Know How... 138 (Transcript)

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On this episode of Know How, RaspberryPi media center, doing your quad copter, and your questions, our answers.

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

Bryan Burnett: And I’m Bryan Burnett.

Fr. Robert: And today Know How is filmed before a live studio audience. That’s right folks.

Bryan: Wow, look at all that?

Fr. Robert: Enthusiastic. This is the most excitement that we have had out of Know How in a long time.

Bryan: I think we need to step up our game then.

Fr. Robert: Well our game is going to go 30 to 40 and maybe 50 or even an hour and a half long. So, we've got game.

Bryan: Give or take. As long as Alex doesn’t shut us up.

Fr. Robert: He’s always, always…

Bryan: DefCon one now.

Fr. Robert: We better jump into it because our audience members are starting to fade. Now Bryan, I wanted to talk a little bit about something from way back when. You know, wind the technology clock. Now I think before you were born, we used to communicate without fiber optics.

Bryan: White? How would you communicate otherwise?

Fr. Robert: A long while back, people used to think that the only way you could communicate from one coast of the United States to the other is either via a really long copper cable which there wasn’t a lot of and they weren't great quality. Or, you bounce things off of satellites. And that was expensive and caused a delay.

Bryan: How long ago are we talking?

Fr. Robert: Not that long ago. Go back 60 years. Technology was in its infancy but they needed a better way to get data. Voice, television, simple packets of data from one part of the country to the next and they didn’t really have a whole lot of infrastructure in the ground. Now there is a book that just came out that talked about the long line. And this is something that I remember from a kid so it is great to see it again. And it is a network of microwave towers that AT&T built way back when. Back in the 50s to essentially wire the country together.

Bryan: Okay, so it was like the first kind of cell network.

Fr. Robert: Kind of. They used microwaves. He turned it into a coffee book table. You have probably seen these. These are still around today. If you go to the Mojave Desert by Los Angeles, if you go to Santa Barbara, they are all over the country. The initial network was created back in 1951 and it cost about $40 million. That was 63 years ago. That is a lot of money today. And it consisted of 107 microwave towers. That is just the first one. After that hundreds of towers were built across the country and the idea was that you could go about 30 to 40 miles using microwave technology. That microwave technology was actually kind of impressive for its time. It was two 12 to 26 dB horns that faced each direction. One for transmitting and one for receiving. Then you also were said by multiple 25 to 35 analog radios using up to 12 different polarizations.

Bryan: Wow. These things look pretty beastly.

Fr. Robert: They are beastly. These are hundreds of feet up in the air. But you could get 30 to 40 miles and you were really only limited by the curvature of the earth and atmospheric conditions. Now, it was cool for its time. This idea that you could be at near the speed of light, voice and data on this network that you owned. And get data from one place to another. It was very attractive but eventually AT&T ran into the law of physics which is a nice parallel to what is happening today with our wireless frequencies. You can only cram so much data, so many frequencies before you start running out.

Bryan: Right. TV was broadcast over the air. I guess that still happens. But then there has been a big fight for Google and those other companies to get those frequencies.

Fr. Robert: That whole digital changeover. Remember when they did that thing of stopping the broadcast of analog signals and everything had to be digital?

Bryan: I remember my grandparents being very upset about it because their rabbit ears were going to work anymore.

Fr. Robert: Exactly. And that is because you can cram more data into a digital channel and they wanted to free up those frequencies so they could auction them off. The FCC has been making a lot of money by auctioning off these frequencies, not for television or radio but for data. Because it is all about wireless data. Now, the interesting thing is eventually we are going to run into the same problem that AT&T ran into. It doesn’t matter how many frequencies we free up, there will never ever be enough wireless spectrum for everything that we want to run at the same time. This is actually something that we talk a lot about on one of my other shows, This Week In Enterprise Tech.

Bryan: Yeah, I remember you guys talking about this. So what kind of speeds would you have gotten on those microwave towers?

Fr. Robert: Like 56K. You could do ISBN speed, it wasn’t high-speed. But remember back in the 50s, 56K was ridiculous. You look at the frequencies they were using and what they were really built for was for propagation. They were long waves that could get a long-distance. You didn’t really need to push a whole lot of information over those carriers. Not like today. Today we demand high speeds with lots of bandwidth and low latency.

Bryan: Now that those are obsolete, are they doing anything with the old towers?

Fr. Robert: Oddly enough they are. They basically shut down the network and 1999. Officially. But it really had become obsolete before that. 30 years after the network started we were already starting to put fiber into the ground. And you couldn’t compete. It was not economical to keep running the towers. Some of them were purchased by individuals who turned them into high vacation homes. Some of these are in beautiful areas. Where do you want to put a tower? You want to put a tower way up high on something that has a view of a lot of things.

Bryan: A place that is unobstructed.

Fr. Robert: Yeah. That is a beautiful view if you want a vacation home. Others have turned them into bomb shelters because, you saw the pictures some of those are concrete boxes. But some of them are still in operation. They have re-equiped the towers with technology that can do wireless ISP to a small region.

Bryan: Because these are in remote locations?

Fr. Robert: Remote locations. And some of them are actually still using those microwave links to run as their backhaul because they can’t get fiber to where they are.

Bryan: That is pretty cool.

Fr. Robert: Recycling old tech.

Bryan: I definitely like the idea of recycling old tech. That is cool.

Fr. Robert: Go figure.

Alex: Padre you were saying there was a technological marvel in the 50s to do this kind of thing? Remember back in the 90s we had the same kind of technology with our Newtons. Sending messages to each other.

Fr. Robert: Actually I remember that. When you used a Newton there used to be green flashes of light. It was amazing.

Alex: A beam.

Fr. Robert: It was beaming.

Bryan: It was microwave power right? Did you start to feel really warm?

Fr. Robert: I got your message but I’m all tingly. I don’t know what is going on.

Bryan: Could we link up to the old microwave network and start our own dark net or something?

Fr. Robert: You laugh? That I have a Know How coming up in the near future. There are a couple of towers on my way to my family home in Las Vegas. And I flew a quad copter next to one once and actually it is completely dead. So I’m wondering… hmmm.

Bryan: Because nobody would set up a stingray on a old microwave tower. That technology is obsolete.

Fr. Robert: Stay tuned. Now let's move on. We have been promising… oh wow, we’ve lost the audience.

Bryan: I guess he doesn’t like microwaves.

Fr. Robert: I guess he doesn’t care.

Bryan: We need to move on.

Fr. Robert: Let’s move on. We have been promising some RaspPi projects for a while. And actually, with the release of the RaspPi 2, people have been wanting to know what does it do better? one of the things that people have complained about the original raspberry pie is that you could do things like RaspPMC. It was a cool project that was done way back in the beginning of know-how. It worked.

Bryan: Even just running the defaults on RaspOS you couldn’t even browse the Internet.

Fr. Robert: It was kind of a painful experience. The video never looked quite right just because you didn’t have the power to really crank through the pixels. So everything always looked a little blocky. Don’t get me wrong, for the price it was great.

Bryan: I loved playing with it.

Fr. Robert: But there was also another issue and that was very early on the distro RasPNC, you could add on modules to make things functional but it was kind of a pain in the butt to set it up.

Bryan: You definitely had do your research before you started formatting your SD cards and things.

Fr. Robert: We decided that we wanted to see if there was an update. We wanted to do another RasPNC update. But we couldn’t. Bryan, a moment of sadness because RasPNC is dead.

Bryan: But from its ashes, did another one rise?

Fr. Robert: It did yes! They expanded the project. The original one was RasPNC and the idea was they wanted to make a media center for the raspberry pie. While the team, the same development team, decided why are we limiting it to the Raspberry Pi? This is actually good software and a good idea. You could use it on multiple platforms. So, they created what is called the OSMC, open source media center. Same team, same idea. Same sort of interface. But this is now a distribution that will work on multiple devices including the Raspberry Pi, and they wrote one specifically for the Raspberry Pi 2 so that it will take advantage of the six times extra horsepower.

Bryan: Right. Because that is the big advantage of the new Pi’s, the faster processor.

Fr. Robert: Right. And, a faster processor means that you have more horsepower for coding streams which means better quality…

Bryan: Which means PlayStation and M 64 emulators.

Fr. Robert: But I wanted to find out if the installation would be just as painful as doing the original or yes may be OSMC has figured out the bugs. So, Alex. Push the magic button.

Bryan: The audience is on their toes.

Fr. Robert: The materials needed for the OSMC Pi are minimal. You will need a Raspberry Pi, an SD card preferably 32 GB or higher with class X performance, a USB keyboard and mouse and a power source. You will also need a display and cable for HDMI output and if you want to go wireless you will need a USB wireless dongle. Setups starts by going to the OSMC website which has versions of the installation package for Windows, OS X and Linux. Choose Your version, download and then kick off the package. You will get a screen asking for your language and the type of Raspberry Pi that you are using. OSMC will make full use of the Pi 2’s faster hardware so make sure to select it if you’ve got a newer model. The next screen allows you to select which version of OSMC you want to install. I suggest using the release candidate unless you would like to help them with their debugging. You can also select a local build to if you’ve got a custom image of OSMC that you have created. OSMC will allow you to install on an SD card, USB stick and internal storage. I suggest using the SD card as it is the most flexible option. Finally, OSMC will give you the option of accessing your network via the onboard ethernet connection or wirelessly via a USB dongle. I always suggest wired for best results. Confirm the destination for the install, accept the EULA and then let the setup download the package and write it to your storage device. Once the right is complete then install the SD card into your Pi, connect the keyboard, mouse and HDMI display as well as an Ethernet cable, if you are connecting via wired. Then power up the Pi. OSMC will install itself with all your chosen parameters, installation takes between five and 15 minutes depending on the speed of your Pi and SD card. After installation the Pi will reboot and you will choose language and accept the EULA. That is it. OSMC Is now successfully installed on your Raspberry Pi.

Fr. Robert: So, ridiculously easy.

Bryan: Well at least the audience doubled. Since the beginning of the show.

Fr. Robert: It is multiplying. Like rabbits.

Bryan: Don't feed them after midnight.

Fr. Robert: Now, here is a couple of nice things. That installation is ridiculously easy.

Bryan: It is so much more simple than it used to be.

