Published on September 21st, 2009 @ 07:10:23 am , using 21 words, 561 views
Both photos courtesy Randy Milliken.
The Pem-Tech Screamin' Green Meanie is basically done! Of course, I won't launch it without paint, as this is a "looks" rocket rather than a performance rocket, but it's still nice to have it essentially done. It was a fun, easy build too. I'm looking forward to building a lot more Pem-Tech rockets - they've got quite a few and all are very different and unique.
The Estes Big Daddy is also done minus paint. We have a very, er, umm, controversial, paint scheme planned for it. Stay tuned. :D
I attended my club's meeting last night - my first one. Wow. It was a lot of fun, and a lot was covered in a very organized fashion. I'll definitely be regularly attending. A couple of members brought L2-type rockets to show me, in helping to decide on which one to get for my L2 project.
Well, it's still about as clear as mud. :D I've got a budget to work with - and it's definitely enough for a seriously nice L2 project, no question there. But - and especially after hearing more about L3 type stuff last night (thermite to ignite the motors O_o) - I'm definitely staying in the L1/L2 arena. ;) So, I'll never "need" electronics. Though, if I want to push L1/2 rockets to high altitudes, dual deploy/electronics are still useful to avoid 1 mile hikes for recovery.
So, basically, do I build another motor ejection/single deploy rocket (such as the Goblin) for my L2, and mess with DD/electronics at a later date. Or, do I leverage the budget now and get a rocket that's convertible between DD and SD, such as the G3 or Mad Dog I'd mentioned before - or one of the many other available rockets, such as the LOC/Precision Hyperloc 835?
I'm just not sure! I want to get stuff ordered and in-house so I can start working soon, but of course I don't want to end up wishing I'd gone another way once I get started. Simplicity is good, but so is versatility! Gah. Anyway.
In non-rocketry news:
After asking Patrick, the owner/butcher/awesome cheesemonger at D&R Market where we could go within reasonable driving distance to have properly prepared and cooked beef liver, we decided to have a short road trip on Saturday! He'd recommended The Beef House in Covington, IN. Apparently it's regionally famous, and many regard it as the best steakhouse in Indiana. It's not a long drive, only 50 miles, so off we went.
Ok, wow. The place opened in '64 and since then they've expanded massively. It's more a complex than a restaurant - they've got TWO rental halls for events. But the main restaurant portion is (probably) still the same as it was when it opened. If you're over about 30 and remember a family steakhouse from back when you were a kid, this is it. It's still the same. Awesome salad bar, huge menu, and they serve... well... everything. :D
We'd gone for liver, though! I had liver when I was a kid, and hated it, like most kids. Heh. But, that was probably 25 or 30 years ago and your tastes change as you grow up. She'd had it in college, prepared by a friend, and liked it. So I figured it was time to try it again. Well, Patrick was right: Beef House makes it awesome, and wow, yeah, we're going to learn how to cook it at home as it's very, very good when cooked properly. You've probably heard "oh, it only tastes good when it's cooked right" and such and thought it was a load of BS. It's not. It's really good.
Next time we go, though, I'm going to have them cook me a steak on their insane fire-breathing setup. I am an awesome steak cook - no question there - but I do not have the raw cooking power they do. I get a good sear, but... yeah. Have to have a steak there. ;)
I drug out my level 66 Necromancer, Sevolution, yesterday while she was doing some work. I shelved him for Alberic, the Inquisitor, because after some testing it was working out better that way as a duo. But I wanted to play, so I figured why not. Before he hit 66 and got the new tank pet, I'd tried going to Kunark with him, and it ended in tears (and death) so I hadn't been back. Well, armed with the L66 tank pet (and @ Master level no less), he's able to function there. It's still rough going (and I still died when I got adds), but at least he can fight there. I really should find a way to put another 3-4 levels on before I do it seriously though. Of course, that's a part-time project anyhow. ;)
Grace is nearly 60, and Alb is 64. We're working Pillar of Flames quests and planning to head to probably Loping Plains soon - that's a fun area I've done before. Then it's off to probably Lesser Faydark and probably Plane of Sky stuff too, before heading to Kunark on the duo. We'll wait until probably close to or right at 70 for that though, as we have no pet to take the insane damage that Kunark mobs put out.
Well, that's kind of it for this Monday morning. Now I've got to actually, ohmigawd!, work. Have to package up a new version this morning/today... Whee, always fun.
Published on September 18th, 2009 @ 05:50:58 am , using 230 words, 627 views
Screamin' Green Meanie's tube-fins are attached to the main fins, and filleted! I'll be attaching the fins to the body today, and that mostly completes construction. Then it'll have to be painted up all cool, though, so it'll be a while before it's truly ready. I've also got to prime and paint Callisto and Der Red Max anwyay.
