Category Archives: Videos

First Yuneec Typhoon H drone pictures and video

I live in my own little world

Back in December 1976 I flew with three friends on a 4-seat Mooney aircraft from College Station TX to Tyler and then over to Memphis TN. That was my first airplane flight. I’m not sure I ever removed my face from the window.

Then, my first (real) job out of college in 1977 allowed me to do a lot of flying. I lived and worked in Houston but had the opportunity to fly to Dallas, New Orleans, Miami, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Chicago, New York…… It was so much fun. By the time I moved to San Diego in 1993, I had been to 38 of the 50 states.

I sat out of the work force for 11 months after arriving in San Diego, considering myself retired. Retirement’s not all it’s cracked up to be, especially if you’re used to being around lots of people all the time. So I went back into the work force and got a job that involved a significant amount of traveling–San Diego, Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Columbus, Philadelphia, Tampa, Miami, New Orleans………. The list goes on and on and on.

Every time I flew, regardless of where I was flying to or from, my face was always glued to the window. I loved being up above everything looking down on it–mountains, buildings, highways, forests, lakes…… Anything and everything.

I cut back significant on flying after 9/11, especially after the Detroit Shoe Bomber. I just don’t like long lines, don’t like undressing at an airport, and don’t like people touching my junk unless I ask them to.

I missed being above, looking down.Yuneec Typhoon H

So on March 18, 2017, I bought a drone. The biggest, baddest drone I could find. With lots of bells, whistles, vibrations, and alarms. A Typhoon H Pro with RealSense Technology. It cost $1,899 at Fry’s Electronics but on that day Fry’s paid the $147.17 sales tax for me.

This thing is so big and expensive that it took me three weeks before I was brave enough to try to fly it. Been through several crashes but since I’m only flying six feet above ground, the crashes didn’t do any significant damage. Just three plastic rotors which cost about $7 each.

Then I joined the San Diego Drone Club. A little six-year-old boy set me straight: “Just do it” I think he said. So I set out to find a place where I could practice without being a hazard to people or animals. Collier Park across the street was pretty good but I never know how busy it’s going to get on any morning. I might be able to fly for two hours or two minutes. It’s also less than an acre, so if the children or dogs show up early, I’m outta there.

Today I discovered Eucalyptus County Park. It’s almost 6½ acres, and is rather isolated out in Spring Valley, about three miles from me. I arrived at 6:10 this morning and left 1½ hours later. During that time I saw only one other person. So I got a lot of practice in, especially with landing, and learning how to make the drone move in the direction I want it to move. I also got eight still pictures and two videos.

Here are my favorite two pictures from this morning at Eucalyptus Park:

Grove of palm trees from up abovePalm trees from above

Bancroft Drive with Mount San Miguel at upper leftBancroft Drive in Spring Valley CA

And here’s my best video out of four total, two today, taken using the drone’s spinaround mode:

This drone is pretty awesome because of its Intel RealSense Technology. It will communicate with up to 18 satellites to give you GPS, and once it has a lock on GPS, it can pretty much fly itself.

The ST16 Controller has more apps on it than a smart phone and allows you to set so many functions that you will need a margarita by the time you finsh:

Typhoon H ST16 Controller

The Typhoon H also comes with a remote-control called a Wizard:

Typhoon H Wizard

The Wizard is what you will use if you get tired of holding the Controller or it starts getting heavy hanging on the lanyard around your neck. With the Wizard, you can set the Controller down, or give it to a friend to hold, and go walking around. If you put the drone in “Follow me” mode, it will follow you at whatever height you set it for. You can also use “Point to fly” mode and just point the Wizard somewhere and the Typhoon H will fly to that spot. There’s also a “Home” mode which helps the drone get back home if it gets lost. It has an Obstacle Avoidance mode so that it can automatically go around trees and such, and you can create a virtual fence so that, regardless of what you do, you can’t go beyond that fence. Useful for if you lose GPS out in the boondocks and your drone starts to “fly away.” Pictures and videos can be taken using just the Wizard. It truly is a wizard at doing what it does.