Fr. Robert: Choose your package, let it run and it actually copies everything over to the SD card. You put it in a does its own install and it asks for the language, for you to accept the EULA in it is ready to go.

Bryan: That has really simplified rather than going into the console and doing it.

Fr. Robert: They do still have a lot of the functionality of the old RasPNC which is that you could design your own packages, add on to the functionality of the OSMC. Which is nice. That is actually why we are showing this to you now because we want to build on this. One of the things that has been asked of us is that we could make a Twit box.

Bryan: Where you just plug it in and start? And it loads up to our videos?

Fr. Robert: Exactly. We could do that, but this is a much better platform to build on. I've got it running right now. This is what the interface looks like. So if you have used RasPNC this is going to be much the same way. This is not connected to a network right now but it could be connected to a network. I've got it hooked up to this Tchotchke that I got at CES. it has a keyboard and a mouse built into it which makes it a nice remote. Now, one of the things I wanted to show you is I have a USB drive here. This is a standard 32 formatted USB drive. I've got a bunch of Know How stuff on this and if I plug this in, it will automatically recognize the driver, it will mount the drive and if I go up to files it should be able to detect them. There we go. Look at this quality. This is a Know How something episode. There we go. It is actually really good. The quality is spectacular. For what I remember from a Raspberry Pi. This is a super high professional code. It requires a lot of power to decompress it. I’m not seeing a lot of blocking and I’m not seeing a lot of shearing across the frame. It is well done.

Alex: It is stretching you.

Fr. Robert: It is stretching me. But that is because I’m using the scaler underneath. So that we could get the proper input. For some reason I am outputting 1440 instead of 1920. I have to figure that out. I think that is just a setting in OSMC.

Bryan: But as far as stuttering and loading up the file and stuff like that it is quicker than the original Pi.

Fr. Robert: This is a really good platform to build on. So I am going to learn whatever it is that I have to learn to get the hooks on this. And I will build a Twit box out of OMSC.

Bryan: I am more than willing to help you with that. And you kind of have a little custom case or something.

Fr. Robert: Know that is a super special thing. Just a little tease. Something that we did here on Know How, a little project that we have been working on. A little bit of 3-D printed magic.

Bryan: It looks nice.

Fr. Robert: It looks nice. I need to revise my design. It is not a good design.

Bryan: I am looking forward to playing with the Pi. There is a couple of projects that I already have in mind along with the Twit box.

Fr. Robert: Something else. We are going to put the links for this into the show notes. That if you got even the original Raspberry Pi, OSMC will work on that. It won’t be as slick, it won’t be as fast because of course you don’t have the horsepower. But, try the installation because you are going to love it. The fact that you can put an SSD card into your computer, run the installation it copies all the packages over, and you are done. It is really how packages should be deployed on Raspberry Pi. For consumers.

Bryan: That is pretty slick. Especially if you are someone who wanted to play with the Pi and just get started right away and you didn’t want to have to dig into it too much. It is nice to be able to just pick it up and play with it. I know a bunch of people were excited to play with them and then once they had to really get over that first hurdle in just using it, they kind of petered out.

Fr. Robert: You are like me. When I screwed up with my early Raspberry Pi projects, I didn't even try to figure out what I did wrong. I just wiped it and then reinstalled the packages.

Bryan: I was determined to figure out what I was doing wrong. But I know I had a couple of friends who saw my NES project and said I want to do that. And then they hit the first wall of installing packages and said forget it.

Fr. Robert: Now, folks. We know this is a lot of information that you know what? We’ve got a source of information on the Internet that we want to talk to you about.

Bryan: I think our audience member is checking it out right now.

Fr. Robert: We can tell that he is looking at Lynda because Lynda is the repository of knowledge on the internet. When you need to fill your knowledge hole there is no better place to go. Bryan, what is Lynda?

Bryan: Lynda? Well that is a repository for a bunch of really well put together videos for knowledge. I’ve actually been using it a lot for learning C Plus Plus.

Fr. Robert: Yeah, now see this is one of the things we both have on Know How, Coding 101 and a couple other shows we do on the Twit TV network. Which is we can get people a taste, a sample of something but then it is up to them to find a repository, a place they can go to fill in all the gaps because we will never be able to give you as much knowledge as you need in a half an hour, two hours, whatever it might be. is a place where you can go and find classes on business, skills, hobbies, everything from how you take pictures to how you program. That is what is for. Now it is for problem solvers. If you consider yourself a problem solver consider Lynda. It is for the curious, the people who want to make things happen. Maybe you want to build an app. Maybe you want to learn programming so you can create a module for OSMC. Maybe you want to take better photos, master Excel or redesign your website. has everything you need to feed your creative mind. Some of the courses that I recommend if you are curious about life and the world and how the world works. Up and running with java, design patterns in PHP, HTML essential training. They also have three different courses on building a note taking app, an android version and an iOS version, and a windows phone version. Each course will teach you how to create a complete mobile note taking From start to finish and with ours we have created a working app and learned the basics of developing for which ever platform you choose. We use Lynda here, not just for general knowledge but specifically for this crossover. This move over that we have had from platforms. We have moved from Final Cut on the Mac to premiere Pro on Windows PC. Because we've got faster computers now. Our editors are great and they are really good, they know what they are doing. But sometimes they need just that little bit of extra, that tool that didn’t work properly.

Bryan: When we switched over from Final Cut I knew how to use premier all the hotkeys and a few little details that I was unfamiliar with. Lynda helped fill those gaps.

Fr. Robert: They fill the gaps. And not only that, Lynda has something that they do which I love which is transcriptions of all their videos.

Bryan: My two favorite things are transcriptions and the go back 10 seconds button.

Fr. Robert: Exactly. The transcription specifically because you can look for a particular question that you have for a particular solution that you need. And it will tell you where you can find it in the videos. That is just valuable. If you don’t have that in your service, you are just not Lynda. Now, here is what we want you to do. We want you to get a membership. We want you to get unlimited access to training on hundreds of topics. We want you to get it all for a flat rate. Whether you are looking to become an expert, you are passionate about a hobby, or you just want to learn something new. We want you to visit and sign up for your free 10 day trial. And we thank Lynda for their support of Know How.

Fr. Robert: Bryan, I’m afraid we have to do it. We are going to have to flip over the board because Tony is getting bored here. And we are going to go from this wonderful fluffy know-how thing to some serious matter. Now if only there was a way that we could warn our audience that there were incoming quad copter segments that would be very very helpful.

Bryan: Some sort of disclaimer?

Fr. Robert: A disclaimer. Quads are incoming. There we go. Okay, so. I think people actually want quad copters, that is why we have been doing them. Now we are talking about something that is very unglamorous. People hate this because it gets heavy on the math. But it is very important if you do design your own quad copters because it is not just buying a kit and putting it together. There is actually some fore knowledge that you need to put into the project.

Bryan: Padre are you saying that you can do cool stuff with math?

Fr. Robert: Yes. We are talking about tuning. Now, anyone who has crashed in our Google plus group will know this. I am now going to give you the secrets to the kingdom. If you want to know how to get better videos, if you want your quad copter not to shake so much, if you want it not to wobble as it is coming down, then listen. Because this is it. I am going to start with some heavy stuff and then we are going to get into the practical. Here is the heavy stuff. Your quad copter is math.

Bryan: What?

Fr. Robert: Yes. Math. Specifically, this is Math. This is the flight controller. This thing is the brains remember? This controls the electronic speed controller, which then drive the motors at different RPMs in order to make this thing level out.

Bryan: There are sensors in it that help the…

Fr. Robert: The accelerometers, the Gyro and all that other fun stuff. It is all math. Because this is what we call an open loop controller. Because it just runs and runs and runs. This is a process that never stops.

Bryan: Right because it is always taking in data and then putting it out.

Fr. Robert: Taking in data and then putting it out. That is perfect. That is exactly what this does. So this is taking in the data from the sensors and then has to give output. But an open loop controller has to have a goal. There has to have something that it does. So for example, the controller in your car for your pedal, it’s goal is to match the speed of the engine with the position of the pedal. That is another example of an open loop controller. This one, hasn’t this as a goal. Flat. This controller wants this quad copter to be as flat as possible. So it is looking at the accelerometers, the Gyro and it knows what perfect is. Perfect is flat. And then it knows as it does this, it induces what is called an error. All the error means is how far away am I from my goal?

Bryan: And then it wants to get back to the goal.

Fr. Robert: Right and that is the output. So it takes the error, turns it into an output that it will generate that will hopefully correct the error. Now, any flight controller is going to have what we call PID. Which stands for proportional gain, integral derivative. It sounds very math-y.

Bryan: What are we trying to describe with that?

Fr. Robert: Just math. Proportional addresses the crafts deviation from the norm. So for example, I really cruelly have drawn waves here. If this is the norm, as my craft goes out and creates more errors, the P is going to want to force it back towards the norm, towards the center line. Right? But what will happen is if you are just flying with P, the newer going to end up with this. You get this oscillation. Because the craft is going to over correct constantly. It is going to go from here to I better give it a hard over so that I get back to level and then it is going to go there. So you end up with this. Now, if you have ever flown your quad copter and it is doing this as it comes up then you have a fast oscillation. That is because your P settings are way too high. Essentially your quad copter’s controller is overcompensating continuously. The P game is so high that it is always trying to fix small errors.

Bryan: It is fighting itself basically.

Fr. Robert: It is fighting itself. So if you have a higher P setting, it is more reactive to angular change. So, high P means that when I do this the craft can snap it back more quickly. Low P means that when I do this, the craft is kind of lazily going to….

Bryan: It slows down the reaction time I guess.

Fr. Robert: A little bit. But that is the take away. Now there is a second setting called I, the integral. Integral is kind of funny. So, let's take that same oscillation and my P is just looking for the error is and is trying to correct the error. The integral is actually looking at the error over time. So it is actually the area under the curve. Now, the nice thing about the integral is it will actually fight the P so the P wants to snap it back immediately where the integral will look at the error over time and basically is trying to level it out. This is not the math, but this is what I let you do. I let you sort of calm down the P. So rather than over snapping, you can have the I say okay I understand that you want to get back to this point bed because I am looking at the error over time, I am going to kind of balance out your correction so that you don’t snap back and forth.

