Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The wait begins...

Buoyed up by the success of my fpv headset prototype I have been doing lots of research on the interwebs and have ordered the parts to build a new, better quadcopter :)

This one will have much more powerful motors and props, a carbon-fiber frame and a much better flight controller (the brain that makes it fly) and radio transmitter and receiver. It will be bigger and will have it's own fpv camera and transmitter and will be able to carry a better recording camera too. It's based on a 250mm racing quad design which is powerful, compact and maneuverable, but I've changed it here and there (partly for budget reasons and partly to make it more stable and easier to fly), however it should be a really solid little quad that can be upgraded and modified as my skills and interests allow :)

So, now the wait begins...

I've made some space on one of the workbenches in my workshop and have run an ethernet cable (the wifi sucks down in the bowels of the building where my workshop is) so I can have an old laptop in there so I can watch some of the super instructional videos I've found as I'm building it (and look up specs and manuals), but I've had to order parts from multiple different places to get what I wanted and for the budget I can afford- some parts are coming from NJ, some from CA, some from OR, GA and IN, and some from China, so it may be a while before I have everything!

More as the parts start to come in...

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Friday Night Gang

Nerd central in the Undercroft :)

Road = Done

Not very Roman (it'd be much straighter), but it'll do :)

Road building

Laying out the paper road for us to paint palms on tomorrow.

Prototype fpv headset

So I've done some fooling around and have come up with a working prototype of my idea of an fpv headset.

Goggles are a non-starter for me because of my glasses and lousy eyesight, so I came up with this. It's an old welding faceshield with a cardboard extension fitted to the front with a slot that my little 5" monitor slides into and is held in place with velcro. Between the monitor (which is now about 8" from your face) and your eyes is a cheap fresnel lens that serves two purposes- it slightly magnifies the screen, but more importantly it makes it much easier to focus on something that close to your face without eyestrain.

The monitor (that used to be mounted on the top of my control transmitter) has a built-in 5.8 GHz receiver and antenna to match the tiny transmitter on the quadcopter that sends a feed from the onboard video camera/recorder.

 This design has the advantage of not only working nicely with my glasses and blocking out the light so I'll be able to see the monitor when out in the sunshine, but being easily flipped up out of the way if I need to look at the quad directly.

I took it up for a little test in the parish hall and it works great! (although I think I scared Manny when he walked through). I can't wait to get it outside to try it out where I have some space and height to play with...

The problem with the little quad (it's a highly modified Ares Ethos QX130) is that it's so light it either has to get at least 6' off the floor or be going forward pretty fast to not be affected by it's own propeller wash bouncing up off the floor, and in the PH there really isn't much room for that (and it probably didn't help that I didn't turn off the ceiling fans!).

It's been an awesome little machine to learn and test things out on (and it's very durable- I've crashed it a LOT), but it's really just one step up from a toy. I have managed to make it do a lot more than it was ever meant to do (fpv on this little thing is pretty cool, but it's carrying way more payload than it was designed for), so I think it may be time to look at building a new, more serious quad. I've been watching some very interesting videos on YouTube about building a "proper" quad on a budget... I shall have to do a little more research... ;)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Palms have arrived!

The (fair-trade & eco-friendly) palms have arrived... always a period of sweaty palms (the other sort) until they have- "did I place the order or just think I did?"

I have purloined an art-drying rack from the nursery school so that they can air out in the coolth of the bottom of the steeple until Sunday :)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Silly dog...

...it's snowing and just on freezing, but she's in for a swim anyway :)

Getting ready for spring :)

Although we're due for 3-6" of snow this afternoon, it is technically the first day of spring. So I thought I would blow the cobwebs off my little home-brew, Frankenstein FPV  quadcopter and see if everything still works.

I've got a few ideas I've been mulling over during the winter (turning the monitor into more of a head-mounted display using a fresnel lens, different ways to mount the camera etc.), but before I tackle any of those I just wanted to make sure it still flies :)

So I threw a little charge into the various batteries and took it for a quick spin around the parish hall.

