Yarrie 

September 22, 2016

Just a quick pic I took several trips ago at Yarrie mine site. I was waiting at dawn at the main gate to the site and snapped a few picks like this one.

Refinements

August 9, 2016

Been a busy week but I had time today to download a trial version of Photoshop and try to tidy up the aerial photo I took last week. After watching a few YouTube videos and how-to instructions I managed to crop, align and touch up the pic a little. I actually took out one truck, a car, various horse feed buckets, rubbish bins and assorted bits cluttering up the original photo.

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There is an imperfection in the black border in the top right corner which has been taken out in the high-res version of this picture.

Here’s another couple of photos I took this week with the DJI P4.

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Donkeys near Nifty

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Windmill near Mt Magnet

DJI Phantom 4

July 28, 2016

Well, it’s been a while ( a long long while ) but I dug out my login and decided to put up another post. The holiday with the rooftop tent on the Hilux is long over and I’ve been hard at work keeping the miners in the north-west of the state supplied with food, beer and toilet paper. In fact, I’m due to leave again tonight on another run with three trailers stuffed full of goodies.

Recently I picked up a quadcopter, or DJI Phantom 4 drone. Neat bit of gear and I’ve only really begun to scratch the surface when it comes to learning it capabilities and uses.

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DJI Phantom 4

I started out taking a few aerial stills. Yeah, all very basic stuff – familiarising myself with the quad and camera. It really is easy to fly. I have two other quadcopters, one I built myself, and this thing is like the luxury car version of them.

Took some video too. This is pretty rough stuff but I’m just feeling it out.

When I bought it I had the idea that it would be great for taking aerial photos, or surveys, of properties or areas of interest. I didn’t realise at the time how easy this would be. I found several apps that will run on my iPhone and iPad ( the Phantom uses iOS or Android devices to control it during flight ) which automate the whole process of flying a grid and taking photos. At the moment I’m using Map Pilot for planning and flying the “missions” and Maps Made Easy for processing the images into something useable.

This photo is a series of 71 images stitched into one. I’m going to re-fly the grid and get a little more coverage on all of the boundaries – especially the bottom, top left and top right.

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Here is a neat representation of the heights of objects on the ground.

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This is the really cool part – this link will take you to an interactive page where you can zoom right down and see much finer detail than the two photos above. Do it! This page is what it’s all about.

 

Last Minute Preps

March 23, 2015
Load Plus half leaf

Load Plus half leaf

Today I got the Load Plus half leaf added to my rear spring packs in an attempt to jack up the rear of the Hilux, which was straining under the load I plan to carry. I’m pretty sure it levelled out the vehicle a bit and I won’t really know how much it will improve cornering until I leave tomorrow. But it is a quick cheap option that may not stack up against a full suspension upgrade but is intended to solve a problem simply. Frankly, I didn’t have time to do anything more complicated than this in the short time I have left before departure and at $125 from the local Ironman 4WD store I can’t really complain.

Installing

Installing

Supporting the chassis

Supporting the chassis

All that remains now is to pack clothing, food and cooking equipment and personal items like laptops, iPads, iPhones and assorted charging cables. I’m thinking I’ll go and buy the food this evening and pack everything else tomorrow morning – the fridge can run overnight in the Hilux. I know I’m going to forget something. Lets hope it’s just a minor item and not something important like my wallet or passport!

Holidays!

March 22, 2015

Well it’s been a long long long time since I updated this blog so at the start of my 2015 holidays (my first in 3 or so years) I decided to pull my finger out.

I’m going to drive from Perth to Melbourne, get on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry and get myself down to Ross in Tasmania to visit dear old Mum and Dad and then catch a plane back to Melbourne then to Wellington, New Zealand, and hop on an even smaller plane for the last leg to Westport. In Westport I’ll probably drink too much but that’s OK because it’ll be at a wedding and that’s kind of expected.

