Published on August 18th, 2009 @ 06:42:39 pm , using 30 words, 680 views
Randy's rocket's booster section wasn't destroyed after all! A little bit of glue and it was ready to go again. He's going to modify it for larger motors though... :D
That's a shot of the liftoff of club member Curtis' Level 1 Certification flight! The rocket was scratch-built by him. Yes, that used to be a child's crayon shaped bank. ;) It flew on a 29mm H-class motor to about 1,000 feet and was recovered in perfect condition as required for certification! He's already planning to fly the same rocket on an I-class motor. Heh.
The launch got started a little late so we didn't get to see too many flights. Just a quick low power flight, also by Curtis, and also a video-camera-equipped rocket flight by Randy, which ended in the destruction of the booster section (camera section was fine though!)
I'm definitely planning to have my PML Callisto ready to go for the next launch, for my L1 Certification flight. I'll fly it on a 38mm H123-class motor, and it'll fly to over 3,000 feet. Recovery should be... interesting!
This weekend we also started engaging in a new outdoor hobby. It's called Geocaching (click link for all the details you could ever want). Basically, you have a portable GPS unit (ones made for hikers and hunters and the like are best), and then a set of coordinates, and you go there, and try to find the container someone has hidden. Inside there's a logbook and sometimes objects you can exchange. It's pretty fun, and can show you areas you would never never known about. For example here in Lafayette in a wealthy subdivision, hidden by a lot of trees, there's a HUGE gorge spanned by a concrete bridge. Would've never known!
Sometimes the coordinates purposely don't lead you to the cache, and instead a set of clues are provided, which you have to figure out in order to find the cache. Those are very fun!
Geocaching is pretty popular; there are over 200 caches just in a 12 mile radius from our zip code, and we're not a "huge" metro area at all. I'll probably report in on particularly interesting ones from time to time.
So there's a new member of the PM ratpack: Alberice, L45 Bruiser. The magic of collection quests had him from 1-44 in about 2 hours (takes a while to buy up and double-click all those collection items!), then some rampaging with Grace in Nek had him 45 right quick. ;)
Fun class, Bruiser. It's a tank, but a DPS-oriented one. I figured, best thing for our duo is if she has the back 100% (or as near as possible to 100%) of the time. No better way to do that than with a tank, and we both like fast kills so it seems a DPS tank is the best choice. So Bruiser it was! Worked out great.
I still think the Inquisitor-as-a-tank concept warrants more research, and at least until Grace is much higher in level, I'll probably still rotate in various other toons to test as a duo, but so far, the Bruiser has worked out the "smoothest" as holding aggro is a non-issue, and his DPS is impressive!
In flying news, the Omega build is done. I haven't picked it up from Chad's yet, as we've been really busy and interest level isn't super high, but I'll pick it up "soon." I'll have a bit of setup work to do on it and then it should be flyable. I'm still kind of excited to get it flying but there's certainly no rush. It should be fun to see how it performs though. :)
The club's rocket launch is this weekend, both days, from 10-5. We'll probably only go on Saturday, as I'm sure that's when the main launching will happen anyway. We'll show up around start time for best chance of some really good high-power stuff. I don't have anything ready to go -- and I would have had to order the motor reloads a long time ago anyway. I'll make it a goal to have a bunch of stuff ready for next launch. ;) (And order the reloads way ahead of time!) Should still be fun to see what people are flying.
It's only 2 months until the club moves back to the "winter" launch site. That should be cool, as that's where they can launch the Level 3 super high power stuff. They're cleared for up to 16,000 feet there, so we'll see some seriously hardcore (and expensive, haha!) stuff launched there.
Published on August 11th, 2009 @ 08:53:16 am , using 155 words, 386 views
That's a cut-n-paste and crop of my myaccount.turbine.com LOTRO section as it stands right now. :( And how's it looked for quite some time now. I have an appeal in, to hopefully make that scary "Banned Until" part go away, and allow my Captain and Lore-master to once again adventure in Middle-earth. I'm not hopeful at this point, but I haven't given up! You'd think if they were gonna tell me where to shove it, they'd have done that already.
Anyway. I'm continuing Bollenum's adventures in the Shire. He's nearly done with most of the quests there, so will be heading out into the wider world very soon. I'm trying to slow down a little bit and enjoy the Shire's unique Hobbit-y charm while I still can though! And of course, he'll always come back to visit anyway.
If any that read this blog have any contacts at Turbine, put in a good word? ;)
That number up there, forty-five point three (45.3!) is how many miles we rode over Saturday and Sunday. That still may not seem like a huge total to any more serious riders that may be reading this, but again, keep in mind, we just this year were at a fitness level where this is even possible.
It started early Saturday morning with a 21.2 mile first ride. For those local to our area, I'll describe the route a bit. We started by leaving home and heading towards the 231 bypass on the South side. We took that towards West Lafayette, and realized how much a hill/slope it really is! Hard to tell in a car; not so much on a bike. Luckily this was all downhill. Then we jumped on the Wabash Heritage Trail and took that almost to the R/C flying field/Golf Course area. It's pretty covered with mud, dried and rutted mud, and branch debris so we turned around and headed back to the bypass and went back towards home. Of course, now the bypass route is uphill and that was ... interesting. ;) But we made it, and didn't walk the bikes at all. We did have to stop for a rest for a minute or so, but that was near the top anyway. We finished out to 21.2 miles by traversing a bunch of subdivisions in our general area.
Then, Saturday night we went out for a shorter, 7.9 mile ride, ending Saturday at 29.1 miles. Definitely a new daily record for us, and the first ride of 21.2 miles was well over anything we'd done previously. And while we were tried from the riding, we didn't feel "dead" or anything. And it was a lot of fun!
Early Sunday, we went out for another ride. After doing 29.1 in a day, we knew this one wouldn't be ultra long, but still, we have more time on the weekends, so wanted as long a ride as we could get. It ended up being 16.2 miles, bringing our weekend total to 45.3. This was a fun, "subdivision tour" ride. Nothing overly taxing, just good, moderate speed, flat road riding through subdivisions.
