August 2012 | explodedsoda

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Making geek dreams come true

I have recently fallen deeply, madly in love...


Shapeways is a 3D printing marketplace and community where one can upload a 3D model (in a STL, Collada or X3D file) and have it printed out in a variety of different materials. There are other sites like this, but Shapeways seems to be the only one offering sterling silver as a possible material option.

I had known about the site for a while, but I didn't make the connection until last night that this idea for a ring that I've had bouncing around in my head for months could be made a reality with this site!

Unfortunately, I don't know jack shit about 3D modeling. So, I'm currently looking at tutorials for Blender and SketchUp to see if maybe I can figure it out, seems pretty unlikely though. But I did manage to make a ring-like shape...kinda...

But, in between my tutorial videos and watching television, I'm browsing all the amazing items already available by talented artists on Shapeways. Mostly I've been looking at jewelry, but there are so many other items available!

Here are some of the many many items I've fallen in love with.
The Legend of Zelda - Winged Triforce Ring 
Created by ugoh

Created by edrice

Created by Ammnra

Created by henriquelana

Triforce Ring (pictured in silver glossy) 
Created by nakamura_shop

So many awesome things on this site! You can even have your character and creations from Minecraft printed!

Now, back to my lesson in 3D modeling... how the hell do I make a triangle in this program?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Los Angeles and WWE SummerSlam!

Last Friday immediately after work I hopped on the BART straight to SFO to catch a flight to LA for the weekend.

Why LA? Because the beau was there for work, flights were cheap ($160 round trip) and I could just stay in his hotel room! So all I really had to pay for was my flight and my food.

Also, the hotel he was staying at has a 4th floor rooftop pool. I think that helped sway my decision to go a little bit too. ;)

Where I spent most of my Saturday and Sunday morning and afternoon.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Custom 360 Controller(s)

(also check out my custom PS3 controller!) 

After my previous trial run of making a custom controller with an older one, I decided to try my skills with a brand spanking new one!

It's actually amazing how much the official controllers have changed over the years. This one had light gray sticks and D-pad, and a glossy white bottom. My old controllers (white and pink) both had dark gray sticks, D-pad and bottoms and the home button in the middle had a brushed metal look to it, while the new ones have a chromed look.

So the first step was to, obviously, unbox my new controller and then remove all the case screws on the underside with my size 8 Torx screwdriver. There are 7 screws in total, 6 of which are easily visible, the 7th I've highlighted in the bottom picture to give a better idea of where it is. It's usually hidden by a bar code sticker.

So once all that is off I open up the case, which can require a bit of maneuvering of the trigger buttons. It's also important to open it with the button-side facing down, otherwise the buttons will just fall right out if they're not being held in by the case/controller innards.

Here's a decent picture of the insides of my new controller. On the left is the bottom of the controller with the circuit board sitting in it. The circuit board is not attached to either part of the case, so you can also take the board completely out. On the right is the front of the controller case with the rubbery backings for all the buttons and the D-pad. Again, that rubbery backing will NOT hold the buttons in by itself, if you turned that over all the buttons would just fall out.

So I decided this time around to do a pink and orange controller, since my trial run had given me the orange controller I had originally planned for, and since I had extra orange parts due to my accidental double order. I bought my orange parts from (and one set from Amazon) and I bought my pink parts from this seller on eBay.

I made the ABXY buttons a mix of pink and orange, and the start/back buttons pink. The analog sticks easily pop right off and I replaced those with orange ones. I also got a whole set of mini Phillips head screwdrivers so this time I would for sure have the right size and could replace the D-pad.

I didn't get a picture, but under the rubber part for the D-pad is a movement mechanism which has the front of the D-pad connected by two clips and two tiny Phillips head screws. Just undo those two screws and push the clips in and the front piece will come right off. Below is a picture of what the front piece of looks like, in both orange and light gray. For some reason my orange D-pads didn't have the two clips, but the pink one did. I haven't had any issues so far with the clipless orange ones so I guess as long as they're held in by the screws it doesn't matter much.

