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The Paradox Mouse!! Custom Computer Mouse

After completing my custom keyboard, I was constantly annoyed with seeing my ugly plastic mouse sitting next to it, so I knew a new project was inevitable. I decided to make a custom matching mouse! At first I felt this project was beyond my abilities, since I had to make actual moving and working parts, but after hours of staring at a dissembled mouse and my boxes and jars of random found objects, I developed a plan of attack. The mouse I started with was a generic 5 button mouse with scroll wheel. The two main left/right buttons were the largest obstacles for I couldn’t find anything that would both look and function well. My first though was to use the two sides of a bottom jawbone of some rodent I had lying around, but they ended up being too small and fragile for constant use. I then decided I will just carve some pieces out of wood. After this, I made a mount using brass tubing and brass I-beam shaped pieces. To match the keyboard, I decided to add vintage typewriter keys to each of the finger points on the main 4 buttons of this mouse. I used Alchemy symbols to replace the original letters in the keys. These symbols may or may not have been chosen for a specific significance in this project.

The 3rd and 4th buttons are on the sides of the mouse. I used thin brass sheets cut in a small strip that attaches to the brass rod used to mount the main keys. At the end of the brass strip, I made a mount to add more Vintage Typewriter keys.

The brass strip and key mount can be seen in this construction picture here. It is on the left of the picture.

You can see the side buttons on the bottom of the mouse in the picture below.

I then took apart the internal gears of a clock and used a dremel to cut the center of it out so it was large enough to slide over the scroll wheel. I did this with two gears and found a 3rd that actually slipped on the side perfectly. I then cut a thin strip of brass to wrap around the center of the scroll wheel. The scroll wheel is perfectly functional and also acts as a 5th button if you press down on it!

After the buttons were completed, the rest was easy since it all has to do with decoration! One late sleepless night, I had the ironic idea of using a mouse skull in the piece. Luckily I had a whole rodent skeleton sitting in a box. I bought this years ago with the idea of articulating it as if it would be a fun puzzle to do on a rainy day. Well many rainy days went by and it was never put together, but the head and a couple other pieces now reside in my new mouse!

There are 2 LEDs on this mouse, 1 was near the laser which gives the mouse a slight glow at all times, and a 2nd LED used to light the back of the mouse whenever it was moved. I extended the wires on the 2nd LED and then dremeled a hole into the bottom of the skull and stuffed it in there. The mouse was then placed on a big gear which I glued to the circuit board of the mouse, covering most of the internals. Now, whenever you move the mouse, the whole skull lights up! Creeeeepy!

The next two pictures show the resting state of the mouse with just the bottom LED active and the activated state with the 2nd LED on.


To protect the skull and to give the mouse a shape that will contour to your hand, I decided to make a rib cage. I used brass I-beam shaped pieces that you can get at a hobby store and meticulously bent these to form a cage. I then JB welded it all together and painted any exposing epoxy with brass colored paint. I then took the vertebrates and tail bones from the same rodent and lined the center beam with it. I had to soak the bone in warm water for 5 minutes to soften the tendons which allowed me to bend it to its final shape.

I also added a couple 9mm bullet shells at the back of the mouse for added detail. I love how they say ‘Luger’ on them.

Some other decorative aspects I used were the rodent’s shoulder blades for the front of the mouse. There was an open area here which needed to be covered to look complete and these pieces had the correct shape. You can see them in the following picture as well as how the left/right keys can flip all the way open revealing the micro-switches.

After the mouse was complete, there was one more thing I wanted to make. A custom mouse pad!

The mouse pad was made of scrap Victorian wooden trim, brass trims and rivets, and mini wood corbels from a hobby shop.

The mouse and mousepad took about 22 hours spread over a week and a half. Strangely, except for the brass trims, tubing, and screws, all the parts I used were found in my house! Costs including the mouse was about 40-50 dollars and the only tools I used were a bench grinder, a dremel, coping saw, and a lot of JB weld. Unfortunately, I am unable to reproduce this mouse for sale since it contains so many unique parts.