We bought the two locally-written bike route books from our bike shop this weekend, and were looking through them, checking out some 17, 25, and 30 mile routes and thinking "yeah, no big deal, we can do that!" Heh. We've come a LONG way from 400 and 300 pounds and it feels good. :)
In other news, I made a decision for a LOTRO character. I got to thinking about the mid level and high levels, and what I'd wished I had when I was leveling my Lore-master and Captain before. And that was always "faster kills." Also, I was hoping for less responsibility and such later on during raids. So I decided to go with a Hunter. A Hobbit.
The Hobbit starter area in LOTRO is very different from the other starter areas, and radically different from anything most MMO players will have seen in terms of quests and such. The designers wanted it to reflect the character and personality of Hobbits and they really got it right. It's an area players either love or hate; there's no middle ground it seems.
I for one love it, and always have, even back in Beta when it first opened. I'll be honest, if you tend to make a lot of alts in rapid succession it can get tedious if they're all Hobbits, but, still, it is true Hobbit-style-questing.
There's very little fighting, compared to garden variety MMO gameplay. Oh, there's some, certainly enough, but most of the questing is focused on more Hobbity things, such as pie. And mail. And such. Remember, we're at a point in the Lord of the Rings story where The Shire is still largely isolated and innocent and safe. Oh sure, Black Riders have just been sighted on the outskirts of The Shire, but those queer Bree-folk are always coming and going anyway.
This area hasn't received any of the aforementioned revamping yet, so the flow is still pretty bad. The quests themselves are plentiful; there's probably twice as many here as elsewhere. But there's no vectoring quests to lead you to them. And there's no clear linear progression between them. But, you could say, that's its charm. ;) If you do the pie-running and mail-running quests, you'll end up in all the Boroughs anyway, and if you pay attention to your mini-map you will notice all the quests. And there are a ton!
Some favorites include helping a Hobbit defend his beehives from marauding bears, then helping him find a new wild hive to replace the hive the bears damaged, so that he can keep producing honey; escorting a Hobbit's prized pig home through bear and shrew-infested fields; clearing a library of a "ghost" (which turns out to be a squirrel - you chase it out of the library). The list really goes on.
Hunters are fun to play too. Very high ranged DPS, tracking, and eventually porting skills. Very useful. I've played them before, up to level 30 or 40 or so, so I know how they play out and I like it. Plus, Belreth is a hardcore Hunter fan so she's making sure I have nice crafted gear to help ease me through the levels. ;)
Alberic and Grace are still the scourge of Nektulos Forest in EQ2 as well. We're duoing quite well, and she's been learning how to play with her brace on and trying to find ways to use mainly her left hand. It seems to be working out ok, and we've put in quite a bit of time, and hopefully will continue to! Primordial Malice is almost a real guild again! Rhy and Prev, Grace and I, Ichor, and a couple of people that Rhy and Prev met, all combine to make a decent little guild. Now Onte needs to just get her lazy ass in gear and sign up.
As I said in the previous paragraph, our duo is working out pretty well! It was ill-advised by the folks on the official forums, but I decided to go with it anyway, as these two characters were original made, during pre-order, to be together anyway. Alberic's an Inquisitor, and Grace a Brigand. Inquisitor is a healer, and Brigand is a rogue-like class. Alb is specced for melee, though, and he puts out respectable damage. Downside is he has no "taunt" of any kind, so in order to hold aggro I have to put out damage. Brigand of course is a high-DPS class so holding aggro takes work. ;) I'm doing ok though. My backup plan is a Shadowknight that I have at level 42. Soon I'll be able to use the race change service and change him into a Ratonga, so I may end up doing that. As Grace comes up in levels and gets better gear, holding aggro gets trickier. ;) But the SK is loads of fun too, so... we'll see. ;)
As I play EQ2, I realize that with some good marketing it could really be more of a "force" in the MMO world than it is. Though, that's true of any good game, especially also LOTRO (though, of course, LOTRO is a clear #2 in subs anyway)... EQ2 has a lot going for it. 24 classes means something for everyone, for sure. No racial restrictions -- want to be an Ogre wizard? No problem, you can. A ridiculous amount of content. When people have to turn off combat XP just to get all the quests done without them greying out... you know there's a boatload of content! Lots of different things to do. Collection quests, Heritage quests, Lore and Legend Quests, racial history quests, you name it. The housing system is easily the best out there. It offers totally free item placement, item rotation and resizing, and many hundreds of different items you can use to make your house look any way you want. It's just a huge, huge game, with an amazing amount of stuff to do!
Published on August 7th, 2009 @ 08:03:51 am , using 559 words, 19516 views
I'm also playing LOTRO again. I was an Alpha-era player, and due to a really bad series of events, that account is most likely permanently lost. I'm still waiting for final word on it, but it's been a week since I requested review and I've not heard anything, so I'm not hopeful. So I'm on a fresh account playing catchup and re-leveling.
Why LOTRO? Well, it's an awesome PvE game, and well... It's Middle-earth. I'm a die-hard Tolkien fan. Have been since I was about five years old, and that's been a long time. ;) My mother read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to me then (and a few more times while I was a kid, until I could read them on my own). I can still remember her doing voices and such while reading the stories to me. This was my introduction to Fantasy literature... and it stays with you. ;)
It's got the kinds of quests you don't really see in many other games. Sure there's your standard "kill x of y" stuff and "take z to w" kind of thing. But sometimes you're helping a hobbit woo a widow he's interested in. ;) Other times, you're helping a dwarf get back the sword he made a few hundred years ago, and then it turns out he gives in and trades it for a human girl's life. Little things like that... it's great. ;)
Anyway - the game is good - and has gotten better since I last actively played.
There are 2 new classes added with the expansion, Warden and Rune-keeper. We won't discuss Rune-keeper here, as I do, as a serious Tolkien fan, feel it's about as far from what should be in the game as can be. Though, admittedly, it IS well done and fun to play. Warden, though, is what I'm playing. It's an avoidance-tank and DPS class, based on the premise of "Gambits" which you build up through combinations of only 3 basic skills.
