Thursday, August 30, 2018
So far: Twitter is winning...
Sunday, August 19, 2018
Why am I doing this? Several reasons:
- It is far easier to post photos and videos on Twitter than on Blogger, and it's clear from my blog's statistics (and about the same on Twitter) that those are what draw the most interest.
- The vast majority of my blog posts are shorter than the new, expanded character limits on Twitter.
- Searches on Twitter are faster and more reliable than searches on Blogger.
- Twitter works well on phones and tablets; Blogger not as well.
- It's much easier for people to comment on Twitter than on the blog, and I don't have to moderate the comments. On the blog, if I don't moderate comments I get many spam comments per day – very annoying.
The blog will continue to have my tweets on the right sidebar, so you can still visit the blog and get both. Future posts to the blog will always have a tweet that links to them, so you can also just follow me on Twitter and be sure you don't miss anything here...
Friday, August 17, 2018
A few days ago, I did my tenth or eleventh search for the adapter – and still Swarovski isn't making one. But then it occurred to me that there might be a third party maker – and I found one right away! Interesting twist: they're located just south of Salt Lake City, practically in my backyard.
So I ordered an adapter for my scope and iPhone X, and also a Bluetooth shutter release for my iPhone (so I wouldn't have to tap the screen and vibrate the scope to take a photo). The adapter works great! I went out this afternoon and did a little test shooting on our feeders. Some of the results below. On all of these photos, I was between 15' and 20' away from the feeders. The second photo, of the yellow jacket, was at a range of 17' – not bad detail for that distance! I like the fifth photo where you can see the goldfinch's tongue, and the last one where you can see how far down the hummer's beak extends...
So where does that leave me? Well, I discovered that the coaxial cable is a standard type called RG-178. So I ordered a 15' length of that, and then I'm going to attempt to splice a couple of inches into the antenna cable to replace the part that I smashed and sliced. This is going to be a bit of a challenge, as that cable is just 0.072" thick (less than a tenth inch!). It will be microscope and fixture time, 'cause my hands aren't going to be able to do it.
And if I fail with that repair? Fortunately for dummies like me, DJI has a mail-in repair service. I can throw the drone in it's shipping container and send it back to them to be fixed. If I have to do that, I'm guessing I will be the source of the day's entertainment for the techs...
This isn't the first feedback we've gotten, and each time we get some it reinforces our commitment to this style of direct charity. We know our charitable giving is going exactly where we want it to, because we know exactly what it's being spent on. That's a vast improvement over what we used to do all by itself. But even better, once in a while something like this happens and just makes our ability to help all the sweeter...
Thursday, August 16, 2018
Once back home, I got the drone on the workbench and started poking at it. I quickly discovered the wobble problem: the screws I'd just installed the day before were already working their way loose. Loctite is required. Worse, though, I noticed some more of the grinding that I thought I'd gotten rid of. The more I tried rotating the motor back and forth, the worse this grinding seemed to get. I must have a piece of iron shaving (from drilling out the screw heads) stuck in there, attracted by the powerful permanent magnets in the motor's bell.
That led me to a bunch of googling. I found one guy – just one! – who took the motor apart for precisely the same reason. He needed some snap ring pliers and a homebrew shaft press to do it, but he managed to get his motor apart, got the shavings out, and then put it all back together. The surgery required, though, is pretty daunting, and I wouldn't be surprised if I broke something in the process. I'm expecting a spare motor in today's mail, so I'm going to replace that motor altogether, then try disassembling and fixing it. :) I'll have to pick up a couple tools to do it, but if I can really fix the motor it's probably worth it as the thing costs $80.
Meanwhile, I've removed the motor with the shavings in it. That is quite an involved process all by itself! Tomorrow, assuming I really do get the spare motor today, I'll install the spare and then I hope I'll be back in the air with the drone...
Even if she can't remember when our anniversary is. :)
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
I won't have the result until next week sometime.
The tech who did the DEXA scan, a nice young lady named Lisa, first took my weight and height. This was another shocking development. Not my weight, as I keep pretty close tabs on that. But my height! I've been 5' 10.5" tall since somewhere in the '60s. I've been measured a lot of times by a lot of people, most especially in the Navy (in the '60s). I was always 5' 10.5". This morning was the first time I've had my height measured in something like 20 years, though – and they measured it at 5' 8". Holy shrinking bones! I've lost 2.5" of height! When the hell did that happen?
