Saturday, March 28, 2015


The latest gadget:

2.2 ounces?! 
Tiny, huh?  I've known about Go-Pro cameras for a while, and my friend Steve uses one to shoot wonderful underwater videos.  They first came on the scene as "helmet cams" which people wore while skiing or skateboarding or whatever.  I think the generic name is "action cams."   Go-Pro's were less expensive than the usual video cams, but still not cheap... their current range tops out at about $400+.  This thing does about what a Go-Pro does, and cost me about $75.   Go on Amazon, or just search "SJ4000"on YouTube and you'll see the genre.  This one arrived yesterday.  It came in a nice rugged Cordura nylon carrying case with what I can only call a bewildering array of little pieces with which you can attach it to other things.  The most important of these was a plastic waterproof case:

4.8 ounces with case
This case is rated at 30 meters.  Steve uses his Go-Pro underwater with a case like this.  I mean, really underwater.  I haven't had the guts yet to dunk this in the hot tub ... but I've discovered that I'll be camped near some amazing-looking hot springs over in New Mexico, so who knows?

My main interest in cameras like this is not for underwater or action footage.  It's as a "dashcam."  Some of the various YouTube channels I watch have video sequences "from the road."  And as I was driving up to Flagstaff last weekend,  enjoying the transitions from Lower Sonoran to Pinon-Juniper to Transition life zones, I wanted to be able to document that and share it with y'all.   This is the gadget to do it, hands-free.  It's also gonna be good for projects like the ones a while back when I document repair or maintenance or whatever.   It has a little WiFi hub built in which pairs with my phone or tablet so I can see what it's looking at ... in case I want to put it up on the roof with Seamus the dog.  (Thanks, Mitt, for that enduring meme.)

It has a very wide-angle fixed focus lens, with the attendant distortion.  There are times when that's a distraction: It's not a general-purpose video cam. But it's always in focus, pretty much, and the underlying 12-megapixel sensor resolution means that the images are pretty darn sharp.   I'll put up some samples later today.  Maybe.  Don't hold your breath.

While Buck is working his expensive magic on major components like the axle, I've been thinking about living in the rig for extended periods, and what would make that comfortable and enjoyable. The chair (a while back) is a good example.

So I've been wandering the aisles of my Amazon wish list, where I store ideas for things I might need or want.  I've picked up a wand which can stick down underneath the toilet to direct a strong stream of water at the inside of the black water storage tank so the sensors aren't clogged with toilet paper and I get an accurate readout on how full it is.  Last trip I noticed a small rip in the flexible hose which connects the tanks to a sewage dump, so I got a replacement for that.  You've read about the LED bulb project ... I'm debating whether to replace the globe lights over the bathroom mirror with LED's.  I got a wood cover for the stove top which will make that into useful workspace when it's not being a stove, now that it has new bright LED illumination.  I'm trying again with a fitting which may make it possible to refill the little Coleman fuel bottles from my home BBQ tank.   I acquired a set of roadside reflector triangles in case of breakdown on the freeway.

These are small purchases, but they add up.  And I'm once again startled by how fortunate I am to be able to afford this.  I'm not driving a brand-new $200K diesel pusher; the Beast is a 1999 Ford van with delusions of grandeur.  But there's money stashed away in "savings" for the big repairs, and the small stuff and the gasoline to go places can be handled out of my retirement pension and Social Security.  I wonder how many of today's young families, making ordinary incomes, will be able to do things like this in their retirement. Am I -- are we -- the last generation for whom  that's even remotely possible?  I fear so.  What will my grandson Matt's life be like 70 years from now?

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