Tag Archives: spring valley

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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Halls of History—Then the tax bills started arriving

Halls of History

I always have done a lot of reading. People have always asked me how I had so much time for reading. I call it multitasking.

When I was in college at Texas A&M University, the lines were long for football tickets, Aggie rings (called “senior rings” at other schools), and the Aggieland (called “yearbooks” at other schools). I learned to take a book or magazine with me to read while waiting in line. Most of the time it was a textbook back then—priorities, you know.

In today’s world, magazines pretty much don’t exist anymore, so Books R Us. I’m usually reading two concurrently, a history book and a fiction book (Stephen King, Lee Child, Lincoln Child, etc.).

The history book I’m reading right now is a history of the area where I currently live: Our Hills and Valleys: A History of the Helix-Spring Valley Region by Thomas Joseph Adema. Here are some tidbits, excerpts, and thoughts:

Picture it. Early 1930s.

Great Depression. You are barely surviving.

You own four acres of land. Your property tax bill arrives.

$1,200. Four times what the land and home are worth.

What are you going to do? Why, stop paying taxes, of course. The Mattoon Act will take care of you.

Must have been the greatest law ever, right? Can’t pay your property taxes? Fall back on The Mattoon Act.

San Vicente DamThe Acquisition and Improvement Act, its proper name, was passed by the California legislature in May 1925. The bill was intended to streamline the process for, and provide funding for, the construction of needed public works—paved streets, lighting, bridges, reservoirs, better and more reliable water delivery.

Property condemnation was quicker and easier. Community authorities had the power to create “improvement districts” that crossed city and county lines. Thus, if a new sewer line was needed, the areas benefiting were designated “improvement areas.” Bonds were sold to fund the construction, and landowners in the improvement district would pay off the bonds with a yearly ad valorem tax.

Real estate developers loved the law. They used public funds to install street lamps, build parks, and widen and pave roads in their newly subdivided neighborhoods. City councils and utility companies also loved it.

Homeowners initially liked the law because their neighborhoods were improved, but they had no choice about which improvement districts they were thrown into. It was entirely possible that if you lived at the boundary of three cities, you could be in three improvement districts.

Meeting of La Mesa, Lemon Grove, and Spring Valley CAAs an example, I live at the corner of the boundaries for La Mesa, Lemon Grove, and Spring Valley. Imagine all of them putting me in their improvement districts and taxing me for anything and everything from which I might benefit as a member of the public. Then throw in that suddenly I am unemployed and the nation is in the midst of a Great Depression. Sunk, I would be.

Then the tax bills started arriving.

The killer provision in The Mattoon Act said what would happen if one could not pay one’s taxes: The rest of the members of the improvement district would have to pay them.

So if Johnny could not pay his taxes, no big deal.

Back in the days of The Mattoon Act, Spring Valley had ten households. When Johnny could not pay his $1,200 tax bill in 1927, his tax bill was split between the other nine households.

Joe, after paying his $1,200 tax bill, suddenly got another tax bill for $133.33, his share of Johnny’s bill. Joe couldn’t pay the additional $133.33, so his tax bill was split between the other eight households.

Mary, after paying her $1,200 and her $133.33 share of Joe’s bill, now got yet another tax bill for $16.66. On and on it went.

Spring Valley CAHomes were lost to foreclosure for failure to pay taxes, or tax liens were placed on their homes, making it impossible to sell the property. Homes fell into disrepair, making them even more difficult to sell.

It didn’t take long before the population rebelled, and The Mattoon Act was repealed in 1931. The damage had been done to many people and many cities and for many years to come. People lost their land and homes but there was no one to buy them so the cities were left with land but no money to pay the bonds on the projects they already had completed. Oh what a tangled web….

In 1935, the United States Supreme Court ruled that The Mattoon Act had been legal, so cities and taxpayers still had to pay the debts which had incurred. It took several years before cities and taxpayers were tax free.

Targeted relief plans were passed, including a gas tax to pay off road bonds. Landowners were given final sums that they could settle with cash. In the case of Johnny, whose home had been foreclosed back in 1927, he got his home back by paying $250 to settle the tax bill.

Money

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

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This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat