 (y max travel, mm)
$132=175.000 (z max travel, mm)
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Robots, with Frickin Lasers…

Wow, It’s been far too long since I’ve updated the site.  It’s not that I haven’t been doing stuff, I’ve just been bad at documenting them.

Well, the latest project really deserves a post.  For a while now, I’ve been wanting to do 2 things.  1) be able to make my own PCB’s, and 2) get started in using CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) machines (robots!).

NEJE 500mW Desktop Violet Laser Engraving Machine Printer

So I find one day searching the interwebs there is a method for making PCB (printed circuit boards) that uses a laser.  The basic process is you take a blank copper pcb, paint it with black paint, use the laser to etch off the paint where you don’t want the copper to be, then use acid to remove the copper.  And then I find this little laser kit online.  Not too expensive, so I take a shot on it.





Shipping from China it took a little while to get here, but it made it. The parts all seemed to be pretty solid and everything was there.  It was basically just a box of parts, with no instructions, no documentation at all.

Assembly was straightforward though and went quickly.

Gotta say I’ve got no complaints.



20150820_143040Ok, Maybe one complaint.  At some point during the first day, the laser quit being able to shut off during use.  It appears that the SMD mount transistor on the board that controls the laser went bad.  In my attempt to replace it, I managed to screw up the board a bit, but finally just soldered some jumper wires in place and plugged in a replacement transistor I had laying around.  Bada Bing, Bada boom, I’m back in business.  It looks a little goofy, but it works fine now.



20150820_143032Here it is all together. I printed a little grid on the backing board.  Really quite a lot of fun.

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Greenhouse Doors


Well, Need to get the doors done. I could have just screwed them together, but since I’ve got this fancy schmancy square hole puncher thought I’d use it to make some mortise and tenon joints.

The faster I get these done, the faster I can finish the green house!

image (6)

image (7)

image (8)

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Greenhouse Rebuild Day 3

Well, it’s a workday, so had to work, but took a little time to make a little more progress.

One of the things I was trying to figure out was how to reuse the roof vents. The old green house had an aluminum extrusion along the ridge. Part of it’s function was to hold the poly carb panels in place.

So here is the peak extrusion. The top part is what clamps the roof panels in place, and acts as a hinge for the roof vents. What I need to do is get rid of the bottom part so I can screw that right onto my wooden roof beam.20150112_162856Probably lots of ways I could have done it. The table saw just didn’t feel right, as there’s really no good way safely move the material through the blade.

Didn’t want to use my woodworking bandsaw due to the metal shavings, and even though I know I can, didn’t want to potentially damage a woodworking blade.

So I pulled out my little hand held metal bandsaw and clamped it up vertical. Wasted a couple of pieces figuring out the best way to make the cut, but got it down. There were extra pieces because the corners of the greenhouse used the same extrusion.


Finished product. This should work well. I’ll put some flashing down on the ridge and then screw this on top.


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Greenhouse Rebuild Day 2


Roof is all built up, added some supports to keep the sides from racking.

This thing is rock solid right now.  I can’t budge it at all, so it should hold up to the winds.

Next up is build the doors and the roof vents.  Once those are built up, all I have to do is put the polycarb panels on.  Very close.  Really liking the extra vertical room this gives me on the inside as well.


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Greenhouse Rebuild

Well, It was fun while it lasted.  A couple of years ago we bought a little greenhouse package from Costco.  It seemed nice, had some clear polycarbonate panels, which I thought would be nice since you could see out of them.  Well, after a few years, that green house should a few drawbacks.

First, it was kind of leaky, airwise, and was not really easy to seal up to keep the drafts out.  To be honest, It was pretty well engineered and I’m amazed it stayed up in the winds we get out here.  I know that sucker had put up with over 60 mph winds in the past.

Here’s what it looked like to start with.  It was fantastic.  Clear windows, everything looked great. It worked pretty well and I have to admit I have enjoyed using it. If I knew then what I know now though, I would not have bought it.



Fast forward a couple years and the roof has held up well, but the clear poly carb side walls just could not take the beating from the wind and the sun out here.  They have gone hazy and brittle.  If you touch them, they just fall apart.  You can literally just poke your finger right through them.

image (3)


The unfortunate thing is that they just are not repairable.  I can’t replace them with something else.  So I’m pretty much faced with the only option being to tear down the green house and completely rebuild.

So, Why not.  No big deal.  I bought some 2’x6′ twin wall polycarb panels similar to what was on the roof.  I figure if they lasted, why not by some more like that.  Plus the twin wall poly carb has at least a little bit of insulation value.

It took about 2 hours to tear down the old greenhouse.  Here’s whats left.



