AMD FX 4100 Computer Build

I finally got tired of my slow computer that i've been using for over 10 years. A year ago i moved it downstairs to act as my HTPC (Home Theater Personal Computer). I was able to because i built a new AMD quad-core computer for $200. I'm using that computer with my 32" 1080p LCD TV. I was using it as my but even just as a browser and movie player is was slow. So i bought new parts and reused the case. That way i would be able to use the internet and watch Blu-Ray HD movies on my 51" plasma TV without any skipping.

Here's what the computer and case looked like before i started.
Computer Case Disassemble
The case was super dirty, all of the fans had a thick coating of hard dust.
Clean a Dirty Computer
The case cleaned and emptied.Clean and Empty Computer Case
So like before, here are the parts i bought.
200 dollar computer parts
Even though i am spending the same amount, $200, as i did a year ago, all the parts i bought are better than before. My video card is a Radeon HD 6670 which cost $60. Last year i spent the same amount and got a 6470. I got 8Gb of ram versus 4Gb. But the biggest difference is the CPU. The new AMD FX 4100. And as always with Microcenter, when you buy the CPU, the motherboard is only $10.
The HIS - Radeon HD 6670 video card.
Radeon HD 6670 video card
Corsair SMS 3 RAM - 8Gb Corsair SMS 3 RAM - 8Gb
Motherboard installed.ASUS M5A Motherboard Install
I originally didn't buy a new power supply, i went with my old 350 watt PSU.
ASUS M5A Motherboard Install and Power Supply
Here is everything installed and connected.
Complete Computer Install
It started up, i installed Windows 7 using a USB Flash Memory Stick. But during the first 2 weeks of running it crashed 4 times. I realized that the old 350w power supply was probably not able to handle the new computer. So i bought a Corsair 420w power supply for $20 after rebate. It runs perfect now.
Corsair CX430 Power Supply

Parts, Prices and Stores
  • CPU -- AMD FX 4100 - $89 (Microcenter)
  • Motherboard -- Asus M5A 78L-M LX Plus - $10 (Microcenter - normally $50, but only $10 with the purchase of CPU)
  • Video Card -- HIS Radeon 6670 - $60 (Microcenter - after $15 mail in rebate)
  • RAM -- Corsair XMS-3 8Gb - $30 (Microcenter - after $20 mail in rebate)
  • Power Supply -- Corsair CX430 - $20 (Newegg - after $20 mail in rebate)
  • Case -- Reused old case - "Free"

DIY - How to Make a Camera Polarizing Filter

While reading about making an ND Filter out of welders glass i also learned about how to take Infrared Photos. Then, while reading about Infrared filters i learned about polarizing filters.

Everyone always says that a polarizing filter is the most important thing to have other than a camera. But looking at comparison pictures with and without the filter i barely saw a difference, so i never really thought twice about it. But i do know that fisherman use polarizing sunglasses to reduce the glare of the sun and help spot fish under water.

A polarizing filter, like polarizing sunglasses, cuts down on glare and reflections from the sun. It is great for outdoor photography. There are also g

I realized that the best way to make the filter was to start with a pair of 3D glasses. I had a couple pairs of Real3D glasses at home.
Real D 3D Glasses Polarized
It turns out that the lenses in those glasses are circular polarized. There is also linear polarized lenses, i'm not exactly sure what the difference is, i think it has to do with what direction the light waves are allowed to pass through.
Real D 3D Glasses Polarized Lenses
When i made the ND filter and even for the IR filter i spent a lot of time trying to figure out how i would mount the filter to the camera. I thought of rubber bands taped to cups and all sorts of things. I finally made a simple mount with a PVC ring and some hard foam that would slip tightly onto the lens. The great thing is that this time i just did exactly the same thing. All the hard work of coming up with the idea was already done. So i cut another piece of PVC, glued in the foam and sanded it in about 10 minutes.
Polarized Lens DIY Make
I was planning on cutting the Real3D lenses and gluing them to the PVC but then i remembered that a while ago i bought a cheap set of lenses from Amazon that didn't fit any camera i had.
Polarized Lens DIY Make Neewer
So after coloring in the PVC with a black marker i checked to see if the polarizing filter would fit. It fit just fine and wasn't too heavy.
Polarized Lens DIY Make camera
Here it is all glued together.Polarized Lens DIY Make point and shoot Canon
To keep it from getting scratched i keep it in a cloth bag i had made for one of my old cameras.
Polarized Lens Case
This was at a nearby lake, while i was holding the filter a few inches in front of the camera lens. You can see how the right side of the pictures is much brighter because of the excess light reflecting off the water.
Polarized vs Non-Polarized
It was early in the morning so i'm not sure that the polarizing filter made that much of a difference. The filter helps the most during bright sunny days.
Polarized Example

How to Grow a Lotus Plant Indoors from a Seed

Taking everything i learned from last year:
American Lotus
Sprouting Lotus Seeds
Lotus in the Sun
Final Lotus of the Year

I'm trying to grow some lotus plants inside again this winter.
But rather than a big pot with mud i figured i could try placing them in clear plastic cups inside of a fish tank. That way i could see how the tubers or roots are growing too.

The 3 keys to growing them:
Heat -
underwater heater, stays right around 88 degrees
Sun - by the window and grow light
Humidity -
Saran wrap over tank

Here's the setup. There are 2 Asian Lotus seeds and 2 American Lotus seeds.
Indoor Lotus Tank
I think it took about 5 days for them to break through the seed shell, and 4 days to grow to this point. The Asian Lotus seeds sprouted first.
American Lotus Seeds Grow
The roots starting to form.
Lotus Roots
A week and a half later they had grown quite a bit bigger.
Grow Lotus from Seed
Several leaves.Lotus Leaves
The first tuber and more roots.
Lotus Tuber
Second tuber a week later, so it appears to still be growing.
New Lotus shoots and Tuber
We'll see if they continue to grow or die like the many others that i tried growing indoors.