This is really nice, as LOTRO, like most modern MMOs, has you filling up 4 or more hotbars full of abilities once you reach the highest level. Not so with Warden. You'll end up with more than just the 4, as there are other support abilities (and "Muster" skills, which are self-ports), but mainly you're dealing with those 3 basic abilities, which you combine in specific orders to then use the Gambit you want. The Gambit key is always the same, what it does just changes based on the combination you've built up. So basically, 4 keys: the 3 builders and the Gambit key. :)
The starter areas for the Race of Man have also been redone, and wow, I'm impressed. Many quest givers have been moved to create MUCH better flow between giver and goal, and progression is much smoother and feels more natural and polished. A lot of the "sticking point" quests have been retooled to be more easily completed. No more needing to deal with Elites this early on. The mid-level areas are also slated for revamp, and that's nearly done, so I'm actually thinking of pausing leveling my Warden and leveling up a couple other classes to 18ish until the revamp is in, and then going forth. I'm not sure on that though as I'd like to get back to high level again as quickly as I can, while still enjoying the process. :)
Published on August 4th, 2009 @ 09:08:49 am , using 138 words, 755 views
That's a link to the profile for my wife's Ratonga Brigand in EQ2. :) The character was created 3 or 4 days before the game opened (we were pre-order customers). Last night, she played it again for the first time in around 4 years, and it was fun. ;)
We're not sure how often she'll be able to play, partially due to work, and mostly due to RMI issues. We've got a few things to try, that will hopefully help! If anyone that reads this blog has ideas on how to play an MMO when you have carpal tunnel symdrome, email me or get in touch another way. :) Trackballs are likely out, as her problems run from her thumb through to the middle finger.
Anyway. Was fun to game with her again... ;)
Since it's The Law™, we needed a road trip to break in our new car. There's some people we've been MMO gaming with for many years, that only live around 100 miles away, and we've never done the in-person meeting thing. Heh. Yeah, I know... silly. So anyway.
We headed up to Chicagoland (specifically, Calumet City, IL) and met with Milliana, Gohei, and Belreth (and 2 of Milli's kids and 1 of Bel's) for dinner. :) It was a lot of fun! No, I don't have any pics to post. Neither of the families are real pic-happy people so none were taken. Suffice to say though, it was a lot of fun and we'll probably be heading up that way again sometime in the future!
Anyway, this'll be another short update. The road trip took up all of Saturday, and yesterday was a fun mostly-at-home day, though we did go out to the dog park with Roxy and let her run at 100000000000000 MPH all over the place. She seems to be getting better with other dogs (at least some of them...) so that's good.
Published on July 31st, 2009 @ 12:05:25 pm , using 10 words, 958 views
Here, for the first time, pictures of an actual Soul!:
Published on July 30th, 2009 @ 07:16:22 am , using 229 words, 1883 views
Yeah, I haven't been posting nearly as much recently. Mainly because there isn't a lot that's post-worthy. The car thing, that was post-worthy, and it got posted. Hobby stuff, well... The Omega's @ Chad's being worked on. I was having issues finding large blocks of time to work on it, and if I do get a decent time-block (and the weather's ok) it's probably better that I get out to fly instead of work on building. So Chad's working on it. :D The rocketry stuff, well, my home-built pad's done and ready. Got the launch controller in as I said, and I need to assemble it -- it's a 15-20 minute job, if that. No rockets are built, but they build very fast and I'll get to it this week or next probably. Nothing exciting going on in gaming -- I'm still playing EQ2 and having fun there.
Though, I will say, we've been "wasting" a lot of gas driving the Soul around for fun. ;) It really is fun to drive, and of course, with the nice audio package (and Sirius) it's a great mobile listening device. ;)
We're heading up to Chicagoland this weekend to meet some longtime gaming friends for dinner. It's funny, we only live about 100 miles apart but we've never met in person after alllll these years! Now we will and it should be a fun trip.
For our past 3 or 4 car loans -- and this dates back to around 1999 -- we've rolled forward a not small amount of negative equity. It was fairly small at first, but gradually got pretty big, and needed to be taken care of.
We'd decided it was time to change our vehicle situation. We had the 2006.5 Kia Optima as mentioned in a 2006 blog post. We liked it, but it was aging a bit, and we kind of wanted something new. We also had a 2001 Dodge Ram 1500 we bought back in early 2008. When we got it, we thought we'd use it a ton, but then over the last year realized we're not really apart often enough to warrant having 2 vehicles. That and when we did go anywhere, it was always in the Optima, as the truck had a 5.9l V8 engine and thus sucked down gas like an unholy gas-vampire.
So, we'd decided we'd pare down to just one vehicle. Now we both have hobbies that involve large, somewhat oddly shaped objects that need to be moved sometimes. I have R/C flying and rocketry and she's got her spinning wheel. So we need something that can cart those things around when needed. So, a truck, an SUV, or one of those new "cube shaped" type vehicles. Trucks and SUVs are overkill and get horrible gas mileage, so we decided to look into the cube-cars.
There's basically 3 on the market: Scion xB, Nissan cube, and Kia Soul. There's also the Honda Fit, though it's more of a wagon. It has a similar cargo area to the "cubes" though so we looked at it too.
The first one we looked at, the Kia Soul, was late on Friday night. It was 30 minutes before closing time at the dealership and there were no salesmen available, but the sales manager was happy to let us take a Soul out for a test drive. It was a Sport version, and we immediately liked it. Didn't take it for a long drive as we wanted to be kind to the sales manager. So we planned to continue our search the next morning.
Car dealerships open at 8 AM here, so 8 AM on Saturday we headed out to the Nissan Dealer to try a cube. They had only one in stock - a "Krom" model. Very nice. Took it out for a drive through town and 2 exits down the highway. Definitely a very nice vehicle. Most of the value of the car has been put into what I'd call "bling" features. Chromed handles, dashboard accents, high end rims, things like that. Ride is very nice, audio and such also very nice.
Next up was the Scion xB. We headed to Rohrman Toyota/Scion and got a salesman. Cesar Vasquez, a very no-pressure, no-nonsense guy. He found us an xB with the features we'd want and let us take it out. We took it out on basically the same route. Nice. The seating was very comfortable, and definitely felt "fit" to us. I imagine if you're outside of that "fit" the seats wouldn't feel as nice. This xB had the high-end Pioneer audio system with touch-screen and nav, which I liked as I'm a gadget freak. Ride and handling were very nice. It seems a large portion of the value was put into the seating and navigation package here, though everything on the car is nice.
