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2020/04/02 13+ Mile Hike From Top of Montebello Road to PageMill and Back
π 2020-04-02 01:01 in Hiking
We've biked up to the top of Montebello a couple of times (pretty tough bike ride), and I've also driven up multiple times, it's a fun drive in the mclaren, and only 12mn from home to the top if no one is in my way :) I had been thinking about going across to PageMill one day, but have yet to do this.
That said, I figured we'd drive up the top, hike across, so we did. Unfortunately there is no legal parking up the road, there is a "reserved" parking lot, but it's behind a locked gate to stop people like us from hiking from the top of the road :(

in the meantime, I used a perfectly good parking spot, outside of the sign saying no to park there
in the meantime, I used a perfectly good parking spot, outside of the sign saying no to park there

We took a few pictures of the bay from the top:







I used my oregon 700 to track the hike, and got a nice track (click on it for a zoomed version)

Time for the hike:



this cute hungry bunny was there both times we walked by
this cute hungry bunny was there both times we walked by

from Montebello, it was easy to get to the top of black mountain
from Montebello, it was easy to get to the top of black mountain

FAA repeater which I've used while flying
FAA repeater which I've used while flying

We eventually got to the beginner backpacker camp, which was closed for covid-19 of course. A bunch of turkeys were roaming around:





We found a bit more wildlife, the deer were pretty skittish though:





interestingly, there are more squirrels in our yard that we found there
interestingly, there are more squirrels in our yard that we found there

jennifer found a nice hummingbird
jennifer found a nice hummingbird



Nice flowers:








The trail was pretty nice:



by the time we got to skyline/pagemill, it got more foresty
by the time we got to skyline/pagemill, it got more foresty

getting to the Pagemill/Montebello parking lot
getting to the Pagemill/Montebello parking lot





We ended up getting to skyline, and crossing over to horseshoe lake:




It was then time to get back to the Montebello trail back. I didn't quite plan for the elevation change, turns out we went down about a thousand feet before going back up:




trail back up
trail back up

On the way back, we found our same little bunny, it was easy to recognize due to the neutering clip in the ear:



Eventually we made it back to the parking lot that is nicely closed to the regular public:



All in all, it was a 5.5h 13.5 mile hike, a bit more than planned with the extra loop I added, but worth it:


2020/03/26 Getting a bit of fresh air: Curvy Roads, 650S, Sun, Light Rain, Hail, Hiking, Big Basin Redwoods
π 2020-03-26 01:01 in Public
Afer being cooped up for 2 weeks, it was time to go out for a bit of fresh air, stretching my car's legs, and going to the beach for a few walks:

quick stop on skyline
quick stop on skyline


before long, we reached Pescadero beach
before long, we reached Pescadero beach

Caltrans nicely were closing all the beach parking lots as we arrived
Caltrans nicely were closing all the beach parking lots as we arrived












We then drove down Hwy 1 to hit a few beaches:



found a nice surfer
found a nice surfer




the next beach
the next beach

where skyline of the beach, ends up
where skyline of the beach, ends up



We ended up going to Shark Fin Cove or lunch:

railroad to nowhere
railroad to nowhere


I went to check out the cave which was really a storm drain
I went to check out the cave which was really a storm drain

didn't smell so good :)
didn't smell so good :)

nice hole in the rock
nice hole in the rock


Jennifer found a nice rock to eat
Jennifer found a nice rock to eat


After lunch, we drove back up on bonny doon road. which was find until we hite what looked like snow on the road. How as that possible? Turns out, it hailed so much that the hail accumulated on the ground and looked like snow:


it was melting, but super slick
it was melting, but super slick

Eventually, after driving not as fast as I wished due to the uncertain roads, we got to 236 and big basin redwoods, which was closed as expected:




After that, it wsa a fun drive up 236, and 9 back home.

2020/03/16 Framebuffer::GFX, Choosing between its 3 2D APIs: FastLED XY(), NeoMatrix, and LEDMatrix, and detail of its many supported hardware backends
π 2020-03-16 01:01 in Arduino

Why Framebuffer::GFX?

After rewriting multiple related libraries, it became confusing to people how they fit together, Adafruit::NeoMatrix, FastLED::NeoMatrix, SmartMatrix::GFX, where does Framebuffer::GFX fit in?
Is Adafruit::GFX still there/needed?
How about LEDMatrix, isn't it a better 2D lib?
What hardware backends are supported?

