Install of WeatherTech Window Deflector

I ordered vent visors from WeatherTech for my Scion tC. WeatherTech brands them as “window deflectors”. I was going to go with the cheaper vent visor that attaches by adhesive tape. I was dissuaded by some forum posts stating the adhesive tape doesn’t stay stuck for long. The other option, but much more expensive alternative was the precisely molded in-channel visors sold by WeatherTech. The cost is around $75, which includes shipping.

I hoping this investment will pay off. It’s near winter time; we’re finally getting some rain (I live in the Bay Area, and we’re suffering from a major draught — this is well needed stuff). The trouble with rain, no matter how small you crack open the window, you’ll still get water inside. With these installed, that shouldn’t be a problem anymore. I also plan on leaving it cracked open. I’m getting tired of the condensation fogging up my windshield after my late evening workout. Hopefully this will save on running the AC to defog the windows.

I could have used these this past summer. I gets hot here. Not desert hot, but hot enough to steam when getting into the car after it’s been baking in the sun for 6 hours. I have a Broadway mirror attached to my rearview. When it gets too hot, any slight vibration from rough roads will cause it to move on its own. Really annoying when driving. I could crack my moonroof to help vent when parked, but find that leaves tend to blow inside when I do this. These vent visors should help with that.

Is this a worthwhile investment? I’m kinda talking myself into thinking it is. The design is unobtrusive and install was easy. The question is, will it fulfill its purpose and help regulate the inside temperature and relative humidity? Dunno… have to wait and see.


DIY Camera Dry Box

DIY Camera Dry Box

I usually store my camera gear in camera bags. I store my primary shooter in a sling bag. I would also cram extra lenses, flash and whatever other gear that can fit into that same bag. All remaining gear would go into miscellaneous camera bags.

I had to rethink this when I was searching for used lenses to put on my Canon EOS M (my primary video shooter). It’s a given to check the quality of the used lens. Does it have scratches? oily blades? fungus? Fungus… huh? After some searching, fungus primarily grows on the lens. Given the right conditions, it can spread. Can it be cleaned? By a professional. So what do you do? Prevention is the key. The fungus spores thrive in damp environment. I live in the Bay Area, but that’s no guarantee that fungus cannot contaminate my lenses. Keep in mind I’m still buying used lenses… dunno where they’ve been.

One form of prevention requires storing the lenses and camera body in a cool and dry environment, the camera dry box. Professional camera dry boxes are way too expensive — from a couple of hundred dollars to well over a thousand. One solution to make your own camera dry box. That requires a storage container, a desiccant (to absorb the moisture within the container), and a hygrometer (to measure the relative humidity).

Here’s a video of my DIY camera dry box:

Here’s a price breakdown of my diy camera dry box:

  • 26.5 qt Ziploc Weathertight Box: ~$12 @ Walmart
    • Ziploc branded but manufactured by Iris USA
    • interior dimensions of the box: 18.25″(w) x 14.25″(l) x 6.25″(h)
      • it tapers, so subtract about 1 inch: 17.25″(w) x 13.25″(l) — base dimensions
  • 10.5 oz DampRid: ~$3 @ Home Depot
  • HTC-1 Digital Thermometer and Hygrometer: ~$5 @ eBay
    • any hygrometer will work
    • check out my post and video on how to check hygrometer accuracy
  • Drawer Liner: ~$5 @ Walmart
    • optional, but recommend
  • Sunflower Crackers: ~$5 @ asian grocery store
    • optional
    • recommend any secondary catch storage in case DampRid leaks

Replace D Size Batteries with Eneloop

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I have a motion sensor spotlight that uses 4 D-size batteries. The motion sensor trips a lot — too much. I changed the batteries 2 times since I got the unit (about 3 months ago). To save costs, I’ve replaced the alkaline batteries with rechargeable NiMH batteries.

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D-size batteries are considerably larger than AA. It’s not just wider, but taller. The insert compensates by having an extension contact at the top and a bottom spacer with another contact. The battery fits snuggly in its case.

