Another great weekend to be at the lake! Everything was perfect until my boat stopped responding while on battery 2... Once I retrieved the boat a few minutes later, the whole shell was burning hot so I quickly took the top off to realize that the ESC (Electronic Speed Control) had literally exploded inside. Some plastic melted and spread out a nasty gooey and toxic-smelling black substance and the smoke tinted the entire hull brown.
A calming view of Allatoona lake.
I ordered another boat because there is not much I can do with this stink bomb... I have also ordered a 45amp ESC to replace the stock 30amp one. I will email the company and see what they suggest...
What a surprise this evening! I was just hanging out on a restaurant terrace for dinner when Maddie and her younger brother Grady came up from nowhere to say hello! Can't wait for next year!!!
It was an amazing afternoon at the lake again! Hanging out, sandwiches, and of course some crazy r/c boating! I brought three LiPo batteries and all went well until the third one... I got a bit close to the shore and there was a dead tree in the shallow water which I couldn't see from the dock I was on. I went through full speed and snapped the rudder off the boat. I ordered the spare parts and will operate on as soon as they come in. Just see for yourself...
Here is a picture of my first attempt at wood inlay! I used my X-Carve to cut a G letter out of african padauk then cut out the same letter into pine. I glued one into another, sanded a bit, then polished up with a coat of polyurethane. It is definitely not perfect but for a first try, I am pretty happy with the result.
I spent the weekend in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee with a friend and had a blast! From water parks to mini golf, it was one activity after another.
Although not inclined towards sports, I did pretty well with mini golf! It was actually quite entertaining and the course had awesome features like waterfalls, tunnels, bridges, and caves... fun!
I truly look like a professional golfer but the kids were looking at me like I was out of place...!
I got an r/c boat!! What is wrong with me?!? Like r/c cars, planes, and multirotors were not enough... I had a lot of fun trying one out last summer at my lake house in Québec so I decided to get my own for my upcoming three-week trip.
I have already been working on several upgrades to better it up like a waterproof servo, a better receiver/transmitter, an aluminium propeller, and rubber rings for the top cover.
The first test on Allatoona Lake today was amazing. Thanks to William for figuring out how to flip the boat back upright! Great afternoon...
I have a lot of video footage from r/c flights but I don't always take the time to edit it and post on YouTube... Here is a video of footage from last summer at my lake house in Québec. Recorded with a GoPro Hero 4 on a Team Blacksheep Discovery Pro.
Yet another day escape north of the city. Great times hiking and shooting some vids and pics with William at the lake!
I had to get away from the computers today so I ended up at Red Top Mountain for an afternoon hike. It was a bit somber and gloomy but the temperature was ideal to enjoy some fresh air!
A sneak peek at my messy office as I am trying to finalize and fine-tune my new RiG! Closer pictures and specs coming soon...
Once all components are running at their upmost performance, I will reorganize and declutter the space a bit...
Behind the scene...
After doing so much research on computer components and specs to help some friends build their own PC, I have been hypnotized with the urge to do the same! I upgraded my video card and obviously fell into the whole new-computer-build-frenzy mode... Expect pictures soon of a killer-crazy system with the latest technologies, extreme overclocking and cooling, speeds out of this world, and mind-boggling performances topped with two 4K monitors for a three-screen setup! It's time to redefine power again with a new RIG that will outperform for another good while!!
What's in your PC?!?
I just upgraded my computer video card from a GTX 580 Classified Ultra to a Quadro K5000. Although I have always known that a GPU is a pretty big percentage of a computer's budget, I never thought I would ever spend several thousand dollars on one... Going from a gaming graphics card to a 3D modeling/rendering one is an exciting step!!
I am in no shape or form proud of myself for doing this... but there is not much of a choice at this point. Starting February 19th, if you're not registered and you fly without your UAS number written on your aircraft, it may result in regulatory and criminal sanctions. In other words, civil penalties up to $27,500 and criminal penalties include fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years. Yikes... I am still hoping for the AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics) to win at least part of this battle.
I recently purchased the equipment required for airbrushing. Although I have been exposed to many types of art styles and mediums since I was 8 years old, I had actually never tried nor even considered an airbrush. Since I believe that it's never too late, I am diving into this head first! I have slowly started some basic exercises designed to teach how to get used to the amount of paint you spray vs. the distance to the surface. It's already so much fun!!!
iwata double piston air compressor. A bit overkill but this unit was the most quiet compressor I could find out there!
iwata Eclipse HP CS Dual Action aibrush gun.
