spinning plates

I have a problem.
I can admit i have a problem. I’m under the impression that a number of my co-workers suffer from this same afliction. and no, i’m not talking about fatfinger disease when typing. I suffer from that, too.

I am a nerd. In the sense of the word that ‘nerd-sniping’ works on me. I see a problem, identify a need, or concieve of a cool project and then spin up brainpower towards working on it. Brainpower that should be devoted to work or driving or any number of existing projects which i’ve already invested time or money into.

As a result of this self-nerd-sniping that has occurred of the course of the past several years, I have a number of half-completed projects lying around. These plates which I started spinning ages ago and never got around to completing. And now i’m doing the hardest project-related task. I’m letting some of them go.

Part of this is due to the realization that I cannot successfully juggle all these projects and work and any semblance of a social life. Part of it is due to the fact that a number of these projects were concieved as a way to do something that a $300 gadget can do. I didn’t want to buy said gadget, so I designed and built my own to do the job, usually at a fraction of the cost(in money. My time was not factored). Now I have an excellent job which pays well. Expensive gadgetry is no longer out of reach, monetarily. I’ve even backed a kickstarter or two.

But now the gadget-projects which started from a cost-based need(read: want) are no longer relevant. A concrete example: I had a manual projector screen. I wanted an electronic automatic-lowering projector screen. The cost differenc between buying a manual and automatic screen was a factor of 3. So I built an automatic screen-lowering device. I further enabled it to interface with alexa, something a purchased screen would not likely have been able to do. I could at this point afford to just buy a motorized screen if I needed one. I don’t need one because my screen is now fixed to the wall in a dedicated theater room.

Another concrete example is my joystick project. I wanted a better joystick but did not have $500 to spend on a warthog hotas or VKB joystick, so I decided to try and make my own. I read articles about other folks having built their own joystick without the aid of a 3d printer. I figured between my 3d printer and CAD ability the task should be relatively easy. It ballooned a bit during the course of the project, adding smarts to the controller, enabled a power-function output curve, or variable trim mini-stick that alters the primary axis. And I went through 14 printed iterations of it. I wrote firmware for the controller, soldered all the buttons and figured out how to read the high-fidelity hall effect tilt sensors used for the pitch and roll axes. But i’m not confident enough in it to plug it in today and use it. I found a stick on ebay that’s better than my current stick(though not a warthog) and also only $50.

I won’t relegate the project joystick to my wall of shame, but it will serve as an cost-benefit benchmark to measure future projects against. Like my timelapse camera. That is completely done and ready to go, but once i finished it, I used it all of once and then it has since sat in a box. I like looking at timelapse photography, but I’m no photographer. I don’t know how to set up a shot with good lighting and whatnot to make it actually presentable. Also the time it takes to set up is a hindrance.

I’m now in the process of letting go of a number of spinning plates, to focus my limited time on the ones that really matter.
Also i previously had absolutely no social life. Not hyperbole. outside of work I did not interact with human beings other than my wife. Now i am trying to cultivate one, and that is another drain on my free/project time.