Know How... 119 (Transcript)

Net Casts you love from people you trust.  This is Twit! Bandwidth for Know How is brought to you by

This episode of Know How is brought to you by Smart things.  Smart Things lets you control and monitor your home from anywhere in world using your smart phone.  Get started, visit and you’ll save 10% off any home security or solution kit when you use the code Twit10 at checkout. 

And by IFixIt.  You can fix it and IFixIt makes it easy with free step by step repair guides, high quality replacement parts and all the tools you’ll ever need.  For $10 off your purchase of $50 or more go to and enter the code knowhow at checkout.

On this episode of Know How, probes, drones, we teach you how to put power into your LiPo packs without killing yourself.  Oh, and your feedback and a way to download YouTube videos that can’t be blocked. 

Father Robert Ballecer:  Welcome to Know How.  The Twit show where we bend, build, break and upgrade.  I’m Father Robert Ballecer.

Bryan Burnett:  And I’m Bryan Burnett. 

Fr. Robert:  And for the next 45 to 50 minutes we are going to show you some of the projects that we’ve been geeking out to for the last week or so.

Bryan:  That’s right.  And these are some pretty cool stories that just came out this week.  And this first one has been ten years in the making, which is kind of crazy to think about.

Fr. Robert:  We don’t wait ten minutes, and when you think about the distances involved and how much travel has been done, the landing of the Rosetta Stone mission with the filet probe onto the Comet 67P it is amazing. It is 310 million miles away from earth.  It had to travel 6.4 billion miles just to get there.  And, as you said it has been 10 years in the making.

Bryan:  So I was thinking about what I was doing ten years ago and I was playing Halo 2. 

Fr. Robert:  So as you were pretending that you were going to the stars, you weren’t actually going to the stars.

Bryan:  I mean this is the sort of science, this deep space science that really gets me going.  You are talking about 310 million miles away. So this is like playing a game from 310 million miles away.

Fr. Robert:  With technology that we had 10 years ago. That was before all the things that took to plan up to that point. And all the math to just get it in the neighborhood is mind boggling.  And the fact that they were able to take a probe that was about the size of a washing machine, weighs 222 pounds, and land it on this thing. And the earth is moving.  And the comet is moving.  And the probe is moving in relative velocity to the two. I never thought this would happen.

Bryan:  Just the idea of orbiting this mass in space is kind of crazy because it is moving and the gravity changes as it goes along.  And even when it landed on the comet it had to harpoon itself down onto the surface.

Fr. Robert:  Which is interesting because the harpoon system didn’t work.  It didn’t fire.  Remember this has no thrusters, so it has no way to slow itself down.  It’s got no way to push itself back to the comet, so it kind of bounced a little bit and then settled back down.  It is not actually secured to the comet because they can’t get the harpoon system to fire.  So now they are worried.  They’ve got a drill they want to start out, but will that shoot it away from the comet?  So they are going to spend the next 60 or so hours, because that is how long the batteries work, getting data from the comet.  The problem they are having is that it landed in the shadow of the peak.  So it’s not getting any power on its solar cells.  So it is running on battery power right now.  It could be bad, but just the fact that they got it there.  Big propos to the ESA.

Bryan:  That is pretty fascinating.  The idea of it. We’ve been playing with the drones, and when they go a certain distance you lose the signal.  So the idea that they’re sending signals out to this. 

Fr. Robert:  There is someone saying, it’s like a 27 minute trip.  So at the speed of light it takes 27 minutes for it to get a signal and 27 minutes for it to get back.  Actually someone in the chat room is saying it broke it’s parking brake.  Just put some blocks under the wheel.

Bryan:  Let’s just send another satellite up and in 10 years it will be able to help it out.

Fr. Robert:  The issue is that the comet is not really big enough to have any speakable gravity.  So once you start drifting from it, you’re not going to stop.  They are going to do all of the passive signs.  They’ve got a gascomotographer so they can actually do spectrum analysis of any of the gases that are lingering near the comet surface.  They’ve got a way to detect magnetic fields so they can see if a comet has any magnetic field to speak of.  They’ve also got a way to look at temperatures so they can look at temperature and density throughout the area.  I think there is going to be a lot of interesting science that will confirm things that we’ve been speculating about for year.

Bryan:  Just the fact that they are able to get it there is mind blowing in itself.  The idea of comets, we’re still trying to figure out did life originate from comets and hitting earth and what other kind of materials can be found on them?  So, just the comet itself and what it is made up of is pretty fascinating.

Fr. Robert:  It really is.  Speaking of things that are fascinating.  It has been weird.  There have been a lot of drone news recently.  There was that drone that can deliver an AED, the defribrilator.   If someone is having a heart attack the drone can fly over and drop it down.  Because is it 5-8 minutes is key.  If you can’t get that to the patient within that time frame you start seeing some serious brain damage.  A drone can cut through all the traffic, land.  You’ve got the AED, put the paddles on, and restart the heart.  There is also a drone that delivered life preserver.  Which I thought that was cool.

Bryan:  I like that idea because the most dangerous thing is when you are trying to save someone who is drowning, that person could pull you down with them.

