Lens mount for iPhone 6+ and Dodger Blue Magpul case.

So, I’ve had these nice, but inexpensive lenses for mounting onto my smartphones for quite a while. I used them back on my Nexus One. Since then they’ve expanded what they offer, and you can spend up to $99 for a huge set. They came with this little package of peal and stick metal rings, that you put around the camera lens on the back of your phone. I’d carry the lenses in my front pocket, they came with a plastic cap for the lens, and a little metal plate to snap onto the back. The lens has a magnet build into the back of the lens. They are great! Each phone I upgraded to worked just fine. I’d grab a new metal ring from the large package they came with, and add a new one to my new phone. This continued through several Androids, until we switched to our first iPhones when T-Moble added them. We got iPhone 5s, and they worked great, because the design was flat to the edge. I could hide the metal ring inside the Magpul case I used, and it was great.

Fast forward to my very nice iPhone 6+. It’s a beautifully designed phone, with gorgeous curved edges. I love it. But the moment I went to stick a new ring onto the camera I realized I’d have a problem. I’d be able to get it on there, but it would protrude off the edge. If I bent it down, it wouldn’t seal well with the little lens. So I set the idea aside, to wait for a new idea.

Now to a small problem a friend introduced on my new Fujifilm X-T1 and the solution presented itself. You see, on my new camera the “D-pad” or the 4-way toggle buttons on the back the buttons are quite small. I have large hands and fingers. A problem for me indeed. Noel Kleinman made the suggestion to get this sweet little product called Sugru. It comes in all sorts of colors. Since I wanted it for my black camera, I got a package of black. Basically, it’s putty and soft. You form it onto whatever you want to reinforce, and let it harden over night. It’s like impenetrable rubber in the morning. I just used some to repair my son’s iPhone charging cable. It’s ghetto, but repaired.

Let’s get on with it! Below I’ll highlight what each numbered photo is showing you. Hopefully my geeky DIY will teach you something, and or you may find your own uses for some of that Sugru!

Customizing the lens mounts for the iPhone 6+ and my Dodger Blue Magpul case.
Customizing the lens mounts for the iPhone 6+ and my Dodger Blue Magpul case.

 

#1 These are the lenses. I actually had the smaller set, of just the Fish Eye for a few years. It did the job. Then I picked up a 10x zoom, and that was awesome. But I lost both of those. And these came up on Groupon for a super cheap price last year, and I picked them up. These are a Fisheye, Wide Angle, and a Macro. The wide angle screws off it’s front lens and the macro is what remains. And you can see the small package of metal rings for future iPhones.

#2 This shows easily how the sticky metal ring protrudes beyond the camera lens, over the curved edge. That is the biggest issue I had to overcome. That’s where the Sugru came in. I used a toothpick and my fingers to wedge just enough Sugru into that void, so that when it hardens it will provide the sturdiness that the metal ring will need. By tomorrow morning, it’ll be rigid and perfect.

#3 A better look at the necessary area I needed to reinforce.

#4 Now this is a whole separate issue that I had to address. I use a Dodger Blue Magpul case for my iPhone6+. It’s great! Just the right grip. The perfect color. However, that newly installed metal ring and this case will not get along. That’s clear just from looking at it. So, I used a tool I’ve used for customizing handguns, to make them more grippy, called a stippler. Basically on polymer framed handguns you heat up this special pointy iron and use it to poke dimples into the side of your handgun, giving you increased rough grip. The first place many people do this is right where their trigger finger rests, when it’s off trigger. Having a nice rough spot grabs your finger, helping you keep your finger off the trigger until the time is right. Many others stipple other parts of their grips, making the whole thing more grabby.

Anyway, continuing on with #4. I needed to burrow inside the case, making room for the larger metal ring and the part that now protrudes above the phone. The beauty is that I have plenty of polymer to work with, and if I go overboard with the case, I’ll get another one and try again. Lessons learned.

I just stippled my gun

With all this time off from social media, I’ve been doing all sorts of things. I’m playing more guitar. I even started getting the hang of my ukulele, that I’ve had for several years. I’m also reading more, especially reading more of the Word. I’m enjoying my family a bit more too!