Next we wanted to give the Soul a better test drive, so we asked Cesar if he was able to sell from the Kia dealership too, and he let us know he can work with anything Rohrman sells. So we headed over to the Kia dealership. This time, a Soul Limited Edition was out (previously it was up on a display lift). The LE is a special edition, limited to 1200 produced. It has the high end audio, power sun/moon roof, and basically all the features you can get on a Soul, plus a special paint/detailing job. We took it out for the same test-loop. Again very nice. We were starting to like the Soul over the other 2. Nothing is especially "uber", but every feature of the vehicle is definitely "nice".
While there, she kept noticing the collection of Honda Fits they had on the Honda lot which is the next lot over from the Kia lot. We didn't test one out, but headed home to think about things. We kept coming back to maybe needing to give the Fit a test drive so a few hours later we headed back to try one out.
I'll be honest: it's junk. Even the AC is substandard, and on max settings it can't handle the somewhat mild 85-89 degree day we were having. Yeah. WTF was Honda thinking? We'd figured given Honda's reputation (and pricing!) and given this was a similarly priced vehicle, it'd be similarly appointed. Nope. Anyway, at least that finally ruled one out.
When we got back, Cesar asked us if there was any clear "winner" emerging, and we told him definitely... the Soul. So we went inside to start working numbers.
We knew we were negative on the Optima but weren't sure how much, since we weren't sure how much the dealer would give us for it. We hadn't decided to turn in the truck yet, so we had them see what the deal would look like with just the Optima. Cesar said they "might" be able to find a bank that would work with the negative equity figure, but it might be tricky given the high amount. It was later we came back and decided we'd trade in both vehicles. Turns out we made a small amount on the truck, since in our area gas-sucking beasts are worth a little more. Still, we had the large negative equity we were told might be hard to find a bank to work with.
We wouldn't know anything until Monday, since the dealership and the banks are closed on Sundays, and it was already late on Saturday anyway. So we had Saturday night and all of Sunday to talk things over.
We came to the decision that we wanted to be done with rolling forward negative equity, forever. We have a fund we run throughout the year that holds the money held aside to pay our Self-Employment Tax come April. It tends to get pretty huge, as the Feds are money-vampires, so there's plenty to work with... if we can have a clear plan to make sure it's funded well enough come tax time. So we decided we'd fund this "get out of negative equity" venture from there.
I called Cesar first thing Monday morning to give him the good news, and have them get delivery prep started on the vehicle. :) He was of course very happy to hear we'd take care of the negative equity (of course!) so got things rolling. We headed to the dealer at noon to finalize everything.
We weren't sure what the exact negative equity figure was, but we'd talked about putting in some more over that, to serve as more of a down payment on the vehicle. Turns out it was low enough (with help from the small amount we made on the truck) that we could make a decent little down payment on the car itself. We cut our monthly vehicle payments basically in half, and that's not counting what we'll save on insurance (and gas!)
About 2 hours later, we drove off in our new 2010 Kia Soul Limited Edition! Woot!
It's got, well, pretty much everything you could want... 315w audio with 6-disc changer, Sirius, iPod/etc input, and Bluetooth handsfree for your phone. Linked right up with our iPhones. Voice dialing works great. Also we have a power sun/moon roof, a fairly huge cargo area, and everything else you expect on cars these days (power everything, etc). We love the thing. ;)
It was a great buying experience too. If you're in the Lafayette area, and want to buy any car that the Rohrman group sells, talk to Cesar. He's awesome. Also the Kia sales manager, Todd, is awesome to work with. Couldn't have asked for a better buying experience!
In other news, I got the second half of my Red Arrow Hobbies rocketry order. This included my launch controller (which is good, since now theoretically I can launch rockets finally) and my PML Callisto high power rocket kit. That thing is built like a TANK, can't wait to build it. I'm still waiting on the 18mm and 24mm reloadable motor casings. I called Red Arrow and they said the manufacturer is being annoying. Oh well. I could use single-use motors if I want to launch an 18 or 24mm rocket. I've got the 29mm and 38mm motor setups at least.
The Omega isn't done; I haven't had any time to work on it. I did order and receive a pre-built wing wiring harness though, as I apparently totally fail at the small scale soldering you have to do, to make the harness yourself. Oh well. I may end up having a friend work on the bird, in order to get it going faster, but I haven't decided yet. I want to do it myself, for sure, but good flying season is pretty fast going away and I'd like to fly it this season if I can, heh. We'll see.
All in all, a good last few days. ;)
Published on July 22nd, 2009 @ 06:02:13 am , using 477 words, 999 views
So I started on the assembly of the Omega. I started with the soldering tasks, as there are quite a few. I didn't have much time so I figured I'd take care of the included battery pack, plus the ESC/BEC first. Armed with a new soldering iron tip, and a couple pointers from a few YouTube videos, I started in on it. Installed the new tip, and set the iron to 700° and went to it.
It ended up ... actually ... being ... kind of ... fun. Heh. I usually hate soldering. Most people do; it's just a necessary evil. But it turns out, if you have a proper tip (slightly chisel-shaped) and keep it ultra-shiny-clean, it goes really, really well. I didn't even need any flux. Usually wiring up an ESC and BEC is a pain in the ass. You've got a huge 12 or 14 gauge wire (from the ESC) attaching to the terminal of the Dean's connector, then you also have to attach a much smaller wire (from the BEC) to the same terminal. Of course, one of them always wants to melt off and slide away on you but with this setup I was able to do it pretty easily and in record time! The battery was a non-event.
Speaking of the battery though, I was pretty impressed. It was included with the power combo, and I thought nothing of it when I ordered it. I figured I'd just set it aside and use my normal batteries, which are Zippy Flightmax 30c 3s 2200 packs. They're about 184g. The pack I got with the power combo for the Omega is 172g with Dean's attached! Yes 12g matters on a sailplane. ;)
That's all I had time for, but it's done and it's something that's usually a pain. Attaching the bullet connectors for the motor <---> ESC connection should be simple. Then I've got to make extensions for the 4 wing servos, and solder the tail control links, and I'm all done with soldering for this plane.
