For two nights in a row, I was a space fighter & transport pilot

For two nights in a row sometime last week, I was living out my dreams and fantasy of being a space fighter and transport pilot. What an escape from reality it was!

All this was thanks to having a little alone time on my hands and also to “Elite: Dangerous”, the latest installment of the seminal open-world, go-anywhere, do anything space game developed by Frontier Developments.

To those who are still at a loss, Elite: Dangerous is an MMO space adventure. You get to pilot your own ship and trade, blast, explore, sneak, buy, barter, mission, co-op play, solo play your way to the top accolade in the galaxy.

Even without an Oculus Rift (Virtual Reality Headset) and not having set up head tracking as yet to fully utilize my 3 monitors, I felt totally immersed in the game making trade runs and making money just like how I used to with Taipan, except this time, it’s with all the fancy sound and visual effects. It was pure fun docking and undocking from space stations and also approaching stars and warping in and out of hyperdrive.

If you are interested in seeing how the effects looks like, just have a view of this youtube video which I simply plucked out from google.

There is another game which I bought into because of the previous Wing Commander series and that’s “STAR CITIZEN”. I actually spent money buying a virtual space ship and the crowd funding for that is insane. It’s currently at its 50+ Million USD mark and it is still growing! While they are way ahead of Frontier’s funding of 2 Million, I think Frontier has done a better and speedier job of making a playable game for beta testers. I’d just like to imagine what Frontier is able to do with 50 whopping million buckaroos.

Ok my time in space is over. Need to return back to earth and reality…. Till the next transmission…

Ramblings from a father of 3

So here we are in August 2014. Just realized my previous post was in November 2011! Has it really been that long since my last post? I know I have been neglecting this blog and posts but I really didn’t realize it has been so long! Time sure flies….

What have I been up to apart from work? Well most of the time I’m with my family. Having been blessed with 3 little adorable girls, I am also burdened with having to spend time looking after them. This includes but does not limit to daily showers, toilet visits (big and small), trying to put the eldest to sleep early (she sleeps only by 12am), play time with no.1 & 2, etc etc. I am however able to squeeze some free minutes here and there especially when the little ones are asleep (every parent knows this!)

So what do I do when I get some free time to myself? Well here’s a quick list I can think of:

  • fixing stuff around the house (yes I’m the handy man)
  • sitting down for some senseless channel surfing (doesn’t last long and I find myself being interrupted) since I never get to watch a full movie or show
  • playing with some new gadget I bought (GoPro, Gimbals & Multicopters for videoing)
  • fixing and maintaining my RC heli’s and planes (Thankfully I still get to go flying on Sunday mornings)
  • playing with the computer (which includes Flight Simulators & RC Simulators)
  • watching YouTube on the computer
  • reading online forums
  • occasional mamak outing with my buddy nearby

Anyway this is not a complete list but you get my gist. Hopefully as the kids grow up, I would be able to find more time to do other stuff (like going to the movies, holidays & etc) but for now, I’ll just have to find more time as and when I can.

I was going to name this blog post “Flight Simulators, Space Simulators and Combat Simulators” but I decided to change it coz I realized this post was more about ramblings rather than about the simulators themselves. Well perhaps better luck in the next post!

Ok enough rambling! Dinner time!

 

GT Power Supply – 600W 17V 36A

To supply power to my power hungry iCharger 3010b, I decided to invest in a power supply box which is able to handle the demands of the iCharger as well as be easy on my pocket. As such, I decided on the G.T. Power power supply box. It is able to deliver 17V, 36A and up to 600W! Heck.. my previous power supply was only able to handle 100W

Needless to say, I am happy with the performance of this box. It is able to provide constant power supply to my iCharger when charging at 5A on my 5000mAh 6S packs. Previously I was only able to push my iMax66 to only 2.2 to 2.5A (maximum of 50W). Of course if I wanted to go above 1C, I am theoretically able to push the icharger up to 23.8A which would mean I am charging at approx 4.7C. I wouldn’t want to try that although the thought of shortening down my charging time to effectively 12.7 minutes (from the original 2hrs) is indeed a nice thought. Of course figures will differ in real life situations.