I also got the fins attached to Baby Daddy, and have the first set of fillets drying as of this morning.
These LPR kits go together pretty fast since you don't have to work with 30 minute epoxy at all. With the high power stuff, you need the strength of epoxy to handle the insanely high thrust and G-forces, but that's not as critical with low power stuff, so you can build more rockets faster! Muahaha! It's kind of nice. :D
I'm almost ready to order my Level 2 project, too. I haven't decided what it'll be, but I've sold off all my R/C stuff and paid down a few debts, so... Almost ready to decide and order. 2 or 3 club members are bringing various rockets to the Sunday meeting to show me and help me decide. It'll be cool to see them. And one guy is bringing a reload case to test-fit into Callisto. It'll hold an I-315 Skidmark reload, that, if it fits, will launch Callisto to over 6,000 feet! I hope it'll fit.
Published on September 17th, 2009 @ 07:08:36 am , using 2 words, 36690 views
I didn't take any, because, honestly, unless you're a fellow rocketeer, you're only going to recognize the final product as a rocket! But, I've got the motor mount (massively overbuilt motor mount at that) installed in the Screamin' Green Meanie, and have the re-enforcing fillets drying. Also started construction on the Estes Big Daddy. Again, overbuilding the motor mount. Both of these have 24mm motor mounts, and I have a Rouse-Tech 24mm reload case. This means I can get some pretty powerful F-class motors in both these rockets, so they need the motor mounts overbuilt to handle them.
I've got my choices for L2 project down to 2. I just haven't made a final, final decision. It's a tough decision, and I don't want to make a choice and then immediately wish I'd gone the other way.
Before I ramble on about my 2 choices, an explanation of a few concepts in rocketry! You may have built a low-power Estes rocket before, for boy or girl Scouts, or 4-H, or similar. Or just for fun. Or not. Anyway, when one of these is launched, in order to get it back, a parachute is ejected by a small explosive charge in the motor. It just pressurizes the body and pops the nose cone off, pulling the parachute out, and letting the rocket come down safely. This is what's called "motor ejection" or "single deploy." It's used even in high-power, up to even L2 sized motors. It's simple, mostly reliable, and as long as you don't mind walking, you get your rocket back. Depending on how high your launch is, there is of course some drift as air currents carry the parachute-slowed rocket in the direction of the winds. But what if your launch altitude is, say, 8,000 feet? How about 16,000 feet? Heh.
Enter "dual deploy." With dual deploy, you use electronics - usually an altimeter - to deploy 2 separate recovery systems at predetermined times. The usual way it's setup is a small parachute (referred to as a "drogue" parachute) or even a streamer is deployed at or near apogee (max altitude). This slightly slows the rocket's descent, but doesn't allow for much drift, as the chute (or streamer) doesn't slow it a lot. Then, at a predetermined altitude (much lower), the altimeter fires off another charge, which deploys the "main" parachute, that slows the rocket to a safe touchdown speed. If you choose the main's deployment altitude correctly, you don't have to drive to the next county to get your rocket back. ;)
Now onto my L2 rocket choices/dilemma...
Everyone (and I do mean everyone) in the club is recommending the Performance Rocketry G3. It's a very good rocket. It's all G10 fiberglass - even the motor mount and nose cone. It comes standard setup for dual deploy, which is nice for high power K type motors which will push it to over 11,000 feet. Plus the learning experience of setting up dual deploy and the like would be cool. And, you can build it so you can convert between normal old-school motor ejection and dual deploy at will. So I wouldn't "have" to use dual deploy at all, until I'm ready / want to. I know, though, that the main reason people recommend that one is because it's L3-capable. L3 requires electronics/dual deploy, so you've got to get experience with that area of the hobby. I actually have no plans to go for L3 certification. The reload cost alone would mean that I could only fly at that level about once a year if that. And it just seems silly to do the research and documentation required to get the cert, if you're not going to use it often, or at all.
The other kit I'm considering for L2 is a more simple design, but one I like a lot. A Polecat Aerospace 5.5" Goblin. This is a simple, motor ejection based, 54mm motor mount rocket. Easy to build, very tough, and a definite MPR - L2 HPR workhorse. Kit cost is a little less. There's no provision for electronic/dual deploy, so if I end up wanting to get into that area of the hobby, I'd then need another kit (which would end up being... the G3). I like the looks of the Goblin design; it's a classic design that's available in every size from micro all the way up to gigantic L3 beasts.
