ESRI UC 2014
Unfortunately I cannot make the conference this year. Again. It is just out of my budget do to on my own and understandably my company does not want to pay for me to be out for virtually an entire week. I am really hoping next year that I can do it though. Try to save up some of those airline miles and get it done.
On the plus side, because almost all of my GIS contacts will be there, my email is going to be very quite the next 10 days or so.
I talked about this last year when things went live. It is nice to see a yearbook. I will say it a thousand times. Free Federal Imagery programs are a boon to the entire world. As a resource you really cannot get much better than the Landsat programs.
Oh no. That is a bummer. I is not necessarily an really big issue and will probably be fine ultimately, but with more satellites awaiting launch in August I imagine it is a bit stressful for thos
I am not sure how it is Wednesday already. I have not really been that busy so I do not know why time has been flying by. I did finally start filling out my GISP application packet. I started getting all of the supporting documentation in order a few months ago and now that it is I guess it is time. It is not overly complicated, but there is a lot of CV information that needs to be included and I am not looking forward to filling it all out.
When drones fall from the sky
Some of these numbers are alarming. While the numbers are improving it would seem that since many of the kinks in air travel have been worked out these numbers would be a little better. I suppose there is a lot going on in drone warfare. A lot more than someone like me can understand.
ESA Recognizes First Galileo Navigation Fixes
Exciting. I was not born when the first GPS satellites went up and was not doing a good job of keeping up on news when the supporting systems of GNSS went through. Seems like good progress for Galileo.
The First U.S. Map That Was Made By A U.S. Citizen
Some how it got cold again. Seriously, at about 4am today our heater turned on. I have no idea what is going on. I think I prefer the oppressive heat of the Southwest. At least then I know what to expect.
senseFly Announces eBee RTK Survey-grade Mapping Drone
This is really cool. I was talking with a colleague a few months back about whether or not someone could use a UAV as a relay in areas of dense cover. I was suggesting that you could use the UAV as part of a system where position correction was involved. With the proper calculations the drone would know where it is and could help augment the multipath issues. This works similarly except that the base station provides correction to the UAV. The UAV can then collect imagery without the use of control ground points.
Sounds like the cost and weight issues are finally starting to come down enough that we will start seeing this out in the field. Looking forward to seeing one in action.
County Population Growth Between 2012 and 2013 and the Primary Source of Population Change
Cool map of the day. This story map has an awesome slider where you can switch between the two layers.
MyBuild Update: Gotta get my battery recharged this weekend. On Thursday I was able to actually fly it around a little. Still working on getting the trims right. It is taking forever because, as I mentioned before, my motors are a lot to big for the amount of weight this thing has. So around 20% throttle the thing is launching to about 7 feet and then I drop it down to 10% to keep it from flying into my house. With the battery dying too my trim adjustments are going to be pretty useless since the draw is not exactly equal for each motor.
Pictured here is a detail of the wiring. Bottom right is the battery, a 3300 mAh. Going left it is connected to the breakout cable which distributes power to the four electronic speed controllers. Those are located on each arm and shown just above the hub in this photo. The electronic speed controllers then send signal and power to the motors, shown at top left. They also have signal and power to the control board shown top center. The motors actually supply all power to the control board so there are actually four cables to each, but for this detail I have only shown one. The control board then has four cables to the receiver shown top right. The antenna for that is the small read thing just to the right. Hopefully this gives an idea of what is going on electronically on this. As I mentioned, you are basically doing everything four times so you have to distribute the cables just right.
It was almost warm today. I see a lot of motorcycle riders wearing half helmets and it kind of infuriates me. I do not ride a lot anymore because this town is so small, but I used to ride all year in 10-110F weather. I do not get why the weekend warriors will not properly suit up. It is not that hot and I would rather sweat for 30 minutes than heal up road rash.
Russia Turns off Data from IGS GPS Tracking Stations
Is the tit for tat true? Maybe, but whatever the case, global political action is slowing down everybody. As usual.
