Nikon D5300 and GPS

I purchased a Nikon D5300 as an upgrade to my old Nikon D60 about two months ago. A major selling point of the D5300 for me was the built in GPS with the ability to add geotagging data to my pictures. I understand that it may take some amount of time for the camera to attain GPS lock after it’s been turned on but I’ve been seriously disappointed in the performance in this case.

During the two months I’ve had it I was not able to get it to acquire GPS data once. I regularly walk south along the Seattle waterfront as part of my daily commute, a little over half an hours walk. I tried multiple times to leave the camera turned on for the entire walk with the camera hung around my neck sitting at my stomach. but it never managed to do anything but blink the satellite indicator on thew screen.

Finally this last week, I went and downloaded a copy of the A-GPS Update File from the Nikon Web site. http://nikonimglib.com/agps2/index.html.en After doing that, and starting a GPS Logging operation at the beginning of my walk south, the camera was able to report GPS position for the first time. Even after it was in logging mode and reporting GPS position for some of the pictures, it wouldn’t maintain them for all of the pictures in a sequence of pictures.

The data file that I downloaded is supposedly only good for less than a month, and even then only two weeks at a time, so to make this useful, it appears that I’ll have to get new downloads from Nikon at least once a month.

I believe the GPS antenna is not mounted in the highest portion of the camera. There’s a flat portion of the case between the main control selector dial and the case strap that has the GPS symbol as well as the WiFi.

Because I don’t have an android phone or iPhone I find the WiFi connectivity feature useless. I can’t connect it to my local network at home or work and control the camera from a device on my local network. I would have to disconnect my ipad from my local network and connect it to my camera, which means that I have no advantage in using my camera to shoot pictures to social networking sites.

I like the camera for its resolution and low light sensitivity, just am disappointed in the wireless features.

FrSKY X8R Receiver

FrSKY X8R PackageAfter purchasing my Taranis combination that came with an X8R receiver, I realized that part of why I wanted the Taranis was the easy ability to switch between remote receivers that I was controlling. I want to be able to control a fixed wing aircraft as well as my quad copter. The easiest way to do that is to have separate receivers, one for each vehicle. Then you can switch models in your transmitter and be ready to go.

http://www.alofthobbies.com/ had two versions of the X8R available for sale. One titled “RSKY X8R – 16 CHANNEL, SBUS, SMART PORT RECEIVER (ANTENNA COMBO)” , the other “FRSKY X8R – 16 CHANNEL, SBUS, SMART PORT RECEIVER“, not mentioning the antenna combo. Both items were out of stock, and I had to be put on a notification wait list. I recieved the notification and quickly decided to order it. The price difference was $0.50 so I ordered the combo, but didn’t really know what I’d be getting.

It appears that the difference between the two models is that this one comes with both antennas and bare wires that can be switched out. I can’t see a reason I’d want to switch out using the hard terminated antennae vs using the bare wire ending. I’ve read some recent articles talking about the tight tolerances on antenna design at 2.4GHz that lead me to believe that some of the rough handling that happens to RC aircraft could mess with those tolerances. I still don’t know if I ordered the item without the combo if I’d have received the version with the hard antennae or the bare wires.

FrSKY X8R

Fr SKY X8R 8/16 Channel Telemetry Reciever

FrSKY Taranis RC Transmitter

Following several friends recommendations I purchased a FR Sky Taranis radio to control my quad copter. I wanted more channels of communication than what my original transmitter supplied, as well as the ability to choose which switches controlled which activities on my UAV. The Taranis was fairly inexpensive for its feature set, but has been in limited supply. I had myself put on a waiting list from http://www.alofthobbies.com/ to be notified when they had them in stock. I received mine about a month ago, and while I took pictures and have used it in the past month, this is the first time I’ve sat down and consolidated that information. I purchased the Taranis & X8R combination that includes both the transmitter and receiver. It included the protective carrying case, rechargeable battery, AC adapter, neck strap and balancing clip, as well as the transmitter and receiver. A small zip-lock bag contained keys for the carrying case and two pin jumpers for configuring the receiver outputs. There is a green LED visible between the battery compartment and the charger port that blinks when the battery is being charged and goes solid when it is completely charged. I wish that the LED was visible on the front because everything else is on the front, and I don’t really want to lay the device in its front during the charging period but would like to know when it’s done charging.

