Category Archives: Hobbies

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 :).

Records anyone?

Finally decided that it’s time to let go of my record album collection.

I began collecting in the 70’s up until the end of the 80’s when I packed it all up. My collection was stored away for many years, and then it seemed records were a thing again (and I was getting tired of mp3’s). In the mid-2000’s I unpacked everything, and started to enjoy it again.

Slowly I have been cataloging my collection on Discogs, and I’m just over a third of the way through it – that’s just under 300 entered in!. From my collection so far I’ve listed 10 albums for now and will see how things work out.

I’m using Discogs as a guide to set pricing for some of my albums and seeing what happens. I still have to go pick up some packing material. It’s surprising what it costs for packing and packaging materials.

I have a number of audiophile pressings from Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs titles – Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon, Led Zeppelin II, Steely Dan Aja, David Bowie Let’s Dance – just to name a few! I think I have at least 15 more titles, including some Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Alan Parson’s Project. There are also a number of Japanese imports that were considered to be much higher quality pressings than the standard Canadian and American releases.

I’ve been pretty fanatical about how my albums are handled and stored, so the bulk of my collection is in amazing condition. I’m sure most could do with a good cleaning – and I did purchase a Spin Clean MKII record washer a couple years ago. It’s a pretty manual process still and very time consuming. Will probably clean as I list 🙂

If you’re interested in seeing what’s for sale at the moment, check out my Discogs store. I’m also trying to sell some using a local Facebook group called #yegdigs.

MyVolumio and Tidal subscriptions – Are they worthwhile?

I’ve made some changes to my JustBoom/RaspberryPi – including updating to the latest version of Volumio. Over the holiday break I signed up for a 4 month trial of Tidal’s Hi-Fi plan. To access a Tidal plugin on Volumio, and subscription to MyVolumio was required, so I signed up for the trial, and ended up getting a 1 year Volumio ‘Virtuoso’ subscription. My only motivation for getting the subscription was for the Tidal Hi-Fi plugin.

So far my experience with Tidal is less than stellar, and I doubt that I will keep using it beyond this initial 4 month trial. The sound is very good, but the Tidal apps aren’t. On AppleTV it’s very buggy, and whether I use the app on my phone or on AppleTV I really dislike having to endlessly scroll past a pile of content that I have no interest in, to get to my stuff. I mean, they do ask what interests you – why isn’t that shown first? Maybe it just takes a little more time to learn what I actually listen to. We’ll see.

The one thing I do appreciate in the Tidal interface within Volumio is that I don’t have to go through all the stuff I have no interest in. I only see what I have added to my collection, but I haven’t seen a way to add to my collection from within the app – I have to go to the Tidal iPhone app or AppleTV app to do that.

The other MyVolumio ‘benefits’ with their Virtuoso plan include:

  • remotely control Volumio devices outside your local network.
  • CD playback and ripping.
  • Music & Artist credits.

The Music & Artist credits might be interesting, but not enough to warrant a subscription.

It’s not clear whether the upcoming upgrades (multi-room playback and automatic updates) will only be available to subscribers, and I haven’t seen any timelines on when those new features will be available. Regardless, they probably wouldn’t be enough for me to commit to continuing my initial 1 year subscription.

Will see how it goes over the next few months…

volumio File Share Type and Options settingsOne thing I finally got around to after getting a new iPhone, was getting my sources set up again. They seemed to have become corrupted when restoring apps to the new phone.

Connecting to a shared Music library on my Mac proved to be a little tricky.

I found it necessary to set File Share Type to “cifs”, and adding “vers=3.0” to Options.

The message that popped up prior to those two changes could be more helpful I think. It also seemed to disappear to quickly. Or I could just be getting old.

Once the other fields were completed, including my username and password to access my shared library, I saved the settings and Volumio immediately began to index my collection. Hooray!

The Gecko goes on…

My printer has been idle for a number of months and this past weekend I finally spent a little time fixing up some wiring and actually printed a coffee grinder funnel prototype I started working on. The initial print was great – but after making some changes and starting another print job, I almost immediately ran into issues with blockages in the hotend.

I upgraded the machine with a genuine E3D Titan extruder and V6 hotend, but I’m still not impressed with their performance. Need something better – but what?

Update 🙂 I think I have a plan…

Mosquito hotend by Slice Engineering

Came across a company called Slice Engineering in the U.S.A., that has developed a hotend they are calling the Mosquito. The design is very intriguing, and it looks like it might be 1/2 of the answer I’m searching for.

Bondtech BMG-M Extruder

The other half of the answer is the extruder, and a Swedish company called BondTech has an extruder designed for the Mosquito – the BMG-M. I like the dual gear mechanism they’re using, and from what I’ve read, is a good step up from the Titan.

Updating UConnect software

There was an update for the UConnect software for our 2016 Cherokee Trailhawk, so I downloaded the update to a thumb drive as instructed on the UCconnect site.
What exactly was updated I’m not too sure – it’s too bad they don’t include release notes, so that owners can verify that features behave as expected, and also to learn what new functionality the system has.
Anyway, I also discovered that the instructions on the UConnect site weren’t very accurate.
Tip #1.  Download the update to your desktop, then extract the enclosed files to the thumb drive.  Not within a folder, and there were 2 files for this latest updated.
Tip #2.  The instructions on the UConnect site state to put the vehicle into Run mode, but without the engine running.  This is done be keeping your foot off the brake pedal, and pressing the start button twice.  Problem with this is that the update takes quite a while – and the vehicle shuts off – which messes up the install.  I ended up calling the 1-800 number provided in the UConnect installation guide, and was advised by a support manager to actually start the vehicle, and then proceed with the update.  Sucks to have to idle the vehicle for the 20 or 30 minutes it takes to do the update, but at least it works!
Tip #3.  Lastly, there was a spot where the screen goes blank for quite a while – 5 minutes or so.  I thought something failed, since the vehicle had shut off as well.  When putting the vehicle back to RUN, the screen remained blank, and unresponsive for just over 5 minutes – which prompted me to call support.  A couple minutes into the call, the screen came back to life, and the installation started over.
Kudo’s to UConnect Support, I was surprised to get through right away on a Saturday – no holding – just had to press a couple buttons after the automated answer and listening to the voice menu.