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Archive for May, 2008

Aerial Photography with RC Planes

May 31, 2008 4 comments

EasyStarA few months ago I became intrigued with the concept of obtaining aerial photography utilizing RC planes for GIS applications. After reading the RC forums and different websites I purchased an EasyStar RC plane. I bought the ready to fly (RTF) kit, a couple of Pentax cameras w/cracked LCDs (I was going to replace the cracked LCDs later), an IR switch to trigger the shutter and an alarm in case I lost radio contact with the plane. I also picked up a couple of RC simulators, FS One and FMS.

Flying the plane was a lot harder than it looked and I started to have issues with my plane. The motor would cut out after a few minutes. I received some help from the people at the local RC airfield and we ruled out a number of issues, the problem was with either the engine or the speed control. Unfortunately I had spent most of my money getting the initial equipment and did not have any spare spending money to buy the needed replacement parts. Not mention school quickly overcame what little free time I had for the hobby.

However, this semester I am taking “Remote Sensing for the Geospatial Intelligence Professional” and I am toying with getting back into the hobby. Chris Anderson’s “DIY Drones” site has a few posts on how to upgrade the EasyStarto become a viable remote sensing platform. I also recently found a program that allows Canon cameras to take unlimited timed-interval picture series with only one shutter activation. I do not have a Canon but that seems like a better solution than using an IR switch to get three picture bursts.

For only a couple hundred dollars I can do this . . . now to convince the wife that this is a school expense.

Why Geography Matters

May 5, 2008 1 comment

Why Geography MattersSchool is over so hopefully I will get some more time to write in this blog.  One of the books for this last class was, “Why Geography Matters”by Harm de Blij.  The book is subtitled, “Three Challenges Facing America, Climate Change, The rise of China, and global terrorism.”  While there is a couple chapters devoted to the climate, one to China and two to terrorism the overall slant of the book is that of a world geography book. 

Every continent is discussed to some degree.  But more than a geography book, “Why Geography Matters” is interspersed with Mr. Blig’s opinions and hypothesis.  Some of these beliefs are traditional conservative ideas but a few touch upon controversial subjects such as the “truth” behind global warming, Islam and some geopolitical commentary. 

As a case in point, some say that global warming is real and it will negatively affect the world’s population and others say it is a normal cyclic process that the earth goes through.  Both parties point to science and history to prove their point, Mr. Blij believes in a cyclic process and the earth will eventually cool once again.  However, Mr. Blij notes that mankind’s actions are a wild-card in that we do not know if our actions will stave off another ice age. 

Mr. Blij also describes what it means to be a geographer.  We geographers have a very hard time telling others what we do at times, what our field encompasses.  Geography spans the physical and the human world, there is almost nothing that cannot be studied geographically.  Mr. Blijcompares the geography student trying to decide what he will explore to a child in a candy store; There is cultural geography, bio-geography, geomorphology, historical geography, political geographer, etc ad nauseam.

Geography touches all aspects of our life, nearly everything is connected to geography.

“Why Geography Matters” sells used for $4 plus shipping on Amazon.  I recommend it for anybody that wants to understand what geography is, wants to understand why geography is important or wants an easy to read world geography book.

Categories: Books, Geography Tags: ,