How the modules/drivers fit together

I made this little graph to summarize everything:
  • the left shows the hardware drivers supported: FastLED, SmartMatrix, ILI9341, SSD1331, ST7735, rpi-rgb-led-matrix (for ArduinoOnPC on Raspberry Pi), FastLED_SDL (for ArduinoOnPC), and X11/Linux (also ArduinoOnPC)
  • The 2nd column is the list of drivers I wrote for all those hardware drivers
  • All those drivers I wrote inherit from FrameBuffer::GFX wihch stores the actual framebuffer in FastLED CRGB 24bpp Format
  • FrameBuffer::GFX implements (and replaces) Adafruit::NeoMatrix panel mapping, inherits from Adafruit::GFX while converting back and forth between GFX 16bpp RGB565 and 24bpp CRGB RGB888 (see color management in https://github.com/marcmerlin/Framebuffer_GFX).
  • LEDMatrix is an alternative to GFX that is mostly compatible, but offers its own extensions. I you wish to use it, I modified it so that it doesn't store the CRGB array within itself, but accepts an externally generated one (so that it can be shared with SmartMatrix if this is the ultimate backend, and allocated via malloc and not a global array, which is required on ESP32 for bigger sizes). More on whether you'd want to use it, later.
  • Low Level Drv|Glue Driver for FrameBuffer::GFX FastLED - FastLED_NeoMatrix -------------\ FastLED CRGB Array SmartMatrix - SmartMatrix_GFX -----------------\ 24bit FB storage API Support ILI9341 \ \ CRGB methods like SSD1331 |--- FastLED_SPITFT_GFX ----------------\ scale8/fadeToBlackBy ,FastLED API ST7735 / | | / (XY 2D to 1D mapping) | |
    ArduinoOnPc-FastLED-GFX-LEDMatrix arduino - FrameBuffer::GFX------ Adafruit::NeoMatrix + emulation for linux / Raspberry Pi: | | \ Adafruit::GFX APIs ---------------------------------- / Adafruit::GFX \ : rpi-rgb-led-matrix - FastLED_RPIRGBPanel_GFX ---/ LEDMatrix (optional) `LEDMatrix API ArduinoOnPC X11/linux - FastLED_TFTWrapper_GFX / . FastLED_SDL (linux) - FastLED_NeoMatrix -/ .

    Which 2D API: FastLED XY(), Adafruit/FastLED::NeoMatrix, vs LEDMatrix

  • Old FastLED demos use an XY() function, to access leds[XY(x,y)] to do 2D to 1D mapping. Framebuffer::GFX supports this in a way that you can both read and write while supporting full rotation and tile mapping from NeoMatrix. This is honestly no reason to do this today, you would effectively rewrite the much better XY functionality that's in FastLED::NeoMatrix/Framebuffer::GFX. However, if you have code that uses an XY function, it's fully supported, simply use matrix->XY(x, y) to let NeoMatrix do the real mapping for you without having to worry about writing/rewriting the mapping function for each potential array.
  • The better and most commonly used API is Adafruit::GFX. Honestly I recommend it because of the sheer number of hardware devices supported by it. It has the downside of only being 16bit color, but if you use it in FrameBuffer::GFX, can you can use 24bit color with it. Its 2nd downside is that on its own, it has no framebuffer, so it is write only. Obviously with Framebuffer::GFX, it does have a framebuffer (which can be a downside on some slower hardware at higher resolutions, see TFT below). To learn more about how to use the GFX API, see https://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-gfx-graphics-library?view=all
  • LEDMatrix is a better API with more fancy functions than GFX and native 24bpp color, but it's only meant to work on FastLED, and its matrix tiling support and rotation is pretty non trivial to use compared to NeoMatrix. I would only use it if you need its added functionality. On the plus side, Framebuffer::GFX allows you to run LEDMatrix code on any hardware backend, so you aren't limited there anymore. LEDMatrix pluses are
    • more primitives, including some flip/mirror screen options
    • Table_Mark_Estes is just that good, that it's worth having LEDMatrix for
    • LEDMatrix has Fancy Font Support. In my opinion it's more fancy than most people will need, and Adafruit::GFX built in front support is more than plenty, but it's there if you want it.
    • LEDPSprites is nice if you need sprites, see my LEDSprites-Pacman demo

  • The SmartMatrix library has its own 2D API, it is quite fancy and includes layers, but it is not supported by FrameBuffer::GFX, so unless you're writing a SmartMatrix only project (which means you won't be able to upgrade to RGBPanels on rPI if you need a higher resolution), I recommend against using it. Technically, someone motivated could make the API work with FrameBuffer::GFX and allow rendering on another backend, but I haven't done that work and don't have the need to do so. If you'd like to contribute that, please do.
  • The good news is that if you don't want which one to choose Framebuffer::GFX allows you to run all 3 at the same time, thanks to the work done in neomatrix_config.h which while not required, I greatly recommend so that it'll setup everything for you and make it trivial to change from one hardware backend to another one.