Typhoon H batteryThe battery provides about 25 minutes of flying time, takes 1½ hours to recharge, and costs $139.99 (less if you go to eBay). You get two with the drone. I bought two more, so I’ll be taking four batteries with me into the mountains. I’ll be able to recharge one battery using the in-car charger while driving, so it should be rare that I’ll run out of battery juice or flight time.

My only complaint with the Typhoon H at this point is that the videos in mp4 format are huge and crappy. The video in this blog post was 621 MB straight out of the drone and so crappy that I would be embarrassed to show it to anyone. So I took it to Wondershare Filmora, my video editing program, and simply saved it with a different name. Now it looks awesome and is only 81 MB. Can’t explain that one. Apparently the Chinese have a different mp4 format.

I have more on my mind with the Typhoon H than just playing with it, though. I want to get pictures of abandoned railroad tracks for my railroad research in areas that are somewhat inaccessible out in the East San Diego County mountains. My hiking days are behind me, especially if the hike involves going down into a rocky canyon and up the other side. The canyons are steep but are rarely more than a mile across, and if they are, there are roads to get me closer. With this drone, if I can get within a mile, I can get it the rest of the way.

Eventually I’ll get an FAA 107 commercial drone license so I can do real estate photography and figure out other ways to use this drone to make money.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

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This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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Cold & wet—not my kind of weather

Out & About

I spent a couple of hours in La Jolla yesterday taking pictures and videos of the splashing waves of the King Tide as well as wildlife that was enjoying the cold, wet weather, something that I was not exactly doing myself.

I know that big waves can be destructive but they sure are fun to watch.

Spring tide in La Jolla CA 1/11/17

One of the better photos of the crashing waves because it also shows the harbor seals and, at the lower right, that little pup seemingly wondering if it’s safe to go in.

Spring tide in La Jolla CA 1/11/17

The stairs down to the beach, except that when the tide is this high, there is no beach.

Spring tide in La Jolla CA 1/11/17

There were many birds and seals hoping to get their 15 minutes of fame in a WordPress blog.

Harbor seal pups at Children's Pool in La Jolla CA

Bird at the Cove in La Jolla CA

About six months ago I bought a new Canon Rebel 760D because it has a tilt/swivel screen which makes it easier to take pictures and videos from weird positions, and auto focusing for videos. I haven’t really learned to use the auto focusing yet. Either that or it just plain is abysmal. That’s one of the reasons why I was out taking videos yesterday, to find out exactly what I have and how to use it. Here is a 55-second video of the crashing waves at the Children’s Pool in La Jolla:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Music on Mondays (041116)—Road trip!

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I’ve been thinking about my next road trip after finding out about a company called Turo. Turo is a car rental marketplace where travelers can rent any car they want, wherever they want it, from a nationwide community of local car owners, making Turo a great option for car rentals for a road trip. They have a much wider price range than standard rentals, so they are a great resource for adventurers who want to hit the open road.

Anyhow, I started creating a road trip song list and thought I would share the beginnings with y’all!

I listen to my non-classical music collection (currently 1,649 hours, 55 minutes, and 10 seconds of music) while in the car; the only two genres not represented in my non-classical collection are rap and hip-hop. I don’t care for the vulgarity that is too often present in songs in those genres.

My specific road trip play list would have two types of songs on it: songs I can sing to and songs I can tap my foot to (left foot; the right foot is working the gas and brake pedals). So maybe my ideal road trip play list would have songs that I can both sing to AND tap my foot to. Here are a few of them, in no specific order other than the order in which they popped up in my head:

“Generation Clash” by Accept, 1989

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Lots of songs by Queen would make this list, including, of course, “Bohemian Rhapsody” (think “Wayne’s World”). Queen’s 1975 album, “A Night At The Opera” probably is on my list of Top 10 albums of all time. The album itself would make a great road trip listen. This, possibly, is my favorite song from the album:

“39” by Queen, 1975

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Back in 1973 as a freshman at Texas A&M University, a friend and I would road trip to football games in his Firebird. Both of us were huge fans of The Doobie Brothers. Here’s one of their songs that we were always playing on our road trips, and which would still be on my road trip playlist 40+ years later:

“Rockin’ Down The Highway” by The Doobie Brothers, 1972

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

After graduating from Texas A&M University, I hung out with a different crowd since everyone from college took jobs in different cities. That was when I discovered Fleetwood Mac, and this next song became a road trip staple:

“Never Going Back Again” by Fleetwood Mac, 1977

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Lots of songs by Creedence Clearwater Revival and, after their breakup, John Fogerty would also make the list. CCR and Fogerty just have that natural driving rhythm in almost all of their songs. Here, let’s go with a song that has a car title:

“Hot Rod Heart” by John Fogerty, 1997
(Let’s go riding, cruising down the open road,
We can put the top down, listen to the radio….)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

A song from my Lost Music Decade, which means I only recently discovered it:

“Hunting Humans (Insatiable)” by Rainbow, 1995

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Since I’m a huge Paul McCartney fan, I love a song with good bass in it. McCartney, Peter Cetera of Chicago, Tiran Porter of The Doobie Brothers, and Wayne Nelson of Little River Band are my four favorite bassists. Here’s one of my favorite driving songs from Little River Band:

“No More Tears” by Little River Band, 1983

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I always knew the following song as “Things Go Better With Rock.” I never could find the song anywhere until a couple of years ago when I accidentally discovered the real name of the song and the name of the group.

“Turn Up The Radio” by Autograph, 1984

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Neil Young plays the celeste in this next song. One of my favorite songs by CSN&Y.

“Queen Of Them All” by Crosby Stills Nash & Young, 1999

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I did many a road trip in college with Bachman-Turner Overdrive playing on the car’s tape deck. BTO is similar to CCR in that almost every song makes a good road trip song. Here’s one of my favorites:

“Roll On Down The Highway” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive, 1974
(The time’s real short, you know the distance is long.
I’d like to have a jet but it’s not in the song….)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

By now everyone probably is asking, “Where are The Beatles? Where are The Beatles?” Fear not, dear readers. I’ve simply been trying to decide what one song from The Beatles should be in this post. I can’t decide….

Still haven’t decided….

Nope.

Haven’t decided yet….

Still stumped….

Okay.

I think I have it.

How about this one since it was one of my favorite riding songs from high school, a time when I didn’t have a car so I didn’t drive. But friends had to put up with me singing this song over and over and over again on the way to Whataburger, or Sonic, or the dance hall. Maybe I wanted to be a paperback writer….

“Paperback Writer” by The Beatles, 1966

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Eat your carrots if you want to grow up to be big and strong

video logo

Dear Children:

If you eat your

carrots,

you will

grow up

to be

big and strong,

like a polar bear….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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My Christmas video for all y’all

Out & About

I went to Ocean Beach early on Christmas morning to get pictures and videos of 2015’s King Tide.

A “King Tide” coincides with a full moon and is the highest of the high tides for the year, excluding storm tides and tsunamis.

The King Tide for 2015 was about 7¼ feet.

While not nearly as exciting as storm tides, I got a nice video that includes several rainbows created by the ocean spray, smack dab in the middle of the video.

I didn’t see the rainbows until I got home and watched the video.

The area in the video normally is a wide, sandy beach full of people, even on cold winter days, “cold” being defined as temperatures below 60°F.

