Solidworks – Keyboard Quick Hack

Posted: July 7th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Tips | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Solidworks – Keyboard Quick Hack


Photo Jul 07, 1 26 47 PM

I am always struggling to make things easier when creating models. This week I am experimenting – I have remapped my “~” key to be a decimal point. This way I don’t always have to move my left hand off the keyboard when entering dimensions. So far it has been pretty helpful. (The silly label you see is only for this pic)

I use the SharpKeys program to change the mapping – which has been pretty handy over the years, since I like to use an Apple keyboard on a Windows machine AND I use the incredible SYNERGY software to allow me to control both mac & pc with same keyboard/mouse.

UPDATE 10/27/16: This hack began to be unreliable – causing lots of erratic keyboard behavior, so I abandoned the attempt. Instead I bought a wireless numeric keypad to put on the left side of my keyboard, which is a much better long term solution.


Posted: July 6th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Comments Off on Gpic

Photo Jul 06, 1 30 22 PM

Pic of the day of Georgia.


Posted: July 6th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Comments Off on Juno!


Really happy to hear NASA scored a win with JUNO’s successful orbit around Jupiter. Fantastic work!

Back On The Web

Posted: November 23rd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Comments Off on Back On The Web

Awhile ago I pulled both my blog & Wilsonbuilt’s old website offline and I’ve put them back up – for the moment. For all those who are interested – the old  Wilsonbuilt website covers work that I did long ago (the most recent project on the website is from 2012). Wilsonbuilt no longer does any fabrication work. Occasionally we will do some light machining or quick assembly for one of our design clients, but for the most part our business is ONLY design services & shop drawings.

True Synchrony

Posted: January 10th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Blog, Solidworks, Work | Comments Off on True Synchrony


I use a PC every day. I also use a mac every day. My workhorse, the PC ( a Dell Precision T1650), is for CAD work – Solidworks, Rhino, AutoCad. The mac (a workhorse 2008 MacBook Pro with a great 17″ screen and a 500Gb SSD) is for pretty much everything else – emails, some web surfing, timekeeping, bookkeeping, image editing etc. Tying together these two computers and their files has been a slow evolution to a pretty great system which I thought I’d share:

Synergy – I’ve posted before about how I use the two computers with the same keyboard & mouse using Synergy – which is priceless. The seamless use of one keyboard/mouse for 2 computers is beyond awesome (I’ve even discovered that when I copy text in one computer, I can paste it into the other computers’s document – COOL!)
Dropbox – It seems old hat by now but when I started using Dropbox a few years ago it was a revolution for me – I could share all the files between computers without having to set up a finicky network between pc & mac. This is a pretty big deal since I like to use a mix of PC & mac applications to do various things while I do a project. While I’m working on the PC, Dropbox is making sure that I have everything also available on my other computer if I need it.
Time Machine – this is an Apple feature that saves backups every hour for the past 24 hours, and keeps daily & weekly versions thereafter. Time Machine is seamless – it is built into the operating system so you don’t even know it’s there until you need it. Since all my work files are on Dropbox – which is shared by both computers –  all of my CAD files are backed up on the mac’s Time Machine while I work. Since the mac is saving files while I’m working on the PC, there’s no noticeable lag (I have Acronis True Image for saving daily PC backup images, but I’ve found that if I set it for hourly backups it tends to slow down Solidworks). So if a Solidworks file gets corrupted (which happened the other day) I can easily go to the mac’s Time Machine to restore the previous hour’s files or folders that need to be restored. Dropbox will then make sure I have the files on my PC so I can get back to work!


Work these Days

Posted: August 5th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Blog, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Work these Days


The last years have seen so many changes – It’s been so long since I’ve actually made anything. These days most of what I do is 3D modelling with Solidworks and creating shop drawings for a few metal fabrication clients. Every once in awhile I get a small fabrication job or installation, but it’s all a spin of the mouse now-adays….


Posted: July 28th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Blog, Links | Comments Off on LINKKSS

I’m spending too much time at the computer(s) doing detailing these days, so no work pix. Oh well. Links it is.


Computer Virus Catalog – a nice site that catalogs history’s computer viruses, along with cute graphics to make it less scary…

How to turn a pencil drawing into a capacitive sensor – who knew? (pencil = graphite = carbon = conductive-ish ….OK)

And a related : Pencil drawn Piano with Arduino.