From the wedding I’ll retrace my steps (sort of, via Auckland this time) back to Tasmania for a few more days and then load up the trusty Hilux for the 3000km+ drive back to Perth in the west. This whole adventure is supposed to take 21 days….mmm maybe.

It will be the longest holiday I can remember taking for, well, I can’t remember one this long! I’ve always just sort of kept on working – even taken my holidays and spent the whole time working for someone else. Yeah, possibly very stupid but I’m just used to working.

My plan this was to get out of the state for a bit so I could ignore any phone calls pleading for me to come back to work. To do that I used the excuse that I needed to visit my parent (who retired to Tasmania) and go to a wedding in New Zealand. All perfectly plausible.

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Roof top tent fitted to the Hilux

I could have flown all the way both ways but the reason I bought a four wheel drive was so I could go and see the place. I have driven across the country many times in a truck but always with a deadline to meet and no time to stop and really enjoy the trip – this time would be different!

So I bought a roof top tent. I was going to use my swag all the way across but I’m getting older and a bit softer and the tent looks bloody cool! I look down on people in swags now, literally. The frame supporting the tent is something my brother and I designed and put together in an afternoon – total materials cost was around $100 .I haven’t had time to fit a long range fuel tank so I’m doing it the old way – got a 44gal drum and filled it with diesel and a hand pump. Should see me most of the way there. I have to ditch the drum before I get on the ferry because they frown on that sort of shit but I’ve organised with someone near Melbourne through a 4WD forum website to look after my drum until I get back. Networking!

I would have liked to have the roo bar fitted too but that will have to wait until I get back. I did manage to get the dual battery system installed so I can run my fridge 24/7 without worrying about the vehicle not starting in the morning. Also a few other little extras where chucked in like a valuables lock box that can be secured to the vehicle – it won’t stop a determined thief but it definitely will stop an opportunist.

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MaxTrax slung under the tent

Tomorrow (the day before I leave) I’m going to see about installing a “helper” spring leaf to my rear spring packs – the standard Hilux springs are feeling the pressure a bit with all the fuel, water and equipment on board and I need something to level the vehicle out or face realigning the headlights and driving nose up all the way across.

I also expect my fuel consumption to be higher with the tent sticking up into the wind and the extra weight. This will be the first real test of the Hilux even though I bought it new over two years ago. Prosser Toyota in Gosnells took care of the service several days ago and I’ve got my hands on a modest selection of spare parts such as filters, hoses, fan belt and my usual collection of assorted nuts/bolts/cable ties/electrical joiners/fuses/brake fluid/etc. When I tried buying the hoses and fan belt (non genuine) three stores I asked did not have them in stock so I can only imagine what sort of downtime I would have in the middle of bum-fuck waiting for such a simple part.

Tomorrow I hope to have everything organised and mostly packed onto the vehicle and the day after I will buy my perishable food supplies and head off at midday on my first leg of the trip, Perth to Hyden, where I will stay overnight with friends before travelling on the gravel road to Norseman.

Quick Clip – Homeward Bound

December 1, 2013

Just a quick clip I threw together after finishing unloading in the Gt Sandy Desert at Telfer gold mine and the Nifty copper mine. Trailers all hooked up and heading back to Perth, albeit a little covered in dirt.

Bleh

August 6, 2013

Home. Tired. Raining. Might have a headache, my head really can’t decide. So I poured a glass of red wine to help it along. Even the wine doesn’t seem to be as good as I remember – a Oyster (something pretentious) Pinot Noir. Too late to get my money back now I suppose.

Left last Monday with a triple roadtrain for Tom Price and got there on time even though it leaves me pretty tired and technically with enough sleep but in reality wishing for more.

The new truck seems to be going well with a few small problems but nothing major. Well, the gauges and dash lights do come on eventually after I hit the right bump in the road. But mechanically there hasn’t been any problems. Even the coffee maker is working flawlessly, thank Christ!

