hardware comments edit

WARNING I’m going to explain a total hack here that worked for me. If you do this, any consequences are totally on you. I’m not responsible if your hardware gets fried.

I have a Synology Diskstation DS1010+ with… loud fans. It’s old, the fans are starting to sound like a rock tumbler. For the life of me, I can’t find a quiet fan alternative. I can replace the fans with the same ones I already have, but they’ve always been kind of loud.

Unfortunately, the fans in the DS1010+ are the kind that detect locked rotors.

Let me explain.

Fans for computers come in three-wire or four-wire varieties. Let’s focus on three-wire because that’s what the DS1010+ and many other systems use.

The three wires are sometimes:

  • Red: Power
  • Black: Ground
  • Yellow: Fan speed sensor

However, server fans usually don’t control the speed this way; instead they want to detect if the fan is dead. So the three wires there are:

  • Red: Power
  • Black: Ground
  • Yellow: Locked rotor detection

What’s important to know about the locked rotor signal is that if the signal is grounded then the server thinks the fan is still spinning. Alarms don’t go off, things work as normal. When the rotors get locked, power comes out that yellow cable and that’s when the alarms sound.

I bought really nice be quiet! cooling fans that are totally quiet… but they have a speed sensor on the yellow wire, not locked rotor detection.

This caused the Diskstation to generate all sorts of fan alarms - flashing lights, emails, beeping, the whole thing. You can search for this in forums, lots of people see it. You can silence the beeping and stop the emails, but you’ll still periodically get a yellow flashing light on the side, the fans spin up like jet engines, and alerts show up in the UI. No, thanks.

I tried building this circuit that someone figured out that would fake the rotor lock. Either I did it wrong or I have yet different fans than that person has. Point being, that was some time I’ll never get back.

The missing piece is that info about grounding. I found it on that page:

As long as it is rotating, the signal pin is tied to ground, but left floating once the rotor stopped spinning (the output stage of these types of fans is of an open collector type and pulled up by the main board. Hence, “floating” is equivalent to “high”).

I don’t really care if the Diskstation, at this point in its way-past-the-warranty life, alerts me about the fans. They’re gonna work. It’ll be fine. I just need the beeping to stop.

The answer: clip the yellow wire between the fan and the main board. On the side that comes from the fan, just bundle it up so it doesn’t make contact with anything. On the side that connects to the main board, connect the other end of the yellow wire to the case somewhere that’s grounded.

WARNING I’ll again warn you, this works for me. If it doesn’t work for you and things overheat and your house burns down or you lose all your data, that’s not my fault. Do this at your own risk!

Here’s a picture:

Ground the yellow wire!

I did this with both fans in the Diskstation and it’s been quiet for days.

I also did this with an HP ProCurve 2810-24G switch - the fans in there are like jet engines, no joke. You can’t be in the room with the thing. Swapped them out for some nice equivalent Noctua fans and it’s so quiet… but it also required that I ground the yellow wire or it would fill up error logs and lights would flash.

Now I have new quiet fans, no alarms, and things are working great.

FINAL WARNING Last time, if you do this, it’s all at your own risk!

personal comments edit

I live on the west coast of the US so while I’d been to Disneyland in California a few times, I hadn’t been to Disney World. We decided this year was the time to take that trip.

We stayed at Kidani Village, which is a resort in the Animal Kingdom portion of Disney World. It was pretty cool because outside the room (well, air-gapped, so your room, then a fence, then some space, then another fence) are animals like zebras, ostriches, and ankole cattle. Depending on the room, there may be giraffes and other animals.

The first thing that struck me about Disney World is the sheer scale. It’s 44 square miles all told - the resorts, the parks, everything. That means everything in general is big. It was a quarter mile between the lobby and our room. At the end of a tired day, that’s a full five minute walk.

I filmed the walk. Watch it and be amazed.

The first day was a travel day. It’s about five and a half hours to fly from one side of the US to the other. We basically landed, went to dinner, and crashed.

The second day was spent in Hollywood Studios. This is roughly equivalent to California Adventure by Disneyland. The majority of the day was spent in Black Spire Outpost, the Star Wars section of the park.

I could spend a whole day in Black Spire Outpost. The whole thing is so immersive, so well done. If you are a Star Wars fan at all, this is the coolest thing ever. The cast members there are in character, stormtroopers randomly patrol the streets, sometimes Chewbacca just walks by. At night it’s lit up and is gorgeous. You can look around and you’d never know you were in a Disney park.

