Priority SitRep

6/2/24. Found a free hour or two. Actively working on site. Email me if you find something messed up.

I got *A* printer working!

I took this past week away from work (most people say "off," however I tell people, "I'm always off...") and did many things around the house. Including spending some time with my 3D printers. If you don't know or didn't remember, I have three printers, a Creality Ender 2, an Ender 3, and an Anycubic Photon.

I went through the basic alignment and setting of the Z for the Photon, and did a test print, which went well. I had most of a bottle that was due to expire next month, as the resin has generally a 12-month lifespan before it goes bad. I then started printing walls for terrain. There were a couple of "oops's" that I think were caused by the vat I was using. I switched vats, and I started getting consistent successful prints. I was so prolific I ran that bottle out and ordered two more. I have achieved my initial goal, and was able to print a perimeter wall for a base:

resin peremiter wall

My next-to-last last print for this, I didn't pay attention and just started the last print I needed to finish this project, without checking the amount of resin in the vat. When I pulled the last print off, I looked into the vat and saw this:

almost oops

Yeah. "Oops" is an understatement. It all worked out okay, this was the "casualty":

wall oops close

Easily passed off as "damage." This wall will be added to my queue of Things To Paint and hopefully be seen on a battlefield sooner rather than later.

Roster Builder progress

I finally got tired of procrastinating today, so I just sat down and pounded out some code. I reworked the installer for Roster Builder, and took out all of the extra options I had made available. The options only made my life more difficult, and didn't significantly improve your experience. So they got the old heave-ho.

My only sticking point right now is the application upgrade process inside Roster Builder itself. When the app runs, it "phones home" to here and checks the current version of the application, the databases and the images, downloading and installing what is necessary. When trying to upgrade the application, it was getting stuck in a loop. I think I know what it is, but it's too late for me to work on it tonight.

67% Solved!

One of my biggest issues with this website *CURSE THE TEMPLATE DESIGNER! MAY THE FLEAS OF A THOUSAND CAMELS INFEST HIS PRIVATES!* was that we (you and I) couldn't get anywhere on mobile devices. The graphics I had to point the way to things like See Mark Paint and Roster Builder wouldn't show, and for some reason I couldn't get the "hamburger menu" to show up either.

Well, I finally sat down last night, brought forth my Vulcan IDIC training and brute-forced my way through. I now have a mobile and tablet hamburger that reaches everything that needs to be reached... Except the desktop side now looks like garbage. My pretty graphics are now gone, and I actually redid them too...

That's why the title is "67% solved." I will try later.

In other news, sporatic progress has been made in regards to 3D printing, so I can start work on the next edition of See Mark Paint, and the major bug for the Roster Builder installer. I actually have to rework sections of the main application because of the changes I had to make to download the app itself during the installation process, which is what is causing the gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes.

Working on things

I am engaged on many fronts. I could really use someone to give me lots of cash so I can spend all day working on Content for here, Roster Builder, See Mark Paint and all the rest.

Things have been messed up with this website, because how this one interacts with my other websites. Don't ask me to explain, I don't know. I was down to randomly slinging stuff at the wall to see what stuck. I think I have that working now.

I am also trying to clean up the structure here, rework the shortcuts and make it so people on mobile can see the thumbnails on the front page.

I found some issues with the Roster Builder installer, so I am working on that and because of the changes with that, I have to tweak the application as well.

I am starting to draw the outlines for the next edition of See Mark Paint.

I have several boxes of miniatures to paint.

Day Late. Oh, well

Okay folks. I planned on doing this on the 31st, however a 16-hour work day gets in the way of things like that. Anyway, Roster Builder 5 is released! Download and run the installer and you should be good to go.

Roster Builder moving forward

Busy beyond belief. I don't even have that much time to play BT at all.

The good news is, I wrote a progam for me to automate and simplify the process to "scrape" new units off the Master Unit List website. I did that recently, and I have been paring down the new items. Some don't have BV listed, some are types I don't want to mess with (warships, dropships, wet Navy and the like) and I have to manually scan each of these. I am down to about 1,700 new units, most are actually the "Squad 5/Squad 6" versions of the Battle Armor I already have. While I am about half-way through the process, there are still many more fields to capture.

