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Sunday, August 31, 2008

More Flying Monkey Flights!

Today Eric and I filmed a sunflower field, 'tornado' damage and an oil rig. The tornado damage was a bulldozered over old house out by Byers, CO that we practiced on. Next season we will add this heli to the WW5 glider to take 'first light' storm damage photos and video - among other things.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lightning over Brighton, CO

Nabbed a whole "butt load of bolts" from a long-lived storm out of Brighton, CO this evening! This was the best of the season for a long overdue Denver Monsoon opportunity at dark!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Landspout hunting

Today we all went out and tried to catch some landspouts. Todays setup was much like yesterday's amazing spout-fest! I did see one brief spinup by Byers but nothing exciting like yesterday. Out today was Michael, Tony and Ryan S. We spread out covering the whole DCVZ today. The DCVZ is the Denver Convergence Vorticity Zone and is basically where the winds spinning in the 'bowl' of the Denver cyclone converge with easterly upslope flow causing a landspout factory when storms form in the area.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tornado Warned Cells!

Earlier today:
Just now:
I was watching this convection from my room, and come to find out it's been tornado warned and a funnel was reported. The warning is about to expire and I don't have a car to chase anyways, but it's certainly cool to see something like this right out my window.

As a bonus, here's a blackhawk helicopter that periodically surveys the DNC for terrorists and stuff.

Adding to Eric's post here, our friend Cale Dancho sent me these pics from his neighbor in Parker, CO. Nice long lived landspout that was caught by many today. Ironically enough we were supposed to go down to Cale's at 6pm for a BBQ - that would have put us right under this beautiful spout!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

First Flying Monkey HD Test!

This morning Eric and I got our first 'almost' fully functional test of the TRex-600 Flying Monkey using the HeliCam HD video platform - it worked pretty much flawlessly! With myself on the Heli controls and Eric looking through the downlink video goggles and controlling the camera gimbal we were able to get up in the air for 5 minutes and take some video of the Subie. I still have some lipo battery issues to work out and get the flight times up but for the most part this system is operational!

Tonight I added a mini-DVR to the Cameraman's pack that will pass the video through to the goggles from the Heli and record the downlink video to an SD card. This will give a second source of video in addition to the Panasonic HD video being captured from the Heli platform. Another thing that this does is I want to use the cameraman's pack with the Wicked Witches so that I can be untethered from the car power and walk freely while doing FPV flight. FPV is First Person View which means flying the WW as if you were in the cockpit after launching in RC mode.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Russell, KS Chase Base a reality!

The Carlsons' Chase Base Network is complete! We now have all of Tornado Alley covered with homes we can chase out of. This map shows where we can get within six (6) hours of drive time in the plains. With the exception of the Dakotas and Iowa we can hit any target in Tornado alley. You might ask how is this cost effective? Well you have to put your savings somewhere and we'd rather put it into realestate we can use instead of the volitile stock market. Having your own places in the plains really makes you feel connected to the communities that we often only pass through. We will have these homes forever and will be able to enjoy them season after season.



Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Michael and Dann's Elbert County TORNADO!

Here's the cell from Denver. Notice the overshooting top!
Radar Grab, notice the dewpoint spread from east to west. Almost 30 degrees!
Boundary is visible here as the faint line off to the west of the cell.
Velocity scan, look at the couplet just northeast of Michael's car!

Michael Carlson and Dann Cianca score big today with a tornado in southwest Elbert County, CO this afternoon. At about 4:30pm today on Alice 105.9 radio they broke in with a report of a tornado in westcentral Elbert County. I immediately pulled over, fired up my laptop and saw that Michael was on spotternetwork right next to the storm. I immediately called him up. He and Dann had seen a tube tornado on the ground for five minutes with a large cone aloft and debris swirl on the ground. This was Dann's first tornado ever - congrats guys!!

Time Location County State Lat Lon Comments

Monday, August 11, 2008

Flight gear and cameramans' pack

On the left is the Panasonic HD camera broadcasting through a 2W transmitter to the cameramans' fannypack holding the receiver and video goggles. Everything is built, tested and ready for my pan and tilt helicopter platform coming this week!

Severe weather returns to the Front Range

Upslope flow and dewpoints in the 50s will bring a chance for severe weather along the front range of CO for the next four days. The weak flow at the surface and aloft means flooding rains and lightning are the main threats. Hopefully we can add alot of lightning shots for what has been a lacking year for after dark storms so far.

I've got a Wicked Witch in the car and my new HD cam so I hope to get some video this afternoon close to home here.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Flying Monkey Video Downlink

This is the FM video downlink equipment that we will use to view real-time camera position. Tonight I put it all together in anticipation of getting the camera gimbal in the mail this week.

Starting on the left is the receiver powered by a 11.1V lipo battery. This video signal is then fed into the box for the video goggles. The whole setup is mobile and will be built into a fanny-pack for the cameraman to wear. On the right is the 2W 1.2GHz transmitter that will feed the view directly from the Panasonic HD camera right to the ground. This setup will allow the cameraman to see exactly what the camera is pointed at. I should have atleast a few extra channels on the cameraman's R/C system to allow zooming in addition to pan and tilt!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Flying Monkey takes off!

After spending a few runs over the past couple of days getting a handle on the blade 400, I'm slowly increasing the amount of time I can hover in place. With a slight breeze I can only keep it stable for about 10 seconds, but without wind I can keep it steady for much longer. The image above was a tricky one to get. The timer function on my camera only allowed me a few seconds to get my hands on the transmitter and get it off the ground, so it took me a few tries to get the heli fully in frame. Hopefully I can find a place near the dorms once I move out so I can keep practicing and eventually get into directional flight.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Flying Monkeys Down!

Two misshaps this morning as I was flying the monkeys. First I blew out my main battery in the large FM withtwo loud pops on a full power climb out from an autorotation. Luckily I was low and landed in the grass with a worthless battery but intact heli.
This small FM was not so lucky when I crahsed on the roof of a building while trying a nose in figure 8. Had to get the ladder to retrieve this one. Off to the shop now!

Hottest day of the year!

The outside thermometer on my car is showing over 105 degrees today on what has been the hottest day of the year and the longest streak of over 90 temps for Denver ever!

Russell Kansas Chase Base #2?

Russell, KS is one major exit east of Hays, KS along I-70 arguably a major hotspot in the central plains!
This is a map of reachable chase territory within a 6 hour drive.

Well after much thought, research and input from friends we have abandoned our thoughts about getting a place in Dodge City. We are now turning our thoughts back to Russell, KS. Why Russell? well it's as close to Hays, KS as you can get without paying Hays prices - the geographic center of Tornado Alley. If you look at many of the maps of Tornado alley (including mine above) Hays falls right in the middle.

Researching shows that homes in Hays start at about 80k. If you go one exit west to Ellis, KS you can find a home for under $40k. If you go one exit east to Russell, KS you can find atleast 5 homes less than $40k. Some are as low as $31k but we want something that is immediately liveable but could use some cosmetic work. New paint, tile, carpet, etc.. is okay.

So once again with the stock market up and down 300 points each day with the price of crude oil we are going to pull some stocks and get something we can actually use - a home that will be Chase Base #2!

The Carlsons', Verne, Michael and Eric

The Carlsons', Verne, Michael and Eric

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