After the Tom Price run I had 2hrs in Perth and didn’t even bother going home – just refuelled, showered and hooked up the Telfer/Nifty trailers and headed back north again. I had prepared for this on Monday by buying food and packing clothes for eight days living in the truck. Nothing worse than running out of clean shirts or having to buy the junk they pass off as food in the piss poor excuses for roadhouses in the Pilbara.

The Telfer/Nifty food run was straight forward and uneventful. Telfer mine was having a scheduled maintenance shutdown and had extra staff in camp so their food order was bigger than the previous few weeks, which meant Perth couldn’t jam any Port Hedland freight in the trailers for me to unload on the way up. Always a pain in the arse that, under enough pressure to get to Telfer in time without having to spend more time unloading (with only myself driving the forklift and operating the pallet jack – jumping in and out of the trailer with each pallet) half to two thirds of a trailer of snot before I get there.

Between Telfer and Nifty camps some poor barstard had had a trailer burn to the ground, probably a wheel bearing collapsed and caused the fire. They were recovering the burnt out wreck as I went past. On the way back out of Nifty one of Jamiesons quad side tipper roadtrains was stopped on the top of a hill with the bonnet up so I did the right thing and stopped to see if I could help. Same model truck as my new girl but done a few more kilometres – looked like electrical problem but he seemed to have it in hand and the next truck coming along had a satellite phone so I left him to it.

Passed a mob of camel on the way back towards Marble Bar. Never really trust them, they always seem a bit skittish and never seem to know which way to run.

Back into the “well appointed” BP fuel bowsers at Wedgefield, Port Hedland. Only a short wait to get on the pumps then around the corner to the slightly dilapidated  shower facilities at the Toll Express yard were I bumped into Allan Scari – a top bloke with a heart of gold I’ve known for years. Would have been nice to sit down and have a beer with Allan and the rest of the fellas but I really had to keep moving.

The next day was a bit of a loss. I should have made it back to Perth that night and home by 7-8pm but I reckon I must have caught a small dose of some bug – didn’t feel full on crook but I was definitely off my tucker and struggling to make a good mile. I ended up calling it a night about 2hrs from Perth.

The next morning at 4:30am I was up and feeling better and running down the last stretch into town. From the Kewdale yard it was back to Forrestdale to drop off the truck and home with 8 days worth of dirty clothes to run through the washing machine.

Waiting for me at home was a little device called a Leap Motion (go have a look at the link) and that has been keeping me amused for the last few hours. Starting to get the hang of using it to drive Google Earth on my MacBook Pro. Can’t wait to see the new apps the developers manage to make for it. Early days yet but think of the movie “Minority Report” and using your hands to control and manipulate computer displays without touching anything and you’ll have the idea. Very cool shit.

Okay, I’m thinking the washing machine needs another load so I’m outa here.

Cheers, Mike. 

Defiance!

July 8, 2013

Last week I managed to get a weekend off in Perth instead of heading out to the Great Sandy Desert to Telfer and Nifty mine sites on another run. It was supposed to be a dual purpose weekend – take delivery of the new truck and attend Supanova with my daughter and her boyfriend. I felt a bit guilty about turning down the Telfer/Nifty run but figured that because I haven’t had a holiday since mid 2011 (and that I would be working on the new truck anyway) I was entitled to take at least a couple of days off to do something I have always missed out on in previous years.

Ok, that’s the plan and true to form – nothing went as planned. I went to Supanova at the Claremont Show Grounds on the Saturday and had a great time, bought a House Stark keyring for the new truck (which has “Iron Throne” written across the bug deflector) but we didn’t take delivery of the truck that Friday as we had expected. Yes, the brand new Western Star prime mover we had ordered over seven months ago wasn’t ready. In fact, it took another week so I had to put all my gear back into “Yippy Ki Yay” and go back out on the road for another twelve day stint. “A little bit disappointed” doesn’t quite sum it up.