Recharging time in Florida... Happy 2016!
Here are some pictures of my latest X-Carve project. A life-size Astérix cartoon!! After cutting it, I used a primer to seal the surface before painting it with acrylic paint. Which cartoon character do you think I should carve next?!? Shoot me and email and let me know!!
Final product! The DVD box is shown for scale.
It turned out all right but all edges were very rough due to the upcut bits used and the nature of MDF so I had to sand them before applying a coat of primer.
This is a preview snapshot from the Aspire software I use. First, the original bitmap image had to be converted to vectors. Then I created 3 toolpaths to cut the whole thing. Two pocketing toolpaths to cut the inside parts (shown in white) then one final profiling toolpath to cut the outside all the way through (shown in purple).
Here it is finally... the aluminium alloy 6061 dog tag! It is not perfect but for a first try at cutting into metal, I think it is a very decent start. Oh and it looks so punk!!!
Another part of the learning process with the X-Carve has been with the milling bits. Not only you have to think about the type of material you are cutting but also how you want to cut it. After some reading, I was able to make a decision on what milling bits I needed for my projects. Now let's find a "bit" of time to toy around with it all!!
[Click on the picture above for full resolution]
Airplane flight training with Brant. He did very well on this first session.
It was a great afternoon of hanging out with Robert and Brant spiced up with a couple crazy flights right here in Atlanta! I need more LiPo batteries...
I had a really good time in Tampa, FL mostly relaxing and disconnecting from reality.
Walking on Clearwater Beach and just being silly!
Exploring deserted sand dunes...
I am slowly progressing with my understanding of the machining process. It is quite different compared to 3D printing... For 3D printing, you draw something with a CAD software then you slice it and the printer lays plastic one layer at a time which corresponds to each slice of the object. With a carving (CNC) machine, you draw something with a CAD software then use a computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software to generate the toolpaths and finally use another software to execute the cutting with the machine. The CAM software is used to plan not only where the material will be cut but how and with which cutting tool. The main types of cut are profiling, pocketing, and drilling.
This is a nametag project for an aluminium alloy 6061 part. Notice the small tabs I added to make sure the part doesn't fly off once it's cut out. The tabs should be easy to snap and rough out using a deburring tool.
Here is a closer look at the three toolpaths. The first one is a rough pocketing around the letters, the second is another pocketing with a smaller milling bit to cut more neatly around the letters, then the third to profile the outside. I will take care of the 4mm hole with a drill press.
Here is a variety of African padauk boards I got because that wood is my favorite exotic wood so far! You might have seen musical instruments such as guitars and violins made out of padauk before. Since it is quite expensive, I will be using it accordingly... I definitely want to try to make a ring out of it with perhaps an inlay of maple or basswood in the middle!
The second test turned out pretty good. This was a simple cut into plywood which I then treated with mineral oil. It really gives the wood a nice finished look.
The X-CARVE's "Hello World" was today! I was very happy to see that its very first carve was perfect. Not a single issue with calibration, tension of the belts, power amount to motors, etc... We are off to a good start! Special thanks to Viren for his assistance with the machine's first run!
The X-CARVE is finally all put together and has found its new home today in my tech lab! Although I have tested the movement of each axis and calibrated the limit switches for the homing procedure, I have not yet carved anything. I do have plenty of basic wood and some other materials but nothing small enough for the test runs.
This machine can carve a wide variety of materials including woods (both hard and soft), various plastics and non-ferrous metals like aluminium, copper and brass. Let the fun begin!!
The final setup is still to be determined...
Since I don't know much about the different types of wood out there, I ordered this 30 piece sample kit. It includes domestic and exotic woods. It will now be much easier for everyone to get a feel of what is right for each project.
Pieces of aluminium alloy 6061 for wearable name tags (4mm thickness just like the original 3D printed ones). The surfaces look damage but it's only the sticky protective plastic.
It doesn't seem like I have done much building already but it is actually taking longer than I had expected. The instructions are good but the right parts have to be used in the right order and in the right place. The missing components have been shipped and are scheduled to arrive Wednesday from Chicago!
X Carriage assembly mounted on the X-axis.
A closer view of the inside Y-plate which will eventually be mounted on the Y-axis extrusions.
Here is the assembled work area with the waste board mounted on aluminum extrusions and all 144 threaded inserts screwed in place underneath (Thanks William for drilling those in!).