More good news, I have cleared my personal task list enough that I can see the task for a new set of walk-through videos for RB5. After Witt and Kevin reported a bunch of bugs that I have squashed, I can head into the final Beta Test phase by forcing errors while demonstrating the usage of it.

More good news 2, I have upgraded from a MacBook Air to a MacBook Pro, and a friend is going to remote in this week and get python running on it for me. Once the videos are done and I have confirmed no more bugs, I can toss the code over to the MacBook and get to work on it there. It's all cosmetic for the Mac, because the working code will be 104% by then.

I originally promised "4th quarter 2023" when I started this, and I can see that happening. It will be Christmas, but it's that close.

Roster Builder moving to Beta Testing

Okay Mechwarriors, I think I got this. I have all of the files on the website and ready to go. I will be conducting a full run through from downloading the installer to installed and tested a bit to make sure it doesn't blow up too easily. Once I've don that, you can be a Beta tester by follofing the link below.

You will download a development copy of the application and can earn your name on the app as a Beta Tester. You have to do at least one of these two things:

  • Find at least one bug
  • Offer your honest assessment. What did I do right, where did I mess up, how things could be better.

So look for the text below to turn into a link and go for it! For some reason (Not because my BAC is above 0.2%), I can't get it to download when you click on this. Copy the link below, open a new tab and paste it in to download the installer.

RB 5.0 Progress Update #8

All over the place. I feel like the guy from the 70's variety shows who tries to balance as many spinning plates as possible. I am doing all "back office" and "what-if" stuff.

RB 5.0 Progress Update #7

The biggest part is done. I got the actual roster building functions to work. I have some "fine-tune" issues left to do on them, but they work and correctly

RB5 Update 7

The biggest parts left are moving the data directory, and being able to send email feedback. I am still grokking on the custom mechs (especially the AS stats).

I will soon be asking for volunteers to run roughshod over this app for beta testing.

RB 5.0 Progress Update #4, 5 AND 6!

Crap. I thought I posted this. I go to make today's post and see that I didn't. So, here's three weeks all together.

Yep. Been busy. Missed last week entirely and this week by a day. That's okay. I'm making progress.

RB5 Update 45

Right now I'm in a "coasting phase," as I'm tackling functions that the biggest recode is for the new data format. I fixed the printing of the TO&E, and I'm most of the way through the CBT Roster function, I have formatting to correct and minor bugs to squash. I did put the custom unit import on hold. I have to let my brain grok how to make that work.

New mouseover

Here is what the new mouseover will look like. Since there is a default pilot now (not just when you start making a roster, but as part of your profile) when you build your roster, the mouseover will reflect the actual points you will pay with your default pilot. The heat scale is also in there now. 


Update #6. 

I had actually managed to complete the Build a CBT roster, then started working on the Alpha Strike roster, I realized I had to add several fields, so I actually have to go through the TO&E stage all over again. Not today. And it is "revisions" like this that is behind why I planned "4th Quarter 2023" from the start for this to come out. It will be released, because I will see this to completion and I have other things to do.

RB 5.0 Progress Update #3

The status indicator has not changed since last week. I have, however, made progress on several fronts.

When you start Roster Builder, it pings this website to check for the current versions of files. I have made several tables 'external' to the application, like the Gunnery/Pilot matrix to adjust the BV of units with 'buffed' pilots/crews. This allows me to keep you updated so I don't have to release an entire new version just to adjust the multiplier for a 1/6 pilot or whatever. These and others will be automatically updated during the startup process. I have to work out how I can upgrade the application. Still grokking on that process.

Also, if your computer doesn't have internet access (it can't ping), the app will not complain until you have done this several times in a row. That particular counter resets every time it can ping.

As far as the Alpha Strike PV is going, the word is "slow." I have to read and understand a couple paragraphs, then set it down and grok it for a day or two. SSW does the easy half of the work. It's very diffucult with all of this data and yet force it through a logic web ("You multiply this number with that number, except on alternate Tuesdays" thing).

The next function will be how to have your feedback sent to me via email from the app, so you don't have to open your email program.

The last and biggest bite will be the rosters themselves. While most of it is just adjusting the fields that it looks for when building the pool of units by the criteria you sent, there's more and different data to consider and process. Then I get to make and upload the new walk-thru videos. Then beta testing.