Macro Photography - Leaf Closeups

I was experimenting the other day with close-up photos, using different camera settings, of water on a banana leaf. Here's some of the results.
Leaf Close Up
Leaf Close-Up
Macro Leaf photo

Macro Leaf water droplets
And here are some similar pictures i took a few years ago while i was working in the woods of West Virginia, Kentucky and Jackson Michigan.
Leaf Macro Phototraphy
Grass Macro Photo
Nature Macro Photo

Macro Photo Water

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Manfrotto Tripod Review

On Slickdeals i saw this tripod (Manfrotto 7322YB M-Y Tripod with Ball Head) being sold for 50% off and free shipping from Costco. It normally sells for $70 on Amazon.

I like how compact it is and the adjustable swivel head attachment. But i'll have to eyeball the camera being level, especially on shots outside with the horizon.
Manfrotto Tripod Ball Head
Manfrotto 7322YB M-Y Tripod with Ball Head
It's small, light, strong enough.Manfrotto 7322YB  Tripod
And it comes with it's own bag which is nice.
Manfrotto Tripod Case


Bamboo in Heavy Snow

At least once or twice every winter here in Michigan we get a day of really heavy snow. Even though this has been one of the warmest winters in a long time, i woke up a couple of weeks ago and saw this in the back yard. There was a snow and ice storm and the bamboo was completely bent over and almost broken.Bamboo in Snow
But the bamboo is strong. I went out, shook off the snow and the trees immediately started unbending and straightening up.
Bamboo in Michigan
Here are links to previous posts about growing bamboo in my backyard in Michigan:
  • Bamboo - Transplanting from West Virginia

Here's what it looked like a few days later, good as new.
Bamboo grow in Michigan


2012 NCAA College Basketball Bracket - All Formats

Brackets for the 2012 NCAA Men's College Basketball Tournament in 6 different Printable Formats - JPG, word, PDF, TIFF, Google Doc

Printable Bracket:

2012 NCAA Tournament Printable Bracket
NCAA Tournament Printable Bracket college basketball
I hope that Michigan State goes all the way, but it looks like they are in the toughest region.

DIY - Infrared Camera Filter

While reading about making the ND filter i saw instructions on making an Infrared filter for your camera. The ND filter used a piece of welding glass to "dim down" the amount of light that enters the camera. With a IR filter you need something that only allows infrared light to enter the camera. I had an old camera that i never use because the lens is kind of scratched, so it was perfect to try this out with.

The infrared wavelength is just longer than is visible to the human eye. In fact visible light is only a small part of the light spectrum.
Infrared Light Table Spectrum
Far infrared is used in thermal imaging cameras. Heat given off by objects is in the far infrared spectrum of light.
Thermal Infrared Camera Heat
The pictures i would be taking would not show this kind of thermal imaging, just the light from the Near Infrared.

Simply put, i wanted to remove the piece of glass that blocks infrared light, then add exposed film which ONLY allows infrared light into the camera.

First, the hard part. Camera's have a tiny piece of glass between the lens and the sensor which blocks infrared light from passing through. I wasn't sure i would be able to remove it but i did. It's the broken pieces of red tinted glass at the bottom right.Build Infrared Camera
And even more surprising is that i was able to put the camera back together the first time and it still worked.
Make Infrared Camera
Now that infrared light can pass to the camera's sensor i needed a way to block the visible light. Online there was a lot of different ways that people said this could be done but the cheapest and easiest way looked to use a piece of film negative and an old floppy disc.

Infrared Film Camera Negative
And i tried part of an old floppy disc.
2HD Floppy Disc
Here are the pieces from the exposed and unexposed processed film.
Exposed 35mm film
I was planning on mounting the film on a PVC filter like i had done before. In hindsight that probably would have been a good idea. So i started to making a fitting out of PVC like before. But then i saw that the best way to do it was to cut the film and glue it in place INSIDE of the camera, right in front of the sensor. So i ended up not using this.
PVC ring
But before i did that i needed to know what is the best material to use. I decided to experiment with all of the ways people suggested to block the visible light. Here were the 3 pieces that i would be testing.infrared filter
The material and the results from the test: (click images to enlarge)

1. Film negative that had been exposed to light
Infrared Test film negative
2. Film negative that had not been exposed to light
Infrared film negative
3. Floppy disc

The floppy disc over the lens made the picture come out so dark that it wasn't usable. I could have left the shutter open for a much longer time, similar to the ND filter, but i decided just not to use it. So i moved on to layering two pieces of material together.

5. Two pieces of film negative that had been exposed to light
Infrared photo test
6. 2 pieces of film negative that had not been exposed to light
Infrared camera film
7. 1 piece of exposed and 1 piece of unexposed film negative
Infrared camera film test
It turned out that the best result was the last one i tested,
1 piece of exposed and 1 piece of unexposed film negative.

I took a couple of pictures in the backyard and liked how they came out. This picture is the original, right out of the camera.
RAW infrared photo dog tree
This is after adjusting the colors in Photoshop.
infrared photo photoshop
Now here's the bad part. When i finally decided what to use i took the camera apart again and glued in the 2 pieces over the sensor.
remove infrared sensor
disassemble infrared camera canon lens
camera infrared glass disassemble canon lens
Then when trying to put the camera back for the 4th time i damaged the small ribbon cable from the lens to the circuit board. You can kind of see the tiny hole in the orange cable.
disassemble canon camera s770is lens
It's a bit of a bummer, not that i would have used this camera a lot but it would have been fun to experiment with.