Archive for the ‘Other Stuff’ Category

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.


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.


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


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.

The “Defiance” TV show.

That New Car Smell

March 29, 2013

Woo! Picked up my new ute three days ago and still getting high on that new car smell every time I open the door. I chose a Toyota Hilux Extra Cab because :

  • It runs on truck fuel (as long as I’m nice to the boss)
  • They’re pretty common in the bush-parts should be easier to find if needed
  • They’re economical to run compared to, say, a Landcruiser
  • The extra cab space gives me a little more stowage area behind the front seats


At the moment if looks pretty Plain Jane apart from the nice metallic paint job which will end up scratched despite my best efforts. It has factory standard tyres which I’m replacing next week – hopefully. I have to hold off fitting the bullbar until I rebuild my funds a little but that will alter it’s appearance dramatically. Following that will be side steps and (probably) side rails connected to the bullbar. In the distant future is a fibreglass canopy and maybe a winch.

The idea is to have a four wheel drive vehicle capable of taking me to all the spots around Australia that I have driven past in the truck and never had the time (or been able) to turn off the road and have a look at.

A lot of work to do

Cheers, Mike.

Oh What A Feeling

March 29, 2013

Oh What A Feeling

Raised some dust today but no rain-no mud. My new ride.

Crap, winter is here?

June 12, 2012

20120612-082624.jpgWhoa! Wish I wore some socks to bed last night, woke up with cold feet sometime around 4am and by then it was too cold to contemplate getting out of bed to find some. I don’t think it actually got that cold really, just me reacting to temperatures I’m not used to – in fact, it only got down to 10’C this morning at around 3am but compare that to the temperatures I experience in the north of the state while I’m away in the truck and you’ll start to understand what I mean.

So, gas heater on for the first time this winter and a cup of coffee and I think I’m starting to get some life back into my body this morning. I missed out on the storms of the last few days and after looking around my place last night when I got home from the Great Sandy Desert I am wondering what all the fuss was about! My fences are still standing, the roof is where the builders put it, the neighbours tree looks the same as it always has and my chest freezer in the garage isn’t full of rotting food. The rotary power point timer for my fish tank hasn’t lost any time at all so it looks like the power didn’t go out at all or if it did it was only briefly. What was all the fuss about?

I definitely came off better this year than I did in past storms – like the time a tree fell on my ute at work while I was away in the truck (not the sort of phone call you really want). Not much damage but, hey, she’s my ute.

Cheers, Mike.

Not gone and not forgotten

June 7, 2012

Just a quick note to the effect that “I am very sorry for neglecting my blog”. There are various good reasons for my lapse but the main one is the boss’s view that “you shouldn’t let having a life get in the way of work”.

Well, we seemed to have worked out a roster that gives some predictability to my comings and goings and I may be able to resume my life to a limited degree. Of course, the only way to truly get my life back is to give up driving but because I’ve been doing this for over twenty years I’m afraid I wouldn’t know what to do with myself anyway.

I have allowed my self one small indulgence that my new freedom will allow me – a fish tank, with real fish (well, they’re alive as I write this). With the level of automation available for home aquariums today my frequent absences aren’t really a problem. A dog would be a bit harder to maintain, and frankly – if can’t have my dog actually with me then I wouldn’t do something as cruel as locking it up in the backyard all day/week. But with an automatic feeder to take care of dinner time a fish is pretty much in fish heaven. The feeder works independently of mains power so as long as I keep an eye on the batteries all should be ok. The fish are the low maintenance type and tank maintenance once a week or fortnightly is all that is required. And aquariums have fascinated me since I was old enough to stand up and press my nose against the glass.

Got to go – I swear I just saw two of them having a naughty off in the corner of the tank. That behaviour will not be tolerated in my aquarium.

Cheers, Mike.

A Bird In The Hand…

October 21, 2011

Yeah, that old saying that goes “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” comes to mind as I call it a day and do a bit of prep for a early start tomorrow. A week after the release of the iPhone 4S, and even longer since I went on line and dutifully submitted my preorder, I still haven’t received my own little slice heaven in the shape of the aforementioned mobile phone.

So I picked up my trusty 3GS and spoke to a lovely lady in India and told her I was no long interested in waiting for Telstra to “get around to me” especially when another Telstra employee told me that “we’ll be getting some more in a couple of weeks”. A couple of weeks!? Isn’t the whole idea of preordering to tell someone that you are really interested and are prepared to take care of some of the paperwork and other hoop-jumping exercise well in advance of actually receiving said phone, in fact, to guarantee a sale?

Maybe that was my mistake. Telstra thought they had me. They thought that I would just sit by my letterbox day after day waiting for this mythical phone to turn up while what they where actually doing was SELLING IT TO SOMEONE ELSE! Yep, they reckoned they had my money in the bank so they looked about and thought “That fella over there looks like he’s the type to buy a new iPhone if we can wave it under his nose, we’ll sell him this preordered, pre sold phone and double our money!”

So I joined the ranks of people buying these preordered and already sold phones. I drove down to a local shop, got exactly the iPhone I was looking for and was home shortly after lunch. I pity the poor bastard that misses out on this phone…well, not really. Sucker!

Cheers, Mike.

Waiting For The Knock On The Door

October 14, 2011

20111014-080832.jpgYep, I’m at home on the morning of the 14th of October 2011 and I’m waiting for the knock on the door…from the courier delivering my new iPhone. A few days ago I went online and preordered the new iPhone through the Telstra website in the belief I would be out on the road. Well, I’m home and wishing I had just decided to go to the Telstra shop to get my new phone because there is no guarantee it will be delivered to me today (release day) anyway.

When I purchased my current iPhone, the 3GS, I and one other person showed up at the Telstra shop in Carousel Cannington just before opening time and had our latest and greatest in hand in double quick time. It’s not that I’m impatient to get my hands on it, well ok-just a little, but I want time to set it up and make sure it syncs properly with all of my music and apps intact and to make sure my non-standard data plan transfers across undiminished. More importantly, I need to resize my SIM card to the smaller size used in the 4 and 4S with a device that looks like a stapler. If I stuff this up and damage the SIM card I have to be able to get to a Telstra shop pronto and get a new one-a feat next to impossible if I’m up the road in the truck. That would leave me without a phone, email or podcasts until I got home in five or six days time-hell on earth?

Ok, I can upgrade my 3GS to iOS5 as a consolation prize if the 4S doesn’t show up but I’m not sure some of the apps I use will work with the new OS yet. What I’ve got right now works and I don’t want to break it.

So I sit here twiddling my thumbs. If I go and do some food shopping the courier might turn up while I’m away. Who needs food anyway. If I go into work to wash the truck the courier will definitely turn up. Clean truck or new, shiny iPhone? That’s a hard one!

Cheers, Mike.

Holidays-The Aftermath.

August 1, 2011

You know that sound that signals the return of reality? That really loud, discordant,crashing,unearthly sound of the alarm clock telling you to get up and get behind the wheel right now or you’re going to be late and you probably won’t be able to make up time for the rest of the week? Well, that happened to me last Monday and pretty much all I’ve done for the last week is eat/sleep/drive.

Welcome home. Welcome back from holidays. Welcome to work. Welcome to my reality. Now go away and let me mope around and complain about the unfairness of it all.

Ok, I’m not that heartbroken about it. It was a good break and if it had lasted longer I would have had to plan more stuff to do so I didn’t start climbing the walls or ring all my friends to find out what I was missing out on (although I did call twice to check up on my truck).

I will admit my first week back at work was a little rougher than ideal. A few issues with trailer light wiring, a faulty speed sensor (causing the cruise control to not work), a flat trailer tyre and the loss of power to the bunks interior lights. The trailer tyre is no big drama – considering that I have 62 tyres , not counting the 6 spares, and I haven’t had to change any on the side of the road for the last 6 months. I think I’m ahead of the game there. The bunk lights have proven to be more then just a blown fuse though, and I haven’t had the time to start tracking the problem down with the circuit tester. I’m not due home for 3 more days so I have to either make time to fix it or do without – it’s not a critical fault so my deliveries come first. The show must go on!

Cheers, Mike.