It would seem like a convenient excuse to turn off the data, but who is it actually hurting. On either side decisions are made in an attempt to punish the other side, but it only ends up hurting everybody. Constant posturing...
Roger Easton, Father Of GPS, Dies At 93
First Tomlinson and now Easton. Losing some big timers in GIS and GPS. We get to stand on the shoulders of giants though. They leave the legacy that pushes the science forward.
MyBuild Update: I had a set back. A minor $0.05 setback. Last time I checked in I had all of my parts in and was ready for the final assembly. It was exciting. I wired everything up to the control board and connected the receiver. I tested everything to make sure the props were spinning the right way and that the auto-level was working. I slapped the props on and it flew. Not well, but it was slightly airborne. I have a few videos of it sorta flying. I will post them soon so you can see how not adjusting your trims really does affect your performance.
Something else was going on though. It took me the bulk of Monday to figure it out. The hubs that keep the propellers on kept popping off. On Monday 'motor 1' hub and prop came off and I could not find the hub. I looked all over, but I live next to a city park and there is a massive bush/hedge thing that it must have landed in. So that is where the 5 cents comes in. Just an aluminum screw on hub. It is a nothing part until you do not have one. Naturally, despite all advice to always have extras, I do not have an extra.
It is infuriating because on Saturday I bought a couple of 'luxury' items. I bought a LED light that would show status of the controller and a prop balancer. It is really important to balance your props because they can actually vibrate your aircraft apart. I do not know why I did not buy one earlier. Had I known on Saturday that I would lose a part on Monday I probably would have purchased them at that time.
My only saving grace is that there is a warehouse here in Washington and I can get the US distributed parts relatively quickly. My new hubs should be here in a few days.
So why are my hubs popping off? Well 'motor 1' and 'motor 3' are the issue. Both keep losing their hubs. Maybe it was the fever induced by the heat in my home office, but it finally occurred to me that the hub screws on clockwise and the motors turn clockwise. So in that 1 millisecond where you throttle up and the motor is moving before the propeller is moving my hubs are unscrewing themselves. No matter how tight I make it that force will pull them out just enough and the vibration will jiggle them all the way out.
And to top it all off I knew it would happen, but conveniently forgot. I have not tightened everything down and I have not used 'loctite' or 'thread lock' products on everything yet. I wanted to get everything configured and then make final choices on placement of wires before I went in and added adhesives. But in the end, it is quite alright that I have this set back because it gives me the opportunity to tear the entire aircraft apart and put it together again properly. That was the whole point of this exercise. To learn the ins an outs.
I have some more pics and video. I think I will save them though for when I actually rebuild the thing and get it up in the air. Do a sort of final show. Maybe the 80s montage.
Here is a pic of the control board powered up. You can see the motor wires coming in on the right and the receiver wires coming in from the bottom and to the left. Zip ties all around. I still have to figure out how I am going to keep the board and receiver in place. I do not want to glue them in case I want to upgrade. I am thinking maybe keep the zip ties. They seem to do a good job, but I can just clean them up. Maybe some velcro.
Super busy with volunteer work and subcontracting this week. There is no MyBuild update except that I got my control board in the mail on Monday. I also ordered a few sets of propellers so I will hopefully have the UAV functioning in a few weeks.
Flawed GPS Signal Processing Design Cited as Cause of Receiver Problems
Well then, seems like issues across the globe. This is a little different from the issues with GLONASS. There was specific testing involved that caused poor signals. On the other hand it still might have messed up someones day. However, it would be prudent for people to see if there are software or firmware updates on their devices. The correction should already be out there. I will be sure to set a reminder for my equipment.
Cool interactive map of the week. 300,000 photos dating back to 1920? sounds good to me. And it is all free so you cannot go wrong with that.