RB 5.0 Progress Update #2

RB5 Update 2


The main reason why I started this years ago as a spreadsheet was to fill a personal need that no one else had addressed, namely a way to keep track of my inventory and build rosters. And the functionality to add custom/non-canon units was always difficult at best since Roster Builder 1.0. Up until now, I offered no verification to confirm the validity of those units. Frankly, I did not want to spend the coding time necessary to implement verification functions already covered by other apps and services. 

Anyway I finished up on the TO&E entry and editing, and decided this was the best time to tackle this function. As I was getting ready to tackle the redesign of the screen to bring the basic stats, the weapon loadout and the Alpha Strike information into one window, along with developing the AS stats from what you entered.... I came to the realization that Solaris Skunk Werks did most of that work for me. So I am rewriting the "Import Custom/Non-Canon 'Mechs" function as an import of SSW files. Build your 'Mech there and import it into RB and it's all done.

Over the past couple of days, I pulled apart some SSW files and figured out where the information I needed was and how to pull it out. Because SSW files have Battleforce stats which are close to AS, but do not have a total direct translation to AS, I am having to do calculations to reflect the proper PV. I'm not going to do the notes. I'll let you do them. Everything else translates properly.

While I will give another update next Wednesday, don't expect me to have this function done by then. I have to build some external files, write the code and do Alpha testing.

Just as a tease, at some point in the future (5.1, 5.5, etc.) I could be persuaded to import MegaMek files, however those will be more difficult due to them not having all of the data I need to do the AS conversion easily.

I am on-track for a late 3rd quarter/early 4th quarter release. That's the best I can do, since this is "spare time" work. The good news is I'm not anticipating running 425 hours of OT this year, like I did last year...

RB 5.0 Progress Update #1

To provide some accountability for myself and to keep me working on this, I decided to create a color-coded tool so I can keep track of myself and keep you updated on what I'm working on.

The functions under "Profile" were easy, I actually added a couple of data points to a person's profile, like default pilot stats for CBT and AS, plus you can pick how you want to see the "short" names. CGL has them "IS name (Clan name)", however if you're a Clanner, you might want to see "Clan name (IS name)" or you can select just the IS or Clan names.

The "Custom AS Units are going away, as I am combining both CBT and AS stats together in the files and the entry for Custom (formerly Non-Canon) units.

RB5 Update 1

The Windows version will release first, since that's my normal environment. I just got a MacBook Pro so I can do the Mac environment, and the Linux should be quickly after that, since very little modifications from the Mac Unix to "regular" Unix should be necessary.

Still working on it

(I'm telling you this because I'm a big numbers and spreadsheet nerd.)

The work continues apace. In case you didn't know it, the Master Unit List currently has 8,485 listed Canon units. The Database in Roster Builder 4 is 4,594. I don't use many of them for various reasons. I don't have conventional infantry, DropShips, WarShips, Naval units and miscellaneous units like that. There are also many units that don't have BV listed, I do not include Base units for OmniMechs, and stuff like that. Units that would be hard to fit into a "regular" game of CBT or AS.

Since my last post here, I had to comb through my entire database to weed out the inconsistencies before I could do anything. Then I scraped to capture all of their Canon 'Mechs and cross-check my own AS data for all units. That brought me up to 5,226 line items. I rescraped the Master Unit List and I now have 1,770 units new that have been added since my last MUL scrape. Many of these are Battle Armor, as Catalyst decided to separate Battle Armor into [Squad 4], [Squad 5] and [Squad 6] entries.

My plan at this point in time is to get the data for the Battle Armor entries set, since there is very little difference between the squad sizes other than BV/PV. Now that I have the new data format set, I can start updating the code to work with the data. I also have some new features to add. This should take less than six months. I have for a while now been writing this code to handle Windows, MacOS and Linux. In other words, Roster Builder 5 will have apps for all three platforms. The Linux one will be last, because I have very little experience in that environment.

The bad news is, I have to do this after my day job, my family and the various RL house chores and "honey-do's." Unless you want to be my patron and pay me to do this work full time. At 8-10 hours a day, it should take almost no time at all. :-)

Happy 2023!

I am making significant progress on the revamp of the Roster Build database. I have been cleaning up the database, and I have a couple thousand new line items, and thankfully I found a website I was able to scrape and acquire detailed data on old and new units alike.

