Monday, April 27, 2015


Here's one more picture from the party on Saturday night- my lovely wife with her cute new haircut... and a slightly silly hat :)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Tired but very happy

A very successful weekend!

The outreach fundraiser last night was a huge success- we raised over $85,000 and had a fabulous time doing it. The photo booth worked perfectly (that's us with Lesley & Josh Findlay) and I just received an email telling me it was voted the hit of the night :) It's obviously a keeper and we'll do it again at things like the Christmas dinner.

And the kids this morning were awesome and did a fabulous job with leading Morning Prayer- not a dud in the bunch, they all rose to the occasion and made us very proud.

Jackie (who worked like a trooper all evening at the event last night and then took all 3 of Robyn's kids to church this morning while Robyn & David ran in the Rye Derby) and I are taking it easy this afternoon and will probably not be up much after Game of Thrones tonight :)

Click here to see the usual album of pictures from both on the church Facebook page :)

Morning Prayer Sermon

I don't usually link to the Sunday sermons here, but I thought Emma & Greta did such an awesome job I'd do it this once :)

All the kids did a fantastic job- we're very proud of all of them!

Morning Prayer...

... led by the 2015 Confirmation Class :)

And they are doing a fantastic job!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Flowers on a cold day

Unseasonably cold the last couple of days, but it's nice to see little clumps of hardy flowers blooming all over the woods as a taste of better things to come :)

Party time!

Spent the day helping to set up the parish hall for the fundraiser on Saturday night :)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A smashing time in the Woods ;)

I've switched my day off this week coz of the outreach fundraiser this weekend, so I woke up this morning determined to go fly my quadcopter. It was far too windy to fly really, but I went for it anyway and headed over to Saxon Woods- I figured that maybe the trees would reduce the wind (big mistake! they just made it confused and unpredictable).

I did quite a bit of flying, both LoS and FPV, and a lot of crashing :)

I went through a good few propellers (I should just put in a standing order for them!), but I had a blast and learned a lot- not least that this thing is tougher than it looks :)

Next time I really need to find a big, open field to fly in- somewhere without obstacles and where I can get a bit of height so I have room to manoeuvre. Rye Rec. would be perfect, and I did think of going there this morning, but I thought that perhaps a man in a black facemask flying a drone in a field next to an elementary school while school was in session might not be the best idea! I'll have to hope there's some calm evenings before the softball season starts, otherwise the next decent day off I have I think I'll head for Ward Pound Ridge which has some huge open areas- I'll just have to train the dog not to chase after the quad :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Photo Booth

To add another fun element to the Outreach Fundraiser on Saturday night I've put together a "photo booth" using a little software off the internet, a laptop we had in the office that's not doing anything at the moment, my backup camera body, some lights and a cheapo photo printer :)

You just press the big, silver button in front of the laptop and it automatically counts down and takes 4 pictures at 5 second intervals and then prints them out. It prints out a 4"x 6" print with 2 sets of pictures with the church name and the fundraiser logo at the bottom so you can just cut it it half and have one to keep and one to share.

 And, as an added bonus, I've set things up so the screen on the wall in the parish hall will run a slideshow of the pictures at random, always showing the newest one next as they come in :)

Now we just need a backdrop with a cactus or two and a few silly props :)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Saturday afternoon movie

After a lovely dog walk I'm sitting enjoying the breeze through the open windows, and while flicking the channels on a lazy Saturday afternoon we came across Airport (1970) showing on TCM.

It's amazing that this movie is 45 years old, but it's held up well and it's awesome to look at the technology- rotary phones and dial radios. This is the one that started the whole disaster genre and was what Airplane! was mostly based on.

George Kennedy was in all the Airport movies and is awesome in this as he drives a stuck 707 out of the snow with a cigar clenched in his teeth!

What fun :)

Propeller eater!

I spent a happy hour this morning working on getting the quadcopter tuned and stable, and I got it to the stage that I felt confident to put on my fpv headset and try flying it that way.

It is so much easier to control when you see the world from it's perspective, you don't have to remember that if it's facing towards you you have to move the stick left to go right etc. The only real problem in a space as confined as the parish hall is that you can't see sideways so it's very easy to brush up against the wall or a table leg, and the props on this thing go so much faster (and are much more fragile) than the ones on my previous quad... so it's very easy to break them... which I did... a lot.

I'm a little mad because I forgot to press the record button on the on-board camera until the last flight (which was one of the shortest) when I broke the last counter-clockwise prop I had left. Anyway, here's proof that it flies- the first part of the video is from when I was still fooling around and tuning it, the second part is the aforementioned last fpv flight-

I have ordered many more props which will be here on Monday- then we're going outside!

Sunny and a high of 75F today?

Look out world, I've broken out the shorts :)

Friday, April 17, 2015


The results of my first session tuning the quad and trying it out in the parish hall... I'm gonna need to buy a mess more propellers!

Leash walk today

Holly came back from the woods favoring one front leg a bit yesterday, so, not wanting to get into the spiral we got in last year, we're just doing a leash walk loop today. She's showing no sign off a limp now, but better safe than sorry!


