Wednesday, July 29, 2015

FPV Vapor indoors flight

Quick short video of the FPV Vapor flying in my building's underground carpark!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Almost settled in, FPV Vapor

Went out Saturday morning for the last round of thing-buying - bought stuff like a sauce pan, a tiny stool, and a lightweight hanging rack for my clothes. Apart from wishing I had more lights at night, I'm more or less almost settled in for the time being.

Visited the hobby store to get some parts for my heli, and then came across this incredible offer for a Blade FPV Vapour for 89CAD - iirc it was around 200 just a few weeks ago. In fact, the fpv camera mounted on this plane alone costs a hundred bucks. So given the crazy price and the fact that I'd always wanted one of the Vapours for flying, but they are super expensive for what they are, I bought it!

I just maiden'd my vapor a few hours ago in my basement carpark and it was a blast. While it required a fair bit of throttle to actually take off, it actually needs very little throttle (30%?) to keep flying.

Hand launching this baby is uber fun, just set a 1/3 of the throttle and just throw it. I'd previously removed the FPV camera since I have no fpv gear, so it must have changed the flight characteristics. This aircraft loves to climb! I was never able to use more than 60-70% throttle as it was too fast, and I had to push the nose down constantly at that kind of throttle.
Quick bit on the fpv camera, it's around the head of a usb cable, and weighs nearly nothing (google says 4.5 grams). Given that the fpv vapour is only 24 grams in weight, removing the camera means it's about a fifth lighter! I've been lookingi at fpv gear but it's rather expensive and I'm probably going to experiment with cheap gear from hobby king or something.

Anyways, the vapor flies like a dream for uber noobs like me. This was my first r/c aircraft ever, but thanks to time spent in the simulator I had no issues flying it. Originally I had downloaded the Night Vapor's setup for my controller, but I'd modified it to have a switch disengage the motor (like my helicopter), a timer for the battery as well as adding a little bit of expo to the ailerons and elevators, and having a 3 way toggle to have various servo travel rates. Out of the box, my vapor flies to the right, so I'd tuned in lots of left trim and it flies well and true.

In the carpark, it is very possible for a brisk walker to go faster than the vapor in flight. Heck I can probably do it. Landing is uber easy, and I've successfully done what some youtubers have done with their vapors - catch it in mid air instead of landing it.

After two battery packs inside, I decided to tempt fate by flying it outdoors in an empty field near by. The winds were rather strong today, you can see the branches move, and the vapor is sort of flyable, in the sense that even at full throttle, it just can't penetrate the wind. It is very fun though, to see the aircraft hover as the winds were that fast! It was also twitchy as hell with the winds blowing it all over the place, but it was still generally controllable, but required an extreme amount of concentration. I think my heli flying experience helped alot.

When the battery ran out, I was rather worried as I lost thrust (_somebody_ overestimated the countdown timer for outdoor flight), but somehow with just the flight controls and a good strong wind, it just landed vertically lol.

I've had a few crashes outdoors and this was in a well trimmed grass field, and apart from the battery dropping from its velcro'd perch, everything appears to still be in perfect condition. Given that my vapor is now probably less than 20 grams in flight, there isn't much momentum to cause damage. Or so he says.

Looking forward to bringing my baby for a flight in the bigger field where I fly my heli at. Can't wait :)

Monday, July 20, 2015

3rd weekend in Vancouver!

By the luck bestowed upon me by the three-bladed helicopters in the skies above, I managed to secure a place last week, and started moving in over the last few days.  Usually I'd manage to either find some place that is just furnished enough to live in, or buy stuff off the previous tenant. Not this time, I had to totally furnish this new place!

This then presented me the most amazing opportunity to test out random stuff I've been wondering about, such as not sleeping on a futon or bed, and just use a camping mattress. I think many people think I've gone off my rocker but I've never been one to say no to random experiments!
This camping mattress, a Thermarest Mondoking XXL is actually quite expensive, about the same price as a top-of-the-line air mattress. The first few nights were rather un-restful, as I did not have a duvet and the temperature was so cold, I actually had to turn on the heater lol. In addition, the sun is up even before 5am nowadays, and I find it nigh difficult to sleep. And this is with all the blinds down, and set to reflect the light upwards!