Now I just need to make a custom computer case and I would finally have a completely modified system!

Cuttlefish-The Next Generation….

So after an exhaustive search this year for a source of Bandensis eggs, I finally found some. I almost thought that none would show up at all, meaning there would be no Cuttlefish at all for a whole year since they are seasonal.

This is the first clutch of Eggs I got. They look recently laid, so I will need to wait to see if they are viable. If so, I “may” have some available for sale. Dont email me about these yet, I will post here if they do in fact become available.

Neo Victorian Keyboard / Monitor

So I finally can check off the “Customize and make a steampunk keyboard/monitor” entry that has been on my list of things to do for years! I really do hate using the word steampunk, but its become the modern and accepted label for this aesthetic. I’m pretty happy with the outcome, although my next attempt would probably have some significant changes now that I know what I’m doing. I feel that my obsession with transforming the everyday object to something more aesthetically aligned with the world of my psyche has pushed this unconscious universe one step closer to a tangible reality. Did I ever mention that this universe in my mind has a strong focus on form over function??

The Paradox Keyboard

Ive always been a fan of mini sized keyboards for Ive never use the number pad thats typically on the right side. I also always hated the way traditional technology looks in contrast to all the antique furniture that adorns my home, so I always had keyboards hidden in drawers. So with this, my first SteamPunk keyboard project uses a mini USB keyboard measuring 12.5″ x 6″. This project took me well over a month to complete, with most of the time used on modifying the keyboard and typewriter keys. In the same amount of time it took me to make this keyboard, I made my entire 6 ft long Neo-Victorian hood and stand for my aquarium!

Almost 2 full sets of vintage Typewriter keys were used along with a hand carved wooden spacebar! The frame was carved from wood, and functional colored LED indicator lights were added to designate Caps Lock, Number Lock, and Scroll Lock activation. This keyboard has been designed so that if for some reason, the electronics ever malfunction or breaks, a replacement keyboard’s internals can be swapped out fairly easily and cheaply. The completed keyboard types very smoothly and I can touch type on it with no problems!

These keyboards will be available for purchase through a made to order contract. The cost is a flexible $600 and reflects the incredibly tedious chore of creating one of these plus the costs of materials which include the two sets of vintage typewriter keys. If you are interested, please contact me here.

The Paradox Monitor

The monitor is made from a 24″ wide screen Samsung LCD attached to a desk arm that allows the monitor be positioned in any angle and stretch out a radius of a couple feet! I liked the idea of having the monitor seem like its hovering. A king of futuristic touch on something that looks like it was made a over a hundred years ago..

Since the monitor can be rotated 90 degrees, it allows me to use it as if its a giant LCD picture frame!

To access the monitors controls, the frame has a hinged area that opens to give you access.

Next on my list of things to do is to create a matching computer case.

To be continued……..

The Suicide Bike

This was an old project completed 4+ years ago, but I still thought it was Blog worthy. I will have new art to show soon. I Promise!

This is The Suicide Bike.
The name of this bike comes from the high probability that I will meet my demise (via impalement) one day riding this bike. The bike was created from the frame up and was completely hand painted. It has been loaded with fun vintage accessories such as an electronic horn, head and tail lights, and an old generator to power them. I made custom removable saddle cases from army ammo boxes. The handlebars are custom made using African Reed Buck antlers and the fender houses a small mink skull sporting an eye patch! Like most of my creations, this piece ranks a 1 on the practicality meter,but achieves a 10 on the coolness factor.

Check out my article in Reefkeeping Magazine!

