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Along the East Hill Trail

Along the East Hill Trail

   My work day ended at 11:45 am today, and I changed into some hiking cloths I departed for Devil's Lake State Park.  I wanted a place that would have hills where I had a good view of the color.  Despite optimistic reports from the other day the skies were overcast with almost no breaks.  The skies were a little hazy, and the landscape shots were not going to be too interesting.  However, the park itself had some fantastic yellow.  I spent a few hours taking pictures with two cameras.  One had an 18-55 mm lens, and the other a 70-300 mm lens.  The setup worked well and allowed me to easily switch between normal and closeup shots.
   To go along with my already bad luck week, I lost my camera cover during the hike.  But the pictures I got and the expense of shooting in such pretty conditions make this a very minor setback.
Full Autumn Color

Full Autumn Color

   I decided to bike to work today instead of tomorrow.  Friday is a half day for me and I would like to take a road trip to a state park and do some photography.  Today and tomorrow are forecast to be nice so I thought I'd bike in today, do some photography on the ride in and back, and then take the afternoon tomorrow for photography.  Sunrise is around 7:15 am and I timed my ride into work so that I would be around Villas Park about this time.  The plan worked, but the skies were too overcast to capture the sunrise.  To continue to add to a week of failures I found I had forgotten my change of work cloths in the garage as I forgot to put them in my panniers before departing.  So I had to sit around at work all day in wet, smelly clothing. 
   On my return trip home the skies were perfect.  Enough clouds against the blue sky to make an excellent background.  I stopped for several shots on the ride home and am very pleased with a number of them. 
Andrew Que, October 4, 2014

Andrew Que, October 4, 2014

   Seems to be the week of hardware problems.  First the Odroid, then the Micro-Dragon, and now the Ethernet switch at Elmwood Park.  I was having problems with the Blue-Dragon establishing an Ethernet connection.  After a lot of messing around I deemed my Ethernet port dead.  I wasn't able to get the drivers for my USB wireless card to function, but I was able to tether my cellphone and use it as a wireless portal.  Seemed silly, but it worked.  But it turns out that all the wires Ethernet computers in the house were also having problems.  My 16-port Netgear switch seems to have died.  I installed this switch in December of 2005, and it has run 24/7 ever since.  It's counter part with a 1 gigabit switch I got at the same time died about 2 years ago.  At the time there was a huge price difference between a 1 Gbit switch and a 10/100 Mbit switch.  There is still a price difference, but not as much.  It has not been my week for functional hardware.

October 14, 2014

Micro-Dragon reboot

   After running 138 days, the Micro Dragon had an unexpected shutdown.  Not sure what happened, but after being reset (thanks Zen) everything seemed to be functional.  The Micro Dragon has run for more than 270 non-stop days in the past.
   Continued work on a wood project this afternoon.  I don't have a scroll saw, but I do have a jig saw.  So I decided to see if I could convert it.  Using the bench vice I clamped the saw upside down, and used an other clamp to press the button.  This worked alright and I was able to make the cuts I needed with a fair bit of accuracy.  For cleanup I needed to do a fair bit of filing, but I wasn't removing enough material.  So I used the same technique to mount my belt sander.  This made fairly quick work of cleanup.  Not as exact as it could have been, but I lack the tools and technique for doing really fine detailed work like I am attempting.  Nonetheless, I am pleased with the progress I have made.
   As the solar powered web server project moves to the phase where solar panels are to be added we were hit with a sudden setback today.  This afternoon the Odroid turned off and has appeared to have killed itself.  It now draws maximum current and never boots.  There are no signs of damage to the board, but the system clearly not functional.  This is a rather large set back as the Odroid is suppose to be the brains of the system.  There are no indications as to why this happened, and we are not pleased about it.
   Getting a lot more color, but it is still the minority in the trees.  Did my usual Friday bike ride to work, and on the return trip went the long way around both lakes, stopping several times to capture what color is out. 
   When I got home the Blue-Dragon was off.  After booting it up I could not get the Ethernet controller to function at all.  This has happened before and I always thought it was a software problem.  However, after trying everything I still could not get it to function for more than a couple of seconds.  I think my on-board NIC is dead.  To work around this I decided to try using a USB wireless card.  Drivers were being impossible and I never got it to work.  Then I decided to try my phone, which with the last update allows me to tether my phone to share the connection.  This did work.  So my phone is now a wireless adapter.  Since all my computers in the past 6 years have had built-in Etherent, I haven't had a need for a spare.  First the RAID array, now the NIC.  Blue Dragon, what are you trying to do to me?!
   More parts arrived today, which means I can do some assembly this weekend.  We have an LED controller in our living room to run some RGB LEDs strips placed around the picture rail.  The green channel has stopped functioning and it was time to figure out why.  The controller is very cheep so likely wasn't complicated.  After opening it up I use my oscilloscope to probe around.  There were three large transistors with heatsinks that clearly did the PWM switching.  The PWM signals going into the transistors looked fine, but I couldn't see anything on the output because they were setup as a sinking device.  After verifying there was nothing wrong with the PWM I wiggled the transistor for the green LEDs and they started to flicker.  This was clearly a soldering problem.  I quickly had my iron hot and remelted the solder joint.  That took care of the problem.
   I've been thinking about a LED control project, and looking at this circuit makes me want to do it more.  The PWM was running around 140 Hz, which is rather low.  I have noticed flicker with these LEDs, so this doesn't surprise me.  With the power FETs I found I think I can design something much better.
   Lunar eclipse this morning.  I arrived at work and the moon was still fairly eclipsed, so I decided to take a few pictures.  I didn't have a tripod, or a zoom lens.  Being still fairly dark I had to use a high ISO.  Still, I was happen to have seen it and taken some pictures.
   This evening I pulled my car into the garage and repainted part of the rear passenger door.  I had a little rust along the bottom of the door from the last time I painted.  Someone had borrowed my car and put a hole in the door, which I had to patch.  However it was late in the season and I barely had time to patch and paint while still having daylight and warm enough temperatures.  A little rust was forming and I wanted to cover this.  In addition, I put some scrap marks on the side when pulling out of the garage this spring.  With temperatures being fairly cool lately I knew I wouldn't have a lot of time to try this again.  Today was over 65 and plenty warm to paint.  After a quick sanding, I primed, painted and did a clear coat.  Eve looks pretty good now, and the metal door should be protected from the elements.