Fr. Robert:  Right.  The old way was that you have a life guard with some sort of flotation device.  They would swim out there and put the victim on it.  Well, this is a lot easier.  And a lot faster. The life guard has a drone next to him.  He can drop up to three life preservers.  Just fly over and drop.  See you back at the beach!

Bryan:  Don’t worry.  I’m here to save you.  Take the life preserver.

Fr. Robert:  No, but DJI just got back into the frame.  I’m going to give credit where credit is due.  DJI was really the first company that could mass produce a reasonably priced drone that almost everybody could fly, that could actually do something useful. 

Bryan:  The range between range – what was the DJI priced?  A $1000?

Fr. Robert:  When they first came out it was priced at about $1000 and that has dropped down to about $500.  They’ve got the Phantom 2 that has the integrated 10AP camera.  That thing is beautiful.

Bryan:  And this is the brand new one.

Fr. Robert:  This is the new hotness.  This is the DJI Inspire.  It is a ready to fly drone with a 4K camera. It has GPS features, so you could navigate it.  It records 4K, 60 MG per second, it can record in Adobe RAW, it has a 90 degree wide angle lens, 18 minutes of flight time.  You are going to like this.  I know you complained that in a lot of the drone videos you see the propellers.  

Bryan:  That was the biggest complaint I had about the other DJI we had.

Fr. Robert:  But if you look at this, it’s got variable geometry.  The arms holding the motors cn actually pivot up and away so that when you are recording the video you can do 360 around the drone and it will never see the motors.

Bryan:  That is so cool.

Fr. Robert:  It is pretty cool indeed.

Bryan:  I kind of feel like the design, they grabbed some people from Valve and it looks like something from Portal.

Fr. Robert:  Is that Platus?

Bryan:  Exactly.

Fr. Robert:  What are we doing?  Very cool and the stuff that I’ve seen from DJI, it’s very high quality.  Very nice.  And you know what?  It really is simple enough for someone who has never flown a drone to fly around a little bit and get the hang of it within a week or so.  One issue.  Price. 

Bryan:  Well, it’s a little more expensive than the last one. Is it around about $5000?

Fr. Robert:  About $3000 but you could put it up to $5000 if you wanted to.

Bryan:  We’ll take four of them.

Fr. Robert:  Anyone have Leo’s credit card?   This is something I hope DJI sends one for us to play with.  The big thing about the DGI drones, I’m fixing the Phantom that we’ve got, they are not using anything that is different than from what we are going.  Their big advantage is software.  They’ve done a lot of software development to get that flight controller to work properly for a camera.  And the gyro stabilizer platform for their cameras is fantastic.  It is really smooth.  If you remember back a couple of episodes ago, right after CES, I showed a flight that I did with a Phantom 2, over Vegas.  It looked like a crane shot it.  It looked like it was hanging off of a solid structure.  The copter was vibrating and those all vibrating.  But the gimball was able to take out those vibrations.  The one on this drone is even better. 

Bryan:  I think the other advantage they have is that it is a complete package and if you want to get something that has around the same quality, the next step us is $10,000 to $12,000 for the Octocopter with a DSR attached to it.

Fr. Robert:  That is one of the weird things.  This is actually going to be cutting in to one of DJI’s most lucrative sales.  They’ve got an Octocopter that they do sell, which is twice the price of this.  And that doesn’t include a camera.  That includes a mount for a DSLR.  Like a 4K camera.  The fact that they are making this self-contained.  In other words, I don’t need to buy anything else.  I buy the kit, I charge it, I put the battery in, I fly it and I hit record.  That is cool.  Speaking of things that are cool and automatic.  Maybe we should take some time right now and talk about the sponsor of Know How.

Bryan:  Yeah, in home automation. 

Father Robdert:  Home automation.  It is all the rage.  We’ve actually be wanting to do a couple of episodes on home automation.  One of the issues that we’ve had though is that there are so many different vendors from home automation products that you don’t want to get stuck in one if maybe the light switch you want is from another.  Or the appliance control you want is from there.  Or maybe the thermometer and temperature settings and the camera are going to be from 3rd and 4th parties.  You really want a single system that can control everything.  That is why we have SmartThings.

Bryan:  It is one of those things you don’t want to plug it or worry about it.

Fr. Robert:  That is what SmartThings does.  If you could be my Vanna White and show off the SmartThings.  Here is the idea.  You’ve got this central hub that allows you to communicate with pretty much everything that might control and monitor your home.  You can do this from anywhere in the world using your smart phones.  Some of the cool things that you can do with SmartThings are:  get notifcations when someone you don’t know tries to enter your home, or get instant alerts to prevent a small leak from causing a major flood.  You get to control and automate your lights from wherever you are.  And you can stay connected to your family by getting those notifications when people come and go.  Smart Things help protect valuable items and secure areas that are off limits and it does this all by seeing through it’s various sensors.  With the SmartThings app you can easily see what is happening in every room with all these connected devices.  It’s like having your home in the palm of your hand.  The SmartThings app is free and it is available for iOS for Android and for Windows.  The really great thing about SmartThings is that the possibilities are endless.   SmartThings, family of smart sensors works with hundreds of popular connected devices including Logitech, Drop Cam, Nest, Sonos, so you are not going to be locked in to any single vendor.  SmartThings will talk with them all.  If you are a developer you can also create new ways to use SmartThings and then publish them for everyone to use.  Talk about the internet of things.  This could be the gateway to the internet of things in your home.  Here is what we want you to do.  We want you to try out SmartThings.  We want you to see if you’ll love it as much as we do.  To get started creating your smart home, visit  And you’ll save 10% off any home security or solution kit by entering the code twit10 at checkout.  For fans of Twit solution kits at just $170 and home security kits start at $350.  Each kit includes a smart things hub for everything you need to turn your home into a smart home.  In as little as 15 minutes.  You’ll also get free shipping within the United States.  That is and remember to enter the code twit10 at checkout.  And we thank SmartThings for their support of Know How. 

