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Dancing with the Birds

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It was a sunny morning at Ancol Beach, and I stood on a vacant lot a few hundred meters from the ocean front. The air was quite calm, which makes it perfect for my flight exercise. The beeps from the T380’s controller electronics marked the start of its propellers’ rotation. Stirring the dust on the ground, the quadcopter lifted off gracefully with its characteristic buzzing noise which got fainter as it gained altitude. Soon enough, I could no longer hear its buzzing motors, except for the occassional boost when I yanked the throttle up. So there, wearing my eyeglasses, I looked up and saw the glitter of sun rays reflected by the metallic cylinders in T380’s motors.  For the next hour, I become absorbed in piloting my remote-controlled quadcopter. The T380 is a quadcopter produced by a Chinese company aptly named LotusRC. I covered it a few months ago on on this article: First Impressions of T380 Quadrotor RC Aircraft

Within a few minutes after my quadcopter lifted off, I noticed flocks of birds coming from nowhere, surrounding my T380 like mosquitoes gather around me. Perhaps they were attracted to its buzzing noise which may similar to the sound of a swarm of bees, or perhaps the glitter from the motor casings rouses their curiosity.

Last Updated on Saturday, 09 February 2013 00:44 Read more...
 

One Fine Day inside a Silicon Chip

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As I heard the release of Far Cry 3 into the video game stores, I am curious of the predecessor, Far Cry 2. Soon enough, I got a copy of it, and installed it on my laptop. Shortly after that, I become absorbed in a game which makes me think and contemplate long after I finished an immersive gaming session. This game is a piece of art which continues to amaze many fans of open-world first person shooters for a few years since its release in 2008.

Previously, I’ve played Crysis and Crysis Warhead, two of the most realistic first-person shooter (FPS) game in the last 5 years. In both of the very first installments of Crysis, I can see the immense amount of detailed simulation of physics and particle dynamics. I enjoyed my hours in that virtual world, especially after I wiped out all the enemies stealthily, and leave the buildings, vehicles, and other destructible objects intact whenever possible. I will then play around with the objects, messes things up, throwing hand grenades to wooden huts to see them explode and shatter into pieces, planting mines to the road and then running a jeep at a high speed over the mines and experience the thrill of flipping in the air for several times before crashing and burn. Or sometimes as simple as lobbing hand grenades into the sky to knock down the birds… Yes, it was a fine day there in the simulated tropical world, where I mess things up and set everything on fire.

Last Updated on Saturday, 09 February 2013 00:41 Read more...
 

First Impressions of a T380 Quadrotor RC Craft

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The giddy ten-year old boy within me is alive and kicking again. 

After doing the job as field LIDAR technician for a while, I become obsessed with aircrafts. As the cost to own and maintain a real, full-sized aircraft is prohibitively expensive for this lowly employee, and furthermore I am not qualified to fly one of those, I settled with smaller models – the cheap remote controlled tiny helicopters with counter-rotating propellers. Yeah I know it’s just toys. After ruined four units of those cheap three-channel RC helicopters in the past few months as an “intro” to this hobby, I gained more knowledge and more interest on remote controlled aircrafts, and then I decided to go serious. Real radio controllers, heavier aircrafts, and outdoor flying in the wind and sunshine.

I ended up ordering a quadrotor from a Chinese vendor, a LotusRC T380, also known as HPQ-1 in other countries. After about 2 weeks, finally the aircraft arrived in an almost ready to fly package, along with its radio controller, a 7-channel 2.4 GHz  DEVO7. I just added a 3S 2250 mAh battery bought from a local hobby shop and install the propellers, everything else has been done, including the tuning. The radio transmitter is pre-configured to be used with the T380, which makes it really “ready to fly”.

Last Updated on Monday, 21 May 2012 05:16 Read more...
 

Amateur Photo of the Center of our Galaxy

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I know there is a lot of better pictures out there... however this one is the photo that I took myself, and this is the first picture of Milky Way galaxy that I have ever taken, so... there is a strong sentiment about it.

I took this photo on August 19, 2012, 8 PM, using Olympus XZ-1 pocket camera. Exposure time was 20 secs, aperture 1/1.8, ISO 640. It was a very clear night with cool breeze, very little light pollution, and when I looked up, I saw a glimpse of the Milky Way galaxy across the sky mixed with so many stars! So I took my pocket camera and did a long exposure shot. 

The galaxy planar disk is oriented vertically in this photo, you can see the bright galactic core is partially obscured by the dark bands of interstellar clouds within the galaxy. Remember that you're looking at the clouds between the stars here, not regular clouds in our atmosphere! The lower half of the photo is increasingly brighter due to the light scattered from lamps at people's houses. It's grainy due to the high ISO. I wish I can use better camera and better lens! 

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 September 2012 21:09 Read more...
 

“Approaching Terrain, Approaching Terrain”

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Not all of LIDAR data acquisition flights are fun and fascinating. Never in my life was I gripped with the near-death experience as close as what I am about to tell you in this post. 

In August 2011, I was aboard the most luxurious and spacious survey aircraft I’ve ever seen, a shiny, well-furnished, air-conditioned, 9-year old Cessna 208 Caravan with a large hatch on its belly. It has a “toilet” too! All other aircrafts that I’ve ever flown on survey sorties are usually more than 30 years old, cramped, hot, smelly, and doesn’t look very safe. This particular machine is really a belle. The avionics looks quite modern, with weather radar, autopilot, and all. For the propulsion, it has a turbine engine driving its three-bladed propeller. I really love the whirring noise and the deep roar of the turbine engine during the starting up, compared to the less appealing thudding and cranky sound of piston engine startups.

Long story short, by 4:30 PM we have finished our LIDAR and photo survey job over Pelabuhan Ratu coastal area, south of West Java, and we were ready to fly back to Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in Jakarta. We were flying at about 7000 feet, and there were four people on board, the two pilots, myself, and the security officer from the Air Force. Unfortunately, bad weather confronted us, and the pilot decided to take an alternative route. I saw the dark, menacing wall of clouds on the horizon in front of us. However, a few minutes after we took the alternate route, we found ourselves completely enveloped by thick clouds all over the place. No discernible horizon, no visible terrain, no blue sky, nothing, just dull, dark-gray colour outside, decorated with tiny streams of rainwater outside the windows. 

Last Updated on Monday, 07 May 2012 05:35 Read more...
 
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