We pretty much bought everything they sold here. Take my credits! We built a lightsaber, we built a custom droid, we adopted a pet, we bought literally every drink they sold in the cantina. We had the blue milk with and without alcohol.

I would say the “can’t miss” items here are flying the Falcon and building the lightsaber.

The Falcon flight is sort of short but is super fun, something any Star Wars fan has wanted to do forever. There’s a photo op area inside where you can take your picture at the chess table.

Sitting in the Millennium Falcon

The ride is actually responsive to the controls, like a video game, not just a ride on rails. You have to work as a four-person team to capture some cargo. One pilot controls left/right, one controls up/down. There’s a gunner to take care of incoming bad guys and an engineer who is in charge of nabbing the cargo from a moving ship.

Building a lightsaber is… it’s like participating in a live action version of a scene from Star Wars. It takes place in “Savi’s Workshop,” where some “junk gatherers” guide you through the process of building a custom lightsaber.

Savi's Workshop

The cast members there give you a speech about the various Jedi who carried the different saber colors and what each color conveys. The whole speech is timed to this background music that plays like a soundtrack and changes with the mood. As they talk about each color, the lights in the room change to reflect it. Voices of the Jedi speak like ghosts from beyond.

The build itself is fairly straightforward but you probably won’t be prepared for how heavy the saber hilt is. It’s like two pounds. It’s solid metal around a plastic holder that handles the electronics.

The kyber crystal you put in the saber is also interesting. It controls both the color of the blade as well as the sounds the saber makes when it moves, turns on, and turns off. You can get different crystals at the shop (naturally) and if you swap them into your lightsaber it will change the colors and sounds - it’s not that you need a different blade or anything.

Further, you can get these little boxes called “holocrons” where you can put a crystal into the box and it’ll glow the color of the crystal and share “stored knowledge” (recorded lines from various movie characters) associated with the crystal.

Anyway, do the Millennium Falcon flight and make a lightsaber. It’s sweet.

Jenn pried me away from Star Wars land for a little at the end of that day and we rode some of the Pixar rides. Slinky Dog Dash is a pretty good little coaster.

That night we went to the “Jingle Bell Jingle BAM!” dessert party, which was basically an all-you-can-eat dessert bar with some interesting holiday treats, a meet-and-greet with Chip and Dale, and front row seats for a really cool music and light show. It was super fun and even after a whole day of walking, Phoenix was dancing through the show.

The second day was spent at Animal Kingdom. I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. There’s a safari style ride where they drive you around through a preserve and you can see the animals there. It reminds me a lot of Wildlife Safari in southern Oregon. Really fun, really interesting.

The “Expedition Everest” ride here is pretty fun, a decent roller coaster. I’d recommend hitting this one if you get there.

We didn’t get to see a lot of the shows, but we did find Kevin from Up! running around the park and dancing to bands playing in various areas.

Day three was Epcot. Hmmm.

If you go, unless you’re a real foodie, try to avoid the Food and Wine Festival. This brings in a lot of folks who really want to “drink around the world” and wear reasonably annoying - if not obnoxious - group t-shirts talking about how drunk they’re going to get. If you go during the Food and Wine Festival, try to go on a day with crappy weather rather than nice, clear, sunny weather. If you have to go during the Food and Wine Festival and you end up with beautiful weather, by all you deem holy try not to go on a holiday weekend.

We hit the trifecta. It was so packed. Like SO SO SO PACKED. People were just there getting trashed and we’re not the only ones who noticed. I heard rumor that there was a fight amongst the drunks.

It doesn’t help that most of the “foodie food” isn’t palatable to the eight-year-old set, so finding “regular kid food” which consists of chicken tenders, cheese pizza, or some similar bland-yet-kid-standard fare is a lot of walking.

We spent the majority of the time either looking for kid-friendly food [which didn’t require standing in an hour-or-more line] or hanging in the other area of the park where “Mission Space” and “Spaceship Earth” are. We did enjoy these rides but I’d like to go back and see the countries at Epcot when there aren’t a bunch of people trashing it up.

Days four and five were Magic Kingdom. This is basically the same as original Disneyland. Most of the rides are the same. There are a couple of rides Disneyland doesn’t have, like the Peoplemover and the Carousel of Progress. Some rides are slightly different, too, like “It’s a Small World” and the Haunted Mansion are both just a little different.

