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2015/11/27 Tesla Model S 90D delivery
π 2015-11-27 01:01 in Cars
My BMW M5 was still a great car, but it was almost 15 years old, and missing the new technology that's been around for several years. I was personally interested in self driving features as well as safety features (auto braking, lane departure warning, not hitting the car in your blind spot if you missed it, etc...).
But more recently I had been waiting for a car that could drive itself in a freeway lane (if you think about it, it's not that hard a problem compared to driving on city streets). Mercedes kind of that had, but it failed when I tried it during a test drive. Tesla had been promising this for almost a year, but I was a bit dubious that they could deliver with the limited sensors on the current model S. They however proved me wrong, and that was great because I did prefer the idea of having an electric car to another gasoline car anyway.

Those who know me are probably wondering why I didn't get the P90D, the faster one with beefier rear motors, or even the ludicrous speed version (a mere $15,000 extra to shave off 0.3 seconds on 0-60), and there are a few answers:

  • I already have a Mclaren which is really faster than even the ludicrous P90D, especially when accelerating from higher speeds
  • I optimized the 90D for more range and usability over raw performance. It can go to tahoe and take chains if needed, although its all season tires are ok for snow, and the 19" wheels offer more range, as well as the 90D being more efficient and going farther on the same batteries than a P90D.
  • The 90D is not slow, people report about 4 seconds 0-60. However, my impression so far is that it does feel slower than both the Mclaren and the M5 from 60 to 90. That said, maybe I don't really need faster acceleration towards speeds that aren't legal anyway :) (for a car that will never go on the track)
  • So, here is what I got:


    We went to the Fremont Numi plant on black friday (the roads were empty), to pick up the car and get a factory tour:

    The Fremont Numi Factory is huge
    The Fremont Numi Factory is huge


    before driving it off
    before driving it off

    happily home
    happily home

    Nice 2 tone interior
    Nice 2 tone interior

    I had it drive itself using autopilot back from 680 to 1mn from my house on hwy 85 and only had to take the wheel twice to switch freeways. That's a huge plus in my book :)

    See more images for Tesla Model S 90D delivery
    2015/11/25 foot powder day at Kirkwood before Thanksgiving!
    π 2015-11-25 01:01 in Snow
    According to my notes, my last time on the slopes before thanksgiving was in 2004. Just to say that a powder day before thanksgiving is now a rare treat.

    Thanks to Elaine, and the snow not falling at night all the way down to 2000ft altitude as was originally forecast (this would have extedend the drive by 1H or so). So we were in the lift lines just before the lifts opened by 09:00 (cornice was a bit late as usual on poweder days).

    Not surprisingly, I ran into Johannes before long, and the 3 of us rode together most of the day.

    The snow was nice and light, but of course coverage underneath off trail was marginal in places, so when I went to hunt powder in my typical places, many rocks were encountered. Sadly on my last run in palisades, one hidden rock caught my board, and I landed chest first on another one. I'm now on advil and will see how long I'll have a reminder from this little incident :)

    plenty of cars and people were there by the time we arrived, way before the lifts opened
    plenty of cars and people were there by the time we arrived, way before the lifts opened

    Chamoix was nice, except for that small bit
    Chamoix was nice, except for that small bit

    Johannes complained a bit :)
    Johannes complained a bit :)

    snow making...
    snow making...

    partners in crime :)
    partners in crime :)






    Despite the many rocks, it was a fantastic start of the season. Again, a big thanks to Elaine for getting us there and back.

    2015/11/22 Solar Powered Lights Shed
    π 2015-11-22 01:01 in Electronics
    I happened to pick up a solar powered floodlight at costco, and figured I'd use the solar panel charged batteries to power lights inside our shed.