The most surprising part of that, to me, is that I had utterly no idea it was happening.
This article suggests that I'm losing height at a faster than average rate. That doesn't sound good. Now I'm a bit anxious to get the results of that DEXA scan!
Me: Look, Jim and Michelle sent us a card!My wife has no idea when our wedding anniversary is. :)
Debbie: Oh, what's it for?
Debbie: Oh, your birthday!
Me: Uh ... no. My birthday is in September.
Debbie: Oh, our wedding anniversary!
Me: Yup. Do you know what date it is?
Debbie: The 10th?
Debbie: The 21st?
Debbie: The 11th?
Debbie: The 12th?
Debbie: The 15th?
Debbie: The 17th?
Tuesday, August 14, 2018
I put that aside and we went for our wildlife drive anyway. We saw a bald eagle (likely the same one we've been seeing, as it was in the same place near the Hyrum Power dam), lots and lots of fawns (just now starting to lose their spots), a great viewing of a pair of Sandhill Cranes, and the best viewing of a flock of cedar waxwings that we've ever had. Great!
Once I'd stripped the screws on the propeller mount, things got much trickier. First I had to cut away the already broken propeller mount, which is made of carbon-fiber reinforced resin. That took but a moment. Then I drilled out the two screw heads – tedious, but not difficult. However, in the process some steel chips worked their way into the motor, attracted by the powerful permanent magnets in them. After that happened, the motor no longer turned freely. Gulp.
I kept going, though, figuring I'd deal with the steel chips later. At this point I had roughly 3/16" of bolt shaft exposed. I got a pair of Vise-grips on that, and turned – and nothing. No movement at all! WTF? Some research on the web reveals that DJI (the drone manufacturer) routinely uses red Loctite on these bolts (possibly others, too). That stuff is like epoxy glue – no way are you going to turn that bolt, unless you heat it. Now that I had the plastic out of the way, heating was a possibility. I broke out my big soldering iron and heated one of the shafts up until the motor started getting uncomfortably warm. Applied Vise-grips again, and ... motion! I had to repeat the heat/Vise-grips cycle a few times, and this was tedious as heck, as I could only turn the bolt about 60° at a time because of other parts in the way. Eventually, though, success! Both the mounting bolts were out of the way.
Then I tried turning the motor by hand again. There was scraping and grinding as I did so, from those darned steel chips that made it into the motor. I put the new propeller mount in place, then I decided to try lighting off the drone to see if I could work the chips out by just running it for a while. A few minutes later, I had the motor spinning – and making a gosh-awful racket. But after about 30 seconds of this, it suddenly stopped racketing. After that, the motor spun freely and all appears to be well. Phew!
I have some foam rubber “booties” designed to protect those parts, and they will be installed from now on. I don't want to go through that again!
Sunday, August 12, 2018
Our purchase of our friend and neighbor's property is proceeding rapidly. Closing is scheduled for next Wednesday. The real estate people involved seem a little befuddled by how easy the transaction has been – no series of offers/counter-offers, a handshake (literally!) agreement on price, all cash, no seller incentives – they almost don't know what to do. :) I have to line up a surveyor soon, to let us split up that lot into two pieces: one that we're keeping, and one that we'll be selling.
Debbie made us a memorable meal yesterday – we got fresh mussels from our grocery store, and she cooked them in a white wine, butter, and garlic base. Damned fine, they were! Next time we see them, we buy more – a pound between the two of us left us wanting more.
Friday night we went to the Cache County Fair and Rodeo, and had a grand time except for having sore butts and backs from sitting on the stadium seating for four hours. The barrel racing was again my favorite event – it was a very close competition this year! I just ordered us some folding stadium seats, as we seem to be doing this four or five times a year...
Saturday was sod day – our yard workers cut out a bunch of sick and dead grass and replaced it with new sod. They also prepped our “dead zone” – two acres of lawn-to-be. They're getting ready for seeding it all in a few days, after the abject failure of the seeding last fall.
Thursday, August 9, 2018
One thing you'll notice around the shore line are what look a bit like the cliffs of Dover. They're not – they're the barren sides exposed as the level of the reservoir drops. The reservoir typically fills up with the runoff from melting snow in the mountains and the spring rains, hopefully being completely full by May. All summer long we get little rain, so as the irrigation draws water from the reservoir, its level falls. When the irrigation stops (typically in September or early October, depending on the weather), the reservoir will stop dropping and may even fill up slightly. The following spring, the cycle starts all over...
Wednesday, August 8, 2018
The photo at right is from the north side of our deck, showing the two hummingbird feeders I put up a few days ago. I found out about these a couple of years ago from my sister Holly. I bought them back then, but we didn't have a good place for them until our deck was done. Each of these feeders is 4' long, and has 44 “flowers” for the hummers to feed from. You might have noticed that there are no perches as are commonly seen on commercial hummingbird feeders. Instead, the hummers keep flying while they're feeding, and the “flowers” are at just the right angle for them to do so. This is how hummingbirds feed naturally – the usual commercial feeders require them to learn a new feeding behavior. So said the blurb about theses feeders, along with the claim that the hummers would be on the feeders quickly. They were! Less than five minutes after hanging the first feeder, we had a female checking it out and feeding from it. Now with both feeders up for the past few days, we have hummers on them all day long – as many as eight simultaneously, and the number keeps creeping up. Win!
The engineer in me can't help but notice a significant design flaw, though. The clear plastic tubing that forms most of the feeder is fairly thin-walled – and when the feeder is full, it bends in the middle. Clearly this will get worse over time, too. I'm going to purchase some sturdy metal to glue to the bottom, to solve that. If I don't, I doubt these things would last a year...
Tuesday, August 7, 2018
Debbie fixed us up with a simple but lovely meal: roast chicken, baked potato, and asparagus. Yum!
Sunday, August 5, 2018
Our first impression of flying the drone around in the back country to take video? It's going to be a lot of fun for both of us!
Saturday, August 4, 2018
Tomorrow morning we're going to pile all the drone gear in our car and head out to Blacksmith Fork Canyon. With luck, we'll find some deer or a nice bald eagle. Even if we don't see any wildlife, there are still a couple of landmarks we can take some video of...
A key element of the wildlife photography capability is for Debbie to be able to control the camera independently of me piloting the drone. This morning I got all the equipment required for that together, set it all up, and tested it out. I had a bit of confusion trying to get it all linked up by radio, but once I did that it all worked just great! Debbie's controller has a stick that controls the camera's panning (back and forth movement), and another stick that controls the its pitch (up and down movement). She can tap the screen to set the focus and exposure for a particular place in the scene, and can use an on-screen “thumb wheel” to set the zoom level. The gimbal on the drone keeps the camera perfectly pointed in whatever direction she left it, so if she let's go of the controls, the camera stays pointed correctly – even if wind is buffeting the drone, or I move the drone around. Nice! We'll try operating the drone together later today, and I'll probably take some video of that. Unless it's laughably bad (not an improbable event!), I'll share it up here...
Friday, August 3, 2018
Thursday, August 2, 2018
We had yard work going on the past couple of days, and I've been helping a bit on that. Our lawn contractor was here, and that took a bit of time. I also had a Tesla tech here both yesterday and today to finish up on some repairs. In between all that, I managed to finish unpacking my drone and it's accessories (creating a mountain of cardboard and packing materials in the process), getting it all assembled, all the firmware updated (there are a lot of computers in that thing!), and actually flying it. I've flown it for about an hour now, including about 20 minutes with the big, fancy, gimballed camera. I haven't actually taken any photos or video yet, just practiced with the camera. Even with a single controller it's not hard, but when we get Debbie on a separate controller to handle the big camera, it will be even easier. The picture from the gimballed camera is remarkably steady even in gusty winds like we had today. Oh, and I also made a distance test flight: about a half mile to an abandoned quarry, which I circled and then returned. I was quite relieved when the drone made it back to my vicinity, but the truth is the thing worked flawlessly even at that distance – and the first person view (FPV) camera made piloting it a breeze even at that distance.
I think I'll be ready to try flying it out in the boonies after just a few hours of practice...