So after 30 years, I'm back on a motorcycle. I bought this thing last friday:

So far I like it. It's a beginner cruiser. It can easily do highway speeds, but it's not a rocket (670cc). That means insurance on it is very cheap.

I have a scad of updates for it coming this week. Full windscreen, trunk mount adapter and a trunk box, gear indicator. Looking at Bluetooth headsets too; the Bell helmet I bought has a spot for one.

I've spent about $800 on safety gear. There's some very nice stuff available these days.

The salesperson was rightly nervous when I was leaving - I was too. 30 years off the bike. But a few times around the parking lot and I felt I was up to going home at least (80 miles on I94). Over the weekend I went in to the high school and noodled around the parking lot doing low speed maneuvers for a while, and practiced countersteering on open roads with no traffic. The first day was a little rough, not bad. Today (2nd day) I feel like I've got this. Still need a few hundred hours before I feel I can consider myself competent but I think I can handle myself OK now.

Of course, this whole thing has gotten Tom quite excited. We're finally getting around to getting him trained up on manual transmission in cars, and he's signed up for the motorcycle safety/training course at WCC next week.

Journal of random thoughts, May 7 2018

Yesterday I started digging up sod for a largish patch to move the pink rose to. It's going to take a while. Also started on the strawberry beds. There are a bunch of oaks sprouting in those beds, if they come up well we can move them elsewhere. So much weeding to be done though in all the beds.

A few weeks ago I built a new PC. I'm very happy with it, the old one was really still quite good but it lacked just a couple of things that were getting in my way, and no good way to expand them for a reasonable amount of money. I tend to use machines for many years go the $700 I put into this isn't a problem.

Over this past weekend we repurposed the old PC with a new video card and set up Kate's room as a VR suite with an Oculus headset. It's fun. The PC may eventually get replaced but it's doing a pretty good job for now. The things that were hampering it in the last environment aren't currently that big of a deal here.

The video system at the church is slowly taking shape. Several things aren't working as I'd hoped they would but I found a workaround that I think will do. I would have preferred to do a full HDMI system instead of the IP camera that I used, but IP cams are $250, HDMI ones are $1700.

I went to do audio and take photos at the spring tea at church, and caught up with a couple of people I hadn't seen in a while.

I need to poke the MCO people. I'm putting 30 to 60 minutes a week into editing service audio, have 5 weeks worth burned to CD now, and nobody's touched any of them. I'm not going to continue if nobody's going to use them.

This Friday I'm taking off and spending some time with Dianne Smith to record things at church for us to use when she's away.

My chainsaw decided to get cranky on Saturday while working on a downed branch. So that's another stupid thing that's going to rob me of a couple of hours to fix. And when it decided to not work, the man I was working with on the branch stepped up to try something else and got injured, which really sucked. He's OK but his back is injured.

I'm sort of on track for reading. Slower than last year but that's by choice, I need to do other things. Last year I read 90 books, this year I've set my goal at only 30 and I'm at 14 for the year now. I think this is a good pace that allows me to get other things done.

I really need to decide where I want to go for vacations this summer. A proper tour of UP waterfalls, and a Grand Canyon trip are current possibilities. Work into that also that I would like to build a shop.

Some folks at church have decided to add another 20x40 foot event pavilion to the stable and I was tasked to buy it (not pay for it). The main bits are coming, and I have to go buy the metal pipe at Menards. Then every one of the (30-some I think) pipes have to be cut to length. I want to buy a portable bandsaw for this, and was going to go for the Harbor Freight one, hoping for it to go on sale but it hasn't for a while now. Plan to build a stand as many have for mounting it as a cutoff saw.

I have been adding security cameras at home. Figuring out what works and what doesn't. Some sort of system is desired up in Laurium and I'd like to be able to at least recommend, and possibly install a system there. And I like at least being able to see the driveway on days when I'm working from home (in the basement) for when deliveries come.


Trying to keep track of the podcasts I like, since my player doesn't keep track and I'm switching phones again in a few days.

* The Amp Hour
* Cartalk
* No Such Thing as a Fish
* Naked Scientists
* Naked Genetics
* Naked Astronomy
* The Creativity Podcast
* NPR Up First
* Unnamed Reverse Engineering Podcast
* The Infinite Monkey Cage

[Dragonfly DIY] Quick note on dashcam install

My 2016 Ford Escape has no switched power outlet for a dashcam. Previously I was unable to find a switched fuse either, and came up with a circuit as a partial solution.

However today I installed a new dashcam, and now a few years later was able to find online the proper solution. Fuse F85 under the dash (probably on all Ford cars based on the Fusion chassis) is ignition/accessory switched power. A fuse tap there leading to a female power socket for the camera is perfect.