Bryan:  Yes, yes.

Fr. Robert:  Now let’s get into some feedback.  We’ve actually got some really, really good feedback from our users and now we want to answer a couple of their questions.  This first one, this comes from Jocelyn for Vallejo, CA.  She says, “Dear Know Hole-ers, I'm starting to do reviews on YouTube and I need help with the audio for the voiceovers. I'm using a USB headset but I get a lot of echoes and breath sounds. I'm happy with my camera and lighting, but I need to get my audio sorted and I've only got about $300 to spend. Can you suggest a solution?" 

Bryan:  Oh, can we!   And Leo has pointed out that if you audio  is not good no one is going to care about your video. 

Fr. Robert:  That is the thing.  90% of our interest still comes from our audio listeners.  You can have crystal clear video but if you’ve got scratchy audio it just turns people off.

Bryan:  It actually makes the video feel worse.

Fr. Robert:  That is the sad part.  If you’ve got great content but your audio is sub-par, you’ve basically sabotaged yourself.

Bryan:  Well fortunately it looks like you have a few suggestions here.

Fr. Robert:  I’ve got a couple.  Okay.  So you are working in a budget Jocelyn.  I understand that.  So I’m going to give you the first solution which would be within your budget and then I’m going to give you something that maybe you can a little extra cash you might want to get.  You have really identified a couple things.  One:  Budget.  Two:  Bad audio.  Three:  Echoes.  Those are three separate things you have to contend with.  The budget thing is easy because we just choose parts that are within your budget.  The tininess, that audio quality and the echo.  Those can be a little more difficult to get rid of.  The first thing you want to do is you want to get  a decent microphone.  I know that you think your USB headset is great, it’s really not.  You use those…

Bryan:  The worst are the Apple headphones.

Fr. Robert:  Yeah.  Just don’t use them.  It is fine for a conversation over skype but if you are recording it and you want people to listen to your voice you want something that is going to bring out the tones in your voice and you also need something that isn’t going to add a bunch of extra noise.   Especially the cancelling noise headsets.  They add in a whine.  Just a low level hum.  That is just no good.  This is a great solution right here.  This is an Audio Technica 2020 USB plus.  It’s a condenser microphone so it has really nice reproduction.  Not as big a bottom as some dynamic microphones.  But it is really clean so you can add in a little base if you need to later on.  It’s got a USB interface so this will plus straight into your Mac, your PC or even your Linux, and allow you to have a nice clean interface.  One of the worst things you can do and you’ve seen people do this before.  Plug in their iPhone head phone into the audio jack into the computer.  That is horrible. 

Bryan:  Not a good idea.  Especially if they fidget at all.  Or gesticulating. 

Fr. Robert:  Stop moving!!  This will give you nice sound isolation.  Don’t just buy the microphone.  You actually need something to hold the microphone.  I would suggest this.  This is a stand I bought off of Amazon.  They call this one the adjustable desk stand for $13.00.  The mike is about $170.  This is a navy shock mount which is nice because it means any vibrations from the table are not going to translate into the microphone.  It actually holds the microphone in this little spider lattice of bungee cords.  We use something like this. 

Bryan:  That is nice to have especially if people are typing on their keyboard, so many times I’ve heard the click.

Fr. Robert:  It just translates right through.  The Navy also comes with this pop filter which will get rid of those close things that you are having when you are recording a voice over.  There is another thing that I like to do.  Some people don’t like this but when you are speaking in your microphone, a lot of people will speak directly into the microphone.  You can do that if you can do that if you have really good breath control.  If you don’t have good breath control what you can do is take it to the side a little bit.  You want the side address to still be pointing at your mouth but if you put it off to the side, it is going to dramatically decrease the amount of breath sounds you get.

Bryan:  Cool.  And then you have another one here?

Fr. Robert:  Actually one more part.  To get rid of the echo.  Especially if you are in a hard concrete room.  This is not magic but it does work wonders if you are trying to do a sound boot.  You can get these ten packs or twelve packs of acoustic foam.  The idea is that you don’t want the sound directing directly back from your microphone because you will get echoes from the wall.  If you layer enough of that on the area where you are going to be doing your voice over it will kill some of the echoes.  The other thing that will kill the echoes is that this is a really good mike at rejecting sounds from the rear.  So that is one thing. 

Bryan:  If you ordered the foam, don’t be alarmed if it is really compact because after about a day it comes back into shape.

