Friday, January 17, 2020

Getting the Wrinkles out of Webcam Sessions

Writing a blog post in hopes of getting some advice on using a webcam to do video conference over the Internet. Within recent weeks I have done several and it is a learning experience. First, I found out my Internet speed was too slow, especially the upload speed. It is now several times faster after a call to my ISP and an increase in monthly charge. After the increase speed the video was much better and now rarely get disconnected. I did two web conferences with people across the country but wondered about the webcam I had which was several years old so I purchased a new one that had good comments on Amazon for $30. 

Web Session White Background

Geazle STEM Network

Upgraded Internet Speed

Before the web session I had yesterday I tested out the video quality by looking at my image on Google Hangouts. It did not seem very bright yet I had three studio lights. I wondered about the how well the built-in webcam microphone would work but gave it a try yesterday in my web session with Milton at Geazel STEM Network.  Milton on the other end uses earphones and I can understand why now as when he spoke to my system the sound came out my speakers and back to him through the microphone that was close to my speakers. I will try earphones next time or maybe a headset.

Web Session with Milton

After the web session I began experimenting with different background colors. First I tried my green screen background and this turned my skin color almost to purple. Next I tried a black background and now I was as white as a ghost with almost no background light. At this point the light bulb went off in my head that this was a "white balance" issue. My video camera does automatic white balance, the the webcam does not. It seems that some webcams come with software to make these adjustments, maybe there is a program I could acquire to do this.

Green Background

Blue Background

Black Background

After this I tried an old blue blanket which was better but the old gold colored blanket seemed to fix the color issue the best. Now I could get by using a gold background but it would be nice to be able to use other color backgrounds. No background color will fix the serial killer look on my face, joke related to a video I watched about talking to the camera.

I am open to suggestions while I literally iron out the wrinkles in my background sheets.

Bill Kuhl

Update on Solutions

I downloaded an $8 program for the Apple App Store that does a bunch of adjustments
on my webcam.  As for the audio loop back issue, I am thinking using a headset might be best solution.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Probability, Research and Bass Fishing from Shore

Shores of Lake Winona

I would like to think this article is not so much about my bass fishing experience but about matching my observations with research.  I am comparing snippets of this article “The Behavior and Habits of Largemouth Bass” by William K Johnke.

First of I want to state my observations from fishing from a small lake close to my home very often in the evening: 

  • From the experience of casting artificial lures from shore over many fishing sessions I find there are places that I have caught fish and other places where I have not caught any.

  • Fishing the general areas that have been successful I will cast a half a dozen times before moving a short distance if I do not catch a fish.  Often I will catch a fish in the first couple casts to one small area or I will not, chances of repeatedly casting to the same area are less likely to be successful.

  • Chances seem to be better if you catch a fish right away that you will catch more on that day.

  • More likely I will catch small fish but there are days when I will catch more large fish.  

Jitterbug Lure Splashes the Surface

From the article I learned largemouth bass feed primarily from sensing vibration and sight.  The lures I most often use wiggle and/or disturb the surface. “They take full advantage of periods or areas of subdued light”, that is why I fish later evening until it is almost dark. “The overwhelming majority of bass will be found in that 10 percent of water”, this is why it is so important to find the best locations. “All bass beyond the smaller sizes (nine to thirteen inches in length and averaging a pound in weight) are basically deep-water fish”, no doubt why I catch so many small fish from shore. “Anything which even hints that his survival may be in jeopardy causes him to retreat hastily”, I find after one fish is caught in a spot that it scares other fish for a short time. Returning to that same spot several minutes later another will often be caught.

Bigger Largemouth Bass

Tiny Bass

Bill Kuhl

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Small Field Free Flight with RC Assist

I live in a small city with an abundance of opportunities for outdoor activities with a major river, small lakes, trout streams, and bluffs; but there is not much space for free flight model airplanes. In the past I flew simple free flight models that would not be much of a loss if lost. A few years ago I became interested in outdoor competition free flight but I had to travel fairly far to fly the models.

Sniffer with RC for Motor and DT

I have tried to think of ways that I could fly the free flight models from a smaller site.  On the first e36 I built I installed RC with rudder control only, used the electronic timer for motor cutoff. The idea being I could fly it in small flying site and then would remove the RC when I could get to a larger flying site. Being completely inexperienced I did not have enough in decalage and crashed, should have used the RC for motor speed also so the power could have been cut;  or worked my way up through really short motor runs.  With enough decalage  it flew fine.  I took the RC off and had help trimming it at 2016 Nats.