In what I thought was a solitary obsession shared by only a handful of lunatics, it turns out that either there really is a growing interest in Cuttlefish or my disease is contagious and spreading with a zombie like intent! I tried to chronicle my most recent breeding experience on an online Reefing community, Reef Central and was then approached by the idea of writing an article to sum up the nuts and bolts of keeping and breeding Sepia Bandensis. I humbly accepted this offer and spent the next couple weeks writing up the Cuttlefish instruction manual that was published in the October 2008 – Volume 7 Issue 9 of Reefkeeping magazine. You can find my article by the link below.

So You Want Your Own Cuttlefish Army?

Pickled Monsters

Giant Preserved Squid Sculptures

Can be purchased or viewed at Paxton’s Gate in San Francisco, CA or contact me directly for purchase.

With a new technique and concept, I have preserved these large squids in a articulated manner in their Jars and Displays. Instead of just throwing the animal in a jar of alcohol, the squid was carefully positioned and suspended in its container to be immortalized in this unique display. The entire sculpture is a tad over 2 feet tall with a width of 10 1/2 inches. The squids themselves have a body length of over a foot with tentacles if stretched out reach 2 1/2 feet! The process of preserving the squids requires around 2 gallons of alcohol and over a month to complete. Each one will be completely unique!

The wood displays are made of high quality heavy Oak stained a dark red/brown on the exterior with a black wood stain for the inside of the box and the lighting housing. The black stain creates a clear contrast to the lightened squid. Detailed columns and accents to the box were created to develop an antique mad scientist aesthetic and feel. The squids can rotate 360 degrees within the display, so you can view the specimen from any angle. The light housing is situated on the bottom of the display, up-lighting the squid.

Nototodarus gouldi or commonly known as the Arrow Squid are found in the Southern half of Australia and New Zealand . They can be found as far down as 825 meters and are short lived with a lifespan of a little over a year. They eat voraciously and are aggressive predators that grow a couple inches a month. Their mantle (body) length can reach 1.5 feet and have arms that will double this size. They have a sharp beak hidden under all the arms and 2 extra long feeding tentacles equipped with circular suction cups lined with sharp razors that make it very difficult for their prey to escape. Squids and all cephalopods are equipped with a color changing mechanism that is so efficient that scientists still are not in full understanding of its mechanisms. Colors change instantly and are brilliant in color. Moods are expressed as well as it being used for camouflage. Rippling color waves are often seen flowing through the bodies used in some species to ‘hypnotize’ their prey. 10 Tentacles can be counted with 2 of these much longer then the other 8. Males can be identified by a modified shorter arm located on the backside of the body. This arm is violently thrusted into the body of the female squid during sex. Actually mating is a violent act and often indiscriminately performed in which the male will mount any squid regardless of species or gender. Squids have blue blood and evolved thick nerves that allow them to have faster reaction times that almost any species of animal.

Propulsion is done through a blow hole visible on the back side of the squid. It works much like a jet engine, using its fins to adjust the direction they are moving. When attacking they can be seen with the 8 arms spread open in a circular formation and the two feeding tentacles shooting straight forward.


Custom Magnet Glass Cleaner!

So not to long ago, I received my upgrade pack of magnets for my Ecotech Vortech Pumps. After the upgrade, I was playing with the old magnets and accidentally put them too close together. Suffice it to say, the magnets violently snapped together and were so strong that I broke a sweat trying to get them apart!

I then realized that these could be used to make my own custom glass cleaning magnets for my tank! I’m too lazy to ever take my normal magnet cleaner out of the tank, so if there was going to be a square block stuck on the outside of my tank all the time, it might as well look cool.

Here is what I put together!

The CuttleFarm Army Project

Started in 2004, The Cuttle Farm Army was a project aimed at raising and hopefully breeding the elusive Sepia Bandensis Cuttlefish in the home aquaria. Sepia Bandensis or any cuttlefish do not naturally occur in any US waters and transporting them around the world typically ends up badly. The availability in the US was very dismal and the knowledge concerning raising them was even less. My goal was to not only develop the techniques to raise them, but to eventually breed them to develop a captive bred system that will remove the necessity to pluck more specimens from the wild and risk the chance of death.