The area where I was standing normally is a dry bluff about twelve feet above the sandy beach, but just to get this Christmas video for all y’all, I stood in water and got significantly wet from the spray of the waves crashing a few feet from me.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays (8-10-15)—It’s a very, very mad world

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

I have been trying to watch one movie each day. Surprisingly it’s a lot easier to do since I canceled cable TV back in September 2012. I used to turn on the TV to watch a movie, and as someone more famous than me said,

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I’m in a dystopian/science fiction movie mood lately, having watched just this month things like

“Brave New World” from 1980
“A.I. Artificial Intelligence” from 2001
“Equilibrium” from 2002
“Aeon Flux” from 2005
“Babylon A.D.” from 2008

I even watched all three movies from “The Hunger Games” franchise and am looking forward to the fourth movie scheduled to hit theaters in November. Since I don’t go to theaters, though, and don’t rent movies, I probably won’t see it until Summer 2016.

Whenever I watch a movie and am intrigued by actors and actresses whom I know nothing about, I turn to Wikipedia to track down their filmography. Jake Gyllenhaal is one such actor. I first became aware of him in “October Sky” from 1999, then “Brokeback Mountain” from 2005 but never kept up with him after that.

He’s got quite an extensive filmography for a 34-year-old actor, and one of the movies is “Donnie Darko” from 2001. He starred in it along with Maggie Gyllenhaal (his sister), Patrick Swayze, and Drew Barrymore. The soundtrack is music from various groups that I am quite familiar with, such as Tears for Fears, Echo & The Bunnymen, Joy Division, Pantera, and INXS. The song for the closing credits was by Gary Jules and Michael Andrews, “Mad World.” I was familiar with the song by Tears for Fears but not the very haunting, piano version by Jules & Andrews. Here it is:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I did like the movie.

For everything about the movie, see the Wikipedia entry for “Donnie Darko.”

Here’s the original “Mad World” by Tears for Fears from 1983:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Not done since 1935

Out & About

When people come to San Diego, they naturally gravitate to Balboa Park. With 1,200 acres, it is said by those more knowledgeable than me to be the largest city-owned cultural park in the United States.

Within Balboa Park are the two most photographed buildings in San Diego, the Botanical Building and the California Tower.

Botanical Building in San Diego's Balboa Park

California Tower and San Diego Museum of Man, Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Both buildings are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year, having been built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.

One used to be able to go to the viewing decks at the top of the tower, but they have been closed to the public since 1935….

….until January 1, 2015, which is when the first deck of the California Tower was again opened to the public. And it is pretty awesome up there!

Nowhere else can you get as close to the dome of the San Diego Museum of Man:

img_0507 california tower balboa park stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

You can see the Plaza and El Prado promenade, as well as the Cuyamaca Mountains to the east. The peak at the upper left is Mt. Helix, just a few blocks from where I live, and the biggest peak in the upper right is Mount San Miguel, 2,567 feet tall.

IMG_0504 plaza balboa park stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Right below the California Tower is the Old Globe Theatre, a replica of Shakespeare’s Old Globe in England.

img_0506 old globe theater balboa park san diego balboa park stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

You’ll see a panorama of downtown San Diego that is available nowhere else on the ground. Click on the picture for a monster version.

img_0500-0502 san diego downtown panorama california tower balboa park low res

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Most importantly if you have children, they can wave at the planes as they fly into San Diego International Airport:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tours last 40 minutes, including 10-15 minutes on the viewing deck.

Children under the age of 6 are not allowed to go up.

Arrive at the Museum at least 15 minutes before your tour starts because tours will not wait for you and you will not be allowed to join a tour in progress. Critically, if you miss your tour, your ticket will not be refunded or exchanged.

Wear flat-soled shoes that cover your whole foot. You will not be allowed on a tour if you have open-toed shoes, flip flops, sandals, etc.

There are free lockers where you can store personal items while on a tour. No bags of any kind whatsoever—including fanny packs, purses, camera bags, and backpacks—are permitted on the tour. I think the purpose is to prevent people from dropping things over the edge, either accidentally or intentionally. Huge cameras and video equipment also is not allowed; make a reservation for a private tour if you are a professional videographer or photographer with lots of equipment.

It’s best to order tickets and make reservations online because all of Southern California wants to go to the top of the Tower. Only 4,761 of us (a number I completely fabricated) have done it so far.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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