Flying the Grob 103a

On Sunday my usual glider the ASK21 wasn’t available so I flew the clubs Grob for the first time.  This was interesting as the Grob is a lot less forgiving of uncoordinated (flying without using the rudder correctly) flight then the ASK-21.  It really highlighted that I’ve started to develop a habit where the first thing I drop in high concentration situations is my rudder control.

Even though my rudder control caused me lot’s of problem I still covered quite a lot flying the Grob.  The aircraft is much less placid then the ASK21 which was really interesting when I practised stalling it.  I found it to have a much more obvious buffeting which was interesting.

A Grob 103 similar to the one we have out our club.

I also made lots of progress with taking of on the winch which was welcome as I haven’t been able to practice this for a few weeks due to the club winch being out of action.  The highlight being my first couple of launches where I correctly flew the whole of the launch on my own!

Outside of real world aviation I’ve also bought some new Saitek rudder pedal’s for my PC.  I think having pedals is even more important when you fly real aircraft as well as simulators and will hopefully get me more into the habit of using the rudder more when I fly in real life.  I’ve also been playing around with trying to stall and spin various aircraft in X-Plane and DCS.  It’s been particularly interesting with DCS’ F86 as this really shows up the affects of high G on stalling speed.   While stalling the F86 I managed to get it to stall where the wing drops and it goest into a dive.  Recovering from this was really difficult and I crashed the aircraft into the ground quite a few times.

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Learning to Fly


So after a work trip to a local gliding club I ended up enjoying it so much I decided to learn to fly gliders.  It’s been going really well for the last couple of months and last Sunday I did my first landing with me operating all the controls (my instructors have been using the airbrake to control the descent rate for my earlier landings).  I’ve also been experimenting with recording my flight logs so I can see where I’ve been flying and generally get a better idea of how to improve my circuits (basically the path you have to fly to perform a landing).  So after using a program called gpsvisualizer I made a track of my last flight on Sunday.

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I also took a picture of the instrument panel on one of the clubs ASK21’s that I fly:

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As you can see there’s a lot less instruments then you see on powered aircraft.  We also have a device call a variometer instead of a vertical speed indicator.  The variometer is designed to show if you are climbing or sinking due to atmospheric effects such as thermals.  The other instrument that is rarer is the G meter which is one with the 3 dials next to the altimeter.  This is needed as most gliders are certified for acrobatic flight and I’ve already experienced pulling about 3Gs from flying a fast turn when we had some altitude to burn off.

 

Terraria: I have a space gun and it’s mine all mine!

So I’ve finally defeated the Eye of Cthulu in Terraria and I’m now starting to be a lot stronger. I also used explosives to destroy a couple of shadow orbs and caused a meteor to crash (which I mined). So I now have a space gun and better armor. Now the next step will be trying to kill the eater of worlds.

I have a space gun!
I have a space gun!

All the demon forges!
All the demon forges!
Crossing the corruption made easy.
Crossing the corruption made easy.

Socket coding in Android

So I’ve recently been playing about with Android for ‘Not So Super Secret Startup Idea’ and needed some code to communicate data such as Phone Calls/Text messages and other things from my phone to another device using TCP/IP. This is a bit harder on Android then it is on a PC as Android is bassed on apps having something called Activities and Services.
An Activity is the part of the Application which handles user input and can be destroyed at any time by the OS. This makes it pretty much useless for running anything which will communicate with the outside world without user intervention.
The other part part of an Android app is called a service which can be used to perform tasks in the background, process events from Activities, etc.
So what I currently have is an Android app which has a Service to handle TCP/IP communications from a telnet client on a PC. The service will also send data such as GPS location, phone calls and text messages (currently work in progress) over the socket to the PC.
One problem with the default TCP/IP functions is that they block (do not return until the right amount of data is received). I choose to use threads to handle blocking I/O and post Intents (a form of IPC) to the main activity to update it’s UI.
There is however one problem with using Threads in that when the Service is stopped there is no clean way to Kill a thread. This can be gotten around by closing the socket and setting a variable inside the threads main loop to tell it that it needs to shutdown cleanly.
So here’s some quick and dirty code which output’s GPS location and the phone no. of any calls received to a socket:

GPSTest

Going Underground

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A few months ago I saw that the London Transport measeum where offering tours of Awdych tube station so I managed to book me and S a couple of tickets before they sold out.
Awdych is one of the many abandoned tube stations on the London Underground network and which you don’t often get the chance to visit.
The tour started at the booking hall where we were told about the stations history and ultimate downfall. We then descended the 120 stairs down to the bottom of the lift shaft. We then looked around the lift shafts before proceeding to the platform level and the first of the platforms at the station.

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We also saw the second platform which was used as a storage area for actifacts during the war, had a look at the tunnels beyond the station (to protect against trains missing the station from derailing). We then finally saw some of the unfineshed tunnels from the lift to the platform.

More pictures are on Siobhán’s blog.

RS485 networking

A couple of years ago I built the first version of my tube time display which shows the time of the next train at my local Underground Station.  This was connected to a Raspberry PI via a USB connection.  I found the Raspberry PI not the most reliable piece of hardware in the world and it was also a bit of an over kill for a simple display so I’ve been working on a new version of my display that uses RS485 to communicate with a computer which can be a long way away from it.

The original tube time display thing.
The original tube time display thing.

For this I decided on a token bus type network where each device sends out a token to the next device telling it that it can use the communication channel. This allows me to attach other AVR/Arduino based devices to the same piece of cable (I’m using CAT5 ethernet cable). I also have one device on the network acting as a superviser which will create tokens for a device if the token is given to a device that doesn’t exist.

So far I’ve managed to send text between two AVR32U4 boards over the bus so it’s going quite well so far. I think things can be further optimised so the bus is faster but it’s certainly good enough for my tube time display.

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Terraria

2014-05-24_00001I recently bought Terraria on Steam when it was on offer.  It’s best described as a 2D Minecraft alike where you have to survive on a hostile world.  I’m still very much learning how to play it and have got as far as creating a small house for me and my adviser.  We can now survive the night without be killed by zombies or flying eye things.

I’ll post more updates as I learn more and expand my home!