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So far, the battery output is strong enough to power the sensor and the lights. Looks to be a win on this lifehack.

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Sony HDR-AS15

Sony has discontinued the HDR-AS15. Deals are to be had…and I was able to snag one, plus multiple mounting gear to boot (more on that later).

YouTube is finally supporting faster frame rates. I stumbled upon a few videos at 60 fps. I like the faster frame rate. To me it looks like there’s more detail (optical illusion because of the extra frames?–dunno, but I like). I have multiple devices that can record 720p @ 60fps. I didn’t shoot at that setting because YouTube didn’t support it. I opted for the max resolution of 1080p instead. And now YouTube supports 60 fps. I’m all in!

Techmoan on YouTube posted a comparison video of two action cams: Hero and Sony (link here). GoPro has a strong presence in action cam videos. I didn’t necessarily want to buck the trend, but GoPro’s price points are too steep. There are a lot of non-mainstream brands that are considerably cheaper, but I’m not too confident about their product support, and the build and video quality. I didn’t know too much about Sony’s offering. So I watched some reviews and posted videos. I liked what I saw. I then stumbled upon Techmoan’s AS15 review (link here). What caught my attention was Sony’s firmware updated to allow the AS15 to shoot 1080p @ 60fps.

I didn’t really consider an action camera. I’m not a big fan of the wide angle. I don’t do extreme activities. I do however, find myself holding my video camera or my phone at awkward angles to try to get that POV shot. That’s where an action cam (with the right mount) excels. But what really sold it, was again 1080p @ 60 fps. There are units that can shoot at that frame rate and also within my budget. I had to at the very least look into it.

I priced the HDR-AS15 at Amazon — around $150 (US). I then checked BHPhoto.com — $120 with the headband mount (BLT-HB1)!

Apparently that’s not all of it…I guess I got a little tunnel vision because I was only interested in the Action Cam + the headband mount. The deal also included:

Sony has discontinued this model, and they have a newer offering, but this thing can still get the job done. Even with the discontinued pricing from various vendors, BHPhoto’s offering had more bang for the buck. In fact, at the time, the camera and the various mounts were still cheaper than purchasing only the camera from the other vendors. This was like a Black Friday or Cyber Monday deal. I couldn’t pass it up.

The HDR-AS15 firmware required an update. I was expecting this (thanks to Techmoan). It’s now ready to shoot at 1080p @ 60 fps.

Here’s a little unboxing porn shots:


Testing Accuracy of Digital Hygrometer (Measures Relative Humidity)

I picked a digital thermometer from eBay. This unit also displays the relative humidity — the amount of moisture in the air. The temperature reading was pretty accurate (I matched it against the other thermometers I have). As for relative humidity (the digital hyrgrometer), I didn’t have another device to compare it to.

I looked online and found that you can test the accuracy of the hygrometer by using a solution of salt and water. The materials used are: salt, water, a small container, a sealable plastic bag and a timer (or clock).

The procedure is really straight forward. You need a small amount of salt. Then add even a smaller amount of water. The water should only wet the salt; the target consistency is similar to wet sand. If you add too much water, you can use a tissue to soak it up. It’s then a matter of waiting.

From the research I did, the wait time seems to be around 6-8 hours. A properly calibrated hygrometer will read 75%. For my test, I marked the reading at 6 hours, 7 hours and finally 8 hours. I based the accuracy of the hygrometer from the average of those readings. Is my reading going to be accurate? Probably not too accurate, but it’ll be close… it’s a lot better than taking the digital reading at face value.

Yukon Outfitters Mosquito Hammock (unboxing + suspension mod)

I snagged this Yukon Outfitters Mosquito Hammock from Woot.com at a great price. Woot sells items for a limited time or until inventory is exhausted (which ever comes first). This deal was only limited for 1 day. It was too good to pass up.

From the very beginning, I was going to replace the suspension system of the original hammock. I wanted to use the Dyneema rope I had on hand. I figured I would tie a stopper knot of some kind (or a bend knot at the ends) to make a loop. I did some research on Dyneema rope and found that knots tend to slip on Dyneema because the rope is slippery. Further research, suggested splicing an eye/loop instead of tying a knot. There are great references on how to do exactly that. I was able to splice my own with the tools I had on hand.