Taranis Travel Case

Taranis Travel Case

Taranis Contents

Taranis and accessories

Taranis Battery Compartment
Taranis Charging

The X8R receiver has 8 standard PWM channel outputs as well as a Futaba compatible SBus output. The standard outputs can be configured as either outputting channels 1-8 or channels 9-16. The X8R is capable of receiving 16 channels and sending controls for those 16 channels over the single SPort connection. I am connecting it to my Pixhawk using the single SBus connection. Arducopter running on my Pixhawk currently only pays attention to the first 8 channels. I may configure the standard outputs on my X8R to output channels 9-16, and connect my camera gymbal controls directly to the X8r, allowing me to utilize all the channels currently.

The Pixhawk is designed with a single input control set of pins, using PPM instead of PWM. PWM stands for Pulse Width Modulation. PPM stands for Pulse Position Modulation. Pulse Position Modulation allows for packing multiple channels into a single signal. There are plenty of good examples describing the technology as it related to RC devices, if you know the right terms to search for. I started learning RC airplanes last summer, and understanding what was going on didn’t seem as easy as it should be. The APM board that I was originally using had 8 PWM inputs, and 8 PWM outputs. The inputs were connected to the receiver and the outputs were connected to the ESCs, Electronic Speed Controls, for the motors. Now I’m using the Pixhawk and it’s got a single three wire cable connecting to the receiver but still 4 three wire cables connecting to the 4 ESCs. http://www.endurance-rc.com/ppmtut.php is one description of PPM vs PWM.

The Taranis itself runs OpenTX operating system which accounts for a large portion of its flexibility compared to its cost. It reports data back from the receiver as well, so technically both the transmitter and receiver are transceivers, sending data as well as receiving data. A simple bit of data that it constantly reported back at the transmitter is RSSI, the receiver signal strength. This is useful simply to recognize before you fly your model out of range of your transmitter. This return data path should also be able to carry all of the telemetry back and display it directly on the transmitter. I’ve not figured out if the pixhawk needs to be connected to two ports on the x8r to accomplish this feature.

What follows is a link dump of many of the items I’ve been saving up in understanding my configuration of the taranis radio, using the 16 channels, using the pixhawk, my Tarot GoPro gymbal, and references to the APM as well.

 

Test Drive of BMW i3

BMW i3 Roundel
A month ago, I had the opportunity to test drive a BMW i3, BMW’s new all electric vehicle.  I’ve never driven an all electric vehicle before, but really wanted to see how the BMW feel would translate. At some point I’d like to drive a Tesla and a Nissan Leaf for comparison.BMW i3 Logo
The vehicle I drove was part of a non-US spec fleet that has been touring the US for demonstration purposes. One of the features it has which will not be available in the US immediately is a sliding glass sunroof. It was explained to me that the US regulations require that the sunroof be directly connected to the metal roof of the vehicle, and the i3 has no metal in the roof of the vehicle. It’s all carbon fiber, and both stronger and lighter than the metal roof in most vehicles, but regulations were written without the future in mind.
BMW i3 Rear QuarterBMW i3 Front QuarterBMW i3 Doors OpenBMW i3 rear without brakesBMW i3 rear with brake lights

I’ve seen pictures of this vehicle in the past and thought it sort of funny looking. The first thing about seeing it in person is that the parts I don’t like don’t stand out so much. I’m not enamored of the look directly from the front, but the side profile and back view I quite like. When the doors are opened they have the comforting and very solid BMW feel. The front doors don’t have upper window frames, so when the door is opened the window slides down a tiny bit, and then raises after the door has been closed, to provide a consistent seal. the back seat doors are suicide doors, meaning that they are hinged at the back. When both doors are open, there’s no center pillar, allowing for easy access to the back seats.
BMW i3 Steering WheelBMW i3 Eucalyptus Dashboard
The dash board has two instrument pods, the smaller one with the speedometer directly visible through the steering wheel, and the larger central display. I did not like that the speedometer display could only display the speed using large digits. The electric motor is very responsive and it was quite easy to be over the speed limit in any situation. I believe that an analog dial in peripheral vision is much easier to recognize compared to a set of digits and with a computer display like this should at least be a user configurable option. The central console could display navigation options or details about how the car was operating. The car uses regenerative breaking. If you raise your foot completely off the accelerator pedal the engine would actively decelerate the car, producing power to put back into the battery pack. One of the modes on the central display would show the power usage of the vehicle. It was a really cool display, but very distracting when I really should have been paying attention to what was on the road.

I was not crazy about the texture of the dashboard and some of the trim panels. They were made of a fibrous board paneling, perhaps a type of carbon fiber. The salesman told me that it was both extremely light and extremely strong. He also indicated that my dislike might be a bit of a generational thing, and that people 15 years younger than me don’t associate the look with the same things. I can accept that, even though it’s not to my taste. I did like the curved eucalyptus wood panels on some of the flat parts of the dashboard.