The one thing I’ll focus on is the tiki room. I love the Enchanted Tiki Room. We go to Disneyland, I look forward to grabbing a Dole Whip and heading into a kitschy show of 50’s audio-animatronic birds. It makes my heart smile. They changed the show in Disney World so it doesn’t have the fountain in the middle and the birds seem different, not as retro or cartoon looking. It wasn’t the same and I was disappointed.

We did attend the Very Merry Holiday Party and that was really cool. The Magic Kingdom park closes to the public at 6:00 PM for these and guests with party tickets can stay until midnight. They have stands handing out cookies, hot cocoa, and cider. Rides change to holiday themes like “Jingle Cruise.” Space Mountain lights and music all switch to holiday music. It’s insane and awesome.

The last day was a half day at Hollywood Studios where we saw the rides we didn’t see the first time around. The Tower of Terror is my all-time favorite ride, so I’m glad we got to ride it again. (I’m sort of sad they changed the one in California to be Guardians of the Galaxy theme.) We also saw the Aerosmith “Rock n Roller Coaster” which was a great ride, too.

The remainder of that last day was travel back home. Another long flight.

In all, this was a great vacation. It was worth doing once, and I’d love to go back in the future to see more of Animal Kingdom and Epcot. In the meantime, I definitely need another Star Wars hit and original Disneyland in California will be much more affordable for me on my side of the country.

Also, it wouldn’t have happened if Jenn hadn’t planned the whole thing and watched altogether too many YouTube videos on where to eat, where to stay, how to take advantage of all the deals, and so on. She’s amazing and both Phoe and I owe her a debt for all the work she put into it.

Finally, if you want to see a walkthrough of how much Disney got us for, here’s an overview of all the stuff we got.

process, culture comments edit

Microsoft Teams is a collaborative communications tool in the same vein as Slack. You get your logical ‘teams’ together, folks chat and collaborate in ‘channels,’ and somehow that open office plan your company loves so much is totally justified because just look at that collaboration in action.

I’m a Slack guy. I like Slack over Teams for a few reasons which will probably become clear as I go through this.

The topic of the day is: CONVERSATIONS.

Teams organizes discussions around “conversations.” A conversation is sort of like the first post in a forum thread. It sets the topic of the conversation and replies on that conversation are attached chronologically to that conversation.

This is interesting to understand because it’s very, very different than Slack or other group chat solutions. In a group chat, messages are generally the first-class object. Slack added “threads” that approximate this conversation concept, but it’s still not the same.

Let’s say you want to search for something that was said six months ago. You remember a few key words and want to see the context.

In Slack, you’ll search, find the message, and when you click it you’ll see the message in chronological context of the rest of the messages. You can scroll up and down to find what you need, follow that thread to the next chronological conversation, or follow it back to see what led to the discussion in the first place.

In Teams, you’ll search, find the message, and when you click it you’ll see the conversation that contains the message. Just that conversation. It may not even pop you to the message itself, depending on if you’re lucky or if Teams is misbehaving. Outside of the conversation, there’s no chronological context. What else was discussed that day? Who’s to say?

Now let’s say you want to reply to a discussion that was being had earlier. You thought of something to add and you want to mention it.

In Slack, you can scroll back in the timeline to find the message. You can start a thread from that, or you can grab some text from it, quote it, and add your info to the main channel. Either way, pretty easy to find the earlier conversation.

In Teams, the timeline is not arranged chronologically. At least, not the way you might think. The timeline is ordered by “most recently replied to” conversation. If someone replies to a conversation, that conversation jumps to the bottom of your timeline as “most recent.” The conversation may have started a year ago, if someone comments on it, it’s suddenly most recent.

This means a couple of things in Teams that aren’t necessarily obvious:

  • Search is the only real way to find things. You can’t just scroll back necessarily and see the history.
  • You can never say “scroll up about X lines to see what was said” because… “up” isn’t up. The timeline dynamically rearranges on you so as soon as someone responds to that earlier conversation, everything appears in a different order.

What all this yields is that it’s important to know when to continue an existing conversation and when to start a new one.

That’s a really, really hard thing to do because conversation can be organic. However, you sort of have to “run the conversation” the way you “run a meeting” - curbing things that are off topic or getting folks to start new topics.

Why?

Let’s say there’s a conversation someone starts about the weather in Florida. It’s nice, sunny, might rain next week. That conversation goes for a while, talking about weather patterns and seasons. Then you see something like this:

Bob: The sun can really beat down and hit hard.

