MaKey MaKey and Google Earth

Makey Makey and Google Earth-001
MaKey MaKey – Front Side

Before Christmas I got an Amazon gift card for my birthday, and I used it to buy a MaKey MaKey. It arrived just before the hectic Christmas rush and our traveling, so I didn’t really get a chance to play with it. These past few very cold days have been the perfect opportunity to see what this thing can do.

So, what is this thing?

A MaKey MaKey is an Arduino-based computer interface that allows any conductive material to be substituted for a key on the computer keyboard. The name is a contraction of “Make Anything a Key,” or “MaKey.”

The kit comes with alligator clips and jumper wires to attach to…just about anything. The board is connected to the computer via USB. You connect the clip to some conductive material such as aluminum foil, liquid, or even a piece of fruit. Another clip is attached to the ground on the board, the held in one hand. Touching the fruit-foil-liquid will complete the circuit through your body and trigger the key, depending on where the first clip is attached on the board. Continue reading “MaKey MaKey and Google Earth”

Building a Kayak Condo

Kayak Condo
Kayak Condo

About a decade ago I needed a place to store my fledgling kayak collection. I had three kayaks and a canoe that needed to be stored somewhere. I put together a small rack that held the boats quite nicely.

Old Kayak Condo

Over the years the small rack just couldn’t cut it. First, it was getting weak. I hadn’t braced it like it should have been. Secondly, it was in the wrong place. I had put it on the middle level of our yard so that I could take the boats down to our lake, or pull them up when we were going elsewhere. Turns out it was inconvenient for both situations. Our little lake has become almost unpaddleable, so most of the trips were away somewhere. Continue reading “Building a Kayak Condo”

GoPro on Lake Robinson


It’s been a tough winter. I hadn’t been out on my kayaks in a long time, and I missed a great Lowcountry Unfiltered trip on Saturday. I needed to get out on the water. So, Sunday morning before the rains started, Laura kicked me out the door with my touring boat and pointed me in the direction of Lake Robinson. The plan was to give the GoPro camera a shake down and make sure it would do everything it promised.

I chose Lake Robinson over the other local paddling venues quite frankly because it’s boring. The scenery from the park is spectacular with the mountains in the background, but once you get out on the water your only view is of the housing developments that ring the lake. Granted, there are interesting birds, and if you just want to get out and paddle it’s fine. However, nearby Lake Cunningham has much more to see with its lily fields and other quirks.

Lake Robinson (1 of 11)

Yet, this suited me perfectly. I was here to test the new camera, and if it didn’t work correctly, I didn’t want to be disappointed that I’d failed to get a shot. I had my Fuji waterproof camera and Panasonic Lumix as back-ups, but the GoPro was the focus of the mission. Continue reading “GoPro on Lake Robinson”

Tactical Macramé

Tactical Macrame

Back when I was a cub scout one of our crafty things to do was to make lanyards from bits of plastic strips. Tandy Leather sold (and still sells) the stuff by the spool. I got pretty good at various braids, and made several lanyards that never really got used.

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Fast forward 40+ years…

Braiding with strips of stuff is back. It even made its way into 2004’s Napoleon Dynamite

Deb: Well, maybe you’d be interested in some home-woven handicrafts?

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Deb: … And here we have some boondoggle key chains. A must-have for this season’s fashion.
Napoleon Dynamite: I already made like infinity of those at scout camp.

This season’s fashion, though, uses parachute cord, aka 550 paracord instead of plastic stripping. The height of fashion seems to be the “survival bracelet”. I had seen these at outfitter stores, and even at the occasional quick stop shop, but didn’t pay much attention until I was given one at the EdTech conference back in October. I’ve been wearing mine since then, more as an uplifting reminder than for any need for an emergency supply of parachute cord. Continue reading “Tactical Macramé”

GoPro Time-Lapse – More Lessons Learned

GoPro Hero 3 Black

I’ve been having fun playing with the little GoPro camera. It has some quirks, but it’s great for what it’s designed to do. Of course, one of the things I’ve been using it for mostly is time-lapse. I’ve learned lots of things about this little camera, and about time-lapse in general. I can add these to my growing list of lessons learned about time-lapse.

Lesson 1 – Christmas Dinner Videos

As with leaf blowing/raking videos, it seems that everyone does Christmas dinner time lapse videos, too. There were tons of suggestions and recommendations on the page with my Christmas video, and they all had similar titles. Here’s a playlist with 10 samples…

So, the lesson here is that whatever I may come up with for a video project, someone has already done it and uploaded it to YouTube. Continue reading “GoPro Time-Lapse – More Lessons Learned”

Christmas Gear

Christmas 2012

This year we spent Christmas in Greenville. Instead of traveling to Florida like we usually do, Laura’s sister and mother came up to visit us. The foggy Christmas morning was spent opening gifts and relaxing.

Since I’ve been so obsessed with time-lapse lately, I decided to do one of our gift giving routine. Here’s a short video…

The entire video was created on an iPad 2. I used the iMotion app shot a 1 frame every five seconds. I used the Garage Band app and an Akai LPK25 keyboard to record the music, and I used the iMovie app to add titles and mix everything together. Continue reading “Christmas Gear”

Camera Mods and Moon Shots

Moon 1

When I went on my photo walk with Fred Graham a couple of weeks ago I noticed that he was using a Black Rapid camera strap and an extra battery clip. My nephew, Chip, had one of these straps, and I liked it the first time I saw it. The outing with Fred reinforced how useful this strap could be, so I decided to get one.

At Thanksgiving Chip had also added a hand strap to his DSLR. I could see the utility of that, as well. However, there were a couple of problems with these straps. First, if I used the Black Rapid strap it blocked my tripod point, and it would be a pain to putting it on and taking it off to use the tripod.

I decided to re-engineer the setup with several small swivel clips that I found online. The clips allow for rapid re-configuration of the straps and camera.


I found a plastic loop on the bottom of the hand strap. Adding one of the swivel straps here would let me use both the Black Rapid strap and a tripod quick release.

P1030119 Continue reading “Camera Mods and Moon Shots”

Time Lapse Shoot Out

Backyard Time Lapse Setup

In the last post I made some comparisons between creating a time-lapse video with a DSLR and creating one with an iPhone app. I was curious as to how these would compare, so I decided to do a shoot-out.

I set up my Nikon D7000 in interval mode shooting at 1 frame every five seconds. Right next to it I set up my iPhone 5 with the iMotion app, also set to take 1 frame every five seconds. Both of these were set up next to our lake, showing the same scene.

Backyard Time Lapse Setup
Backyard Time Lapse Setup
Backyard Time Lapse Setup Continue reading “Time Lapse Shoot Out”

Smart Phone Bracket

In my last post I wrote quite a bit about iOS apps for time lapse photography. Of course, if you’re going to do time-lapse with an iPhone, you’re going to need some way to keep it steady. For my iPhone 4 I had one of the Otter Defender cases with belt clip. With that case … Continue reading Smart Phone Bracket

Game Changing Cameras


As one might imagine, digital camera technology keeps getting better and better. Cameras are tinier than ever with even more features. Smartphones with editing apps are almost eliminating the need for point-and-shoot cameras. Even with all this, there are a couple of cameras to come on the market in the past couple of years that look like potential game changers – the Lytro camera and the GoPro Hero.

First, a note of disclaimer for my beloved wife – having just bought two fairly high-end cameras over the summer, I am NOT considering these for purchase. I just think they are worth mentioning here, and if someone I know does get one, all I ask is the opportunity to play with it for a few minutes.

Disclaimer out of the way, I’ll start with Lytro… Continue reading “Game Changing Cameras”