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2011/07/29 Quick tour of Eaa/Oshkosh Airventure 2011
π 2011-07-29 00:00 in Flying, Oshkosh
Due to a badly scheduled track day on thursday in the middle of Airventure, I ended up taking a hellish red eye from SFO to Chicago (arriving at 03:15 my time) and then a connection to nearby Appletown. I ended up arriving on friday morning at 09:30 and 10:30 at the door due to horrible traffic with very little sleep, and went around the grounds as quickly as I could to see as much as I could before sunday afternoon, when everything would be over.

Considering the tough trip and little time on hand, thanks to having been there before and knowing where things were and how to best optimize, I managed to see several interesting talks, see virtually every exhibit, and most of an air show (unfortunately it was stopped half way due to weather). I also had a lovely dinner with my friends at Seattle Avionics (food was kind of opportunistic since I had neither the time to get proper food, not that there is much proper food on the EAA grounds anyway. I had the worst cheeseburger in my life ever).

Anyway, let's get to the pictures:




new avionics
new avionics

nice to see a full size turbocharged engine
nice to see a full size turbocharged engine

there were lots of nice sims to try
there were lots of nice sims to try

Lots of planes to be seen as always:

the 787 was here for display and visits, line was way too long though
the 787 was here for display and visits, line was way too long though


burt's boomrang
burt's boomrang



harrier
harrier



rotocopters
rotocopters

you don't want to be probed by this guy :)
you don't want to be probed by this guy :)


huge engines, payload capacity, and fuel tanks
huge engines, payload capacity, and fuel tanks


Terrafugia was back with their V2 design:



It's a bit of an improvement over the areocar :)



Visiting the insides of the B29 Superfortress was cool too:





Someone also tried to sell me a pipistrel. Nice little plane to fly around, but eh I'm used to slightly faster planes with nice things like autopilots :)



Like every year lots of collectors bring their own fighter planes:










The other half of Oshkosh, is the aviation museum. Its displays are still good, but the best part is the talks that some world famous aviators give there:

new section on RC planes
new section on RC planes

voyager, the plane that flew around the world non stop
voyager, the plane that flew around the world non stop


kind of cramped inside
kind of cramped inside



talk on faster than sound airplanes we might have one day to replace the concorde
talk on faster than sound airplanes we might have one day to replace the concorde



Spaceship 1
Spaceship 1

But the best part is Dick Rutan telling the story of his flight around the world in Voyager built by his brother, Burt. It's a thrilling story:



Saturday evening, while waiting for the night show, Ford had a nice Blues Brothers Show:



they were actually quite good
they were actually quite good

And this leaves us with the pieces of airshow I caught:






weather turned bad quickly, rest of airshow was cancelled for that day
weather turned bad quickly, rest of airshow was cancelled for that day



And just to make things interesting, they started doing a night airshow the previous year:















And that was it. after 3 days of mostly bad food and running around to make it with the time I did have, it worked out pretty well in the end. At the Appletown airport, before leaving, I tried the heart attack food they do there, fried cheese curds, and fries smoltered with cheese and bacon :)


2011/07/28 Coworker Organized Track Day at Thunderhill
π 2011-07-28 00:00 in Cars
Some of my coworkers organized a track day for us at Thunderhill, so I could not help but sign up and go have fun with coworkers. The only little problem was that I was also supposed to go to Oshkosh EAA Airventure that week too. In the end, I settled for going to the track, flying myself back to Palo Alto, getting my stuff and taking a Red Eye flight out of SFO to Chicago and then Oshkosh.


Since I was not doing too well with sleep and almost got sick, I ended up flying the evening before, since I didn't feel like getting up around 05:30 and deal with IMC weather the next morning (pretty solid overcast and the previous morning even had ground fog).










this is what I found outside :)
this is what I found outside :)

So who was the fastest of the 2?
So who was the fastest of the 2?

One of my coworkers was nice enough to swap cars with me for a session, so I got to drive his GTR. Annoyingly, I was a good 5 seconds faster in his car than mine, and that's with not driving it as well since I wasn't used to it. I could likely have shaved off another 2 seconds pretty easily. Ok, so the GTR kicks about everyone else's ass, the new one on top gear was faster than any Ferrari, a Veyron, and matched a Zonda F. Crazy!



As for the aftermath, the new set of Trofeos didn't do that much better: the front right tire is ruined just as much despite my keeping a precise 32psi in there. The brakes held up for the day, but that's about it, there's not much left in them (maybe not even one more session).