The only drawback about this power supply is the fan noise. It’s quite noisy but then again it doesn’t really bother me that much and I have peace of mind knowing that the power supply is running cool at all times because of it. I would recommend this power supply to anyone who wishes to have a little bit more power to supply to their chargers.

G.T. Power 600W power supply, 17V, maximum 36 amp DC output, a simple Plug and Play power source. This power supply has an AC power input cable and two Pomona type DC output connectors. All the iChargers and GT Power B620 400W charger can be directly connected to the unit.

Parameters:
Input voltage : 100–240V AC (selected by switch)
Output power : 600W
Output ampage: 0-36 A
Output voltage : 17V DC
Dimensions (LxWxD) : 22.5 x 8.6 x 4.5 cm
Net Weight : 1.97 kg/ 4.4 lbs

 

iCharger 3010b – 1000W 30A charger

Have you ever stayed up waiting for your batteries to be fully charged? Or have you fallen asleep only to be awaken by the beeing of your charger informing you of a completed charge? After having waited many times for my batteries to charge… Up to 2 hours to balance charge my 5000 mAH 6S packs… I decided I needed more charging power since my iMax charger could only charge at a maximum of 2.2 amps or so for my larger packs. Although my power supply could pump out 100 odd watts or so, my iMax charger could only handle 50 watts hence the limiting factor. I wanted a charger which could charge my larger 5000 mAH packs at up to 5A at least (1 hr charge time)… Or better still allow me to parallel charge my 3 packs at 15A (also 1 hr).

Hence my purchase of the iCharger 3010b. This baby can charge up to 30A! What that means is that I can theoretically charge 6 x 5000 mAH packs in 1hr… Or charge my 3 packs at 30A in only 30 minutes! Now that’s what I call power.

After having used the charger for a few weeks now, I am glad I made the purchase. I like the usability of the unit, quietness (fan is quite quiet and only comes on when required), speediness and the features. One feature which I like is the ability to check the Internal Resistence of each individual cell in a pack. With that I am able to monitor and judge when the cell is degrading or requires replacement. Through some formulas and smart calculations, you can tell how much voltage the pack is able to generate and how much of the power is lost through heat generation (Resistence). The build of the charger is also very solid and I am sure it will last me quite a while… which is good thing since the charger ain’t exactly cheap…

Align Trex 550E 3G

Dec 2010, that’s when it was decided that I reward myself with a Trex 550E and boy has it been the best decision ever! Not only and I totally enjoying this chopper, it’s the best chopper I’ve flown in ages, not that I have that many choppers to boast about and not that I have choppers of this class or even bigger. My closest chopper to this size is my trusty Mini Titan 325 from Thunder Tiger.

So why do I enjoy this chopper like countless others who are also doing so? Basically it flies like a big bird (very stable), and it has tonnes of power available at your finger tips. When first building the heli, I opted for the advanced settings, i.e. Full 14/15 degrees pitch and 14 degrees cyclic. However after test flying the bird, I decided to tuned down the cyclic to 11/12 degrees coz it was simple too responsive for my liking. The FBL system also made the chopper really sensitive to cyclic inputs. Even so, I only fly in idle up 1 80% midpoint throttle coz I also fine the 90% midpoint throttle a little too sensitive with the increased headspeed.

Since mid January, I’ve had approximately close to 30 flights and each one with growing confidence. I’m not sure what it is but with the increased size, power, stability, precision and perhaps ease of flight with the 3G FBL system, I have bend able to learn maneuvers faster and try them out in real life instead of just trying them out on the simulator. It is no wonder why they say a well tuned helicopter is so important in speeding up the learning curve. I found that after flying the 550E, I have also increased my handling capability of my Trex 250 (which is inherently unstable esp due to lack of tail authority).

From the simple maneuvers of front and back flips, tictocs, loops, tail slides, rolls, stall turns, funnels and etc, I am currently able to have flight times of up to 8 minutes on a 5000 mAH 30C Turnigy pack. More conservatively I think I should dial down to 7.5 minutes to stay within and clear of the 80% battery consumption rule.

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Monster Beetle – 1/16 Brushless 4WD w/ 25Amp System

Monster Beetle 1/16

Just a few weeks back, I decided to order a Monster Beetle – 1/16 Brushless 4WD from HobbyKing coz it was relatively cheap and also coz it came with a 25Amp ESC (Electronic Speed Controller) with breaking and reversing function as well as a brushless motor. Since I already had an old and unused Futaba gun controller, I decided that for USD69.50, it would have been one of my cheaper RC purchases in a while. Heck it was even cheaper than the cost of 1 of my battery packs for my Trex 550E Chopper!

The kit arrived promptly after about 9 days or so in good condition. They basically turned over the box (inside out) and packed it with proper cushioning. Customs did not halt the package so I was really glad. Over the next day or so I fixed up the car by putting in my Receiver and Controller and immediately ran into my first problem… the ESC wouldn’t arm and the Steering was locked to one side whenever I plugged in the LiPo battery. The problem was however soon rectified as I found the problem to be with the transmitter. I had to reverse the servos (or reverse it back) and also perhaps switch the channels (from 1 to 2). I guess it’s been a while since I touched that radio. In anycase after doing all that, the ESC armed perfectly and full speed, breaking as well as reverse was achieved. Even the steering responded well and properly.

To fit in the Lipos which I had, I had to remove one side of the battery guide. That was easily done by removing the screws for the holder from the bottom of the car. After that, the packs went in easily and fit nice and snug.

When using the car with my old (>3-4 yrs old!) 3S 1500mah Flightpower pack, the ESC didn’t seem to hold up even though it was rated for 2-3S lipos which fit in perfectly. The ESC went into overheat protection only after 2-3 of running. However when running with the 2S Zippy Flightmax 2S1P 20C, the car ran fine without any problems. This pack was purchased from HobbyKing at ???http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uh_viewItem.asp?idProduct=6541&aff-56685 

The performance of this car is amazing. Though it is only 1/16 scale, it is pretty zippy for its size. Stock on 2S, it runs approx 40km/h. On 3S, it runs perhaps 60km/h? Whatever it is, its pretty zippy for such a small thing. You can use the car indoors as well as outdoors and with its adjustable camber, shocks, ride height, you can fine tune the car to your liking. I kept my ride height on the high side and shocks hard so a few tumbles happened during tight high speed turns. No damage though and the car body held up very well!

For those of you who has a spare controller and receiver, this is a recommended buy. At only USD69.50 (shipping not included), you get a lot of car for your money (ESC, Brushless Motor & etc). PICK UP your Monster Beetle today at http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uh_viewItem.asp?idProduct=13449&aff=56685. Best purchase I’ve made in a while.

Have fun and drive safe! 😉

TRANSMITTER OPTIONS:

If you don’t have a spare transmitter, you can pick up a 2.4Ghz 3 Channel Radio cheaply at Hobby King at http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uh_viewItem.asp?idProduct=10608 for only USD15.99

If you prefer to have a slightly more powerful radio with more setting options, you can go for their HK-310 2.4Ghz radio from http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uh_viewItem.asp?idProduct=12181&aff=56685 at only USD31.29

Nintendo Wii Re-BrewED

After having taken a sabatical from messing around with the Nintendo Wii, I decided to do an update on the system so as to keep it up to date. A quick check with the Homebrew page at http://wiibrew.org/wiki/Homebrew_setup led me to do an update and installation of the HackMii (http://bootmii.org/download/) followed by an update of the firmware on the Wii from Version 3.2 to 4.3

I have never updated the Wii Firmware past 3.2 due to warnings that the system might brick or remove the brew in one way or another, however I didn’t think twice when I read a (kinda misleading) NOTE at the top of http://wiibrew.org/wiki/Homebrew_setup” which stated:

WiiBrew recommends that you run the latest version of the HackMii Installer and then optionally update your Wii to 4.3 using Nintendo’s official updater.
Only update using the official update procedure. Downgrading or installing patched updates is unsupported, dangerous, and may permanently brick your Wii.

