Learn the Two-foot Grapevine on Inline Skates

This is a follow-up to my previous article: Learn to Skate the Two-foot Grapevine Analytically from 2016. The first article talked about skating Grapevine on ice. This article discusses how to skate the same Grapevine on inline skates. Almost everything from the first article applies to this article. Thus this article will not repeat the same prerequisite skills and context information about Grapevine that I already covered in the first article. This article will focus on showing differences found when skating this move on pavement, compared to ice.

Grapevine is a classic skating move skated exclusively on outside edges, which when done to perfection appears to an onlooker as if the skater had Jackson’s moonwalk power, and could magically propel herself indefinitely in a straight line while constantly turning forward and backward, and with both skates on the ground at all times without showing signs of any efforts to push herself onward.

Grapevine on ice (left) and on pavement (right)

I never did learn to skate Grapevine on ice with grace. I could do an ugly and rigid imitation of it, but never in a way that invites admiration form onlookers. And I never could sustain this movement past two rounds.

During the Covid pandemic, I picked up inline skating. And I tried to skate the Grapevine. I tripped, and I tripped. The pavement is very unforgiving of imperfect two-foot skating. On ice I could glide and turn on the ice with both blades flush against the surface. On the pavement with inline skates, the same task is near impossible to pull off.

So I turned back to the YouTube video of inline-skated Grapevine that I mentioned in the first article, to study how it was different from skating on ice. And I ended up discovering many reasons that explain why I never did manage to skate a graceful Grapevine on ice.

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Remodeling a garage

We’d been mulling over garage remodeling for a decade. The garage remained the same way we found it from the previous owners, for ten years. As cliché as this may sound, we decided to spend vacation money and time that we couldn’t spend this year due to Covid-19, on home-remodeling.

Garage before remodeling with tools and stuff strewn about
Garage before remodeling with tools and stuff strewn about

We pulled the trigger, and are very happy about the end result. Whereas tools and stuff were strewn about previously, now they are safely put away inside or behind cabinets. The garage floor is now coated with epoxy for ease of maintenance.

Finished garage, with all tools and stuff except for the Kayak safely put away behind cabinets and out of sight
Finished garage, with all tools and stuff safely put away behind cabinets

I agonized over a few decision points during this remodeling process. I have documented the entire effort, with pictures showing every step along the way. Hopefully this article will help the next person going through the same process.

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Geometric distortion in a triple-monitor setup for MSFS 2020, compared to XPlane 11

Update 2022-07-24: Sim Update 10 Beta now supports multiple monitors, with most geometric distortions documented in this article removed. Consult the following video for an update.

— I will continue to preserve this long article for its historical documentation —

Microsoft released its new flight sim 2 days ago, on August 18th, 2020. This long-awaited launch got simmers really excited. I moved my flight sim equipment last month to a dedicated room in the basement, now with a triple-monitor setup, in anticipation of this launch. I set up XPlane 11 with these triple monitors, to make sure I got the hang of triple monitors. But all I wanted was the new Microsoft flight sim. I even took this week off from work, so I would not need to choose between work and enjoying the new simulator.

MSFS 2020 Loading screen, shown on a triple-monitor setup

Boy, do I love the new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 (MSFS from now on). It is clearly the next generation of flight sim, as folks have hyped since its announcement in June 2019. I say this, as a person invested in XPlane 11 (XP11), the previous greatest flight sim on Earth. I’ve made YouTube videos about using TrackIR with XP11, using Ortho4XP tiles with XP11, and adding Photoscenery Autogen and simHeaven Forests on top of Ortho4XP.

On launch day, version 1 of MSFS is, however, missing quite a few features that long-time simmers have come to cherish from established flight sims. For instance, MSFS can’t replay the adventure you just finished, or let you rewind and resume flying prior to a fatal mistake. Yet another example: MSFS supports TrackIR on day one (kudos to Asobo), but omits a command that pauses TrackIR, for when you want to lock down your current view. Clever simmers will try to compensate by setting up a button binding in TrackIR for pause. But MSFS resets cockpit view to the default view after 10 seconds of TrackIR inaction.

That said, everyone knows that these are minor issues. And they surely will be addressed in future updates. More importantly, there are workarounds that savvy simmers can resort to, for the time being.

There is, however, one fatal issue, for someone who has gone through the trouble of setting up three 43″ monitors, for the express purpose of re-creating a 180° surround view around the pilot.

MSFS 2020 does not yet support triple-monitor setups. That’s a bummer. Many have attempted to make it (sort of) work. Some even brag about it on Reddit, YouTube, and on AVSIM. But no one will admit that the geometric distortion is so severe that it distracts from rather than helps with flying. And this triple-monitor setup comes at the cost of lowered CPU and GPU settings. Quality settings need to be lowered, to accommodate 3 times the number of rendered objects and screen pixels on triple monitors.

Distorted side views in MSFS 2020 (top), compared to correct surround views in XPlane 11

At this time, it is not worth sacrificing visual effects and frame rates for two extra side monitors that show greatly distorted views of world objects. Triple-monitor setups are not common. And it’s not clear to me when Asobo will care to fix this problem for a niche market. Until then, the public remains confused as to whether MSFS can be said to “work as is” for triple-monitor setups. There isn’t a source online that compares distorted views in MSFS 2020 against expected, clean views in, say, XP11. Thus the YouTube video shown below, and thus this article.