    If you would like an example of each API, please go to https://github.com/marcmerlin/FastLED_NeoMatrix_SmartMatrix_LEDMatrix_GFX_Demos/ and check the demos in each per API directory.

    If you would like to read images from SPIFFS/FATFS (ESP8266/ESP32) or SDcard, see https://github.com/marcmerlin/AnimatedGIFs

    Supported hardware backends

    https://github.com/marcmerlin/FastLED_NeoMatrix/

    64x64 with Neopixels was 2 weeks of build work and 160 Amps at full power!
    64x64 with Neopixels was 2 weeks of build work and 160 Amps at full power!

    https://github.com/marcmerlin/SmartMatrix_GFX/

    FastLED::NeoMatrix in 32x32 and 24x32 vs SmartMatrix::GFX 96x64
    FastLED::NeoMatrix in 32x32 and 24x32 vs SmartMatrix::GFX 96x64

    https://github.com/marcmerlin/FastLED_SPITFT_GFX (SSD1331, ILI9341, and ST7735 TFTs)

    Small SSD1331 in 96x64
    Small SSD1331 in 96x64

    The same exact resolution between RGBPanels and SSD1331
    The same exact resolution between RGBPanels and SSD1331

    comparison of TFTs
    comparison of TFTs

    after extra work to support PSRAM on ESP32, ILI9341 320x240 became possible on ESP32
    after extra work to support PSRAM on ESP32, ILI9341 320x240 became possible on ESP32

    almost the same resolution than my huge RGBPanel driven by rPi
    almost the same resolution than my huge RGBPanel driven by rPi

    https://github.com/marcmerlin/FastLED_RPIRGBPanel_GFX (Glue driver for https://github.com/marcmerlin/ArduinoOnPc-FastLED-GFX-LEDMatrix/ that allows displaying a matrix on RGBPanels using https://github.com/hzeller/rpi-rgb-led-matrix )

    My first rPi Display at 192x128
    My first rPi Display at 192x128

    Even bigger, 384x192
    Even bigger, 384x192

    https://github.com/marcmerlin/FastLED_TFTWrapper_GFX (Emulate a TFT screen on linux for https://github.com/marcmerlin/ArduinoOnPc-FastLED-GFX-LEDMatrix/ )

    This is probably the most useful driver I wrote out of all of them, the ability to write your code and debug on linux, without any hardware:


    Dealing with pushing bigger framebuffer sizes to TFTs like ILI9341

    For long the highest resolution target for arduino chips has been the ILI9341 TFTs. With a resolution of 320x240 over SPI, they push the limits of Framebuffer::GFX a little bit, because it's a lot of pixels to push. Unfortunately, the TFT seems to only support about 14 frames per second for a full refresh, which is needed with the framebuffer approach, and by the time you add required use of PSRAM on ESP32, which is slower than regular RAM but required because ESP32 does not have the required contiguous 224KB of RAM, frame refresh falls down to 8fps. Worse, still, once you add computation of data being sent, demos actually run closer to 5fps.
    This is far from ideal, but it's good enough or some uses still, and generally still cool that Framebuffer::GFX can be pushed so far on arduino-like chips. Using RGBPanels does not help there on arduino chipes, because there is no arduino like chip that can run such a resolution on RGBPanels (Raspberry Pi can barely do it though, but that's also pushing the limits of the underlying hardware refresh capabilities).

    It this ends up being a problem, but you made the decision to stick to the Adafruit::GFX API, you always have the option to remove FrameBuffer::GFX and write directly to the TFT, without having to do full framebuffer refreshes.

    If you'd like nubmers, I gathered as part of a test between SPI speed, raw TFT speed (empty frame push), loop to push data not from PSRAM, loop to push data from PSRAM. Actual speed in demos is still lower given that it takes time to generate high resolution frames to PSRAM (double PSRAM penalty, one to write, one to read), before they can be pushed.

