Apr 09 2016

Timelapser v3

Published by under Declan,Fun,Photography,Tech

This is a follow up to the timelapser devices I’ve been making based on the Raspberry Pi.  Earlier posts here:

Latest incarnation of the timelapser

Timelapser Project

I wanted to teach a class on how to build these at work, so I ordered 20 kits.  The newest case design is much more stable, but can be tricky to put together.  I got it here:

http://www.storenvy.com/products/14987178-raspberry-pi-b-2-camera-case

 

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I really like how it grabs the camera module, keeping it still.

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Nov 05 2015

Slack as a social platform

Published by under Uncategorized

I want to try an experiment.  It might end up as a mess, but that’s why we experiment.  I’d like to try to enable a social circle using Slack.  This post got me thinking about trying this:

http://www.theverge.com/2015/9/18/9349425/slack-future-of-conferences-xoxo-festival

Mostly the parts about getting people talking before and during a conference.  Why can’t we do that for an ongoing social circle?  So, I created:

https://socializing.slack.com

When I say social, I mean joking around, event planning like parties, happy hours, bottle shares, and general get-togethers.  I bet other things happen too, but that’s part of the experiment.  I’m kind of trying to get that early Twitter vibe where we all met new people and got together for random stuff and had fun.

To sign up, go to this Google Form and add an email address and you’ll get an invite from Slack:

http://goo.gl/forms/TDQbf6ZiJu

It’ll be interesting to see how this works out, or doesn’t 😉  We’re getting a LOT of utility out of Slack at work and in some community forums so I hope it works for this too.

 

 

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Jul 26 2014

Lost and Found Dog Story

Published by under Declan,San Diego

This was kinda neat, so I thought I’d get it down before I forgot it.

Elaine and I had to grab our dog Pepper and head out in the car because someone was coming to see the house we are selling.  As we drove down the very busy, 4 lane Carmel Valley Rd. we saw a medium sized dog loping down Black Mountain Dr. and turn onto Carmel Valley.  She was on the sidewalk, but all by herself and looked like she could dart out into traffic at any time.  I was sick of seeing dead dogs by the road so, even though I’m really not a dog person, I asked Elaine to pull over and let me see if I could do anything.

I grabbed Pepper’s leash and walked back toward the dog, and she disappeared up into the bushes next to the sidewalk.  I approached where I’d seen her go in and found her plopped up under a bush, panting like crazy.  It was a very hot day and she had been moving pretty quickly, so I think she was exhausted.  She also looked older once I could get this close to her.  I don’t know much about dogs (Pepper and I co-exist and that’s about it, he is a mama’s boy), so I was chicken to put my hands too close to her collar.  I could see tags, so I was hopeful to get a name and number.  I called Elaine, who was still up the street in the car with Pepper, and asked her to get some water and I’d see if I could make friends with this scary beast.

I also called Animal Control.  They said they had no one available, but would put the dog on the list and have someone come look in the area when they could.  I sat and talked to the dog and waited for Elaine to come back with the water.  My phone rang and it was my buddy Mike wanting to know why I was sitting on the sidewalk talking to a bush on the side of the road.  I told him I like it there.  Elaine came back with a big bottle of water and a bowl, then took the car and Pepper back down the street to not spook the dog.  I filled the bowl and edged my way toward her slavering jaws… ok, not really slavering… She actually would just stop panting and kind of hold her breath when I got close.  She let me put the water right under her nose, and after a couple minutes she started lapping it up and quickly drained the bowl.

I refilled the bowl and got the courage up to sneak my phone in to see if I could shoot a picture of the tags…

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But it was too blurry.  I finally got the nerve up to scritch her on the head, and while she didn’t seem to like it, she didn’t snap at me which is good because I like all my fingers.  I eventually got to her collar and tags and rolled them around to read a name, “Ohana”, and a phone number!  Cool!!! This would be over soon and I could get a friggin taco.  I was hungry.

