Radical Bomb

The homepage for Steve Radabaugh

A Swarm of Pis

In general, I try to keep my posts written in a way that non-tech people can follow along. This one I’m probably going to go a bit deep.

This is my Raspberry Pi cluster. They’re running a Docker swarm. Docker is a software that allows computers to run programs in a sort of jail where they cannot interact with things outside of their container unless specifically allowed to do so. Since these are running Docker in a swarm mode, they can move applications from one raspberry pi to another in order to balance the workload amongst all of them.

Here’s a graphic that shows the 4 Raspberry Pis and the software running on each one.

Raspberry Pis are great little computers for projects, but they’re a bit unreliable for storage. So last week I finally got them working with saving all of the data for these containerized programs onto my network storage. It’s using NFS, and while it should have been easy to set up, it was a pain. Now, things are pretty well set up that if one of the Raspberry Pis goes down, all of the programs running on it should just migrate over to a different Raspberry Pi.

Now I just need to learn about more cool software packages to run on these.

Cool Stuff • January 17, 2022


The Birdle is the Wordle

You’ve probably seen posts similar to the one above on your social media in the past week or so. This is a game that’s gained popularity quickly in the last couple of weeks called Wordle. Each day is a unique puzzle where you have to guess a word. The colored blocks tell you if the letters in the word you guessed are right. If they’re yellow, they’re in the word somewhere, if they’re green, they’re in the right spot. You have 6 total tries to get it right.

What I find super interesting about this game is that there are 3 things that really work towards its current popularity. The first is that there is only 1 puzzle a day creating a feeling of artificial scarcity and making it like a quick snack that you can enjoy and get back to your day. The second thing is that everyone in the world is doing the same puzzle for the day. The third is that it’s really easy to share your results so that everyone who plays can know how you did. So you can see above that today I got the word right after 6 guesses.

Cool Stuff Video Games • January 13, 2022


A Tour of my Office

I finally got some blinds up in my office today, and since it’s new, I thought I would show it off.

Here’s the desk where I do any of my remote support and coding and general email and whatnot. The hexagons above the monitors are sound dampening to help with echos. They’re especially helpful when I’m on zoom calls. The actual desk is the podium that I build when I was teaching. I’ll probably eventually replace it with a new one built to match the workbench that’s opposite it.

This workbench is where I do PC and Phone repair and any other electronic work. The art piece hanging there is one I picked up last summer at GenCon. The wood for the counter came from my inlaws. It’s all wood from their property in Ohio.

This is my 3D printing station. Just the 1 printer so far. If I can figure out a way to make some money from 3D printing, then I’ll add some more. The sound damping tiles here are more for decoration than anything as there aren’t enough in this spot to make much of a difference.

This is just the North wall. I’m planning on putting something under the TV that’s hanging there. Probably a little table with a printer on it or something. The chairs will eventually be replaced with a little couch.

Cool Stuff • January 12, 2022


State of VR

This last week, Sony revealed the specs for the PlayStation VR2, the follow-up to their previous headset. I thought this would be a good time to look at the various Virtual Reality options and what’s available.

I currently have an Oculus Rift S. It’s the most recent product in the Rift family and it’s discontinued. At this point, it’s pretty clear that Meta (Facebook) has dropped the Rift family in favor of the Quest. The Quest 2 is their current device, and it sold really well over the holidays. It originally came out in October of 2020, so it hasn’t been around that long. I suspect that it sold well over the holidays due to the lack of stock for new PlayStations and Xboxes. Also, I’ve heard that they’re really pushing it via commercials.

What really differentiates the Quest and Quest 2 from other products is that they are standalone. My Rift S along with other headsets like the HTC Vive, and Valve Index require a fairly powerful computer to use them, and PlayStation VR requires a PlayStation. The Quest and Quest 2 can be used with a computer for more demanding games, but they work perfectly well as a stand-alone unit.

Honestly, it’s a pretty good product, the biggest downside of it is that it’s owned by Facebook and is tied to your Facebook account. They’ve said that options will be coming to allow it to be used with an Oculus account that isn’t tied to Facebook. Of course, it’s still a Facebook product and I’m sure that all the privacy concerns are still there.

As an enthusiast, I’m personally intrigued by the PSVR 2. There are a handful of VR games on PlayStation that are not available for me on the PC. Also, it’s not owned by Facebook Meta and looks like it’ll be a fairly comparable product to the Quest 2. Spec wise it’s fairly comparable aside from the fact that it’s not a stand-alone unit.

As for pricing, You can get a Quest 2 for $300. I’m guessing that PS VR2 will also be close to $300. Nothing else comes close to that price. Of course for the PS VR2, you’ll need a $400-$500 PS5 to power it. If you already have that, then the prices are comparable. If you don’t, then that makes the PS VR2 considerably more expensive.

In the end, if you’re asking my advice for a VR headset, I would probably tell you to either get a Quest 2 as long as you don’t mind Facebook Meta being involved. You really can’t beat the price. It’s possible that a higher-end Quest 3 or Quest Pro will be announced soon if you want to wait. If you don’t want Facebook to be involved in your Virtual Reality, then waiting for the PS VR is probably the best option unless you’re willing to fork out a lot more money for a Valve Index ($999) or HTC Vive Pro 2 ($800).