And I made some progress on the replacement.  Got three walls framed in.  Tomorrow I’m hoping to get the rest of it framed up and maybe get the panels on the walls in place.


The nice thing is I was able to take advantage of all the prep work I had previously done and reuse the same base and footprint.  The 4×4 foundation is anchored into the ground with concrete piers and with the 2×4 construction should prove to be pretty sturdy.

More posts to come as I continue on with the project.

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Wow, Been way too long since I posted, but in that time a bunch of folks I know have been brewing cider and it got me all fired up.  So I decided to make some ‘Graff’ tonight.

My understanding is that ‘Graff’ is kind of a ‘cider/beer’.  It’s got a bit of malt, a bit of hops, and a bunch of apple cider.  Sounds damn good to me.

The basic Recipe is located here http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f81/graff-malty-slightly-hopped-cider-117117/

But here are the general directions, incase that link goes away.

Materials needed for a 5 Gallon Batch

Clean fermenting yeast I have used Nottinham and Safale-05, both are good

.5 lbs of Crystal 60L If you use cheap store brand juice, I reccomend 120L. Cheap juice tends to turn out a tad tart and this will balance it.
1 oz of torrified wheat ( head retention, I’ve never used more than 2oz)
4 Gallons of apple juice.
1 gallon of water
2 lbs of DME ( I use 1 lb. amber and 1 lb. light DME)
0.5 oz of you favorite hops ( right around 6% AA, I have used 18.5% AA summit hops before and it took a month after kegging for strong bitterness to blend nicely)

Directions for brewing

Steep the 60L and torrified wheat in .75 gallons of water @ 155 degrees for 30 mins.
Sparge with .25 gallons 170 degree water and throw away grains.
Add DME and bring to a boil.
Add hops when boiling starts and boil for 30 mins.

Cool down the wort (if you choose not to cool the wort and just let the AJ do the cooling then your cider won’t be as clear). I don’t care about clarity so I just let the AJ do the cooling, but if you stick your pot in the freezer and let this get down to 70 degrees or so your cider will clear fairly easy. Pour the wort and apple juice into your carboy and pitch yeast.

Ferment 2 weeks at 64-68 degrees then keg or bottle.

I keg, and this stuff is VERY drinkable as soon as it is carbonated.
SUPERB taste and drinkability after 2-3 weeks of aging.

People bottling, it will have SUPERB taste and drinkability after the standard 3 week bottling period for carbonating.


I have it on good authority, this should taste good, At any rate, here are some pics I took while I put it together.

Ingredients, Ready to go.



Apple cider, in the carboy




Chilling down the malt component, old school style.


Sitting in my new school ferementation chamber.  Will keep it at 65 degrees for a couple of weeks.  20141028-DSCN0947


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A lifetime supply of Compost tea.

Well, maybe not a lifetime supply, but what I did today should last quite a while.

I’ve been listening to the local gardening show on the radio on saturday mornings for quite a while, and on Saturday they were talking about this supercharged compost tea they were making and selling by the 1/2 gallon.  Well, Screw that, I’ve got too many plants to worry about getting compost tea by the gallon or half gallon, and I’ve made it before.  I have a little aquarium bubbler and a trash can I’ve used to make it, but I just hadn’t in quite a while.

So I went to the store (Rail City Garden Center, down in Sparks) and after a little searching with the staff, we found the ‘recipe’ and where they had all the ingredients stashed.  The thing that escaped me was that the recipe yielded 300 gallons of compost tea.  I glossed over that and just bought the (relatively expensive) ingredients in the smallest quantities they had.

I got home and as I started to figure out, even these small quantities of ingredients will produce pretty large quantities of compost tea.  So although I may have spent a lot on some of these ingredients, the others should last me a good long while and make a lot of compost tea.  Way more than the 300 gallons specified on the recipe.

Here are the original recipes, for 300 gallons and 55 gallons.
Vital-Compost-Tea-Chart-55-2012-web Vital-Compost-Tea-Chart-300-2012


Here’s my version of the recipe converted down to 10 gallons worth. Use the tablespoons and cups, based on whatever is easier for you to measure.

Here’s the ingredients I bought.  I’m not even going to tell how much this cost. I missed one, the humus, but I figure there’s enough other ‘good’ stuff in there it won’t make that much of a difference.  I’ll pick it up next time.

Here I tested out the bubbler to make sure it worked, and the compost brewing away with the first 6 ingredients.

After this bubbles away tonight, I’ll add the next few ingredients and give all the plants in the garden a good feeding tomorrow.

Stay tuned to see how it works.  I’m really hoping it gives my Carolina Reapers a little boost of growth!

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