Kinda related: A Banana Piano

 I LOVE this : The bttn : A stand-alone (and nice lookin) button that can interface with the web. Can’t wait to have a few.

I wish I’d thought of this, but I’ll settle for seeing it: An illuminated swing set at Green Mountain Falls in Colorado.

Funny : Things that don’t need to exist. I especially like the campfire phone battery charger.

Actually… now that I’m looking at it, the battery charger thing is kind-of awesome. I’d leave that off the “Don’t Need to Exist” list and put it on another titled: “Things that probably shouldn’t have to exist according to some pastoral set of ideals, but are pretty cool anyway.” Here’s a better link to it.

Slip Ringing The Night Away

Posted: June 20th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Blog, Resource | Comments Off on Slip Ringing The Night Away


Some time ago I had to quote an electronics project for a client (I can’t remember what it was) and it needed to rotate 360 degrees. I probably found something on the web or designed something myself that would handle the electrical connections at the axis, but it was a great deal of expense or trouble. So what do I find while surfing over at Adafruit? Just the thing – a miniature 12-conductor slip ring. Fantastic.

Solidworks Tip

Posted: June 20th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Tips | Tags: , | Comments Off on Solidworks Tip

Tip of the day : when dimensioning to a circle in a sketch, if you hold down the shift key it will dimension to the circle edge, instead of the (default) center of the circle.

The Humble Breadboard

Posted: June 20th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Blog, writings | Comments Off on The Humble Breadboard



NOTE:  This is the part of an experiment I’m doing on the blog. I’m not sure what the experiment is but I think it will involve more words in the postings than usual.

A big shout-out today to the humble electronics prototyping breadboard. Like many things I use regularly (like coffee), it is something I easily take for granted (unlike coffee). But consider life without it. Ok fine, life in the BIG picture wouldn’t be that different. But for the very small community that cares about such things its a big deal.

Did you know — that the breadboard is so named because “back in the day,” people used actual wood bread cutting boards to lay out experimental electronic circuits? Circuit diagrams would be pasted or drawn on the wood surface, and circuit components would be screwed down and wired together as the project developed. What we know today as the electronics breadboard, with its power buses at the outer edges and the numbered rows of terminal holes, was designed by Ronald J. Portugal of EI Instruments Inc. in 1971.

When I was a kid (maybe 8 or 10) I used these all the time. I would hole up in my room with breadboard, Forrest M. MimsElectronics Workbook   (Perhaps Radio Shack’s greatest contribution to the world) and a pile of wires and components. I would spend hours putting together circuits that would occasionally work (I particularly remember my disappointment at a failed touch switch circuit). LED arrays were pretty new then, so “digital” timers were one of my favs. Eventually, though, I got caught shoplifting resistors and IC’s one too many times and was sent to boarding school (where my only attempt at electronics resulted in blowing the dorm’s fuses). My relationship with the breadboard was put on hold for 10 years or so. During which time I discovered computers.

Then, when I was in college, I majored in Electrical Engineering.  For our final project we had to build (in teams of 3) a working computer out of standard 7400 series chips and a stone-age microprocessor the name of which I forgot long ago. It interfaced with a keyboard and monitor and all the electronics were contained in 3 briefcases filled with breadboard. Nothing fancy, no indestructible pelican cases or james bond type enclosures that would make geeks drool. They were just dirt-brown plastic boxy cases with power supplies and rows of breadboard built in. The kind of thing you’d see, well, nowhere really. The professor – one of the oldest in the department – gave each team their three cases, a stack of photocopied reference materials, and said “see ya in five months.” I don’t recall him being around much for help, either. Asking him questions during his infrequent office hours always seemed to leave me more confused than before. In the end our computer “kinda” worked (I believe the problem was our wires leading to the memory input buffer were too long and so our data “floated” too much before it could get locked into RAM) and I was too traumatized to do any electronics for another 10 years, when I started doing some work-related prototyping.

What made me think of this? Its pretty silly actually. I recently started following Adafruit on instagram and their pix are always so fine that I couldn’t resist when I saw a photo of one of their breadboard kits.

Plus I’m procrastinating from doing my drawings. Even though it’s a beautiful late Friday afternoon, I really should get back to work.