Bryan: Okay, so as my brain is trying to wrap my head around all this I am thinking back to our lunchbox project where we talked about suspensions. This seems almost like an error suspension where you have the shock that would dampen and then you had the dampener and they were like fighting each other to try and keep the lunch box level.

Fr. Robert: Yeah. So you've got those algorithms. There are two different algorithms that you can play with and when you are dealing with I, a higher setting of I will try to spread out the corrections over time. So if you have a really high I setting it will look at what P wants to do and it will kind of lazily bring it back. Now, this is cool. If you’ve got a craft that tends to wobble as it descends.

Bryan: Why is that? Because the air wash?

Fr. Robert: It is the air wash. That you can fix that by increasing the I. Because what that air wash is doing is forcing P to do a bunch of snap. And increasing the I will decrease the oscillation. Okay? Now there is one more called the derivative. Which actually son in the quad copter community will call dampening. Because that is basically what it does. It is like a shock absorber and it keeps you from maxing out the limit either way. The KK which we are using on these boards doesn't give you control over the derivative. In fact, a lot don’t. You can do everything with just P and I. Which is actually what we do on that KK.

Bryan: And so now that we know what these do, how do you dial them in?

Fr. Robert: Let’s talk about this process. This is actually what you want to hear. What you actually want to hear is how do I use that to make my quad copter not so squirrelly? All right. Here is what you are going to do. Take the I setting and turn it all the way to zero. So in the KK, there is the pi settings, use it to turn the I all the way to zero. You want to set the P before there is any I. Now, you are going to turn the P up to about 30. Started with 30.

Bryan: So the limit with P you can start at zero and what is the max?

Fr. Robert: 255.

Bryan: So 30 is a good baseline?

Fr. Robert: Some flight controllers are set at 255 by default. And if you’re a quad copter, the first time you fly it starts doing this then check your default because probably 255. But start with 30, fly it just a little bit. If it is stable bump it up by 10. 30 to 40 Period keep doing that until you start to see fast oscillation. When you start to see fast oscillation, take it back down to the last value that you had.

Bryan: And you will see oscillation with no input from your remote right?

Fr. Robert: Right. Remember that is just the quad copter over correcting. Once you hit that part where the quad copter is starting to do this, bringing the P back down. Until it is no longer doing that. So now you've got that balance. That gives you your ideal P. Now, let’s do I. I is the same way. Bring it up from zero to ten. Put it up in the air and then let it come down. If it is wobbling as it comes down, increase the I. Keep doing that until the wobble is noticeably less, that is your I setting. Okay?

Bryan: And probably you should really make sure it is balanced? Before you do these tests?

Fr. Robert: Yeah, that is the other thing. We haven’t gone over that because that is actually a mod we are going to do for the alien X. We did go over balancing propellers, which is good. You don't want to have a bunch of vibration. Because vibration will actually affect the controllers.

Bryan: We've talked about moving the battery along the chassis to get an ideal weight distribution.

Fr. Robert: That we still need to balance the motors. Because we have not balance the motorists and the motors can be unbalanced. We still have a hard mounts of our flight controller to the frame. Which, honestly is not ideal. Because what is going to happen is the vibrations from the quad copter are going to translate into the controller and that will throw off your settings.

Bryan: I never thought of that. So, what is the ideal scenario for that?

Fr. Robert: We are actually building a mount that people can build for themselves that is really going to isolate the controller at the same time it gives a crash protection. I have seen people who use double-sided tape on their controllers to the frame, which is great until you crash and then…

Bryan: It disappears.

Fr. Robert: So, that is how you tune it. You want to tune your quad copter because the better you tune it, the better it is going to fly. Now, you always hear people saying what are your PI settings? Can you share your PI with me? You can use that as a starting point, but you've got to remember that your PID settings are going to change depending on you and how you apply it, what you're acceptable tolerance for the wobble is, how you mod it and what you are doing with it. For example if I am flying a camera, I am going to use a much lower P setting than I would if I was going acrobat because I want smoother flight. I want sluggish moves. I don’t want any snap.

Bryan: But if you are going to be acrobatic then you want it up there.

Fr. Robert: Also, it is going to depend on how you build it. Because everything from where you place your controllers to how you mount your motors to whether or not things are balanced, that is going to throw up those settings. It could be different. So that is why I am not saying set this for 35. I can’t do that because my settings will probably not work for you.

Bryan: It really is like the suspension of the quad copter. Because there are so many times that I have gone on forums and people say tell me what your suspension is set at? It depends on your weight, it depends on how you ride, it depends on what mods you have done. It is like a digital suspension.

Fr. Robert: That is going to conclude our Alien X build. We’ve got plenty of mods coming from both the 250 and the Alien x and we were talking about this last night. We are actually going to start doing full home built quads. So we are start going to build our own frames and things.

Bryan: Whatever we can scavenge in the basement.

Fr. Robert: We can find stuff in Leo’s office. But, never mind. Burke turned into a raccoon. Before we send you a way, I just want to give you a little taste of what you can do with your 450 once you get your tuning right.