So I called the number and get… a fast busy signal!  Over and frickin over again!  Damn it.  The other tag had a dog license number, so I called Animal Control again, told them the story so far, and they gave me another number to call.  Cool!  Good deed almost done, right?  RIGHT?  “I’m sorry, this user is not receiving calls at this time.”  What does that even mean?  Someone went to all the trouble of cutting a dog loose AND canceling all of their phone lines?  WHILE LEAVING THE NUMBER ON THE DOG?!?  My mind was racing and I was getting pissed.  Did I tell you I was hungry?

Since I was delirious with hunger and sick of sitting on the sidewalk, I tried hooking up the leash with my left hand, thinking that losing that one would impact my life less.  She was cool with this and came out from under the bushes and walked along beside me for a bit.  Then she stopped dead and wouldn’t go a step.  I pulled on the leash because I wanted to walk up the block and tell Elaine what was going on, but this dog was having none of that.  As an experienced technical diagnostician, I tried walking the other direction to see what those results would be and VOILA! she had no problem going that direction.  All of a sudden THIS WAS AN ADVENTURE GAME!!!

I called Elaine and said that I think Ohana might have some sense of the neighborhood, so I was gonna see where she’d let us go.  So we headed back toward Black Mountain Drive, another really busy street.  Ohana was anxious to get across but impatiently allowed me to hit the crosswalk button and wait a bit til it was safe.  We progressed up Black Mountain until the next corner and I did the same trial and error to see where she’d go, and we went left on Sundance.  I was getting excited now and we started walking faster up the little hill.  Well I did, Ohana was showing her age and slowed down a bit on the hill and at the next corner.  We did the Magic Compass moves again and she wanted to cross the street.  A few times as I was walking and saw someone I’d ask if they knew this dog, but no luck…

We continued down the street, house after house, looking for people to ask about her, when BAM! she stops dead again and won’t keep going.  We’re in front of a bluish house with no indication of anyone home.  Just to test the Magic Compass idea, I walk up the driveway and Ohana is happy go that way.  Oh great, now I have to see this through and go around to the front door, all the while wondering what the hell I’m going to say and how to NOT make this look like some sort of weird con game.  I heard a TV as I walked up to the door and rang the doorbell.  Nothing….  I waited what seemed like 5 minutes and went to ring it again and heard “Ohana?” come from over the back fence.

I wondered if Ohana normally rang the bell and what the heck was going on here (remember… still hungry) when the door opened and a lady stood there.  I said “Yep, I found Ohana out by the traffic.”  She thanked me and was very happy to see her.  She’d been looking around the house for her and couldn’t find her.  I told her that I’d called the number on her collar and the woman said that she was in the middle of moving and all her numbers were disconnected.  At this point I kinda didn’t care, I was just stoked that this dog had led me half a mile back to her home!  I fist pumped, patted Ohana on the head (still a little scared to be honest, but out of my mind with hunger) and headed back to Elaine.

Then we got some friggin tacos.

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Jul 22 2014

Totes bloggoats

Published by under Declan,Friends,Fun

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 7.36.16 PM

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Jun 23 2014

Latest incarnation of the timelapser

Published by under Declan,Photography,Tech

I’ve been looking for a better case for my Raspberry Pi with camera kit, and ordered this ($17.25 shipped):

Raspberry Pi and Camera Enclosure

Link to the case

 

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I especially liked that it had a tripod mount:

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I’ve used it to capture a party at work, and it worked well!  The camera chip mounts upside down, so I had to flip all of the images before I made my movie.  Also, the power plug is in front with the camera, which seems like it would get into the picture, but it’s actually not a problem.

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So far I really like it!  Other than the screws to mount the camera chip, the whole thing just snaps together.  The little white snaps are kind of tight, but not too hard to use.  I use the timelapser a lot outside, so I wonder if clear is the best option.  I can always paint it though.

 

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Apr 19 2014

Timelapser Project

I was visiting my buddies Rebecca and Chip in STL and he said he was working on a making a timelapse device with a RaspberryPi.  This got me inspired, so I built one too.