    6.7V input from the batteries, taken down to 5V with LM voltage regulator
    6.7V input from the batteries, taken down to 5V with LM voltage regulator

    The problem was that my motion activated lights actually used quite a bit of power when doing nothing, so their batteries would die after 1-3 months without them being used: This nice bright light has an RF receiver that needs to be powered all the time, sucking power:


    This light is even worse, it uses more than 500mA when fully bright, and uses an infrared LED to detect hand swipes. That burns 3mA, killing batteries in less than a month:


    My meter shows more than 0.5A when full bright:


    Small show and tell video:

    This is the ghetto end result in the shed, but it works :)


    In the end, I did have to replace the LM voltage regulator with a better one from pololu, 2.5A 5V with less than 1mA quiet use. This allowed the batteries not to be used up into a voltage regulator doing nothing :) Then, I also had to put the voltage/amp display on an off switch, as it was using another 15mA just to display those values. Now, everything is happy :)

    See more images for Solar Powered Lights Shed
    2015/11/19 Visit of the Golden Gate San Francisco Coast Guard
    π 2015-11-19 01:01 in Flying
    Thanks to San Carlos Flying Club, we got invited to visit the Coast Guard:






    2015/11/19 Jennifer's Family Visiting for Thanksgiving
    π 2015-11-19 01:01 in Family
    Jennifer's parent came for a couple of weeks around Thanksgiving, just after Jennifer's ankle surgery and in time for her birthday.
    A few pictures:


    Happy Birthday :)
    Happy Birthday :)




    seared foie gras
    seared foie gras

    French meal: escargot, seared foie gras, and soupe à l'onion
    French meal: escargot, seared foie gras, and soupe à l'onion

    Turkey
    Turkey

    After many hours of cooking
    After many hours of cooking



    last meal before going back to the airport
    last meal before going back to the airport

    2015/11/14 Brotronics Broversity RX, the Missing Manual
    π 2015-11-14 00:00 in Rc
    The Brotronics Broversity RX is an LRS receiver designed to work with a backup 1S lipo which gets recharged from the main power source and can used to power the emergency beacon and a backup twitter to help you find a crashed model in tall weeds :)

    If you are interested in that, I also wrote a page on the smaller Brotronics PowerTowerRX without diversity

    It's a great LRS module. On top of having the diversity receiver:

  • It's a good module with good reception (not like the crap from Orange)
  • Support for 11 ports (7 PWM, RSSI/LBEEP, Buzzer, RX, TX/Sbus/SUMD/Spektrum)
  • RX/TX are conveniently wired on 3 adjacent pins (but you have to use the TX pin for SUMD, and GND/5V from the header next to it)
  • SBUS actually works as the module includes a hardware UART inverter, making SBUS possible. Just use the 3 pins and configure port 11 as SBUS.
  • However, as a downside the module, or configurator for the module, does not allow setting any port as ANALOG. As a result, you cannot pass 2 analog voltages back to an Frsky receiver via the telemetry link.
  • Sadly, the author seems to provide absolutely 0 support for his module, and the documentation was minimalistic to say the best. Yet, it's a great little board, but sadly it comes with virtually no instructions, and the author hasn't replied to any of my Emails. I did figure out how to use it in the end, but it took longer than it should have, so I'm going to do the documenting work here:


    you can see both dipole antennas at a 90 degree angle
    you can see both dipole antennas at a 90 degree angle

    the buzzer tells me if TX signal is lost, and acts as a lost model finder
    the buzzer tells me if TX signal is lost, and acts as a lost model finder

    What's not clear from the instructions is that the labelled RSSI pins will not work at all as shippped. I had to cut open the very nice plastic wrap, and hidden under the instructions sheet, in the upper right, you have to bridge 2 pads with solder. I did not get analog RSSI to work, but digital RSSI (i.e. what you'd get from an Frsky receiver, and it requires a capacitor and resistor to get a proper analog signal out of it), worked.


    Too bad I had to cut all of this open to get working RSSI :(
    Too bad I had to cut all of this open to get working RSSI :(

    This is the single instructions sheet that comes with the device. It has most of what you need, but the pinout is not super clear (I thought the top pins were opposite from what they were after seeing the picture below. Have a look at the video for a better overview of how this all works.