However, my stupid back injury has really been a limitation. It’s been a real bummer to have to limit my activities. One thing I just can’t wait to get back out doing is shooting more. I’ve tried it, with the injury, and it’s not as great as it could be.

I can stand for a bit, no problem. If I take along a chair to the range, I can even extend out my time a bit longer. But it’s just not the same.

During this time off, I’ve also learned a few things. One thing in particular is a new term; called “stippling”. Technically, stippling is an artistic term. It’s simply creating a pattern or art from dots. When applied to firearms customization, it’s more about the effect than the pattern. Well, that’s not entirely true. Many people seek to add a bit of style to their firearm, with stippling. But that’s really more of a side effect.

With my little Ruger LCP, I’ve wanted a nice way to add a bit more “grab”, if you know what I mean. When shooting it I’ve experienced the desire to grasp it stronger, as though the little stock may pull from my grip. (Others have made similar observations)

So when I discovered this cool technique, I was sure that I’d discovered the solution to my problem. But I ain’t paying some dude a bunch of cash to basically hack up the stock/frame of my sweet new Ruger.

Enter the internets.

Guess what? You can stipple your own firearms! Yep!

Just get yourself a wood burner (which is really just a soldering iron). I picked one up at Home Depot, for like $15.

With a bit of practice on an unused magazine base, I was set. Take a look at the bit of work I’ve done so far, below. I liked the work on the magazine base, so I swapped it back onto a good magazine. I wanted to start off with a small project, so I simply stippled the rest space for my trigger finger. (The white crayon lines will be cleaned off at the next cleaning.)

What do you think?

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

My MacBook Mini

The Hackintosh lives!I really don’t want to write a detailed tutorial on how I turned my tiny, yet sweet, Dell Mini 9 into my very first Hackintosh, that I’ve named my MacBook Mini. There are SO many articles all over the place that do that well.

I read them all, before I set out to make my creation. Each tutorial is a bit different than the next. Above all, I had discovered that I’d need a USB DVD drive in order to make it work. So, I asked around, and my pastor loaned me one of his. Following the instructions at Gizmodo, I got all the way to mounting the retail OSX install DVD, and it wouldn’t recognize the drive. Lame.

This sent me back to Google, in search of an alternative. Oh, BTW, if you have a Dell Mini, you MUST start reading MyDellMini.com. It’s the end-all, be-all for everything Dell Mini. Wandering the forums, I found what I think is the most recent, and most up-to-date, tutorial for installing OSX onto a Dell Mini.

This method tossed the whole USB DVD drive out the window. (Good for me, since my loaner wasn’t even recognized.) Instead, I was offered the option of installing with a pair of USB drives. No where could I find clear language separating the choice between using an actual hard drive and a flash drive. The instructions (as you’ll see below) called for a decent sized drive and one that could be quite small. So, I used one of each.

The steps below are what worked specifically well for me. Many of the various tutorials require the use of a Windows computer, for burning some specially stripped Linux OS, onto the flash drive and then booting from it. Well, I’m MS free around here! So, that was not a choice for me. That’s why I chose the tutorial I did, at MyDellMini.com. It offered an option to do all the prep work on a Mac. Below are the basic steps. If you choose to do this, please go to the forum and follow the detailed instructions.

Requirements:

  • Dell Mini 9
  • Retail Mac OS X Install DVD (any version from 10.5.0 to 10.5.6)
  • Two USB Drives:
    • One that is 8 GB or more
    • A second that is at least 32 MB, 64 MB is preferred.
  • A Mac
  • And a few important home-grown apps.

The Steps:

  1. Use the retail OSX DVD and the larger USB drive to make your installation. You do this by tricking it into making a “restored” hard drive.
  2. Take one of the homegrown apps, called DellMiniBoot. Using the Terminal app, unpack DellMiniBoot, and install it to the smaller USB flash drive.
  3. Save whatever you want to keep that’s on the Dell Mini, right now!
  4. Turn off the Dell Mini and plug in the two USB drives.
  5. Boot, holding down the 2 key. There’s a couple of setup options you’ll have to verify are correct. Now boot of the USB flash drive. A stripped Linux loads, for the sole purpose of tricking the OSX install software into thinking that you’ve booted up a real Mac.
  6. Now you simply load the larger USB drive, and the Dell thinks it’s booted from it. Install OSX!
  7. If you’ve installed from a OSX 10.5.1 (anything lower than 10.5.6), like I did, you MUST update to 10.5.6 right away! Once I did that, everything was working; webcam, airport (WiFi), sound, etc.
  8. Install the other homegrown app, DellEFI. This one permanently makes a handful of changes; screen resolution, WiFi, sound, video, boot from SSD, and it adds a bootloader.