Parts:

RaspberryPi v2

Camera Kit for RaspberryPi

The camera kit is just a floppy ribbon cable with the camera on the end of it, so it’s hard to position.  I looked on Thingiverse.com to see if anyone had created a RaspberriPi case with a camera holder that I could 3D print.  I didn’t find exactly what I was envisioning, but I did come across this:

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:162594

RaspberryPi Camera Holder that slots into the Ethernet port

It’s a really cool little arm made up of 3 pieces that you connect with 2 screws.  The arm holds the camera at one end, and sticks into the Ethernet connector at the other end – no electronics, it just is the right shape to fit nicely and stay put.

Here’s my little rig:

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I had it in a box case, but I dropped it and it broke 😉  I need to get another one somewhere, or 3D print one.

Now that I had the physical setup done, I followed this blog post to set up the software:

Simple timelapse camera using Raspberry Pi and a coffee tin

The same author has a great post on using an app called BerryCam to help setup where the camera is pointed:

BerryCam – Use your iPad and iPhone to control your Raspberry Pi camera

The author goes further and gets the whole device stuffed into a coffee can with a battery pack, which I’ll get around to at some point.

I modified the python script so it names the captured files sequentially by date and time rather that the default setup.  I found this a lot easier to work with when I wanted to stuff the pictures into a timelapse video.

Now, the SD card on the RaspberryPi I have is only 8G, so it’ll fill up if I don’t drain it, so I rsync the files off to another, bigger machine once an hour with a cronjob.  I had to learn the “–remove-source-files” rsync switch and that helped a ton.

At first, I just wanted the timelapser to watch out toward the West and capture the clouds and sunset:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DplUSQ3jJlw

Then I had to idea to stick a dish of birdseed out in front of the camera to see what would happen, and I got some really neat pictures of local birds!

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More pix here:

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/bigdpix/sets/72157644050932461/

 

Here’s how I have the camera positioned:

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This took some trial and error, and the BerryCam software referred to above helped with positioning a lot.

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I finally secured the camera to the deck with cable ties:

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Hope this makes sense!  It was pretty easy to do, thanks to the blog posts I link to above.  I have a wifi adapter in the RaspberryPi – this might help you get that set up properly.  Also, when the camera is taking a picture, it lights up an LED on the camera board.  I thought this might cast a color on low light frames, so I disabled the LED using these instructions.

Have fun making one, and let me know if I can make this post more clear!

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Feb 15 2014

Second Tri Tip Smoke

Published by under Uncategorized

My mouth is on fire!!!  And I’m happy 😉

So this time I wanted to experiment a little more.  I got 4 tri tips and marinaded 2 of them in red wine, pepper, salt, garlic, ancho, and a few more spices.  I’d had a few beers and wanted to get them in the fridge overnight, so I may have been a bit too generous with the spices 😉

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I decided that I’d rub 2 of the tips, and leave the others plain.  I mixed up some pepper, salt, sugar (just 2 teaspoons), chili flakes, ancho, garlic, and onions and rubbed that on one plain and one marinaded tip.

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Then into the smoker with all 4!

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On our trip to Santa Maria, I’d picked up a couple boxes of red oak sticks, so I cut those down and used 3 chunks.

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I could probably have just used one!  After 3 hours, while I’d had plenty of smoke, the wood looked only half burned.

I let the meat temp get over 135F this time, to firm the meat up a bit and to see what the flavor might be like if it was less rare.  When I checked, some of the pieces had even gotten up to 145F.

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Out they come, and into the pan for 30 mins of foil covered resting.  Next came the slicing!  Here’s the plain:

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It was a lot firmer and easier to cut thin than the rare tips I made last time.  The beef flavor really came through.  Next was the rubbed, non-marinaded one:

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While it tasted great, I should have skipped any spice hotter than black pepper.  The heat just detracted from the beef flavor and the rub flavors were too complex for such a great piece of meat.  Next was the marinaded non-rubbed:

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I’m trying not to cut my glove, and fingers, open 😉  The wine smell and flavor were very strong.  Quite salty too.  Last was the rubbed and marinaded and, again, there was too much going on in the flavors.  I’ll take it a LOT easier on the rubs next time.

