Friday, August 31, 2012

How to export a list of Exchange 2010 Distribution Groups and membership details

I was asked today to make a document which lists all if the email addresses, distribution groups (DG), and DG memberships. If it was a small organization with a small mail server this wouldn't be a huge issue but when the number of DGs are well past a hundred than the task may seem daunting. I had no time to sit here and look through each and every single DG to see who the members are and enter it all in a spreadsheet so I decided use the Exchange Power Shell to see if I can get all of this information.

A quick search on the web reveals that this is indeed possible but methods from MS show how to get the membership information from a single DG and is not dynamic enough to read across an entire organization as it requires you to know the name of the DG and enter it each time. After some trial and error, I finally found out which portion of AD, ADSI, and Exchange values that the Exchange Power Shell can read and here is the script that will output a text file that includes User, User Name, and email address associated with a given DG;

write-output “” > C:\outputDGmembers.txt get-distributiongroup | Sort -Property DisplayName | foreach { $name = $_.displayname $output = ‘Group Name: ‘ + $Name write-output $output >> C:\outputDGmembers.txt Get-DistributionGroupMember $name | Sort -Property DisplayName | Select DisplayName, Alias, primarysmtpaddress >> C:\outputDGmembers.txt write-output “” “” >> C:\outputDGmembers.txt }

If you need more information in the output, you can add the appropriate values after the word 'Select'. As for getting the email addresses, an excellent script is available at Flaming Keys' site which simply works like a charm. Below is a re-post from Flaming Keys, please check out the site and read the whole article which explains each step.

# ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- # Script: Get-AllEmailAddresses.ps1 # Author: Chris Brown # Date: 25/07/2011 00:03 # Keywords: Exchange, Email, SMTP # comments: # # Versioning # 25/07/2011 CJB Initial Script # # ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- # Import the E2010 modules if available, otherwise import 2007's. if (Get-PSSnapin Microsoft.Exchange.Management.PowerShell.E2010 -Registered -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue) { # Found 2010, add it Add-PSSnapin Microsoft.Exchange.Management.PowerShell.E2010 } else { # Add 2007 Add-PSSnapin -Name Microsoft.Exchange.Management.PowerShell.Admin } # Create an object to hold the results $addresses = @() # Get every mailbox in the Exchange Organisation $Mailboxes = Get-Mailbox -ResultSize Unlimited # Recurse through the mailboxes ForEach ($mbx in $Mailboxes) { # Recurse through every address assigned to the mailbox Foreach ($address in $mbx.EmailAddresses) { # If it starts with "SMTP:" then it's an email address. Record it if ($address.ToString().ToLower().StartsWith("smtp:")) { # This is an email address. Add it to the list $obj = "" | Select-Object Alias,EmailAddress $obj.Alias = $mbx.Alias $obj.EmailAddress = $address.ToString().SubString(5) $addresses += $obj } } } # Export the final object to a csv in the working directory $addresses | Export-Csv addresses.csv -NoTypeInformation # Open the csv with the default handler Invoke-Item addresses.csv

Now back to work on something else...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tattoo machine parts - Coils

At a simple glance, the tattoo machine coil is a an electromagnet coil, a ferrous steel core with thin gauge enameled copper wire wound around it. You can find coils wrapped at different wrap counts that indicates the amount of copper wire used to wrap around the core which is a base indicator for the relative strength of the coils. There has been various configurations and experiments with the coils over the years and most ideas being novelties and an interesting footnote in tattoo machine history at best. An example of this would be a ghost coil, which was typically an unwrapped coil core in the rear position of the frame which was meant to re-radiate EMF from the adjacent core with a goal of reducing weight but in reality it was a poorly powered, front heavy machine. You will find, just like any industry; the snake oil salesmen that will tell you how awesome ghost coils are and listen; if the likes of Lyle Tuttle tells me that they ran like hell back then, I'm inclined to agree and I can't imagine them getting much better since they were first tried in the thirties.

