two wolf moons or jesus latch hook?

In Michael’s craft store today and I run across this. I am unsure how to respond. The responses on FB are however amusing. Your thoughts if you were to gift one or the other are welcome. I’m not used to facing this type of decision.

Wolves or Jesus (latch hook)

ensure that every convoy has ground security and air cover

“In Iraq, a U.S. military spokesman says every step in the withdrawal is a “deliberate operation in which we collect intelligence, coordinate with the Iraqi Security Forces, clear routes and ensure that every convoy has ground security and air cover.””


We want our troops home SAFE! And on Thanksgiving I give thanks to those who have served. Thank you!

quadracopter – starting to feel like mad max

The quad. Rebuilt it tonight. Took a chance that one motor was still working after the last crash. It wasn’t. You can’t test that. They all spin up. You do a slow test launch and you get an immediate flip.

Lesson learned – if a motor is damaged or touched, just replace the damn thing. Now I have to replace the motor which requires a lot of labor, and I have a motor.

Starting to feel like the gyrocopter dude in Mad Max putting everything together with duct tape and wire. Sheesh.

I know that, all my life, I’ve been going around in a fog

“I know that, all my life, I’ve been going around in a fog. You’re just a bunch of molecules until you know who you are. You spend your time getting to be a big Hollywood actor. But then what? You’ve reached a comfortable plateau, and you want to stay on it; you resist change. One day, after many weeks of LSD, my last defense crumbled. To my delight, I found I had a tough inner core of strength. In my youth, I was very dependent upon older men and women. Now people come to me for help!“

– Carey Grant

aerial shots of bastrop push fire burned out woods

It ended in a crashed quadracopter. More on that after the jump, but first a photo and a 5 second video from above the burned out woods near Bastrop Texas.

lost pines

This still shot? THIS is why I like aerial photography so much. You just can’t get a photo like this on the ground. You have to break free.

And here is a 5 second video from the gopro:

And this is what the quadracopter looked like after the receiver lost contact. Gravity still works y’all.

That squiggly thing on the top right? That would be the receiver with the gyro dangling off of it. The other part of the receiver remained attached to the mounting plate but luckily all cables came out without tearing.

Currently flying again until parts arrive with a replaced arm, one internal ESC that is now taped externally. Luckily I had one spare motor in the bag. No landing gear because I had to use the aluminum plates in the landing gear as braces to hold the duct taped main body together.

All in all, it could have been worse. Now I just need to find out WHY I lost contact with the little guy. I don’t think I was flying THAT high. Maybe my wonderful new aluminum landing gear plates shortened the range of the  antennae? That is my best guess at the moment so probably switching back to G-10 for fabricating replacement.

Kudos to the GoPro camera. No damage at all and no loss of images from the SD card. Minor scratches on the case. Held up like a champ as did the clearly over-engineered landing gear. All LEDs still work (in the photo two were pulled out of the power supply connector, but they still work when plugged back in.) Weak link was the carbon fiber main frame which snapped in half.

Will have to purchase new main body parts, but for now I’m airborne again and the gopro is flying in a craft that Han Solo would be proud to fly.


the most beautiful moment at the renaissance festival. EVER.

I saw the most beautiful moment last weekend at the Ren Fest and I have to share it with you. It involves children and green giants. (stay with me for a moment…)

I started going to the Texas Renaissance Festival in either 1987 or 1988 while going to Texas A&M as an undergrad. I can’t recall the exact date. I went many times, but it was college so that might have been three times in one year or two times each year, or who knows. It’s lucky I remember my own name from 20+ years ago.

But I DO remember the texas renaissance festival. We were broke students so we bought the discount tickets from HEB and had to sneak in our own beer because we couldn’t afford the beer inside. In the late 80s my favorite renfest-shows were, in priority order, the falconry show followed by the mud show. The mud show back then was a mud pit in an open field and people who would gather around said pit. Falconry on the other hand, always had the most beautiful arena. But that is probably an artifact of not wanting the birds of prey to perch on small children during the act. I gotta figure being the falconry guy at the RenFest is like being the lion keeper at the zoo; if you say you need something you might bump the queue over the guy who takes care of the armadillos. There’s only so much that can go wrong if an armadillo is on the loose. But a lion? Definite priority. Just sayin’

I love the Renaissance Festival. (Disclaimer, as of a couple years ago RenFest is a client. But that doesn’t change things. I still pay for my ticket and I still take my whole family every year.) I have so many great memories and so many great photos. But this year, a 10 second interchange, stopped me dead on all-hallows-eve. This is what happened:

An ENORMOUS green man was attacked by a small child. Or torpedo-hugged. I don’t know the guy, and I’m not small, but he was larger than me and commanded a presence with his huge frame. And this giant man was reduced to a puddle of love by a child he had never met. Until that moment. That man was Shrek:

Shrek hugged a kid.

