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
The sun came back out. I have been dying to get my UAV out into a park so that I could really get it moving around, but it has been raining and windy. I do have an update though because I have finally worked out the trim issue I was having.
I will be taking a break until next Wednesday on writing. Family is coming into town and I am taking some time off to do all of that. Maybe some fishing too.
I have three sorta GIS articles today.
Climate change will ‘cost world far more than estimated’
This is something that I have never understood about the argument that adjusting the economy to be more environmentally friendly will destroy the economy. It might hurt a little, but people are very good at finding ways to make a profit. Things will be fine on that eventually. Climate collapse is another story. Sure evolution will continue and life will recover, but the recovery takes far longer than the couple decades that an economic hit would.
Businesses and Social Media – Most Fail to Plan
This seems pretty on point. Plenty of companies have LinkedIn pages and websites with announcements, but it largely seems reactionary. As with all other aspects of business you have to have some sort of plan. Even if your plan is, "We will not discuss specific project information on social media." At least you have thought about it. Just like you would think about insurance or filing tax returns.
Russia Launches Single GLONASS Satellite
A little closer to GIS. Good ol' orbital slot 21. One of my favorites.
L3 and CDMA. That is pretty cool.
Not the best photo. I was operating and fixing up the trims and trying to fly it back into the garage and out of the rain.
But still! It flies pretty well now. A little bit too much power from the motors, but I knew that going into it. Sounds like I just need to put a camera on it and get it weighed down a little.
Also, one of the arms is starting to split. Probably from the cheaper wood and also the numerous times I have flown it into my house and the ground. The best part though is that I noticed it after this picture. So it actually flies fine even though it is split. The arm wiggles right into place given that there are basically four gyroscopes on it. I was thinking of cutting them down a little so that there is not as much strain on the arm so this seems like a good time to do that and also fix the split. This is why I bought wood. It is a few dollars and ten minutes of my time to fix it. If I went with fiber glass or metal it would be a much more expensive fix and I would probably have to wait on the spare to arrive rather than just heading down to the hardware store.
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.
I am not sure if I like this latitude or not. On one hand I like getting out in the backyard and doing things at 8:30pm. On the other hand, WHY WON'T THE SUN SET!!!
DigitalGlobe eyes $400 million market for high-res images
As a user of imagery from DigitalGlobe, I can completely get behind their desire to break into higher resolution imagery. A lot of people use imagery on a private basis. They might check out driving route information or look at their house through Google Earth. I use satellite imagery for analysis and technical reports. They are not all that special, but it does not change the fact that I still need them to answer questions. There are times were they are less than adequate. People might think that because they can see their car in their drive way that it is the case for the rest of the country, but that is not the case in rural areas. I hope that they can move forward and get their high resolution data.
Google Close To Snapping Up Satellite Startup Skybox Imaging For $1B+, Say Sources
Well another big purchase for the evil empire. Let us ignore my devotion to Google though. I would really benefit them, and of course me, if they had direct access to the imagery from Skybox.
MyBuild update. I have made some reasonable progress the since the last week. I completely tore apart the frame so that I could sand the arms. As with all wood the pieces are never exactly the same size and so the hub of the frame was bending in a few places. I took everything apart and sanded all of the mounting points so that they would match up better and relieve some for the tension in the hub. It took quite a while and for one of them I used a highly technical wad of paper to make up the difference. I also realigned them so that the battery aligns better with the arms. I did not take any pictures because there was not much to see.
After taking care of the frame it was time to mount the motors and wire them up.
In this image we see the motors in the middle. The accessory package to the left. And the electronic speed controllers to the right.
I had some trouble with mounting the motors because the mounts on the frame were not really designed for the motors that I purchased. It was not that big of a deal, but it did take some time thinking through how to get them on there. I think in the future I might remount them in the under-slung style. Right now they are on top of the arm, but under-slung they will be even with the arm. It should reduce vibration and strain on the arms. I am going to continue with the top mount so that I get perspective on how much vibration and strain it will cause. I am wondering too if the electronic speed controls can be set up in the wake of the propellers. They will get pretty hot during operation and maybe if I get them closer to the end of the arm there will be more air movement.
Here we have a top view of all the wiring. All of the zip ties still need to be tightened all the way and trimmed. I left them so I could adjust once I mount the control board and receiver.
Here is a closer view of the motors and electronic speed controllers.
And here is a detail of all of the wiring for the electronic speed controllers into what is called a breakout cable. The battery has one set of wires, but I obviously have four motors so I needed this break out cable to distribute power to each. With some soldering a person can make one themselves. I do not really know how to do that and this cable was only a few dollars.
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.
Couple short ones today and then a MyBuild update. I made some good progress the last few days. I also checked the tracking on my international parts and they are in Spokane so I should have them pretty soon. I should probably order propellers.
All the World's Glaciers, Mapped
The problem with Glaciers is that rich people do not live on top of them. If they did we would have excellent maps and everyone would suddenly care about protecting them. Having this inventory and detailed spatial information will really push forward glacier and environmental studies. Hopefully the results on new studies will help convince people that we should be concerned about them.
Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans From Polar Melt
I will go ahead and dash all the hopes from the previous one. The idea that it is too late is a little alarming. Some how I do not think that this is going to convince anybody that we should reduce our consumption.
And now on to the MyBuild update. As I said, the last few days have bee quite productive and I should be receiving the last of the electronics soon. I worked entirely on the frame this week and I think that I went with the right one. It has a lot of options so if I decide to change things up a little I have the room to do it. I am even thinking about a future octocopter build that delivers beer. There are plenty of videos on YouTube of just that so why not work on it.
Here is a picture of all the frame parts. The central hub is made of aircraft grade plywood. The arms are 1/2" wooden dowels. The landing gear on the left (assembled at bottom left) are made of plastic.
And here it is assembled (foot for scale). It is pretty light, maybe 240 grams. Given that I am expecting 1.1kg of thrust per motor I should have plenty of power to haul the rest of the electronics and the very heavy battery. I should also be able to get a camera on it.
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.
First off, where is all this traffic coming from? Do not get me wrong, I love the fact that some one is even taking a minute to look at this. I know it is not the most informative or best written or even the most up to date GIS blog out there, but I really appreciate the readership.
I have some big news today. You will have to scroll through my usual terrible writing to get there though.
Space Veteran Landsat 7 Marks 15 Years of Observing Earth
Well that came quick. By no means am I an old guard of GIS, but I remember when 7 went up. As I have said many times, the Landsat program is a perfect example of how large federal projects can be successful. The data that has come out of the Landsat system is staggering. Free imagery that is routinely updated. Just about every US citizen has benefited from the program. Farmers, miners, engineers, people who drive to work, anybody who has ever looked at a picture of the country.
It is not even the free data. It is also the amount of commercial production that has been built on the back of this program. That is where a science literate country that utilizes strong and smart federal investment can dominate global tech development.
Japan Plans Commercial Centimeter Accurate GNSS
Speaking of strong federal programs. The GPS system, while flawed, is a benchmark system. When you are innovative as a country others will come to you. And then you get to 'consult' for a 'fee.' The adopting country benefits in that they can piggy back on that innovation without having to invest as heavily. In some cases countries can not invest in a system from the ground up.
And soon Japan will have centimeter accuracy. Not a bad direction to go.
Now on to the big news. At this point, even a cursory glance at my blog will indicate my love of UAVs. I think that the potential in the technology is high. There are so many industries that can benefit from these vehicles. Now that costs are coming down there are a lot of small mom and pop companies that can afford them and really push their respective industry. From the archaeology side I see tremendous benefit. From initial site visits to pedestrian surveys to block excavations. Ignoring the copious amounts of remote sensing that can be performed. Ignoring the automated mapping techniques. Just imagine having days old aerial imagery for your project. Imagine having that one specific photo that perfectly captures the impact to cultural resources that you are trying to report. Now imagine that you have a tool that can capture all of that.
I talk about UAVs all the time. At happy hour, or crabby hour as it usually ends up, I complain that no one uses them (I am ignoring that use of them is on the rise). I complain that people in CRM will not listen to me about it. I complain that I am not given the opportunity to implement them. And you know what I have done to fix it? Not much. I just complain on my blog. So I have decided to do something about it. No more complaints. No more beating my head against a blog.
I make reasonable amount of money and I have a graduate STEM degree. There is no reason I can not just get into the technology. It will not be cheap and it will not be easy, but I am going to build one and then start testing and documenting the techniques that I keep talking about as theoretically possible. Instead of, "Yeah, you COULD do it this way. And it SHOULD work this way." I can say, "It does do this and I can make that happen."
What does this all have to with the blog? I am going to document my progress! Pictures, maps, aerial imagery, and even a video or two will start appearing on here. I purchased most of my supplies last night and I should start to see a trickle of items appear in the mail starting on Saturday and, depending on US customs, continuing for the next few weeks. I am pretty excited. Even if it does not work out I will have one of the loudest most buzzingest toys in the neighborhood.
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.
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.