Unlike the vast availability and selection of tattoo machines you see today, they were once upon a time hand made by a very small group of people. You didn't have options to select from and you got what was available to your geographical reach especially considering that the internet wouldn't exist for a few more decades. The only way tattoo machines from foreign destinations arrived in the states are from tattooists travelling and sailors. Port towns had an advantage of seeing things that inland cities never encounter and you see tattooers from back in the day establish shops in port towns as tattoos and sailors were and still are synonymous (when I was tattooing in NYC, I knew I had rent made when the ships were sailing in, this was true for every shop I worked in near a port). The exchange of information was a very small scale and only between tattooers as it was a close kept secret once upon a time and you had tattooers back then that typically did it all, make the parts and machines as they were not mass produced and tattoo. The parts that were used were on the BBS system (Beg, Borrow, Steal) and they all start as raw material. To give you an idea, the now famed Micky Sharpz dial machine were so-called because it used dials from old British payphones when they were upgraded. The British payphones once upon a time used cast iron for the dials and he (Micky) got them for free since the old phones were simply discarded.

It starts with the parts

Consider before buying a coil set what the core is made of, ideally you want a ferrous metal core (no stainless, no plated) with good electromagnetic conductivity. Most of the coils you can buy today will work but how well? Lets start with considering which is better, a solid core or a hollow core? If you answered solid, congratulations; density certainly does correlate to the produced strength of the Electromagnetic Field (EMF). Coils are mounted by passing screws through the bottom of the frame and thread into the core of the coil. The type of screw you use here will vary EMF (screw should be unplated steel) as well as how far in the core is tapped. Ideally the core should only be tapped as far as necessary for the screw to secure the coil to the frame to take up the mass of the core from being drilled and tapped to aid in achieving the best core density possible to produce as even of an electromagnetic field as possible. A trick to take up space in a coil core that has been over tapped is to stuff it with metal shavings or steel wool. Short of buying heat treated 1050 cold rolled round stock and tapping it your self, I do realize that finding out what a company uses for the core material let alone how it is tapped maybe difficult to come by; this assuming the company that you are buying from isn't outsourcing the core or the entire coil. This is where contacting reputable companies come in, do your research as it really is worth it. I often encourage people to make their own coils as I mentioned earlier how the machines were made onsite by the old time tattoers, well; the techniques of ye olden days can be applied to day. Methods to make coils can be found with a simple search on the web and they truly aren't that difficult to make, they just take time to make. If anything, do your self a favor and make a coil winding jig before trying. As for buying them pre-made, I recommend coils from Pulse International, those ladies and gents at Pulse are very much into the craftsmanship from small parts out to completed machines.

I dug up some of older coils that I've retired as I have since made better coils out of better materials. From left to right they are 10, 8, and 12 wrap coils.

I tapped the core half way down back then, I figured out later in life that I should measure how far to tap versus marking a drill bit for known workable depths.

A very overlooked step when building a machine is the coil height in relation one another. The height is corrected by employing one or more various thickness steel shims below the coil on the shorter of the two coils. The idea is to get the coils lined up physically to get them to produce the even EMF for the machine to run as smoothly as possible no matter which way it's held or what kind of resistance it encounters. When the coil heights are mismatched, you will experience performance degradation in the machine and also cause the armature bar to prematurely wear down. An easy way to tell if the coils are at the correct height is by mounting them to the frame and depress the armature bar down, if the armature bar touches one coil and not the other, that would be the higher of the two coils and the latter must be shimmed.

The Pulse Intl. machine (which is my favorite shader to this day) where you can see the shim under the left coil and the resulting height adjustment across the top of the coil.

Seth Ciferri machine with coils that I've designed to be phase corrected to produce a very even EMF. Since the coils were designed and fitted to the machine, no need for shims. You can see the tool marks on the close up on the bottom of the cores. They don't have to be pretty, they just have to work well.