Fr. Robert:  It expands.  Now this entire solution is going to run you about $245.  If you don’t need the foam it is going to be about $205 so that is well within your $300 budget.  Now let me show you something that is not within your budget.  That would be something like this.  This is the microphone that we love here at the studio.  It’s got a huge big bottom which means it is going to bring out the base in your voice which is great for voice over.  This is a Heil PR40.  This microphone is sort of the gold standard for those in internet broadcasting.  It is a dynamic microphone and it does require shadow power.  But you will notice that it has an XLR output so you are going to need something to go from XLR to the USB on your computer.  This I the sure X2U.  This is what I swear by.  It is nice because it will work on condenser mikes or dynamic mikes.  It is very clean and it is crazy adjustable.  So if you want a lot of control over how you sound this is the way to do it.  You also need a stand and you are going to need a pop filter.  These are nice and cheap, this one comes from Amazon and I think it was $7 or something like that.  It just goes right over the front and it will stop those from hitting.  Now here is the problem.  This is actually what I would prefer because this has such great sound projection that you could probably get away without have the acoustic foam.

Bryan: It is very directional, so you have to make sure to talk into it.

Fr. Robert:  We have a problem with guests sometimes when they will do this and it won’t pick up your voice.  You have to be right here.

Bryan:  Which is great if you don’t want any background noise to get in.  But if you’re not speaking into it, it doesn’t work that way.

Fr. Robert:  One problem, the mike itself is over your budget.  This is a $330 mike.  You could get a kit that includes the mike, a carrying case, the stand, and a cable that will help you with the cost a little bit but you are still going to need to get a pop filter, you are still going to need the X2U USB adaptor which is close to $100.

Bryan:  I think Bob make a Bluetooth adaptor you could use.

Fr. Robert:  So you are talking about $430 to $470 for that solution.  Now, I know that is over your budget but if in any way shape or form you could get another $100 I would take the PR40 over the 2020 USB.  Now if you can’t do that, if you really are stuck at the $300 price level this is a fantastic solution.  But for the problems that you are having, specifically the echo, nothing beats the PR40.

Bryan:  Those are handy tips.

Fr. Robert:  Yep.  So that is for our audio.  Now we have one more piece of feedback. 

Bryan:  That’s right.  From Fred.  He asked, “Can anyone recommend an SSD drive for a Linovo Y60P?  I was also trying to determine if I could have both the drives.”  So, you recommend Kingston Hyper X?

Fr. Robert:  I also like to give a range.  So, I’m big on the Kingston’s.  I love the Kingston’s.  It is what we’ve got in the gaming PC, it’s what I’ve got in my personal PC and laptops.  They are fast.  I’ve found them to be very durable.  I’ve never lost a Kingston drive.  I stay away from all the budget stuff.  The budget stuff is kind of crap. 

Bryan:  Once you’ve had a taste of the good stuff, it’s hard to go back.

Fr. Robert:  It is like buying laptops.  People buy a $300 laptop and then they wonder why it’s not as good as a $2000 laptop.  Because it is a $300 laptop.  If you buy a $60 SSD, you are going to run into issues with it.  But if you get a decent SSD, Intel, Kingston, Samsung all make fantastic SSD’s.  As a matter of fact the Samsung one would be the 840Pro.  You can get a 240 GB Kingston Hyper X3K, for about $140.  You could get the comparable Samsung for about $180 which again is why I like Kingston because it tends to be a bit better on the price.  But you had a specific question and that is, you want to be able to keep both drives.  I am assuming that you want to keep your rotating drive but maybe you want to replace something to get an SSD in there as well.  Which, luckily we have a way to do that.

Bryan:  That’s right.  With an optical HDD Caddy.

Fr. Robert:  Exactly.  Now we covered this on Know How awhile back.  Probably like Episode 70 some.  Way back there.  A very easy way for you to do this.  Now on your computer you’ve got something like this.  This is an optical drive.  I checked out the specs for that Linovo, and it does have a optical drive that can be removed.  Now the cool thing about this is that you can remove the header from the optical drive and attach it to the Caddy.  Now that will keep the nice slender lines of your laptop but it will allow you to do is to take out your hard drive, put it in the caddy, take your new SSD and put it where the hard drive was.  That means you are going to boot off the SSD and you are going to have your hard drive where your optical drive used to be.  Now, this does mean that you are not going to have an optical drive in your computer.  Some people are not going to lke that.  Personally, I don’t care.

Bryan:  There’s not a lot of things I miss about not having an optical drive anymore.

Fr. Robert:  And you can buy an interface for your old optical drive for about $12 that will give this a USB interface so  you could just plug into your computer when you need it. When you consider what you do, what are you going to need on your laptop more?  More space or an optical drive.

Bryan:  More space.

Fr. Robert:  Yeah.  But it is personal.

Bryan:  I guess you could always swap it out when you need to if you are planning on bringing a bunch of DVD’s with you somewhere.

Fr. Robert:  I don’t know if this is true on the Linovo but on a lot of laptops the optical drive is held in by a single screw.  So if you remove that screw you can actually pull out the caddy or the optical drive and then slide what you need back in. 

Bryan:  Just don’t put your OS on it I guess.

