Splashing around

19 June 2017

Last Friday was fun. Surfing Google Earth earlier that week, I noticed a potential location for doing a photography project I have in mind. So, my son and I headed out to try and scout the spot.

Short story version is that I have to try a different route in. The “road” is blocked about 2 to 2.5 miles from the site. It’s good trail in, so hiking in is quite feasible. It’s carrying in all the necessary gear that makes it a little less fun. Obviously, I’ve got the means to backpack the gear, so we’ll see. It would also take care of removing the vehicles from the photo site.

However, there’s a possible alternate route in as well. Personally, given who (BLM & F&G) blocked vehicle access to the site while allowing horses and hiking, I suspect even that other route will turn out to be blocked. After all, why would two ways way in be blocked (I already know it’s also blocked at the dam) and the third not? Especially since the hiking “trails” are actually the old road system. Gotta check it out, anyway, just to be sure, eh?

Even though the desired goal wasn’t reached, we did have a lot of fun getting in as far as we did.

We took the back route to the park but one spot got bad enough that we both agreed to turn back instead of continuing on. A tight curve, a steep drop, and a large puddle only a foot from the edge with no way to avoid it…doesn’t sound that bad, but it was questionable at best right then. Walking back to my vehicle, I saw track indicating whoever had been there before us made the same decision to turn around. We could see the bridge and the entrance to the park off in the distance from there. Rats! Foiled again!

Once we got back to the main road, we took that to the park and drove through it to the fishing spots on the other side. At the end, that’s where the road was closed by a BLM/F&G gate. Access isn’t prohibited, just vehicles.

Years and years ago a friend and I drove the entire canyon from the park entrance to the dam. There wasn’t a park there at the time but people still went there to get in some good fishing, mostly catfish. We just wanted to see if we could drive the whole way, and we did. Good thing his Blazer had good suspension! Part of that, about a quarter mile worth, was solid boulder field and we were going over them following the track!

Hmmm. I wonder, could someone have tried doing it without good suspension, vehicle clearance, and a 4×4 drive? If enough idiots…excuse me, explorers… in inapprorpiate vehicles did try to go through that boulder field and kept breaking down, that could explain why the area got shut down to motorized use. Or more likely, people kept trying to make different roads all over the place to get past that part.

Ah, well. I’m obviously going to check out the remaining access road, but I’m expecting it to be closed as well. It looks to be a much shorter hike, but it’s down the canyon wall and those tend to be a little steeper than a highway in the same place. The hike in would be fine, it’s the hike back up and out that I wouldn’t wanna be facing at the end of the day. I’ll take the level, twice as long hike over one I have to climb.

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Slowly, slowly

8 June 2017

Still not in a writing mode, but working towards it. As far as that part of my life goes, I’ve been working on the Pa’adhe ebook. It’s been mostly proofing (found a couple of errors), layout, making sure things are in the right order. I’ve got three cover pictures left to do, still: one to replace an existing cover I don’t like and two for the stories that don’t have a cover yet. The designs are done, but now I have to figure out what pictures to take and combine for these covers.

Talking about pictures, I’ve also been working on three photography projects. Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say two videos and one photograph.

The photograph is a three generation portrait that I’ve been thinking about for several months. Now that everyone’s present that needs to be in it, I can proceed with actually taking the photo. I’ll be using the DJI Phantom 4 for this due to the perspective needed and to avoid any part of the photographer being in it. It’s also necessary to use the drone to achieve the hidden geometric aspect I have in mind.

One of the videos I have mentioned before. I’ve a script written for it and have all the necessary gear to do the shot. What remains is to get the necessary actors together on location (herding cats would be easier) and get the video needed so I can get to work compiling the whole. This I need to get done within the next two months or it’ll be unlikely to ever get done.

The final video is one that I am not even sure is going to be anything more than an experiment. Fundamentally, it’s one of my granddaughter dancing, but it’s the perspective that makes the video what it is. Or breaks it. I can see in my head what I want to achieve, but until I actually start processing the video, I have no way to tell if it’ll work or not. In some ways, it’s abstract…but without being abstract. I’m trying to explain to some extent the problem with the visualization without giving too much away yet and that’s not easy to do. With everything else I can throw out teasers, but this one…any teaser is too revealing. Let’s just say that if I don’t get the angles right, it’s not going to work and since there’s nothing like it out there that I know of, I have no guidance to the right angle. If it’s off by even a little bit, the impact won’t be there. Even so, right angle or not it could still be a bust.

Both videos will utilize the GoPro Hero 4 Black and the DJI Phantom 4, though in different ways. I never did think I would be doing video, but there it goes. Never say never.

I’e been doing a bit of amateur radio, just PSK-31, since my last blog post. I have to admit I’m happy with the home station, but not so much with the mobile setup. I need to do some more playing with the mobile gear to figure out what’s not working, but it’s also quite possible that it’s simply there was no activity when I was using it. Or maybe it was a bad location. All I can do is keep trying different locations for a while before I start troubleshooting the gear.

OK maybe not quite back yet

20 March 2017

Like it says, maybe I’m not yet back into the writing grind. Still, some life is better than none, eh?

Since that last post, I’ve been mostly working on my ham shack. I now have a laptop set up for use with my radios and the setup works either on the desk in the house or in the vehicle up in the hills. Simple plug and play. Plus I got my radio desk cleaned off, finally!

I designed and built a switchbox that effectively gives me a Tigertronics USB SignaLink with two different radio jumper setups. It’s a simple circuit, just bringing the SignaLink JP1 socket out of the SignaLink enclosure and creating two parallel sockets in the switchbox instead. With a jumper block in each, I can easily switch the SignaLink between the two radios by flipping switches instead of having to open the SignaLink enclosure, swap jumper blocks, reassemble the SignaLink, and switch radio cables. A 15 minute operation is now down to 15 seconds. Nice trade, if I do say so myself.

You can see this switchbox in the picture right under the SignaLink.

The ham shack today. The new switchbox is under the SignaLink between the two radios, above the laptop.

Yup, those of you that are interested, it switches between the Kenwood TS-130V on the right and the Yaesu FT-2500M on the left. Being deaf, my focus is on the digital modes and a friend who is 20 miles away and I plan to play with the digital modes on 2m. So, I expect to be switching back and forth: experimenting, playing, and chatting with my friend on 2m and doing the same on HF with whomever’s out there. The 2m setup will allow us to both get familiar with various digital modes, including CW, and get in some regular practice with them regardless of HF band conditions.

I’ve finally been able to make the test videos for my video project. I have sure learned a lot just making these two 2 and 3 minute videos. Not only post processing, but things that have to be watched out for when filming. Trust me, I’m getting a new respect for directors and filmmakers.

The GoPro has definite fisheye artifacts, as I mentioned previously. I’m still feeling my way in the editing room dealing with this, but I think progress is going well. The Phantom 4 video doesn’t need much editing, as far as colors, etc., but I do need way more practice flying. I discovered that among other things, mimicking a bird taking off isn’t quite as simple as “just push the two control sticks at the same time.” Yeah, there’s that, but you don’t push them the same amount. I also absolutely must fly the planned route ahead of time or I’m going to have very definite un-bird-like behavior.  Even so, everything looks to be saying the video I want to make is doable.

Other than that, I’ve mostly been doing reading, studying Blender, and at least thinking about writing more Pa’adhe stories. Oh, and I have some more mead brewing.