By now you wonder the number of wraps on a coil are and which one should be chosen. This comes down to what type of needle you use and what kind of tattooist you are. If you are novice you should stay away from bug pins and use 8 wrap coils to minimize running the machine hot and causing damage to skin until you get more time with a machine in your hand and learn the nuances in tattooing from skin to machine. If you are experienced, you likely have tried various sizes and come to a decision which size suits your needs best as artists often do when deciding which paint brush is needed. Some cases a large wrap coil is unavoidable when using extremely large group shaders (we're talking breaking the 21+ needle group magnums) to have it reliably and evenly deposit ink. Can you run the monster groups with smaller coils? Sure, but just simply not as well. It's the difference when hitting the gas on a four cylinder and a tuned straight six, they'll both go but one just does it better.

I've got some tattoos I need to finish on a few people, it maybe time to come out of retirement for select pieces.......

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The bestest mac 'n cheese everz!

I have been cooking a mac 'n cheese recipe that is simply addicting; I make it once and everyone wants more.... I stared making double batches and that barely covers the demand. The recipe was never measured and I eyeballed everything for years, I finally had the time to measure it out so here goes the ingredients list.

1 lbs. Medium Shells (yes, I'm aware that it's not the 'mac' part)
1 lbs. Velveeta cheese
1/2 cup mixed shredded cheese (min. 3 cheese mix and must have cheddar in it)
1/2 medium white onion
1.5 Tblsp Brown sugar (Can be light brown, doesn't matter)
Butter (we'll get to the individual measuring in parts)
Milk (it's by sight and feel, a bit more on that later)
Basil (again, by sight and well, I'll show you later in the post)
Bread crumbs (I usually use the Italian style)

You will need the following gear;

Large sauce/fry pan (I use a 5qt Calphalon 5005)
Medium frying pan
3qt oblong Pyrex baking dish
Large pot for cooking pasta 1 Tblsp measuring spoon
1/2 cup measuring cup

Start boiling some water to cook the pasta and while that is going, mince the white onion. In a medium frying pan, melt 1 Tblsp of butter and saute the white onion over medium heat until they turn opaque. Add the 1.5 Tblsp of brown sugar as the onion's color transitions and continue to caramelize over medium heat and store in a bowl for later use. While the pasta cooks, slice up the 1 lbs. of Velveeta so that it will melt faster and put aside as the prepped Velveeta for later as well. With the pasta finished cooking, drain and replace pasta back into the pan.

Stir, stir, stir!

In a large sauce pan, melt 2 Tblsp of butter over medium heat than add a splash of milk and the Velveeta slices until it melts to a creamy cheese sauce (I have a huge sauce pan that I can fit all of this into, depending on your pan size it may take more than one go at it).

Add the pasta to the creamy cheese sauce and the very important thing is to keep stirring to prevent the cheese from clumping and burning, continue stirring until thoroughly mixed. Stir in the caramelized onions next than the 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and you may want to add a splash of milk as you add the shredded cheese to maintain the creamy consistency, if it is really hard to stir than it is likely too dry. Once it's all mixed, shake on a layer of basil to evenly cover the top and mix that in as well. With all ingredients thoroughly mixed, take it off the heat and is now ready to be transferred to a Pyrex baking dish.

Just basiled

Pour the deliciousness in a 3qt oblong Pyrex baking dish and cover the top with breadcrumbs. Place the Pyrex in the oven at 350~400 degrees until the top layer browns slightly, careful not to dry it out!