So to contrast my orange analog sticks I decided to go with a pink D-pad on this controller. While I was at it, I also popped open my trial run orange controller to finally give it a proper, orange D-pad!

I chose to go with pink for the bottom piece of the controller, which just easily pops right in, and then orange bumpers for more color contrast.

On the left is the front of the controller with the circuit board sitting in it, and all my colorful new triggers/bottom piece. On the right is the back piece of the controller case being sad and lonely all by itself.

Since the bumpers were orange, of course the triggers would have to be pink! Now these are my least favorite piece to replace, since there's a lot of bending of plastic which I'm always scared I'm going to break. There's also a spring that goes in the trigger that I nearly lost last night when it sprung right out of my hand and across the room. I'm not even going to try and describe how to remove these, this guide does a much better job of explaining it than I could.

Done at last! But wait! I figured I might as well use some of my leftover parts and tweak my light pink controller since all it's parts were an ugly dark gray. I replaced it's D-pad with the light gray one originally from this controller, replaced the bottom with the glossy white also from this controller and gave it two hot pink analog sticks. I wanted to give it hot pink bumpers, but I guess the plastic wasn't shaped or cut right, because I could not get the hot pink bumpers to work, so I just had to leave them light pink instead. So just beware that you can get funky parts!

All three finished controllers!

I loved this project so much, and it was relatively cheap (probably around $40 for all the parts and the needed screwdrivers). I'll definitely be looking to customize more of my gadgets in the future. Any suggestions, because I would love some! I like taking apart things, I just always hope I'll be able to put them back together (but that's half the fun of it!)

Also, for comparison, here are my 360 and PS3s side by side. Twinsies!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

IGN Pro League, Soccer and Bad Disney Sequel Night

I didn't actually plan on doing much this past weekend, what with Rich being in Hawaii without me (damn you, expensive flights!) and all. Actually, I was thinking of just having a nice weekend, holed up in my room, with my cat, playing video games and browsing the web.

But then I got a message from my friend, John, telling me he was going to be in San Francisco this weekend at the IGN Pro League Face Off: San Francisco Showdown for work.  I haven't ever watched much e-sports, other than the Starcraft 2 tournaments that were shown at Blizzcon of last year, but I enjoyed those enough, and I enjoy my friend's company enough, that I got myself a ticket and decided to at least stop by.

Then, on Friday night, I got a text from another friend asking me if I'd like to go to a Major League Soccer game on Saturday night. Well sure I do! I love sports and I've never been to an MLS game before so why  not? Plus I doubt I'd be staying very late to watch League of Legends at IPL.

So I MEANT to get to the IPL event around 10 or 11am since it started at 9:30, but instead ended up sleeping until 10 and not getting there till around 12:30. Oh well, sleeping in is what weekends are for, right? So I get downtown, meet up with Jon and start watching some pro-SC2.

It was the Team Arena Challenge going on this weekend and it was Team Liquid vs team LG-Incredible Miracle. When I got there TaeJa from Team Liquid was on a winning streak and was about to face Nestea next. I've seen Nestea play before, and he's one of the best in the world. I think he would've had the match, but then his computer crashed and they had to restart the whole thing and TaeJa ended up winning the rematch. TaeJa ended up winning 7 matches total before finally being defeated by Seed in the second Best of 9.

Pretty decent sized crowd for SC2! 

In between matches, and sometimes during matches that we didn't care much for, John and I would go wandering and eat. He managed to get me some AMD thundersticks and an IPL shirt by telling the IPL booth workers that my boyfriend works for IGN (which I don't think they believed, but gave me the shirt anyway). At one point we went on a venture to get gelato from a place down the street and John took this amazingly flattering picture of how ridiculous I looked with my pack and thundersticks.

Nice thumb placement, John.