Top 15 Must-Have Archaeology Field Gear Items
I have mentioned Bill over at Succinct in the past. If you are new to archaeology you should follow his blog because he always has some good advice. This top 15 list is a great list. I think it is important to evaluate your needs for field equipment a couple times a year. Even if you cannot actually afford anything it is good to at least research and see what new items are out there.
Although, I do have to disagree with him on the tablet and trimble items. It makes me sad in the GIS organs, but he makes an excellent point about battery life. It is still a concern for those 10-16 hour days that a lot of archaeologists have to pull. I also completely agree about having a nice compass and knowing how to use it. If the worst should happen and you are in a bind, knowing how to navigate with a compass can save your life or the lives of your crew members. Even if it is as harmless as a dead battery or bad signal, knowing how to map by compass can take a scrapped day and turn it into a productive day.
Not much going on out here. Temperature is coming up and it makes me happy.
Next Galileo Satellites Arrive in French Guiana
The Galileo program is launching two more satellites. These two satellites are what are called Fully Operational Capacity satellites. For a GNSS system you have to launch a series of satellites for testing and then when significant amounts of confirmation data have come in you can then launch full satellites. That is where Galileo is right now. There are currently four satellites in orbit. That number is the necessary amount to obtain fixes and since they have been in orbit for enough time that they are now ready to launch the FOC units.
Plus they are launching out of French Guiana. There are a lot of cool pictures in the article too so be sure to scroll all the way down.
Aerial Drones Reveal Hidden Archaeology
I got this one through Twitter via Bill. As I say, there are a lot of opportunities for archaeology to use UAVs. I have noticed a lot more articles regarding their use. Unfortunately these articles are usually about University research. Although, I have seen a few more presentations at archaeological conferences regarding them. That does make me happy.
Be careful on the comments at the end. Yes there are differences between a drone and a UAV. Yes the media tends to blend them together. But Sciencemag.org is a general media site that focuses on science so I think we can cut them some slack.
MyBuild Update: Late in the day on Saturday I received the frame and landing gear for my UAV. All I have to wait on now is the power distribution cable, the control board, and propellers of course. Earlier today I cleaned up the landing gear so I could put them together. I also did some preliminary measurements on the frame so that I can determine the propeller size I want to use. Since propellers are relatively cheap, I think that I will buy a few sizes. I calculated the potential thrust for the few sizes that I can mount on the current frame set up and even at the smallest I will have more than enough for the full build and extra for payloads like a camera.
Finally getting some warm weather here. Really enjoying getting out at the end of the day and soaking up what little warmth we have.
Faulty Software Determined Cause of GLONASS Failures
I talked about this the other day. Sounds like it was a software issue that caused the reoccurring issues. I am sure that they will get it straightened out soon. GLONASS is a pretty big system so any number of issues could cause a break in the system. It is still concerning though given the number people relying on the information.
We will have to keep an eye out for this. Who am I kidding, I will not be hearing the end of this through all of the notifications I get in a day.
New GNSS Signals: Will Modern Also Be Better?
Continuing on the GNSS news. With the BeiDou and Galileo systems coming online soon there will be a significant bump in global positioning. These new systems can certainly learn from the GPS and GLONASS systems and their implementations. Having more satellites and base stations globally is an important part in positioning in the future. The question for people who already live in GNSS covered areas is whether or these other systems will provide benefit. it seems that while the systems themselves will not directly benefit us, the methods that they employ or the new technology that they design will help. The changes that have occurred over the last ten years in terms of multipath correction, code lengths, and chipping rates alone are remarkable. Seeing what these other systems can do with new markets and users will be great.
Weather is finally starting to pick up here. Looking forward to a hike later today.
GLONASS Loses Control Again
Well every constellation has it's problems, but this is might be an indication of reoccurring issues. Since satellites are basically space magic we often do not think about how often we use it. If you have a smart phone or if you work with GNSS receivers at all then you are accessing GLONASS. As individual instances it is not that big of a deal that some satellites are transmitting as unhealthy, but if it is reoccurring then virtually everybody who travels by plane, relies on a phone, or makes money telling people where things are will have one armed tied behind their back.
