A Short Update

Well, there’s not a whole lot new in the world of James, other than a few minor things.

Beer Brewing

I just recently transferred my Dunkelweiss-like beer into the secondary fermenter. I left it in the primary fermenter for two weeks instead of 1, I don’t anticipate this to cause any issues with the outcome of the final beer, but we’ll see what happens.

I tried my bottled Irish Hills Ale, and at least I can say it tastes like beer. It does have a hoppy finish, the body isn’t too bad, but I think I was hoping for something with a bit more body to the beer. It’s a bit lighter than I expected, but it’s a good beer for the first run. I can at least say I’ve got a drinkable beer and I’m happy about that! 🙂

Beaglebone Black

I’ve been working my way through the book “Exploring Beaglebone” by Derek Molloy. It’s a great book that provides a lot of information of the Beaglebone Black (BBB) microcontroller. I’m trying to work my way through the book in a sequential fashion since I want to understand not just how to put circuits together, but how the Beaglebone architecture works.

What I’ve been working through this last month is just learning how to run the Linux command line. The BBB comes pre-loaded with the Debian operating system, which means in order to use the BBB, you have to understand a bit about the Linux command line. From what I’ve read, you can connect your BBB to a computer monitor, add a keyboard and mouse and run a Linux operating system like Ubuntu off it, just like an ordinary computer! This is pretty incredible since the BBB is the size of a credit card.

Learning the command line is rather challenging since the book presents all these new terms that make a non-savvy Linux user like myself scratch their head. There’s a lot to learn and it will take a long time to fully understand the Linux operating system.

Photography

Sadly, I still find myself using the “Auto” function of my new DSLR for the majority of the time. I can say that I’m getting a little better at knowing when to use longer exposure times and different shutter settings to create different photos. I was in Toronto last weekend and managed to get some good photos of Niagara falls and downtown Toronto. You can see the album here.

I’m hoping once I get a little better grasp on the BBB to get my time-lapse project somewhat underway. I’ve been slacking in this department.

Classic Car Hunt

Since I’ve decided that I want a classic car, I’ve been mostly trolling Craigslist for that new classic to hopefully enter my garage soon. There’s lots of options out there, but I have a feeling I’ll find myself with a 1974 – 1979 Corvette.

One of the things I’ve found is that it’s a bit challenging for me to jump right in and start looking into classic cars. So much scrutinizing is needed when looking at a classic car and while I’ve decided that I’m going to get one, I know it’s not a quick process. Sure, if you really wanted to you could go out and buy one today in good shape if money is no object, but when you’re on a budget, finding the best car you can for your budget is a time consuming process. There’s so many things to think about. What kind of classic do I want? What are the main issues with these particular models? How easy is maintenance? How easy is it to find parts? How much will certain parts cost? When looking at cars, what red flags should I be aware of? How original is the car?

A lot of these questions come down to figuring out a few things, like how involved you plan to be with owning a classic, how much you want to spend time doing repairs (I’ve been told no matter how much you spend, classic cars will ALWAYS need repairs) and how much money and work you want to put into it.

I’ve started looking, though it’s going to be a long process. For now, I know I want a black, blue, or silver Corvette (though not the 78 silver anniversary two tone silver, I personally don’t love the two colors), model years 1974 – 1979 with a standard transmission (though the transmission isn’t a deal breaker, I could do auto if the right car came along). We’ll see what happens

 

 

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Project Updates: The Small Challenges to Overcome

As I continue to find myself in a new city, the ideas and thoughts for new projects seems to be never ending. Whether it’s thinking about improvements to my proposed time-lapse rig, or brand new project ideas that seem darn near impossible, it’s hard for me to just focus on one thing and work towards it.

Right now I’ve indicated my plans to do a few things. First off, I was going to build myself a skateboard grind box and secondly, I was going to build myself a time-lapse rig for my new DSLR. These were two good projects to start off with, however I’ve run into a bit of a snag with them.

With the skateboard grind box, my first concern is purchase and transportation of materials. Most of the lumber I need can be purchased at a home depot very close by. This is a good thing, however the one concern I face is getting the materials home. I drive a 1998 Chevy Malibu right now, and from what I can tell, it’s likely that I won’t be able to close my trunk with the lumber in the back. While this shouldn’t be a huge issue, it just makes me a bit nervous to drive on the road with lumber sticking out of the back of my car.

The next issue is tools. In an effort to not put myself into debt right off the bat, I haven’t bought myself that many tools. The only thing I got myself was a massive set of Mastercraft Wrenches and Sockets. They’re normally about $700 at Canadian Tire, however they tend to go on sale for $200 every now and then. If you’re looking to get a solid set of tools, I highly recommend this socket set. It has everything for the beginner hobbyist looking to build a tool collection. (Note that it’s only available in Canada. If you happen to be in the enviable position I am, being 20 minutes away from the Canadian border, make the trip and pick up a set.)

