My RC Helicopter (with video) 
I bought a used Esky Honey Bee CP2 RC helicopter off of my friend Ray at Gatech. I finally got to where I can sort of fly it. It's quite difficult, sort of like balancing a broomstick upright in the palm of your hand.

My first attempts a couple weeks ago I couldn't get it off the ground due to a couple mechanical problems. It had an issue with the collective pitch sticking in a no-lift position and then the helicopter suddenly jumping up as the pitch snaps into position and almost flipping over (scary!). This is apparently a very common problem and online tutorials explained how to fix it (backwards stepped washer). I also had a problem with really strange behavior with the heli wanting to slide off to the side and was near impossible to correct for. This was caused by an unseen bend rod that the blades mount to. I have found this resource quite useful: HeliTown

I got everything rebuilt and then started practicing spinning it up in my condo. I could occasionally get off the ground for just a few seconds. Unfortunately there is just no room anywhere in the condo, but at least I got practice with the controls.

Here is a video of me flying the helicopter in my parent's garage:



I have made a couple modifications to the helicopter including switching the transmitter to left-hand mode (resoldered the joysticks and swapped the joystick centering spring and clicker) and added fuses to the main and tail motors.

I did have a minor wreck shortly after the video. The tail got away from me and I lost my frame of reference for balancing, so I tried to set the helicopter down real quick. Unfortunately, I didn't land level enough and the blades struck the ground causing some minor damage to the blades (and hopefully nothing else). I will probably need to get a computer simulator in order to learn to balance/hover in arbitrary orientations.



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Quote of the Day 
Radioactive cats have 18 half-lives. - anonymous (on Slashdot)

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Comically Inappropriate Refreshments for Business Meetings 
I’m in charge of refreshments for a meeting tomorrow. That got me thinking about what would be the most inappropriate thing to bring? Here’s a top ten list of what I came up with:

10. A giant tub of cottage cheese. Maybe some Saltines too.

9. Unprepared Pomegranates. Note: Pomegranates should NOT be a side item; instead the pomegranates should be provided as the sole refreshment. Tell everyone it’s Pomegranate Appreciation Day. (You may want to wear a poncho.)

8. Raw Foods – Provide a selection of organic whole grain sprouts and raw vegetables. Sorry, no blue cheese or ranch dressing is allowed. Add a meeting agenda item to discuss the benefits of the “raw food lifestyle.”

7. Boiled Peanuts. Did you know that boiled peanuts can be re-warmed in a microwave with no negative effects on taste?

6. Beef Jerky Spread – Perhaps provide a selection of other dehydrated treats as well.

5. Anything with baked or boiled fish (especially Cod). This is an odiferous treat for your meeting attendees. No need to mention how envious folks in nearby offices will be. This one is especially good for an early morning meeting.

4. Kombucha (fermented tea) – Make sure to serve directly from an old jar with cheese cloth on top and with an intact bacterial mass floating on the tea for dramatic effect.

3. Make your own juice drink. Provide a spread of various raw vegetables and fruits, as well as a selection of blenders and juicers around the table. Make sure to compost the leftover pulp (provide a specially labeled trash bin).

2. Fondue. Arrange several fondue pots with hot oil around the board room and provide a selection of raw meat and vegetables, as well as batter for breading. Be sure to warn attendees about the dangers of hot oil dripping on their laptops. And watch out for extension cords that might trip someone up. Oh, and don’t forget the chocolate fountain!

1. Leftovers. Whatever you’ve got in your fridge comes to work with you.





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Mnemonics Ruined 
My new favorite hobby is ruining useful mnemonics.

Which is correct? I'll never tell. :)

How to tell the difference between the docile King Snake and the venomous Coral Snake?


Red on black, deadly attack. Red on yellow, bite is mellow.

or...

Red on black, venom lack. Red on yellow, kill a fellow.


How do sailors/fishermen know when it's safe to go out to sea?


Red sky at night, sailor's delight.
Red sky at morning, sailor heed warning.

or...

Red sky at night, sea shows its might.
Red sky at dawn, safe to net prawn.



How do chemists remember what to add to what when mixing acid and water?


Acid to "watuh,"
Just as you oughta!

or...

Water to acid,
Solution is placid.


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Patent 
My first patent was awarded back in December. Here is a link!

Systems and methods for mobile activity monitoring

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