    ILI9314: 80Mhz: TFT 40fps, NO PSRAM: 32fps, PSRAM show: 12ps  => unstable, no display
    ILI9314: 40Mhz: TFT 25fps, NO PSRAM: 21fps, PSRAM show: 10fps => unstable, no display
    ILI9314: 39Mhz: TFT 18fps, NO PSRAM: 16fps, PSRAM show:  9fps => unstable, garbled
    ILI9314: 30Mhz: TFT 18fps, NO PSRAM: 16fps, PSRAM show:  9fps => still a bit unstabled, garbled
    ILI9314: 24Mhz: TFT 14fps, NO PSRAM: 12fps, PSRAM show:  8fps => stable
    ILI9314: 20Mhz: TFT 14fps, NO PSRAM: 12fps, PSRAM show:  8fps
    

    ST7735_128b160: 80Mhz: TFT153fps, NO PSRAM:104fps, PSRAM show: 45fps => unstable, no display ST7735_128b160: 60Mhz: TFT 93fps, NO PSRAM: 73fps, PSRAM show: 38fps ST7735_128b160: 60Mhz: TFT 96fps, NO PSRAM: 52fps ST7735_128b160: 40Mhz: TFT 68fps, NO PSRAM: 56fps, PSRAM show: 32fps ST7735_128b160: 20Mhz: TFT 53fps, NO PSRAM: 45fps, PSRAM show: 29fps

    ST7735_128b128: 60Mhz: TFT117fps, NO PSRAM: 90fps, PSRAM show: 48fps => unstable, garbled ST7735_128b128: 40Mhz: TFT117fps, NO PSRAM: 90fps, PSRAM show: 48fps => unstable, garbled ST7735_128b128: 32Mhz: TFT 84fps, NO PSRAM: 70fps, PSRAM show: 41fps => stable ST7735_128b128: 20Mhz: TFT 66fps, NO PSRAM: 56fps, PSRAM show: 36fps

    SSD1331: SWSPI: TFT 9fps, NO PSRAM: 9fps, PSRAM show: 8fps => stable

    Now it's your turn, write your own 2D demos and contribute them back

    https://github.com/marcmerlin/FastLED_NeoMatrix_SmartMatrix_LEDMatrix_GFX_Demos would love your code, please contribute :)
    2020/03/14 9.5H of Driving to Kirkwood and Back for 2 Runs on Solitude before Unannounced Season Closure
    π 2020-03-14 01:01 in Snow
    4ft+ of snow finally coming to Tahoe, after so little for so long, finally! It was time to go.

    The snow line wasn't too low when I started driving up, except for a bit of surprise slush when I was passing a truck. Thankfully my tesla stability control, did the right thing:



    strangely, the road was quite clear higher up (localized snowfalls)
    strangely, the road was quite clear higher up (localized snowfalls)

    Carson Spur was still in very good shape
    Carson Spur was still in very good shape

    After a bit under 4H, including a 20mn recharging stop in Manteca, I arrived at Kirkwood just before 15:00:


    Sadly, by then only solitude was open, I did 2 runs that weren't bad but on my 2nd run up, I got the very bad news that while Vail said they would stay open that same morning, a few hours later, while I drove up, changed their minds and closed off everything for the season due to COVID-19. Needless to say that I wasn't happy that they couldn't make that decision in the morning, and mislead everyone into coming:


    those were 2 expensive runs
    those were 2 expensive runs

    Now, life sucked, it was clear that I had to leave kirkwood as quickly as possible, as the weather was worsening, but my car was very discharged. I had to recharge it just enough to get out and hopefully make it to some charging source under the snow line.

    I had to take the Omo Ranch Rd by Cook's Station to get the shortest path to the Placerville Supercharger, where I barely arrived with a 5% of battery left. Omo Ranch Rd, while open, is not a safe road with snow, and doesn't get plowed. The top was dicey and I had the tradeoff of getting down quickly to get out of the snow line, without driving off the road due to snow.
    The tesla estimator has been very wrong, on the trip out, it told me I'd arrive with 14%, but I arrived with 5% while driving quite slow and taking an unsafe road (the safe road around would not have gotten me there with enough battery left):

    estimator went from 14% to 9% to 5% by the time I arrived
    estimator went from 14% to 9% to 5% by the time I arrived


    thankfully it stabilized at 5%
    thankfully it stabilized at 5%

    on the plus side, the new superchargers are fast, I got back to 80% in 30mn
    on the plus side, the new superchargers are fast, I got back to 80% in 30mn

    That's definitely been my worst snow trip ever, except for the fact that I avoided crashing my car on the way up after that slide, or running out of battery and having my car die on the side of the road in a snowstorm.

