This is the inside of the switch to my LED bicycle headlight. Last night (technically, early this morning) I went for a ride and the light wasn't working correctly. The switch did nothing, and the light was stuck on one setting. I was able to complete my ride and when I got home I took a closer look. What appears to have happened is the wiring in the switch pull away due to a loss grommet allowing the wires to cross at will. The soldering job was pretty awful. The wires did not actually go through the holes, but were merely connected at the surface, and they had been stripped back way too far. I knew I could fix this so took this picture so I could remember which wires went to what pads. Unfortunately after I fixed the wiring issues, it still didn't work. My guess is that initial short burned out the circuitry in the switch and all I was getting is the dead results. I wrote the company I purchased the light from and received an RMA number and an address to ship it. So hopefully they will be quick and get me a replacement. The light is only 10 months old.
Went out this evening to do some HDR photography on State Street. While there are a lot of people and some cars about which means there will be movement, I wanted to experiment. I did brackets of 3 with 2 f-stops of separation between shots (so a full range of 4 stops). My camera will not allow more than this for automatic bracketing. But I decided I would give it a try. I switched between starting at 0 (normal) and +1 f-stops (overexposed) for the start of bracketing, and ISO 800 and 200. Naturally ISO 200 had slower shutter speeds but less noise. There was some wind, and a lot of movement. I found at the lower slower shutter speeds the motion of people tended to blur them out of the frame. So longer exposures were actually more beneficial for people moving. However, I also had a breeze, and the the longer exposure just made a mess out of trees. The street lights on State St. were killers. They caused so much lens flare that the dark areas of the pictures were washed out. I did manage to get a couple of stars in the sky. So I learned something from this trip, and that's more knowledge for the next attempt.
Record setting heat calls for strange activities. This afternoon I convinced Maggie and Xiphos to go on a bike ride with me to go and get ice cream. The ride was probably no more than 2 miles, but we were soaked with sweat by the time we returned home. And here we all are. The temperature peaked at 104 F (40 C) right about the time we were riding, beating the previous record of 98 F (36.6 C) set in 1911. Humidity was around 30%, making for completely awful weather. I understand that the southern states such as Texas and Louisiana have heat of this sort regularly. But I live in Wisconsin, and we don't usually have weather like this. I've biked in -24 F (-31 C) and I would rather ride with it that cold than bike with it this hot.
My yearly ritual of traveling to Tazz's house for his 4th of July gathering. This year it was inside—no one really wants to deal with the heat. Madison broke an other record—102 F (39 C) beating out the old record of 98 (36.6 C) that has held since 1955. The Beloit fireworks display I found more impressive than the Madison display. While Madison did have 3 mini-finials and lasted longer, the shells were rather boring. Beloit seemed to do better in this respect. Congratulations to the teams at CERN who announced today they are fairly sure they have discovered the Higgs Boson. To celebrate I finished reading Lawrence Krauss's "A Universe from Nothing." While there is much about cosmology I do not understand, I find what I do understand gives me a fantastic appreciation of the subject. It is amazing what we know, and just as interesting is how we know it. Makes me feel like I need to be doing more with my own skills.
Apple crisp. I normally don't like sweet smells, but this incense isn't as sweet as I had expected. Doesn't quite smell like baking apple crisp, but I do enjoy it. I've added 2 additional sizes to my standard image gallery: 3600x3600 and full-size. This significantly increases the size needed by each photo, but seemed necessary. My current camera shoots frames at 5184x3456 (18 MP). With the previous max size of 1800x1800 just didn't deliver the detail my camera can give. So the additional sizes should take care of that. The down side of the additional sizes is the footprint taken by my gallery. Storage for 18 pictures went from 18 MB to 130 MB. That isn't really a problem though. The Micro-Dragon has a 500 GB hard drive with 405 of that space free.
Our heatwave continues. Rodney House (our house here in Madison) has central air conditioning, but it is struggling with these temperatures. The air conditioner runs almost continuously during the day. To assist, I went around the house and moved items away from heating vents and returns, and then placed fans by them to help pull the air into the rest of the room. That helped, so it is livable in the house.
I've been on an LED lighting kick lately. I've used dimmable compact fluorescent bulbs in my desk lamps for a couple of years now, and I've never been happy with them. Most of the bulbs I have tried have a poor range they can be dimmer, or flicker when dimmed. Then one good bulb I had died. Compact fluorescent bulbs are suppose to last 10 years, but I've never had one come close. So I decided to visit my favorite home improvement store and look at some lighting options. On sale were dimmable LED bulbs. Although they were still twice the price of dimmable CFL the price was low enough to give them a shot. I picked up one 8 watt 3000K bulb made by Sylvania. I was immediately pleased. The bulb dims the full range without flicker, and the color is fine. I liked the bulb so much, I went back and bought a second bulb to replace the remaining dimmable CFL I had. But this got me thinking... One item I wanted create with my setup in Madison was the illuminated under-bench lighting system I use to have in my setup at Park Place. This original setup used four 25 watt tube lamps under the benches connected to a dimmer. This gave my area a very warm feeling that I've yet to be able to replicate. At the Garage I tried using halogen under cabinet lighting, but they ran hot and concentrated the light too much. For my Madison setup, I looked into many options during my initial build: LED, halogen, thin fluorescent tubes, and incandescent. I settled on incandescent rope light for cost, but even with it's 300 watts of power consumption it didn't produce enough light to be all that useful. A couple weeks ago I tried using a 3100 K LED fixture I bought. Although it said it wasn't dimmable, it clearly was. The LEDs were fed from a bridge rectifier--no transformer, and no voltage regulator. That means there is just a load resister and the LEDs are driven from the 0-170 volts of the rectified voltage. There isn't even a capacitor to clean up the ripple (therefore, these LEDs flicker at 60 Hz). I found the "warm" color of 3100 K too cool. So I would have to find something else. Something I have wanted to investigate for awhile has been LED reels. These are flexible printed circuit-board populated with LEDs. The price when I first started looking into them was about $50 for 15 feet, which was far more than I wanted to spend. In addition these reels require 12 volts and I would have to have a power supply and PWM dimmer to do what I wanted. The other day I was looking again and the price had dropped to $15 for 15 feet. I don't know the details about why the price is so low (you can still find LED reels listed for $70), but this was now an economical option to investigate. Since the 3100 K LED fixture I bought was too cool, I ordered the warmest color I could, 2700 K. When the reel arrived I got to break out the soldering iron. I used some speaker wire and soon had a 36" strip of LEDs mounted above my display shelve. A single row using this light was brighter than the three rows of rope light. And this single row draws all of 5 watts. The illumination is good, but the color isn't what I had hoped for. While it is a warmer color it has too much green. I'm considering adding a row of red or amber LEDs to warm the color up further. For now, however, I am pleased with the results.