    All in all, it's a really nice board, but the limited instructions, and lack of an accessible jumper to get RSSI, is a pity. As to why RSSI isn't even soldered to work at all when you receive the board, I have no idea.
    Wiring is not super obvious, and neither is how everything works, so this little video should be worth a thousand words:

    If you are using Ardupilot on Pixhawk, some relevant notes:

  • PPM support on Ardupilot only works with 12 channels as of AP 3.4 (you can map channels 13-16 to actual pins on the module)
  • SUMD can be connected to a pixhawk via the spektrum satellite port as long as you route power to a 5V line and not the 3.3V on the satellite port. This supports passing 16 channels to pixhawk.
  • SBUS, compared to other modules like hawkeye, just works, plug it in and you're in business
  • However, both SUMD and SBUS will prevent you from using the TX pin to send serial telemetry back, so you have to chose serial telemetry, or 16 channels passed to pixhawk
  • If you pick SBUS, note that scaling and endpoints are different, so you'll get slighly different values read with SBUS compared to PPM or SUMD.
  • Here's the RX configuration screen:


    2015/11/06 therau2000@videotron.ca sabotaged his Mobius USB Tools Android App
    π 2015-11-06 01:01 in Rc
    Update #2: Mobius USB tools has been back for a while and works again. therau2000 likely changed his name to iMobiusMike given all the bad press he got, but once burnt twice shy. I do not encourage you to buy his app, no matter what he promises, given how he royally screwed his users in the past. Tomas Chladek's Mobius ActionCam app works fine now, use that one.

    Update 2015/12/23: Kudos for Tomas Chladek for having stepped up and added USB support to his Mobius ActionCam and app. Thanks to him, and for a very reasonable price, one can update/reconfigure mobius cameras in the field without a computer.

    Original post:
    Sigh, I was on the field with my RC plane and need to change the contrast on my mobius cameras before taking off, and when I started Mobius USB Tools, I was greeted by a screen that said it wasn't supported anymore and that I had the option of uninstalling it.
    Well, crap....

    I just spend a few hours today looking into WTF happened, and sadly the author, therau2000@videotron.ca deliberately sabotaged his very nice app and screwed all his users in the process.
    What seems to have happened is that he was hoping to get money from mobius for each camera sold in return of his work. To be fair, he did put in a lot of work, and the result was a great app that helped a lot of people. I write open source myself and give it away to help others too, so I know how this works, well except that I've likely spent less time on it and also I don't expect compensation in return
    Mobius apparently declined to provide whatever compensation he asked for (or maybe it was an ultimatum or shakedown, hard to say), and in turn he decided to kill his app and screw all his users who would have been happy to give him money for his work, but never were given the chance to.

    This is where the app used to be: https://web.archive.org/web/20150708002619/https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=therau2000.amcamobiusac

    I checked http://www.appdownloader.net/Android/App/81629/therau2000.amcamobiusac to see if I could just go back to an earlier APK that wasn't sabotaged, but I found out that he clearly had planned to do this a long time ago and sabotaged all his apks so that they would not work when a new version was out. I've gone all the way back to 'Mobius USB Config (aMCA) 7.0.0.4' from 2014, and it tells you to upgrade to a newer version instead of working. I tried a few versions in the middle of none of them worked in a useful fashion, even in airplane mode.

    Obviously the author has the right of screwing over all his users like he did, but it's really a dick move, and instead of being mad a mobius like he was hoping I/we'd be, I'm mad at him for throwing away his good work, and screwing all his users. While http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:U9hpWobhL5kJ:pages.videotron.com/therau20/nr16/android.html+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us claims "There has never been any intention on my part to hurt any of the 16,160 Mobius USB Tools Users", that is exactly what he did. Saying otherwise on a web page is BS.

    Sadly, the replacement options aren't as good. You can get https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=cz.chladek.mobiusactioncam but it doesn't have the code to mount the sdcard via USB, it's meant for you to put the microusb card from your mobius inside your phone (this has now been fixed, please use this app).
    If your phone is rooted, in theory you can use https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=eu.chainfire.stickmount to mount your mobius locally and hope the other app lets you edit the settings directly.
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.vaultmicro.camerafi&hl=en is supposed to let you see video from camera (press the recording button after plugging the mobius in to switch to webcam mode).

    I personally would prefer that someone hacks the last good known version of therau2000.amcamobiusac and removes the disable code. Anyway, sad state of affairs for mobius and android users.