So I'm not sure. A couple guys from the club are bringing their G3's to the meeting, to sell me on the kit, so maybe after I've seen the G3 in person I'll be more sold on it. It's not that I don't like the G3 at all, I'm just not sure I "need" it. Though, it is extremely versatile. Can fly it on a simple, cheap G with motor ejection, and then a few quick swaps and drop in a high end K with dual deploy and fly it to over 11k feet... Sure, the Goblin can fly on a K as well, but it's motor-ejection only so you're going to get drift. A lot of drift. :D
I'm probably going to make my long EVE Online post mid/late next week. I'm 1d 12h away from a Drake, and I'm definitely enjoying the depth of the game, even though I'm not playing a huge amount. Most of my gaming time is happily spent rampaging Norrath. :D Though lately not so much rampaging as harvesting things for a brat 10 year old from Village of Shin... Hehe. Kunark, hailed by almost everyone as the best content in EQ2, is only a few levels away for us, though! I can't wait to see what the fuss is about. Kunark in EQ1 was very cool, so I've got high hopes for Kunark-EQ2. Literally everyone that plays the game says it's the best content available. So, we'll see!
Published on September 16th, 2009 @ 06:14:33 am , using 28 words, 1667 views
Version 1.0 of character artwork a friend is doing for Alberic. He sketches by hand, scans the sketch, then inks the artwork digitally. It'll look amazing when done. :D
Published on September 15th, 2009 @ 06:02:41 am , using 168 words, 479 views
This is one I've wanted to build for a long time. It's not a "performance" rocket. It won't go the highest, or the fastest, or anything. But it looks cool and damn it, that's part of why I got into rocketry: rockets just look cool! Especially super retro-futuristic ones like all of Pem-Tech's kits. I'm sure I'll be building more of their kits. They're worth it even for the wit and humor in their instruction booklets. ;)
I got the body tube and fin tubes marked, and the motor mount built up and glue fillets put on and left to dry, and then sanded the leading edges of the fins round and that was it for last night. This isn't a difficult kit but I'm taking my time as I want a strong, good looking rocket that I can fly for many fun launches!
... or perhaps certifiable! Either way, I am now Tripoli Level 1 Certified! Callisto performed perfectly on an Aerotech H148 Redline. Awesome bright red flame, super high (easily over 3,000 feet) flight, and perfect recovery deployment. After recovery, the rocket looked just like it did when it left my build table. You really can't even tell it's been launched! Not even any dirt on the fins. We've got a paint scheme planned for it now, and have the paint purchased and waiting.
I also flew Der Red Max twice, both times on Estes C6-5's. Flew and recovered perfectly. Much less impressive, but no less fun, than the Callisto flight.
Now I'll build up the rest of the LP kits I have waiting to build, and plan for my next L1 (and L2 of course) bird. I want something a little different - and definitely need a non-high-altitude rocket. Callisto is a serious altitude rocket. Wow. :D
I'm still working on preparing my EVE online post. It's a complex, deep, involved game, and I want to really talk about it in depth, so I want 1-2 weeks ingame before I really write on it. I'm training my character for Covert/Black ops ships. Though I'm currently able to fit and fly a Caldari cruiser-class ship. Fun game. ;)
We're still going strong in EQ2. PM has 5-8 people on most evenings, all of us working together, having fun, and generally being awesome as always! Alberic is 62 (nearly 63!) and Grace is 58 already! She's closing in! When we started playing again she was only 23 and Alberic was sub-50. We're having a lot of fun going through the content for sure. Everfrost, Isle of Mara, and Sinking Sands/Maj'dul have all been a blast, and we're about to starting heading into the various dungeons/subzones off of Sinking Sands - I've never been and I'm excited to see them!
I'll also have another cheese-related post this week. Patrick over at D&R has been pimping his awesome selection of cheeses and we've been eager Johns for sure. ;) So many different ones we've tried. So now besides being hands down the best meat shop in Lafayette, D&R's easily the best cheese shop too! Amazing stuff.
Anyway... until next post!
Published on September 10th, 2009 @ 09:42:54 am , using 290 words, 536 views
... back on the subject of EQ2.
Since we've been actively playing for about 2 weeks, I've just been amazed at what a good game it is, and equally amazed at how popular it isn't. It's as good as WoW or any other fantasy MMO out there - better maybe. The amount and variety of content available is staggering. Doing gray (under-level) content is commonplace, as there's no way (short of turning off your XP) to do all the content available at a given level range, while you're still that level.
You can also (if you're into it - and I am) have your own little part of the world to do whatever you like with - in the housing system. I just moved to the largest housing available and I haven't even remotely started to customize it yet. It doesn't give any game mechanics benefit, it's just there to have fun with and play with. I've always loved housing systems in MMOs ever since UO.
As far as game mechanics, the game is awesome. There's enough classes and enough variability between them to please any type of player. Melee, magic, healing, tanking, ranged, stealth, you name it, it's all there. Pet classes aren't "as cool" as a hardcore pet class lover like me would want, but they're in the game and not bad, compared to other games.
