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DIY Soldering Pencil Replacement Tip  
When it came time to replace the COPPER heat-emitter for my thermal-transfer light sabre, I was dismayed to discover that they were nowhere to be found!

Locating a reasonable IRON tip online, I was just as disappointed that each tip cost approximately 50% of simply purchasing another 'blade.

Yet the soldering iron is the soul of the geek-guy: Why toss a perfectly operational unit into the ocean, when we can DIY?

Measuring the diameter of the old emitter, I quickly found a coated iron nail in the shop. Not only did the diameters match, but the shank of the nail (16 penny) was long enough to allow for an extraction of the desired length.

After amputation, the skill drill allowed for the tip to be both honed & buffed to a customized solder-tinning point.

Opting to shock the coating off (heat the tip up in the iron, then screw-it loose into a bucket of ice water) in the man-cave before entering into the air-conditioned robotics room also proved to be a good idea. (You can also just use an uncoated iron nail or rod to start with.)

Of course I also used the above sharpening process to re-condition my older emitter, as well. When time permits, I plan to visit the geek-guy temple so as to requestion a thermally-superior copper rod so as to use these forces (Yo! ... Da?) to calmly fashion a similar lattice.

Before dropping the heated tip into the water, a few shots of WD-40 at thermal-maximum may even provide a reasonable patina.

Total cost for a new tip? About 2 - 5 cents per "crystal" (We support lots of Eagle Scout Projects. When required, we buy project-fasteners by the gross.)

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Software Release: The Hershey Font Explorer 
Almost a year after the initial release we have been able to share a version of the Java Desktop Application created to explore, repair, and convert the Hershey Fonts.

Designed to show-off Dr. Hershey's accomplishment, by way of a bonus one can also review the marvellous efficiencies of the "R Format:"

Feel free to download the Java here.

You may read more about the project here.

The HTML5 + CSS3 + SVG Rendition also looks marvellous (even if I do say so myself :)

Enjoy the journey!


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Hacking My Brother 

Little Net

Like your house, ours has a WIFI backbone. There are hands (sensors), mouths (computers), and nifty things everyone would like to use (printers, scanners, flux-capacitors, etc.)

Heck, even the new thermostats have a browser interface ever-crying for your registration & email addresses.

Imagine: Getting spammed by ... your house?

Surely someday soon!


When it came to sharing a wireless printer, getting a device like the MFC-J435W working on Windows is usually pretty easy.

Things can get a 'tad more complicated on Linux.

When it came time for me to use the wireless MFCJ435W from Ubuntu, all I had to do was to use the Brother Install Tool.

After installing the same, note that the browser-interface into CUPS printing 'Nerdvanna on Linux is most often found on port 631.

Hack Attack

When we purchased the MFCJ435W a few years back, the device was on sale. Sadly, since day one the piglet has had a problem with the infamous "Close Ink Cover!" message. -Surely the defect was the primary reason why I was able to get a $350.oo printer for a mere $50 at Walmart? (i.e. Caveat Cheapskate!)

The problem is that nothing will print when the ink-cover sensor is open.

Unfortunately, lately that open-door problem became rather chronic. Since my google-effort indicated that lots of printers have similar problems, I decided to dissect the locus so as to be be able to demonstratively show everyone what the problem was. -Such a "sensory-gap" just might be the problem on a similar printer.

Despite the pictures I do not suggest that you chop your printer open. Not only can covers be removed, but once you know that it is a 45 degree angle that needs to be toggled, one should be able to get by with simply gluing and / or taping a "little something" to the door's own, complementary, 45-degree angle-when-closed.

In the above case, gluing a small snippet of plastic or a clipping from a match stick to the door's strut (below) should do the job just fine.

In fact, if you have been able to manually solve the problem simply by pressing upon the closed ink-panel door itself, then adding the mere height of a plastic piece of electrical tape (or two!) will usually keep one from pulling out the glue.

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