Alice: The sun is why my favorite season there is Summer.

Bob: It sure means a hot baseball season, though. I can barely get out to games in that heat.

Carl: How are the Marlins doing recently? I saw they traded pitchers.

Bob: They did, and now they’re not doing so well.

Carl: Maybe they should watch that movie Moneyball where they make smarter trades based on stats.

Bob: You could be right. I did see that the Yankees made a good trade this week.

The topic is “weather in Florida” but suddenly has now been totally derailed by a side conversation about baseball.

At first, you might think, “Who cares? It’s not that big of a deal.”

Well, sort of, and sort of not.

Let’s say this is a long conversation. Let’s also say it’s not about inconsequential topics, but about decisions being made for your business.

In six months, you want to go back and find out what was decided. You do a search… and remember how search results show you conversations not messages? You click on the search result and you’re presented with a wall of text where you have to do a manual search to get past all the totally unrelated junk.

This is generally not helped by the fact Teams “conveniently” hides the main body of longer conversations requiring you to click and expand them. Only the last few replies in a conversation are displayed.

It’s a real challenge in Teams when conversations and collaboration become organic like this. Sometimes it’s good to let open-ended discussions flow, and if there’s a conversation started where that’s intentional, great. Some meetings are like that, too. On the other hand, if you have a conversation on “standards for writing documentation” and someone derails it with argumentation about Oxford comma usage and “Hey, I went to Oxford!” and “Oh, really, were you born there or did you go overseas for college?” then things fall apart quickly: Search results become useless, notifications about changes to the conversation become useless, and the timeline rearranges to show the conversation has been updated with off-topic content.

If you’re trying to make the most of your time in a large set of teams and channels, one or two of these isn’t a problem but everyone taking conversations into odd directions makes managing time and discussion very hard.

Finally, it doesn’t help that chats don’t have conversations. If you get into a group chat then it’s like a standard app - it’s chronological, the timeline doesn’t rearrange, etc. It’s different if you’re in team channels. If you’re switching between chats and channels a lot, this can be really jarring.

“Couldn’t you just get everyone to agree to not use the conversations?” The idea here being if everyone used “conversations” as “individual messages” then the problems go away. I’ve tried this, and if you’re only scrolling this works fine. It breaks down if anyone, at any time, forgets and does a reply to a conversation rather than posting a new message. Any reply and the timeline rearranges. It’s done. Further, search won’t work because you can’t see conversations in relation to each other, so all you will ever get in search results is that one message.

All of this is basically why I like Slack far, far better. The organic conversation flows better, you can start threads if you want but you don’t have to, search works… it’s generally better for how I work.

halloween, costumes comments edit

This year we had 190 trick-or-treaters. This amount is about average for us.

2019: 190
trick-or-treaters.

Average Trick-or-Treaters by Time Block

Year-Over-Year Trick-or-Treaters

Halloween was on a Thursday and and the weather was fairly clear. We had some friends come over so there was a small group who went out walking the streets for candy and another small group who stayed home and handed out candy. I was in the “stay home” group.

I noticed I don’t have 2017 or 2018 data.

In 2017 we were doing a fairly major downstairs remodel and didn’t hand out candy. There was a bunch of construction stuff in the driveway that we didn’t want kids getting into or trying to scoot past.

We did hand out candy in 2018 and I’m sure we tallied it but I have no idea where that tally went. I didn’t even blog my costume from last year (I went as Doctor Strange). My mind is going.

Cumulative data:

  Time Block
Year 6:00p - 6:30p 6:30p - 7:00p 7:00p - 7:30p 7:30p - 8:00p 8:00p - 8:30p Total
2006 52 59 35 16 0 162
2007 5 45 39 25 21 139
2008 14 71 82 45 25 237
2009 17 51 72 82 21 243
2010 19 77 76 48 39 259
2011 31 80 53 25 0 189
2013 28 72 113 80 5 298
2014 19 54 51 42 10 176
2015 13 14 30 28 0 85
2016 1 59 67 57 0 184
2019 1 56 59 41 33 190

Our costumes this year:

costumes, personal, halloween comments edit

For Halloween 2019 I decided to make a Star Trek II “Monster Maroon” costume. This is the dress uniform you see folks wearing in the Star Trek II through IV movies.

October 26, 2019: The complete costume (front)

I’ve wanted one for quite some time, so I went for it. I figured folks might be interested in some of the process to get this done.