The dash cam is the Aukey dual front/rear 1080p model that Techmoan recently reviewed. Should be excellent.

[Dragonfly DIY] Car body work

Well, after a few hours of banging, hammering and shoving with hydraulic spreaders and rams, I got the front end of the kids' car back together again with new bumper, bumper cover, headlights and grill mount. No paint yet, maybe when it gets warm.

The rear right taillight area got bashed out to basically in the right place and shape, and the light itself replaced with one from the boneyard via eBay. The rear bumper cover is a bit expensive and not IMO that critical, I'll worry about that in the spring too when the weather is better for painting things.


Amazon comes through again

I ordered a bunch of stuff from Amazon in the last week. Several orders were due to arrive Tuesday. UPS at one point said delivered, "left in or near garage" - but they were not there and Jenn said she did not see the truck come up the driveway that morning.
A call on Wednesday and they said "UPS says the boxes were mis-scanned and will be delivered today" - they were not.
A call today (Thursday) and they now say "UPS says the boxes were mis-scanned and are lost" - I wonder if this means they were delivered to the wrong place and they are not going to get them back?

Anyway Amazon credited me the cost of the items, then I re-ordered them and had them shipped to an Amazon Locker that's about 1/2 mile from the hotel I'll be at tomorrow, and they paid for overnight shipping. One item is too big for the locker so that'll arrive home on Saturday and I'll just have to do without it this weekend.

Photography stuff

I've gotten a bit wound up about getting going with photography again, spurred on by a desire to travel more from now on.

I have:
Bought a used 60D. But then did some research, and found that really I want a 70D. I got on Amazon and found a used 70D for about $530, from a shop in SE Michigan. Should have that mid-week.

The 60D is delayed in the post. When it shows up, I'll just put it onto eBay straightaway.

I also picked up a used 24-105 f/4L. I used it a bit on the 500D today, it's pretty nice.

I got a 24mm f/2.8 pancake for walking around. Bought that new.

I just tried putting Magic Lantern on the 500D. It's OK but I got scared by some behavior and uninstalled it. I don't want to do anything that has a chance of bricking my camera.

I also ordered a new bag, spare batteries, and some straps. I found that 2 of the 3 batteries I have for the 500D are basically dead - straight off the charger they run the camera for about 3 minutes in live view mode before blinking red. They're in the trash and a new pair are coming. They say put in service in 2009 so I can't really complain.

I want to play with using the 70D for video (a main reason why the 70D over the 60D) and picked up a well rated but very inexpensive shotgun microphone. I have a new tripod, pistol grip tripod head, and controller and some remote strobes and softboxes on my wishlist. Probably will hold off quite a while on the strobe stuff as it's mainly for portraiture and I don't really see myself doing much of that.

Learning Lightroom. Thankfully you can still get the old, perpetually licensed version. I own a copy of ACDSee, which probably does a lot of the same stuff, but there's something to be said for using the software that everyone else uses.

I've also been putting a lot of stuff on eBay to clear the decks of stuff I'm not using while it still has some value, and partially fund this stuff.

[Dragonfly DIY] Using the STM32 "Blue Pill" under Arduino

I've had one of these sitting around for over a year but never did anything with it.

Thanks to GreatScott! on YouTube, I'm playing with it now. I support GreatScott! on Patreon and suggest you consider it as well.

Link to GreatScott!'s video

I'm just going to put down the steps that he followed here, because it's more convenient for me to have the steps in print rather than on a video.

The board

Get a USB to serial converter, set it to 3.3V - IMPORTANT. The STM32 is NOT 5V tolerant, 5V will kill it!

Ground -> ground
3.3v -> 3.3v
TX -> A10
RX -> A9

Connect to computer
Start Arduino

File -> Preferences, then put this URL in Additional Board Manager URLs:
Click OK

Tools ->Boards -> Board Manager

Find and select this link:

Click "install"

Click OK.

Enter this sketch:

void setup() {
pinMode(PA6, OUTPUT);

void loop() {
digitalWrite(PA6, HIGH);
digitalWrite(PA6, LOW);

Attach an LED and resistor in series between ground an A6 (positive to A6)

Move BOOT0 jumper (the one on the opposite side from the reset button) to 1
Tools -> Board -> Generic STM32F103C series
Tools -> Variant -> STM32F103C8
Tools -> CPU speed: 72 MHz (normal)
Tools -> Upload method: Serial
Tools -> Port (whichever one your serial board is on)

Compile and upload

To save the sketch on the board, move BOOT0 back to 0. If you don't the sketch disappears as soon as the board is power cycled or reset.

MUST HAVE: The Generic STM32F103 pinout diagram
GreatScott!'s video is here
LeafLabs documentation