I guess track miatas were cheaper :)

I was battling being tired and borderline sick that day, but caffeine, 5 hour energy and adrenaline allowed me to get through the day. Thankfully I was able to keep my whits through the flight home too, which was about as uneventful as it could have gotten.




2011/07/24 Hacking an external antenna onto an X10 CM19a, and adding misterhouse support
π 2011-07-24 00:00 in Linux, Linuxha
While this page is about the CM19a, the code I wrote should work just as well with the CM15a.

I had an old CM19a (USB X10RF and X10Sec transceiver) lying around. This was more desirable than the well known CM26a used by many misterhouse users in that on top of being USB, it more importantly can decode X10 Security RF signals, as well as send X10RF signals too.
Now, the problem with the CM19a, is that like the CM26a, it has a useless antenna and therefore a useless RF range. The good news however is that the same antenna hack that can be applied to the CM26a works with the CM19a too.

For pictures, see the example for the CM26a antenna modification this hack was based on (scroll to the antenna plug wiring).

In a nutshell, you cut the antenna wire to go far enough to reach the new antenna plug that you attach to the plastic (I used my soldering iron to burn a hole through it). The antenna wire will plug to the center connector. Then, the tricky side is to use the piece of wire you cut off, and connect it to the ground plate of that board. Ground is actually easy to solder to: most holes through the board with metal on each side are ways to pass ground from one side of the board to the other. I used one of them (see red arrow) to solder my other wire to, and connected that to the ground of the new plug.



You then have the option of using a dipole antenna or a quarter plane antenna to connect to your new plug (which one is best depends on where you put the antenna and what kind of area you are trying to cover).


By now, you actually have turned your CM19a into a device that's almost as good as a W800 for reception, but with the bonus of being able to send data too.

Next (for me), was making use of this in misterhouse. Because it is a USB device that does not emulate a serial port, it will not work in misterhouse without a special driver.
To find the simplest way to solve my problem, I decided to use the open source mochad to talk USB to the device and spit out the data frames it was receiving (I hacked mochad to spit out undecoded data). I then wrote a glue shell script that sends that data to a pipe which misterhouse can then read from. It then sends that data into the misterhouse X10_RF module, reusing the common decoding and injection code used by the X10_W800 and X10_MR26 misterhouse modules.
This all ended up in the new lib/X10_CMxx.pm module I wrote and added to misterhouse svn.

You can find more details on the Misterhouse Page for X10Sec and X10RF support with CM19a and CM15a through mochad.

Here are two examples of logs with debugging enabled:

02/07/2011 14:51:45  CMxx: Ignoring first send of X10RF data from mochad (looking for confirmation resend): 8F 80 84 7B F1 80
02/07/2011 14:51:45  CMxx: decoded data received from mochad: 07/02 14:51:45 Rx RFSEC Addr: 8F:F1:80 Func: Contact_normal_min_DS10A
02/07/2011 14:51:45  W800: security: unmatched device 0xf1 (state = NormalMin)
02/07/2011 14:51:45  CMxx: X10RF data from mochad: 8F 80 84 7B F1 80
02/07/2011 14:51:45  X10_CMXX: security: unmatched device 0xf1 (state = NormalMin)
02/07/2011 14:51:45  CMxx: Ignoring duplicate X10RF data from mochad (dupe cnt >= 2): 8F 80 84 7B F1 80
02/07/2011 14:51:46  CMxx: Ignoring duplicate X10RF data from mochad (dupe cnt >= 3): 8F 80 84 7B F1 80
02/07/2011 14:51:46  CMxx: Ignoring duplicate X10RF data from mochad (dupe cnt >= 3): 8F 80 84 7B F1 80

02/07/2011 14:51:59 CMxx: Ignoring first send of X10RF data from mochad (looking for confirmation resend): 60 9F 20 DF 02/07/2011 14:51:59 CMxx: decoded data received from mochad: 07/02 14:51:59 Rx RF HouseUnit: A1 Func: Off 02/07/2011 14:51:59 XA1AK: testx10 off 02/07/2011 14:51:59 CMxx: X10RF data from mochad: 60 9F 20 DF 02/07/2011 14:51:59 XA1AK: testx10 off 02/07/2011 14:51:59 XA1AK: testx10 off 02/07/2011 14:51:59 CMxx: Ignoring duplicate X10RF data from mochad (dupe cnt >= 2): 60 9F 20 DF 02/07/2011 14:51:59 CMxx: Ignoring duplicate X10RF data from mochad (dupe cnt >= 3): 60 9F 20 DF 02/07/2011 14:51:59 CMxx: Ignoring duplicate X10RF data from mochad (dupe cnt >= 3): 60 9F 20 DF 02/07/2011 14:51:59 CMxx: Ignoring duplicate X10RF data from mochad (dupe cnt >= 3): 60 9F 20 DF