    That said, for now, my workaround is to use my rooted phone where I can run stickmount if everything works well, then it mounts the mobius under /sdcard/usbmount/sda1 where in turn the "mobius actioncam" app can mount a syscfg.txt file that I first need to create with long press menu, long press power on (with camera unplugged). I've also verified that long press on the camera button does turn the camera into webcam mode, and then it works with 'camera fi' to see where the lens in pointing.
    (on a good day it also seems that my marshmallow phones can mount the mobius as a usb storage device, only using basic OS support, but I have no idea where it's mounted, and that feature doesn't seem to be reliable at all)

    2015/11/06 Using Ardupilot Geofencing As An Altitude Deck
    π 2015-11-06 01:01 in Rc
    I was interested in using geofencing only to get an altitude deck. As in if for some reason, I'm flying too low, the autopilot would take over and bring the airplane back to a proper altitude. This lets me fly freely at any altitude, but if some reason I lose control (or video during FPV and the aircrafts descends too much before I have time to hit RTL), I have the peace of mind that Arduplane will take over.

    This was however not easy to setup at all because geofencing is not really designed with that use case in mind in APM::Plane. As discussed in this bug: https://github.com/diydrones/ardupilot/issues/2984 , in arducopter you can simply set an altitude limit but not in Arduplane.

    So, what you need to do is the following:

  • FENCE_ACTION,1
  • FENCE_AUTOENABLE,0
  • FENCE_CHANNEL,8 =-> change to your channel
  • FENCE_MAXALT,130 => you must set a max alt, or min alt will not work :(
  • FENCE_MINALT,50
  • FENCE_RETALT,100
  • FENCE_RET_RALLY,1 => very important, means that guided will go back to the nearest rally point, or if you have none, to your RTL/takeoff point.
  • You're not done though, now you have to upload a useless geofence area or nothing will work. As per http://plane.ardupilot.com/wiki/geofencing/ , I uploaded a geofence as big as the US, and put the geofence return point in the middle of the ocean.
    The end result is that the geofence return point is too far, so when guided mode kicks in, it looks for a rally point, I have none, and then falls back to the RTL/takeoff point, which is what I wanted.

    Sadly, though, I was only able to setup that useless geofence area with mission planner.

  • apmplanner did not allow me to set a geofence, or at least http://plane.ardupilot.com/wiki/geofencing/ does not really show how to get apmplanner ot do it
  • you'd think Tower, the new android app, would let you setup a geofence, but I didn't find how to do it, and the documentation is sadly non existent ( https://github.com/DroidPlanner/Tower/wiki and https://3drobotics.com/kb/tower-best-practices/ do not count as documentation).
  • So there you go, this can be made to work, but apparently you have to use mission planner (which means Virtualbox for me since I'm on linux), and you need to setup a huge polygon, a gence return point that is very far away from where you'll ever fly, and make sure that you do set FENCE_MAXALT or FENCE_MINALT won't work (which seems to be a bug, as of AP 3.4).

    2015/11/03 I've been a Pilot for 10 years
    π 2015-11-03 01:01 in Flying
    Stats:
  • 627H of flight
  • 42H of night flying, only 6.3H of actual instrument flying
  • 6 landing shorts of 1000 landings, 1 night landing short of 100
  • 131 instrument landings, 490H in high performance, 172H complex
  • I'm checked out in C152, C172, C172RG, C182, C182TR, M21K (Mooney 231 Turbo Retract), TB20 (Trinidad), SR20, SR22, TSR22, Mooney Acclaim.
  • Highlights:

  • I got to fly an extra 300 twice, and for dogfighting no less, with Sky Combat Ace :) ( 1 and 2 ).
  • Also did some dogfighting in with Air Combat USA
  • I also got to fly a pretty good 737 simulator in Perth and Auckland
  • I got to try flying a glider (need to try more of this)
  • I got to try paragliding and hang gliding.
  • It was cool to have flown myself to burning man several times, the perfect place to take advantage of personal flying.
  • But probably the most practical use of my license has been to fly to Willows airport where I've been racing my car. Turns out I've flown there 31 times so far, not bad.
  • Another reason to learn flying was to go skiing. As expected, it was never helpful for Tahoe, but I got to fly to Mammoth a few times ( 1, 2, 3).
  • I've flown myself to Oshkosh 3 times, in SR22, TSR22 G3, and Mooney Acclaim
  • And just for good measure, I jumped out of a perfectly good plane.
  • Destinations: I got to do other nice real cross country flights with nice destinations I woudn't have driven to:

  • Shelter Cove to hike the lost coast trail
  • Yellowstone
  • Seattle/San Juan
  • Grand Canyon to hike down and back up
  • Palm Springs
  • Colorado Rockies, Grand Canyon, Death Valley
  • Unexpected experiences in 10 years:

  • Got a stuck starter after engine start in Visalia and had to abandon the plane
  • Got a bird strike while under the hood at night.
  • Got a 2nd bird strike after flying back a Mooney 231 with a dead battery I had to jump start with a car (flock of birds took off as I was landing)
  • Got a dead starter in Willows and had to abandon the plane
  • And to top it off, got a turbo oil leak in a C182TR which led to an engine failure and dead stick landing at burning man
  • Engine Failure After Landing
    Engine Failure After Landing

    Lowlight?
    I flew my first 200H in 1H, 500H within the first 5 years, but only flew 127 hours in the second 5 years.
    Yeah, that's kind of sad in one way, but I kind of know why. It's a combination of:

  • In my earlier years, I spent a lot of years training to higher levels, IFR, went to increasing faster planes all the way to the 240kts Mooney Acclaim (I never cared for doing commercial, doesn't seem that useful to me, and I never went for twin aircraft because the ones I can fly are not faster, hard to find for rent, and I don't think I'd stay proficient enough in them to be safe).
  • I flew to a lot of the places I wanted to fly to around where we live
  • I have many other hobbies, so I stopped flying randomly just for adding flying hours :) (I'll go fly for a purpose/destination though, but just have fewer now). I didn't really quit flying, but I'll mostly go fly with a purpose.
  • Does that mean I'm getting a sucky and rusty pilot? I would hope not. While I might not be able to do the best heavy crosswind landings due to lack of practise, or hard IFR, I at least feel that I continue to be capable of flying in weather, or in a pitch dark night, so my flying seems to be enough to keep my skills, so that's good news.

    And as parting words, some of my bestof bestof pictures:

    nice picture from Jim Gerber, flying his TB20
    nice picture from Jim Gerber, flying his TB20

    My trusty copilot :)
    My trusty copilot :)

    flying over the great barrier reef in Australia
    flying over the great barrier reef in Australia

    flying a trike over kawaii
    flying a trike over kawaii

    being towed in a glider
    being towed in a glider

    flying an extra
    flying an extra


    Air Combat USA
    Air Combat USA


    An obvious thing to do is to fly the San Francisco Bay Tour:

    on a bay tour, we used to hold by the racetrack waiting for a bravo clearance. Now, it's been replaced by a bunch of condos :(
    on a bay tour, we used to hold by the racetrack waiting for a bravo clearance. Now, it's been replaced by a bunch of condos :(













    Stanford
    Stanford


    SFO airport
    SFO airport




    Of course, we are super lucky to live close to the Sierras with so much nice scenery:






    Lee Vining
    Lee Vining

    Mono Lake
    Mono Lake

    Hetch Hetchy reservoir in Yosemite
    Hetch Hetchy reservoir in Yosemite

    Hetch Hetchy is too full and drained
    Hetch Hetchy is too full and drained


    Then, Vegas and the Grand Canyon sure isn't bad either:

    North Las Vegas
    North Las Vegas



    The hoover dam before they built the bypass bridge
    The hoover dam before they built the bypass bridge

    Later, the bridge was built
    Later, the bridge was built



    walk over the grand canyon cliff
    walk over the grand canyon cliff


    Other Misc pictures:

    landing at Catalina airport
    landing at Catalina airport

    flying over LAX airport
    flying over LAX airport


    Mt Rushmore
    Mt Rushmore



    landing at Oshkosh...
    landing at Oshkosh...