The bird is still several days away from flight but at least it's starting to seem manageable.
I got the setup file for my transmitter for this plane emailed to me by Sal from NES. Very interesting. Most full-house sailplane setups on the 9303 are like I'd described in a previous post: in "Launch" the left stick up/down axis controls the motor, and in "Land" that stick controls flaps/CROW. According to Sal "everyone else does it wrong, I do it right." Hehe. The setup I got from him is simpler. One of the side-panel sliders (can't remember of it's left or right) controls the motor in all flight modes. The left stick up/down axis controls flaps/CROW in all flight modes. The other side-panel slider controls full-spam camber, in all flight modes. Much, much easier to understand and keep straight in your head.
Published on July 21st, 2009 @ 04:08:55 pm , using 125 words, 1817 views
Got a HUGE box in today from Northeast Sailplane Products. My Omega 2.5 has arrived. Here's some photos from the unboxing:
Fuselage. Gel-coated fiberglass.
The assembled V-tail. SUPER light!
The wing panels. Again, amazingly light! And huge. A little over 49" each.
The bag-o-hardware. Control horns, pushrods, clevises, and the like.
The running gear. Servos, motor, ESC, BEC, etc, etc.
Well, I'll start the build...soon. This is pretty intimidating, as it's very, very different from the ultra-simple powered ARFs I'm used to. All the linkage is completely foreign to me, and there's a lot of cutting, drilling, and the like that needs done, that you never have to do on the powered ARFs.
Hopefully I'll get through it and get this amazing bird in the air.
Now to explain the pictures. ;)
The first one is a prototype of sorts of a rocket launch pad constructed of PVC. It's about 16 3" lengths of PVC that I cut, joined by various T-connectors, 90° elbows, and 4-way connectors. The black object in the center is a keyless drill chuck that will retain the launch rod. I'll build a blast shield out of a pizza pan or similar thick piece of sheet metal.
This pad will launch all the low- and mid-power stuff I'll need it to (up to F/G sized motors). For high power stuff, well, that's no big deal, as the club has a pad specifically for that purpose, and I'm not going to be launching HP stuff outside club launches anyway.
So, yeah, in my seemingly endless crusade to annoy my wife to death and spend gigantic amounts of money, I'm taking up a second hobby... Haha. I'm still waiting on my initial order of rocketry gear to come in. These rocketry suppliers are small companies and don't ship out as quickly as the "big guys" in other hobbies. That's ok, it'll be worth the wait.
The second photo, obviously, is a shot of my hobby room/area that I'd mentioned in a previous post. It worked out very well. 8' x 3' is plenty work area, and I've got an ancient cabinet we had laying around, that I mounted to the wall over the work table. It now holds my vast supply of various hobby adhesives. Worked out awesomely!
Ah yes. A sailplane. A 100" sailplane to be exact. A full-function one to boot. Electric motor, ailerons, elevator, rudder, and flaps. I always wanted one, and now it's on the way. It's an Omega 2.5ME from Northeast Sailplane Products.
Why a sailplane? Well, due to fleet reduction/bad decisions/stupid selling, I didn't have a real "main" plane left, heh. I've always been interested in higher-end sailplanes anyway, and to boot, this plane solves a couple logistical and political (DO NOT ASK) problems that I'd been having. So it's on the way, and I'm pretty excited. :D
Setting this thing up and flying it will be interesting. It will use pretty much every knob and switch on my 9303 transmitter, and will be very different from flying a powered plane. For instance I'll have 5 flight modes switched by 2 different switches. The up/down axis of the left stick, which is normally throttle on a powered plane will change it's function based on which flight mode I'm in. In one mode ("Launch"), it'll control the electric motor, for climbing to cruise altitude. In another mode ("Land"), it'll control the flaps, which will move down (up to 90°) while both ailerons move up; this is referred to as a "Crow" setup, and will allow a skilled pilot to land a sailplane this big (and even bigger) precisely in a space as small as a baseball diamond. I'll also have trailing edge camber/reflex on a couple of sliders. It'll be very cool. :D
For now, just 2 pictures. I shall leave you all wondering what they mean.
Yeah, I haven't been writing as much lately. Mainly, because I figure the people reading this blog don't want to read a bunch of "yeah, we rode another 10 miles today and it was awesome!" type of posts. :D
Well, we have been riding a lot. We've even made a few "utility" type rides, where we needed to go on an errand and decided to go by bike instead of driving. It was fun. One of them was to go over to a friend's house because they were having a garage sale (because they're moving to frackin' ALASKA, sigh). The house is awesome too. :( Huge, truly finished basement, with a huge common area, a full bathroom, and two somewhat large bedrooms down there. And that's just the basement!
Haven't flown much. This weekend was the Hoosier Heli Rumble at my club's field, so I couldn't fly there. I did fly at a school field Friday night but that was a total disaster. :( It was the maiden flight of my Fokker D.VII, and I completely screwed up. While setting up for landing, I stalled, and the plane ended up 50' in the air in a tree. Luckily my friends Chad and Emmett were able to avoid laughing their asses off long enough to help me get it down. Believe it or not, it's totally flyable after that ordeal. ;)
The old war-torn MUS is still being worked on, and I actually found an insane deal on a new PNP one, and that's coming this week. Then flying will begin again in earnest.
On Sunday, we went to a high powered rocket launch, and that was ... cool! I was into model rocketry back in the mid/late 80s when I was in my early teens. I had a few dozen Estes kits and launched 2-3 times a week. Back then, "D" size motors were considered a really huge deal. I have been out of the hobby since then. In fact I wasn't even sure if it was still an active hobby at all, until one day I was wandering hobby sites and found that it was, and also learned that there's some truly high power stuff out there! Motors up to "R" and higher now.
I also learned we have an active, local mid- and high-powered rocketry club, Tripoli Indiana, and that their summertime launch field is under a mile from house! They were having their launch yesterday so I had to go!