Version 5 of Roster Builder will have some new features, notably a "scale" on how hot a Mech can get, using the assumption of running/jumping and then firing all weapons. I am also considering some cosmetic features and options, they are still early in their "groking" phase, so quite nebulous at this point.

If there is a feature you want to see, now is the time to send it to me.

Progress has been made!

Okay, I have managed to bring out the various groups of articles for this website to the front page and make them work. There's still work to be done, but you can at least get there from here.

Also, thanks to Catalyst splitting every BA into Squads of 4, 5 and 6, not to mention the new additions to the Master Unit List, I am having to recombine the entire main database for Roster Builder. I am making progress. I am looking at another 2,300 worth of line items that I have to do the research on. More than a few will not make the cut, as they are too specialized, but many more will cause me headaches.

I am also combining the data so each MUL line item has both the CBT and AS information I need. Once this is done, I have to go back through the entire pile of code for Roster Builder that I have to handle the database alterations.

And it will be AWESOME!

I have not stopped working to bring you what you need. Progress continues on all projects and in a positive direction. I hope to release the next versions of both See Mark Paint and Roster Builder by the end of 2023. That may seem to be a long time for you, however I will be working furiously all day every day to get there from here.


Looks like crap, I know.

Bad news: I've run out of time, so I had to go with what I've built so far and push it from sandbox to production.

More bad news: I'm still working 50-60 hour weeks, so content will still be minimal at best. 

Good news: It will get better. Now that I'm here (current CMS and PHP 8) I can take my time and get it all fixed properly and without a Sword of Damocles time-crunch looming over me.

Falling back to regroup

My apologies, again I am working 60 hour weeks, fighting with my Ender 3, and more.

I am, however slowly working on See Mark Paint and Roster Builder. All that being said, I have to give you a fair warning, I am having to take a pause on posting. I mean, like not working on the website or content at all. The primary reason is this website is facing a forced shutdown. I'm running on an old version of PHP that will stop working soon. When I try to upgrade the PHP, it breaks the website. Add to that the CMS software itself has undergone a major revision that I must also upgrade to, with some of the modules I use not upgraded or I have to buy a whole new package. The look may change as well, as I may have to go to a new template. Hopefully not though.

So, all of my time normally allocated for even thinking about Battletech is now forcefully allocated for doing these upgrades. Fair warning, you might come here one day and find a static webpage. Rest assured I am diligently working on making it through these trials and tribulations.

See you on the other side.


Big Roster Builder Update

One word: OUCH.

I am slowly moving forward with Roster Builder 5, including its port to Linux/MacOS. With this version I am seriously looking at restructuring the primary database that has all of the data that I scrape from time-to-time off of the Master Unit List web page. Up until now, I had about 6,000 line items that whittled down for various reasons to 4,600 records. Well, I just scraped the MUL and it's now at over 8,000 records.

Well, SHIT.

What this means is I have to now recomb over the database, update the old records, verify the MUL record number didn't change, then I can start working on the new records. Combined with combining the CBT and AS databases, AND coding the changes, with everything else going on in my life, I'm going to say "4th Quarter 2022" as an attainable goal as to when you can see RB5.

If you just can't wait, you can hire me for a contract job and I'll take a leave of absence from my day job. That would let me work non-stop 40 hours a week, for which I would charge $50/hour, which is about what I'm getting from the day job, factoring in overtime and all that. I should get it done in 1-2 months working on it full time.

Ender is now (mostly) working

I haven't posted in a while because I've been busy fighting my Ender 3. And documenting everything for See Mark Paint.

Here's my setup:



Here's my purchased and printed upgrades, with links:

The BLTouch is so I don't have to worry about bed leveling. The PEI spring steel plate was so I don't have to use tape or glue on the bed anymore. The upgraded bed springs was for... well, I was mucking around with the bed anyway, why not? Someone recommended them to me. The spiral wrap means I can group and hide all of the wires and tubes into a single group and not have to worry about layers of cable ties. The SD card reader makes inserting and removing the card easier, not only because it's a more comfortable size, but also easier access. I used to have to "scootch" the printer up to the table edge to get my fingers on the micro SD card. The extrusion mechanism upgrade was because the plastic extrusion mechanism broke.

The printable upgrades:

All this and more will be up in the 3d printing chapters in the next edition of See Mark Paint.

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