Have fun with your new Mac!

The Hackintosh lives!

The first few things I did was streamline my OSX installation.

  • Monolingual – app that dumps any unnecessary languages installed. It also dumps PowerPC code that you don’t need.
  • I then hand selected several default apps that I just didn’t want clogging up space. This is highly subjective.
  • Take a look at this tutorial too. A few good ideas that will probably help keep the MacBook Mini nice and lean.
  • Now I downloaded all the important apps
    • Firefox – the best browser
    • VLC – top notch video app (plays every kind of file)
    • Adium – top notch IM app
    • Perian – totally sweet codec installer for Quicktime
  • What’s next?
    • Have fun with my awesome little Mac!
    • Test out some touchpad driver choices.

If you want to see a few more photos, go see my set on Flickr.

Proof of the Macbook Mini

******** UPDATE ********

I ran Xbench, a speed testing app, on the Dell Mac Mini 9/MacBookMini, and on my Mac Mini (1.66 Intel, 2 Gig ram). They’re both running 10.5.6.

Xbench used a 2.0 Ghz G5, 2.5 Gig ram, with 10.4.7 as the benchmark.

Relative to the benchmark machine, the MacBookMini got a score of 31.48. (The base score is 100.) My Mac Mini got 76.67. It seems low, but I don’t notice it running that slowly.

I’ll tell you this, that machine runs smooth and fast. If I could shoot like this machine runs, I’d be worth fearing.

DIY framed chalkboard

My oldest son and I are working on a fun little garage project together.

DIY framed chalkboard

As you know, I take my daughter out a lot, to shoot photography. We have that to share. My oldest son and I haven’t been doing something like that. So, I decided that we’d undertake a project together. It has been fun.

This project will be a framed chalkboard. My wife has wanted something like this, to hang on the wall.

DIY framed chalkboardWe took a long piece of red oak and cut it down into four smaller lengths, to eventually become the frame. Next, I got to use my Dremel tool, with a little plunge router attachment, to route down a recessed groove along the back of each oak piece. I then used my chop saw to cut the ends to 45 degree angles.

Once they were ready, I glued and nailed them together, to form the frame. Once the glue was dry, I wiped it down with a nice oil/orange combo.

The chalkboard is made from an extra piece of plywood I had laying around. I had to fill it in with a lot of putty, as plywood isn’t the best for finish work. Since I was eventually going to paint it, I knew that the putty would be fine. The puttying took three applications, interspersed with sanding. This step was perfect for my son to help me. He was able to do some puttying, and I had him do most of the early sanding. I just made him a nice sanding block, by stapling some sanding paper to a small 2×4 block. The final sanding I did with my power sander, and some much finer sandpaper.DIY framed chalkboard

This is where the project is now. We painted the first coat of chalkboard paint on the plywood. This afternoon it is drying. This evening, we may be able to paint another coat. My son will do that one. On Saturday, we’ll possibly sand the two coats, and paint another one or two. My goal is to have at least 4 coats of the chalkboard paint, before the final assembly.

Portrait lighting help

The looking glass
With the December Challenge in full swing, I wanted to take a moment to highlight some important things I’ve learned so far.

  • Lighting is very important.
  • Make sure to choose a shoot time that gives you good natural light.
  • Careful with the mid-day sun pounding down on you. Can you say over exposed?
  • Choose a nice shallow depth of field (DOF). Makes for good clear focus where you want it.
  • Be Creative! Take a few minutes to think about who you’re planning to shoot.
  • Look at everyone else’s portraits. I’ve learned quite a bit looking at all the participants’ portraits.
  • Keep reading.
    • StudioLighting.net has great articles for those with limited budgets who want to use some lighting.

I know there’s so much more. I just wanted to help a bit. Too much information, and you’d read this article, but NOT do anything about it. Just offering you a handful of important tips, I think you’re more likely to apply what works for you. What have you learned? Comment away!