Wow. The first flight we saw, was a certification flight for a newer member. In order to buy and fly H and I sized motors, you need a Level 1 certification from either Tripoli or NAR. Level 1 is easy; you just need to fly a rocket on an H or I motor (which an already certified rocketeer has to buy for you) and successfully recover it in flyable condition, while a certifying member observes. Levels 2 and 3 require written tests, and 3 even has some design requirements. Anyway, I was truly amazed at the sound and concussion of the size H motor he flew his certification flight on. It was I believe an H123, which is pretty much the smallest size you need a cert for, but even that was amazing. Such a loud sound and you could feel the power of it even back at the spectator area. Very cool!
Saw several other low- and mid- power launches too. Very cool. All the club people I talked to were cool as well, and I'm definitely planning to re-enter the hobby. With launches being just once a month it's easy to schedule time to participate. In between I can work on building. Building rockets is actually a lot of fun. :)
We went and got a 8' x 3' conference table from a home improvement store, to use as a build/work table in one of the spare bedrooms. I've always wanted an area I can work on hobby stuff, in a room that's close-able, so I can keep projects protected from marauding pets... And now I have it. :) I won't have to drag planes over to a friend's house to work on them, and plus, I'll need a table for building rockets anyhow.
That's how many miles we got in on our bikes over the long weekend. ~20 miles on Friday, then 10 each on Saturday and Sunday! That may not seem like any big deal to anyone that's been biking for a long time, but for us, it's amazing. And the thing is, we're not even overly sore. Sure we both feel it, but it's really not a big deal and we're ready to go back out there!
Some of those miles were done on some pretty serious roads, with a bit of traffic. We're starting to get a little used to dealing with cars, something that'll allow us a lot more options for routes to ride in the future. We also tackled the infamous 9th Street Hill, both down and up. It's a very steep and long hill. Going down was scary for her as the acceleration makes her nervous. Going back up, well, that was a chore for both of us. It's a steep and long hill, hehe. We had to drop to the lowest gear and still had to rest twice. But we didn't walk a single step. :)
All in all, it was an awesome weekend for biking.
I haven't got much flying in lately, or, for that matter, this season honestly. The pack up - drive to field - unpack - fly - pack up - drive home cycle requires a certain block of time, and that can limit the "fly" portion of the trip to small doses. If that dose is only 20-30 minutes, sometimes it doesn't feel worth it to begin the whole cycle in the first place. It's still fun, but sometimes you want 2-3 hours or more if you're going to go through the whole routine.
Honestly I did think about giving up flying altogether because of just this thing. Oh, I'll always be involved with RC "something", there's no question there - I even got a new semi-high-end RC truck over the weekend. Heh. But, we talked over the flying thing, and I'm going to keep flying. She's right, I'm going to want to at least have the option to fly when the time's available. It's just that with multiple hobbies and things to do, the flying time isn't nearly as plentiful as it was last season. It's all for the better though - I've got a lot of fun stuff going on. :)
My war-torn Mini Ultra Stick will be flyable again very soon. Chad's hand-building a new horizontal stabilizer for it, and making a few repairs to the wing. Then I'll drop the servos back in, and add the flap servos and then setup the 10000000 mixes required to make all the neat quad flap tricks work.
Also the Fokker D.VII is ready to fly, so I should be maidening that this week for sure. Should be a fun little flier.
As far as future plans, I'm really not sure. I have a ton of non-RC stuff listed on eBay right now (ID spysquirrels if you want to help out - haha), and when it sells, I'll have a bit to work with. The problem with this hobby is there's literally dozens of little sub-areas one could be interested in. The problem with that, is that I'm person that likes to explore all areas of a hobby. It's always been a problem in MMOs - I want to try EVERY class, not just the one that's "my class". Not really a problem in MMOs; you can just keep making new characters. But in RC, of course, you have to spend money...
I've finally gotten a sense of what I like in flying though. I tend to prefer smaller planes that are easy to get to and from the field (less setup/setdown time). Stuff that flies "normal", and has a versatile flight envelope. Basically stuff like the MUS and Mini Pulse, or slightly larger versions of same, of course. Ultra Stick 25 or Pulse 25, maybe, for better wind handling.
But there's also sailplanes. Yeah. I know, it's weird. But, my first interest in RC flying was with a sailplane. A Mark's Models Wanderer, in fact. It was only ever sold as a kit (for $19.99 @ Hobby Shack, which is now Hobby People), and believe it or not, I did build the thing and it did fly, sort of. It was a 72" rudder/elevator only sailplane. No electrics back then really; you used a "high start" (basically a bungee system) to launch your sailplane. But even as crappy as I built that thing, I could fly around in thermals for 20 or 30 minutes easily.
Nowadays, you launch your sailplane with a brushless motor with a folding prop attached. And if you lose lift you can always power back up to get back up there. With a "full house" ship (that is, one with full controls: rudder, elevator, ailerons, and flaps) you have a lot of flight options. You can just hunt around for thermals to stay aloft. You can get surprising speed with the right plane ("hotliners"), and the full house ships are capable of all normal aerobatics.
So, yeah, I've been thinking of exploring this area of the hobby for quite some time. I've even got the option to buy a VERY nice ship (a Mistral) at an insanely good price.
But, I'm just not completely sure. I might end up going with a US 25 or Pulse 25 instead. Or a good-flying Warbird.
I actually own a sailplane, in non-flying condition. It's quite old, and used to have a small glow engine (LOL!) attached. It's got quite a few problems, though. The plug-in wings don't quite align right. The full-flying horizontal stabilizer has close to 1/2 an inch of up/down wobble that I don't know how to correct. And it's only a 2-channel (rudder/elevator) model. It does have a huge wingspan though and probably would fly fine, assuming I could work out all the problems with it. It might even by modifiable to be "full house" though that would take quite a bit of work and hacking of the wings. So who knows.
Ok, well, we'll just call it a "failed experiment".
I had Ubuntu 9.04 all installed, configured, and customized as the only OS on my machine. The desktop was highly customized, with AWN, conky, and screenlets all setup and such. Sound was working, I had my media directories shared and everything. Then I installed WINE and copied over my EQ2 directory. Even though EQ2 is listed as "Gold" for WINE and Cedega, it doesn't work at all on my hardware combination. So...
Reinstalled Windows 7. Luckily W7 is a very quick and painless install and it wasn't too big a deal, other than having wasted all that time. The one cool thing is that this W7 installation, unlike my previous, wasn't done as a Vista upgrade so it's actually (subjectively) running a little smoother.
Speaking of EQ2, my old friend Lummy finally re-upped his subscription and is playing. Now it's down to just Onte that needs to get off her ass and re-up!
We got in about 10-12 miles on our bikes over the weekend. We're both unbelievably happy with them. If only we'd stayed with the hybrid/fitness geometry all along, heh. We'd be into the dozens of miles for the summer. Oh well. We've got Ergon GC3 grips on order for both of us, and when we take the bikes in to have those installed, we'll have hers outfitted with a light kit like mine is. Then both bikes will be fully kitted out for any kind of riding we'd want to do.
Still waiting on a part for MUS 2.0. Seems Horizon is refusing to replace the entire plane, and instead will only replace the tail section, which is out of stock. Leaving me to wait, as the flying season ticks away. This is not making me happy one bit. :/ But, not much I can do. At least the Fokker should be flyable at some point this week.
So at some point over the weekend, I'm planning to backup a few apps, and install Ubuntu 9.04 as the only operating system on my computer. Why? Well, it's kind of a long-ish story.
I've been running Linux for years as a dual-boot setup. First Slackware for a long, long time, then Ubuntu, though for a little while I ran Gentoo as well. I always had it setup as a dual boot with whatever version of Windows was current. The plan was always to run mainly Linux but keep Windows as the dual boot for "when I needed it". Well, "when I needed it" always ended up being "full time" and as time went on I booted Linux less and less. The dual boot was basically a crutch and I never really got weaned off Windows which always bothered me, as there's (obviously!) no question which is the better OS!
Fast-forward to now. 2 weeks ago I installed the Windows 7 Release Candidate. It's good -- very good. Now, I've been running Vista for 2 years, and I've never had a problem with Vista. I don't have all the problems people say they have. But, I don't consider 5 years to be a valid computer life-cycle. Hell, I don't consider TWO years to be a valid life-cycle either. I pretty much fully rebuild my machine once a year. The tech changes that much. Most of people's Vista problems relate to trying to shoehorn it onto much older machines than it was designed for. Anyway, Vista works fine for me. But Windows 7 is even better.
So I've been running Windows 7 for about 2 weeks. Now, yesterday, I learned there is a big, giant caveat to installing the RC. See, when I installed it, I ass-u-med (and yes, this is my fault for not reading more on the subject) that when it came release time, basically a big window would come up asking for credit card info so I could license a retail copy of W7. And I would have done that. It seemed like something Microsoft would do. But apparently, at least as of right now, that's not the plan. Anyone that installed the W7 RC will need to fully reinstall the OS using the retail copy. If I'm going to reinstall my system, I'm going to do it with an OS I actually WANT to install.
That also got me thinking... And I realized... I'd like to avoid giving Microsoft more money. I mean, sure, they provide a passably good product that makes most people's computers work and lets them do fun and cool things. But their products are horribly designed and bloated and... bad. And not to mention the horrible DRM in W7. Plus, I've given them a ton of money over the years. :( I was there on release day for Windows 95 and bought it. I bought 2 licenses of Windows 98 and Windows ME (by that era, we were doing ok financially and had 2 computers). Then went on to buy 2 XP licenses, then a single Vista license. She runs a lot of proprietary business software that doesn't work on Vista, so she is of necessity still running XP. That's a LOT of money over the years. I'd rather not buy W7.
So Ubuntu it will be! Luckily, my machine isn't a "production" machine. If my machine's down for a day or a week, or hell, even a month, I don't lose money or anything. It's basically an absurdly overpriced game console. I use it mainly for gaming. Sure I browse the web and check email, but I can do that on my netbook, or hell even on my Wii or PS3. Mainly my machine gets used for gaming. Right now I'm only playing EQ2, and it's "Gold" rated under both WINE and Cedega. Everything else I need has a Linux equivalent, or will run fine under WINE/Cedega. The only things I have that most likely will NOT run under Linux are my proprietary RC items, like my EagleTree data logger software, CastleLink for programming Castle Creations ESCs, and the interface for my ClearView RC simulator. But all that stuff will work fine on the netbook, which is running XP.
So, Windows will go away entirely, and I'll enter the exciting world of being Linux-only...finally. It'll probably be difficult at first, because I'm sure I will have forgotten something. Some app I use like once a month or something. But again, my machine isn't "production important" so I'll find workarounds. ;)
Ok, so, go figure, I changed my mind on a plane! Amazing eh? But at least this time I did it BEFORE I bought it! I decided against the Taylorcraft for various reasons and instead ordered (from the LHS, so I will have it tomorrow) a Great Planes Fokker D.VII. This is a German WWI-era biplane, and supposedly a great flier.
I also got the exchange process started on my bad-from-the-factory MUS. The LHS is nice for this, they'll get one in as if I'd just ordered it new, and handle the return on their own time. I'll have the new and hopefully more pristine MUS tomorrow along with the Fokker. Woot, 2 new planes in the same week! Should be a blast.
I finally got to take my Trek 7.6 FX for a test ride last night. Weather had been bad since we picked them up, so I hadn't had a chance to ride yet. But last night, other than being hotter than hell, weather was ok, so I went out. Took a short, 5 mile ride, and wow. Yeah. The bike really feels like it was custom built for me. It has the speed of the road bike I had for a while combined with the shock-dampening and stability of a hybrid (which it is, so that makes sense). We kept the stock wheels (thanks to my wife -- I'd wanted to go with 32c wheels over the stock 28c's, but she insisted we try it all out totally bone stock... and she was right!), and the lower rolling resistance really does give a lot of extra speed. On our previous hybrids we had 35c wheels (the 7.3 FX's) and I had 32c's on my 7.5 FX. The 28c's are perfect! Good speed and good turning too. We have a keeper! I can't wait till she tries hers out -- she didn't want to brave the heat last night. Heh.
Yeah, going back to work after a week off SUCKS. Suck suck suckity suck. Anyway.
I'll be getting a new Mini Ultra Stick in the air this week -- this time with the full quad flap setup for all kinds of fun tricks. Should be fun. It'd be in the air already, but the one I got had some serious problems with it, so I'm RMAing it to get one in better shape.