Let cool before eating, or it will be like eating molten lava; albeit delicious molten lava.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Unable to delete VMDKs in VMware (vSphere)

I have been trying to P2V a Win 7 desktop and had to make another attempt when it produced an error at 14% completion where the VMW KB workaround suggests to P2V a single volume at a time. The desktop in question has 3 virtual disks plus the Win 7 boot partition so on my next attempt, I went to P2V just the FAT32 boot partition and C:\ when I discovered that the LUN I created on the SAN shows insufficient space...WTF. I launch vSphere client and double check that I deleted the VM that was created during the previous P2V attempt and it was indeed gone. Suspicious, I check the volume to find that there remains 2 VMDKs from the previous P2V attempt that vSphere did not successfully delete nor did it spit out an error about it either. I right click one of the disks and select delete just to get an error that simply states: Cannot delete file....super. Typically an error like this is seen where a VM has locked the volume but there is no VM to speak of so the typical method to unlock a volume will not work here.


The way to remove the locked volume where a VM does not exist is through shell and if you haven't poked around on the ESX shell or are unfamiliar with Linux, this may seem like a daunting task but I promise you that it is not. First if you have not already, enable remote shell access to your ESX or ESXi host and once that is established, use a program such as Putty to remotely connect to your target host. If you are running your hosts off of a SAN like myself, it honestly does not matter which host you access so long as that host has access to the SAN volume in question where the VMDKs are located. Once connected via putty, run the following command to figure out where the volume exists;

[root@yourhost ~]# lsof | grep name_of_vmdk.vmdk

The above command will reveal the path of the vmdk assuming that it does exist, the output should look something like this;

vix-async 8586 root 136u REG 0,18 319959334912 377047

Notice the 4 digit number in the above output after vix-async which is the ID number you will use to terminate it's running processes with the following command;

[root@yourhost ~]# kill -9 8586

With all processes pertaining to the ID terminated, we will change the working directory to where the VMDK is for simplicity's sake;

[root@yourhost ~]# cd /vmfs/volumes/915udud0-6b77a6b7-05a-992ba5sest69/

Once there you will delete the VMDK and you will be asked to confirm deletion as a redundancy check to ensure that the deletion is intended by typing Y or N;

[root@name_of_directory ~]# rm name_of_vmdk.vmdk
rm: remove regular file name_of_vmdk.vmdk? y

That should have removed the locked VMDK and have freed up space on your volume.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

SQL 2008 R2 SP1 0x84B20001 error

I recently built out a SQL 2008 R2 server and went to apply Service pack 1 and came across error code 0x84B20001 where it specifically error on RS_Server_Adv. Initial digging on the web states that I should run a repair installation of the shared components path with the original media which did not fix the issue and still has the same error. The error occurs at the beginning of the installation of SP1 which suggests that it is checking the installation to verify that it meets requirements such as version and installed components.

The RS_Server_Adv is the Reporting Services component which I installed because it was a specific requirement for a project and one I rarely ever install. Since I suspected that the error was checking installed components first, I crawl the registry to find that there is indeed a registry key called RS_Server_Adv at HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Microsoft SQL Server\MSA=RS10_50.YOURINSTANCENAME with a value of 4. Since it is a brand new build on a virtual machine, I take a snapshot and start altering the value, starting with 0 which did not fix the issue. Rebooted and tried again, still no go. Back to the registry and changed the value to 1 than tried the installation and what do you know, the installation works!

the installation completes and I reboot and ran SQL to make sure everything was working after the value alteration and everything seems to be working just fine.

My 1911

I have always loved John Moses Browning's 1911 design ever since I was a kid and when I first received my LTC-A in Massachusetts, my first purchase was a Para-Ord LTC in stainless steel which is a commander length barrel 1911 with Para's proprietary extractor. A lot of people bash Para but I never had a problem with it, the pistol shot tight groups and never suffered the failure that many experience with Para's overly complex extractor. The pistol was sold to my brother Luke and we have since converted it to a series 70 set up with a shim from Brownells and it shoots even tighter groups now that the trigger doesn't drag on so many parts. The reason why I chose the Para LTC was because of a lack of choice at the time that I bought it since Massachusetts restricts what pistols can be purchased. The pistols must go through a vetting process where the manufacturer is expected to ship three of the model that they wish to submit to be reviewed and it must pass muster between the Massachusetts Office of Public Safety (Mass EEOPs) and the Attorney General's office.