Starcraft 2 finals were supposed to be done around 3pm, but ended up going until way after I left around 7pm. The way the Team Arena Challenge is laid out is that the finals are between two teams, the winner of the Winners' Bracket from qualifiers (in this case, LG-Incredible Miracle) and the winner of the Losers' Bracket (Team Liquid). The Losers' Bracket winner must win two best of 9s to win, and since Team Liquid won the first best of 9 with TaeJa just dominating everyone, they had to do a second Bo9. Had LG-IM won the first best of, then Starcraft 2 finals would've totally been done on time.

So around 7pm I left and met up with Stone so that we could go to the soccer game! It was in San Jose and it was the San Jose Earthquakes vs Seattle Sounders. Stone is a Seattle fan and we were sitting on the Seattle side right next to the crazy group of fans that I guess are referred to as "ultras" and damn are they crazy. Jumping up and down and singing songs and chanting. Was very entertaining.  We wandered around a bit, looking at the different food trucks and meeting up with one of his friends, we even got Hawaiian leis randomly from a little kid!

 Well alright.

Ultras waving Seattle flags and setting off blue and white smokebombs.

We left a little early to beat traffic, but also because Stone had a midnight flight to Boston to catch.

The next morning I woke early to a text from John telling me he wasn't going to be staying at IPL much later than noon that day. So, since I didn't really care to see pro-LoL or be at IPL alone, I decided not to go and again slept in till 11. Later that night I knew my roommate was having a movie night with some friends, so I decided to be social and join in on that, even though I knew it meant I'd have to put on pants.

Apparently the theme for the movie night was Bad Disney Sequels. We watched The Fox and the Hound 2, which is far less depressing than the original, has voices by Patrick Swayze and Reba McEntire and was full of so many facepalm worthy puns. So many puns. It wasn't all that terrible though. Second up was Belle's Enchanted Christmas, a midquel to Beauty and the Beast, and wow was that shit terrible. I mean it was bad. The songs were bad, the voices were bad (even though it was apparently the original voice actors!), the story was bad. But despite being bad, it was certainly fun to mock with good people and good food (and booze)!

For a weekend that I didn't plan on doing anything I certainly ended up doing a lot!

Till next time,


Thursday, August 2, 2012

California Extreme 2012!

This past Sunday Rich surprised me with a trip to California Extreme in Santa Clara with a few of our friends.

What is California Extreme you ask? Well for those of you that didn't click the above link it is an annual celebration of coin operated pinball machines, video games and other novelties you once found in game arcades. It was $30 to get in on the Sunday and all the games were on free play. There were lines for a lot of the games, but waiting was worth it and most attendees were courteous and would move on after finishing one game.

After working in an arcade for 7 years (although one not nearly as awesome as this, my arcade was mostly redemption/ticket spewing games for kids) I fell in love with pinball machines, so the majority of my time was spent playing the different pinballs they had, icluding ones that were so old they had wooden play fields. I also played a few other games just for the sake of playing them, like Donkey Kong, and a few that I had played years and years ago, like Qix and Terminator Judgement Day.

Star Trek: The Next Generation pinball, which had the most amazing ball launching mechanism.

 Addams Family pinball, that I've expressed my love for before. I didn't play this one though because, as you can see in the picture, it was hooked up to some sort of bike which helped power the machine and the triggers on the bike controlled the flippers. Awkward much?

TOS pinball!

Hell yes Mario Pinball, circa 1992. I got a score of 103,000,000 on the right one.

Fucking. Terrifying.

Doctor Who pinball! I loved the Dalek on the top of the machine.

Old School Nintendo games.

 Me playing the original Donkey Kong!

What is that woman doing to that poor clown?!

I love Rampage so much. There was always a line to play it while we were there.

This game was hard as hell.

Hell yes TMNT game. Unfortunately the screen was kind of messed up.

This show really doesn't get enough publicity, I didn't have any idea it was even going on! Thank goodness Rich did! I had a great time there and hope to make it an annual thing for me. It's also renewed my desire to someday own a bunch of pinball machines.

Till next time,