    2020/03/13 RGB Panels, from 192x80, to 384x192, to 384x256 and maybe not much beyond
    π 2020-03-13 01:01 in Arduino
    This started with some 64x32 panels that Azerone nicely had amazon send me as they were returned by customers as not working. I also was not able to get them working with either, so I opened a bug with both libraries SmartMatrix or rpi-rgb-led-matrix. Thankfully some nice folks were on it, and eventually found a fix.

    victory, first time I got those new panels to light up
    victory, first time I got those new panels to light up

    I ended up getting 15 such panels from the nice folks at Azerone, because they were returns as other people couldn't use them due to lack of FM6126A support in the open source drivers at the time:

    if only I had proper mounting hardware, this would be a decent 192x160 array
    if only I had proper mounting hardware, this would be a decent 192x160 array

    Ok, after writing this blog, I ended up getting a recommendation for rails, which weren't built for this but worked well enough:

  • rails with holes mostly in usable places: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt-1-3-8-in-x-36-in-Zinc-Plated-Punch-Flat-Bar-800337/204325640
  • M3 screws and washers: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FCN64HV/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o05_s00
  • you'll need something to cut the rails that are too long. I used a set of bolt cutters I had, some saws may work too, but the rails are pretty thick
  • holes don't all match, but enough of them do. Note that I put the panels in Z pattern
    holes don't all match, but enough of them do. Note that I put the panels in Z pattern

    adding power
    adding power

    on my first try, the metal cut the ribbon cable, so I removed the top loop to avoid having it go towards the metal
    on my first try, the metal cut the ribbon cable, so I removed the top loop to avoid having it go towards the metal

    Now, I had an expected problem that hzeller/rpi-rgb-led-matrix did not support panels stacked vertically, never mind if every panel was upside down. I ended up writing a new mapper that allowed both vertical stacking and zig-zag. After that, success was had, end result was about 300Hz for 31K pixels with the active-3 board:




    That said, while that bigger matrix with those 15 panels was 192x160, I had bigger plans. I got distracted due to other work, but then P2 panel appeared (2mm per pixel). The downsides of those panels is that the copper traces are so small that pixels come off easily, including during shipping:


    even pixels that don't pop off can be partially failed
    even pixels that don't pop off can be partially failed

    This was probably the first working demo on rPi of FM6126A at 128x128 with 128x64 P2 Panels from Azerone:

    In no time, I was able to make a display of 192x128 with 3x 64x128 panels and it was the same size as my existing 96x64 screen for my LED shirt:

    using the active-3 board with 3 chains of one panel each on rPi3
    using the active-3 board with 3 chains of one panel each on rPi3

    The first issue was that the newer 128x64 panels were FM6126A, which didn't work with default libraries as they need a special init. Thankfully this was added to rpi-rgb-led-matrix. Next issue was that refresh rate was going to suffer, and that's where the rPi solution is great: it allows for 3 channels in parallel thanks to the nice Electrodragon active-3 board.

    Chow He from Electrodragon was super nice, and sent me some boards with angled connectors (at my request) so that I could make the whole board more flat for my wearable application. I was really hopeful that I could put the connectors under the board for low profile after cutting the notch and moving it to the other side of the connector:


    However, wire routing was such that pins were in the wrong order and it was impossible without re-routing all the wires on the board, so I did the next best thing and put the connector on top of the board, which is still more flush than when it was pointing up:

    before (blue), not working (right), and after (left)
    before (blue), not working (right), and after (left)

    bottom is not possible, even after moving the notch
    bottom is not possible, even after moving the notch

    Still, 192x128 is a very nice display that happens to be the same size as my old 96x64 display using P4 panels, but since I ordered spare panels to get around the falling pixel problem, I had enough panels to make a 9x9 array of 384x192. I first tried with with rpi-rgb-panel's video viewer and it worked quite well:



    During that time, I did a lot of work on 2D APis for Arduino and lots of backends, and wrote the base class, FrameBuffer::GFX. In a nutshell, it allow talking to a lot of hardware displays, now both on Arduino and Raspberry Pi:

    Low Level Drv|Glue Driver for FrameBuffer::GFX
    FastLED     - FastLED_NeoMatrix  -------------\     FastLED CRGB Array 
    SmartMatrix - SmartMatrix_GFX -----------------\    24bit FB storage        API Support
    ILI9341 \                                       \   CRGB methods like
    SSD1331  |--- FastLED_SPITFT_GFX ----------------\  scale8/fadeToBlackBy   ,FastLED API
    ST7735  /                                         |        |              / (XY 2D to 1D mapping)
                                                      |        |             
    ArduinoOnPc-FastLED-GFX-LEDMatrix arduino - FrameBuffer::GFX------ Adafruit::NeoMatrix + emulation for linux / Raspberry Pi: | | \ Adafruit::GFX APIs ---------------------------------- / Adafruit::GFX \ rpi-rgb-led-matrix - FastLED_RPIRGBPanel_GFX ---/ LEDMatrix (optional) `LEDMatrix API ArduinoOnPC X11/linux - FastLED_TFTWrapper_GFX
    FastLED_SDL (linux) - FastLED_NeoMatrix -/

    Given that work, it was time to try my arduino code on this panel, using my freshly written FastLED_RPIRGBPanel_GFX on top of ArduinoOnPc-FastLED-GFX-LEDMatrix as explained my page Running FastLED, Adafruit::GFX, and LEDMatrix code on High Resolution RGBPanels with a Raspberry Pi:

    it's pretty big :)
    it's pretty big :)

    This first demo of simple demo code that scaled up pretty quickly, explaining some of the challenges of scaling past 256 pixels in any dimention and 64K pixels total which hits a FastLED uint16_t limit:

    This is an early demo of my shirt code running on a display that is so much bigger than what it was built for:

    After some work to find a couple of crash bugs that came from scaling up, I was able to run Mark Estes' fantastic demo code I was able to scale up to such big displays without too much trouble. See Table_Mark_Estes1 and 14.








    Table_Mark_Estes:

    Table_Mark_Estes14:

    Just put back an idea of scale between my first panel at 24x32, all the way up to 384x192. Yes, those are the exact same sprites with LEDSprites:

    While 384x192 is starting to push the physical refresh limits that are acceptable for a 3 parallel chain setup, I'm going to try 384x256 for fun once I can get the pixel mapping to be correct. Bigger than that will require multiple control boards and synchronization by some network:

    this was my first attempt, panel mapping didn't work, I'd have to write my own
    this was my first attempt, panel mapping didn't work, I'd have to write my own

    Interestingly, SamrtMatrix adds panels in the vertical direction by default, while rpi-rgb-led-matrix adds them horizontally. This means I had to write a new Mapper for it: V-Mapper, which allowed me to make 3 parallel horizontal chains. The end result is not great as refresh rate is only 100Hz, but it works:

    success!
    success!

    that was a lot of work for a low resolution screen :)
    that was a lot of work for a low resolution screen :)

    video still plays
    video still plays


    New pictures of Table_Mark_Estes in the higher resolution:




    As above, thanks again to Chow He from Electrodragon for the great and cheap active-3 boards, and big thanks to Hongren Su from Azerone for selling me the panels I have used so far. You can find the Azerone store on amazon for panels you can buy and the 128x64 P2 Panels here.
    On the software side, many people to thank, but obviously I wouldn't have gotten started with Adafruit, Louis Beaudoin for SmartMatrix on arduino chips, and Henner Zeller for rpi-rgb-led-matrix of course.

    Now, I have no excuse (well, still a lot of work actually) for not doing an even more fancy LED shirt display (read all about this silly hobby here)

    2020/03/06 Fast Toys Club at Laguna Seca, 105db
    π 2020-03-06 01:01 in Cars
    Thanks to my friend Justice, I learned about this track day, which ended up getting few cars. I was able to attend with my F458C, maybe the last time I get to drive it since I'm looking at selling it, given that I just don't do track driving enough to be worth owning my own racecar. It was a bit bittersweet, but I was able to get a few 1:31 times. Unfortunately, by the time I put fresh tires, the track got warmer, and my times went up instead of down. I know I could have had 1:29 early in the morning, but never got to actually do it, oh well.

