Building My Bed

Since moving in, I had planned to have a Murphy bed, and style it in the same theme as the rest of the room; spacey without any specific branding. Here are the after photos. Continue on for the full process.

To start, I modeled it in CAD, and here are some renders:

From an angle. While the render shows hollow space, the intent was to put lighting and acrylic in the gaps.
From the bottom. The horizontal pieces will be lit, and the lower one will hold a piece of artwork by my sister.
The bed in its flat position.

When I purchased the materials for doing my basement renovation in 2019, I also purchased four sheets of 1/2″ plywood and stored them at Sector67. They were there for more than two years until I finally got around to doing the project. And it turned out I was one sheet too short. I had to pick up a fifth.

The design involves the bed and the sled, where the bed is 1/2″ plywood 61″x79.5″, with 4″ high walls made out of 1/2″ plywood. While a queen size mattress is 80″, the space where the unit will go is only 80″ tall, and I needed room for the walls. Additionally, it turned out that the space is sloped slightly, so I didn’t even have the full 80″, and my 1/2″ margin was completely eaten up, making sliding it in to the space a little difficult. Fortunately the mattress still fit into the 78.5″ space. The sled part is 4 sheets of 1/2″ plywood stacked together, with the inner pieces having cutouts that are larger to accommodate the LED strips and screws for the acrylic.

The various components.
The CNC panel router at Sector67 made quick work of all the cuts.

I used the CNC panel router at Sector67 to cut out all of the pieces, which gave me very accurate and very smooth edges. After that I sanded and built the bed portion, using screws and wood glue, clamping it together while it dried and I put in the screws, allowing me to re-use the clamps elsewhere. I used 1 1/4″ wood screws, and countersunk the holes pretty deep so that after everything I could use wood filler to cover up the holes. For the sled portion I glued and screwed 3 of the sheets together, leaving the 4th off so that I could install the electronics. I sanded everything to 220 grit and painted using oil-based primer, then sanded everything again. With the sled and the bed separate still, I painted the parts with a alkyd paint with a couple coats. Then I screwed the bed onto the sled, but left the countersunk holes exposed in case the two ever need to be taken apart for transportation. I’m confident that it would not fit out of the basement unless taken apart.

Screwing and gluing three sheets together, leaving the fourth off so I could install electronics.

I experimented with a few options for the acrylic, trying to rough up the surface of clear acrylic, spray painting the back side, and trying out other materials, but it turned out the best option was translucent acrylic. A single 4×8′ sheet was plenty for everything, and I cut everything 1/4″ inset so there would be plenty of space for screwing it in, plus room to get it in around the light strip, and some slop in case I didn’t align it properly. I used the laser cutter at Sector67, which made quick work of it.

For the light strips I used basic 12V RGB light strips, and two WiFi controllers. I wanted to be able to control it from my Alexa or the IR remote, just like the other strip lights in my room. However, I only wanted one outlet, and I wanted it to be a neatly enclosed box, so I took them apart and wired the power supply to deliver to both, then put them in a spare project box I had and mounted that to the sled. The tricky part is that it had to be in a location where it was out of sight and wouldn’t have any problems when up or down. Inside the sled I routed the strips and drilled 1/2″ holes through the small parts. I was able to route a whole side of the sled with one continuous strip, then use some wire to route to the other side through the middle of the sled, then use another single strip to route the other side of the sled. The other controller routes up to the horizontal pieces. I put a piece of translucent plastic in the center of the horizontal pieces to support the large acrylic pieces, especially since one of them could have significant weight on it from the art piece. Finally, since the adhesive of the light strips isn’t that great on wood, I used staples every few inches and especially in the corners to hold the strips in place. This was very difficult, as the staple gun was too wide, so I needed to hammer in each staple individually, and they didn’t like that. Additionally, if you nick the strip even the slightest bit, you risk shorting a section of the strip, so I ended up needing to do some surgeries to replace a few sections.

Once the wiring was done, and the acrylic was attached to the wood, I thoroughly vacuumed the insides, and closed them up, drilling and countersinking holes, then clamping them together while I screwed to minimize any gaps. I painted immediately after to make sure the inside was sealed from dust ingress. After a couple coats, everything was done.

After assembly I did additional coats of paint to hide the lines and screw holes and other blemishes.

