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Month: June 2009

This Laser Does Not Lase

Yesterday I acquired a Spectra Physics 155 laser, which contains a 060-4 Helium Neon (HeNe) laser tube. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. I have a feeling that I’ll be throwing it away. The power supply seems okay, although I don’t have the required power resistors to properly test it. I suspect that air leaked into the tube and now it doesn’t work.

Here’s a couple more photos of the tube: Front (Alt. Angle) · Model Number Sticker · Rear

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Snapping Turtle on Paint Creek Trail

Yesterday my friend Brian ([info]replika) and I headed out for a bike ride. Parking at Rochester Mills we rode up the Paint Creek Trail, winding our way through to the back entrance of Bald Mountain Recreation Area‘s North Unit. (Here’s a map of the North Unit trails, from Flickr user cedarkayak.)

Taking some back connector paths, we entered the system just north of #5, and continued around the outer parts of the white, orange, and blue loops before heading back to the PCT. Everything went well, although some areas were a bit muddy and a bit much for Brian. It made for a slower than normal ride, but I’m sure he’ll become more comfortable with it all as he rides more offroad stuff. The shortcut connector from the Bald Mountain trails out to Conklin Rd were extremely overgrown, and combined with yesterday’s strong winds, riding the 10″ wide path with 3′ tall grass along it was a bit frustrating.

That photo above is a Common Snapping Turtle which we saw right in the middle of the PCT, somewhere just northwest of Rochester. One has to be careful not to get too close to these turtles, as they are aggressive and capable of quickly removing fingers. Here is a photo from under Gunn Road, which is the entrypoint to the PCT when one is riding dirt roads to connect Stony Creek and Bald Mountain / Addison Oaks.

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Stony Creek XC Marathon Race (2009) Photos

Today was the Stony Creek XC Marathon Race, run by Tailwind over at Stony Creek Metropark. I’ve been thinking it would be neat to try taking photos at a race, so I headed over there this morning to try it out. After unexpectedly running into some people I know via the MMBA we ended up wandering most of the single track together, watching and recording the race. The three other people I was with (Matt, Tim, and Jan) all had video camera stuff, and I had my 20D with a couple fast lenses (100mm Tokina and 24-70 Canon L).

I’m fairly happy with the photos, although it really is a lot harder than I’d expected to photograph things ducking in and out of the shadows in the woods. I ended up settling for properly exposing the riders, and letting the sun blow out any area which it fell on directly. I think this worked out pretty well. If you’d like to see the photos, click either the image above, or here: Stony Creek Marathon XC Race (2009)

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Defective Target Gallon Zipper Freezer Bags

It appears that Target has sold me an entire box of defective zip-closure freezer bags. When I went to use them this past weekend I found that they wouldn’t close, and closer inspection showed that two halves of the zip-closure are misaligned. Thus, the blue part can’t latch into the clear part and it’s not possible to close the bags.

I intend to return them and get another box, but I suspect that the entire run of them is defective.

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Broken Lettuce

It seems that today’s storm has damaged my lettuce. It is torn, perforated, and generally broken down. The storm also downed a tree at the entrance to my condo complex, and caused me to have a 1:30 drive home. Most of the time was spent within the last four miles of my house.

I was in a windowless conference room having a meeting while the storm rolled through, so I only heard the rain on the building’s roof, but I guess it was pretty bad out this way. Hail, 75 MPH winds, and lots of things falling over.

UPDATE: A portion of my basement floor was wet, and it appears as if the wind was also strong enough to either blow water in that basement window, or back water up against the window so that it could flow in. I wish I had been here to see this storm.

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Lots of Riding in Hot Weather

I’ve been riding my bike a lot lately. Not particularly far, but every day since Saturday. Here’s where I’ve been:

Saturday: River Bends Park, exploring new (to me) single track.
Sunday: Addison Oaks
Monday: Orion Oaks
Tuesday: Pontiac Lake Recreation Area
Wednesday: Stony Creek

Today’s ride at Stony Creek was one of the hardest things that I’ve done in a long time. The heat really, really got to me and I just couldn’t cool down / feel better. All the other days went rather well.

Now, bed with air conditioning. I finally turned on the AC after finding the inside of the house to be 86°F with even more warm weather on the way.

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Addison Oaks

Today after leaving my parents house I drove straight west on 32 Mile to Addison Oaks so that I could ride the single track bike trails there. I ended up doing two laps, and this all generally went well, except my first lap (plotted above) was much slower than the second. Perhaps it was because of all the sugary / unhealthy food I ate earlier in the day, but that first time around was considerably more draining than the second. I probably should have done a third, but by that time I was wanting to get some food and head home. So, I did.

Maybe I’ll head back out there tomorrow. It’ll be interesting to see how much the trails dry out overnight, as today they were a bit slippery and sloppy in places.