Here’s the bunch all together:

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I didn’t slice it all because I’m going to chill it down to see if I can slice it even thinner.

My wife mixed up a little Santa Maria salsa to add to the meat:

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All in all, a pretty good Saturday!  😉

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Feb 08 2014

Santa Maria Roadtrip

In researching tritip for my smoking experiment, I learned that it was “invented” in Santa Maria, CA, so I’m sitting in a hotel here now!  I live in San Diego, so the wife and I jumped in the car and drove 5 hrs north and started hunting for good tritip.

Our first stop was at the Rancho Nipomo, and it’s been the best one so far!  The tritip is sliced very thin, and made into a sandwich.

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I was more interested in the meat than the bread, but then the owner, Richard, came over and said he forgot to tell us about the salsa that we HAD to put in the sandwich.  Wow!  It’s a pretty simple, fresh tasting salsa – made with canned tomatoes.  The combo was excellent.  He also had us try a hot salsa, made with Manzano peppers.  I think I’m still sweating!

You can tell he loves what he does.  He threw in a pulled pork sandwich

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and kept bringing us over other stuff to try, like the amazing chili on some chips.  My wife had the pork with a red sauce and nopales.

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It was great, with a good heat.

For Saturday lunch, we tried out Jocko’s in Nipomo, CA, but failed to read that the BBQ pit doesn’t open til 4, so I got a pretty good bbq sandwich.

Next, we headed up the coast, stopping for a bit to see some Butterflies:

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And llamas:

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But the pony ride was a lie!

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Very disappointing 😉

We headed back to Arroyo  Grande, CA to the Oak Pit BBQ.  I couldn’t decide what to get, so I got the sampler, which at $15 isn’t too bad!

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Pork rib, beef rib, tritip, pulled pork, and sides.  Oh, and corn muffin.  mmm! Like Rancho Nipomo above, their tritip was not cooked rare.  It was good, but not as good as Rancho.  Or mine 😉

Elaine was missing vegetables, so she got a salad.  A tritip salad!  😉

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The cook was VERY nice and told us that they smoked on red oak, just like I’d learned from my research.  I asked where I could get some and he pointed across the street to a market.

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So now I have a trunk full of red oak pieces that are too big to fit into my smoker.  Elaine thinks my solution will be to cut it down, but it occurs to me that maybe the REAL solution is a bigger smoker!  😉

On Sunday morning we got up and headed back to Rancho Nipomo for more BBQ!  Here’s a tri tip sandwich with the proper salsa:

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Also tried his ribs, which were very good!  Not as smokey as I like, but still great!

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And here’s a picture of that super hot sauce I mentioned above:

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Feb 02 2014

First try at smoking tritip

Published by under Food,Fun

I got 4 tritips from Major Market in Escondido, 2 plain and 2 marinated. One was wine and pepper, the other just wine, I think.

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I put Emeril’s steak rub on them all. Mostly it’s salt and pepper. They range in weight from 1.77 lb to almost 3 lb.

I put them on at 10:30a, hoping I can get them to a 2p Super Bowl party.  I’m sticking to around 225F and will start pulling them at an internal temp of 130-135F

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11:20 and I’m at 115F internal temp on the 1.77 lb one, pit temp is hovering around 226F.  Worried that I might have put it on too early.

Oh yeah, woods are cherry, oak, and hickory.  The hickory was a huge chunk – hope it doesn’t overpower everything.  Also wonder if I should have rubbed the marinaded pieces, but I like a good crust.  I haven’t done much beef before, just lots of pork.

12:00p and the smallest is at 129F.  I’m going to let it get to 135F.

12:30 and I pulled the small one at 135F, and the next size up at 133F.  I left the others to heat up some more:

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1:00 and the other two were 133F, so time to come out!

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I let each of them rest for 30 mins, then cut!

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SO GOOD!!!

Thoughts later:

So I brought most of the tritip to the Superbowl party and it was a big hit.  People I didn’t know hugged me.  Grown men cried.  Someone snagged a bunch to take home to her husband 😉

I’m thrilled with the results.  The pepper rub really accented the beef.  It was really rare, which people liked a lot.  I brought some buns and horseradish sauce, but no one used it – there was so much flavor in the slices alone.