Zone theming is extremely varied, and you're never going to get bored of one style of landscape or anything. Icy wastes, forests, jungles, and deserts... all well well-done and detailed.
Does it sound like I'm trying to sell the game? Well, I am! I think the only reason it's not more popular is that SOE hasn't marketed it heavily enough. They need to get a move on!
I haven't written a lot over the last week or so, as there hasn't really been much "new" to write about. Still playing, and loving EQ2, leveling and exploring like mad.
As my "secondary" game, I've picked EVE Online back up. I played 3 years ago, and just sort of stopped playing, as a horde of other titles were wanting my attention. But, I do like pure sandbox gameplay sometimes, and EVE is the most sandboxy MMO out there. It's literally wide open - you can do anything! There's just a ton of stuff you could do, so much so that it intimidates a lot of people.
It also has aspects of other games that I like, particularly a very deep and complex ship outfitting system, that gives you kind of the same experience that the character building systems of non-class-based MMOs give you.
A short list of the things you could choose to do in the game includes mining, hauling, Wormhole exploration, mission running, piracy (PvP piracy), huge-scale PvP combat, covert/black operations, scouting, trading, industry (building ships and weapons to sell to other players), stock trading (yes, the game has player Corporations and they can offer stock), really the list goes on. And, you don't have to only do one of those - you can setup your character to do all of them if you want! And not at lessened efficacy either.
I'll make a more detailed EVE post once I've been playing for another week or two.
As for other hobbies, the next rocket launch is this coming Sunday. I've got 2 rockets built, but unpainted. They can fly without paint, and it seems likely that's what'll happen. ;) One is my Callisto, which should be my Level 1 Certification rocket. It's ready to go, minus motor retention, which a club member is set to help me with on launch day. It'll be kind of cool - seat-of-your-pants rocketry! Certifying Level 1 on a rocket with just-installed motor retention. And it being my first rocket flight in over 20 years. Whee! :D
Published on September 4th, 2009 @ 08:06:05 am , using 110 words, 620 views
Funcom has finally "officially" announced their new MMO, "The Secret World". It's been in the "rumors and hints" stage for quite some time now. It seems to be at least somewhat Lovecraftian-themed, though set in present-day. Rumors so far are that it will be non-class based, or at least less restrictively class based compared to other MMOs. Maybe it'll be closer to Funcom's first MMO, Anarchy Online? That'd be nice.
There's a personality test up now, at Dark Days Are Coming, the official site for the game. It'll let you find out what Secret Society you fit in with. You can figure out where I ended up...
Dark days indeed...
Published on September 4th, 2009 @ 07:25:08 am , using 0 words, 272 views
Published on September 3rd, 2009 @ 06:11:48 am , using 262 words, 539 views
Today I have some pics! I actually remembered to take some last night while I was building. Amazing.
Both rockets are coming along very, very well. For my first rocket building activity in over 20 years I'm pretty happy with how things are coming along. Especially the Callisto, since that is my first high power build ever. I checked the first set of fin fillets this morning before I headed to work, and wow, yeah, they're bullet proof. Not...going...anywhere.
Der Red Max is very nearly done, as I mentioned in the caption. All that I need to do is glue in the recovery parachute and then paint the rocket. It'll be the stock red and black scheme, and I'll use the cool faux German military decals that came with the kit, and clearcoat them to protect them. I had this same rocket as a teenager, and always liked it. ;)
The Callisto, well, I haven't decided on a color scheme yet. The only thought I have is "VISIBLE!" Even on the relatively small motor I'm planning to fly it on, it'll achieve an altitude of 3,500 - 4,000 feet! So visibility is good. We're going to head to Menard's this weekend to look at Krylon colors for all the rockets I'm building anyway. Something will pop out as the perfect color for this rocket.
That's cheese. Not just any cheese though - it's four amazingly good cheeses. We shop at D&R Market pretty much every day. We get most of our food there. The people that run it know we like good food, and so when they decided to get in about 10000000000 amazingly good cheeses, they wanted to get our thoughts on them, and this is the first batch.
All four of them are amazing, and all very different.
The one in the top right corner, with the printed up label, is a French cow's milk cheese with some herbs. If you've had Alouette before, it's pretty close to that, though several times better. More flavorful, more ... gooder. ;)
Top left is a raw milk cheese. They warned us not to eat the rind...so of course we didn't. This is a fairly strong, semi-firm cheese. Hard to describe - somewhat close to gouda though creamier and "sharper".
Bottom left is a triple cream French cheese. I'd been wanting to try one of these forever, and this was a good one! They are very soft (about like room-temp butter), and fairly strong. A slight hint of bleu cheese flavor, actually.
Bottom right is a goat cheese. Nothing added, just pure goat cheese. It's very, very good. :D Milder than most goat cheeses, and extremely creamy. Medium firmness. Wow.
