Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More Traveller RPG Than You Can Fit in a Low Berth

In the 1970s I regularly shopped at a local militaria/war game shop in Walnut Creek, CA called The Centurion. In 1977 they had a new game, called Traveller. When I bought it, the guy at the shop commented "I thought of you when I ordered this one. You're the first one to get it, let me know what you think of it." I was a sucker for anything in the way of science fiction games, so he had me tagged. If there was a blurry mimeograph in a ziplock bag with a spaceship on it, I'd buy it.

I still have the game today:

1977 Traveller RPG Game Box
My original Traveller game from 1977

1977 Traveller Game Set
What's inside the box.

Needless to say, I like the game. A lot. For lots of reasons.

Fast Forward to 2007
Then, about three and a half years ago, I found out that Traveller had become available on CD. Not just the original game that I owned, but all the expansions that had been offered by its publisher, Game Designer's Workshop.

Traveller CD and Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society CD
The Classic Traveller CD and the JTAS Magazine CD

All the expansions means:

All the additional rule books.
All the scenario, campaign, and adventure books.
The several board games related to the game.
The later editions of the rules.
Etc., etc.

In other words, a HEAP of stuff to read and enjoy.

As you can see from the picture above, I also bought another CD with it. That one contains the magazine "Journal of the Traveller's Aid Society", the magazine for the game. What a treasure trove of gaming stuff!

Fast Forward to TODAY
The Classic Traveller CD got an update earlier this year. It's got more versions of the rules, corrected and improved scans of some of the material from the new CD, and so on. For those that purchased the original CD, the new one costs only $7.

Unless you order an additional CD when you order the update. In that case, the $7 cost of the update CD is refunded. Since there are many different CDs for many different editions of Traveller available from Far Future Enterprises, it wasn't going to be hard for me to take advantage of that offer!

But Wait, There's More!

Not only that, but there's a special sale going on called 443. Buy three CDs and the fourth is free (thus Four for Three: 443), four for the price of three. Since two more CDs of "Classic" Traveller material were out, I was halfway there already. Add to that the CD of the latest version of Traveller, still under development (Traveller 5), and the forthcoming Traveller 4 CD (I have the core book for this version, but not some of the other books I've seen widely touted by other players on the web, which will be on this CD), and I'm good.

Today the mail held this:

A collection of Traveller RPG game CDs
My Amazing New Traveller CDs. One more will arrive after it becomes available at the end of August.

The T4 CD was a pre-order, so it's not in the picture. It'll be here soon enough. I've got plenty to keep me occupied until it arrives!

Here's the new Classic Traveller CD:
The new Classic Traveller CD.
Bling! The new CT CD. Not just an amazing game collection, it also makes a great diffraction grating! Read the books as you use it to analyze spectra of far off stars!

The back of the CD, with the stamp of Duke Norris
Duke Norris has my back. There's nothing like having the nobility of the Third Imperium of Man keeping an eye out for your data. Beats counting on some drunken X-Boat driver to get it to you.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

CNC Projects: 10 Basic Rules I've Learned

Here are some basic rules I use when selecting or setting up CNC projects. Let me know your rules, or any tweaks you see to mine. Thanks!

1. Don't make anything that you can buy easily, unless you have some specific reason that over-rides the extra cost, effort, and likely unforeseen problems.

2. Remove as little material as possible. Look carefully at item placement in your material stock, different ways of cutting the piece, possible design changes, etc. to reduce the amount of cutting and the amount of material to be removed.

3. Plan your cuts so that the ones that most depend on the accuracy of the bit's size are done with a fresh bit. Bits wear while cutting, if you're planning on cutting, say, a 1/4" dado with a 1/4" bit, you should do it while the bit still has a 1/4" diameter to minimize post-machining to make things accurate.

4. Test your ideas in scrap material first, unless it's a minor variation on something you've already done. Chances are you'll either find a problem you didn't anticipate, or figure out a way to do it better on the next go.

5. Be fanatical about your means of mounting the work. The accuracy and success of the machining relies on it, so think about this as much as you think about the rest of the project.

6. Once you find something that works, build on it. Once you've developed a routine for mounting, cutting, registering, or whatever that regularly produces the results you want, keep doing it. It helps to take notes and pictures for reminders in case there's a break in operations that leaves you a bit rusty on how you did it before.

7. If something isn't working quite, don't keep tolerating it. Fix it, replace it, find another way. It'll be worth the time saved later.

8. Learn from others. Watch videos online, visit other folks' websites, visit with other CNC machinists, see how it's done with different machines or in different areas than your individual interests.

9. Do "science" projects. Plan and develop projects just for the sake of trying out something new or exercising a different procedure. Just like doing a first work in scrap, they'll save you time in the end.

10. Make one complete finished item before you cut out a whole set of parts production-line style. While it costs a fair bit of time in setup to go through once for the prototype, then go back and start over for production, it's better than finding out you've got a stack of parts that won't work when you get to final assembly.

My CNC Website