The final part of the process was attaching the art piece my sister Betsy had done, and putting a strap in to hold the mattress and prevent it from falling out. The strap was easy enough; I had plenty of leftover webbing and clips from Wacky Dancers, and it’s not even noticeable under the fitted sheet. For the art piece I drilled a hole in one leg, then smoothed a face of a joint that made contact with the bed and drilled and tapped a hole in the face. Then I drilled a hole in the bed and put a bolt into the art piece. This way the art piece would stay in place when the bed was in either orientation, and the sled was designed intentionally so that the art piece would have a little bit of clearance so it wouldn’t slide against the carpet.

The mattress could fall out when upright, so I attached a strap that sits underneath the fitted sheet. You can’t even tell it’s there.

That’s it! After connecting it to my Alexa, everything was complete. The bed sits tucked under the HVAC bulkhead and opens up a lot of floor space in my room. It’s not very light, but I can manage to get it up and down. Springs or pneumatics aren’t really an option because the bed has no extra vertical clearance.

The final product again.

Here’s a breakdown of materials:

ItemCountCostExtended Cost
1/2″ 4’x8′ BCX sanded plywood5~$40$200
1/4″ 4’x8′ white translucent acrylic1$80$80
Dutch Boy Platinum Plus Cabinet, Door & Trim White Satin Paint, 1 Gallon1$48$48
Conco Pro Step One P008 Interior Alkyd White Quick Dry Stainblocking Primer/Sealer1$27$27
#6 1/2″ Flat Head Wood Screw 50ct1$2.17$2.17
#6 1/2″ Zinc Pan Head Construction Screw 50ct2$2.10$4.20
#8 1 1/4″ Phillips Flat Head Wood Screw 100ct1$5.09$5.09
#8 3/4″ Phillips Flat Head Wood Screw 150ct1$5.09$5.09
Heavy Duty Staples1$5.98$5.98
Titebond I Wood Glue 16oz1$4.38$4.38
Smart WiFi LED Controller with 24-key remote for RGB Light strip2$9.99$19.98
RGB LED Strip Lights 5M 300LEDs 12V3$13.99$41.97
Power Supply, 12V, 5A1$12.99$12.99
CNC Panel RouterSector67
Table SawSector67
Belt SanderSector67
Corded DrillSelf
Various ScrewdriversSelf
Paint brushesSelf
N95 RespiratorSelf
6in Bar ClampsSelf
Painter Drop ClothsSelf

Things Are Looking Brighter! But Not The Stars

Growing up in Montana I remember looking out at night and seeing the Milky Way, reminding me of my insignificance in the universe. Now that I live in a city, such introspection is no longer easy, and like 1/2 of humanity that also lives in urban areas, I must rely on satellites to provide the imagery. Yet satellites are part of the problem. Light pollution has been getting worse for decades, and with the recent steady stream of satellite launches and billionaire joyrides we have a relatively new addition to the sources of interference. So how bad is it, and how much worse will it get?

Looking up at the night sky, you can usually tell the difference between various man-made objects. Planes go fairly slowly across the sky, and you can sometimes see them blinking green and red. Meteors are fast and difficult to see. Geostationary satellites don’t appear to move at all because they are orbiting at the same rate as earth’s rotation, while other orbit types will zip by.

SpaceX has committed to reducing satellite brightness, and some observations have confirmed that new models are a full magnitude darker, right at the threshold of naked-eye observation. Unfortunately, it’s only a step in the right direction, and not enough to satisfy astronomers, who aren’t looking up at the night sky with their naked eyes, naturally.

The satellites aren’t giving off the light themselves. They are merely reflecting the light from the sun back to the earth, exactly the same way the moon is. Thus something that is directly in the shadow of the Earth will not reflect any light, but near the horizon the reflection from the satellites can be significant. It’s not practical to only focus our observatories in the narrow area that is the Earth’s shadow during the night, so we must look closer to the horizon and capture the reflections of the satellites.

Read the full article at Hackaday: Things Are Looking Brighter! But Not The Stars

The Many Ways To Solve Your Enclosure Problems

Most projects around here involve some sort of electronics, and some sort of box to put them in. The same is true of pretty much all commercially available electronic products as well.

Despite that, selecting an enclosure is far from a solved problem. For simple electronics it’s entirely possible to spend more time getting the case just right than working on the circuit itself. But most of the time we need to avoid getting bogged down in what exactly will house our hardware.

