Gearing Up For A Fun Ride

Ever since I purchased my namesake domain name a decade ago (whew, how quickly time flies!) I’ve always wanted to produce instructional content of exceptional quality, free of charge, for all. But I haven’t done much through these ten years: I’ve merely sat down and talked and dreamt and planned and whined and watched various online technologies, media and media formats come and go.

That is, until now. With a deteriorating health, old age creeping in through the backdoor (hello gray hair!), and having stupidly acquiesced to making someone’s daughter’s burden my own; the quest to create has changed from a mere hobby with altruistic intentions, to a necessary fork I must take in my career path at this very moment. And with little Elvis crawling at my heels, it’s now or never.

That’s why I’m, quite literally, gearing up.

Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920

I wanted a simple and low-cost 1080p-capable webcam that would work out of the box under Linux, Mac and Windows. I looked at several webcams under $100 and settled on the Logitech C920. This camera had over 2,000 5-star rave reviews on Amazon — and most of the few problems reported by 1-star reviewers seemed to be operator related.

Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920

Though I’ve only used this baby very sparingly, I’ve been very impressed with its performance. The Logitech C920 records FULL HD (1080p) video as advertized in .MP4 format, using H.264 compression. It does a pretty good job at the compression too: 1080p video takes about 49MB per 1 minute of recording on the highest settings, while a minute of 720p recording takes about 31MB. My only beef with the C920 is its rather clunky monitor mount which can only be tilted up and down — no side-to-side turn. But that’s not a deal breaker, as the C920 has a threaded 1/4in tripod mount and I’ve already got a Manfrotto in the house.

Manfrotto Compact Light MKCOMPACTLT-RD

The Compact Light is professional photography gear maker Manfrotto’s lightest tripod, midway between between a mini and full size tripod. This is my first real tripod (minis and monopods don’t count), and I wanted something compact and lightweight that I could easily carry around. The Manfrotto Compact Light fits the bill excellently. It weighs less than a kilogram, and measures just about 40cm long when closed. It is designed to fit all Compact System Cameras with a universal ¼” camera attachment and weighing up to 1.5Kg.

Manfrotto Compact Light tripod

Lest I’m deemed an ingrate, let me say here that both the Manfrotto Compact Light tripod and Logitech C920 webcam were presents from my good friend Stephen Kofi Annor. I’d asked Steve, while on his annual nuptial flight to Europe, to buy these for me as I couldn’t find them locally. He bought them all right, but offered them as gifts for Elvis and refused to take the money. Thank you Steve.

Sony DSC-W800

I’m not a huge fan of the Sony brand (for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of their products or the lack thereof), but here was this very basic Sony DSC-W800 lying around from a failed project, and I just couldn’t toss it into the bin. This little camera has become the workhorse at home now, documenting little Elvis’ life and following him wherever he goes.

Sony DSC-W800

Glass Camera (Ordered)

A while back Google made waves with its Glass project, a wearable technology with an optical head-mounted display — essentially a James Bond style ubiquitous computer in the form of an eyeglass. Google has since stopped production of the The $1,500 Google Glass prototype, though the company says it remains committed to the development of the product.

While the release date and final pricing of Google Glass remains unknown, the project has stirred the development of many el-cheapo “spy” glasses, notably from China. But unlike Google Glass which is a complete computer with a display and a web service behind it, these Chinese “spy” glasses only have embedded cameras and nothing more. And even though these devices are marketed as spy glasses, there are numerous FPV (First Person View) use-cases that have nothing to do with spying at all. So don’t worry, I’m not going to spy on you (or on anyone else).

Glass Camera

A Quadcopter / Drone (Ordering Soon)

These days my interests revolve around teaching, photography and videography, electronics and flying. That’s my I’m getting a drone. I’ve fixed my eyes on the awesome 3DRobotics SOLO (see video below), but before I go crashing thousands of dollars into the ground, I’d rather use something cheaper — way cheaper — to learn some sense and master some flying skills.

So I’m going for a sub-$100 drone, and price includes including camera and spare batteries. I’ll probably settle for the very popular Syma X5C-1, as both the newer Syma X5SC and its upgrade Syma X5SC-1 seem to have problem navigating in windy conditions. The MJX X400, the WLToys V686, the JJRC H9D and the Cheerson CX-30W are all solid entry level quadcopters under $100. I’m still looking for a way to sneak this into June’s family budget — so who knows what I might end up buying!

Syma X5C-1 Quadcopter

Fancy Tablet & Phone Mount (Ordering Soon)

Little Elvis LOVES to play with his plastic toys my iPad. Only problem: his 5-month old hands cannot hold the iPad yet, so I have to hold it for him all the time. This nifty robotic arm fixes that.

Tablet and Phone Mount

So what next? Rightnow most of my important toys are either in place or will be in place soon. The only major roadblock ahead is the current extended rolling backout situation here in Ghana, but I’m working on a solution to that as well. If all goes well, I hope to get into full gear in the second half of the year. Stay tuned.

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