SparkleCon Sidetrack: Does It Have A Name?

spool holder with two stage straightener 1600x1200

My simple afternoon hack of a copper wire straightener got more attention – both online and off – than I had expected. One of these came as a fun sidetrack to my Sparklecon talk about my KISS Tindie wire sculptures. As part of the background on my wire form project, I mentioned creating this holder. It kicked off a few questions, which I had answered, but I had the most fun with “Does it have a name?”

I gave the actual answer first, which was that I had only been calling it a very straightforward “wire spool holder with straightener” but I followed it up with an off-the-cuff joke “Or did you mean a name like Felicia?” I think I saw a smile by the person asking the question (hard to tell, he had a beard) and I also got a few laughs out of the audience which is great. I had intended to leave it at that, but as I was returning to my presentation another joke occurred to me: “Felicia will set you straight.”

Since my script was already derailed, I saw no reason to run with it: “Is there a fictional character who is a disciplinarian? That might be fitting.” and opened it up to the audience for suggestions. We got “Mary Poppins” which isn’t bad, but things went downhill from there. The fact is: the disciplinarian in a story is almost always a killjoy obstacle in our hero’s journey. Or worse, one of the villains, as in the suggestion of “Delores Umbridge” given by a woman wearing a Harry Potter shirt. My reaction was immediate: “No.” But two seconds later I remembered to make it a tad more positive: “Thank you, she is indeed a disciplinarian, but no.” Hopefully she doesn’t feel like I bit her head off.

After the talk, there were additional suggestions interpreting my second joke “Felicia will set you straight” in the sense of personal relationship preferences. This went down a path of politically conservative zealots who believe it is their public duty to dictate what people do in private. This direction of thinking never even occurred to me when I threw out the joke on a whim.

I think I’ll leave it at Mary Poppins.

SMD LED Under Macro Lens

Several recent posts focused on small things like a damaged ESP32 module. Trying to document these projects presented a challenge because it’s been difficult to take good clear pictures of fine detail. I did the best I could with what I had on hand, but the right tool for the job is a camera lens designed for macro photography. When one such lens for my Canon EF-M camera was on sale during the holiday shopping season, I could not resist.

Here’s the LED on the Introduction to SMD kit, with the entire image scaled down to 1024 pixels wide.

SMD intro kit scaled 1024

If I crop out the center of the original picture instead, this is what I see:

SMD intro kit LED 1024

A lot of detail are visible, certainly far better than what I could get before, but I think the focus could be a little sharper. I hope the lens is limited by operator skill rather than optical characteristics, because I could learn and improve my skill.

Here is a picture of the LED array from my recent freeform SMD experiment, again scaled down to 1024 pixels wide. The solder joints – which I could barely manage with the naked eye – look really uneven at this magnification. But wait – there’s more!

Freeform SMD 7 scaled 1024

Here’s the cropped-out center of that image. Tiny beads of solder look like monstrous blobs of invading space aliens, not at all attractive. But the wire inside the left side LED is clearly visible, and multiple diffractions of the right side LED can be seen. This picture represents a combination of two novice skills: freeform SMD soldering and macro photography. I’m pretty happy with the detail and clarity of these pictures, but not at the quality of these solder joints. That’s OK, it just means I have lots of room for improvement.

Freeform SMD 7 cropped 1024.jpg