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Everything is Awesome

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I had a chance over the weekend to finally catch 'The Lego Movie' with my kids.    It was a fun movie, my kids really enjoyed it.  Lots of creatively block-styled animation and tongue in cheek humor of the characters poking fun at their personas.  

Though, I was struck that I'm a little like the Villain in the movie.   A dad-figure who wants everything in it's place, and thus commits plans to use Krazy Glue to permanently affix legos in their built form.    I've totally threatened to do that.      I guess, the completely built Lego X-Wing is way more interesting to me than the pile of legos said x-wing can quickly be distilled down to.. :)

But, I digress.

So, in the movie there were these not-so-subtle jabs at social conformity.   Everyone watches the same pointless TV Sitcom, everyone is known for "one thing" in the way we often build simplified stereotypes of those around us. Everyone listened to the same song, ostensibly called, "Everything is awesome!!" that spread the virtues of teamwork and conformity.   Sadly, that two-verse song is stuck in my head now.

Though, at least when sitting on a mostly abandoned beach watching the sun fall below the horizon in blazing spectacles of color and sounds of gulls laughing and waves lapping:  Everything is pretty awesome.  


The Monday Commute

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Wishing you a speedy, safe and stress-free Monday commute :)




Attack of the Drones

I Gave a quick talk on Camera drones with my good friends over at the Eastern Shore Camera Club today.  Material from the talk (Slide Deck PDF & Intro Video) are here!

Thanks for checking it out!

The sample video of some our epic Gulf Coast locations was based on a 3 hour project window.   Filming, editing in no more than 3 hours.  Plenty of opportunity for better editing but I thought it was a decent enough example to show the capabilities of the camera platforms we talked about.



I've been experimenting with various remotely controller aerial photography methods for several years.  In 2011, I mounted an HD Hero Go Pro on my Stryker F-27q pusher-prop fixed-wing.   The result might make you sea-sick:


That's not to say that fixed-wing flight cannot yield compelling visuals.  I found these to be very inspiring:


Early 2013, I tried the multi-rotor route with the Parrot AR Drone 2.0.  Took it to the marina where we kept our boat with hopes of amazing aerial visuals.    It didn't work out, either:

The Parrot AR Drone is cool and all but controlling something from an iPad that is simulating the control sticks of an R/C controller is a bit fail.   The on-board camera of the Parrot AR Drone isn't as good as the Go Pro (Jellyvision is bad) and the lack of camera stabilization (a gimbal) is the nail in the coffin to this approach (for me, anyway).



About a year ago, I found this video and was blown away: 

Santa Monica Airlines from robert mcintosh on Vimeo.


Followed a few months by this one:

Talk about awesome stuff, right?

Finally... a year ago, Chase Jarvis posted this post on his blog about overcoming barriers in your photography:

A great write-up and awe-inspiring video, which is here:

Interested yet?  Space!  Cmon.  Space is like bacon.   Put space in front of anything and it is instantly improved. (thinks of space bacon...)

errmm.. umm.. what happened.. sorry you lost me for a second.

But seriously, interested in FPV flight and camera drones and just getting started?

Here are some links to get you started and of course, you are always welcome to contact me directly at to discuss! 

Informative Sites

Manufacturer Links

Drone & FPV Retailers


FPV Manufacturers

LRS Manufacturers

Slide Deck

(video slides won't play but there is a video links slide towards the end of the deck)

I'm not sure how much sense the slide decks will make sense on their own but they include really informative links and inspiring videos from awesome FPV camera operators that I found inspiring.


The Five Rivers

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The Morning Drive

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Wishing you a pleasant Monday drive to wherever it is you call work :)


The Sun Set on Fairhope

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The Subtle Orange

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Orange Beach / Alabama Point from 750ft

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Star Wars Trilogy Pinball Resurrection

"Hey I found this pinball machine on Craigslist.  It looks like a great deal! Should I buy it?"

Here's a cautionary tale. :)

About 9 months ago, I talked to this guy about 100 miles away that had a Star Wars Trilogy Pinball.   I never saw the machine but had his description and a third party account of the condition.
 We couldn't get together on price, so I walked away.

Last month, perusing Craigslist, I found the machine available for sale. The price listed was considerably less than my last offer, it was for sale by the same guy. I called and he didn't recognize me at first.   His situation had changed, and he was hard up for the cash to pay some unexpected bills.  Hey, we've all been there.  
I told him I was interested and pressed for details about the condition of the machine.

"Man, this machine is wrapped up in plastic, that's how it has been for 2 years but let me tell you it is Not Junk!   All it needs is a $2 part and you are off to the races."
I agreed to buy it, arranged to have it brought to me and wrote down on a post-it note $600 in repairs.   :)
Fast forward to today.    
The CPU board was in need of extensive repair,
As was the Power IO Driver board
ROMS were mis-matched
Playfield toys where broken.  
Two bad coils
6 playfield wiring snafus
A broken reed switch
1 Broken Drop Target
Dirt.. Oh My God.. The Dirt and Grime ..
Missing a Starter (Fluorescent)
Bad Ballast (Fluorescent)
The Coin Door Was wrong / Didn't Engage the Interlock 
The Coin Door Had a Huge Hole from some card-based validator
1 Pop Bumper was out
2/3 of the Playfield GI bulbs were out
Stupid Hacks on the Playfield, like Wood Screws used as Stand-Offs
..Needless to say his estimate of a $2 dollar part was off by a multiplier of 500 :)

So the moral of the story is..   Be sure to be able to test drive a pinball before buying it.   B/c that $2 part the guy mentions it needs, may  just be a load o' crap.
Am I sorry?   Nah.  I have the Star Wars Trilogy Arcade machine and wanted to make the matching pair.   At some point I had to weigh location / proximity into the "should I buy" decision matrix.   The odds of finding another one within driving distance here in Southern Alabama, isn't real great. :)



Different Views of a Familiar Beach Spot

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