I mentioned that it was sold as I wanted to fund another project, a custom 1911 build. Since my first pistol purchase I have shot various pistols and owned a range of them and I came back to the 1911 but wanting a full size this time around and I wanted the classic as it should exist; Series 70 style workings and minimalist setup. Everywhere I looked all I saw were Series 80's and decided that building one is the only way to get what I wanted without spending thousands on a custom or an old Colt which fetch a premium in Massachusetts as there are no new Colts available since Colt does not want to navigate this state's many gray areas of the laws for manufacturers and distributors nor wish to participate in the pistol vetting process. For those of you that are wondering what the difference between Series 70 and Series 80 are, it is 1911 nomenclature that distinguished Colt 1911 models that were differentiated as Series 70 and Series 80 based on if it had a firing pin safety or not; the 70 did not and the 80 did. The addition of a firing pin safety added parts to both frame and slide and it forced the shooter to have to depress the trigger all the way and follow through for the firing pin safety to be moved out of the way and allow the firing pin to travel and strike the primer. The other benefit to the firing pin safety is that it minimized the possibility of an inertial discharge: in case the gun is dropped and risk the firing pin travelling forward from the fall's inertia, creating an unintentional discharge.

An illustration of how the Series 80 parts engage with one another

The pieces laid bare

The downside of a firing pin safety is that the parts that move the safety is manipulated by the trigger's bow and it functionally made a heavier and grittier trigger as a result of the additional parts that either directly (Lower sear lever) or indirectly (Upper sear lever, firing pin safety) touch the trigger.

Trigger bow is the part that passes back to the sear spring and is shaped to allow the magazine to pass through it.

I wasn't planning on dropping my 1911 but accidents do happen and I was concerned with the possibility of an inertial discharge when I came across an article on how a gunsmith during the evolution of the action shooting days figured out that if you use a lighter firing pin, say that of a 38 super/9mm firing pin for a .45 that the weight reduction was enough to prevent an inertial discharge (I unfortunately do not recall who the gunsmith was, I want to say it was perhaps Armand Swenson).

The .38 super firing pin (bottom) tapers to a finer point than that of a .45 firing pin (top)

I contacted John Lawlor over at Remsport for frame and slide and I dig their stuff, the overruns are fairly priced without compromising the quality of the components. John had some barrels on hand as well and decided to grab one while there. I went with a carbon steel frame and slide since I planned on a classic black oxide 1911 and most of the small parts are form Wilson Combat. The hammer is a commander hammer simply because I like the appearance of it and the trigger is a plain Jane 1911 trigger, nothing super special. the .38 super size firing pin is the Wilson Bullet Proof Firing Pin which is a really high quality firing pin that I should see years of service from. The front sight is a Trijicon tritium sight and the rear sight is an adjustable sight by Kensight. The grips are the slim line grips from MIL-TAC Knives & Tools which I absolutely love and plan to use in future builds. The grips provide a positive surface and hasn't slipped on me yet no matter how much sweat and dirt I had on my hands. I use a flat mainspring housing for the same reason I have the slim line grips: I have small hands. The flat mainspring housing reduces the radius my hand has to wrap around to grip and is easier to handle for my hand size. The mag release is an over-sized release which never catches on any holster I use and has been simply awesome.

Since the initial build, I have made some changes to my 1911 as well as plans for future changes. The front sight now has fluorescent orange tape sealed with nail polish to aid in a faster sight picture acquisition as I found when shooting pins at my range, the front sight was easily lost. The idea for the fluorescent tape is not my own but one I found from's article on the DIY Hi-Vis sight. I placed some skate board grip tape above the trigger on the support hand side (That would be the left hand for me) to give traction to where my support hand thumb sits on the frame and to train my thumb to hit the grip tape and away from the slide for a true thumbs forward hand position. The barrel has been trimmed down on a lathe so that it sits flush with the barrel bushing and this was purely an aesthetic decision. I decided that I want to change out the sights to Trijicon's HD Night Sight set in yellow since the human eye has more green 'cones' and can see the green to yellow spectrum better than the only other option which is orange. The set also comes with a fixed rear sight that is a ledge type design that allows one hand weapon manipulation for cycling the slide using the sight and the U shaped notch is over-sized compared to typical rear sights to allow faster sight acquisition as well.

