Blue Canola Oil or Dye Another Day

Did you know that if things go just wrong enough, you can create blue canola oil?  I didn’t either until the other day when I decided to make some fries to go with some burgers I made.

Hungry Yet?

It was going to be a delicious meal.  Some big Idaho potatoes were into thick fries (the best kind when you make them at home).  I was making sliders with ground beef and just a little bit of sausage.  I had fresh buns, salad greens, Vidalia onions, and spicy mustard all ready to go.  The fries were timed just right with the patties so that everything would be ready to go at the exact same time.  It was going to be perfect.  I grabbed a metal colander to scoop out the fries (I couldn’t find a slotted spatula), dipped it in to grab my deep fried potato prize, but suddenly my cooking oil turned a bright turquoise.

I scooped out the fries and laid them to cool on a paper plate.  The color change had gotten to the fries.  They were contaminated.  I wasn’t sure what caused this horrific turn of events, but something told me that these were inedible.

Blue French Fries

Unless it comes with the suffix -berry, I’m hesitant to trust blue food.

I was stymied.  What could create blue canola oil?  I knew it had to be linked to the metal strainer, but how?  I always thought the strainer was steel, had it magically turned into copper?  Even if it did have copper in it, how did that suddenly dissolve into canola oil?

And then the solution hit me:


Remember a few posts ago when I was going over my Model M mods?  You know, this one.  Remember how I dyed my keycaps blue?  Yeah…. about that…

It seems that I somehow mixed in my crafting colander with my food-safe cookware.  The iDye Poly I used for that project was formulated to dye polymers.  Most polymers a craft oriented person would want to color are hydrophobic in nature.  It follows that a very hydrophobic liquid (canola oil) would dissolve the dye quite readily.

Since this little event, I have separated my metal strainers in a more obvious manner.  Accidentally using lab ware for human consumption is no joke.  Now the real question: what do I do with all this blue canola oil?


Blue Canola Oil

A 3D Modeled Keyboard Cap

After I got hooked by the allure of 3D CAD, I decided to practice my skills by making a 3D modeled keyboard cap.  I started working on something using OpenSCAD, but it proved difficult to get the sort of organic curves I wanted.  I wanted to get some experience using a GUI based-program, rather than just scripting.  Instead, I decided to try a program called Fusion360.  This program is a free variant of Autodesk for personal and low-impact use.  It sadly does not have a Linux build, but I have had luck with it on my Windows box (it has the more powerful gaming GPU’s on it anyway).

The Design

I based my design on the classic caps you would get on retro units, like the Commodore.  A modern variant is available from Signature Plastics (PMK) known as the SA profile.  At the time I originally made this model (April 2015), there weren’t any of these models freely available.  This should be similar to the SA keycap dimensions but not quite the same.

The 3D modeled keyboard cap from the side.

The 3D modeled keyboard cap from the bottom.

The Real World Versions of my 3D Modeled Keyboard Cap

I decided to have these 3D printed from a commercial vendor, rather than trying to print it on a home printer.  I wanted to get some better detail.

The first print.

The height is somewhere between Signature Plastic’s DSA and SA row 3 profiles.  You can compare the shape and size in the picture below of my 3D modeled keyboard cap  to a DSA (left, in black) and an SA (right, red) profile cap:

A comparison of the print to commercial versions.

I’m glad I did this test run.  The stem shrank in a way I didn’t expect, and the cruciform is a bit too big.  It slips on and off the stems too easily.  This is an easily fixable problem.

The bottom side.


I made a new version with a tighter cruciform.  I added some text on this one.  Nothing like a little American Psycho quote to brighten up a keyboard.  I ended up giving this to a colleague as a gift.

Feed me a stray cat.


If you would like to use this file, feel free to do so.  Check it out:

This is a 3D render, play around with it!

And here is a download link.


IBM Model M Mod

I decided that I should do my own IBM Model M mod.  In early March of 2015, I bought a Model M from a Geekhack user on the cheap.

The original IBM Model M I purchased with the cap covers off.

The keyboard was bolt modded, had a wonky membrane, and no cable.  I did a few mods to it.

The Caps

I dyed the caps aqua colored utilizing Jacquard iDye.  I boiled water and used an old metal colander to submerge the caps.  I oriented the caps in the same direction in the bath, and that gave them a nice gradient.

The keyboard with the case removed.

The electronics

Since few new computers come with AT-DIN connectors any more, for this IBM Model M Mod, I wanted to add a USB.  The original connector of this board was a hard-wired DIN connection.  I removed the old connector and added a Teensy for USB capabilities.  Desoldering the wires was easy enough, but I actually went through a few Teensys in the process.  I had a Teensy 2.0, but while soldering it I damaged one of the resistors/capacitors and the socket.  I did some work on it with the Teensy 2.0+, but I am going to use that for another project.  I bought a Teensy LC, but the ARM processor was giving me problems.  So I finally went with another 2.0.

I’m pretty proud of the usb connector.  I took the old DIN socket and ripped it all to hell with my Dremel.  I made little slots so the teensy board would slide in and super glued it to that spot.  I filled in the open area with epoxy clay so it looks fairly clean.

The clean surface of the USB connector.

I also desoldered all of the old ugly green LEDS and resistors on the breakout board.  I put in their place some bright blue LEDs and appropriate resistors for them.  Now everything looks bright and color coordinated.

I'm glad that I went with the bright LEDs. If you aren't blinded by your keyboard numlock, you aren't doing it right.

The Artisan Keys

I have a BS compatible Brobot from [Ctrl]Alt  as the escape key.  This picture is nice because it really shows off the color gradient on the other caps.

Purple Bro

I also have a pair of glorious multi-shot Krap bonus caps on the pause and scroll lock buttons.

One-off Krap caps - art if you like it.

Now I have a very attractive IBM Model M Mod.

The Finished IBM Model M Mod