    Moffett, back when it had a blimp
    Moffett, back when it had a blimp

    Yellowstone
    Yellowstone



    Glacier Park
    Glacier Park



    Salt Lake City's Salt Lake
    Salt Lake City's Salt Lake

    Hawaii road taken over by lava
    Hawaii road taken over by lava

    Lava meeting the water
    Lava meeting the water

    Another road to nowhere
    Another road to nowhere



    Molokini Crater in Maui
    Molokini Crater in Maui

    Mt Haleakala in Maui
    Mt Haleakala in Maui

    Awesome craters
    Awesome craters




    Mt St Helens Volcano, Washington
    Mt St Helens Volcano, Washington

    Castle AFB and Museum
    Castle AFB and Museum


    Flying over Dordogne, France
    Flying over Dordogne, France




    New Apple Campus
    New Apple Campus

    Moffett Wind Tunnel
    Moffett Wind Tunnel

    Burning Man
    Burning Man


    Weather and Sunsets:


    crashing wave
    crashing wave





    And that was it for 10 years, here's to the next 10 years! :)

    See more images for I've been a Pilot for 10 years
    2015/11/01 Unlimited Sounds at Laguna Seca with Trackmasters
    π 2015-11-01 01:01 in Cars
    This year has been good. After 6 years of not having gone to Laguna due to their sound rules, I got 2 unlimited sound track days this year.

    Lots of fun and different cars. I only got down to a 1:41 this time (a bit slower than last time), but it was still fun. It probably was a combination of my definitely worn tires, and lack of skill :)



    drivers' meeting
    drivers' meeting







    Session #4 on viewsync

    :
    -

    By the end of the day, I climbed up the hill to fly my RC plane as the sun was setting, go see RC Flying over Laguna Seca, 6 years later:




    Again, more pictures from the sky on my RC Flying over Laguna Seca, 6 years later page.

    2015/11/01 RC Flying over Laguna Seca, 6 years later
    π 2015-11-01 01:01 in Cars, Rc
    It also had been ages since I took some RC shots from Laguna Seca in 2009. Back then, I took my small minimag with a heavy gopro hanging from it, and flew it line of sight from a few corners of the track. As a result, it was impossible to fly the whole track.
    I was back for an Unlimited sound day with Trackmasters, so I figured I'd do a nice overflight with my big powered glider. Sadly, because we still think that not having daylight savings time all year is a good idea, we had just switched back to the time where it gets dark way too early for no good reason, and I was only able to start flying when driving was over and the sun was already setting, first giving me sun glare, and then flying in dusk where lighting was questionable.
    Due to the conditions which included heavy winds and poor lighting, I put a fairly high altitude floor on my autopilot, and as a result all the shots are from a bit higher than they should have been for better views, so sorry about that.

    Little climb up
    Little climb up

    My gear, ready to go
    My gear, ready to go

    rear cam on 1st flight takeoff
    rear cam on 1st flight takeoff

    climbing up the hill, gave me a reasonable vantage point on the entire track
    climbing up the hill, gave me a reasonable vantage point on the entire track

    By the time I started, everyone had driven out or was driving out already. As a result, the paddocks were a bit bare already:




    And here is a list of Laguna Seca's turns from a few different angles:

    T1
    T1

    T1-T2-T3-T4
    T1-T2-T3-T4

    T2-T3
    T2-T3

    T4-T5
    T4-T5

    T4 seen from the rear
    T4 seen from the rear

    T5
    T5

    T5 from the rear
    T5 from the rear

    T6
    T6

    T6
    T6

    T7
    T7

    nice little hill on the side of T7
    nice little hill on the side of T7

    T8-T9-T10-T11
    T8-T9-T10-T11

    T8
    T8

    T8-T9
    T8-T9

    Cool to see where the bridge before T9, goes
    Cool to see where the bridge before T9, goes

    T9 from the rear
    T9 from the rear

    T10 from the rear
    T10 from the rear

    T10-T11
    T10-T11

    T11, definitely sharp... Never noticed you could drive off the track to an access road on the right
    T11, definitely sharp... Never noticed you could drive off the track to an access road on the right

    I then went flying a bit away from the track towards the fog that was rolling in. That was my first time flying VFR on top without actually being very high. I'm glad I was flying with instruments (IFR-like) though.



    The flight videos aren't great due to video quality, and my rear camera that was acting up (I replaced the mobius with another one since then), but here they are if you'd like them. The viewsync composite (front/rear) are a bit more interesting:

  • Flight 1: You can try the Viewsync Flight #1 with both front/rear views. Sadly the rear video was skipping due to a camera problem. Otherwise, you can try the front camera only below:
  • The 2nd flight had both cameras work better, here is the viewsync front/rear version:
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