We've also been enjoying "Ewephoria" sheep's milk cheese, and a Bourbon-soaked-leaf wrapped goat cheese, which I will get the name of later. Both of those are flat-out amazing. Seriously.
So if you're in (or near) Lafayette, and like cheese, D&R Market now has an amazing selection of cheeses!
I began construction last night on 3 rockets. I was so anxious to get going, I forgot to get any pics. I'll try to remember to get some as the builds go along. The pic above is a terrible, iPhone-shot picture taken this morning before I left for work. At least it shows some rockets under construction! ;)
The first, and most important, is the PML Callisto, which will serve as my Level 1 Certification rocket (assuming I don't screw up the build). Luckily, construction on this thing is very straightforward. It's not a fast build, because you use 30 minute epoxy for everything when working with high power rockets. So in between many steps, you're waiting at least 30 minutes.
As with most rockets, you start with the motor mount. Epoxy on the top centering ring, wait for that to cure, then epoxy in the piston strap. PML rockets use a piston system for parachute deployment, so you don't need to worry about using wadding or anything. Then, once that's set, you epoxy the motor mount into the airframe tube and set that aside to fully cure.
Then I started on 2 Estes kits: the Der Red Max and the Stormcaster. I learned a couple of things...
1. Estes' idea of "laser cutting" is a joke. Sure it has nice burn marks like real laser cutting. But, honestly, it's WORSE than the die cutting I remember from Estes kits of 20 years ago! It goes about 1/2 to maybe 3/4 of the way through the balsa sheet. Anyway. Got the fins all cut out for both kits.
2. Hobbylite filler warps balsa rocket fins! I had planned to fill the fins of both these rockets, so I can get a nice smooth, awesome-looking paint finish. Started with the Red Max fins, as it's my favorite of the kits. Yeah... they started warping! So I put them between 2 large books and put 100 pounds of weight plates on top. An hour later I had perfect fins again. I'll need to find another technique or another product to use to fill balsa fins in the future. Heh.
Then I moved on the motor mounts for both these rockets. Standard straightforward low-power motor mount construction; nothing exciting there. Set them aside to dry. Came back 4 hours later, and glued the motor mount into the Red Max airframe tube and glued it's fins on. Stormcaster will be taken care of later on.
I still also have an Estes Super Neon kit to start, as well as a Pem-Tech Screamin' Green Meanie. The SGM I want to leave for last, as I want to make sure I'm well-versed in rocket construction again before I do it, as that's a really, really cool model and I want it to come out perfect. :D
Rocket building is one "building hobby" I did always like, and I'm having fun being back into it. I'll keep updated with how it goes - and hopefully remember to get pics of future steps!
In other hobby news, it's likely the Omega will fly somewhat soon. Lots of setup work to be done on it, but I think I can get it at least basically flying soon enough. I also, in a trade, got a Gaui 200 micro helicopter. This is a full-blown "real" CCPM heli, in a very small size. I'll have pics/details on that bird soon.
We're still terrorizing Norrath in rat form! She's been leveling fast: she's nearly 46 now, after being only 23 when we started playing again. We're not "power leveling"; we're just doing some old content, having fun, working on harvesting skills, doing some Heritage Quests for cool items, and such. We duoed a dungeon the other night. It was pretty tough - but it definitely cemented that the Inquisitor + Brigand duo is a very good combination.
Published on August 28th, 2009 @ 07:36:30 am , using 168 words, 648 views
It's an understatement, but yeah... Scythe fans are very good. I have four of the 1900 RPM version, and while they're very expensive for 120mm case fans, they move a TON of air (~75 CFM). 37-38°C idle temps, and full load just around 60°C. Now a few more days of stable operation @ stock speeds, and I'll bump BCLK up to 160 for my first overclock testing on this machine.
The machine's been great so far. Not a lot of performance gain in EQ2, since EQ2 is an aging engine and relies heavily on CPU for performance, versus leaning on the GPU like most newer games do. Old CPU was 2.93 ghz, new is 3.06 ghz, so makes sense not seeing a big performance jump. Oh it's noticeable of course, but I'm expecting much more after the overclocking is done.
When my LOTRO account was active, yeah, HUGE performance jump with the new rig as LOTRO does lean on the GPU (and I have 4 of them in the new machine...haha).
Published on August 28th, 2009 @ 06:04:52 am , using 410 words, 535 views
- Alberic and Grace, Temple Street -
With PM active (and Guild Level 30), it's been a lot of fun roaming the world of Norrath lately. :D We (after a series of mishaps!) got the FBSS HQ done last night, which was a big upgrade for both of us - and a fun quest too!
Then we went back to the Freeport area and worked on some quests that had been in her log since the game opened, more or less. One of the really cool things about EQ2's quest log is that it tracks when you received a quest. So we've both got some quests in our logs that say "Received on: 11/10/2004" and similar. So the data's there, and we wonder if anyone at SOE is crunching it. If there'll be an achievement for "oldest quest completed" or something. We've finished some old ones lately! She even had one in her log that had gone through some revisions and was no longer valid! She was able to drop it and then immediately pick up the new version though, and then complete it.
Most of the old Freeport-area quests we have all involve Fallen Gate, the first "real" dungeon you'll encounter if you level naturally in the FP area. Sure there's Wailing Caves, but Fallen Gate was always more of a "dungeon." Back in the day there were 3+ instances of it running all the time. Heh. Yeah... EQ2 has old school public dungeons, but they have population caps. So, when it hits a certain number of people, another copy spawns and you choose between them. There also used to be a really cool access quest you had to do, to even be able to go into FG. Now it's not needed though.
Anyway, it used to be really, really active - and dangerous down there. Now, of course, with Alberic being L52 and Grace L41... not so much. But it was fun combing through it, finishing up old quests, and seeing the place in full finally after all these years! We never managed to get super good groups down there so never saw the whole thing. We'd been pretty deep, sure, but not to the end!
All in all, it's been awesome playing EQ2 again!
Published on August 26th, 2009 @ 07:52:51 am , using 165 words, 503 views
Primordial Malice is finally looking like a real guild again! Last, night all at the same time, we had: Me, Grace, Rhy, Prev, Onte, Wolfgar, Omnikain, Roarak, and a new_random_invite01! It was... awesome!
This is the first time in probably 4 years we've had this many people in our community all playing the same game, and it feels good to finally have it again. :) Now if only Lum will re-sub and STAY AROUND a while!
As to the Turbine thing, I'm really not feeling the "being involved with them" thing right now, so I actually turned off my other LOTRO account and I'm done for the time being. It may change, especially given the super exciting project Turbine is likely to announce soon, but for now... The ban hurts enough that I'm done.
I also turned off the WoW account. With this many people playing EQ2 it makes a lot more sense for me to focus on EQ2 and see what we can achieve. :)
Published on August 25th, 2009 @ 06:48:11 am , using 458 words, 486 views
That gives us access to new houses, a lot more guild bank space, and I think some new mounts. Guild leveling is tough in EQ2 - if you're not a very large, very active raiding guild, it can take quite some time to gain guild levels. And with PM's on again/off again style in the game, it's taken this long. But we got there, and I was very, very happy that my wife and I were a part of the GL30 ding! Not only that, I was on the character that originally created the guild back in November of '04 when the game opened - which I also find very cool.
It's amazing what stays with you when it comes to gaming. We were talking about it last night... There's a guy in West Freeport that gives quests, name of Averus; he's a real bastard. Pretends to care about his dad being executed, but in the end only cares about money. We still remember doing his quests, and it's been about 4 years. :) Back in our early EQ1 days, we randomly grouped, for maybe 3-4 days, with a couple of Dwarves named Drost and Groflen. They were super-cool players, but they vanished after those couple of days, but we still remember them. I still use their names for Dwarf characters I make in games. One day, probably back in 2002, we grouped with some random guy in the lower levels of Kurn's Tower, and he typoed "badgers" as "badfers" ... We still jokingly say "badfers" all the time. Hehe.
Turbine told me to go fly a kite on my banning issue. I thought I'd be ok with whatever happened; it was a "last ditch" thing anyway, but when I got the email it really, frankly, sucked, and I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I've been involved with LOTRO since "Friends and Family" Alpha stage, and actually I've been involved with Turbine as long as the company has existed - I was in Asheron's Call Beta ZERO. I know I should probably suck it up and keep going on my second account, but... I just don't know.
I'm playing EQ2 with my wife (and my guild of long, long-standing friends), and I'm also playing WoW, which is good for "get in quickly" fun (and I have a Dwarf hunter, which of course rocks). So I don't know. Anyway, EQ2 and WoW are a hell of a lot of fun.
I also have some other friends that want me to play AoC with them, for some quick-n-dirty PvP (PKing, really) trouble-making. Thinking about it. Haven't decided yet. :D
... of Lian Li's included case fans. :D
Ok, so, Lian Li's cases are awesome. Wicked awesome. No one disputes that, really. But the included case fans are less than wonderful. ;) In my quest for comfy case/CPU/GPU temps, I ripped ONE of the Antec Tri-Cool fans out of my old box. These are "ok" fans, not great, but they're ok. I set it on high, and put it in one of the exhaust slots. 10°C off my load temps, and about 3-5°C off my idle temps. Massive savings on GPU temps too.