Cool Stuff Video Games • January 10, 2022


A Computer for the After Times

I spent some time in the last week designing and building this computer. It’s based on a similar design by Jay Doscher of Back7.

My goals were a bit different than his, so I need different devices in it, and I have a screen on hand that is very different than the official raspberry pi screen that he used, so the mounts had to be completely different.

While the original was built more for an end of times situation, this one is for portable data recovery, network testing, and can function as a monitor and keyboard/mouse for any computer should I need one.

I did a test fit before I started designing anything just to see how things would arrange. The black box on the bottom is the harddrive cage that I’m using here as a spacer.

The mounting hardware was all designed in Fusion 360 from scratch. I spent a lot of time looking at the existing designs to get some ideas on how to do things, but everything here I did on my own.

The original screen that others have used has a mount for the Raspberry Pi built into it. Mine doesn’t, so I had to design a separate bracket for the Pi. I used a case that came in the kit I got with the Pi, so the 2 screw holes line up with that case.

I needed 2 power inverters, one for 12 Volts and one for 5 Volts, so I used stickyback velcro to put them in the base of the case. You can kind of see that between them is the back of the power plug where the AC power comes in. The 12 Volts is needed for the harddrive adapter, The 5 Volts powers the network switch and the Raspberry Pi which in turn powers the screen and the KVM.

The wiring isn’t super clean, but it’s functional.

I kind of dig the harddrive cage being on back like a backpack. I 3D Printed a little grommet to go around the USB cable. The inside of the grommet is filled with hot glue. All of the holes that I made got “caulked” with hot glue so it should be water tight again. I’m not going to test it though.

The network jack to the right of the screen is an extension of the raspberry pi’s network jack. It can go directly into a network, or I can jumper it through the switch if I need to connect more devices.

Below the screen is the KVM. I had to run the USB cable for the touch screen and screen power out through a hole to plug into the front of the KVM. It gives it a little bit of a cyberpunk look, so I like it.

The USB in the middle of the bottom is a USB 3 extension that goes right to the Raspberry Pi. If I’m moving files from a harddrive onto something else, that USB 3 plug will be much faster than the other USB 2 plugs that are available on the KVM switch.

The HDMI and USB plugs at the bottom right corner are for the KVM. I can plug those into any other computer and have a screen and keyboard mouse for it. This can come in handy if I’m replacing a computer and I need both running at the same time. Since the screen is powered through the USB, I won’t need to run power to it.

Overall, I’m extremely happy with the result. I’m excited for a good opportunity to road test it.

Cool Stuff • May 17, 2020


Headphones A Plenty

I’m up to 5 sets of headphones that I regularly use. This may seem obscene, but it’s what works for me. From top left going clockwise:

Sennheiser HDR175. These are wireless headphones that are hooked up to the home theater. They’re for watching loud movies after the kids are in bed. I’m a big fan of them. The sound quality is great for the price.

Steelseries Arctis 7. I just got these last weekend. They are also wireless, but use a USB connection. They live on my gaming PC. I haven’t tried the mic yet, but I’ve been told it’s really good. I only wish the transmitter for them was smaller. It’s a puck about 1.5 inch in diameter with a 3-4 foot USB cord. Not super convenient for switching to other devices. They do fit over the oculus VR headset if I want better audio while in VR.

Microsoft XBox headset. These are pretty standard headphones that are meant to plug into an Xbox controller. I mostly use them for watching movies and zoom calls on my laptop. The cord is pretty short which is sometimes helpful, sometimes not. The sound quality is okay. They get the job done. I’d probably just use the Arctis 7s if the transmitter for them was smaller.

Apple Earbuds with Lightning connector. I use these on my phone for podcasts or phone calls when I don’t want to tune out the outside world. I wouldn’t mind replacing these with AirPods some day.

Soundpeats Q30 plus. These get paired with my phone for music/podcasts when I do want to tune out the outside world. Especially if I’m using power tools, mowing the lawn, or running. As a note I hate talking on them because it’s like talking with earplugs in. I sometimes pair these to my laptop to watch TV shows while doing something else because I can walk around.

Cool Stuff • April 14, 2020


Doing my part

My 3D printer is getting some miles in spitting out some of the n95 masks for a local hospital and ambulance crew. Nothing special, but it feels good to be helping out.

Cool Stuff • March 26, 2020


It’s alive

It took a while, but I finally finished putting the Prusa together. Now for the long process of getting it dialed in.

Cool Stuff • February 29, 2020


Getting There

It’s starting to look like a 3D Printer. I’m impressed with the precision on all the parts. I still have a good evening or two worth of work on it.

Cool Stuff • February 28, 2020


Prusa

My new Prusa 3D printer arrived. It’s not pre-assembled at all. The assembly manual is a couple hundred pages long, so it’s not a 10 minute job. Luckily they included Gummy Bears, the end of each chapter tells you how many gummy bears to eat so that you don’t run out before the project is finished. The instructions are fairly adamant that you follow their bear consumption guidelines.

Cool Stuff • February 24, 2020