Thursday, May 16, 2013

Medieval Fair 2013 - Making rings for chainmail

I have dressed up as Robin Hood and gone to the Medieval fair in Gumeracha sporting a bow. This year I decided to sport my camera with the classic 20mm pancake instead. The first thing I walked into was a sword holding competition. The challenge was to hold a 15 kilo sword with the arm extended horizontally for as long as possible. Plenty of fitness instructors and heavy lifters had a go at it, the record while I watched was around 3 minutes. I think I am going to practice with a cricket bat for next year.
Feats of Strength
Being a builder builds muscles
There were also jugglers and irish dancers, and to my dismay people with huge amounts of camera gear shadowing them. I felt really unprofessional with my dinky m43, then again this is the age of mobile photography and the battle between processing vs gear is on. It is now even being used as a marketing point by those Sony NEX ads. Granted a micro-four thirds sensor is smaller than the APS-C, still the weight advantages and flexibility bonuses do apply.
Juggler practicing
There were a few knights in chainmain and I walked into a conversation involving effort and time that goes into making the armor. Eventually the talk drifted to cheap Indian labour working for $1 a day so that people can have fun the fair, at that point people glanced at me and stopped talking. I should start tinkering with fencing wire to keep the stereotype going. Some things cannot be mechanised yet, clothing be it out of fibres or metals is one of them. The economics of hobbies is also interesting.
Period Piece
Riveted chainmail
The melee of kids with pugil sticks reminded me of a Schlock Mercenary episode. It will be good to get some excercise done while in costume.
Pugil sticks
Pugilists not boxing
There were also Middle eastern belly dancers and scribes doing calligraphy while complaining that the Belly dancers are not Medieval. Though the ululation accompanying the dancing is fairly universal.
Belly dancer
Belly dancer and musician

Finally I managed to put the 850mm IR filter to good use and capture a panorama including the little lake at the Viking encampment. Without special IR modifications to the camera I had to use a pretty high ISO (1600) and a 2 second exposure. The processing through RawTherapee worked fine using some IR profiles I found floating around in Github, Hugin did a fair job of stitching as well.
Viking Camp in Infra Red
850mm IR filter with unmodified camera panorama

Monday, May 13, 2013

NASA SpaceApps Adelaide 2013

A few weeks ago NASA hosted its second annual space apps challenge. I did not manage to participate on the first day and only managed to struggle in on the second day to witness the finale. The Adelaide Hackerspace provided the venue this year and Simon has very nice write-up on their blog.
There were a few more entries from around Australia including a slinky based greenhouse suitable for use on the moon and a meteor tracker integrated with Google sky. It was a couple of days of pizza and coffee, ending with beers by the time we finished.
Everybody went home pretty tired, but happy. I will definitely try to put in a couple of days of participation next year. Meanwhile feel free to use Mearth and look up all those cold place in Russia, Scandanavia and Hokkaido which have Mars like temperatures. Whoever is considering applying for Mars-One should visit one of these places and film on location.
Space Apps Coding room

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Accurate positioning with UBlox Neo-6P and STM32

The Ublox Neo-6P provides raw clock phases and ephemeris suitable for use in post-processing based accurate positioning, or even RTK solutions using RTKLib.

STM32 with Eclipse was fairly messy to set up and depending on which version of GCC and CoreSupport libraries you use their are a few bugs to iron out. Used Code-Sourcery Lite toolchain, but compiled version did not behave as original firmware did. There are Eclipse based STM32 development commercial support from Atollic, and there were hacks to get the debugger Atollic packages working for ST-Link using the free options, but in the recent incarnation they have locked it down to TrueStudio only. I had to resort to OpenOCD for my debugging needs, it works like a charm with standard Eclipse settings, but I managed to nuke my STLink driver in the process and had to work hard to get it back.

Importing to GrafNav is fairly straight forward via the UBX converter, but it gives no indication on how it converts events, and you need sufficiently long logs to pick up any ephemeris. UBlox Receiver protocol is a must read for configuring the NEO-6P properly and monitoring the logs to ensure GPS lock. I am looking into the STM32 demonstration samples to add some more functionality to the project, including external interrupts from a camera for event marking and a GPS lock acquired status LED.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Adelaide Mini Maker Faire, Zoo and Indian Mela

I have been involved with the Adelaide Hackerspace on and off. Lately my attendance has dropped a lot due to work commitments and a casual addiction to photography. A few photography related hacks are stewing in my brain, so I might go back there. Anyway a few weeks back I went to the Adelaide Mini Makerfaire and it was great opportunity to see all the different things going on in Adelaide, from Dalek making, Metal working to 3D printing and Electric cars. I had a great time catching up with people and learning about new groups. The airstream guys had some hacked wireless AP's on display, including the Minitar on which I cut my teeth in cross-compiling and writing kernel modules to interact with the wifi-stack. There are a lot more photos.

Maker Faire
I had planned a busy day, so I headed off to the zoo to attend the local photography group session and check out some pandas. It was my first time at the Adelaide zoo, so it took a while to get oriented. We covered a fair bit of ground in the hour and a half before closing. Managed a few shots of hippos, birds, otters and mountain goats. Lots of other animals which hardly stood still enough to compensate for my nascent photography skills.
We were trudging and hobbling back to the car when we noticed the bright lights and steady stream of people heading to Elder park. The local indian community was throwing their annual mela. So we headed there for a meal and to feed our cameras with some colour. The movement and low light made photography pretty difficult from the back of the crowd. It was a great day overall.