Ok, well, problem solved. It's the cheap-ass included case fans. I've got 4 Scythe S-flex 1900RPM case fans on order from Performance PCs, and they should be here Tuesday. I'll replace all of the case fans. One more Antec Tri-Cool + the 4 Scythes and I'll be golden. 2 Scythes in the exhaust positions (they move 75 CFM, they NEED to be back there!), and 2 in the forward intake spots, then the 2 Tri-Cools in the behind-the-drive-cage spots. Getting to the upper exhaust spot is going to be a pain in the ass as the screws are blocked by the CPU cooler and motherboard tray, but oh well. Need good temps. :D
Other than battling heat, the machine is incredible. I mean, not much else to say - you've seen the component spread and yeah, well, it's an i7 950 with 2x GTX 295s for video. It's ... yeah. :D
In EQ2 news, wow, at some point in the past, they re-did the Freeport Racial 'hoods and added these really goddamn cool intro quest lines that introduce you to Freeport politics and show you around the various newbie areas. These were not there when we started and are very cool. We're doing them now, her at Level 38 and me as a mentored-down-to-38 Level 50. They're still very fun, and even though they're mega-grey they're still earning us fairly scary amounts of AA and REAL XP! And it's fun. ;)
Omnikain is back to EQ2, at least for the time being, and we were glad to see him! ONTE NO LONGER HAS AN EXCUSE, AND NEEDS TO GET HER LAZY ASS RE-SUBBED!
Published on August 21st, 2009 @ 05:37:39 am , using 183 words, 39188 views
Started the boot of the Vista64 DVD at 4:54pm, and at 6:10pm I started the long copy-over of my data. That's after full Vista install and update, plus installing the motherboard and video drivers and enabling Quad SLI (and all the reboots required by all those steps). Not too bad!
It was made easier by the fact that I was using a Vista DVD with Service Pack 1 already included, plus I preloaded a USB thumb drive with the SP2 cumulative download + all my drivers.
I didn't have time to try anything super taxing. EQ2 is giving great framerates but it did before too. The EQ2 client engine is aging and doesn't perform all that well on any machine. I did fire up LOTRO and wow - yeah - ~190FPS with absolutely everything turned on and up, and that's in the middle of Bree (a hugely busy area).
Definitely happy with a no-DOA fairly smooth build. And it's reliable. Temps are not "great", but given I have 2 fire-breathing video cards sitting in there, they're probably the best I'm going to get without extreme measures.
Published on August 20th, 2009 @ 05:45:29 am , using 139 words, 497 views
Completed the physical build and a power-up check last night. Seems nothing is DOA! WOOT! I suppose the second video card could be DOA as until Vista is installed and the drivers are installed and SLI is enabled, it's just sitting there wasting power. But the CPU, RAM, mobo, and drives all seem to be functional.
I need to tidy up the wiring, button up the case, and get to installing Vista, but the worst part is the physical build and it's done.
I didn't lap the CPU or heatsink. My boss, a wise man, pointed out, that, if we were to just lap the CPU sight unseen... what if it was a DOA CPU? I'd never know, and of course, lapping violates your warranty (with no lube even). So, I'll see what I get sans lapping.
So my machine is somewhat unreliable. For about 6 months, it has been rebooting during the "Evaluating CPU Performance..." portion of the Windows Experience Index evaluation. It does this every single time, and it does it in Vista 64 and Windows 7 (64) the same. Every single time, in exactly the same spot. The thing is, it's been ONLY during WEI testing, which is... who cares? It's not heat-related; all my temps are good, well below "normal" even, as I'm not overclocking 24/7.
But recently, my temps have crept up a noticeable 3-4° C. Nothing to worry about, but it is noticeable. The real problem is, the machine will reliably hard-lock (requiring power switch/reset switch to reboot) in EQ2 fullscreen. I can play LOTRO (a more demanding game, and with all the DX10 eye-candy turned on/up!) for hours with no problem. But fullscreen EQ2, hard-lock. I can play EQ2 in a window and it's fine.
Doing some research on the web turned up a possible diagnosis of static damage to the motherboard, CPU, PSU, video card, or any/all of the above. The static in the Winter here is really freeking bad. So, we'll get a humidifier before Winter for sure.
But, unreliable machine, time to rebuild!
This time, nothing's being re-used. Well, except my DP/art-grade monitor and my input devices. But I'm rebuilding from the ground up.
Case: Lian Li PC-A70B. Aluminum full tower. This is my first Lian Li case. I've heard of them for years, always heard nothing but good things, but for some reason I've always gone with Antec cases. Well this time I wanted room to work, so I wanted a full tower and the LL came up as the best choice. After getting it in, wow, I'm glad I did. EVERYTHING is thumbscrews. Power supply? Yup, thumbscrews. Expansion card backplates? Thumbscrews. You know all the screws you get with a case, that are usually in a small ziplock bag? Well, the LL case comes with a clear plastic box with dividers in it, to organize/store all the screws. And the case is all aluminum, so even though it's a full tower it's LIGHT. Very nice.
