• Trippy video

    Just a quick share of an amazing video that popped up in my RSS feed this morning.
    (Watch it in full screen for maximum effect).

    You can tell straight away why I like it, electro tunes, mostly shot at night, very abstract with just enough reality to ground you.
    Love it.



  • New seismograph

    My names thebaldgeek and I am addicted to Kickstarter.
    (Am I allowed to say that more than once per session?)

    I got me a new seismograph!
    Yeah yeah, its pretty much exactly the same as the old one and yes, I am a little disappointed on just how similar it is, but eh, no going back.

    The new one looks pretty much exactly the same as the old one.
    The main board is a little bigger now. This one is powered by a Raspberry Pi 3 vs the 2 in the old one.
    This one also has my name laser etched in it, same as the last one.
    (Its a perk for backing their kickstarter campaign).

    I don’t care what you think, I’m telling you, this is the best looking seismic vault in Southern California. It just is…..
    Cost me a packet of both money and honey-love to get the thing installed, so yeah, it is pretty!
    I still need to fix the lid (under the fake rock in the middle) better, but its working for now.

    Here they are side by side. Old and new.
    I wanted to run the two of them in the same vault to compare them for a good while. (Mostly because I have not found a home for the original one just yet).
    There were reports of this new one running hotter than the old one by way too much. I can now report, its about 10 dec C, so not so much at all.
    In a nut shell, the new one is supposed to have more axies of data, and it does, they are just super noisy, so are of little value 99% of the time.
    They supposedly come into play as soon as you have a ‘close’ earth quake.
    Hey, I live in SoCal, should not have to wait long…..

    Here is a crummy literal screenshot of the two traces side by side on my groov screen.
    I can honestly say, after running them for a few weeks now, there is no difference in the main trace.
    Sad thing is, the company that puts them out has already hinted that there is another Kickstarter campaign next year with new hardware….. Bleh.



  • Drone testing in the park

    We went drone testing in the park behind our house with Terry the other week.

    To know why I am excited about this picture (other than Terry is wearing his slippers) you need to know that this park is the sister location to Gary’s place. It is a black hole of signal. There is no wifi from my house down there and no cell phone coverage. So if we want to take an upload a video or photo of the drone session. Forget it….
    That is, till my buddy Dan showed up with a waterproof outdoor wifi access point.
    We stuck it on the roof of my patio and we now have pretty good wifi coverage from the park, so we can upload photos and videos with ease.

    My names thebaldgeek and I’m excited.

    (Thanks a ton Dan, for your gear, expertise, patience and visit).



  • Drone antenna upgrade

    I have had some issues with the DJI Phantom 3 Pro dropping the video feed to the ‘monitor’ ie, my phone.
    It is very very very very very very very very disconcerting when it drops as all the data goes with it (things like battery voltage, flight time remaining and so on). Sure, you just look up and keep flying from where it is, but eh, it sure would be nice if it hung about a bit more than both a few minutes and a few feet.

    Did some reading and everyone agrees, the bulk of the issue is Android.
    DJI just have not given the Android version of the app as much love as iOS.
    I could not justify or afford to buy a dedicated iOS device just to fly, so after talking to Freddy, she agreed to let me use her iPad whenever I needed. (It’s not like I make a living from flying and so don’t fly that often, and usually its when I drive, and she is usually still asleep at those times).
    We did some test flights and sure enough, the app itself was more stable, it did not crash, but the video did break up in the usual digital green distortion.
    Back to the Internet, seems the antennas DJI use are, shall we say, less than optimal.
    So, I jumped on Amazon and made my selection.

    The DJI ones are hard wired in, so the upgrade consists of two parts, pulling out the original and replacing the coax cable with a lower loss version and a threaded mount to screw new/different antennas on.

    It was a bit of tight fit, and we had to pad a few washers around the antenna mount point as the previous drone owner had damaged the case around the antenna base when he closed the case lid on them at some stage.
    But, bottom line, I was able to get the new mount in nice and firm and gripping onto enough of the case to be solid.

    The nice thing about having a standard mount (RPA) is that I can run a few different antenna types.
    Here we have a tall omni directional and a small square patch directional antenna.
    The patch will have more gain, distance, but requires that I turn and always point the remote at the drone.
    Depending on the flight requirements, this may or may not be a big deal.
    Honestly, I suspect that most of the time, I will run the tall rabbit ears.

    Of course I did a few before and after test flights. Before the drone would get to about 100 feet and the video would break up.
    After, with the long omni’s, I went to my legal limit of 400 feet and the video feed was rock solid. So, I’m going to call that a win and stop messing with the tech and just fly more.



  • Zodiacal light

    I have haphazardly been checking of a nonexistent list of astronomical phenomena for most of my life….. Went for a drive in Martty the other morning and got to check of one more. Zodiacal light.

    It is a fait, soft, triangular white glow that has its base at the horizon and reaches up about a fist or slightly higher.
    Most typically seen at sunset in the spring, or at sunrise in the autumn (flip that for Australia).
    Since it is so faint, it is better seen well before dawn, as sunset can linger a bit long for it to be seen.
    Also, no moon. The moon, at almost any phase will wash it out.

    What is it? It is sunlight scattered on interplanetary dust along the zodiac plane…. The orbits of the planets around our sun ‘collect’ the dust into the zodiac plane, the dust is tiny, between 10 and 300 micrometers, so it takes a lot of them to be ‘visible’ and it takes just the right light to reflect off them.

    Right, so that’s what it is… Here is how I saw it.
    Went for a drive before daylight saving kicked in.
    I wanted the dark specifically because it is really peaceful to drive in, and I knew that once DLS kicked in the following week, it would be sunrise well before I got home.
    The usual ‘not sleeping’ was the reason for the up and drive, I never set an alarm, I just let me tell me if me wants to go for a drive or not.
    Out the door by roughly 4am in this case. I did not even look to see if there was a moon or not.
    If I am driving to be somewhere by sunrise, or to fly the drone, I have a set path in mind, in this case, not so much, just drove out the street and let Martty take a few turns before I settled on Borrego Springs.

    It was cold on the way out. Often is. It’s always coldest just before dawn.
    But, like most drives to the desert, once you get over the other side of the valley, it soon warms up.
    Once at the look out, we always stop. Always. We just do. Uphill or down, you stop and look.

    In a moment or three my eyes adjusted to the lack of LED headlights and I started to see the stars. Straight away it hit me that it was moonless night and well before any hint of dawn. Because it was so warm it’s very pleasant to just sit on the wall and stare out into the lights of Borrego and the stars above.

    It was not long before I saw the zodiacal light. It was pretty obvious to me. Granted, I knew what I was looking at, but the fact that I did not drive there just to see it was the nice surprise.

    So, with all that, here is what I saw.

    The frustrating thing is that I did not take a tripod with me… I always always always take the camera on these drives, and often take the tripod, but for some brain fart reason, not this time, so I had to set the camera on the rock wall and just try my best to keep it steady.
    Took 3 photos, this one has the horizon lined up the best.
    This last one is for Martty. Just sat the camera on the road and let it do its thing.
    I have her winter doors on at the moment, bit of a shame, as it would be super to see the light through the car….

    So yeah, pretty happy to go for a drive, you never know what you are going to see and very happy to be able to check that off the list.