Time to use RDT on Satellite 320

My next attempt to build a free flight model for small field was to build a Sniffer with electric motor and RC controlling the motor speed and DT. This worked pretty well in trimming the model out as I could start with low power and cut power immediately if the model appeared to be in trouble.  To work on the transition I could ease off the motor speed at the top of the climb. When adjusted properly I would use full speed and cut off like a normal power free flight.  If it was really calm I took it up fairly high and it would stay flying over the small area.  Using the RDT function I found it was often hard to judge where it was over. There are numerous obstacles on this field and one time when I did a remote DT it landed in a chain link fence, luckily no damage.  Flying this at a somewhat larger field it worked great.

Sniffer Dt'd into Fence

From the small field I find I can test the climb of E36 models for about 5 seconds and set for quick DT, maybe could go to 10 seconds but models can drift while DT’ed.  I test rubber models for very initial trim by only winding to a hundred turns.  I put RC and electric motor on Satellite 320 that I was struggling to trim on glow.  This was great at bigger site but was gliding too close to edge of the field in a hurry.

Lil Dip Glider  

My latest temporary RC on a free flight was to add rudder control on a Lil Dip towline glider. To start with I have been using a hi-start based on 1/8” rubber.  I was able to get the stab incidence set for a good glide. If it started stalling I would use rudder control to turn the plane enough to stop the stalling. With more flights,  I would launch the glider and not touch the RC at all as it climbed up and off the hi-start. As it glided around the field I would try to use the RC as little as possible but the unaided glide time has been pretty short so far.  In the future I want to try setting trim lever for a gentle circle and see if can stay over field longer.

Eureka e36 Quick DT Flight

Bottom line is this is better than not flying at all but not really free flight.  It might be helpful in learning to trim out planes without crashing but that should not be an issue to a more experienced free flighter. I still plan to pursue this more and will write again.

Bill Kuhl


Thursday, June 6, 2019

Rocket Glider Aleda-R

I have six successful launches on my Aleda-R Boost Glider from J&H Aerospace. This evening I made three launches. So far only the 1/2 A3-4T motors have been used which for the smaller area I fly from get it plenty high, Sometimes it gets rather low before the glider releases but other launches the glider releases rather high giving a long glide. The rocket powered portion of the flight has always been fairly straight vertical.  I have also built a swing wing rocket glider but have not launched it yet.

This is a real short blog post but I want to share some pictures and two videos.

Bill Kuhl

To purchase:


Saturday, June 1, 2019

Slope Flying With Friends

I have not done much slope soaring for awhile and it has been a long time since I have flown with other people so flying from a larger earth dam today was a real treat. I really was not ready with my gliders and forgot the fuselage for the glider that would have worked the best. The drive was interesting with all the curves in the road that seem to take you out in the middle of nowhere.

To dynamic soar over the grass covered back of the slope you need a wind that is close to North which normally is not real common in nice weather. By afternoon it was sunny and the temperature was perfect. When I arrived I had forgot how steep and long the hill is to the top, not that bad if you walk a diagonal path. Paul and Dave were flying as I arrived, Paul with conventional slope gliders and Dave was flying a F3RES sailplane. The light F3RES climbed easily in the not real strong wind on the front side and Dave even took it to the backside for DS.

Paul who is very experienced with DS had good laps at times and the wind would die also. So I flew the 2 meter Highlander glider that was given to me, I had never flown it before. After getting the ailerons moving the correct direction I launched it out over the rocky front side and it flew well. I landed for a time and when I tried to fly it again the battery was dead. That was a concern as I have no idea how old the glider is. When I was home I took the battery out and the builder had glued it to the foam. Darn near ripped the nose apart getting it out.

Super Scooter

I tried flying my Super Scooter but there really wasn't enough wind to stay up much of the time but at least being foam it survived landing in the rocks without damage. Later the wind picked up for a time and I could fly on the front side if very gentle on the controls. When it had some altitude I took it too the backside for some DS but never made more than 3 laps before running out of energy. Ali came a little later and flew tiny electric plane that climbed super high in the slope lift.

The trip back started a little challenging as I could get no cell signal in the remote valley so no GPS to help. I remembered enough of the roads to get where cell service was picked up again. It was a great day and hope to fly this spot again when my slope gliders are tested. 