Ultimately, mh without debugging only sees, which is what you want: 02/07/2011 14:51:59 XA1AK: testx10 off

2011/07/23 Birthday Dinners
π 2011-07-23 00:00 in Dining
Jennifer invited me to a fancy Japanese Restaurant with a many course Japanese tasting menu. It was quite interesting and different, quite a nice change and surprise.






and even got a candle :)
and even got a candle :)

Then, just because (long story) we went to a Tepanyaki place 2 days later, Kyoto Palace, to see some flying food :)



Both were yummy and enjoyable, thanks :)

See more images for Birthday Dinners
2011/07/21 Visit of Willow Garage
π 2011-07-21 00:00 in Public
After giving them an interview about the home automation work I did, they invited me for lunch and I got a tour after that. They do interesting work with robots, ultimately for home use, although they're still in the research phase for now.

I specifically liked the robot that can get around and when it's low on battery plug its own power cord in a wall socket it will find on its own without being told where they are:


See more images for Visit of Willow Garage
2011/07/10 Thunderhill Track Day with Golden Gate Lotus Club
π 2011-07-10 00:00 in Cars
My last track day with GGLC ran a little short after I came out of the first session with a nail hole in one of my tires. So, it was time to try again. I used the opportunity to also try some new Pirelli Trofeo tires that were supposed to be more sticky than my Corsas.
First, getting there was interesting since the weather was borderline IFR when I took off. I was able to find a hole in the clouds to get on top, and flew across the bay VFR on top, which is always a nice sight :)




GGLC is always fun for the interesting Lotus cars you get to see:



One car locked up a brake and tire, went off the track, and the track got red flagge as a result. The flagger wasn't happy I took a picture of her even though all the cars were stopped.



The new tires, were, well, they seemed grippy for a short while but didn't last the day and one even got corded:. Note, tire went from brand new to corded in one day. That was a bit disappointing if I may say so:


The way home, I thought by then the clouds would be gone, but no, most of the north bay was covered with clouds from Oakland down to Stanford. My first plan was to duck under at Oakland, but since they were IFR, they did not allow me to do that. Instead, I was vectored into SFO Bravo and past 101 out of their way. From there, the clouds eventually subsided just before I got to Palo Alto




2011/07/04 Flight to Pine Mountain Lake (E45) and over Hetch Hetchy Reservoir
π 2011-07-04 00:00 in Flying
As a way to spend a few days in the Sierras over July 4th, I looked into options and heard that would could fly into Pine Mountain Lake. After checking on airnav, I found the very well reviewed Cub Inn Bed and Breakfast, owned by two pilots.
The great thing for pilots is that the very nice owners will pick you up at the airport and lend you their jeep so that you can get around and get to see a little bit more than just Pine Mountain Lake itself (which is actually a nice place, but there is more to see in the Sierras than just that).

The flight to Pine Mountain Lake was uneventful:

I put my usually very sleepy co-pilot to work :)
I put my usually very sleepy co-pilot to work :)

Pine Mountain Lake Airport
Pine Mountain Lake Airport

Pine Mountain Lake
Pine Mountain Lake

and after overflying the airport, we pushed to Hetch Hetchy to get some air pictures before going back the next day on the ground:



flow was strong obviously
flow was strong obviously

some hikers got swept off that bridge a few days prior
some hikers got swept off that bridge a few days prior


nearby reservoir
nearby reservoir

It was a nice little flight, weather was perfect and it was good to see Hetch Hetchy waterfalls that we ended up never being allowed to hike to the next day.

2011/07/04 July 4th weekend by Pine Mountain Lake, Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, and Yosemite
π 2011-07-04 00:00 in Hiking
As explained in the flight to Pine Mountain Lake, after Jennifer's knee injury that kept us home for a while, I figured we should do some hiking in the Sierras. I found the very nice Cub Inn Bed and Breakfast, owned by two pilots, and by Pine Mountain Lake, at the foot of the Sierras.