In February of 2008, I proudly can say that I became one of the few that successfully bred this species of cuttlefish. There were many challenges in determining the most optimal conditions required and there are still many questions that are unanswered. I could not have done any of this without the collective community of Tonmo (The Octopus News Magazine Online) and Richard Ross of Daisy Hill Cuttle

Much of my progress has been documented in various locations. I will try to centralize all this information into my blog found in the Topics section as The Cuttle Farm Army. Please feel free to browse this section if you are so inclined.

If you are interested in having your own CuttleFarm Army, be sure to read my Article published in the October 2008 – Volume 7 Issue 9 of ReefKeeping Magazine called So You Want Your Own Cuttlefish Army?

Please also check out the my minor contributions to the book Cephalopods: Octopuses and Cuttlefish for the Home Aquarium by Colin Dunlap and Nancy King. Necessary reading for anyone interested in keeping cephs.

150 Gallon CuttleFarm Army Reef

Originally Posted at TheTentacleParadox
The Tank

The tank itself is 150 Gallons with 1/2 inch Glass. Almost everything other then the mechanical equipment were custom made including the cabinet, hood, sump, and auto top off reservoir. The goal is to house and breed Sepia Bandensis in a mixed reef system. This project is an attempt to go beyond the traditional construction of a salt water system, but to make it an artistic endeavor as well. Like usual with my creations, the aesthetics are in tune with an old mad scientist feel.

System Schematic

Main Tank

The main tank is a 150 gallon Glass tank with custom wood stand and hood. Dimensions are 72.5″Long x 18.5″Deep x 28″ Tall. I drilled the back for two 1″ bulkheads for internal overflows. They are located on both sides of the tank in the rear.

The hood is two separate pieces, designed to slide out to allow me to reach all the way down the tank. It also has doors that allow for quick feeding or access to the tank. If I need to take the hood down, All lighting and wiring can be easily disconnected.

Making this a reef/cuttlefish tank requires some deviations from the typical reef setup. I have created a lot of shelf rock towers and structures to allow for a lot of varying degrees of lighting and shade. Sepia Bandensis live in reefs, but prefer lower levels of lighting. Many caves and shaded areas are available to them with my current setup. Rock design has always held a feeling of Zen to it for it will determine the water flow through the tank. My goal is to not only give shade and housing to the cuttles, but to do so by creating seamless paths for water flow. A path of least resistance will allow optimum flow efficiency to encourage all detritus to not settle and stay in the water column until it reaches the overflow to be filtered.

Lighting consists of dual 250 watt metal halides with 14k bulbs. Six 39 watt T5s are also used. Four for supplementation and two as 10k. The metal halides are on for only 3 hours a day from 4pm – 7pm. 10k T5s are on from 9am-4:30pm and 7pm-9pm. The four supplemental T5s are on from 3:30pm-12:00pm. With this light schedule, the halides are on only for a short amount of time for the corals. Most of the day it is lit with only t5s. The 28″ depth of the tank also causes a drastic reduction in PAR the further down the tank you go. Temperature will range from 72-77 degrees which will make the cuttlefish more comfortable but slower growth rates in corals due to slower metabolism.

Another deviation from modern reef systems is my inclusion of a home made wet dry system. I am using less then the typical live rock for biological filtration and with an animal that produces as much waste as the cuttlefish, I will need more filtration. As long as I keep the bio bale clean, I should not have any problems such as the nitrate buildup.

For circulation, I am running a Ecotech Vortech pump. It huge amount of dispersed flow with the motor housing on the outside of the glass is perfect for a lower temperature tank. The flow from the vortechs are very complimentary to rockwork towers for it pulls and pushes water from all sides of the towers. To aid in random flow, I am using a Wavy Sea wave maker which alternates the water flow set to about 190 degree rotation.


The sump is made from a 30 gallon long glass tank with 5 acrylic baffles. The skimmer and return pumps are plumberd externally to reduce heat. All pumps are outside of the water column, so little heat is transfered.


-Aqua Euro Recirculating 365 Skimmer Later Upgraded to a Giant H&S Skimmer.

-Pan World 50px-x Return Pump modified with external fan to run cooler.

-Macro Algae for nutrient export lighted by a 120 watt equivalent flourescent daylight bulb set on a timer to come on at 11:00pm – 9:00am. The nightly schedule aids in reducing the PH drop that comes during the night. The refugium section is designed to tumble the macro algae without the use of any additional pumps. This allows for even light exposure.

-Auto-Top Off system connected to a Typhoon III RO-DI unit and resevoir to fill any evaporated water and dose kalkwasser. An old laboratory Buchlar Polystaltic Pump is used for slow controlled dosing of the kalkwasser.

-Custom made wet dry system with media/drip plate. This was made from a drawer system to allow easy access and cleaning.

Baby Cuttle Nursery

Wmpty with divider.

The baby cuttle section is made from 1/4″ acrylic and is 20″Long x 12″Deep x 7″Tall. It has a small overflow that will drain to the wet dry sytem in the sump. The main return pump from the sump is T’ed off and controlled by a ball valve that feeds the baby cuttle section with water. A divider can be added to this section to safely divide the nursery in half. For eggs and newborn hatching, I have also created a removable breeding net style chamber.

Filled with miracle mud with an egg tray on top left and custom made area for new borns on the top right. (The newborns are the small white dots!)

RO/DI Resevoir – AutoTop Off

Since Ive run out of room in the stand, I decided to make the auto top off resevoir look nice. A 20 Gallong tank, Buchlar Pump, and two float valves are all the functioning parts. Everything else was added for aesthetic purposed. The 20 Gallon tank has a custom made wood housing and framework. The buchlar pump was painted and placed on a custom made rotating mount that rests on top of the tank. The RODI unit is in my bathroom on the other side of my house. Tubing from the unit goes through the house and hits a T adaptor. From the T adaptor, one end will goto a float valve that sits in the sump, keeping the water level constant when evaporation occurs. The other end of the T adaptor goes to a on/off valve that then feeds to another float valve that sits in the 20 gallon reservoir. This will allow water to fill the 20 gallon to the top and automatically shut off. Once this is full, I shut the valve off that feeds the reservoir. I then place kalkwasser and any other additives to the water in the reservoir. This water is then pumped by the Buchlar pump at a rate of about 1 drop every 1.5 seconds 24 hours a day into the sump. Kalkwasser must be added slowly to the tank since its PH is very high. The amount of liquid being added to the sump from the reservoir is at a slower rate then the tanks evaporation rate, so anything that is left over is automatically filled by the rodi unit that feeds directly to the float valve in the sump. The 20 gallon reservoir lasts about 3 weeks until it needs to be refilled.

The Initial Training Grounds of the CuttleFarm Army – 2004

This is the original tank setup I used when I first began the CuttleFarm Army project. This was an existing tank setup in 2002 and converted to a Cuttle tank in 2004.

Originally posted in TheTentacleParadox

The Tank
Here I will describe the setup and equipment that make up my cuttlefish factory and training grounds.

The tank itself is a 50 gallon Plexi. If I had more room I would definetly upgrade to a 150 gallon glass show tank.The hood and cabinet were custom made to match the detail and dark wood of most of my furniture and artistic creations. There are four main compartments to this system. The main tank, 20 gallon sump, 5 gallon refugium, and 4 gallon (egg/baby/juvenile) section. I will describe each of these in detail below.

System Schematic

Main Tank

The main tank is a 50 gallon acrylic. A hang on the back overflow is used to bring water directly to the Skimmer in the sump. If I ever move, I will change the tank with one that has an overflow already drilled into it. The lights are a custom setup built into the hood. I find that a combination of a 175 watt 20k XM halide and a 96 watt Power Compact 50/50 will give enough light to grow some corals and not be overly blinding to the cuttles. I notice that if I turn a 2nd 175 watt halide on, the cuttles will become less active and stay in the sand. To work in the tank, the hood is made to be lifted and suspended from chains hanging from the ceiling. This way, you can work inside the tank and still see what your doing.I use a 1/2″ – 1″ layer of sand for aesthetic purposes only. Plus the cuttles like it. I vacuum it regularly and do not care for developing a huge amount of living diversity here. I find that having good flow and having your skimmer fed directly from the overflow is the best way to keep the tank and water clean. Live rock is minimized to make it easier to keep track of all the cuttles. I use a lot of branch rock for decoration which also prevents the creation of too many caves or caverns in which your cuttles can forever hide. 2 maxijet 1200s are used to increase flow. One has a spinning output to create random flow. I place high current in the back of the rocks for two reasons. One, is to keeps detritus from settling in hard to clean places and two, it prevents the cuttles from making those areas into hang out spots. Here are some images of the Left Side and Right Side of the tank.


The sump is made from a 20 gallon long.


-ASM 1X Protein Skimmer (With gate valve mod and remote resevoir. Recirc mod will be installed shortly) I have this set to skim wet for aggressive skimming since this is the heart of my filtration.

-15 lbs of live rock for natural filtration.

-Auto-Top Off system connected to a RO-DI unit to fill any evaporated water.

-Various filter mediums.

-Media chamber powered by a maxijet 1200 with phosban. This pumps water up to the refugium.


The refugium is a custom made plexi 5 gallon container. A divider can be added to the center if I need to make more sections to isolate cuttles. It sits on a shelf made from the stand behind the tank and rests against the wall. It is fed by a maxijet 1200 in the sump with a media chamber running Phosban prior to entering the fuge. I also keep some live marine shrimp for food in a breeder net. The water will then gravity feed into a 1.25 inch bulkhead feeding the baby cuttle section.

Baby Cuttle Section/Training Grounds

The 4 gallon plexi baby cuttle section was custom made by plexi glass. A divider can be added if more sections are needed. It sits in a space behing the tank on the stand against the wall. Eggs and new borns are kept in the small hanging breeder container. This is necessary to ensure accurate observations when feeding and so they do not get caught in bulkheads. This section is gravity fed by two flexible hoses. One from the main tank overflow and the other from the refugium. Gravity fed output runs through a 1.25 inch bulkhead to the sump.

The Mess Hall

One of the most challenging parts of keeping an army of cuttlefish is to keep them fed. They are demanding eaters. I have yet to be able to get the bandensis to eat frozen foods. Also, depending on the age and size of the cuttlefish, they will require different foods. Salt water crustaceans such as shrimp and crabs are the best and fresh water animals such as guppies or ghost shrimp are considered last resort. I am often suspecting that freshwater guppies are really a bad idea from a couple mysterious deaths. A large section of my closet is dedicated to housing live foods. Ive made this as compact and efficient as possible. On the left is a 10 gallon tank run by a HOB skimmer and a normal HOB filter. This holds marine shrimp. However, the maximum capacity without having them all die is about 150-200 shrimps, so I also keep some in my refugium, since I order them in 250-300 amounts. On the right are stackable tupperware drawers. I keep shore caught crabs and pods in these. You will also need to limit the amount of crabs depending on how large your space is. I have a 3 inch water level and a rock in the center. I can house about 25-30 crabs here. Pods can be kept in large amounts in an inch or two volume of water. Keep a small brine shrimp net in the drawer where the net is at the surface of the water. The pods will naturally seek out dry spots and goto the net. So whenever you need pods, they will all be sitting in the net already. Here are some images of the Crabs & Pods. On top of the tupperware containers is a glass container with a small HOB filter. This is freshwater and I keep guppies and ghost shrimp here.