Summit County Fall Hiking Spree in 1 Day

My family enjoys the Fall Hiking Spree put on by Summit County Metro Parks every year. Last year my oldest daughter (Daleen) and I came up with the crazy idea to complete the entire Fall Hiking Spree in one day. We did give it a test run on the Spree For All which is the same thing but during the spring time instead of fall time.

We wanted to accomplish this task on the opening day of the Fall Hiking Spree, but had a prior engagement (family vacation) already scheduled, so we missed the first day. Without having a special day now in focus, we just picked one at random when we were feeling good. That day was October 7th.

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MailMate - My MailMate Keybindings

After sharing my MailMate work flow for “Waiting on Reply,” I decided to continue the MailMate post on my blog and share my custom Keybindings. MailMate gives one the ability to bind just about any key to any command or sequence of commands through a Key Bindings plist file located at

~/Library/Application Support/MailMate/Resources/KeyBindings/filename.plist

Filename can of course be anything you would like.

I have broken my key bindings into several logical sections in the file to help me maintain it. You will notice that I use a scheme of lower case letters for common operations and then the same letter but capitalized for a similar “alternate” action.

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MailMate - Waiting on Reply

MailMate is my chosen application for email for many reasons, but that is beyond the scope of this post. Many times I send an email, maybe as a response itself, that requires no further tracking. I don’t really care if it is responded to or not. Other times, I very much need to track if I have received a response from a particular email or not. iOS 8 just implemented such a feature, so I decided to implement such a feature in MailMate.

This is how I accomplished that task.

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BPQ-250 Build

First, some background: I have been flying larger quads with brushless gimbals, GPS controllers, etc… I made the break into an FPV quad with the Flip FPV by Hover Things. I quickly learned that I had no idea how to really fly a quad copter, so I purchased the SimpleCopter V-Tail and began to learn how to fly. This was a great quad to teach quad flying LOS (I think) because it is very easy to determine front from rear. I painted mine a florescent green and pink, so it really stood out.

I wanted more, though. I wanted to do some close proximity flying. Thus, I began my search for a 250mm mini-quad. After searching for a while, I decided to get a relatively new 250mm quad, the BPQ-250 from BP Multirotors. BPQ stands for Bullet Proof Quad and is made of Polycarbonate. It is suppose to be indestructible. I first learned about the BPQ-250 from it’s creators post on RC Groups and soon after placed my order for 2. Why 2? I break things… a lot, even indestructible things… besides that it’s a great price!

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Easy Star 2 - Build Take 2

My first FPV build was a Penguin V2, it was a larger plane that (as loaded by me) just wouldn’t land! It would glide forever which made it problematic to land at my strip when the winds were in their summer time orientation. Thus, I moved to an Easy Star 2. I purchased the RR (Ready-to-Run) version because it was cheaper when you consider it included the motor and speed controller. The problem with this is that the fuselage was pre-built. The small Easy Star 2 compartment for your battery and RX gear just wouldn’t support FPV gear without having a rats nest of cables that you have to deal with every time you want to swap a battery.

Thus, I purchased the Easy Star 2 Kit Version. From that I built only the fuselage, but not after boring out compartments, testing weight and balance on my existing Easy Star, making nice wiring harnesses for the FPV gear, etc…

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My FPV Setup

Within the last two months or so, I have gotten back into RC airplanes via FPV (first person view). This is a method of flying via an onboard camera that gives you the perspective as if you were actually in the airplane flying.

Here is my FPV setup:

  • Air station (the airplane)
    • Easy Star 2, stock RR equipment
    • DragonLink V2 UHF RX
    • EagleTree OSD with DataLogger v4, GPS and Guardian Stabilizer. I have the Airspeed
      indicator which I find very valuable, but due to lack of room on the Easy Star right
      now, it is not installed.
    • ReadyMadeRC 700PRO camera
    • CircularWireless Skew Planar TX antenna
    • ReadyMadeRC 1.3 GHz 800mw TX
  • Ground Station:
    • Futaba 8FG Super RC TX connected via the trainer port to the DragonLink UHF TX
    • CircularWireless Skew Planar RX antenna
    • IBCrazy PepperBox RX antenna
    • Sometimes an IBCrazy 3-turn Helical RX antenna
    • 2x ReadyMadeRC 900-1.3 GHz RX w/SAW filter upgrades
    • EagleTree EagleEyes (diversity, telemetry logging and video splitting)
    • ReadyMadeRC DVR1000 - digital video recorder
    • ReadyMadeRC 8” LCD mounted on an old camera tripod
    • The rest of the ground station (fixed equipment) is mounted on a camera lighting
      tripod that extends to 12’
    • Peak 900 Jump-Starter (ground station power)

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Back to Vim

I am a full time programmer, beginning back in 1992 but in the past 5 years or so I have had on and off pain in my wrists and left elbow. When it first started, I got smart and did all sorts of things to my work area and that solved the problems. Since then I have grown lax and the pain has been back, on and off again. Hence, I’m doing something about it again.

Over the past 7 years or so I have used Vim on and off. I am not a newbie but far, far, far from an expert. To help reduce the amount of key wacking in a given day, I am moving back to Vim. These days I program mostly in Tcl, Python, HTML and JavaScript. Thus, I have found some plugins that really make things nice.

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Publishing Weather and my WX station

Due to my family’s interests in Farming, Flying, Running, Hiking, Backpacking, Horseback Riding, Astronomy and Amateur Radio, we are a very weather oriented family. We have wanted a weather station for some time, but finally got around to purchasing and setting one up. We are now pushing data to the Weather Underground and the NOAA CWOP system as well as observing weather in our own home on the console.

So, how did we do all of this?

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How do I report my observation sessions?

Before we go into how I report my observation sessions, it makese sense to know how I publish my blog. I do not use a memory or processor intensive blogging platform such as Word Press. Instead, my entire blog is made of static HTML files. No dynamic applications serving up data here, except for the web server itself of course!

Why do I do this?

  1. I consume less resources. Computing power these days are really sucking up major amounts of energy and for the most part, they do so for no good reason. I am not contibuting to this by my software choices, like what software my blog runs.
  2. It’s easier to use. When I want to create a new post, I just fire up my familiar text editor and type away. I then save my file under my blogs posts directory as something such as ‘2013-02-15_observation-reports-how-to.html’
  3. It’s ultra fast. No processing is really done to serve this page up. My webserver simply reads the page from disk and transfers it to you. Most systems require substantial amounts of processing just to show you a blog post. No so here.

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Astronomy Observations of 2/13/13

Began: 2/13/13 12:08 AM
Finished: 2/13/13 2:07 AM
Seeing: III. Somewhat stable
Transparency: Mostly clear
Site: Norton, Johnson Rd Farm

Samantha and I went out and setup the scopes about 7p because the clouds were suppose to clear by 8p and it was looking that way. 8p came about and it had clouded over. We left them out until about 9p then brought them in not being able to view anything but a few whispy views of a 4 day old waxing crecent moon.

Around midnight I noticed a nice clear sky. Samantha had already went to bed and has a big day the next morning so I left her sleep and took the C8 out for a bit. The viewing session came to an end about 1:50am due to frost on the objective lens.

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