Part of the driving loop I took had me accelerating onto the interstate. I don’t remember if I floored the accelerator or not, but I do know that it took off quite quickly, and I realized I was approaching 70mph, very soon after I’d signed the agreement that I’d not do anything illegal while drive the car. My first instinct was to take my foot completely off the pedal, which started the regenerating braking, as if I’d stepped on the brakes. Obviously it would take a little getting used to but I think it would probably happen extremely quickly. The example I’ve used when talking to people is driving a sport motorcycle with its huge power to weight ratio. In gear you get a feel for smoothly rolling off the throttle and holding at the speed you want to go. I was told that regenerative breaking encourages one pedal driving, in that you rarely use the brakes at all, and BMW is expecting the brakes to last over 100k miles, with the brake fluid needing service more than the pads. I don’t think I put my foot on the brakes even during the city portion of the drive. There are no gear changes, so both acceleration and deceleration are extremely smooth.
BMW i3 electric motorBMW i3 space for range extender motor
The i3 has an advertised driving range of 80 to 100 miles per charge, with the optional range extender motor version just under doubling the range. (for regulatory reasons the vehicle can’t drive farther using gasoline than it does under pure electric to qualify as an electric vehicle.)

I lifted the panel in the back hatch storage compartment and saw the electric motor offset to the left, and a large empty space to the right side. I was told that was where the range extender motor would fit, if the model was so equipped.

I don’t think I’ll be buying one of these any time soon, but it’s more because I’m happy with the 2002 X5 I am still driving after having ordered new from the factory with the configuration I wanted, than because of anything with the new vehicle. I use public transit or personal exercise for my daily commute, with my X5 being used for trips into the mountains for skiing, or longer distance drives closer to 500 miles each way that simply do not work with current electric vehicles. The fact that my X5 is paid for also makes the expense of a new vehicle a bit of a hurdle.
BMW i3 eDrive

eSATA and PCI Power Management

My home server that I built using an HP ProLiant N40L Microserver was recently running low on disk space. It has four internal bays for 3.5 inch drives, and I had fully populated those. It has a single eSATA port but that eSATA port does not support drive enclosures with multiple targets.

TowerRAID TR4M+BNCI decided I would buy a Sans Digital 4 Bay eSATA Port Multiplier JBOD Tower Storage Enclosure (no eSATA Card bundle) TR4M+BNC and populate it with four Western Digital Red NAS Hard Drive WD30EFRX 3TB IntelliPower 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5″ Internal Hard Drives. I could have used 4TB drives, but the 3TB drives were at a better price per byte point for me. I was mainly interested in storage space, and not so much speed.

SI-PEX40060Because the built in eSATA port on my machine would not support multiple targets without hacking the bios, I decided the easy thing was to buy an eSATA card to put in my machine. I picked SYBA SI-PEX40060 PCI-Express 2.0 x1 Low Profile Ready SATA III (6.0Gb/s) Controller Card because it explicitly listed Port Multiplier compatibility and I’ve used devices from SYBA in the past.

I had to install the driver for the card to get it to recognize more than the first drive in the enclosure but then I was able to use the normal windows disk management utility to configure each of the four drives. The front panel of the Sans Digital box went from having a single green hard drive led to having all four lit up. I got the drivers for the card from the manufacturer web page instead of using the CD that shipped with the card. http://www.sybausa.com/productInfo.php?iid=1383

I configured all four new drives into a software raid configuration and started to put data onto the system. It was seeming slow, but I let it run overnight. When I next looked at it, the drive letters assigned to the drives on the array were offline, and the array display only had a single LED lit.

Some research and I found these messages in the event log:

Log Name:      System
Source:        mv91xx
Date:          4/1/2014 6:55:39 AM
Event ID:      117
Task Category: None
Level:         Error
Keywords:      Classic
User:          N/A
Computer:      Acid.WIMSWORLD.local
Description:
The driver for device \Device\Scsi\mv91xx1 detected a port timeout due to prolonged inactivity. All associated busses were reset in an effort to clear the condition.
Event Xml:
<Event xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/win/2004/08/events/event">
  <System>
    <Provider Name="mv91xx" />
    <EventID Qualifiers="49156">117</EventID>
    <Level>2</Level>
    <Task>0</Task>
    <Keywords>0x80000000000000</Keywords>
    <TimeCreated SystemTime="2014-04-01T13:55:39.043910900Z" />
    <EventRecordID>220446</EventRecordID>
    <Channel>System</Channel>
    <Computer>Acid.WIMSWORLD.local</Computer>
    <Security />
  </System>
  <EventData>
    <Data>\Device\Scsi\mv91xx1</Data>
    <Binary>000000000100000000000000750004C0000100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000</Binary>
  </EventData>
</Event>