I also opted to use two SMC Descending Rings for the suspension system. To connect the hammock suspension to the trees, I ordered some straps from strapworks.com. The straps will be connected to the SMC rings via garda hitch (you’ll need a pair of rings to deploy the garda hitch).

I posted a video of the unboxing and the suspension modification. As stated above, I’m swapping the existing rope and carabiner suspension with a continuous loop of AmSteel Blue (Dyneema) rope and a pair of SMC Descending Rings.

Knots used: lark’s head (cow hitch), prusik hitch, surgeon’s knot, figure-8


Curb Rash Rim Repair

I damaged my front driver’s side rim when entering a parking garage. The loud crunch sound made me cringe. The damage was bad. Not just scratching the paint, but the curb took some chunks off of the rim. It was isolated to the upper lip; the spokes came out okay.

All the products I used to fix and paint the wheel can be easily found at a local auto supply store or even a big box store. The following is a list of items I used:

This should have been a straight forward repair, but I encountered two big issues… you’ll see it on the video:


Sugru + Neodymium magnet + sponge holder = movable sponge caddy

I found this cool sponge caddy years ago. The caddy hung over the sink; it hooked over the edge of the sink. I could only reposition it on the left and right sides of the sick. The center wall dividing the double sink was too wide for the caddy to hook onto.

Another problem to this caddy were the tight corners. Food particles from the sponge would get stuck. It was very difficult to clean.

I happened on a different caddy design. The mounting mechanism relied on suction cups. This however didn’t work on my sink. That was the only flaw. I tried ceramic magnets, but that wasn’t strong enough. I then tried rare earth neodymium magnets. That was the perfect type. I used Sugru to affix the magnets to the caddy.

I now have a movable sponge caddy — I can affix this to any wall of the sink.

The sponge holder was around $6 from Target.
The neodymium magnets was around $4 (1/2″; 6-pack) from Home Depot.

adb push & adb pull to transfer from Mac to Android device

Here’s a screencast of a tip/tutorial on how to transfer files or folders between an Android device and a Mac. There is a GUI utility called Android File Transfer that’s more intuitive. The only problem is that it sometimes fails [read: crashes] on transferring large files. I found adb technique to be consistent and fast.

I also used adb shell to establish a shell in the Android device. I would then locate the target file or the target directory. Once found, I would copy and paste the path to complete the command:

adb pull /pathOfFolder_onAndroidDevice/filename /pathToMacFolder
adb push /pathToMacFolder/filename /pathOfFolder_onAndroidDevice

Using a two terminal window allows me to copy the path onto the other terminal window containing the command. This saves from exiting the shell in order to type the command.

Wrapping earbuds

Coiling (or wrapping) earbuds seems to be a no-brainer. I used to wrap the earbud wires around my fingers in a circular coil. At the end of the wrap, I’d give a little slack and wrap that around the circular coil to keep the coil from unraveling.

There are two problems to this technique.

  1. There is a chance of becoming knotted when unwound
    • this can easily happen when one of the working ends gets fed into one of the circular coils
  2. The cinching of the circular coil can cause issues with the wires of the earbuds
    • the tight loops can cause the earbud wire to unwind like a pig’s tail (little curls where the tight loops were located)
    • damage to the internal wire causing one or both buds to stop working
    • the wires connected to the jack can become loose; again resulting in one or both buds failing

To tackle the first problem requires finding the right coiling method. Google search results showed the figure-8 coil to be effective and efficient. I’ve used this method for months. But I still secured the coiled earbuds with multiple tight loops and some half-hitches thrown in.

When wrapping the rubber band on itself for a single pass is called a lark’s head (cow hitch). Wrapping it an additional time is a prusik hitch (prusik knot).

I had to find another solution to locking/securing the fig-8 coil:

* This second video shows an updated way of applying the rubber band to the fig-8 coil: