I hope you enjoy my blog, a collection of articles and thoughts regarding my interests. I'm a married father of two that loves to write about gliding, hunting, fishing, camping and any outdoor passion. Oh yah, I'm a quadriplegic. I hope this is informative to some, entertaining to others, and interesting to all. Let me know what you think. If you'd like an article for your publication, I've got words I haven't even used yet!

Friday, 16 May 2014

Soaring May 2014

Elk Island Park From 9,500 ft

"All out!" Bob hollers into the microphone from the back seat.

The Pawnee accelerates, straining the rope and spraying us with dry grass and debris. We accelerate down the runway and are airborne before the tow plane, what a blast!

I don't know about the rest of you guys but this was one long winter! At about the five minute mark of the flight the winter blues are long gone, and the grin pulled out and installed for the day! We took a tow to 3000 feet, and then released.

Even though it was overcast there was quite a bit of lift to be found. The first one we hit was averaging between 2 and 4 knots of climb, I wasn't going to turn it down and rolled left into it. One of the attributes I seem to have developed is persistence, much to the chagrin of the pilot that gets to ride behind me in the glider. I got to practice the skills learned flying the Condor online simulator, and I'm not sure how long we circled left but think maybe Bob ( who has the patience of Job) was either really really bored or having a good snooze! As we reached about 7000 feet or so  the lift stabilized and we were still going up at a steady 4 kts! I decided that "don't fix it if it isn't broke"  applies here so  we kept circling even more and rode that one all the way up to our limit of 9500 feet!

"Chipman traffic, Mike Juliet Sierra is over the field at 9.4," Bob reports.

 A while later while circling to the left we notice below us there is another glider circling to the right in the same thermal. Bob identifies the other glider as the PW5 from the club. I roll the glider right and switch direction so we are both circling the same way. Was it ever a lot of fun to watch the other glider and circle with it! The smaller lighter PW5 was climbing faster than us, and as he started getting close I decided to move on and head south.

What a fantastic flight! After nearly an hour and a half we decide to come back down and share the fun with other pilots that are waiting for the glider. Thanks Bob and the Edmonton Soaring Club for all the fun! Here is a short video of the landing, not my smoothest one as I touched down tail first on the hard ground.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Jaco Robotic Arm Fun

     I recently had the opportunity of testing a robotic arm on loan from http://kinovarobotics.com/products/jaco-rehab-edition/. A couple of University of Alberta computer science fellows made the 1 1/2 hour drive down to our place with all of their equipment. They are developing an interface that allows the arm to detect objects and reach for them automatically under command. They allowed me to test the software they are developing to help determine how much faster their interface was than commanding the arm manually with the joystick. The arm did have a lot of knuckles and bends, so it did take some getting used to in manual mode, although some movements were already combined and simplified already. The interface that they built made most tasks automatic and a lot easier to perform. They are definitely on the right track.

     The testing involved moving and manipulating different objects on a table. First I would select them with a mouse on a computer screen and the arm would reach out and align itself to pick up the object automatically. Then the arm would be put back into its home position with the touch of a button, and I would repeat the action manually with the joystick. The times to complete the tasks were compared. I suppose that it was a little bit of work, but being able to play with such a technically advanced piece of machinery was absolutely amazing, I had a blast! To a gear-head like me, this was heaven! Thank you so much to Katelyn Loshny who made it possible, and Camilo and Oscar for coming all the way out here with their multitude of techno-stuff, what a great day!