I sold the SHP and as a result, I'll be able to get a Taylorcraft in the air! I wanted something scale and different, and that fits the bill! Everyone and their goldfish has a Cub and/or a warbird, but not too many have a Taylorcraft. Should be fun. Motor and servos are on the way, but I'll have the LHS order the ARF for me since it only takes a day to come in.
We finally reached the conclusion of our bike trying saga. The road bikes didn't work out for either of us. We both loved the speed, but for me, and my work commute, the road bike couldn't handle it. Our roads (and sidewalks!) are really bad. For her, with her CTS, leaning onto the hoods, after a 2 mile ride, she was in tears from the pain. Can't have that. So, awesome people that they are, Hodson's took back yet another pair of bikes, and we got Trek 7.6 FXs (hers is a WSD version). Upright riding position, but still have serious speed. We'll be happy with these...finally. ;)
I'm still playing EQ2, with Primordial Malice. Game is awesome, tons of content, and is gorgeous on modern rigs. Nothing else to really say, if you want a PvE game with lots of content and isn't bag of hammers dumbed down, EQ2 is it. We're on Befallen.
Anyway, likely more posts (and pics) to come this week as I'll be work on 2 new planes.
Published on June 18th, 2009 @ 05:37:31 pm , using 51 words, 750 views
... for a week or so because my mom has been in town visiting from California. I'll be back to regular posting next week.
I'm sure I'll be posting about my next plane to be assembled and maidened and about our continuing bike saga!
Haven't had a chance to write in several days; was a busy 3-day weekend for us.
Started by taking Friday off to attend Hoosier Hills Fiber Arts Festival. It was a fun road trip, and a lot of fun wandering around and seeing all the ... stuff ... for sale! Fiber in various stages of completion and all kinds of tools and gadgets for working with it.
Then on Saturday finally picked up both bikes! When they got in hers and assembled it on Friday, they called and let us know it was ready. But they'd forgotten to tell their mechanic/assembler that they had her old bike and needed to move all the accessories over. So when we went to pick it up, it was all nekkid, so we had to come back.
So Saturday we picked them both up and went for a couple rides. Mine's absolutely perfect, though I need to move the seat forward a bit. It's fast, very fast. We cruise at 16-17 mph fairly effortlessly. Hers is also very nice and she was able to ride much more confidently on it than on her old hybrid.
We do have a few issues to solve with hers though. She does have carpal tunnel syndrome -- and I mean actual, medically diagnosed, via nerve conduction (induction?) tests, carpal tunnel syndrome, not "oh, my wrist hurts sometimes, I have carpal tunnel". Of course on a road bike, your normal position is on the brake/shift hoods, and after a shortish ride her hand/wrist hurts a lot. We'll need to figure that out. I think her seat is back too far, which is causing her to have to lean forward too much, shifting too much of her weight forward onto her hands, but I'm no expert.
If anyone that reads this blog knows a lot about cycling with carpal tunnel, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Didn't get a lot of flying in, as we had a lot going on all weekend, plus the weather kept threatening to be bad. That and the club's Public Day was Saturday so no open flying during the day then. I did get in my 3rd and 4th flight on the Helios on Friday evening though. This time with a 14x7 prop producing 900-1kw, and wow, this is a much better setup than the absurdly over-powered 13x10 setup. I'm going to try a 13x8 when I can get my hands on one, and I'm betting that will be perfect. This plane is everything I'd hoped it would be: big and easy to see, straight flying, and has no weird or bad characteristics. I'll be making a "review format" post for the Helios within the next couple days, and I'll try to do that with all future planes.
That little bit of comedy gold above is courtesy of Chad. :D
Anyway, it's true. The Helios is pure win. It's beautiful, big, and flies like an arrow with a rocket bolted to it: super straight and FAST! It's over-propped currently, due to our misinterpreting a ">" symbol used on a spec sheet. ;)
I'll fix that issue, but, wow, the plane completely rocks.
In other news, I got a call last night around 7 that my bike is in at the shop. Too bad the shop closes...at 7. :D Anyway, that was fast! I had them order it Thursday, and it's already in! That means my wife's should be in tomorrow (or maybe even today...) Anyway exciting times!
Busy morning, as I'm late doing a big update for a client... So I'll leave you with a picture of Roxy and the Helios...
Weather's been wonky lately, so not a huge amount of flying going on. Typical Midwest Spring weather. It'll threaten rain all day, rain off and on for 5 minutes at a time... makes flying a pain. But I have gotten several flying trips in. Flown mostly my SHP and Slick. Fun stuff. :)
There was a fairly serious safety incident at our field yesterday. A guy was tuning the engines on his glow-powered B-25 and had a prop strike his hand. It nailed two of his fingers, shearing off 2 of the blades on the 3-bladed prop. Needless to say, it cut clear to the bone, and there was a lot of blood. It's amazing that it didn't actually cut OFF either of the fingers. This just goes to prove what they always say: model airplanes are not toys! They can hurt you if you're not careful while operating them. His wife came and took him to the hospital and other people at the field saw to making sure his airplanes were taken somewhere safe until he can pick them up. That's one of the great things about the hobby: if something happens and you need to leave, there's nearly always someone that'll see to your airplanes and gear.
I'm still waiting on my aforementioned new bike to come in - should be this week! I'm pretty excited for sure. My wife also has one on order; basically the women's version of the bike I ordered. Hers is the Specialized Dolce Elite and it should be in near the end of this week too. She rode a road-style bike (what everyone used to just call a "10 speed") quite a bit when she was younger, and looked to be instantly at home on the roadie she tried out at the LBS, so we got it on order for her. :)
Gaming-wise, I've been playing EQ2, with some old friends. If you like content-heavy games, EQ2 fits the bill. There's so much to do in that game, that its common to hear people that have been playing since release say they've still not seen everything there is to see. I left WAR due to lack of real content, so being in a game with a ton of content - at all levels - is refreshing and good. Plus, of course, EQ2 has a very well-done Necromancer class, which is always a plus for me. And it also has Ratonga, another plus! (Even though my Necromancer is a Dark Elf and not a Ratonga... Heh.)