Research

First, I did a lot of research. I track my research in a Google Doc and I have a folder where I save relevant images and things that I find online that can help. This is a lot of time, searching, finding images, following links, reading on forum posts, looking at movie frames for reference.

I determined that my complete costume would have:

  • Jacket
  • Pants
  • Shirt (the white puffy neck/arm one)
  • Chest insignia
  • Shoulder strap rank pin
  • Shoulder strap security device
  • Left sleeve rank pin
  • Left sleeve “pips and squeaks”
  • Belt
  • Boots
  • Phaser

I figured I’d want a phaser but I didn’t need a communicator. Too many handheld props and nowhere to put them.

I decided this broke down as such:

  • Items to sew:
    • Jacket
    • Pants
    • Shirt
    • Belt
  • Buy or 3D print:
    • Shoulder strap rank pin
    • Shoulder strap security device
    • Left sleeve rank pin
    • Left sleeve “pips and squeaks”
    • Belt buckle
    • Phaser

I skipped the boots because I already had some I planned on reusing. Not perfect, but good enough and it already appeared like a lot of work.

The Anovos version of this costume provided invaluable from a reference photo standpoint. It’s not “screen worn” but it does show how things should roughly line up and helped a lot.

This forum also has some great photos and info that I used while figuring things out.

Cost Breakdown

The probably-incomplete itemized parts list so I can scare myself when I see what got spent:

Item Cost
Jacket pattern $24.95
Pants pattern $18.95
Shirt pattern $14.95
Shoulder strap clasp $7.95
S&H for patterns and clasp $12.95
Fabric swatches for jacket, pants $11.75
Burgundy gabardine, 4 yd (jacket, pants stripes) $26.21
White gabardine (2.75 yd) $9.99
Black gabardine (4 yd) $15.98
Ivory four-way stretch fabric (shirt, 5 yd) $59.97
Thread $25.95
Black bias tape $15.54
Gold bias tape $2.79
Interfacing $1.74
Muslin $22.71
Batting (for shirt and jacket puffy sleeves) $4.97
Snaps $1.99
Stitch Witchery $2.49
Invisible zipper for shirt $2.99
Invisible zipper for pants $4.99
Shoulder pads $4.49
Silver chain $6.38
Spandex $23.78
Knit ribbing for pants cuff $5.99
Black broadcloth (pocket interior, 0.5 yd) $1.00
Black lining (1.5 yd) $5.99
Belt buckle (eBay) $20.99
2” elastic (pants waist, 2yd) $5.99
Gold soutache cord $7.48
Spray paint $50.00
TOTAL $421.90

To soften the blow, I have to consider that I have some fabric left over and I didn’t use all of the thread or bias tape, so I have some I can use on other projects. I also had a few things already that I didn’t have to buy, like white thread, so it ends up kind of evening out.

The shirt fabric would have been half that price but I hosed it up and had to make it twice. Yeah, I’ll get there.

Unless otherwise listed, the vast majority of this went to Joann Fabrics and Crafts. I didn’t break out how much I “saved” using coupons or whatever so it’s not precise. And, of course, there’s stuff you don’t think about - the black bias tape finishes all the seams on the inside, so I used way more than I thought I’d need; I really screwed things up a couple of times and had to remake a couple of pieces, so used more fabric than I thought. That sort of thing.

I didn’t count my time as something that costs, but there was a lot of time here. Calendar time isn’t equal to effort time, though - I work on these things mostly for a few hours on the weekend or on a night or two each week after work. Getting that “me time” is really helpful for me psychologically and I think it makes me less generally cranky. But I don’t know how much “effort time” went in here.

Finally, the patterns - these are as close to screen accurate as you can find. They’re built from real screen-worn costumes as much as possible. However, the instructions are terrible. I don’t care if you’ve done one of the “advanced” patterns from Vogue, this isn’t how you expect. There are missing steps, duplicate steps, one small paragraph where you really need a lot… there’s one step on the pants which is basically, “OK, now put in the waistband.” No photos, no description. It’s like someone giving you an Ikea cabinet and not labeling anything. Just sorta figure it out! This caused a lot of difficulty. Now that I’ve done it once, I see how it should be so I could do it again if needed. I also see how to make it better.

The Phaser

I couldn’t find an affordable phaser and Thingiverse didn’t have quite what I wanted, so I ended up having to make my own using Autodesk Fusion 360. I used reference photos and tried to trace the shape as close as possible.