Why smart streetlights are the gateway drug for smart grids (and smart cities)
I am just going to keep obsessing over smart grid tech. It seems pretty straight forward to me. If you can drop your energy consumption by even 50% you can then use that saving to recapitalize into other technologies. Above that smart grids allow greater control over the utilities themselves. Taking from the article, what if you could change street light illumination to indicate to emergency vehicles the location of the incident. It could speed up response times in suburban or rural areas where emergency personnel might not be familiar with the layout.
Wearable Device Maps Energy Efficiency of Buildings
Alight I think I buried the lead on this one. This is pretty exciting. It might be backpack sized right now and probably incredibly expensive and unwieldy and difficult to use, but so were GNSS receivers back in the day. As the tech gets smaller and cheaper and easier to use you could have professionals and amateurs across the planet tapping into this technology and creating high end maps of buildings. One might ask, "But you already have the building blueprints." And that is true, but sometimes those get lost. If a building is old enough and enough turnover has occurred the box or electronic storage that contained that information might have been thrown away. Also, the plan is never how it ends up. I have worked enough trench monitoring jobs to know that when they dig you are bound to get utilities that are not where they are 'supposed' to be.
Couple this with other technologies and you could use this for outdoor highly obstructed locations. I could see archaeologists using this in forest environments or trenches and map massive areas in high detail passively. Imagine if you could record quality data and have a spatial data automatically digitized. Great time saver and has a lot of room for scale-ability and redundancy. Add augmented reality and you might be recording site information at a level of detail you never could before.
My mini local conference on Thursday was really good. It is a quick half day thing, but the opportunity to interact with local GIS professionals is always good. There was a presentation of the URISA GIS Capability Maturity Model by one of the developers out of King County, Washington. It was developed more for free standing GIS programs and departments, but I think that it would be a useful tool within my employer. It creates a good frame work for a self assessment. Off the top of my head I think we will probably perform poorly, but that is often the best place to start. If you are performing well you are either deluding yourself or have had models in place for years. So a poor assessment gives you the perfect launch pad to improve.
Satellite Shows High Productivity from U.S. Corn Belt
I have talked about this kind of thing before. Using remote sensing and GIS to create a base line and then frequent revisits is a great way to do...anything. Having a well documented regional understanding of agricultural activities will help increase productivity and also increase sustainability. Knowing movement patterns of pests will let farmers employ non-chemical pest prevention. Knowing soil conditions will allow farmers to make adjustments to field use and allow long term rejuvenation of the area.
Map of Open Service Requests for Potholes
Public work web map applications are always pretty cool. I keep saying that citizens will completely volunteer to do all of the ground truthing for a project. You just have to make it seem like it is their idea. Set up an easy interface to document the resources and the crowd sourcing will come together.
I think it is also important to be involved in your community. Even if you are only taking pictures of potholes. Global population has grown so much that I think we are starting to lose touch with the local community. Being involved also lets you keep an eye on what is going on in your local government. Everybody likes to complain about not enough services and too much tax, but when it comes to actually working with the government and even volunteering data collection people like to clam up and pretend that they have no stake in it.
First off, Elite 8 for the Wildcats really made my night last night.
I gave my presentation this morning. I think it went well. I can never remember to bring water with me so I'm always dying if thirst in the last few minutes. The other presentations were good too. I don't always get to see the finished product or the pictures of the projects I work on so it was refreshing to see a presentation about one of them.
Now I just have to plan my day. I already went through the poster room. Several of those were very good. I will profile one or two later when I can get a better look at them.
There is an XRF talk that I'm looking forward too, but it is later in the day.
I am a GIS professional in Walla Walla, WA. I use this blog to force myself to really read through all of the GIS news that I get in my inbox. It also helps me practice writing.