Everything seems to check out (apart from my rusty piloting skills), so now I can start getting it ready for the warmer weather :)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Mad scientist chef

Crisp is making eggs for dinner, should I be worried that he's dressed in a lab coat?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Super Pi day... or is it?

There is much fanfare about today being Pi day, and not just any pi day but an extra special, once-in-a-century one- "Today is a rare and thrilling ‪#‎PiDay‬: Once in a century (well okay, twice today, given AM & PM) the month/day/year/hour/minute/second reads 3.141592653—the first 10 digits of pi". But that's not strictly true is it?

Not even getting into the whole how-you-write-the-date thing (in the UK today is 14-3-15), if you want to say the whole date is Pi, then that would be next year as to round Pi to 4 decimal places would be 3.1416.

And unfortunately if you say you're including the time (ie. 3-14-15 at 9:26 and 54 seconds- not 53 as the person I've quoted above, the 3 gets rounded to a 4), that doesn't really work either as to write the time scientifically it would be 09:26 (and pm would be 21:26) so you'd have to say 3-14-15 09:26 54' which doesn't work at all.

I'm not trying to spoil anybody's fun (I'm really just being pedantic for the fun of it) and I hope today has sold a lot of T-shirts, but I'm predicting now that next year there will be a whole new slew of posts and ads proclaiming that 3-14-16 is a "once in a century Pi day" to sell a whole lot more T-shirts- and I might actually buy one of those.

In the mean time- I whole-heartedly support March 14 every year being celebrated as Pi day... mine's a slice of apple please, and hold the cinnamon ;)

Friday, March 13, 2015

New specs...

...just like the old specs

(except these are brown instead of black, and very slightly larger...)


We're doing a fundraiser evening for our outreach ministries in a months time, and we thought it would be fun to have a "photo booth" for the event- one of those things where you push a button and it takes 4 shots in succession and then prints out your pictures on a single custom postcard.

Now, we looked into hiring one for the evening, but they're really expensive! So I did a little research and found that you can get the software online to do it yourself if you have the stuff- a laptop, a camera, tripod and lights, and a printer- which I do :)

I have a laptop that's currently not being used by anyone at the church, my backup camera body is a little outdated but more than adequate, and I can use my strobe lights and umbrellas etc. I will have to buy a printer that prints very quickly and dry and smudge-proof, but I can get one for about $100.

I downloaded the demo software and have been fooling around with it... and this was my first attempt-

Kinda cheesy- but it works! Now I just have to fine tune it :)

Lovely day...

... here in the woods- sunny and brisk :)

Saturday, March 07, 2015

T-shirt weather :)

It's only 30F, but the combination of the big snowshoes and throwing a ball for Holly is quite a work-out ;)

Friday, March 06, 2015

Too much snow!

Even though it's going to be 40F next week it's going to take this much snow a while to melt! In the mean time our parking lot has shrunk considerably, we're down about 4 spaces and those that are left are much shorter than they used to be.

So Sam (our snow plow guy) is here with a skid-steer to clean up and regain the lost spaces while the lot is (rarely) empty this evening :)

Day off walk in the woods

The sun came out today, though it was still nice and cold, so I donned my snowshoes again and Holly and I went for an extended, 2 hour walk around the woods- this time with my camera :)

Tennis ball collage

You've got snow on your nose

Dramatic sky

Snowy trail

This was seconds before a squirrel fell out of a tree almost into Holly's mouth- it barely got away- funniest thing I've seen in a long time :)


Holly's summer cooling stream

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Room with a view?

Looking out Crispy's bedroom window.

Yay for more snow!

Now this is more like it :)

Holly and I went for an awesome walk in the woods! Not our usual part of the woods coz the gate was closed and the the entrance wan't plowed (and I didn't want to risk getting plowed in), so we went over to the northern section of the woods and parked by the swimming pool- also not plowed but less risk of getting plowed in.

We had the woods completely to ourselves. me in my snowshoes and Holly doing her best dolphin as she surfed through the deep snow- simply glorious! I just wish I'd taken my better camera as these phone pictures do not do it justice...

Oh look...

... It's showing again... yay.