    The plan is that I'll be able to rent from Fast Toys Club in the future:

    ideally that's the one of the cars I'll be able to rent/drive after selling mine
    ideally that's the one of the cars I'll be able to rent/drive after selling mine

    After a quick drivers' meeting, it was time to go on track:




    Lots of Mclarens:










    Justice took his SVJ, beautiful car:





    Ken came with my car and gave me support during the day:


    a few pictures for posterity
    a few pictures for posterity



    I had a bit of extra fun by taking my Tesla around the track for a few laps. It was of course slower, I boiled the brake fluid in a single lap, but it was fun :)


    I had fun, despite my times getting worse throughout the day as the track got warmer. In the afternoon, all the rungroups merged, so it was interesting, but it worked out pretty well.
    Thanks to Fast Toys Club for the good day.

    2020/03/06 4 laps with my Model 3 at Laguna Seca, 2 1.55 laps with toasted brakes
    π 2020-03-06 01:01 in Cars
    Since I was at Laguna Seca with my racecar and I had driven in the Model 3 (AWD LR, but not performance, 18" aero wheels), I figured I'd try the Tesla for a few laps. I should have planned this better and re-read my friend Matt Crowley's report when he tried that in his car a while back. Also, I didn't know Matt spent $3500 fixing his brakes after the day. This probably would have talked me out of trying :)

    trying to get some charge from the 50A/220V plug I found.
    trying to get some charge from the 50A/220V plug I found.


    Laguna unplugged me soon thereafter and put a nice note that such power was worth $700 + 40% surcharge, how nice of them, over $1000 for $4's worth of electricity.

    ready, all you need is stickers, right? (they fit nicely on top of the mud I got driving in the snow in tahoe)
    ready, all you need is stickers, right? (they fit nicely on top of the mud I got driving in the snow in tahoe)

    Anyway, given that ignorance is bliss, I went out with all my crap in the car, I figured removing it wouldn't change much anyway, and planned on doing only 3 laps so as not to thoroughly destroy the brakes. I did manage to hit 119 mph on my 2nd lap, and that was just when the brakes started not working due to overheating. Stopping in turn 2 was going to be "fun" (I made it though).
    After 2 laps and boiled brake fluid, but also having passed a lamborghini and a porsche on the outside of the corkscrew, and being blackflagged for it :) I figured I'd call it a day. My 2nd lap (which was far from clean) was 1:56.

    Those were not fast drivers, but it was cool to pass a few of them:

    I passed several cars on the outside after the corkscrew in my ferrari, but got one in my tesla too :)
    I passed several cars on the outside after the corkscrew in my ferrari, but got one in my tesla too :)

    Sorry to the driver, I must have scared him a bit, he likely never saw/heard me until 'WTF is that car doing here'
    Sorry to the driver, I must have scared him a bit, he likely never saw/heard me until 'WTF is that car doing here'

    And then there was the lambo I passed fair and square :)
    And then there was the lambo I passed fair and square :)

    wee!
    wee!

    Here is the first "session": (really 2 full laps and then I got black flagged for passing the porsche and scaring it). I passed the porsche at 3:40 and the lambo at 5:00

    I came back for 2 more laps later in the afternoon when the track was warmer, my tires still over inflated, and my brake fluid still boiled (no firm pedal), and I got 2 laps of 1:55. I didn't commit for more speed in the straights because honestly I didn't know that car would stop and I didn't really want to completely destroy my braking hardware. Had done my first lap right, now knowing how to drive that car, I should have been able to get a single lap at 1:50 before the brakes gave up.

    4 laps, 13 miles, 35% battery used
    4 laps, 13 miles, 35% battery used

    Two cleaner laps at 1:55 each, obviously not that fast, but my brake fluid was alrady boiled, my tires were likely too inflated (55psi) and the track was already 3-4 seconds slower than it was in the morning when I started I wonder how much faster the car could have been (I was already 10 mph slower before 2 due to the lack of brakes):

    Looks like a full battery would have given 36 miles and 12 laps or so. This makes me question the wisdom of going through the work of tracking a tesla with proper brakes and tires. 12 laps is not a lot, and if you don't have a supercharger nearby (which is still 1h charge), that's not a lot of laps.

    Overheating stuff, made other stuff unhappy :)
    Overheating stuff, made other stuff unhappy :)

    1.5Kw/mile, it's 1.5H of my house's power used in a single mile
    1.5Kw/mile, it's 1.5H of my house's power used in a single mile

    On the plus side, despite all the errors I got, the car recovered when it cooled down, and even the brake fluid got back in a state that my brakes work somewhat. Not as well as before, but enough to stop the car :)
    At least I didn't ran the pads down to the backing plates while destroying the rotors. That said, it's still amazing how a single lap at laguna seca can overheat stock breaks and boil brake fluid (which is exactly what happened in my case).