Fr. Robert:  Yeah.  Don’t do that.  But don’t hot swap.  Shut it down and then switch over.  But it is SATA which means that it will auto-detect when it boots up.

Bryan:  Pretty cool.  I would prefer having an extra hard drive for myself.  Especially an SSD.

Fr. Robert:  I’m a big fan of that.  Now, when we come back we are going to be talking a little bit about a way to download videos off of YouTube that they can’t block.  We’ve been running into this.  They keep blocking our favorite tools.

Bryan:  They are trying.

Fr. Robert:  Without further ado, hit that button.  In the last segment we went all egghead to explain how LiPo packs work and how to intelligently choose voltage capacity and weight.  This time we are climbing down from the Ivory towers to show you how to charge them without blowing yourself up.  When we did project lunch box using Nicad and Nickel metal battery packs the charging and discharging process was relatively straight forward.  Plug in the charger, plug battery into charger, rock out.  LiPo packs take a little more thought and effort because of their unique chemistry and construction.  Remember that they are balanced.  So the charger can monitor the state of charge or SOS of each cell.  That gives you a safer higher capacity and longer living pack.  But to do this, we need a balanced charger.  We chose an Imex B6 LiPro balanced charger or probably a clone, mostly because it was less than $20.  This unit is almost identical to all Turnigy style chargers in design and operation.  So the following procedure should work for your budget unit.  The first step is to power on your charger, many of the less expensive chargers don’t have an AC adaptor but they will run on any DC power source between 11 and 18 volts as long as it provides enough amps.  If you have an old ATX power supply, you can easily turn it into a high quality 12 volt power source with more than enough  amps using the tip I gave in Episode 78 of Know How.  The first time you power on you’ll see a screen that says Program Select.  This allows you to select what type of battery you’ll be charging.  Use the increment and decrement keys to scroll to LiPo and hit start.  The screen will change and display battery chemistry, mode, charge rate and voltage.  Use the increment and decrement keys to scroll through the available modes.   You should see charge, balance, fast charge, storage, and discharge.  Select balance and hit start.  The charge rate should not start flashing.  This is where you select how fast you want to charge your LiPo pack.  The higher the amperage the faster the charge.  But it is not as simple as turning the charger to 11.  You need to know the safe charging rate of your pack.  That number isn’t usually on the label, so you have to find it in the specs.  Our Turnigy 2200 LiPo pack is rated for a max charge of 4C, while our 1000 ml amp pack is rated for 2C.  Using the same formula that we used to find the maximum discharge rate in the last segment we know the 2200 has a max charge rate of 2.2 amps times 4C or 8.8 amps.  And our 1000 has a max charge rate of 1 amp times 2 C or 2 amps.  The charge rate will effect the time it takes to charge a pack.  For example a 1C charge might take 45 to 60 minutes, 2C 35 to 45 minutes, 3C 15 to 20 minutes, 4C 10 to 15 minutes and 5C charge 5 – 10 minutes.  The natural tendency is to choose the faster charge rate so we can get back in the air. But slower chargers typically mean a longer life span for your pack and cells that have an SOC that are better match.  Which leads to better performance.  Personally, since I keep a number of packs in spare I prefer to charge at 1C to maximize my pack life.  Using the increment and decrement keys set the charger to your preferred charge rate then hit start.  The pack type will start to flash. As we learned in the last segment the serially connected cells determine the voltage of the pack.  And this is the only metric that your charger needs.  Make sure to get this right because under volting or over volting can seriously damage your battery, your charger, your stuff, your house, your puppy, your cat, the space time continuem and of course you.  While we’re on the subject of not dying, make sure you have a decent LiPo battery safety bag.  These pouches are designed to protect LiPo packs and contain a runaway reaction.  You can also use a clay pot filled with sand to increase your safety margin.  Once you have the right charge voltage, hit start and the screen should now display all the chosen values.  Give it a glance to make sure everything is set properly.  Now let’s connect the battery to the charger.  Your charger should’ve come with a series of leads , look for the one with the banana plug on one end and a deans plug on the other.  This is the charging lead.  Connect it to the charger output via the two banana plug sockets marked as positive and negative. The red lead goes in the positive, the black into the negative.  Now find the lead that has a deans plug on one side and the appropriate connector on your battery for the other.  This is the adaptor lead.  Connect the adaptor lead to the charging lead and then connect your battery’s discharge plug to the adaptor lead.  Make sure to do it in this order.  Even smaller LiPo packs have enough current to kill you.  If you connect the battery to the adaptor and charging leads before you connect the charging leads to the output on the charger you risk shorting the banana leads with enough power to weld them together.  And cause an out of control reaction that will probably set the pack on fire.  Now, connect the balancing leads to the proper socket on the charger.  Make sure all your connections are properly seated. Then long press the start button.  The charger will check the battery pack and give you a report on what it detects.  R refers to what the charger has detected while S refers to what you have selected.  If the report matches what you selected then you can press start again and the charging cycle will begin with the parameters that you gave the charger.  The display will show how long the charge cycle has been running and a counter will tell you how many ml amp hours have been supplied to the battery pack.  While charging, you can use the increment and decrement keys to switch to a display of the current voltage in each individual cell in your pack.  The targeted end voltage, the safety cutoffs and other parameters.  Full is when the SOC gets to 4.2 volts.  Once the cells have reached their target voltage, the charger should alert you to the end of the charge cycle and automatically stop supplying power to the pack.  Your LiPo pack is now ready to use. 