The statement didn’t really state that updating to 4.3 removes all HOMEBREW on Wii systems, which meant right after performing the update, I immediately lost my Homebrew. In order to get it back, I had to do some research and some downloading. Basically since I wasn’t able to find pirated versions of Wii Games easily, I had to download the IOS of Super Smash Bros Brawl not to play (though the games is pretty neat) but to take advantage of the “Smash Stack” exploit by Comex to load unauthorized code on the Wii. It was released on August 20, 2009. It works for all System Menu versions (up to 4.3 as of current). See http://wiibrew.org/wiki/Smash_Stack to learn how to use it.

So my advice to whoever wants to get their Wii up-to-date and Brewed; perform a system update to 4.3 on your Wii, then run the Smash Stack exploit to get your Wii. Before proceeding, make sure you have the game and fully understand how the smash stack exploit works before proceeding with this. Please proceed with caution and at your own risk. I was able to get it done and I wish you luck too!

Nokias… Not giving good impressions.

About a few months ago, I decided to hand my Nokia n97 mini over to my dad for him to use. The new firmware was finally released (I think a good few months after February when I was trying to “use” the phone) and it seemed to correct the hanging issue I faced when I was using it. The phone seems to have been behaving well after the firmware update. I was even told by my friend that the latest version of OVI MAPS on the nokia was really cool as it had an “Offline” mode where GPRS is not needed to download maps on the go. I always thought GPRS was needed which made the map updating & scrolling pretty slow and unpredictable. The offline mode and stability of the phone really made me think.. maybe I should give Nokias another go.

With the introduction of the N8 which my friend recently got hold of one, I thought, wow.. now that’s a cool phone to get. However since I already have my trusty iphone, there wasn’t a real need for me to get hold of another phone. I thought to myself… now Nokia might actually get back a portion of their market share with the introduction of this new model. Then during the past week, it has emerged that the Nokia N8 has been suffering power problems that renders the device virtually useless for a subset of its users (mainly early adopters. Oh my poor friend). Somehow I wasn’t really surprised but I was a little disappointed. Somehow Nokia doesn’t seem to garner a good impression anymore. The leader of the yesteryears with their cool blue screen of the 8250 and the slim corporate look of the 6300 which I used to own and love is now a thing of the past. It’ll definately take a lot to convince me to use a Nokia as my next phone. I gave them a chance with the n97 but nothing much has come out of it (not the initial impression at least). I don’t fancy blowing another RM2K+ on a piece of overpriced paper weight. Perhaps if I gave them a couple of years to catch up… I wonder if they’ll still be around.

Trex-250 Tail Issue

There has been many posts and articles on the internet about the dreaded Tail Wag on the Trex-250 and even though I thought I had it fixed as stated in my old post, I was wrong as I recently found out when I finally had the time to try to trim & tune up the heli. On higher headspeed, the tail would “blow out” as soon as I pumped (increased or decrease) the pitch/throttle. Why was this happening? I guess firstly I am partly to blame for improper setup and Align is also to blame for their release of a less than troublefree helicopter. As mine was the first original super combos around and not the later SE versions, problems on the tail was bound to occur.

This time round I tried and rectified a few things. Here’s a note to myself and to you who might be interested as to what steps I have taken so far:

1) Decided to move back to the smaller DS420 servo since it was lighter and tried to eliminate the source of the tail issue rather than to over power it with a larger 520(?) servo.

2) Ensured that the servo was properly mounted on the right side of the boom clips to ensure that the “Pushrod” was straight from the servo horn to the guide to the tail control arm. My old servo location had a bend in the push rod. By having the pushrod bent and not straight, it led to an induced “flex” in the system whenever the servo tried to push the pushrod to the tail control arm. A stiffer pushrod will help even more here. Some people have switched to higher gauge wires or carbon fibre rods.

3) Reduced the Swash Mix from 60% for Aileron/Elevator/Pitch to approximately 50%. Will lower it to 45% if the problem persists. This is actually stated in the manual which I over looked. I guess too much pitch will definately overpower the gyro.

