4/20/2014

GoPro + Kite = Lake Pictures


I wasn't sure if I would ever do KAP (kite aerial photography) ever again. Several years ago I attached my old Canon camera, which was running CHDK, to a kite and took some pictures.

Final Flight
Kite and First Flight

The result was both good and bad.  Here's the good part, some amazing pictures from a few hundred feet in the air.
kap, aerial photography, canon, chdk, kite


And now for the bad part.  I'll spare you the details, but the edge of a metal washer caused the line to snap and the camera fell and landed on an asphalt sidewalk.
broken canon camera, dropped, sd1100, kite

But since then I started using my GoPro camera for more risky pictures. For example when Karrie and I were in Mexico I took it in the ocean with us as we did our AquaTrek.

SeaTrek - Cabo San Lucas
http://youtu.be/GfB9jXMX77o

So I decided that while we were up north ice fishing I thought should try to take some aerial photos of the lake and the cottage.  It probably would've been fine to just attach the GoPro directly to the kite, but I thought that after the last crash I should use some sort of protection.  I originally thought of a foam case, here were some of my early designs.
foam go pro case, gopro, how to

I figured that if i just got the "right materials" that i thought i'd need and stare at them long enough, i would come up with something.  
gopro, kite, foam case, aerial photography

I ended up cutting a recessed hole in the foam for the camera to sit in.
diy protective case for gopro
 Then i thought that i'd wrap a more dense foam around the edges.

But after several different redesigns I realized that I was never going to be able to make a good foam case.  I ended up using something else. Something you probably would never think of.  I used 2 old lotus seed pods.  
lotus seed pod

I have several old lotus seed pods  in my basement after collecting them over the years.  I've written many different blogs about trying to grow lotuses in my backyard.

American Lotus

Sprouting Lotus Seeds
Lotus in the Sun
Final Lotus of the Year


american lotus seed pod, grow

There was actually 3 reasons why the seed pod is perfect for protecting the camera.  First the seed pods are very light.  The whole point of the protective case is that it has to be lightweight or the camera and kite will never get off the ground.  The second is that they are strong, the inside of the lotus seed pod is like an accordion or honeycomb shaped. And thirdly, its design acts like a crumple zone of a car. Instead of hitting the ground against a hard foam block the lotus seed pod would crumple and absorb the impact.
lotus seed pod protective case, crumple

 So I took 2 lotus seed pods, connected them with an aluminum rod and attached them to the GoPro camera. I found another bonus while flying, the 2 seed pods acted like a rudder for the camera, keeping it pointed straight ahead.  
unique gopro case protect, camera, stabilize

Usually when I fly a kite with the camera, the camera swings wildly and I get lots of blurry pictures. With the stabilizing lotus seed pods I got a lot more pictures in the right direction..
long lake, aerial photo

photo of lake on ice, how to take cool aerial photo

One of the main problems though with the go pro camera is that the pictures turn out a little dark and blurry. The lens size and the camera is so small it needs a very bright sunny day to get good pictures. I think it had problems with the sky being gray and the ice and snow being bright white.  I had to adjust some of the contrast and brightness when I got home on the computer in Photoshop.  But overall I'm really happy with some of the pictures that I got.  It's a different view of the cottage than we normally see.
gopro kite

Although i never really got a good picture of the cottage.
kite aerial photo, camera


So after flying the kite for several minutes the wind slowly started to die and the kite started to fall. Again this KAP session ended with a crash. But this time everything was fine. The lotus seed pods did is they were designed, one corner being completely crushed. But the camera was perfect we fine. 
natural crumple zone, protect, camera


I plan on doing this again, but I need to have it be a nice steady windy day. It's difficult to get the camera in the air because there needs to be enough wind for the kite to get left a not too much when that's wildly swaying back and forth.

3/30/2014

Ribbon Rack - Part 2


Several months ago I made a wall-mounted ribbon rack for Karrie's new arts and crafts room.  She's been making a lot of hair bows and selling them to people at work and on Etsy.

Here's an example of some of the hair bows she's been making.  You can check out all her new designs at her Etsy Shop - Bowtique Glam.
bowtique glam, bow, homemade bow, karrie, etsy

She has been making them in her new arts and crafts room we made a few months back.  Here's a link to the arts and crafts room, a wall shelf, desk, cabinets and a ribbon rack.  

As you can see from this picture, she gets a lot of use out of it.
arts and crafts room, messy, bow, wall mount, bow organizer

But I guess a ribbon rack is kind of like a garage, no matter how large of one you have, you seem to be able to fill it up.  So that meant that I had to build second ribbon rack to hold all of her spools. 

Here's a video i posted on Youtube where i go through and explain how i built the first ribbon rack.

The great part about building something a second time is that it's much quicker and much easier.  The first time I built the ribbon rack I had to determine how big I was going to make it, how many spools it was going to hold, what materials I was going to use and what would be the overall shape.  Then there are the tricky things like how I would mount it to the wall and adding a gap so that different spools wouldn't jam when they were removed.  