Fr. Robert:  Now, a proper battery charging is absolutely vital if you’re going to be doing any sort of…

Bryan:  Thanks for putting the fear of battery in me.

Fr. Robert:  It is a little bit of fun because more likely than not you are not going to have and event, but if you do you want to be prepared.  You do have a witches brew of chemistry inside these plastic bags.  So  you’ve got to treat them with respect.

Bryan:  And the fact that you are strapping them to a device that is going to be flying around and could possibly run into a building or something pierce the battery.

Fr. Robert:  I actually already had that happen to me with one pack.  It was a 1000 ml amp pack, it was a hard impact on that 250 series and I had taken the landing skiffs off.  And so most of the impact went into the battery pack.  It looked fine and I had it disassembled and about 30 minutes later it actually started smoking.  Now, luckily it was mostly discharged so there wasn’t a lot of power in there to feed the flames but it was a little scary thinking imagine if you had finished flying and you had thrown everything into the trunk of your car and suddenly there is smoke pouring out of the back of your car.  So treat these with respect and the first part is to make sure that you are going to charge them properly.

Bryan:  Yeah, and if you see one starting to deform…

Fr. Robert:  That is the weirdest thing.  I’ve seen people who’ve they’ve got a pack that is puffed up.

Bryan:  It’s got a bulge.

Fr. Robert:  It’s going to supply power until you die.  Don’t risk it.  There are tutorials on YouTube about taking a pack with three cells and if only one is puffed up you could de-solder it and put in a new cell.  You could do that.  DON’T!  It’s not worth it.

Bryan:  Yeah and then have a big office fire.

Fr. Robert:  Remember there is a lot of power in these things.  A lot of discharge.  Especially if you’ve got one of the larger packs.  You don’t really want to be messing around with it unless you have some sort of background with being an electrician or an EE major.  Play it safe. 

Bryan:  Treat them with respect.  Take care of them. 

Fr. Robert:  And just have a really good understanding of what they can and can’t do.

Bryan:  Like most things, just take precautions and play it safe.  But they are not inherently dangerous.

Fr. Robert:  But again, I wouldn’t put them in your pocket.  Use common sense.

Bryan:  I just like to carry them around. 

Fr. Robert:  I do want to give our audience a little bit of a take-away.  Because we’ve been doing piece by piece.  This is the batteries and the battery charger.  This is what I would suggest if you’re just starting to build a 250 class trainer.  This is what I would consider a trainers pack.  This is a Turnigy 3S1P 2200 ml amp, 25 – 35 C LiPo pack.  This is a nice pack, it is nice and light.  Not that expensive.  It will cost you about $9 to $10.  This will give you 15 – 20 minutes of flight depending on how you fly your 250.  The reason why I call that a training pack is because it does supply a decent amount of discharge current.  But it’s not a racing pack.  It is a little bit heavy and it has been optimized for flight time, not for speed.  Once you start to get a little bit of skill this is what I would consider a racing pack.  This is a tiny little pack about the size of my 1000 ml amp.  But this will provide you 1400 ml amp power and 40 – 80 C of discharge.  In other words it could give all of its power in a huge massive burst.  Which, if you are racing quads this is what you want.  That is going to run somewhere in the vicinity of $14 - $18, based on where you buy it.  But you’ve got a range of batteries to choose from and you can charge them with this.  This is a $20 LiPro battery I found on Amazon.  You can get them for about $20 on Ebay as well.  This is probably a clone, but it works just fine.  There are some people in the chat room saying why can’t they just make these simple?  They do have super simple chargers that you just plug in and it goes.  Those tend to be a bit more expensive and they don’t give you the fine control.  What I like about this, I can choose to charge it at a rate that is very low.  The no muss, no fuss charges they charge at one rate.  They are selectable between 1 and 3 different rates.  I can go all the way down to .1 amps and just trickle charge my batteries when I really want them at their peak.  Because remember the idea is to match the state of charge of all the cells in the pack.

Bryan:  What kind of life span do you think a lot of these have? 

Fr. Robert:  Your typical Lithium poly life cycle, so you are looking at 1000 charges on the outside.  But for people who are flying it is probably going to download before it hits the end of its life cycle.  Just keep an eye on it.  If it starts puffing up you’ve damaged it and dispose of it properly.

Bryan:  It’s like a recycling center or something like that?

Fr. Robert:  Those are hard to find but they are worth it.  Please don’t throw it in the garbage it will end up in the trash compacter somewhere and some poor soul is going to have a LiPo explode in his face.  That is not good.  But speaking of things that we don’t do, you know what we don’t do? 

Bryan:  Break things and then not take them apart?

Fr. Robert:  Exactly.  Every time we break something here on the show we have to take it apart.  And if we take it apart, we want to take it apart properly right? 

Bryan:  So we can fix it.

