Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kite Aerial Camera -- Ready to Fly!

Here it is, the kite aerial photography camera is ready to go. I've got two relays wired to two different digital out ports on the Arduino. Those relays short out the "mode" button and the shutter button on the cheap-o digital camera.

All the Arduino's doing is powering up and waiting ten minutes -- then it presses the "Mode" button once, waits three seconds, and then starts pressing the shutter button every few seconds.  We tested by hooking it all up and letting it run in the livingroom.  It works!

On the day of our first flight, I'll take a laptop, so we can change the timing if we need it -- and also so we can offload the images between runs.  This should be fun.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Rewired the Cheap-o Camera

Okay, so we soldered some solid jumper wire onto the posts of the two switches on the Aries Digital Keychain Camera (3-in-1!). You have to press the Mode button on the front to power it on, and then press the shutter button to take a picture. So you short the Mode switch and it goes "beep" to tell you it powered on, and then you short the shutter button and it beeps as it takes a picture. So with those wires run to a solderless breadboard, and my relays and transistors at the ready, the next step is to get arduino to press the buttons for me.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Picking a Kite

I can't decide yet -- I'm used to parafoil kites, and they seem like a good stable platform.  But the easy deployment of a box kite is appealing as well.  Or do I go old skool and just get a diamond kite.  I think I'll go with a light-weight line -- I don't expect to be in high-wind, and I think it'll save weight.  Parafoil, box, or diamond .. what's your vote?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ordering Parts for an Arduino-Based KAP Rig

I've wanted to do Kite Aerial Photography (KAP) for some time, but it seemed a little daunting.  But now that I've got some Arduino experience under my belt, it actually seems quite simple!  So I've got a cheap-o little digital camera from the drug store, here.  And my friend Sven just checked my parts list for the bits that'll let an Arduino short the shutter button to snap photos:

So once the parts arrive, we'll see if these codes are worth the price we paid.  (Under five bucks!)  "I don't know -- fly casual..."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Manually Creating MacOS Time Machine Targets

You can convince MacOS' Time Machine to backup to just about any volume, local or network, as long as you prepare it with a specially-named "sparsebundle" file in the top of the volume you want to backup to.  Here's an example of how I get Time Machine to backup to my NAS appliance.  Here's my setup:
  • My computer is named "neap"
  • My NAS appliance is named "spring"
  • My NAS appliance has a CIFS shared volume called "backups"
First thing you have to do is create the sparsebundle file.  What Time Machine is looking for is a sparsebundle file named with your system's hostname, then an underscore, and then your machine's main ethernet address, with ".sparsebundle" on the end.  Furthermore, the volume name has to be "Backup of " your hostname.  You have to create this on your local system -- not directly on the NAS volume -- I've got no idea why.  I use a command-line invokation of hditutil, to do this.  Open the Terminal app (In your Applications directory, in the Utilities subdirectory) and issue this command:

  hdiutil create -fs HFS+J -volname "Backup of `hostname -s`" `hostname`_`ifconfig en0 | grep ether | awk '{print $2}' | sed s/://g`.sparsebundle

Or if you would like to define an upper limit to how much space this Time Machine target can occupy total, add a "-size" argument, like this:

  hdiutil create
-size 420g -fs HFS+J -volname "Backup of `hostname -s`" `hostname`_`ifconfig en0 | grep ether | awk '{print $2}' | sed s/://g`.sparsebundle

Kewl, now mount your target NAS volume.
  • In the Finder I choose "Connect to Server..." from the "Go" menu.
  • I enter "smb://spring/" since "spring" is the name of my NAS file server.
  • Click connect, and when prompted I supply my connection credentials.
  • From the list of available volumes on "spring" I select "backups" and click OK.
And now I move my new "sparsebundle" file into the NAS volume.  Again, on the command line.  In the terminal I issue this command:

  mv *.sparsebundle /Volumes/backups/

And at this point, I can run Time Machine as usual, and tell it to backup to the network volume.  I do this:
  • From the Apple menu, I select "System Preferences"
  • Click the "Time Machine" icon.
  • Click "Select Disk"
  • It should list the NAS volume, in my case it's "backups" on "Backup to spring"
  • I click the volume name once, then click the "Use for Backup" button.
  • I supply my username and password, so that Time Machine can reconnect in the future.
  • After that, Time Machine switches to "On" and starts counting down to the next backup.
And that should be it.  When the countdown hits zero, Time Machine should begin to backup to the NAS volume.  Seriously convoluted, but now you're backing up to a NAS volume, and optionally you've set an upper limit on disk space your backups can take -- so Time Machine won't try to fill the disk.  w00t!

Monday, November 1, 2010

My Diagram 17

It has come to my attention that my diagram of career and washed-up dreamerness wasn't entirely legible. So, I took the photo and traced it in OmniGraffle on my iPad. Here's one that's totally readable, at least if you click to zoom in.

Some things I notice:  "user evangelist" and "tech evangelist" are adjacent, and point at each other.  Also, I've specifically made "new tech discoverer" its own bubble -- it's one of my favorite things to do, along with sharing my discoveries.  The "architect" and "data miner" bubbles don't really tickle me the way they did when I first drew this; dunno why.  "Teacher" is at an interesting intersection.

Reading my own mind-maps is kinda like throwing tarot cards.  I just talk bullshit until the customer starts nodding their head.

The blocks in the lower left are prerequisites, of a sort.  My dream job/life/whatnot involves either a "volcano lair," or some sort of intellectual "salon."  Actually, this is probably why hackerspaces appeal to me.  (See also: 'fricken lasers.')

Finally, I'm not sure of the purpose of the "monkey line" in the bottom right, other than to delineate between things that are helpful and unhelpful.  And of course, they're likely to turn out to be just a "pot" that calls the "kettle" black.

Please be careful; the monkeys bite.