Thankfully, the last two days appeared to have been enough to acclimatize myself to this sunlight, and the weekend saw me waking up past 8am (hooray for no alarms!)
Went down to Ikea yesterday, and it took quite a lot of effort to get there. First off, as a non driver, I had to take the train down to the middle of Richmond, then switch to a bus to get to Ikea. The bus appeared to be on an hourly schedule for weekends, and I had to have missed it by a few minutes >.> so I broke down and ponied up for a cab.

Shopping at Ikea is quite an experience. I've only been to the Ikea in Singapore possibly 2, 3 times, and I've only bought tiny trinkets like photo frames. This time, my big purchases was a nice sturdy computer table and a good solid chair. At the same time, I also took the opportunity to purchase stuff like a pillow, duvet, table lights etc. Not really planned to do it, but hey I was there, and it was super affordable!
So.... while it's a bit narrow, it's surprisingly comfortable, and the best part is I can just strew my books and mobile all over the side, and the reading lamp is perfect for use just before sleep. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to figure out a way to get a desk that has proper ergonomics that is different from the norm... and not cost a fair bit of coin to buy. I just went for a regular table, but I got one chairs there that gave good support to the back.

Now delivery at Ikea was interesting (I'm an ikea virgin, give me that) - only the larger items could be delivered home, the smaller stuff I picked up I had to cart home on my own. Thankfully that was not too bad an experience, but I really don't see why they couldn't ship my duvet, pillow and covers. Oh well.

I think what's left is to get some more lights for the place, and I'm looking at LED strip lighting as they give off very little heat for the light, and draw less power too. The lights in my mini-kitchen area are horrendously warm regular incandescent fixtures, and I make it a point to shut them off when I'm not using the kitchen area.

Some of the stuff here in Vancouver throws me off. In Singapore/Oz/Uk, it's fairly common to purchase UHT milk, but here they are nigh impossible to find, and the only place I've found them, is in the baking section, where they costs over four CAD per litre! Compare that to Adelaide, where 1L of UHT was .95AUD.

Milk powder is another one, I've only found low fat milk powder, which is passable, but I really want my full cream milk powder! The pasteurized milk found all over the place is nice, but I really like the creaminess found in UHT or milk powder. Oh well.

Electricity here is also supposed to be affordable, as it's hydro powered. Internet is not bad so far, the place I'm in has Novus internet, and it's only connected to certain apartment buildings. Installation was a snap, the tech that came down fiddled with one of the panels in the house for a few minutes, and the router connected up smoothly. I got the lowest package, which already provides 25mbps down, with 250gb bandwidth a month.

I'm sure some of you are rolling your eyes, but when you've spent nearly a year with an unstable 1mbps line (youtube buffers on 240p!!!!) with 50gb bandwidth a month.... you'd be very thankful.

Food here is pretty good, there is a chain here called Banana Leaf that has really good singapore/malaysian food. Maybe 80% of the real thing, and it's good enough for me. Japanese food is surprisingly abundant here, and very, delicious and highly affordable. A bowl of ramen usually runs about 10CAD (there is tax + tips) and every ramen place I've tried so far (I think I've tried at least 5) has a pretty good standard, usually my issue is the broth just isn't the kind I like, that's about it.

One other thing that again throws me off, is the donburis here are always found with a layer of lettuce between the rice and meat. Why?! It totally throws off the taste! Maybe it's a health thing, I dunno.

Will write more later, can't wait to get the whole apartment setup, then I can get back to doing stuff :)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

First week in Vancouver

Most of my free time was spent house hunting - many places were visited, and they were generally very acceptable (by my standards anyways) and there was the usual pro and con of staying further for less and closer for more and saving time. After much ado and headbanging, I decided to go the spend-more-live-closer route, mainly because for just a bit more I got a very nice and small place.

One of the earlier places was just off Davies street, and had a frakking amazing view from the 20th story. I was imagining the amount of time lapses I could do off the balcony, and it was a very good price as well. In addition, the grocery store was built into the same building! However, being the lazy bastard that I am, it clocked it at about 25 minutes to get to work. While 25 minutes walk not too bad - it's healthy too - I think about almost an hour in this supposed wet winter and I decided to just pony up for a closer apartment.

I'm also preparing to move into the new place, and while usually I have had partially furnished places, this is my 2nd unfurnished place I will be moving into. Last time I moved into an unfurnished place, I explored sleeping on a single futon, and it was great! This time round, I instead got a Therm-a-rest Mondoking camping mattress to try out. It's sitting besides me at the moment, and I'll know more next week when I actually use it.