Luckily my dad has an old circular saw that he’s offered to give me. That makes the cutting process much faster than using a regular hand saw.

Another thing that makes a project like the grind box a heck of a lot easier is having some kind of work bench. It makes life so much easier when you have a place to work on your projects, whether they’re big or small. Another option is sawhorses, however I like the idea of a workbench because it gives me yet another project to blab on about.

While I’d like to say I’m getting started on my skateboard box right away, I might be working on a workbench first. It would be nice to have a solid workbench to do woodworking on before I start off the any other big projects. I found this great site that discusses an easy build using 15 2″ x 4″ x 8″ lumber pieces and a 4′ x 8′ sheet of 1/2 plywood. You can see it here.

So in the interim, I’ll be putting together a work bench prior to making the skateboard box based on the plans above. This at least give me something else to blog about.

The time-lapse rig has stalled a bit as I’ve figured out that I’ll need to develop a DIY time-lapse function for my Nikon D3300, since an intervalometer isn’t a standard feature on the Nikon D3300. There are a number of methods of interfacing with a DSLR to do time-lapse shots, whether it’s a wireless connection through your phone, or through a physical USB connection to your computer. In the future I’ll indicate some of the methods you can pursue, one of them likely being similar to this one here, though that may be a bit ambitious for a short term solution.

While this post may seem like I’m just stalling on my projects, it’s just another step in the planning process. I want a decent workspace and the right tools to work on my grind box, and I’ll need to figure out how to make a working time-lapse function for my DSLR. Hopefully my next post can show some progress I’ve made towards these goals. Only time will tell.

Project #2: DSLR Time-lapse Rig (Part 1 – Prototype)

While I’d planned on starting a skateboard grind box, I’m finding my broken toe is still a bit tender. As much as I’d love to get to work on the box, I figured I take a stab at a photography based project while I give my toe a little more rest.

This is more of a filming based project, but it involves taking images at a set frequency and then compiling the images into a high speed video. The easy way of doing this is taking a video at normal speed and speeding up the video playback. I’ve done a few videos like this before, like the one I’ve attached below.

All of the time-lapse videos I’ve created in the past have had one limitation. The camera has always been fixed in one location. While this isn’t a huge problem, it limits the types of time-lapse videos you can make if the camera is fixed in one position.

A DIY project I’ve wanted to take on for some time is creating a time-lapse slider. This is basically a rail which moves the camera at small increments along one axis while the same takes it’s pictures at set increments. The difference is you get a high speed video with slow moving motion along a given axis. It’s hard to explain with my limited vocabulary, so I’ll point you to a blog post that gives a good breakdown of the type of project I’m looking to work on. David Hunt has made a DIY time-lapse slider and documented the whole project here.

This project is also a good one to start now that I’ve gotten myself a decent camera. However, having blown my project budget for June, I didn’t exactly have the funds to purchase the materials required to build the slider. I don’t even have a bill of materials or a slider concept to work towards creating. Until I have some kind of concept idea or idea of material costs, I won’t be rushing out to purchase components.

That being said, I do have this wonderful thing call Lego Mindstorms. It’s a solid way to at least test out the concept on a microcontroller platform that’s pretty easy to learn (luckily I meet the ages 10+ criteria…who says Lego is for kids only?).

So while the construction of the moving platform could have been a bit more solid, I made a small moving platform that moves a small amount once a minute. Right now I only have my GoPro attached to the platform since it has a built in time-lapse function, whereas my DSLR does not (more to come on that later in the post.)

Lego Mindstorms Timelapse Rig
Lego Mindstorms Timelapse Rig
Timelapse Rig With GoPro Hero 2
Time-lapse Rig With GoPro Hero 2

So with the prototype complete, I ran a trial with it to see how it worked. Basically I set it up to do a time-lapse of me while I write this post! It’s poetry in action.

 

While it’s not perfect, it’s a start. It’s pretty short since I had to speed up the video quite a bit. I did a sequence of photos every 2 seconds and advanced the dolly about a 2/100ths of a full rotation of the wheel every minute (or about 8 degrees/minute). While I was able to get an OK video, I had to speed up the motion quite a bit to get the motion somewhat fluid. Luckily, there’s always room for improvements.

The next part will dictate some of the challenges I face in regards to the design. There’s a couple of obstacles to get over, but hopefully I can make something that (sorta) works as a usable time-lapse rig. Stay tuned!