My first draft looked OK, but was pretty plain.

June 10, 2019: First draft of my phaser

I started adding some details, moving some things around.

June 17, 2019: Iterating over the phaser

After a month or so, in mid-June I finally got something I was happy with and it looked pretty good painted up. If you’d like to make one, I put the model on Thingiverse for free.

July 1, 2019: Final version of the phaser

The Security Device

I followed a similar process as my phaser for the security device. Research tells me the actual screen-used one is a kit-bashed tank wheel from some plastic model kit. I used photos of the screen used props as well as a commercially available replica to create my model. If you want to make one of these, I put the model on Thingiverse for free.

The security device was done about a month after the phaser at the end of July.

July 26, 2019: Iterating over the security device

The Shirt

I started the shirt around the same time as the security device (early July), right after the phaser was finished. I had tried making a muslin version to determine the right size, and while I found the right size around and dove in, it turned out it wasn’t long enough for my torso. I moved too quick with the muslin one to realize I had forgotten to hem it, which shortens it up by an inch or so. Dammit. I had to throw out the whole shirt and start over because you can’t “add length” to the bottom of a shirt.

I also remade the sleeves and neck several times to try to get the “puffiness” right. Luckily these are separate pieces that fit on so when I saw they weren’t right I noticed before they were attached and saved having to remake the shirt more times.

One of the items in the parts list is Stitch Witchery. This is sort of like “fabric tape” - you put it between two pieces of fabric, iron them, and they stick together. That’s how the hem in the shirt works and looks “stitch-free.”

It took about a month (end of July) to get the shirt done.

July 28, 2019: The finished shirt

The Belt

Making the belt was actually pretty easy. I had some vinyl left over from a different costume, so I wrapped the vinyl around some batting and stitched it up. I think this took maybe an hour.

However, the belt buckle was a struggle. I really wanted to 3D print one since I was so deep into making things, but I found that the PLA plastic can’t hold up to the strain of keeping a belt together. The little hook that keeps the belt closed simply breaks, even if it’s solid PLA. I ended up getting a metal belt buckle from eBay and calling it good.

August 2, 2019: The finished belt

The Pants

I started with muslin for the pants which saved a lot of effort. I found that the size I thought I’d need was actually just a little too small.

The pants were my first run-in with how problematic the pattern instructions really are. There are no pattern markings, so when you’re trying to put in pockets which are “optional” you really don’t know how that’s supposed to go. The leg stripes ended up getting made a couple of times because the description of how to make them didn’t actually yield a result that matched the required measurements.

August 24, 2019: Sewing stripes for the pants

The waistband is my biggest gripe in all of this. There are fully four different ways you could make the waistband, each of which is a single paragraph that doesn’t explain enough about what has to happen, and there are no pictures. I sort of muscled something functional into place and I’m absolutely not happy with it. But I decided to skip remaking them (for now) in favor of getting the rest of the costume done.

It took another month (end of August) to get the pants done.

August 25, 2019: Finished shirt and pants

The Jacket

I also started the jacket with a muslin version and, knowing what I know about how short the shirt turned out, decided to add some length both to the arms and the torso.

As noted in the pants section, there are no pattern markings at all, so figuring out where to length pieces (as well as which pieces need to be lengthened) was entirely manual. It also assumed you know how the whole pattern comes together, which I only sort of did. I guessed pretty well and ended up only having to re-cut one piece.

September 6, 2019: Cutting pieces for the jacket

By the end of the first week of September I had all the jacket pieces cut.

September 8, 2019: All jacket pieces cut

The black piping that runs down the sides of the back is all handmade by wrapping cord with bias tape.

September 10, 2019: Starting the jacket piping

Once it’s done, it looks pretty good.

September 14, 2019: The jacket piping is done

There’s some quilting that gets done on the end of each sleeve. My sewing machine doesn’t have one-inch markings up to the four inches required so I used some painter’s tape to make some temporary lines.

September 15, 2019: Quilting the sleeve ends

There’s a white stripe that goes on the left sleeve. This was another instructions challenge. The instructions say to assemble this with Stitch Witchery and attach it to the sleeve.

Problem 1: The stripe has batting in it to make it puffy. You can’t iron batting or it flattens out. Stitch Witchery needs to be ironed on high to adhere. Soooooo that’s not going to work.