I have received 3 packages today for the X-CARVE assembly totaling 76 pounds of parts! Although there are still 3 components missing which will ship next week, I am super impressed with the speed of availability!! Once I get some tapping oil tomorrow, I will be ready to assemble the hundreds of parts... what a fun project!!
Very well packaged and categorized components.
I finally got the paperwork done and got the key to my second room today! I had already removed most of the furniture from this room including 22 desks, 2 broken bookshelves, and a large round table. All I need inside are a couple rectangle tables and a few chairs. Room 273 will be the home of the 3D scanner and the X-CARVE machine.
It has been a bit quiet out here but don't be fooled because there has been a lot going on! For now, let me just say that I have ordered all the parts to build the X-CARVE machine from Inventables. This CNC machine works much like a 3D printer but instead of being additive (making objects by adding material layer by layer), it is subtractive (takes a block of material and carves away to reveal the final object). This version of the X-CARVE is 1 square meter (3.28 square feet) which allows for pretty big things to be carved. Once again caught in the never-ending waiting shipping nightmare, this kit is supposed to ship within 2-3 weeks. Stay tuned to see what I am doing to keep my mind off of the waiting loop!
picture by Inventables
Great weekend in New York City again this year! Just a bit of time to hang out in Manhattan before the two intense techie days at the World Maker Faire!
Picture of the financial district of Manhattan while approaching touch down to LGA.
One World Trade Center... the tallest building in the United States.
Manhattan view to Midtown from One World Trade Center. All buildings now look so puny from this height...
Here is one of the Twin Towers memorials... A huge and deep waterfall of the actual footprint of each building.
I never thought that I would ever appear on a huge screen in Time Square... There is a first to everything!
Very crowded entrance to the World Maker Faire NYC 2015! I would say that it was well above 100,000 participants this year...
After two intense days of walking, standing, learning, meeting, and talking, I couldn't manage to even stand in the subway. All seats taken, I just took the corner floor.
It is almost time for my favorite event of the year! I am flying to NYC Friday morning for the 6th annual World Maker Faire... the biggest show and tell event on the planet!!
After connecting the circuit board and powering it up, no smoke came out and the whole project works as designed! It is now up and running on the wall and we all like it! Oh Nathan, you're up!
Mounted Victimizer v1.0.
LED matrix wall mount design.
PCB mount design which attaches to the rear of the LED matrix.
Here is the fully assembled Victimizer circuit board after soldering the 96 pins of the different electronic components! Time to insert the microcontroller, plug in the board, and see if everything works without smoke coming out...
It took less than a week for the circuit boards to be produced, shipped, and received from China after I uploaded the files... truly amazing! You can see the top (left) and bottom (right) of the board bellow.
Here are the electronic parts that will be on the Victimizer v1.0 circuit board. See if you can spot a 16 pins header, a DIP socket, an ATmega328 microcontroller, a 16MHz crystal, a power jack, a mini power switch, two 10k resistors, a 0.1μF ceramic capacitor, two 22pF ceramic capacitors, and three screw terminals. The PCBs are coming in tomorrow from Shenzhen, China!!
The circuit boards are made already! Just a few steps before they get in the mail. You can see below the technological process involved in creating those PCBs from the files I sent them.
Here is my design of the Victimizer board I created using Eagle CAD software. This circuit board will replace the Arduino and the whole mess of wires from my original prototype. The actual board will be 1.8 x 1.9" in size. I have sent the files off to a production company which will produce several boards and ship them to me. The PCB will be blue (solder mask) and the writings will be white (silkscreen). I can't wait to receive the boards, solder the parts in, and plug it in!! The next step is to draw and 3D print a mounting bracket for the LED matrix and this board so it can all be installed on the wall.
Here are two different views of the same board. The red traces are the top layer while the blue ones are the bottom layer. The blue and red buttons will connect where indicated and the 5V connector will power up the LED matrix.
The schematic layout above is the rough draft of the board. The initial connections have to be accurate in order for the final board to work.
My latest Arduino project... a "victimizing" machine for my classroom! The old fashioned way of pulling Popsicle sticks to choose a random student got a serious technological upgrade! It is conceptually easy... I entered all my students for each period into the microcontroller (MCU) and am using two buttons to control everything. Although the project prototype is fully working and tested, there is still a lot of work to do in order to make the "brain" of the project smaller and decluttered from all those wires. Stay tuned for the updates!
In this example, James from period 2 was randomly picked! Maybe he was lucky, but not necessarily... that's the beauty of the mathematical randomizing function! Push the blue button to select the period number and the red one to pick and display a random student from that class.