The array of options available for your housing is vast, and while many people default to a 3D printer, there are frequently better choices. I’ve been around the block on this issue countless times and wanted to share the options as I see them, and help you decide which is right for you. Let’s talk about enclosures!

Read the full article at Hackaday: The Many Ways To Solve Your Enclosure Problems

Something’s Up In Switzerland: Explaining The B Meson News From The Large Hadron Collider

Particle physics is a field of extremes. Scales always have 10really big number associated. Some results from the Large Hadron Collider Beauty (LHCb) experiment have recently been reported that are statistically significant, and they may have profound implications for the Standard Model, but it might also just be a numbers anomaly, and we won’t get to find out for a while. Let’s dive into the basics of quantum particles, in case your elementary school education is a little rusty.

It all starts when one particle loves another particle very much and they are attracted to each other, but then things move too fast, and all of a sudden they’re going in circles in opposite directions, and then they break up catastrophically…

Read the full article at Hackaday: Something’s Up In Switzerland: Explaining The B Meson News From The Large Hadron Collider

It Costs What?! A Sounding Into Hearing Aids

We are accustomed to medical devices being expensive, but sometimes the costs seem to far exceed reasonable expectations. At its most simplistic, a hearing aid should just be a battery, microphone, amplifier, and speaker, all wrapped in an enclosure, right? These kinds of parts can be had for a few dimes, so why do modern hearing aids cost thousands of dollars, and why can’t they seem to go down in price?

Read the full article at Hackaday: It Costs What?! A Sounding Into Hearing Aids

The Cost Of Moving Atoms In Space; Unpacking The Dubious Claims of a $10 Quintillion Space Asteroid

The rest of the media were reporting on an asteroid named 16 Psyche last month worth $10 quintillion. Oddly enough they reported in July 2019 and again in February 2018 that the same asteroid was worth $700 quintillion, so it seems the space rock market is similar to cryptocurrency in its wild speculation. Those numbers are ridiculous, but it had us thinking about the economies of space transportation, and what atoms are worth based on where they are. Let’s break down how gravity wells, distance, and arbitrage work to figure out how much of this $10-$700 quintillion we can leverage for ourselves.

The value assigned to everything has to do with where a thing is, AND how much someone needs that thing to be somewhere else. If they need it in a different place, someone must pay for the transportation of it.

In international (and interplanetary) trade, this is where Incoterms come in. These are the terms used to describe who pays for and has responsibility for the goods between where they are and where they need to be. In this case, all those materials are sitting on an asteroid, and someone has to pay for all the transport and insurance and duties. Note that on the asteroid these materials need to be mined and refined as well; they’re not just sitting in a box on some space dock. On the other end of the spectrum, order something from Amazon and it’s Amazon that takes care of everything until it’s dropped on your doorstep. The buyer is paying for shipping either way; it’s just a matter of whether that cost is built into the price or handled separately. Another important term is arbitrage, which is the practice of taking a thing from one market and selling it in a different market at a higher price. In this case the two markets are Earth and space.

Read the full article at Hackaday: The Cost Of Moving Atoms In Space; Unpacking The Dubious Claims of a $10 Quintillion Space Asteroid

Bespoke Storage Technologies: The Alphabet Soup Found In Modern Hard Drives And Beyond

It seems like just yesterday (maybe for some of you it was) we were installing Windows 3.1 off floppy drives onto a 256 MB hard drive, but hard drives have since gotten a lot bigger and a lot more complicated, and there are a lot more options than spinning platters.

The explosion of storage options is the result of addressing a variety of niches of use. The typical torrenter downloads a file, which is written once but read many times. For some people a drive is used as a backup that’s stored elsewhere and left unpowered. For others it is a server frequently reading and writing data like logs or swap files. In all cases it’s physics that sets the limits of what storage media can do; if you choose wisely for your use case you’ll get the bet performance.

The jargon in this realm is daunting: superparamagnetic limit, LMR, PMR, CMR, SMR, HAMR, MAMR, EAMR, XAMR, and QLC to name the most common. Let’s take a look at how we got here, and how the past and present of persistent storage have expanded what the word hard drive actually means and what is found under the hood.

Read the full article at Hackaday: Bespoke Storage Technologies: The Alphabet Soup Found In Modern Hard Drives And Beyond

Dealing With A Hacked Brain: Let’s Talk About Depression

This post is different from normal Hackaday fare. I don’t want to presume anything about you, but I’m pretty sure the story I’m about to share resonates with at least some of you.