4) Bought & changed to new carbon fibre tail blades and installed them (No this didn’t seem to make a difference to the wag but then again it seems to create less “drag” as compared to the stock curved blades which I used.

5) Bought and changed to the new METAL Tail Control Arm which is much stiffer than the stock PLASTIC control arm which flexes under heavy load which again contributes to the delay and whipping action & tail wag.

6) I already have the new weighted tail blade holders & tail blade holder hub (which still led to the tail wag issue) and I also added additional weights (nut) to the tail blade screws. It helps with lessening the load but this is still not the only source of the problem.

With the above settings, I seem to have been able to increase the GYRO travel rate from +36 to about +50 (Head Holding Mode). This was with me holding the heli and reving up the motor (without the main blades of course). With the increase, I am sure the tail would have a little improvement. Will try to fly her this weekend and see if this is what’s needed to keep her steady as I do some pitch pumps. It’s a little unnerving when the tail is so soft and doesn’t hold well. That doesn’t allow you to do much on it apart from normal forward flights. Doesn’t help when I’m trying to get comfortable with backward flips.

Inglesina – Marco Polo Car Seat

I spent approximately 2 hours going through the manual trying to relate to the images & diagrams. Of course it didn’t help that I was also watching CSI Miami at the same time!

Anyway managed to secure the car seat onto May Lee’s Honda City without problems. The seat fits well even with the front passenger seat placed pretty far back for front passenger leg room. The only problem which I haven’t figured out is that the manual says to entire seat belt is tensioned properly… Now how in the world do I do that? There’s no where to tension the belt to begin with. And so my quest to find some solutions on the net began.

Finally after having recalled from Mr. Tham of Bambino (where I bought the seat from) saying that there were instructional videos on YouTube, I managed to find a video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxPFhJSDvhQ . I would say watching this video sure beats reading the manual! Very comprehensive and easy to understand since the video was easy to follow. I also confirmed from this video that there is no way to tension the belt when the seat is in position for GROUP 0 (infants up to 13kg). There is only a tensioner for 9-13KG front facing position (i.e. Group 1). I wonder what the manual meant by tensioning for Group 0. Perhaps more surfing for info is required. See the video below:

 

Before messing around with a baby car seat, I had no idea the amount of engineering that went into one of these things! The designs are well thought out and construction very sturdy. Not to mention the seat seems more comfortable than the stock Honda City ones 😉 The seat is able to be set in two positions (Infants up to 9 or 13Kgs and Children from 9/13Kgs up to 18KG) mainly rearward or forward facing. You can also adjust the buckle length (2 position) as well as the strap heights (3 positions). The seat inclination is also able to be adjusted to the comfort of the child and most importantly to match the different car models out there.

Main characteristics:

  • Car seat homologated for groups 0+/1 according to European standards ECE 44/04.
  • Usable from 0 to 18 kg (generally from 0 months to 4 years).
  • Side Head Protection technology for an improved baby safety also in case of lateral shocks.
  • Safety belt system with 5 anchoring points and tensioning device between the legs; easy control via centralized control.
  • Suitable for use on either right or left side of car, guiding and securing features make it simple to secure the seat with the adult belts as required by safety rules.
  • Car belt tensioning devices with system for an effective block, securing the seat into the car
  • seat.
  • Side strips to retain the belts for an easy positioning of the baby into the seat.
  • Belts are padded for a better comfort of the baby.
  • Comfy, padded seat liner for the new born baby.
  • Seat adjustable in 6 positions, from sleep to travel position.
  • Totally removable cover, hand washable at 30° C.
  • Soft and comfortable design.

Technical Characteristics:

  • Body material PP
  • Material of the lining Polyester coupled with sponge 10 mm and TNT
  • Seat belts by 5 points
  • Fixation with car belts 3 points with reel
  • Position in the car Opposite to running direction/rear facing (up to 10
  • kg), running direction/forward facing (9-18 kg)
  • Do not place in the front passenger seat in those cars equipped
  • with front airbags
  • Size Depth 58 cm
  • Width 44 cm.
  • Height 60 cm.
  • Total weight: Kg. 5.3
  • Certifications: ECE 44/04

 

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