Here is a detailed view of the Arduino microcontroller development board with all the wires and connections to run the project. My next step is to design a circuit board (PCB) and solder the minimal parts required to run everything without any wires...
For those curious minds out there, this is what it looks like inside the box where I have hooked up the 2 dome buttons. I also need to tidy up that mess by removing the alligator clips and permanently soldering cables. Oh and thanks to SparkFun for the box!!
The neon green version of this 3D printed quad had seen lots of brutality! The abuse didn't only come from me but from George, Balish, Brant, and Robert... It needed a serious rebuild so I printed new parts in orange for a change. Since I was too busy to rebuild it, Robert volunteered to build the orange frame and transfer all electronics himself. He did very well... see for yourself!!
This new frame uses slightly longer and bigger arms which I thought would be good to increase stability in the air.
The orange version is still very quick and responsive but so much more stable with those barely longer arms. Both Brant and Robert flew exceptionally well today!!
Atlanta photowalk with Trey Ratcliff on his USA tour! He has been my favorite photographer for a long time but I previously never had a chance to meet him. He now lives in New Zealand and travels a whole lot. The walk was two hours and the after event was also two hours but required tickets to be purchased in advance. There were only about twenty-five people at this event so tickets must have gone very quickly...
Chatting along the walk!
We were all chased away by the police in Centennial Olympic Park... Apparently, no professional photography is allowed around that area.
Of course I got my copy of his book signed! The small ticketed event after the walk was the best time to share and get one on one.
Team Blacksheep Discovery Pro quadcopter range test with my little brother near my lake house in Québec.
View from the departure point. Photo cred goes to my lil bro.........................................
View from the goggles approaching landing upon return!
Even R/C boats are a blast!! I have tons of experience with cars, planes, and multirotors but I never thought that a boat on a lake could be so much fun...
Québec is known for its thousands of lakes and rivers so water is often enjoyed while hiking! Here is a picture of Gagnon Falls, before settling down for a picnic lunch.
It is always nice to be in Québec and hanging out and spending time with family is awesome! Here is a video compilation of many clips taken by my little cousins using my GoPro... Good times and endless laughter!
06/18/15 (updated 07/16/15)
California road trip... truly amazing times! I obviously took hundreds of pictures and have shot countless GoPro videos which I cannot all post here. Here are a few shots taken along the way and I will be compiling a YT video with the best footage and pics from the entire trip so check back soon!
Quick stop off the narrow road along the Pacific Coast!
Driving the Pacific Coast line from Los Angeles to San Francisco had some crazy high roads to follow! The weird thing is not only you are driving up and down super steep hills but that the road is literally cut into the cliff... so on one side it goes straight down to the ocean and the other goes straight up to the clouds!
Yosemite Valley. I am not sure what else to say... the picture should speak for itself but it really is difficult to imagine the magnitude of the nature with just one picture. If you have been there before, I know you walked around with your jaw dragging in the fauna wondering if this was a dream or reality.
One of the many stops while driving through Yosemite National Park... pinch me please!
A cozy cabin just outside Yosemite National Park was the perfect place to hang out and crash after a day of hiking! This quaint little village of cabins was in the middle of nowhere at 1 887 meters (6,192 feet) of altitude. A little spooky, as it should be!
A view out of the window somewhere between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Planes fly at 9144 meters (30,000 feet) of altitude and I could still see the peeks of those mountains pretty well! It really makes you reflect on how lame Stone Mountain actually is...
Here is the 1 788 kilometers driven during the California road trip (or 1,111miles if you're still into that)! The white dots represent where I have slept at least one night.
My main summer travel plans can be easily represented with this geographical map (thanks Google)! First off, flying to Los Angeles for a California road trip then flying to Québec to spend time in Québec City, Chicoutimi, and of course my lake house in Falardeau. I will be in Atlanta in between, hanging out and trying not to melt from the infernal heat... What does YOUR travel map look like?!?
What a great afternoon of R/C fun! I think the biggest challenge of practicing the hobby during summer is the heat... Since today was a cloudy day, it was possible to enjoy some time out there.
FPV101: Setting up for Robert's first FPV flight!
FPV101: Robert flying with the goggles on as we followed his point of view on the screen! Despite the weird feeling of "being" on the aircraft but physically sitting on the ground, he did very well.
Balish taking off for a new adventure... Big improvements today and not even a broken prop!