Power Supply: OCZ Gold 1000w. Yes, I really do need a 1kw PSU. This one has modular cables, so I won't have a huge bundle of unused wires to deal with. Very nice. And the extra cables come in a very nice zippered bag to store them in.
Motherboard: EVGA X58 SLI "3-way SLI". I don't need the "super extreme" overclocking features (or the $500 price tag!) of the Classified, so I went with this one. It'll let 2x video cards run at x16 so... win.
CPU: Intel Core i7 950. Yeah, I know, blah blah blah, 920 is cheaper and overclocks the same. Blah blah blah. The 950 has more headroom and should overclock a little higher at lower voltage and thus temp, so pure win. I'm going to have it lapped, since I'm planning a 4G overclock.
Cooler: Noctua NH-U12P SE1366. Same cooler I'm using on my current machine, and I like it. The install method is nice, very secure. And when you're talking about i7 coolers, it's a near-religious war anyway. They all perform within 1-3° C of each other anyway.
RAM: 6x 2GB OCZ Gold DDR3-1600. Yup, 12GB of RAM, same as my current machine. Same memory too. It's good, reliable, and priced right.
Video Cards: 2x EVGA CO-OP Edition GTX 295. Yeah, well. :D Yes, that's FOUR GPUs. Quad SLI. No, there's no game out right now that will even remotely stress this setup. That's the point; it's future-proof. It'll run FarCry 2 @ 1920x1200 full settings at > 80 FPS.
Hard Drives: 2x Western Digital RE3 1TB drives. I have 1x of these in my current machine and it's been super reliable and is plenty fast. I'm not RAIDing them; 1 will be Vista, the other Ubuntu. Nice and easy.
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-S223B. I have the 203 now and love it. The 223 is merely the latest version. ;) It's an optical drive; not much to say. It's not time to invest in a Blu-Ray burner (for me), so just a CD/DVD burner.
Other Stuff: I also (for $12) got a Rosewill 40-in-1 bay mount card reader. I have 2 cameras, both which use different card types, and I don't have a USB reader now so use her machine to download pictures. For $12, I figured, why not solve that. I also got a NZXT Sentry LX bay-mount fan controller and LCD temp display. There's 6 fans in the LL case, and while people say they're very, very quiet, I'd like a way to control their speed. So, I got this controller. It'll only control 5 fans, but I'll link each "set" together as 1 so to the fan controller it'll look like 3 fans. The way the fans are set up, there's 2 pulling air through the front - those will be linked as 1. Then behind the hard drive cage there's 2 more pulling air further into the case, those will be linked. Then 2 exhausting air out of the case, again those will be linked.
I'm planning a 4G overclock; should be a no-brainer really on this rig. The CPU and heatsink will be lapped to control temps. Should be a fun build, actually, and I can't wait to see how it performs!
Published on August 18th, 2009 @ 06:42:39 pm , using 30 words, 532 views
Randy's rocket's booster section wasn't destroyed after all! A little bit of glue and it was ready to go again. He's going to modify it for larger motors though... :D
That's a shot of the liftoff of club member Curtis' Level 1 Certification flight! The rocket was scratch-built by him. Yes, that used to be a child's crayon shaped bank. ;) It flew on a 29mm H-class motor to about 1,000 feet and was recovered in perfect condition as required for certification! He's already planning to fly the same rocket on an I-class motor. Heh.
The launch got started a little late so we didn't get to see too many flights. Just a quick low power flight, also by Curtis, and also a video-camera-equipped rocket flight by Randy, which ended in the destruction of the booster section (camera section was fine though!)
I'm definitely planning to have my PML Callisto ready to go for the next launch, for my L1 Certification flight. I'll fly it on a 38mm H123-class motor, and it'll fly to over 3,000 feet. Recovery should be... interesting!
This weekend we also started engaging in a new outdoor hobby. It's called Geocaching (click link for all the details you could ever want). Basically, you have a portable GPS unit (ones made for hikers and hunters and the like are best), and then a set of coordinates, and you go there, and try to find the container someone has hidden. Inside there's a logbook and sometimes objects you can exchange. It's pretty fun, and can show you areas you would never never known about. For example here in Lafayette in a wealthy subdivision, hidden by a lot of trees, there's a HUGE gorge spanned by a concrete bridge. Would've never known!
Sometimes the coordinates purposely don't lead you to the cache, and instead a set of clues are provided, which you have to figure out in order to find the cache. Those are very fun!
Geocaching is pretty popular; there are over 200 caches just in a 12 mile radius from our zip code, and we're not a "huge" metro area at all. I'll probably report in on particularly interesting ones from time to time.