Problem 2: The stripe pattern only gives you about 0.25” - 0.5” of working length on each end of the stripe. You rip open the seam on the back of the sleeve, insert one end of the stripe, wrap it around the sleeve (which is all puffy and quilted), and insert the other end of the stripe. With that small amount of working length, it doesn’t really work.

I ended up creating a “tube” of white cloth, using Stitch Witchery to adhere the black and gold bias tape on the sides, then taking the puffy batting and sliding it into the cloth tube. Totally not the way the directions explain it (or roughly diagram it) but the only way I could get it to work.

September 18, 2019: Making the left sleeve stripe

After all the stripes and quilting the sleeves were done.

September 21, 2019: Sleeves are done (front view)

September 21, 2019: Sleeves are done (back view)

The next part is the front facings - those white bits that are on the inside of the jacket.

September 22, 2019: Starting the front jacket facings

The gabardine frays really bad on the edges so you can’t see how cool it really is until it’s finished with the bias tape.

All the chain detail and snaps to hold the front together are hand sewn.

September 22, 2019: Stitching chain details to the facing edge

Once all that work is done, the jacket flap is complete! I added a snap close to the left armpit to hold the right side of the jacket in place as you close it. It seemed to be hard to keep in place otherwise; the pattern didn’t call for any of that, though.

September 28, 2019: The front jacket flap is complete

The shoulder strap is another “tube filled with batting” situation. Once you have that done, gold soutache gets sewn to the edges and the clasp goes on.

September 29, 2019: Making the shoulder strap

Looks pretty good once it’s attached.

September 29, 2019: The shoulder strap attached

There’s very little description in the pattern on how to put the lining in. There’s actually a whole step missing where it seems there’s an assumption that the lining gets inserted “somewhere around here” but no explanation of how it gets attached.

There’s no pattern requirement for shoulder pads, but the shoulders didn’t sit right without them so I added that. I can’t imagine there weren’t shoulder pads in the screen worn costumes.

Finally, because the gabardine frays so horribly, I finished it off using a Hong Kong seam with bias tape. I think it looks really good - finished without a full lining.

October 3, 2019: Jacket lining is complete

After the inside was done, it was time to attach pins, starting with the shoulder strap security device.

October 6, 2019: Security device attached to the shoulder strap

I made these “pips and squeaks” in a couple of hours on the 3D printer based on some reference measurements and photos. If you want to make these, I put the models on Thingiverse for free.

They’re placed in the same manner as Kirk had them in Star Trek 2. However, you’ll also possibly notice my rank pins and the rest of the uniform are Captain, not Admiral, while Kirk was an Admiral in ST2. I’m a little Spock and a little Kirk here. It’s not intended to be an exact replica of either.

October 7, 2019: Pips and squeaks attached to the sleeve

Overall, the jacket ran from early September to early October, so about a month.

Chest Badge

The chest badge gave me a lot of grief and was where a lot of paint and time went.

I found a pretty good Thingiverse model for the badge and figured I’d “just need to paint it.”

I learned a lot about painting here.

  • Don’t try to dilute acrylic enamel with water if you’re hand-painting it. It’ll leave air bubbles and look really lumpy.
  • Reflective metallic spray paint is really hard to work with. It can take days to set, and even then may still leave fingerprints you can’t buff out if you touch it.
  • You can’t really coat a metallic spray paint with anything. Polyurethane causes the paint to get darker because it changes the reflective properties. Lacquer doesn’t change the color but dulls it a lot.
  • Frog Tape is amazing masking tape. It’s expensive but worth it.

What I did was paint the inside bits - ivory and gray - then mask those parts off for the final metallic coat.

October 17, 2019: Masking the chest badges for painting

As you can see, I did several tests. The top one is a glittery but not too shiny paint and hand-painted insides. It’s not too smooth, but the paint doesn’t leave fingerprints. The second one has an airbrushed interior but I tried covering the reflective gold with a clear coat. The third one is an airbrushed interior with that original not-too-shiny metallic paint. The fourth one is the one I ended up using and just choosing to “not touch it” - airbrushed interior, reflective metal paint.

By the time I’d dealt with this I realize I probably should have just bought the damn badge for $20 and called it good. I did that with my rank pins. I dunno. I guess it turned into a mission.

October 19, 2019: Iterating over the chest badges

Final Product

When all was said and done, from a calendar perspective I spent four-and-a-half months on this (early June to mid-October) but I think it turned out fantastic.

October 26, 2019: The complete costume (front)

October 26, 2019: The complete costume (back)