(If you’d like to see it, here is the KML used to generate the above image.)

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Clinton River Floodplain

With injuring my knee and rain through most of the week, I haven’t been able to go for a bike ride in a while. So, after washing my bike off and checking the wheels over for damage I headed towards Shelby Township’s River Bends Park. After stopping at the post office to ship a package I headed into the park and ended up doing two laps of the two track-type trail there. Normally I would have also continued along the paved path to Ryan Road, but the recent rains had the paved path under more than a foot of water, and I wasn’t in the mood to get wet. Both the bike and I got a bit muddy, but nothing terrible.

While on the unpaved tracks I ended up riding down anything that looked remotely like single track that went somewhere and ended up getting a much better feel for the land around there. The more I think about it, the more I think that River Bends could host a couple miles of nice single track.

The photo above was taken after I rode through some of the existing single track-like stuff, all the way to the far southeast corner of the park, where it goes down a ridge to the river’s floodplain. What is normally some trail for another 200′ was completely under actively flowing water. Looking towards the river showed what is above, with newly downed trees and a logjam. I love looking at this sort of transient river.

Also, during the whole time I was riding my knee had no problems. It’s still a bit sore at times, but all the aching seems to be coming from the outside of my kneecap in the area where the wound is still healing. This is good, I think.

Interestingly, I’d somehow fitted both tires backwards last time. I also found that while falling I managed to get a whole bunch of dirt between the bead of the tire and the rim’s bead seat, leading to a bit of a wobble in the tire. The wheels themselves are fine.

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AMB Mini³

Today the PCB and other parts that I ordered from from the AMB audio shop arrived, so this evening I assembled an AMB Mini³. This is a rechargable battery powered, credit card sized headphone amp does a great job of driving my Sennheiser HD570 headphones.

While I didn’t take any photos of the assembly or inside of the enclosure (I just wasn’t in the mood tonight, for some reason), the assembly went very smoothly. Part of the assembly suggested that one put thermal grease on the underside of the AD8397ARDZ op-amp to help transfer heat from the chip to the PCB. Wanting to wash the PCB I didn’t want to do this, and I instead found that scraping a bit of solder mask from the heatsink trace allowed me to reflow the underside of the chip without much difficulty. After that SMT pads themselves went nicely, and everything else was through-hole. I had a few problems with battery clearance in the case, but adjusting the battery contacts slightly made everything fit comfortably snugly.

Everything was built as-specified for the high-performance version, except that I used a different knob and LEDs. The knob is a Kilo International OEJL-75-4-7 (Digi-Key p/n 226-4094-ND), which was the only 6mm shaft knob that I had laying around the house. The power LED (LED2) is green in place of the standard blue, and the rear (LED1) is a red, and matches the power LED brightness-wise. The LEDs are Mouser part numbers 630-HLMP-1790 and 630-HLMP-1790 and 630-HLMP-1700, respectively. To properly fit the LEDs, R6 and R7 were changed, using 5.1K Ω (Mouser 270-5.1K-RC) and 7.5K Ω (Mouser 270-7.5K-RC) resistors, respectively. I’m happy with the LEDs as they are visible in a normal room, but not particularly bright, even in complete darkness.

Using the iPod dock to 3.5mm (1/8″) cable that I made last week I connected my iPod to the amp and gave it a go. In short, I’m really happy with it. My headphones finally sound as they should with the iPod. Right now it’s charging on the kitchen counter, and tomorrow I’ll give it a full go at work.

Abnormal for me, I didn’t take very many photos during the assembly of the Mini³. For some reason I just wasn’t in the mood to document it as I normally do, so I only took the following three photos:

· AMB Mini³, from the front, fitted with a slightly non-standard knob and a green LED instead of the standard blue.
· AMB Mini³, from the rear.
· AMB Mini³ connected to my 5G iPod Video.

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Pixar’s Up

This evening some friends and I had a really nice dinner at Lebanese Grill in Shelby Township, then went to one of the MJR Theaters in Partridge Creek to see Pixar’s Up. The showing of it that we saw was digital, and required viewing with dual-polarizer 3D glasses, as seen above.

I really enjoyed this film, with it having a very nice combination of fun, funny, mature, and sad parts. The story was definitely a kid’s film, but well enough done and with sufficient subtle social references for adults to giggle ridiculously at times. The 3D was also well done, with nothing that seemed put there just to fly into your face or show unnatural amounts of depth. In fact, most of the time I forgot that I was watching a “3D” film, and just felt like it was a very high quality, deep-feeling digital projection. I equate this to when surround sound was no longer simply shown off but instead used for subtle effect.

If you enjoy Pixar films or just good animated stories, I definitely recommend seeing this.

(Hmm, I just realized that I should have used a polarizing filter when photographing these. Oh well.)

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