I'm probably going to get a single cover for it, a duvet of course, and hopefully can find a shot pile area rug to put it above. Apart from that, I will need a desk and some cooking appliances (steamer, air fryer etc) and I should be sorted for the year.

My new favourite store here is London Drugs. Not that I'm buying much from them, but they are located just across the street from work, and I thought they were only a pharmacy or something, the basement of their massive establishment had an incredible amount of electronics and household items. They even had ram for laptops! I can't remember the last time I saw a high street shop selling DIY components.

Transport here in Vancouver, so far, appears to be pretty good. Even during peak-ish hours, the train ("Skytrains") are hardly packed, especially by my Singaporean standards. What's interesting is that they appear to be moving to a new tap-to-ride system ala Singapore and many other countries, and I wish they wouldn't. The current system involves buying a ticket (or a book of tickets, as my commuting colleagues do), validating said ticket near the station entrance, then board the train, with no gates in the way. The tickets are good for 90 minutes, and can be transferred for use on buses as well.

Gates would suck, and I wonder if it will really help against fare dodgers. I've witnessed too many times in rome and london, people just vaulting over the gates.

I'm looking forward to moving in next week, then settling down for some r/c heli flying, music, houdini and unity explorations!

Monday, July 06, 2015

First weekend in Vancouver - off the cuff thoughts.

Touched down on Thursday morning, during a bright and sunny day. Usually I'd head off to my accommodations, but this fine day I was a helping transport camera gear for a friend from Singapore, so I took a taxi straight down to Burnaby and dropped it off at his place - he was going to fly off to USA for holidays in just a few hours! Thankfully no flight issues on my part, so that went smoothly.

Transit was through Narita Airport, a very pleasant experience I must say! I had little trouble getting my SGD exchanged for JPY, had my first bite of Japanese food (in Japan!) and the airport had shower facilities that were very easy to access.

My dslr has been on the fritz lately - having to jiggle the battery before it powers up - so after I touched down in Vancouver I decided to just leave it behind while I went around.  Shot some pics with my mobile phone but not really inspired with it. Should have brought my compact with me but I was busy house hunting.

Right now, I'm holed up a few blocks away from Davies Street, Vancouver's gay neighbourhood. One of the food places I visited along Davies Street, called the Banana Leaf actually had very good Malaysian food. Very close to the real thing. That surprised me. My first sip of the teh-tarik and I had very good feelings the Char Kway Teow I'd ordered would be good, and it did not disappoint. The Roti Canai was really an exercise in decadence, as I knew the noodles would be filling enough, BUT I HAD TO KNOW! Once again, it did not dissapoint. I am highly tempted to head there right after I post this for dinner, but I think trying out other places would be more prudent.

Weather wise, it actually reminds me of July in California, warm, and not too humid, with very enjoyable cool evenings. Unfortunately, there is a massive forest fire nearby, causing the air outside right now to smell like Singapore when the Indonesian forest fires are going on.

I've also sampled some of the fast food, and the McD's mcmuffins do not dissapoint. Not as kickarse as New York or Singapore, but still several notches above Adelaide. I was also introduced to this Japanese Restaurant called "Black Rice" smack dab in downtown. That has to be the bestest sushi I've had ever, bar none.

Side note: I've had a few japanese dons here already, and one thing that stands out is that all the dons I've had have had a layer of lettuce. No pictures right now, but I've had a Karrage Don and a Chirashi Don, from different places and both had have a layer of lettuce between the rice and meat.

I'm guessing this is a  healthy local thing, but it really disrupts the flavours as they should be. I haven't yet have a japanese curry yet, but if they somehow put lettuce in, I'm going to.... eat it all.

Apart from my food excursions, I've made a trip down to Burnaby to buy some new toys, and I'll blog about that later. Mainly, my time has been spent hunting down an apartment to rent, and in between, exploring the downtown area. There is a massive Tom Lee's music just blocks from work, I can't believe they actually sell boxed copies of software, saw Trillian on the shelf, even an Omnisphere 2 upgrade. The best buy I visit is very well stocked as well, even having underwater filters for gopros.

One other thing I've been needing to get used to again is prices not having taxes on them, and paying tips on food and services.

The people here generally seem quite friendly, though I must say that rarely do people hold the door for people behind, and when I hold the door for people, some look bewildered and surprised. Is door holding a taboo or something not done here?

In any case, I'm looking forward to my stint here in Vancouver!