Fr. Robert: Now Steve is saying that beach shot was the DGI right? No. All of that was done with the 450. With the Alien X that we just built. The difference is on that beach shot the really smooth beach shot I actually did mount a gimble on the bottom of it. We’ve got a mind that we are going to show people how to put the gamble for word so you don’t get those legs in the props. Which will be nice. You will notice if you watch that again you will notice there are different degrees of shaking that is going on. It is because I am in the process of tuning it. People also asked is it going to change depending on whether or not you have a camera mounted on it? Absolutely. Anything you do to your quad copter that takes it out of the trim that it currently is, is going to require you to retune it. Just consider that.

Bryan: Alex doesn’t even have a quad copter but he was saying that he has a PI setting.

Fr. Robert: Alex what is your PI setting?

Alex: Here is my PI setting.

Fr. Robert: I should’ve known. I think we are done. Right? No, okay. We've got more. Folks, we are going to put aside that build for just a bit and we are going to get to your questions. But before we do that, let’s go ahead and think the second sponsor of this episode of Know How.

Bryan: It is time to get smart, Padre.

Fr. Robert: It’s time to get smart. In fact, let your house get smart. I have told this story a couple of times but it is worth retelling. At CES this year, it doesn’t stand for anything anymore at international CES the big story, the one that people were really drawn to was the emergence of the Smart house. The Smart home. We had been promised this forever, the idea that your home could automate its self. So that it could do those things that you needed it to do on a regular basis.

Bryan: Walked to the door, have it set the temperature that you like, turn on the lights and things like that.

Fr. Robert: Unfortunately that is not possible. Or is it? It is possible with this. This is the Smart Things hub. You’re smart home is going to start with this. The idea is Smart Things works with not just their modules. They have power modules, light modules, entry sensor modules, water modules. But it will also work with the tech that you already have which is your Sono systems, your Drop Cam, you Nest thermometer. That’s right, it is designed to be the hub, the smart hub of your smart home. Now Smart Things makes it easier than ever to turn your home into a smart home. Most of you, I would say have dabbled with home automation in the past so you know that it can be expensive and proprietary. Not so if you have Smart Things. if you have this smart hub. This changes everything. Smart Things Lets you control your home, both the Smart Things devices as well as any other automation that you may have already through one single pane of glass on your mobile device. Your iOS, android or Windows phone. And because it is an open platform it will work with all of those devices that you already have in your home, which makes it smarter. Now here is my personal favorite. I like this. That is the fob. That is the entry sensor. I keep that on my person and when I enter my home, my smart home knows that it is me. It will open the doors, turn off the alarm, set the thermostat, it will turn on my music, turn on my lights. It is basically a way to build your logic into your home rather than you have to change the way you live to how an automation product works. here are some of the things you can do. Home automation, security, energy savings, water detection, water in the basement and put a water since her down there and it will automatically turn on a pump when it starts to detect moisture getting too high. These are the kinds of things that make your home smart. These are the kinds of things you get with Smart Things. Now here is what we want you to do. We want you to try Smart Things. They require no monthly fees and their kits start at just $189. Smart Things is an affordable way to create your smart home. And just for our Twit audience, Smart Things is offering you a chance to save even more. That’s right. Get 10% off any home security project or solution kit and you get free shipping in the United States when you go to and use the offer code twit. And we thank Smart Things for their support of Know How.

Bryan: The nice thing about that is the more modifications you do, you don’t have to change your PI settings! Unless it’s Magnum PI settings.

Fr. Robert: The audience is not impressed. Now folks, we do like to listen to our audience. We do like to hear your questions and give you some feedback on what you have been doing. So we thought we should bring out a couple just for giggles. Bryan, do you want to take it away?

Bryan: This comes from our much more active G plus community, unlike our live audience. Joel asked for an ebook reader that is not a candle. “Does anyone know of a device that is simple or than a Kindle e-book reader, does not use Internet, and can display PDF’s off of an external standard/microSD card/internal storage? I want to use this for an updated/custom prayer book in church so no distractions”.

Fr. Robert: I get this. And it doesn’t have to be for a church, it could be for anything that you want a specialized purpose. One of the things that we have noticed, because I work with schools a lot, is that these multipurpose devices that we have been giving kids, they tend to be distractions. You wander into a classroom with an iPad and they are not actually looking at the lesson most of the time. There are a couple of options. I understand what he wants to do. He likes this idea of external storage because he wants to be able to update whatever the material is that people are supposed to be watching. And then put it into the device. It is automatically going to rule out any device that doesn’t have an SD card. If you don’t have an SD card we don’t want to do updates on each individual one. The cheapest one that I could find was this Pan digital 8 inch tablet. It is an Android tablet. You can find these for about $16-$20. Which is not much. This one I broke. But what it does have, is this. There is an SD card on the side so that if you want to put all your lessons on to chips, then you just put these in and you can lock it down so that is the only thing that they can look at. So they turn it on and it is that. This is a nice solution because it is cheap. Here is the downside. Anytime you have a screen like this, it is going to take a lot more battery. You are going to have to charge this every time you pass them out. That is kind of a pain. Versus something that has E-Ink. E-Ink is not in the vibrant and it doesn’t have all the functions. But the battery will last forever. You didn’t want a Kindle and even the Nook, if you get an old version but that new version probably not.

Bryan: What about the Kobo?