This time I didn't have to do any of that thinking because it was already done.  I just went upstairs and read measured the one I already built.  I either threw a way or just misplaced the template I used for the side cutouts, so I had to make that paper template second time.  But once again that was really easy, I just held up a piece of paper to the side and traced it out.  Whereas the first ribbon rack took me a couple of weeks to make, the second one took me just three days.  It actually only took a couple hours but I had to wait in between the spackling of the corners and then waiting for the paint and polyurethane to dry.

I ended up building it exactly the same way as before, using 1"x6" pine boards and wood dowels.  I thought i was all done and was about to mount it to the wall I realized that the finish on the wood didn't look the same.  That's when I realized that for the first ribbon rack I did two coats of white paint and then two coats of polyurethane.  I had forgotten to do the polyurethane.  So I took it back downstairs and that took 2 more days of brushing on the polyurethane and waiting for
it to dry.
ribbon rack, wall mount

But when it was all done and I hung on the wall like before, hiding the screws in a counter sunk hole behind the dowels, it looked great.   Hopefully this will give Karrie a little bit more space on her arts and crafts table to work.

3/27/2014

Up North Ice Fishing - Long Lake Michigan

Back in January, Karrie and I went up the to cottage for the weekend.  We decided that while we were up there, we should go ice fishing.
long lake, ice fishing, snow, lake, frozen, michigan, tipups

One of the main problems we had was me being unprepared.  I forgot that the spoon-bit ice auger was in our garage at home.  I forgot that i brought it home to dig some holes in the back yard and never brought it back to the cottage.  That meant that we had to chop the holes using the spud bar.
spud bar, chopping, ice, ice fishing, winter, cold

Usually that's not a huge deal when the ice is 7" or 8" thick.  But it is a huge deal when it's one of the coldest winter's ever and the ice is over 13" thick.  It's hard to tell from this picture but my fingers are touching the bottom of the hole and the ice is past my wrist.  and we still had a few inches to go.
ice thickness, winter, month, long lake, check, ice fishing

But we eventually got 3 holes chopped in the ice.  One for the tip-up and 2 for jigging.

Usually i just go and buy grubs to fish with but this time i took a bucket and went to the bait shop at the end of the lake.  I figured that if we wanted to catch a big pike or walleye that we needed to use minnows.  The guy there was great, he knew where the fish were being caught and at what depth.  I was surprised when he said that most of the pike were being caught in only 5 feet of water.  At our end of the lake that meant that they were only 20 to 30 feet off of shore.

Also he gave me 2 big scoops of minnows and grubs for just a couple bucks.  He said that he was going to change the tanks that day anyways.

So now it was on to the second problem.  I don't go ice fishing very often and earlier in the year i took my new poles and homemade tip-ups to Katie and John's cottage.

Here's a link to back when i made the ice fishing poles and tip ups a back in 2010.
diy ice fishing poles, aluminum, pvc diy tip ups, pvc, one piece, simple, magnets
I figured that we would use them there before we would use them at our cottage.  I was wrong.  So that meant that we had to use our old stuff.  The night before i brought the sled and all the gear up the the cottage to work on.  That was a very smart move.  Usually i'm trying to untangle line and figure out what's in the sled, all while sitting on a frozen lake and wearing gloves.  Working on things the night before i was able to get it all in working order.  That meant making an emergency duct tape repair on one of my oldest tip-up.  This simple design has always worked great.
simple tipup, easy to make tipup reliable wood tipups to make

So we got all set up the next day, chopped the holes and started fishing.  At first it was great, sunny and calm.  But after an hour or so, the sun went behind clouds and the wind picked up.  We don't have a shanty or any way to stop the wind, so we decided to go up.
ice fishing on long lake, michigan, winter, month, chopping ice

But it was fun.  We'll have to go again some time with the newer equipment and ice auger.

3/13/2014

Playing Some Catch Up

I realize that it's been a while since i posted anything on the blog.  I have a bunch of folders full of pictures from things i've been working on at home that i need to go through, sort and upload.  Then i have to write about all of them.  

Here's a quick sample of what we've been working on:

 So far we are 1/4 of the way being done with refinishing our bathrooms.  We replaced the toilet, sink and tile in the first floor bathroom.
animated gif, tile, grout

And i just started on the floor tile in my bathroom.
animated gif, house, bathroom, tile, remove


Also we got new carpet from Home Depot.  The best part is that by using a Lowe's 10% off coupon and buying gift cards online at 11% off we saved a bunch.
animated gif, carpet, remove, pad

Ice fishing at the cottage, i tried KAP (kite aerial photography) again, but this time i used the GoPro with some protection around it
kap, ice, kite, gopro

Again the kite crashed but the camera was fine
flying a gopro with a kite

I got a table saw off Craigslist.  I've only used it a few times but it's been great.
craftsman table saw

Here's one of the projects i used the saw for, a fold out case for my nail guns.
fold out tool case, nail gun

I was originally going to wrap the inside with felt but i ended up just painting it white.
adam savage wood box

Made another ribbon rack for Karrie.
second wood ribbon rack

There's a lot more projects like this that we did, i just need more time to go through all the photos and write everything up.  I'll have to find a couple of free saturday mornings when i can knock out a couple of posts.