The great thing for pilots is that the very nice owners will pick you up at the airport and lend you their jeep so that you can get around and get to see a little bit more than just Pine Mountain Lake itself (which is actually a nice place, but there is more to see in the Sierras than just that).






After arriving at the Cub Inn, the owners lent us a couple of bikes so that we could go to the lake, where we chilled out a little bit:



Jennifer's knee wasn't doing well with biking uphill, so we didn't get to bike much farther and just went back to the Cub Inn. Joe nicely lent us his jeep, and we were able to go around Pine Mountain Lake and hike around some trails north of Pine Mountain. It wasn't a great trail, but it was a good warming up for the upcoming hiking.







The next morning, we drove to Hetch Hetchy for some hiking:




reservoir was overflowing to say the least...
reservoir was overflowing to say the least...

the overflow relief was spewing big time
the overflow relief was spewing big time









As far as the rangers let us go, just short of the first waterfall.
As far as the rangers let us go, just short of the first waterfall.

That's a slightly faster way back than the trail :)
That's a slightly faster way back than the trail :)

Due to the backpackers who had died a few days prior when trying to corss the 2nd waterall while it was pouring too much over the bridge (they got swept away), the rangers were blocking all traffic in both directions and gave boat rides to those who were stranded on the other side. So, we had lunch there, and turned back.




Then, since we had a bit of time left over, we did a quick hike to a local vista point before heading home:




warm rocks are the best :)
warm rocks are the best :)

The next day, we got up early and went to Yosemite valley and parked at the bottom of the 4 mile trail. We waited until July 5th to go to Yosemite, as we had heard that it was packed to capacity the days prior due to the July 4th crowd.
Thankfully, on the 5th, there weren't many people, so we almost had the trail to ourselves.


Merced River
Merced River












Nice little 'flow' :)
Nice little 'flow' :)


Hike up Yosemite Falls
Hike up Yosemite Falls



Slowly getting higher
Slowly getting higher

Half Dome
Half Dome



And we finally got to Glacier Point
And we finally got to Glacier Point

And we finally got to Glacier Point
And we finally got to Glacier Point

Did I mention water flow? :)
Did I mention water flow? :)

Still some snow left
Still some snow left

It was out to get our lunch
It was out to get our lunch

Picnic at Glacier Point
Picnic at Glacier Point


After a good break at Glacier Point, we headed for the real peak: Sentinel Dome. A big thanks to Arturo for giving us the tip to go on up to there.




The real peak, sentinel dome
The real peak, sentinel dome





Getting to Glacier Point was only half the journey (about 6 miles and 4000ft up), then we had to go back down, but it turned out to be a bit faster :) We were lucky and got to see 3 different bears on the way down.








it walked right past us and went hunting for more food
it walked right past us and went hunting for more food

click for video
click for video

and we're back down
and we're back down

On our way out, we went to the visitor center for a little while



nice vantage point of the trail we took
nice vantage point of the trail we took


And that was it, our 3rd day was over and it was time to get back home.

2011/07/01 Back Into Electronics
π 2011-07-01 00:00 in Electronics
After getting into arduino (and I'll blame Johnathan Oxner on this one), I had to get back into electronics as a result too.

It took a bit over $500 to get basic parts and tools all stocked up. I'm re-learning the basics and finding projects to build (like a wireless Xbee controlled outdoors soil moisture sensor, or adding breath and SPO2 measuring to my arduino sleep monitoring board).
So far, well, electronics is what I remember it to be: hard and less satisfying than computers for me. Debugging is harder, getting parts adds delays that don't mostly exist with computers, and there is a lot to learn :)

Stay tuned for more.

2011/07/01 Awesome BBQ with Hawaiian Pit Roasted Kalua Pig
π 2011-07-01 00:00 in Google
Sometimes Google chefs have random food events just for fun, and this big BBQ event was awesome, especially with the hawaiian pit roasted kalua pig. In a word: "fantastic" :)

They dug out a huge trench for the pit
They dug out a huge trench for the pit


Elvis came for the occasion
Elvis came for the occasion



Piggie had it coming I guess
Piggie had it coming I guess

So did Salmon :)
So did Salmon :)

Hawaaian Shaved Ice
Hawaaian Shaved Ice

A few other things
A few other things



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