Fr. Robert:  That’s why we have iFixit on the show.  Now, what is iFixIt?  There are a lot of people think it is a company that sells us tools.  They do sell us tools.  But it is way more than that.  iFixit is a repository for knowledge for people who want to do DIY or maker projects.  Open the brand new iFixit protect tool kit.  This is what we’ve got.  The hotness that is currently in the Brick House.  You see is a free online repair manual for everything.  It is not just these wonderful tools.  You can fix it and iFixit makes it easy with more than 10,000 repair guides for everything from electronics like your smart phone, your tablet, game console, home appliances, clothing, even your bike.  They also have fool proof instructions to fix all your stuff.  So if you’ve ever shattered your iPhone screen, or need to repair the red ring of death from xbox or swap the battery on your Galaxy S3, iFixit has got you covered with parts, tools, and repair guides.  iFixit also makes the most trustworthy repair tools for consumer electronics including this.  This is the protect tool kit.  This is their new and improved version.  It has got 70 tools to assist you with any mod malfunction or misfortune that comes your way.  The toolkit is the gold standard for electronics work from garage hackers to the CIA and FBI.  But more importantly, their unique tools are used by repair technicians everywhere, including here in the Brick House.  This includes iFixit’s 54 bit driver kit with 54 standard specialty and security bits.  That includes Philips bits, pentalope bits, and of course straight bits and torque and torque security bits for things like computers, game consoles and controllers.  The tri-wing bits, the very hard to find ones for video consoles, the triangular bit which McDonald’s uses for their toys.   It’s also got a swivel top precision driver to get in those hard to reach places and a flex extension that will let you get into those tight corners.  They give you an ESD safe precision tweezer set for delicate manipulation.  They give you an anti-static wrist wrap to keep your devices safe from accidental static discharge, nylon spongers, metal spongers, plastic opener tools for prying and scraping.  It is lightweight, it is compact and it’s got this durable tool roll that makes it usable for on the go.  Now it is only $64.95 and it is backed by a lifetime warranty so you know it is going to be quality because they are going to replace it if you break it.  Hobbyists and home DIY fixers alike use this Protect Toolkit for doorknobs, eye glasses, cabinet doors, sink fixtures and more.  If you are looking for a great addition to your artist or hobbyist tool kit, folks look no further.  Best of all there are 1000’s of free iFixit guides to put your tools to use.  This is my favorite part.  This is a magnetic pad.  This is what we use when we are disassembling something.  It gives you a way to label individual quadrants so you can put gadgets and gizmos and  then put yourself a note so you know where they go.  If you ever disassembled something and you had a couple of extra screws at the end this is what you need to make sure you are not going to get a broken device when what you should be doing is reveling in your DIY greatness.  Now with ifixit you can fix it yourself and iFixit can help. for more than 10,000 free step by step guides.  iFixit also sells every part and tool that you will ever need.  Enter the code Know How at checkout and you’ll save $10 off every purchase of $50 or more.  And we thank iFixit for their support of Know How. 

Fr. Robert:  Bryan, I want to get to one last quick bit here.  Now we have been doing a lot of segments on downloading for YouTube.  Most of them have centered around YouTube center which was a great tool, it was Chrome, Firefox, Opera.  The idea is just to give you a little extra button for downloading it in any format that you wanted.  The problem is Google aint big on that.

Bryan:  I can understand why but for my purposes I want to be able to download the videos.

Fr. Robert:  Their reason is they don’t want you to be able to skip ads and they also don’t want you to be able to blatantly steal content.  So I understand why they are doing it.  But at the same time, it is like if you just play this cat and mouse game it just means that they have to update the tool every time you change something to break the interface so that it doesn’t work anymore.  That is what has been happening.  People just say, well I’ll just download the next version, and the next version. 

Bryan:  And what ends up happening is we do a show about how to do it and then someone comes back and tells us a couple weeks later, I tried this and can you tell me another way.

Fr. Robert:  I thought how about this.  Why don’t we show folks a different way of getting YouTube videos that is not as easy as just clicking but it is a lot harder for YouTube to block.  Because rather than taking advantage of the YouTube interface it is actually looking at where the stream is coming from.  So this is what we are going to do.  The first thing you want to do is go to the video you want to download.  This is on YouTube right now.  This is our review of the Quad Video Drone.  There is a URL right here, this is the URL you want. and then that funky combination of letters and numbers that determines my URL.  This is not actually the video.  That won’t get you to the video.  What that gets you to is the landing page.  The wrapper that YouTube has put around the video so they can put things like ads and pre-roll and post-roll and the little pop ups.  We can actually use this to get access to the actual video that YouTube is streaming underneath the wrapper.  The way we are going to do that is use VLC.  So you need to download VLC.  It is just the video land client.  This is probably the best thing ever to have on your computer.

Bryan:  I love this program, just to have it.  Not for downloading YouTube videos.

Fr. Robert:  If VLC doesn’t play it, it is probably busted.  They’ve got it for Windows, OSX, for Linux, for Android, IOS, so you are going to find a version that works for your device.  Now once you’ve got VLC downloaded you want to go into Media.  You want to go ahead and open network stream.  When we click that, this box is going to pop up.  Go ahead and post in the URL that you just copies from the browser, so this will get me to that video view of the quad copter.  I hit play and it is going to bring up VLC and VLC is going to go there and it is now playing the YouTube video.  It is pulling it from YouTube. This is the fun part.  I just go ahead and drop over to tools, go down to codec information and it is going to pop up this window, this right here.  This super, super long URL that is the direct path to the actual video.  There is no layers on top of that, there is no wrapper, YouTube has added nothing to this.  Now this is really long so what you want to do is right click this field, select all and then copy.  Now what we’ve done is we’ve given ourselves a way to get the pure video without anything else that YouTube is doing to it.  Open a new browser, paste in what I just put and look how long this is.  It’s a monster URL.  You wouldn’t want to manually copy that thing down.  But if I go this is now the raw video.  There is nothing attached to this and here is something that you can’t do with YouTube.  I can right click the video and save it as.  Now I am going to save this to my desktop and what is happening is that it is being downloaded, like any other download that you would do.  When this is done I will have a copy of the pure source, unadulterated.  So what the user uploaded, that is what I’m going to get.

Bryan:  Will this automatically be the top quality the highest resolution that they uploaded.

Fr. Robert:  Yes, it should be.  This is the source video.  This is the video upon which all YouTube services are based.  If you get the source video then you’ve got what they uploaded.  Which is nice.  It is going to take a while to download.  But it is going to download it in the MP4 version, which means I can do anything I want with it.

Bryan:  I can see this being really handy for someone who knows they are going into an area where they are not going to be able to go on YouTube but they want to be able to bring their videos with them.  Download it and be able to put it on your file.

Fr. Robert:  We’ve got Web5189 saying this has got to be the worst way to download YouTube ever.  Just use video downloader.  We just talked about this.  The problem with using any of those programs is that when Google/YouTube changes the interface even a little bit it breaks all of those plug-ins and you’ve got to get the next version of the plugin.  Unless they change their naming for getting the raw video this is always going to work.  Now Google could take some of the URL’s to make it more difficult for you to do it.  But it’s too much of a pain for them to do that.  It is very easy for them to change one element in the interface that breaks every single plug-in.  Which just keeps happening.

Bryan:  So this might seem round-about but you know it is going to work reliably. 

Fr. Robert:  You are also going to get the raw unadulterated version of the video.  Because a lot of those downloads give you the low quality version.  One caveat.  What you will find is that a lot of videos, especially the crappy ones, are using weird codacs. 

Bryan:  So when you download the source file, it won’t play.

Fr. Robert:  It will play on VLC, but if you are planning on using it in final cut or premiere, you’re going to have to convert it first.  Which luckily we are going to show you how on a future episode.

Bryan:  Cool.

Fr. Robert:  Yeah.  So there you have it.  Not so easy as using a plug-in but I find that the end result is better.  More complicated but it is going to work every time.

Bryan:  It is also why we make it so much easier for people to download our videos, beyond just going on YouTube.

Fr. Robert:  We are going to have all the links for this and the step by step.  I am actually giving you step by step instructions on how to make this work.  It is going to be in the show notes, so don’t forget to go there.  In fact, why don’t you tell them where they are?

Bryan: and not just the show notes but all our prior episodes so you can keep up with those.  And links to subscribe to the video so you don’t have to go on YouTube and do a roundabout way of downloading it.  You can just do it straight from our site.

Fr. Robert:  Although you can do that if you really want to.  We give you the high quality version, but if you want to download from YouTube I don’t care.

Bryan:  Anyway you want it, that’s the way you need it.

Fr. Robert:  I feel like I should be singing that.  It gets in my head.  Don’t forget we also have a Gplus community.  You can find us at or just go in the google plus and search for know how.  It is a huge community, very active group of folks who like to do DIY and maker projects.  So if you join, you’ll be able to ask questions and you’ll be able to answer questions about things that are in your expertise.  And you may notice that we pull from that group a lot. 

Bryan:  More recently I’ve had to set aside more time to look at it because once I get into the community it is radical.  It’s like that’s a great question.  I can answer that, but someone beat me to it.

Fr. Robert:  I have a technique for that.  I just pretend like no one else has answered it.  There are some of those guys are so fast.  It’s like a question goes up and two seconds later someone answered it.  Don’t forget you can also find us on Twitter.  You’ll find me @PadreSJ.

Bryan:  And I’m @cranky_hippo.   And you don’t just have to follow us, you can follow one of the men behind the scenes that makes this all happen.

Fr. Robert:  He is THE man behind the scene.  Alex Gumple.  He’s our TD.  Do you have an example of what people might find at your twitter feed. 

Alex:  Bryan you said 10 years ago you were playing Halo2. 

Bryan:  Oh no don’t show that.  I’m Joe Cool.  The flash was really bright. 

Fr. Robert:  Don’t forget to follow Alex @anelf3. 

Bryan:  Don’t.  Because you don’t want to see any more of those pictures.  I’ve unfollowed him now. 

Fr. Robert:  Until next time, I’m Father Robert Ballecer.

Bryan:  I’m Bryan Burnett.

Fr. Robert:  And now that you know how…

Bryan:  Go do it!

All Transcripts posts