Log Name:      System
Source:        mv91xx
Date:          4/1/2014 6:55:41 AM
Event ID:      9
Task Category: None
Level:         Error
Keywords:      Classic
User:          N/A
Computer:      Acid.WIMSWORLD.local
Description:
The device, \Device\Scsi\mv91xx1, did not respond within the timeout period.
Event Xml:
<Event xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/win/2004/08/events/event">
  <System>
    <Provider Name="mv91xx" />
    <EventID Qualifiers="49156">9</EventID>
    <Level>2</Level>
    <Task>0</Task>
    <Keywords>0x80000000000000</Keywords>
    <TimeCreated SystemTime="2014-04-01T13:55:41.062170100Z" />
    <EventRecordID>220447</EventRecordID>
    <Channel>System</Channel>
    <Computer>Acid.WIMSWORLD.local</Computer>
    <Security />
  </System>
  <EventData>
    <Data>\Device\Scsi\mv91xx1</Data>
    <Binary>0F0010000100000000000000090004C001010050000000002D05000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000007000000</Binary>
  </EventData>
</Event>

Searching on the error code led me to a web page describing a similar issue with a different driver. http://solutions.unixsherpa.com/2010/03/25/the-device-deviceideiastor0-did-not-respond-within-the-timeout-period/ refers to PCI-Express Link State Power Management as the instigator to my problem. I changed the power management exactly like the page said and my machine has been completely stable for the last month.

BMW iPod Connectivity

Last Monday I came across a post on http://www.bmwblog.com/2014/04/14/add-ipod-connectivity-older-bmw-hard-think/ talking about adding iPod connectivity to BMW vehicles. I’ve got a 2002 BMW X5 with the high end dsp equipped stereo and navigation system. It’s got a 6 disk CD Player in the back, which was reasonable in 2002, but extremely limited in 2014.

I’d heard about the DICE model in the past, but never heard about the http://usaspec.com/ model. The state of the USA Spec website was slightly concerning, but the fact that I could order the part from Amazon was at least a bonus. That it explicitly listed compatibility with the DSP unit was also promising. I ordered the item, expecting it to arrive by Wednesday. The model that arrived on Wednesday had the right information on the outside of the package, but had a PA11-BMW instead of the PA12-BMW-dsp that I needed. Thankfully Amazon returns department set up a shipment of the correct model to arrive by Friday, and simple return label for the incorrect item.

20140417_165429 20140417_165455 20140417_165502 20140417_165512 20140417_165527
The first package came with all of the correct supplementary parts, just not the correct electronics. It’s got the DSP cable at the top right, the cable that connects the USASPEC PA12-BMWdsp to the BMW Wiring harness, the iPod connector cable, and a small coax male to male cable connector.
20140420_112321 20140420_112330 20140420_112343 20140420_112414
The correct hardware has both the dsp connector and a four position dip switch.

I removed my CD Changer and plugged the device into the cables in its place. I plugged my iPod into the device. The iPod put the words BMW up on the screen, and also told me it was OK to disconnect.

I was not able to get the device working in my system. At one point I had music playing, and the text of the song names displayed in my instrument cluster, but not on the center console display. I never had control working from the center console radio.

After all of this work I found references that it is not compatible with the NAV system. I had seen some references that it was not compatible with the satellite radio systems, as well as other misspellings in the documentation, so I didn’t know if I’d be able to find a way to make it work.

I’ve been interested in having this working with my vehicle, and wouldn’t mind paying for an original BMW part if I can make it work. Unfortunately my BMW was built in May of 2002, and there was a revision in October 2002 that has an AUX port on the back of the head unit that would make connecting any device to the unit much easier.

I’ve read that various parts of the system can be swapped out, such as the fact my nav system is CD based, and I can swap out the CD Nav System with a DVD Nav system, and the console should then be able to do the newer 3d navigation that was in newer models.

I’d really like to know if I can buy a newer head unit and get the Aux port just by swapping out the in dash component.

Tool Lending Libraries

I learned about tool lending libraries while I was visiting the Seattle Mini Maker Faire last month. I’ve not had time since to take advantage of any of them but I was just finding some of this information interesting.