Monthly Archives: July 2020

GoPro Cameras

Never have I been so conflicted over a tech product before.  The GoPro line both inspires me and frustrates me.   My introduction to GoPro goes something like this:

I bought a new Toyota Tacoma in 2017 and realized that there is a GoPro mount glued to the windshield near the rearview mirror.  Not having a dash cam I originally bought my GoPro (a Hero 4 Silver) for that purpose.  And I still use the Hero 4 in my Tacoma.  It does pretty well.

Battery life in GoPro’s is pretty limited so I purchased a power cable from here.  And I blogged about that installation here.

Although GoPro makes cameras now with Image Stabilization I find that the Hero 4 still is my choice for a dash cam for the following reasons:

  1. No one really makes a power cable kit like I linked above that goes from fuse block to USB-C connector. The newer GoPro’s use a USB-C connection at the camera. You can rig something up but an off the shelf solution would be great.
  2. Putting a cam inside a truck doesn’t really require Image Stabilization.  The platform is fairly stable to begin with,   Your big truck gives a nice plush ride to your camera..
  3. You don’t need the latest and greatest technology just for a dash cam.

Ok, on to my GoPro thoughts………..

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Home Generator

How To Install A Back Up Generator at Home


I recently moved to Eastern North Carolina right in Hurricane Alley and felt the need to have a secondary electrical generator at home. I managed to find a really inexpensive 3200 watt generator from Harbor Freight


and when the power went out I ran multiple extension cords into the house, through a doggy door and one cord through the door which enters the garage to power the deep freezer. This got me to thinking how unacceptable this would be during the dead of winter during a power outage. Not only that I felt I was kind of limited in power and couldn’t power enough items. Although the basic needs were met I didn’t think I could provide heat and definitely not air conditioning. Lights, and refrigerators and TV’s and radios.

Hey, that ain’t bad when you have nothing but it can always be much, much better. The first issue at hand was to power the generator up outside, with no extension cords running through the home and no open doors. Closed doors mean a reduction in sound as well from gas powered generators which are, well, noisy.

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Garmin Fenix 6X Pro

Garmin Fenix 6X Pro

I got the Mac Daddy of Fitness Watches, the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro.  It wasn’t the top of the line Solar or Titanium version but still wildly touted as the best fitness watch on the planet.

Is it?  We’ll see.

My favorite “Fitness Watch” is my Apple Watch Series 5 for a variety of reasons not the least of which is that it has a cell phone in it.  And while it fairly easily syncs with either Strava or my favorite 3rd party fitness application, RubiTrack, my absolute favorite fitness software is Garmin Connect.


What a dilemma that is! 😀.  Of course the way around that is to have a Garmin watch and carry a cell phone with you.  Not a problem while biking but not something I’d do while jogging.

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Garmin Instinct Mini Review

Garmin Instinct (credit:  Garmin Website)

Yep.  Another Fitness Watch Review.   This time it is for the Garmin Instinct.  I love fitness watches and specifically I love Garmin fitness watches because of their EXCELLENT ecosystem.

Garmin stuff JUST WORKS.  A lot of these fitness watches and smart watches have all manner of weird sync errors and glitches sometimes.   But typically you won’t get that in the Garmin ecosystem.  My watch is a refurbished watch from Factory Outlet Store..  Sure looked brand new to me when I opened it up.


Now before we dive in to whether I like this watch or not let’s discuss some of the advertised criteria.   One of the major claims that Garmin makes is that this watch is built to the U.S. military standard 810 for thermal, shock and water resistance.

Garmin Mil-Spec claim

Yeah, these kind of claims bother me.  I’m not going to say that this claim is untrue however I will say this about it.  Watches (or anything for that matter) that are tested and conform to Military Specifications are then placed on something called the Qualified Products List (QPL) and are then authorized to sell their product to the US government.

Right now, today, the only company authorized to sell watches to the United States Military is The Marathon Watch Company, ironically based out of Canada.  Not Casio, not Luminox, and not Garmin either.

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Rotary Encoder on Raspberry Pi

IQ Audio DAC+ Rotary Encoder On Raspberry Pi B+

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This is a quick tutorial on how to add a rotary encoder to a Raspberry Pi with an IQAudio DAC+. There were bits and pieces of this on the web but nobody has a Barney style tutorial and that’s what this is.

The assumption is that you have a Raspberry Pi and IQAudioDac that plays music. And now you want to control the volume manually.

And I’m making the assumption that when you got your IQAudio DAC that you soldered on the header pins they sent with it. You’ll need to do that. Follow the directions on page 30 of their user guide.

First get the rotary encoder and some female to female jumpers from Adafruit.

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Compact Bowden

Old Info on my 3D printer build and configuration that I thought I lost.  Found it on the Internet Archive WayBack Machine and preserving it here for my future use.

Compact Bowden Extruder on RepRap Prusa i3 with MK8 Gear.

I had previously built a Compact Bowden extruder for my RepRap Prusa i3, 3D printer that utilized a plain insert filament drive gear. I built it from parts from my stock extruder.
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After a bit of research I determined I wanted to go the route of the MK8 hobbed gear. Why change something that works fine? Because I can. I got mine here.

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RepRap Printer

NOTE:  I lost this page somewhere along the line and found it on the Internet Archive WayBack Machine.  Just saving it for posterity.

RepRap 3D Printer

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Did you ever look at the price of a good quality 3D printer and think “I wish I had one, but that’s too expensive”?

Well it’s not as bad as you might think. An Open Source Community has sprung up around 3D printers called RepRap. The whole point being the printer is self replicating meaning you can print a new printer from your printer. (That boggles the mind, huh?) A decent RepRap kit will only set you back about $300 or $400. That’s not so bad?

This is kind of a quick glimpse into my 3D printing journey so far and where I’m taking it.

First of all there are literally dozens of RepRap variations. I figured at least initially I better stick with the one that is well documented and common. After some research I settled on a version called the Prusa i3 and more specifically the RepRapGuru Kit of the Prusa i3.

I actually found the same guy selling the same kits on eBay with a “Best Offer” button and offered a little bit less than the Amazon price and he agreed. And so it begins.

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Garmin Vivoactive 4 Review

Garmin Vivoactive 4

Here’s yet another watch in my arsenal.  The Garmin Vivoactive 4.  I try not to perform the typical review that you can find by the dozens.  Basically somebody will cover the spec sheet and tell you how great it is.  I like to use the things and tell you what its strengths and weaknesses are.

First of all I’m a bit of a Garmin fanboy and have been using their products for many years whether it be a dedicated automobile GPS or a bicycle computer.   They work and they have an excellent software suite.


The Garmin Vivoactive 4 seems to be no different.  Even though I have read specs that say the Vivoactive 4 is not compatible with Garmin Basecamp………it seems to be.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 in Basecamp

The way to just see one track on the map is to create a new List which I named Vivoactive Clean Map.  I can then drag and drop one track in the folder at a time to view just that one track.  Then you can create routes or whatever you want to do.  Cool!

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