    This was stupid, but it was fun. For comparison I did some 1:31's in my Ferrari F458 Challenge GT3 that morning on used tires. Looks like a stock Model 3 Performance with proper tires and brakes, can go 10 seconds faster than my 1:55's, not bad!


    Thanks to Fast Toys Club for the great track day, the report on the day in my F458C is here
    2020/03/01 Way Too Late First Day at Kirkwood with 8"
    π 2020-03-01 01:01 in Snow
    Due to a combination of sad timing and terrible season, I hadn't gone to Tahoe a single time this season yet. It took a long time waiting to have a decent enough day to go, and this wasn't going to be a ft+ storm, but the meager 8" was more snow than the entire month of february combined, so it wasn't time to be picky.
    The drive up in my M3 was uneventful, I got there in one shot with 14% of battery left when I arrived.

    The next morning, looked good. It looked nice, but the powder was not bottomless. You could definitely feel the crud underneath, which was unfortunate. Later in the day, 2 extra inches helped, and wind blowing made some nicer pockets of snow:


    I was able to keep snow from burrying my car by using the heater
    I was able to keep snow from burrying my car by using the heater

    the line at cornice was surprisingly short for a sunday
    the line at cornice was surprisingly short for a sunday


    the wall looked bony for this time of the season
    the wall looked bony for this time of the season


    eagle bowl was very bony
    eagle bowl was very bony

    past resort boundary on the backside, was nice as usual
    past resort boundary on the backside, was nice as usual


    anything wind exposed was definitely bony, though
    anything wind exposed was definitely bony, though


    After a day of reasonably good snowboarding (cold though), I stayed at the towers, where I found something last minute for a couple of nights:


    Unfortunately, it was a waste to have stayed for a 2nd day (monday) as anything worthwhile was closed because of the heavy wind. Such is life, but on top of that, somehow heavenly managed to open sky express during that time.
    While solitude was as slow as I remember it to be, the few runs I did were not great, even in the trees, some of the snow had iced up hard (or all the new snow had been blown off, leaving the heavy crust underneath)



    So, after a few crappy runs on solitude, I just drove home:


    2020/02/23 Jennifer in the SJ Popup Choir's Hamiltunes Performance at the Art Boutik
    π 2020-02-23 01:01 in Public
    After weeks of training and practise, Jennifer was able to perform for the first time in Hamiltunes (unfortunately all previous times had date conflicts). She did well :)
    Jennifer is however quite sad to already know that the next performance date will conflict with the 3 days she not available to attend in May :(

    The other people in the cast also did really well. Some of them had performed Hamiltunes several times by now and some gave pro/semi-pro performances.
    While a small portion of the cast has had some performance/singing training, others did not and learned on the job. All the performers are doing this for fun, some even got their own costumes.









    2020/02/20 Montreal's Ecomuseum Zoo
    π 2020-02-20 01:01 in Museums, Public
    Not too sure why a wildlife preserve is called an 'ecomuseum', but putting that aside, this small but interesting preserve for animals that were usually wounded and cannot go back to the wild.
    Mormally when you go in the dead of winter, and it's -15C outside, you shouldn't expect to see much, but of course Canadian animals are used to the cold, so outside of a couple that were hibernating, the rest were out and about :)

    It was a fun 2.5H, outside of how damn cold it was and my not having enough layers to stay outside in such cold that long :)




    you don't look like a red fox to me :)
    you don't look like a red fox to me :)

    The lynx were a highlight for me, they totally looked and behaved like house cats that happen to be bigger and walk in the snow :)


    hard to know if they would have bitten your hand off had you tried to pet them :)
    hard to know if they would have bitten your hand off had you tried to pet them :)

    liking their paws and soft pads, just like cats
    liking their paws and soft pads, just like cats

    out, looking for trouble :)
    out, looking for trouble :)

    There were other animals of course:




    even the ducks were fine with the cold
    even the ducks were fine with the cold






    They had a few indoor exhibits, which were great to warm me up





    Despite the cold, it was definitely fun, it's a bit out of the way if you are in Montreal, but on your way to the airport, it's a perfect stop

    See more images for Montreal's Ecomuseum Zoo

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