One of the cuts had a really chewy vein of tissue which didn’t detract from the flavor, but sure lengthened the chewing time 😉  Not sure what I could do about that, other than make smaller slices.

Slicing was kinda hard, so I ended up with much thicker slices that I wanted.  I need to work on my knife skills so I can get it thinner for sandwiches.

The marinaded tritips didn’t seem to taste much different from the plain ones.  That pepper rub probably didn’t give the other flavors a chance.  Maybe I’ll do a rubless one next time.

 

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Nov 28 2013

Thanksgiving Smoked Turkey

Published by under Food

I did this last year and didn’t document anything, so now I am!  SCIENCE!!!

 

 

So, we got a 17 lb Foster Farms fresh turkey from Costco.  We stuck it in the freezer because we got it about 10 days before Thanksgiving.  We pulled it out on Sunday night and let it thaw in the fridge mostly, with maybe 8-10 hours on the counter.  Even after leaving it out most of this morning, there was a little ice left in the cavity.

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Really, I’m not drinking.  Yet. For all things smoking, I rely on AmazingRibs.com, a great resource for beginners and experienced folks.  I followed most of the instructions on turkey here. According to Foster Farms’ website, they don’t inject anything, so I was responsible for salt content.  I am a little worried I might have too much, but we’ll see.  I dry brined with salt a day ahead – just a little sprinkled on the skin and rubbed in.  When I got it out of the fridge this morning, the skin looked pretty dry on top, but the rest of the skin was still pretty wet and soft. I made a batch of AmazingRibs’ Simon & Garfunkel Spice Blend & Baste (can you guess what’s in it?) and put it in some olive oil to blend into a wet rub.  I put a little salt in the rub too – this is worrying me that I have too much salt over all.

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Then I got all up under the skin and worked it in.

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I had trouble last year because I ripped the skin near the leg and it looked not pretty:

 

And I did pretty much the same thing this time:

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Dang it.  The skin is very thin there.  Elaine suggested stitching it, but I didn’t want to make a Frankenturkey. Next, I’d tried injecting last year and it came out great.  So I combined the little rub I had left with low sodium chicken stock, salt, sugar, and butter – I’m getting hungrier typing this…

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Years from now I’ll look back and wonder what the hell I was doing with that moustache…  It’s for Movember, a men’s health charity thingybob.  Please Donate!  😉 Now into the smoker, which has been pre-heating and has the water tray in already:

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I covered up the legs and wings for the first hour with foil to keep them from getting over cooked:

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Then I remembered I was supposed to put aromatics in the cavity!  I quartered an onion, put in some fresh rosemary, lemon peel, and garlic:

TWA_5411

 

I used oak and cherry wood and sealed it up!  I got the temp up to 325ish (it keeps jumping around up to 340) and let it smoke:

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An hour later I popped it open to get the foil off of the legs and wings:

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That back wing was tricky to reach!

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The color is beautiful!

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It’s all sealed back up now, and 3+ hours in the meat temp is at 130F! An hour or so later and it’s done!  163F in the deepest part of the breast.

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A proud daddy!

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Up close:

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Now it’s time to rest and get to the Thanksgiving party!

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I’ll try to get some carved shots in an hour or so!

I’m back!  Daaaaamn!  It was good!  Not too salty or dried out like I feared.  Very tasty and moist!

 

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Not too smokey at all.  My buddy made a rotisserie turkey and mine definitely had a smoky flavor while his had a more poultry one, so they were both good.

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Plated smoky awesomeness:

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Dueling Carci!  😉

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So, overall I’m very happy with the results.  The butter injection didn’t seem to impart a butter flavor, but it sure was juicy.  The skin wasn’t crisp, but I couldn’t expect that after an hour or so of foiling so we could get to our party.  It was still tasty but the smoke was super strong in the skin.  I wonder what a lighter smoke would produce.  We WERE drinking some heavy beers, so the heavy smoke complimented that well.

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