But the unexpected free time gave me a chance to switch on the PS3 (do the updates) and download a game called Defiance which had caught my interest. The (M)assively (M)ultiplayer (O)nline game is available for the PS3, Xbox and PC and has been released in conjunction with a TV series of the same name. Events that occur in the game are supposed to influence the script of the TV series.

Now, I’m not a huge gamer and I’m not sure if its because I don’t have the luxury of the free time required to become good at it or if I’m simply no good at it. But I have enjoyed watching the TV episodes as they become available and playing the game (after the initial weekend I have only managed about 2hrs gameplay broken up into 30min each – sucks being a long distance truck driver). I actually find myself wanting more time at home so I can indulge myself, you know, like a normal person.

A quick search on the net shows plenty of results for Defiance including forums for the game and the show, numerous podcasts and plenty of videos on YouTube. If you have a Kindle or the Kindle software on your computer or mobile device you can download and read “Defiance:The Essential Guide” put out by SyFy and Trion and it’s free. The ebook does a pretty good job of introducing the game and the show and has lots of pretty pictures too.

I’m not going to try and review the game because plenty of people have already done that and I’d suck at it anyway but I will say have a look, you might find you like it. As for the TV series, well I’m always drawn to a good sci-fi show and, unlike “Firefly” (all-time favourite show) Defiance has been confirmed for a second season. In fact, it is quite likely Defiance will attain a cult following similar to Firefly and I reckon we’ll see Nolan, Datak, Irisa and Kenya cosplay at next years Supanova. Just not sure what the fans will call themselves instead of Browncoats.

One last note – most Australian and New Zealand TV viewers will recognise the actor playing Joshua Nolan, the lawmaker. He is New Zealand born, Australian raised Grant Bowler and his likeness is also used in the game along with the Irisa character.

Cheers, Mike.

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The “Defiance” TV show.

Driver Training!!??

June 25, 2013

Well, here I sit in the passenger seat heading north out of Perth to Tom Price in the Pilbara. In the drivers’ seat is “the new boy”, otherwise known as Stewart. Tagging along behind us is two fridge trailers and a dry pan – loaded with a weeks work of supplies for Windawarrie, Brownfields (Jundunmunnah) and a dozen or so pallets for Pilbara Food Supplies.

It’s been a few years since I’ve sat in the passenger seat and this time it’s in a borrowed truck as well. My truck is in the workshop getting a bit of attention so I grabbed the boss’s truck (cleaned his crap out😉 and set off last night.

Stewart is along for the trip to give him some experience with triples and so he can learn where the various runs go and generally get a feel of how we do things. As soon as he is up to speed on things and we have the new truck on the road he will be chucked into the thick of it on his own.

The new truck is expected to be handed over to us on Friday 28th – only four days from now. I’m going to be the lucky driver getting this one so I’m pretty keen for Friday to hurry up and arrive. We had a look at it yesterday and there’s still a lot that has to be done to it. Someone had better pull their finger out!

I have a 3500 watt 240 volt inverter on order for it – that will power a microwave oven/laptop charger and will even be big enough to power an ordinary kitchen kettle if I want. Expresso machine, maybe?😉

The weather up ahead of us is pretty bad. Last reports I heard from Karratha are that over eight inches of rain has fallen in 24hrs. The highway between Roebourne and Port Hedland is closed, which won’t affect us but if that weather continues to the south-east we will be in for real trouble.
At present, just north of Paynes Find, it is completely overcast. Meekatharra has had some rainfall. I think Newman has had two inches and Tom Price has already had three inches of rain. This is more than enough to start water flowing over the highway at the floodways so things might get interesting later on today. Wish I’d brought my GoPro camera long.

Ok, I’ve got to get back to criticising someone’s driving skill, bloody hard work🙂

Cheers, Mike.

Luke Vernon – UK Lorry Driver, rants (video).

March 30, 2013

Luke Vernon – UK Lorry Driver, rants (video).

Well, it’s not just me getting screwed around with ridiculous delays – click the link above to see how they do it us in the UK.

Cheers, Mike.