1911 atop a couple of Wilson Combat 8rd magazines, those magazines are reliable and feed very well.

View from the other side

Muzzle detail, you can see how the fit looks with the barrel cut to fit the bushing. The process is really simple, with the pistol assembled, mark with a sharpie where the barrel protrudes past the bushing than chuck it up on a lathe and trim down than re-crown the barrel, some light sanding and buffing and it is now fitted exactly to length.

The orange on the front site blade plus shot of the top serrations which break up reflected light on top of the slide. This is the second application of the orange tape as it eventually came off, which is why on the second time around I liberally applied the clear nail polish.

Sight picture to see what the orange looks like.

Sight picture with focus on the rear sight

View of the front strap checkering and the undercut.

Close up of the grip tape I applied.

Rear of the pistol where you can see fit and finish of the beaver tail safety and the flat MSH.

View of the breach face

How the barrel and frame meet to provide a ramp for the next round to load

Without the slide to see how the barrel interacts during the cycling operation, first picture would be when the slide is back to engage the barrel to the frame to reload and the next where the barrel lifts to lock against the slide.

Barrel properly throated to aid in reliable feeding no matter the ammunition type.

The ejection port which is lowered and flared.

A lightly flared magazine well.

Grip detail

In the locked back position

Magazine inserted to show how far the Wilson mag sticks out of the bottom.

All of the components were hand fitted piece of piece to ensure the best fit to this particular pistol. The starting point is the slide to frame fit. Depending on machining tolerances, the process can be an arduous one or a relatively fast task. The frame and slide fit decently enough to about 3/4 of the way on before lapping to fit. The barrel is then fitted where you have to fit the pivot's size than the barrel hood to ensure a tight lock up when the pistol is in battery. The barrel's needs to be throated as the original dimension was designed for military ball ammunition and is inadequate for feeding other types of ammunition and can contribute a failure to feed (FTF) as a result. The throating shouldn't be so aggressive as to make the rounds slide out of battery and shouldn't so tight that shorter hollow point ammunition doesn't get stuck where the barrel and frame meet.

The trigger is fitted to the frame next and first see how the trigger rides within the frame and figure out if it is riding true. If it is not, the trigger bow is bent out of true and ideally use a stirrup die which makes truing a snap. Once trued, see if the trigger fits and start noting where there is interruption in travel and that will be where to use a fine grit stone to file and smooth the surface for a well fitting trigger that travels true. Most smiths will use a combination of Arkansas and India stones to accomplish this task, I use Boride which is an engineered abrasive company and specifically the ones designed to remove EDM scaling seems to work particularly well for gunsmithing, they even have a gunsmithing specific kit which is an assortment of stones and is a great deal. The engineered abrasives I find lasts linger, are fraction of the cost of Arkansas or India stones, and are consistent when replaced.

Once the trigger is fitted, the grip safety can be fitted to the frame. See if the grip safety even fits the frame in my case, the grip safety from Wilson seemed over sized and I believe was meant to be fitted. Once filed down enough to fit to frame, I cut down a punch I didn't need to create a pin to hold the grip safety to the frame and went to work on it with a dremel to rough fit to frame. With the rough fitting done, I cut about a foot long length of 2" wide sand paper off of a roll that I bought at Harbor Freight and hand sanded until smoothly fitted to frame. The trigger to grip safety fit will be done later as I need to wait for the rest of the trigger group to be fitted.

The sear engagement I felt was easier than what most described, years of fabrication experience certainly helped. Idea is to true the sear engagement to make the trigger pull as smooth possible, which means to file the metal to a flat and true to one another's surfaces between sear and hammer. There are various jigs available to accomplish this task which I do not have available to me but do have various sized vices, various magnification eye loupes, and various files and engineered abrasives plus a really steady hand (ten plus years of tattooing also helped). If you find that you do not have a jig, just take your time as you are performing subtractive work in that you are removing material and can not add any back on, and check the engagement regularly as you go. A simple jig to check sear engagement is to use a transfer punch through the hammer and sear pin hole on your frame to a block of wood, I went through and found crap punches I no linger user and cut them down and drill a hole partially through the wood block and friction fit the punches in place to mount the hammer and sear to check the surface engagement.

With the critical parts fitted, time to fit the rest of the small parts and the final fit of the grip safety. The safety will need to be fitted and it's a trial and error process and take your time, no reason to screw the pooch by rushing through the safety fitting. The safety needs to positively stop the hammer from falling as well as move in and out of the safe/fire positions. The mainspring housing will need to be fitted, see how far it fits and mark with a sharpie and slowly file until the MSH fits smoothly without binding. Get the rest of the trigger group and trigger installed, time to see how much you will have to file the grip safety's engagement against the trigger bow. Take your time as it is really easy to over file here and if you do, all that time spent fitting the grip safety will be for naught as it will not effectively stop the trigger travel when in the safe position. File a little bit, try, repeat.

With the rest of the pieces fitted, sand to smooth and polish before oxidizing. The buff/polish is really important as the outcome of the oxidization process is only as good as what you put in to begin with. Oxidization can be done at home, mine was sent out along with all small parts to be done to have a uniform look. If trying the home method, there are various resources available on the web and I personally want to try the bone pack method for bluing and the hot oil method for oxide.

All of these steps ensure properly fitted parts which contribute and accuracy and a build to last a life time or longer. I went with a slightly looser slide to frame fit as I wanted something that would function no matter what, unlike race guns with extremely close tolerances that has the potential for malfunction from binding if to much foreign material is introduced to the slide rails. Yes the old girl shows wear and tear but I personally like it, the more shet's used the more character she acquires.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Few Watches

Update 9/14/2012-------------

Before reading this article, check out my impression on finally receiving the watch after several production delays and hardly any communication. I can't in good conscience recommend their custom dials as they are a disappointment, and their steel bracelets are a waste of money as they do not fit the lugs.

I came across a rather nontraditional European watch company in a sense that they are located in Sweden and assemble watches there but they use Miyota movements which are manufactured by Citizen who is a Japanese watch maker. What sets Few apart is that they offer a selection of cases between two Citizen Miyota movements; the 8205 which is an automatic movement capable of a 40hr power reserve and the OS20 which is a quartz chronograph. I personally do not care for quartz watches and it is the automatic movement that caught my attention. The 8205 is a 21 Jewel movement that beats at the modern 21.6k BPH with a centered hour, minute, and second hand with a day/date window. The crown can be used to wind in it's neutral position and pulls out two clicks where the first click position is used to set day or date depending on the direction it is turned and the last and outer click will set the time.

8205 technical drawing

8205 exploded view from the front

8205 exploded view from the back

At first glance Few makes good looking watches with a lot of choices at a competitive price and as you poke around the website, you realize that there are various levels of customization offered with many of those options at no additional cost which is just simply awesome. I'm not talking just a simple change of the wristband here but as granular as picking the hands, color of the second hand, crown shape, case lid, even a custom dial. Naturally I had to take the watch customization for a spin and lost myself for hours configuring variation upon variation which lead me to designing a custom dial as I was close to the feel of what I wanted with the stock dials but wasn't quite there yet. What started out as a simple curiosity has now turned into an order and I haven't been this giddy for a watch of my own since building one back in January.