Fr. Robert: Exactly. We actually took a look at a Kobo on Before You Buy and it is a decent E-Ink tablet. It is a bit more expensive. You are going to be talking about $50-$60 for a new one. But, these do have an SD card. These are E-Ink which means they are going to last forever on a charge, it is not as easy to lock down as android. Android has many utilities that you can use to make sure that they are only looking at what they should look at. But, if you disabled the wireless and if you only give them that data on the card then there is really nothing else they can do with it.

Bryan: And, with a E-Ink display you were not going to be watching videos.

Fr. Robert: Exactly. It cuts down on the distractions. And it also means that, as a person that has done teaching, I don’t like looking into a dark room and seeing people’s faces lit up behind the screen. It is annoying.

Bryan: As someone who has been taught, I don’t care.

Fr. Robert: You don’t get that with a e-book. So it is actually ideal. I do prefer to do it extended reading on E-Ink.

Bryan: Okay. It has been a while since I played with any E-Ink display. But usually when you think E-Ink you think Kindle. Because they are really easy to get your hand on.

Fr. Robert: They basically own the market. Remember, five or six years ago there were dozens of e-book readers. And all of the big players had them. And then it dried up because Kindle took over.

Bryan: That is what Amazon does. This comes from Jose Lazada. “My ISP changed my Go down the cable modem for a modem/router combo unit. I plugged it in to my fancy pants router, a Buffalo air Station extreme AC1750, and it didn’t make any changes because it is working fine that now my NAT in games has gone from open to moderate. Should I have disabled something on the modem or router instead of being lazy and just plugging it in without changing anything?” Maybe? Obviously the outcome was changed.

Fr. Robert: This is exactly what we talked about last time. This is NATing a NAT. this is what you are going to get when you put your firewall behind a firewall. That is why your NAT settings have gone from open to moderate. José, thank you for asking this because we are getting into the practical, this is no longer theoretical. This is something that we should talk about because this is a very common with most ISPs, Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Cox, Time Warner. All those jerks. They are providing a service, but in a very jerky way. But What they want is they want to sell you a combo unit. So they want to sell you the modem plus a router. And they like doing because it gives them more control over the network. They don’t want to just be complacent hands-off. They want to be able to control what you do with it. Now, you can can contribute a lot of notorious things to that. But don’t. We are not going to get into that. Now here is the good side. The good side is, many of these services have a way to turn off the smart features of that combo router/modem. I know that Comcast will do this with difficulty, Cox will do it with a lot of difficulty, AT&T has loosened up and they actually have a setting where you can plug in your router to port one of the combo and it basically turns that combo into a dumb device. It turns it back into a modem. Comcast, depending on who you talk to, sometimes is not locked down. But sometimes it is. Most of the time it is. Cox is 50/50. Now there are a couple good questions that go along with this. And the first one is people were asking in that particular thread, should I just buy my own? Because they don’t want to sell me a dumb modem anymore should I just buy a modem that will work with my network? I used to say yes because I like the idea.

Bryan: I bought my own modem. I bought one from Costco for like $80. But that was about four years ago.

Fr. Robert: If you are looking in terms of money, sometimes it makes sense because if you are looking at an eight dollar a month rental fee you have paid off in 10 months. Here is the problem with buying your own. If you buy your own, I guarantee you when you call for service because something has broken, they are going to say it must be your modem. It is not ours but if you would like to rent one from us we can make sure it works.

Bryan: This is the situation that happened to me. I came home, my Internet wasn’t working so I unplugged the modem and plugged it back in and it still didn’t work. I finally got desperate enough that I called, which is always a last result for me. I never want to be on the phone with Comcast. So I called them, I tell them my issue and they ask if I was running a custom router that I had bought myself? I said yes. They said we have moved on from that and you really should probably just… we can send you one. You know what, I’m going to send you a new. I said don’t send me anything. After a 15 minute conversation, they said they would re-boot my signal. I have no idea what they did, I unplugged the modem and it worked. But it was a battle. And then it worked.

Fr. Robert: You didn’t fall for it.

Bryan: Exactly, that is what it felt like.

Fr. Robert: So if you rent, kind of be ready for that. I don’t blame them. That is what they do.

Bryan: And then what ended up happening is that I have moved to a new place and I have my custom modem that I haven’t hooked up because then you have to call Comcast and held them the serial number on it.

Fr. Robert: In a perfect world, I would always rent. But it is not a perfect world right now. Because they know that you can’t go anywhere else what are you going to do? It is them. But, right now, rent or buy. I lean towards rent. I’m sorry.

Bryan: Will then test out your options. See if you can get into that modem/router and disable it and then use your nicer router if you can’t. Try calling them and then maybe as a last resort by your own modem.

Fr. Robert: Web 2465 is asking in the chat room, why do they have a list of approved modems? Because they have to. They are required by law to do that. If they didn’t they would get in trouble with the FCC and FTC. They have to at least appear. And that is why they won’t tell you they can’t do that because it’s not ours. They actually have to provide service, but there is nothing in the law that says they can’t degrade the service to your modem if it is not one of theirs.

Bryan: It is hard to prove anything.

Fr. Robert: It is so hard to prove it. Again, they can always say no everything on our side is fine. It must be your modem.

Bryan: So back to the question. What is the recommendation?