I’ve been having a tough time, exacerbated by this age of social distancing. This all crept up on me at first, but as I began to look back on my behavior and moods, I began noticing patterns that I hadn’t noticed before. This is certainly a relevant issue in this community, so let’s talk about mental health, beginning with my own journey.

Read the full article at Hackaday: Dealing With A Hacked Brain: Let’s Talk About Depression

I’m Not OK: An Update

An update: over the last couple days there has been an outpouring of support, and I am extremely grateful to everyone who has reached out to me. It will take me a while to catch up with everyone, and though I am fortunate enough to still have a full time job with some flexibility, the number of hours I have available means I have a new and welcome challenge. I’ve learned a lot recently; some things worth sharing:

  • It’s clear that people care about me, and that’s pretty cool.
  • I am not alone in my experience. It’s sad hearing about all the other people who say they’ve gone through similar things, but I appreciate the sharing. This is shitty; depression sucks.
  • A lot of the guilt and shame I’ve felt about not keeping up with people, which has made it harder to try to reach out, has evaporated. It turns out it’s ok to say “dude, we haven’t talked in almost 15 years. What has happened in your life? Get me up to speed.”
  • My friends are awesome! I’ve been missing out by not being more involved.
  • I have successfully curated an image that has convinced other people that I’m put together and confident and busy, but that was a mistake on my part. I have been like every failed startup; make everybody think you’re doing great up until the moment you are out of runway and crash spectacularly. It turned out that vulnerability was the important part I should have been showing more of. Convincing everyone I was doing fine wasn’t getting me what I needed. I just had to ask for it.
  • My life is pretty good right now. Talking to people and catching up I have been describing a pretty rosy situation in which I have a good job, a good house, and a good partner. Part of this is definitely my habit from the previous point leaking through, but there’s a lot of truth to it, too, and I find myself feeling guilty for being depressed. All the rock star movies portray a person who has it all still suffering depression, so I guess it can happen to anyone. Just like the rock stars, I had impossible expectations for myself and shallow connections and craved human connection.
  • I still have a long way to go. The self-awareness and reaching out is a sign of an upward trend, but it’s a deep valley I’m in. I’ve taken some steps and have momentum, and I’m not doing this alone.

Thank you all.

Friends, I’m Not OK

Friends, I’m not ok, and this is a call for help. I’m not in danger, and I’m not thinking about hurting anyone or myself. For a long time I’ve been depressed, though the optimist in me always found reasons that it wasn’t depression and that it would just be ok once ___ was over. But there was always a new ___, and it wasn’t until an intervention in January by a loved one when I realized the extent of my depression. The tests had me so close to severe on the scale that even when I went back through to see if I could tweak the results I was still firmly in depressed-land. This was before COVID. Now the random bouts of sobbing is inconvenient, the things that were causing me problems before are magnified unbearably, and the effects on those who have no choice but to be around me are undeniable.

I’ve been seeing a therapist. I’ve been doing research and reading books. I’m working on appropriate medication (which has not been easy. The first attempt had side effects that had me rolling in pain for a week). I had a plan before the pandemic. I was going to get out more, be more social, find a squad. I had even taken a new dance class and was starting to get involved in that community. I was anxiously awaiting summer so that I could try to find an ultimate team to join. I knew it was going to be hard to stick my neck out, but the current situation hasn’t been tenable for some time.

Even before COVID I spent so much time at home working on projects and side hustles and so little time interacting with people. This whole thing has changed my lifestyle surprisingly little, and that’s telling and terrible. Part of me yearns for human connection while the part of me that usually wins celebrates being able to go grocery shopping without interacting with anyone. My throughput and volume of projects is still high, but I rarely feel worthy enough to share. My loneliness and feelings of having no impact are crushing me, and the lowered confidence and self-esteem makes me think I have little to offer. The voice in my head is the meanest bully you can imagine, and he’s really hard to escape.

Now the call to action; please schedule something with me. Any amount of time, and most days and times are ok. You can just tell me about your day if you want. Call or video or even text or email. If it’s been a while since we’ve talked, that just means we have more to catch up on. I need to get over the hump of this depression and anxiety and feel like there really are people out there who want to spend time with me.

Thank you.