2011 Texas Renaissance FestivalOr to more accurately state it, a tiny 3 or 4 year old little girl propelled herself out of her parents arms like an Olympic athlete and flew above the ground like a hydrofoil to Shrek. It was kinda like the “human torpedo” move in WWE.

Shrek knelt down on one knee and caught her. The young’un quickly buried her head against his enormous frame. The giant man, in costume of course, brought her to a safe position and looked up at her parents for approval. Mrs. Shrek right next to him.

The parents of the star of our story 5 feet away nodded approval and smiled. Myself 20 feet away dumbstruck.

And all of us were frozen. We froze watching this beautiful young lady who completely believed not only in Shrek, but that THIS was SHREK. And she loved him. It looked like this photo I took after I snapped out of it.

I can’t really explain it. It was just beautiful. It was respectful. The parents were smiling ear to ear. The actor-volunteer-Shrek was well aware of a responsibility that I had no idea he had; to represent honorably the image of Shrek and the dreams of little kids.

And the child demonstrated a complete lack of prejudice, she charged and jumped into the arms of a 300+ pound green man! How many of us could jump into the arms of a giant green man with complete faith that he in turn was a gentle giant?  I fear I have lost the ability to be that child-like and I miss it. I am working on that…

The shrek-hug was the most beautiful thing I have seen all year. God bless you Shrek. And God bless this child and her family for their wisdom to allow her to have this moment. And thank you that I was there with my family to witness it. ‘Cause my kids are pretty awesome too IMHO.



(this is a cross-post. To comment visit the shrek-renfest-post on and comment there please.)

I get why people are so angry

“I get why people are so angry at seeing Christmas commercials and why petitions are starting left and right and why regular, educated, hard-working Americans are taking to the streets to occupy and lend their voices to the movement.

These people are normal. They have kids and dogs and jobs that they’ve held for 17 years. They work in the lowest-paid but highest-required degree social institutions and donate money to social injustice to help other people. They take care of their sick parents. They help other people when they can by sending them to community organizations or by just paying a light bill. They do the best they know how to do. They never think they were going to end up here.

At least I didn’t think I would.”


quadracopter update – not that anyone asked

Quadracopter update — not that anyone asked — Prototyping new landing gear with clear legs for LED lights for night flight (red in front, blue in back) and 16 centimeters of clearance for a GoPro mount below the body. 4 centimeters to spare for hard landings and leg flex. Interchangeable with lighter gear for stunt flying when the camera isn’t attached.

In this photo the old landing gear is still attached and it is just sitting on the new gear. I haven’t built the new dampening mechanism yet. Was told by an engineer friend that my springs on the current video/camera front mount “were dampening for the wrong frequency” so while I will keep those for hard landings, I am shifting mass to the landing gear to lower the COG and and putting ALL of that on the other side of several sheets of rubber/foam between new aluminum plates to smooth out the video against the electric motor generated high frequency vibrations.

The main-plate vibration dampening  sandwich  is tentatively set to look like this:

============================== <-- 1/16 aluminum sheet
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ <-- rubber sheet
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ <-- rubber or foam sheet
------------------------------ <-- 1/32 aluminum sheet
possibly counter-opposing cut-outs in the aluminum sheets to save more weight.
      /\        /\    
     /  \      /  \   
     \  /      \  /
      \/        \/
  /\        /\       /\
 /  \      /  \     /  \
 \  /      \  /     \  /
  \/        \/       \/

Not necessarily that pattern. It was the best I could do with a <pre> tag and years since I did ASCII art (kids – ask your grandparents what that was.) But you get the idea.

Anyway, the first adhesive test failed having problems with sticking to the aluminum. Although a sage friend this morning suggested cleaning everything with rubbing alcohol before joining might fix it. If not it will be size 4 or 6 bolts with rubber washers holding it all together so there will still be no metal-to-metal contact for the vibrations to pass through. I just need to be sure the adhesive won’t come off if I do a roll with the camera attached. That would be bad.

Or to put it another way, the quad is not flying this week, but will be back with new capabilities by the end of the weekend. And then you won’t see the rotors in the video like this one

So if you see a camera and landing gear falling out of the sky with no vehicle attached, please return it? Thanks!