Fr. Robert: Oh yeah. So, what we have to do is he has to make sure that he has opened up the NAT on that router/modem combo. Again you didn’t tell me what provider you got, so I can’t tell you the exact process. If you are lucky there will be a setting in the UI that you can actually access and they haven’t locked to out of the UI. That will allow you to turn the modem to bridge mode. Once it is in bridge mode you are good. You are golden.

Bryan: Because you have a nice router.

Fr. Robert: If you can’t do that, then you are probably going to have to call. Most of them don’t… I mean Comcast at one point did have an online form that you could set up so that you could then access your interface. But in DC you had to call them to get the password.

Bryan: I felt really bad for one of my friends who moved to a new apartment, set up Comcast. Couldn’t figure out how to get into the modem. They made a very complicated.

Fr. Robert: It doesn’t have to be like this.

Bryan: I really had to work to get into the modem to change the settings. The default password and the default wireless name is like echo12567821 and the password is this huge long string. It doesn’t have to be like this.

Fr. Robert: There is another wrinkle here in the wrinkle is that most of these companies, AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner that when you get tech coming to your house the vast majority of the time it is a contractor. It is not someone who actually works for the company. I have had times that the contractor has changed the default using a different password, for security. But then I don’t have it. And Comcast and tell me what it is.

Bryan: But the contractor is gone now.

Fr. Robert: The contractor is gone and they don’t know who he was. So, José, thank you this has been very cathartic. This is like therapy.

Bryan: We need to get it out and talk about it. I feel better about it now. Just a little rage on the inside.

Fr. Robert: Okay deep cleansing breath.

Bryan: All right before Alex starts yelling at us…

Fr. Robert: Before he starts yelling at us, let’s do this one last parting shot. Because we completely lost our audience. There are a lot of people who have asked me where can I fly drones? And there’s actually this map, we are going to put the link in the show notes. This will show you where all the illegal and invalid places there are to fly them. These are the airports. You can’t fly within 50 miles of an airport. This is the fun part. You will notice that anything that is a state or federal park is also greyed out.

Bryan: Oh, I never thought of that before.

Fr. Robert: The beaches where I flew that drone are red out.

Bryan: It looks like Mt Tam might be on that list?

Fr. Robert: And Alcatraz. You can’t fly there. Look at the Golden Gate Bridge. That whole area is off limits. You can’t fly anywhere near a bridge.

Bryan: When you first were looking at this map I was like Oh God, please don’t let these be the only valid areas that we can fly.

Fr. Robert: Look at that, there are whole huge areas of the country that are no-fly zones.

Bryan: Did all that happen when that guy flew a drone into one of the geysers at Yellowstone?

Fr. Robert: That is correct. Yeah. So they made the policy of no parks. And unfortunately this is what kills it. The park systems are the most beautiful places to fly. If you wanted to take video those are the beautiful spots. So it is kind of a bummer.

Bryan: We will find some more of those microwave tower places.

Fr. Robert: Look at that big circle there.

Bryan: I think I know where that is.

Fr. Robert: Don’t fly anywhere near DC. And you know who might be right in the middle of that circle?

Bryan: I have a pretty good idea.

 Fr. Robert: Folks, if you have any questions, if you are in doubt then check this map. The link will be in our show notes. This is a good thing to have as a reference if you ever got question then you can say I have a map and I am in an area that is not forbidden. So unless there is some local ordinance that I don’t know about, I’m not forbidden from flying. There you go. Now, folks we know that this was a lot of information. Everything from PID tuning to open OSMC to your feedback. So we want to give you a little something. We want to give you show notes. And Bryan where do they get those?

Bryan: They can go to and that is where our show notes live along with past episodes. We do a lot of over parking projects like a lot of these quad copter projects. So you want to go back and watch anything that you might have missed. So I guess we have been posting links to some of the parts to buy these projects. And they kind of get eaten up quick.

Fr. Robert: I didn’t realize that many people, like tens of thousands of people are building our projects right now.

Bryan: So, keep searching and check our show notes. Subscribe to the show if you haven’t already. But if you can’t find those parts or something is missing that we forgot, go to the G plus community and ask some questions there.

Fr. Robert: And don’t forget to go to the G plus community anyway because it is over 8300 members strong, it is incredibly active. It is a fun place to go if you are a DIYer, a maker. You get to see other people’s projects, ask questions and if you have a cool project put it in there. We will try to put it on the show.

Bryan: Set aside an hour because I was like I will pop in there and check it out for 15 minutes and I scrolled through two months of stuff.

Fr. Robert: It is so much fun. We have taken probably half of the segments that we do here on Know How straight out of that group. So if you are tired of quad copter satisfying. Ask for something else.

Bryan: That is the beauty of the twit studio Internet TV. With that we can interact with our audience. Even if they are really quiet and don't say anything the whole episode.

Fr. Robert: Don’t forget that if you don’t like Google plus you can also find us on Twitter. You can find me @PadreSJ.

Bryan: And I’m @cranky_hippo.

Fr. Robert: You can also find our TD, if you want to talk to Alex Grumple, if you want to grumble about Alex you can find him @anelf3. Until next time, I’m Father Robert Ballecer.

Bryan: And I’m Bryan Burnett.

Fr. Robert: And now that you know how.

Bryan: Go do it!

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