First prototype finished :)

Everything is in place. The HD camera is mounted on top and the fpv camera is below it- the fpv camera is hooked to the transmitter  through the OSD and talks to the monitor :)

The transmitter and receiver talk to each other and the motors respond to commands. The undercarriage I came up with (a couple of bits of plumbing pipe) is pretty clunky, but it does the job for now to protect the esc which is mounted underneath- I'll have to think about something lighter and a little more elegant.

I've only dared hover 6" off the floor in the workshop so far,  just to make sure all the motors are working and are spinning in the right direction. I can't wait 'til school lets out and there's no risk of stray kids walking through so I can go up and play in the parish hall later. I shall charge the batteries while I wait :)

There's going to be lots of tuning to do, but the nice thing with the flight controller board I chose is that I don't have to hook it up to a computer to do that, I can just plug in it's little programming module with it's own little screen and tinker away. I think it's going to be a whole new way of flying to learn- this thing is much heavier, but much more powerful than the little toy I was playing with before- time will tell if it's harder or easier to master :)


Build: night 1

Got the transmitter switched over to the FrSky modules, most of the frame is together, the motors are mounted and the wiring loom is soldered and working.

Just finished soldering all the motor leads (3 each), and when I tested them all 4 motors are turning in the wrong directions, bah! Oh well, it just means re-soldering 2 leads on each motor, but that's for the morning- time to call it a night!

Thursday, April 16, 2015



My HobbyKing order has arrived :)

 I was a little worried coz the box looked a little worse for wear and was open a bit at one end...

...but all the small stuff was packed in another small box inside and nothing was missing. This order included: the radio transmitter to control the thing, 2 batteries, a pack of battery connectors, heavy silicone wire (in red only, the black was the backordered item that caused the hol up) the fpv transmitter, the esc (electronic speed control) for the motors (I went with a combined unit that has all 4 in 1), threadlocker liquid, servo connectors to connect the receiver to the flight controller, and a tuning card that will let me tune the esc.

The transmitter is very cool, but comes with no instructions! Ah well, I'm sure I can figure it out- and anyway, the first thing I need to do is to change the TX module on it over to the FrSky one I got so that it will have a failsafe capability.

So, tonight and tomorrow I can finally start the build for real :)



You see this big empty spot I've cleared on my workbench? It's for my HobbyKing order that was due to arrive tomorrow but has been updated and should now arrive today :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Thanks LLBean!

For the past 4 winters I had a great pair of red winter boots I bought on sale from LLBean. They had this weird wire lacing system that you wound up to tighten them, which meant they were really easy to put on and take off. But this winter they had finally stopped being waterproof, and then the lace system snapped. I found a similar pair on the LLBean website and ordered them, but I also called them to see if they could send me a new wire lace so I could still use the old ones... turns out they don't have replacements for the laces, but as they say their stuff is "guaranteed to last" they had me send them back to them (on their dime) and sent me a gift card for the price I originally paid for them!

Fast forward to now as the weather has been getting warmer and I've gone back to wearing my old, favourite Converse Chucks- but I have started noticing a sharp pain in my left heel, particularly first thing in the morning or after sitting for a while. Jackie (who has long suffered from plantar fasciitis) immediately realized that this coincided with my return to loose, slip-on sneakers with little or no support and so I decided that I had to get better shoes and unfortunately retire my old, mis-matched Chucks :(

My new winter boots (already well used) in front,
and 2 new pairs of new LLBean shoes behind
But thanks to my LLBean gift card from my old boots and the $10 coupon I got for buying the new ones I was able to get 2 new pairs of sneakers from the sale section of their website for a total outlay of about $15! They both have much better support as they are lace-ups, and they both have serious arch support. The blue ones are nice, simple canvas shoes for everyday wear, and the red ones are lightweight hiking shoes which I will use for warm weather dog walking. So hopefully LLBean has helped to solve my foot pain for next to nothing :)

Monday, April 13, 2015


I finally decided I could wait no longer even though the last box of parts from HobbyKing is not due until Friday, so while Jackie watched Dancing with the Stars I headed over to the workshop and started some of the initial assembly.

The holes on the arms for the screws that mount the motors do not line up perfectly, so I just need to mill them out a touch with a diamond bit for my Dremel (this is a cheapish Chinese carbon fiber frame so a little adjustment is to be expected).

After a little careful work the motors fit perfectly and are nicely centered.

Then I carefully drilled mounting holes for the power distribution board and the KK2 flight controller. I went with the KK2 board with its own hard plastic case that is a little wide for this little frame, so the existing mounting holes didn't line up, but I think the fact that this board has a separate programming module with an lcd screen will be an advantage when I start flying it and need to tune it. It means I can enclose the board within the frame and the just connect the programmer as I need to to tune the configuration. The other nice thing is that the updated firmware on this board allows me to tell it that I'm mounting it 90 degrees off line to let me run the cables the way I want to.


Another small delivery, an antenna cable (all the way from China!) and some Dremel bits for cutting the carbon fiber frame where some of the holes don't perfectly line up.

Saturday, April 11, 2015