The watch customization is stepped so that anyone can make a watch and I highly recommend creating an account before starting (it's free) for two reasons, 1). You will have access to dial customization, and 2). You can save your dials and watch configurations. Once I narrowed down the case to the Black PVC coated case with the dive style bezel, I picked the Rolex Submariner style hands with a red second hand, the crown is a modern tall crown and next came the dial. This is where the website kind of sucks, the website's dial design tool is barely adequate and is really clunky to say the least. I found myself creating the dial in Photoshop and Illustrator and uploading GIF images (to keep the transparency) to the website and building the dial that way. I spent countless hours designing dials for my SWC watches and this is no different; I tend to design dials that appeals to my aesthetic taste while keeping general wearability in mind where I want to design a timeless timepiece and where each dial speaks to me differently. This time around however, I was designing something specifically for myself and I wanted to create a dial that makes the statement of, yes that's me; that there is no mistake that the watch belongs to me. After about four hours or so of trying various iterations I have arrived on a design that is most certainly me.

The close up detail, I went with a grey dial color with white numerals and the cross wrench and M4, yup that's me for sure. I kept the Few logo as I wanted to maintain their brand as advertisement for them.

Filled with the grey for better visual representation

Mock up with all the parts I picked out, this is what the final production watch should look like. The chapter ring I believe will be installed as in either a chrome or lume insert.

Assuming that Few can execute my design well, it just may become my everyday beater at $224 shipped.

UPDATE: I forgot to include this on the original post and this is purely an observation when I bought my watch. I recommend using Paypal as the CC method does not change to a secure protocol, meaning it remains on HTTP and that would be unencrypted CC info being transmitted.

I look forward to my watch's arrival, I just received an email this morning stating my watch is, "In Production" with the email showing a simple diagram of it's order process which goes like this: In pre-production > In production > Preparing shipment > Shipped. As soon as I receive my watch and have some time wearing it, I will write a full review hopefully in the very near future.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Trying out FrogLube

It seems that I am late to the FrogLube party as I am not one to get sucked into the hype and jump on the band wagon. What made me decide to try it was when I recently had some 20th century rust from my Colt 1901 spread to my 21st century 1911 (built circa 2010) and it was the sudden spread of rust on the 1911 that made me want to try the FrogLube paste in hopes of better preserving the pistols in storage.

There are mountains of articles and videos on how to apply the stuff that extol the benefits and virtues of FrogLube and what piqued my interest was when I was reading up on how the paste is dynamic in a sense that it exists in various states depending up on the climate. I typically oil and coat my guns with G96 which I love and really haven't found a better performing lubricant. G96 is stable across various temperatures and climates that we experience in the Northeast and what I wanted in addition is something that did not evaporate off of the gun as quickly. FrogLube's instructions state that the gun should be heated up before applying and the idea is to allow the lubricant to penetrate the metal deeply for a lasting protection against things like corrosion and this is the part that made me finally order the stuff.

I bought it off of Amazon (if you haven't gotten a prime membership yet, invest; it's worth it) and arrived in one day. I tear into the package to find application instructions, the paste and the liquid, cloth and applicator brush. Up on opening the paste jar I take a wiff of it to smell the mint smell that everyone speaks of it and here is what it smells like: Pepto-bismol.

I heat my 1911 frame and slide up with my heat gun until it's a bit more than warmer to touch and brushed on the FrogLube. It brushed on easier than I expected being a paste and as it hit the warmed metal, it appeared to melt right away and I continue to apply heat via the heat gun to let the stuff penetrate the metal.

My 1911 field stripped prior to heating and application

Ye olde trusty heat gun

The entire process took maybe twenty minutes to coat the frame, slide, barrel, as well as small parts from the field strip. When I put it back together, the slide felt a little rough to rack so I added some of the liquid FrogLube to the slide rails with a toothpick and it was slick as goose shit in no time. I placed the now coated 1911 back near my 1901 to see if the rust will spread again and if it does, if it is at a reduced rate, area, etc.

My 1911 reassembled

Perhaps I should try coating my AR BCG with FrogLube...