Relearning CAD

22.23.27 - Mark

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been knocking together a few tables. Nothing special, a few small workshop tables, a desk side table for a photo printer and scanner, and most recently a work bench for a local non-profit.

In a consumerist country, I absolutely could purchase all of those tables. Light weight, standard sizes, virtually no labor involved. However attractive folding tables are rare and subsequently tend to be expensive (if they’re even for sale) and the relatively weak commercial ones cost more than the lumber for a larger, stronger table that, if you have access to a few power tools, can be built in a few hours.

As someone who has a decent workshop, and a bit of a collection of nails, bolts, screws, and an assortment of other hardware my parents have amassed over a few decades, my only real costs was for lumber and my time.

While I didn’t dream up the plans on my own (I largely drew from The Wood Whisperer?s Outfeed Table video when I wasn’t reverse engineering an existing bench table) I did have to run out the math on my separate projects. Figure out the layout and assemble and figure out the cut list so I wouldn’t overstock myself.
Now, as much as I enjoy technology, on these projects I usually pick up a pad of Doane Paper (Grid + Line paper = Awesome) and draw out my plan. While I do take electronics into the work shop, next to a table saw or drill press, a good pencil and a pad of paper is both far safer and more user friendly than a laptop.

However after finishing the project, a couple people asked me about making more of them, and while I could redraw the plans or throw it on a copier, I decided to fire up SketchUp.

It’s been a few years since I last played with it, and what I remember about it was mostly not getting it to work well. 3D is nice, but my high school drafting class was basic 2D. However a few videos, a bit of playing, and a handful of restarts, I managed to draw out the plans. I doubt I’ll play with SketchUp enough to plan out masterpieces, but for the right job, it’s a decent (free) tool (once you figure out how to use it effectivly).

Parts List
Cut List

Hand drawn plans (JPG, 1910px x 1463px)
Rendered Plan (JPG, 1215px x 942px)
Table SketchUp File (67.9 kb)

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Back when stuffit didn't suck...

23.44.07 - Mark

There's used to be a reason Mac software developers used to always archive their programs with stuffit. Back before OS X came to town with it's cool unix underpinnings, stuffit and .sit archives were the only effective game in town for bundling up Macintosh files. Back then you couldn't find a mac that didn't have some version of stuffit, and any power user usually had a few copies and a dozen aliases for it on their hard drive. It used to be a friendly reliable application that somehow, as soon as OS X came into town, turned into an absolute monster of a program.

The makers started nagging users for the software, begging them to download and pay for the latest version. They started introducing new archive formats into an already crowed (and long established) field. You can't even download it unless you give them permission to spam you with shitty software notices.

I don't remember the last time I didn't have to fight with stuff it to expand a file, let alone the last time I desired to make a stuffit archive.

Betweens zips and gzip, and tarballs in OS X's unix roots there's no need for sits anymore. Any remainging advantages sit files had could easily be passed off to an installer package or a very competent disk image file. yet, for some bizarre reason, people still release macintosh files as Sit archives, and every time I need those files, I end up fighting with stuff it to work.

Please, developers, give up on stuffit and stick to the standards. Apple's DMG, the cross platform ZIP, or the unix-y tar.gz etc. It's a real hassle when I have to install / run truly horrible software to install you software, and I'm getting to the point where the stuff it files aren't worth it

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Computer Merit Badge Circa 1969

00.00.00 - Mark

The Boy Scouts of America have had Computers Merit Badge since 1967, and the old book is pretty amazing. Beautiful fonts, weird photos, even some really neat looking projects. Not everything is horribly inaccurate (considering it predates the Altair 8800 and the personal computer revolution by over 5 years) Even some of the original requirements are still in the modern version! I'm going to have to look for some other old requirement books for merit badges, I'm sure there's some neat stuff to dig up. Here's a PDF of the book (mirrored copy from Dave's Old Computers)

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