Monday, June 26, 2017

Portland Oregon by Kayak

My son invited me to visit him in Portland Oregon last September and I made the trip in October. It turned out to be a great trip. He took a Friday off and we had three days to visit some of the sights there. One of the highlights of the trip came on Monday after he went back to work and left me his vehicle to explore on my own. I went down to the waterfront area and found Alder Creek Kayak shop and rented a kayak for a few hours. It had been overcast and raining most of the time there but there was no rain on Monday.

I paddled around for a couple of hours and decided to check out a waterfront bar and restaurant...the Island Cafe. When I left there the sun had come out for first time since I had been in Portland and the views were spectacular. Hundreds of waterfront homes on floating docks supported by thousands of big logs... quite unlike anything I had seen before.




We had been up near Mt Hood a few days prior but it was overcast and raining and could not see the mountain... After I left the bar I paddled around a bit and when I turned around to head back I could see Mt Hood in the distance... it was quite a view.


On the drive back to my son's place I was treated to this view of the Columbia River and Mt Hood... a great finish to a great day.



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Berrys Pond

I recently visited Berry's Pond which was built around 1910 to help power the textile mill at Startex... the little mill town where I grew up which also had a small hydroelectric dam on the Tyger River. Took a few pics and want to go back with the copter to get some aerial shots. I had it with me but it was pretty windy and we just enjoyed paddling and poking around.








About all that's left of the power generation hardware... large bearings that likely held the shaft on which the generator turned... still had the babbit bearing material. The whole assembly would have looked something like this.

The power plant is about a half mile downstream from the dam and was fed by a raceway that ran along side the river



Monday, January 23, 2017

Swamp Man

On the way back from Daytona I saw the signs for Branchville near where 95 and 26 intersect. Branchville was the home of the Swamp Man whom I learned to blow glass from at his place there in the swamp on the banks of the Edisto River. Branchville I think is the location of the first train crossing in the state... from which its name came. The Edisto River is the longest black water river in the world... probably in part because its meanders and doubles back on itself so much there in the flatlands.

It was about 2000 when I found him online while looking for information about torch working glass. Thats where you make pieces using pyrex glass by heating it in a special torch. The Swamp Man had a furnace with a crucible inside full of molten glass... you dip a stainless steel blowpipe into it to "gather" molten glass on the end of it... then you add color... more glass.. and more heat... in the "glory hole" before blowing it into something cool.

A few years ago I was going to go back to visit and googled the swamp man only to find he had died a few years before that. All that to say this... I decided to stop by and see what if anything was left of his place in the swamp. Although it had been 17 years since my last visit and about 6 years since he had passed... I was able to find it.



There was a German lady there that owned it now and she let me look around the glass studio.... although they had stored some furniture and other stuff in there... it was pretty much as he had left it.... blowpipes in their holder... a bag of Spruce Pine Batch ready to go in the furnace... jars of color on the shelf. The annealing ovens ready for new pieces... spare burner parts... you have to burn a lot of propane to blow glass.

Rest in Peace Swamp Man




For more pics and info on the Swamp Man Check out these links
Swamp Man Had a Zest for Life
Swamp Man's work in the Whitehouse



Saturday, January 21, 2017

Daytona... There We Went

An ad on craigslist creates a little excitement here at the shadetree




What started innocently enough... looking at craigslist ad for sailboats near Daytona Florida... turned up one with promise... a check of the weather for the area showed 73- 82 for the week. Packed the bags and made an AirBnB reservation in Ormond Beach.

This would be my first B&B experience and it turned out to be a big part of the trip.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

FPV Shakedown

I bought a little FPV copter a few months ago but only recently added video capability... using a gopro and tiny transmitter and also picked up a tablet like device that can monitor the video real time. The transmitter uses a usb type connector that connects to the gopro and using it for video transmission... the video quality is surprisingly good and in color as well... not nearly as good as the video that is recorded by the gopro but I was surprised at how good it was. I tried the FPV mode a little by viewing the tablet video... not easy to do... I'm not going to be happy until I get some of the FPV goggles... I think I'm going to ride down to Hobby Connection in Easley today and look at what they have... I'm afraid I want be able to see in them properly either with glasses or without... thats why I'm going to go have a look first hand.




Friday, November 18, 2016

FPV Quad Racing

The quad copter scene has evolved at quite a rapid pace since I first discovered a website a few years ago called DIY Drones. They now have 32-bit microprocessors with the math co-processor.... tiny sensors not much bigger than a pinhead that provide 3-axis gyro, 3-axis accelerometer, and 3 axis magnetometer or compass. The software that controls the copter and software tools for adjusting the myriad of settings that control just how rad your copter can fly is state of the art and supported by a huge number of folks that are always improving how it works. First person view or FPV as it is referred to... is one of the more popular aspects of quad copter or drone flying where there is a camera on board that transmits video back real time and you fly the copter wearing goggles where you see only what the camera sees. It is a bit like virtual reality and you feel that you are actually in the copter flying it. Some of the flying is only possible with the goggles as they fly in places you could not possibly fly otherwise. The popularity of this type flying has become pretty big and there are a huge number of youtube videos to prove it. I bought a used 250 size copter at the fall all electric fly in down in Woodruff. The 250 means 250mm between the props centers... so they are pretty small and pretty beefy as well... they have to be because this type of flying usually involves all too close encounters with the ground, trees, other copters, often with no damage other than a broken prop. Mine does not have the add ons needed for FPV flying but probably just a matter of time before I bite the bullet and go whole hog. Below is a video shot at an ad hoc  race site.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Moss Monster of Portland

I did encounter a moss monster in my son's back yard..... This was not really planned... This tree limb had a teardrop piece of moss growing on it and I took a couple of pics... when switching between them it looked like motion... my son and his friends are all apple folks and the latest thing on apple phones is animated gifs that you can send in text messages. Funny things come full circle... animated gifs are from the early low bandwidth days of the internet and were a way of having motion pictures that were not really video. There are sites online where you can build your own if you have a set of pics you want to animate.



Friday, July 29, 2016

Sneads Ferry

If you've never been to the NC coast around the New Bern, Oriental area you owe it to yourself to visit there. It has so much personality and charm that you will be compelled to explore the area. I recently visited there to check out some sailboats with the intention of keeping it in the area and spend some quality time sailing and exploring the Pamlico Sound... a huge protected sailing area with so many places to check out... I shot this video at Swan Point... a marina at Sneads Ferry that is a handyman kind of place... you can live aboard your boat... even if its sitting on the ground... or on the hard and it is normally referred to. It is unedited... save adding some music... just wanted to get it online while I was there. It was pretty toasty when I was there... looking to revisit in October.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

A New Copter

I've been piddling with scratch built quad copters and tri copters for several years now... the off the shelf versions have come down in price so much and up in sophistication that I broke down and got one. Looking at this pic it reminds of one of the war bots in Star Wars... the three axis gimbal mount looks like a gun turret.
 

It transmits HD video back to the controller via a 5.8 G wifi connection... you can also see the video real time on your smart phone.  it records 1920 x 1080 mp4 video on a micro SD card that plugs into the camera. It has GPS in both the copter and the controller so it can do some quite amazing things like follow me... look at me... as well as a more normal flying mode with GPS position hold.... here's a little video I shot nearby at USC Upstate.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Out and About

I just got a potters wheel and fixer upper kiln and already turned out some warm up pieces. I was looking online for some vase forms and found quite a few interesting sites... some pottery... some not... here's one of the nots.

http://superforestnyc.blogspot.com/2008/12/kim-grahams-giant-paper-eco-troll.html