Trying to Remove Old Battery
Paul DS Video

Tuesday, March 26, 2019


Time for new adventures, this is my final week of work before starting a new chapter in my life, retirement. Everyone asks me what I will do, as I never seem to find time for what I want to do now, maybe I will start to catch up.  Like most people with a model aviation hobby, there is a never enough time to build all the airplane kits or plans in your stash. Maybe I will take up another hobby like golf, nothing too dangerous like racing motorcycles on frozen lakes. I was watching this winter, and they were trying to talk me into trying it.

For years it had been my plan to spend more time promoting science projects that are on my website for youth. Sadly it seems there is not much interest in this any longer but I really have not pursued finding interested groups either.  With my model aviation hobby I plan to create more videos. Also I want to get to more model airplane contests for sure.

Working with computers for over 30 years now has been interesting and always changing. My first job after college was mainly computer programming which I really enjoyed, it seemed more creative than what I do now. My current job is more about troubleshooting, and with computers there is plenty of trouble to shoot at. The issues change somewhat over time but there are always new ones. 

My attitude towards technology has changed somewhat over time in that I see the positives and a whole lot of negative also. The Internet has put me contact with a whole lot of interesting people who I would never have known if it wasn’t for the Internet. Negatively I think it has completely ruined the music industry, a lot of printed media, and much of retail. 

The biggest challenge right away will be fixing up a house that is very outdated in several areas. Some of the work I will do but major projects will have to be hired out. Hopefully I will learn much as the project progresses.  I certainly have learned much in constructing all the balsa model airplanes I have built in the last few years. The latest two nearing completion I am rather proud of, this was the first time covering UltraCoat Lite covering and using epoxy paint on the fuselage.

Bill Kuhl

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Sig Cub Electric Free Flight

For me there is something fun and challenging about trying to push something of lower performance to perform at close to an optimum level. The people that build and race the full-scale solar cell powered cars would be a good example of this. My challenge has been to build and fly an electric powered free flight model using the STRIX motor timer, 7 mm coreless electric motor, and one cell lipo battery of around 200 mah.

Sig Cub Electric 

Constraints of the timer dictate a motor run time of 10 seconds or less, and the size of motor and battery are limited also. I have personally limited myself to not using a gear drive. The weight of the electrical components is around 12 grams, if I remember correctly. From my experiments with adding the electrical system to various rubber models I believe optimum wingspan is about 22” to 24”. The most recent plane that I constructed just for this electric system is the Sig Cub. Several years ago I had built a Sig Cub for the intended rubber power and lost it to a thermal with just hand winds.

Flying at 23 Degrees F Motor would cut out

To cut the weight and the drag down further of electric system I left off the landing gear and cut the height of the pylon down. For the wing I used 3 mil mylar and then tissue just on the bottom for some color. The tail surfaces are covered with Esaki tissue and sprayed with an art spray which someone suggested might help the warping problem. It has not worked well and at the right conditions the stab starts to look like a potato chip. I did not pre-shrink tissue, but I think some type of plastic will be used to replace the tissue on the tail.

Launched Too Steep

Beyond the specifications of the airplane, I try to improve the flight by constantly tweaking what I can easily adjust on the airplane. That is position of the wing, rudder trim tab, and angle of launch. To get a longer flight you want it to climb as steep as possible without stalling and the plane transitioning from power to glide as close to level as possible. With this rather weak power package a real steep climb results in bad stalling and a very short flight. Other times I notice the plane climbing and diving in a very gentle manner. No doubt it is stalling but by a smaller amount. The best flights are in a constant climb angle with no hint of a stall with a fairly large turn radius because too tight a spiral wastes energy also.

This Looks to be Good Altitude for this Power System

Straight Pins Used on Rudder Trim Tab

What I like about electric is it is possible to get a large number of flights in because time is not needed to wind a rubber motor or fill an engine with fuel. Batteries need to be swapped out fairly quickly however because performance goes down with multiple runs. What I like about this weak electric flight is the plane is relatively close in and easier to observe.  A negative I have found is that the electric system does not work well below 30 degrees F, but then that is not great flying weather either.

Bill Kuhl

Related Links  Sig Cub on Sig Website 

In the video the climb is not consistent all the way up and duration is not as good as it could be. Probably turning a little tight also.