Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Bow and Arrow Party or Gift Idea

Joe's Bow is a miniature, wood, toy bow and arrow.  It is an excellent addition to any bow and arrow birthday party.  It also makes a great party favor, stocking stuffer or novelty gift.  The bow and arrows are actually small enough to fit in your pocket, which makes it rather unique!  This image gives you an idea for just how small the Joe's Bow is.  The arrow is only 4.5" long.

This product is also 100% Made in the USA (in Orlando, Florida).

This video shows you how to fire a Joe's Bow.

This videos shows how accurate you can be with one.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Energy Start - resi-Tronic II Ballast Fire

We had a really close call today, when a resi-Tronic II ballast started on fire in our closet.  This unit was purchased at Lowes about one year ago and I plan on reporting the incident to the store owner.

This is a closeup of the internal cover.

Close up of the right side of the ballast, notice the marks on the cover.

Close up of the left side of the ballast.

Close up of the right, top / ceiling face of the cover.

Close of up the left top / ceiling face of the cover. 

Full view of the ceiling face of the cover.

Full view of the internal ballast / wiring cover.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

What's Growin On - May 2014

Holy Basil flowers.  They taste great!

Many flower producing stems with seeds ready to be cultivated.

Squash sapling.

Young squash plant in a planter I made by re-purposing an old fertilizer spreader.

Here come the squash!

Second generation cilantro seedlings.

Second generation cilantro seedlings.

More second generation cilantro seedlings.  You can see the remains of the first generation in this picture.  I harvested roughly two cups of fresh coriander so-far, not including the ones I used to start around 10 new cilantro pots.

Cherry tomatos on their way.

More cherry tomatos.

Red kidney bean pot.  I made the border out spares from my wood log collection.

Another red kidney bean pot.  This one is bordered by concrete.  In the center, not visible in this picture is a red onion.  We call her the "Queen of the beans".

Oranges on their way.

And more oranges on their way.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Florida Voter File Statistics

I have been digging through the Florida Voter File and thought it would be interesting to post a few statistics:
  • total records:        12 748 023
  • distinct last names:   1 015 441
  • distinct first names:    483 095
  • distinct birth dates:     33 756
List of all party affiliations associated with orange county florida voters:
  • ORA | REP
  • ORA | DEM
  • ORA | NPA
  • ORA | INT
  • ORA | GRE
  • ORA | LPF
  • ORA | UNK
  • ORA | NRS
  • ORA | TPF
  • ORA | REF
  • ORA | IDP
  • ORA | CPF
  • ORA | PSL
  • ORA | ECO
  • ORA | AIP
  • ORA | FSW
  • ORA | PFP
And last but not least, the total number of "armbruster"s that are registered to vote: 115

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Pocket Power Plus Starting a 1989 F150

I wanted to know if a Solutions from Science Pocket Power Plus could start my 1989 F150.  Three starts later, the unit still reports a full-charge.  Here are few snapshots of the first test.

This is what the package looks like, it has just about every adapter you could need.

This is the pocket power plus, sitting in front of the battery.  Notice how small the unit is.

The adapter is heavy duty and has beefy clips. 

All hooked up and ready to start!

After the first start, we still have a full charge!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Champ RTF Micro Airplane

Yesterday, I decided to splurge and spoil myself with a Champ RTF.   The set comes with the aircraft, a controller and a battery charger.  This image shows the controller and aircraft.

The prop is 5in long (about as long as my smart phone) and it has a 21in wingspan.

It is 16in from nose to tail.

The battery is held in-place by a small strip of velcro on the belly.

In order to charge the battery, you need to disconnect it and and remove it from the aircraft.

The rudder activator protrudes from the right-rear.

The elevator activator protrudes from the left-rear.

The steering wheel is driven by the rudder.

The tires are made of a soft foam, which you can easily squish between your fingers.  The material feels like chamois leather.

The body behind the prop is roughly 1 3/4" wide.

And finally, some shots of the controller.  This is the front face.

This is the back face.

I logged a total of 4 flights over 15 minutes today.  This is my first time flying a micro, so it's going to take some time to adapt.  I take off by holding the unit in my hand, throttling up to 50% and then tossing it like a paper airplane.  I am surprised at how easy it is to control.  I was able to do flips and low-passes on my first flight.  My landing sequence usually consists of throttling down at around fifteen feet or so, then gliding down into the grass and 'crashing with style'.  I had to overcome my fear of bringing the airplane down into my thick St. Augustine grass.  The aircraft has very little mass, which allows the thick St. Augustine grass to bring it to a gentle stop.  Instead of landing on the ground, I would prefer to catch the plane in my hand.  This will take some practice but will likely come in handy when I decide to fly around a parking lot.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Placing Point Models into Parcels

Part 1 - Aligning Points to Transportation

Imagine that you have a finite but bounded number of polygons.  Each polygon represents an area that can be occupied by a building.  What you would like to do is automatically place a point within each of these polygons that would completely define the location and orientation of a specific building model.  The selected building model must fit completely within the provided region.  The polygons below are reasonable examples of these polygon regions:

These polygons will have irregular shapes; some of them will be pointed, rounded or elongated.  If we need to place a point in these geometries, where should it be placed?  The first-place one would attempt to place a point is at the polygons "center".  Unfortunately, the definition of center is not always clear; consider the example geometry below:

Simply summing the x and y values of this geometry and then averaging will result in a point that is positioned in the upper-left hand corner.  This is due to the geometries point density in this area.  Naturally, we would expect our point to be placed somewhere towards the center of the whole-geometry, as observed in the example below:

This is more along the lines of what we would expect.  If we were to place a 3D model in-and-around this point, we would have lots of wiggle room.  Unfortunately, a position like this is not always guaranteed to exist, as is the case with many concave geometries.  This topic will be discussed in a future posting.  For now, let's consider a large area that contains many of these simple cases:

If we wish to assign building models to these points, we will need to know which way they should face.  After all, it would be nice if our building models were facing the street.  Lets consider some examples and see if we can come up with a generalized approach for selecting an orientation angle.

Let's start our analysis by making some general observations of the input:

  1. More than one valid orientation may exist for each area of interest
  2. If an orientation can not be established by examining an individual area, we could use neighboring areas to make a good guess.

The most trivial approach to point orientation can be realized by aligning a point to the nearest transportation feature.  This is a poor choice for most cases but it is reasonably trivial to implement and worth some discussion.  I have roughly 400k areas in my test data set and it takes a minute to generate these sample points and orient them to the roads.  The screenshot below illustrates the types of anomalies that are produced when you align to the closest point on the transportation feature.

It should be noted that we are not aligning to an existing vertex on the geometry but rather to the closest point (which may or may not be an existing vertex).  Notice how most of the orientation segments are not centered within the areas.  We may (or may not) prefer for these angles to be chosen in a way that preserves the relative straightness within the surrounding area.

We can see how the results may vary with this approach when more than one orientation exists.  The screenshot below highlights some of the obvious complexities.

This method does not provide a general purpose solution but it does illustrate most of the fundamental issues that are involved with choosing an orientation for building model placement.  In part 2, I will discuss how to improve the alignment of the orientation segment and greatly simplify the resulting model fitting process.  Below are some screenshots of different sample areas.

Sample 1
Large area, generally acceptable results

Sample 2
Generally acceptable results

Sample 3
The closest vert is not always where you think it is...

Sample 4
What do we do when multiple solutions exist?