All posts by Ray

Planning the upgrade, or creating a monster

The Gecko was running for a bit, but I’m going to make some changes to it.  The Z axis is messed up, and slips once you try to move about 50mm above the bed.

I’ve been following the different Voron builds lately, and I really like the gantry support used in the Voron 2.4 – using linear rails, steppers and belts at each corner.  I also like the electronics arrangement – particularly the DIN rails to mount everything to.

I would also like to build a Voron 0.1 – the small size is amazing, as well as the speed.  I first saw it on the CNC Kitchen youtube channel.

So here’s my initial checklist:

  • modify the existing gantry of the Gecko to use the Z drive approach of the Voron 2.4.
  • I like the Voron 0.8 approach to the electronics – mounting them at the back of the printer.  Would be so much easier to work on, rather than flipping the printer over.
  • replace the Lerdge S board with a BigTreeTech Octopus.
  • I want to move away from the E3D Titan extruder, and will see if I can use the Afterburner or StealthBurner tool end designs with the current Gecko gantry.  Ultimately I may just end up building a new gantry as well, and just convert the Gecko completely to a Voron instead of a Geckostein 🙂

I’ve set up an Ender 3 v2, and for the most part, it is stock.  I did pick up an upgrade bundle from Amazon, and also a Micro Swiss all metal hotend from RepRapWarehouse.

However, I’ve only installed the CR-Touch (and updated the firmware), and the bed spring upgrades –  and I’ve been very happy with the prints – PLA, PETG, and ABS – very impressive for such an inexpensive printer!  I’ll hold off with the rest of the upgrades until stuff actually fails. When that happens, I think I might also switch to the Micro Swiss direct extruder as well – but we’ll see!

Aquarium filtration choices and changes

I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos about sumps and overflows lately – and I am contemplating replacing my Hydor canister filter with a sump. Challenge is with the stand that I built – and getting a suitable sump to fit.

As luck would have it, after adding a few new fish to the aquarium, the impeller decided to blow up. As I haven’t been able to move forward on the sump – I had to get the filtration running ASAP, so I ended up purchasing a new canister filter from the closest pet store, Petland.

Exploded Hydor 250 impeller

The new additions to the tank included 4 more Denison barbs – these ones are pretty young and only about 1.5-2″ long right now, but are schooling great with the older ones that are about 3.5″ now. I also added 5 little Julii Cory’s to help out the 3 clown plecos (that I rarely see). I still only have the one discus – would like to add a couple more at some point.

Julii Corydora’s

h080, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I would have just replaced the impeller, and I had actually been searching for one as a backup. Unfortunately I was unable to find one in town or online. It’s a shame, as the Hydor 250 has been working very well, and I had the filter cleaning process down.  I might see if another brand of impeller might be suitable, or perhaps see if I can cast a new blade.

The new filter I picked up is a Fluval 406 – it’s good for up to a 100 gallon tank. In setting up the filter, I replaced the carbon pouches with more bio media – the stuff I had already in the Hydor filter, along with a bunch of the Eheim substrata sintered glass spheres.

Fluval 406 Canister filter

The media boxes don’t feel as durable as the Hydor trays – the plastic feels more brittle – but we’ll see how things go.

Some of the nice features are the quick release hose assembly at the pump – will be interesting to see how well it works in a week when I give the pre filter it’s first cleaning. The other nice feature is the priming pump – while it doesn’t feel very robust, it did work very well.

The pump did not come with any sort of pre-filter for the intake, so I might look at adding one in the near future, and it also didn’t come with a spray bar. I prefer that to the included spout, which seems a little aggressive – fortunately I was able to reuse the Hydor spray bar.

On a mission to make the best apple cake I can!

While spending time in Victoria, I discovered a delicious apple cake at a coffee shop called the Nest. Now that I’m home, I’m trying to find a recipe that comes close.

This one turned out very good – and is a little lighter than the Nest cake which is not a bad thing! I also had some zucchini that I wanted to use up. Next time I make this, I think I will use a full teaspoon of cloves, and maybe add a half teaspoon of ground ginger.

Zucchini Apple Spice Cake

Course Dessert
Keyword baking, cake, zucchini
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 12


  • 2 c zucchini peeled and grated (I used one large zucchini)
  • 2 c Granny Smith apple peeled and grated (I used 2 apples)
  • 2 c light brown sugar
  • 2 each large eggs
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c walnuts toasted and coarsely crushed
  • 1 each Macintosh apple (optional) peeled, cored, and thinly sliced into wedges


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Lightly oil and flour baking dish.

  3. Peel, core and grate Granny Smith apples, and also peel and grate zucchini. Should have 2 cups of each.

  4. In large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar until smooth.

  5. Slowly add oil to sugar and egg mixture while mixing thoroughly.

  6. Add remaining dry ingredients (spices, salt, baking soda and flour).

  7. Mix grated apple and zucchini into mixture.

  8. Add nuts and mix into batter.

  9. Pour batter into baking dish. Gently evenly spread batter.

  10. Arrange apple slices as desired onto top of batter.

  11. Bake for 45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

  12. Server warm or cooled, and enjoy!

Tasty Fruit and Butter Scones

This is a recipe from a friends mother – it’s pretty flexible and easy to make. So far I’ve used it to make Saskatoon Berry Scones as well as Blueberry Scones.

Blueberry Scones

Course Breakfast
Keyword baking, blueberry, scones
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 8 scones


  • 4 cups flour
  • 6 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter cold, cut into small cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups berries
  • 1 cup milk add extra if necessary
  • 2 each eggs beaten, can reserve one yolk to wash tops if you like


  1. Mix all dry ingredients, and then cut in butter with pastry cutter

  2. Wash and dry berries, then toss gently to get evenly distribute throughout mixture

  3. Add eggs and milk, and mix to combine and wet all of the flour/butter/berry mixture. Don't over mix or knead.

  4. Roll into a cylinder, approx. 3-4" in diameter. Can either cut discs approx 1.5 – 2" thick, or gently flatten cylinder and then cut triangles.

  5. Place pieces onto parchment lined baking sheet, keep pieces at least 1" apart.

  6. If desired, brush tops with egg wash and lightly sprinkle with sugar.

  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes @ 425 degrees Farenheit, or until golden brown on top.

    Saskatoon scones

Recipe Notes

First time making this recipe I made the scones with Saskatoon berries.  I over mixed these a little – making them a bit dense.  The Blueberry scones I worked much less, and the result was much nicer 🙂

Knife Rack

Decided our knife block was taking up too much space on the counter. It also interfered with the microwave door if knives weren’t put into specific locations. Another motivation was to store my knives that would also display some of them – particularly some Japanese knives that have some amazing damascus patterns in their steel.

I do have a couple magnetic knife strips designed to just mount on the wall, but unfortunately there was no convenient wall large enough to hold the strips. The strips are also bare metal, and thought they might not be too kind on the knife blades. My approach would be to insert magnets from the back of the rack, so the knives only contacted wood. I also wanted the knife rack to store a sharpening steel and ceramic honing rod.

After doing a few sketches in Photoshop, I made up a simple cardboard mockup of my design. The purpose of this was to determine the best angle for the knife rack so that it would accommodate my knives and also a sharpening steel & honing rod – without impeding access to space below the rack. Once I had those details sorted, it was time to see what wood to make the rack from.

I had an old board of some very figured birds-eye maple to use as the primary ‘shelf’ to hold the knives. I used some red oak for the ends of the rack. These would also serve as the mounting point to the underside of a microwave shelf. I also had some small bits of black walnut to make a simple holder to store a sharpening steel and honing rod.

I needed to resaw the birds-eye maple to make the thinner shelf. I then ran the pieces through the thickness planer to clean up the saw marks. There was still a fair bit of sanding required despite the very sharp planer blades due to the wildly figured maple.

I cut a couple dados in the back side of the maple that will hold some neodymium bar magnets I got on Amazon (the ones I used were 60mm x 20mm x 5mm). The dado left about 1/8″ of wood. The magnets are very strong, and very effective even behind that much wood. I created similar dados in one of the oak end pieces as well. This provides a spot for a pair of kitchen shears. To fill the dados after the magnets were glued in I made oak plugs for the end piece. I just used a thin 1/16″ strip of oak to cover the magnets on the underside of the knife shelf.

To finish the knife rack, I used Butcher Block wax from Knifewear – it’s a soft, food safe paste wax made right here in Edmonton. I slathered it all over the rack and let it sit for 15 or 20 minutes, and then rubbed the wax in. I did this a couple more times (using less wax than the initial application) and vigorously rubbed the wax in. The result was a satin sheen that really looks good. I’m also using this stuff on my cutting board instead of the mineral oil I used previously :).

I did sort through our knives a little – leaving room in case another new Japanese knife happens to need a new home :).