Updated 2020-09-28: I am having too much fun. I made a second Federation of Triple Monitors episode.

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Wesley-Anny Wedding: Making of a Photo Shoot

This page hosts pictures taken a few weeks prior to the wedding, documenting the photo shoot session Aaron ran. Most of these are my pictures. Some where I make an appearance are taken by Elisha. I suppose you could call those pictures “Making of the Making of a Photo Shoot”. Most of these pictures turned into a slideshow for use on wedding day. See previous location recon pictures.

Making of a photo shoot - Wesley-Anny Wedding

Making of a photo shoot – Wesley-Anny Wedding

Here is the slideshow:

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Wesley-Anny Wedding: Recon

This page hosts pictures taken a few weeks prior to the wedding, as we checked out the place for lighting and layout. I haven’t used the Nikon D700 for 5 years now. I almost thought it stopped working. But as it turned out, the depth of field preview button was stuck in salt, rendering most buttons and the menu dial on the back unusable. After prying the button lose, I now have a functional camera again. I am surprised that the original lithium-ion batteries continue to hold their charges. I have never had a digital camera last for more than 8 years since I bought my first digital camera, the Sony DSC-F505, some twenty years ago. Every other digital camera I bought ultimately failed electronically. This one just keeps going, despite my soaking it in salt water in my 2009 trip.

I took pictures with the D700 as well as the Fujifilm X10, for comparison. Raw on the D700 and JPEG on the X10. I processed the raw files lightly in Lightroom. Maybe Aaron will bring remote flash on the D day. I think I’ll just go without flash. Some of these pictures will be turned into slideshows for use on wedding day. The second set of pictures are: Making of a Photo Shoot.

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HHAMS in June – HarborFest, Paintball and Field Meeting

This article exists to house pictures that I’ve turned into a YouTube slideshow. June is usually the busiest month for HHAMS. The first week of June is usually the Port Washington HarborFest where we set up a tent to advance awareness of the aerodrome among natives of this town, and to advertise our upcoming paintball event. The paintball event takes place on the second week of June. Then we have our monthly meeting at the field. You can download full-resolution pictures on this page.

Paintball event starts with advertising

Paintball event starts with advertising

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2019 HarborFest Model Boat Regatta

Your reporter has been working for at least 6 years now, as a boat retriever at the annual third-grader’s boat regatta. This is an event hosted at the Baxter’s Pond, as part of the Port Washington HarborFest. For the first time, we have photographic coverage of the event this year from a new vantage point, by your reporter and his fellow boat retrievers on kayaks.

Model Boat Regatta experienced by the boat retrieval crew on kayaks

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HHAMS Flight Tests

This is a short article on flight tests that all new members must pass, before they can fly their model planes without a spotter, at the HHAMS Aerodrome.

It is spring again. Inquisitive visitors are starting to show up at the field. They want to know what it takes to be able to fly solo. Others have gone through the motion of paying the AMA, the county, and the club itself. They have a badge with a “novice” sticker on it. But they can’t fly on their own, and must wait for someone else to stand with them to fly. On the other hand, friendly members are willing to help newcomers learn to fly, and to pass their flight tests. However, not everyone remembers exactly what was involved when they took their flight tests in their days. Thus this article.

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What on earth is SAFE® or: How I hacked AR636 from V900 to fly the Freewing Mirage 2000, with SAFE and AS3X

I wanted to teach a locked-down AR636 with SAFE, to fly the Freewing Mirage 2000 Tiger Meet, a delta wing

Flying Freewing Mirage 2000 Tiger Meet, a delta wing, with a locked-down AR636 with SAFE

Last week I was faced with a new AR636 challenge. I removed a locked-down AR636 receiver with SAFE® from V900, an E-flite speed plane. I wanted to make it fly my new EDF jet, the Freewing Mirage 2000 Tiger Meet. It would be a breeze to reprogram the AR636 today, presumably, with the advent of AS3X® firmware 2.27 made available in April 2018.

I honestly thought it would take me an hour to reprogram the receiver to fly a delta wing, given the new receiver firmware and upgraded programming apps, since I last looked into the AR636. I thought I would fire up the programming app, and change the aircraft type from normal to elevon. I thought I could then set AS3X rate gains, while keeping SAFE panic and self-leveling. Surely Spektrum documentation had caught up in the last three year, right?


In 2016 I wrote an article titled Salvage and Reprogram the AR636A Receiver from Eflite Planes with SAFE®. You’ll find it by simply googling for “reprogram AR636A”. It’s the first hit. This article on an obscure topic is read three times more than my second most popular article, on Peeled Extreme, an ordinary beef tenderloin from Costco.

I wrote that 2016 article after I failed to find clear explanations around these mysterious AR636A receivers that came with Bind-N-Fly Horizon Hobby planes. When I finally figured them out, I decided to put together a simple guide for the next person. Now everyone can learn to reprogram AS3X dual rates and expos on their AR636A, with a mobile app and a programming cable, without losing SAFE.

Similarly, I am again sharing what I leaned, after hacking the AR636 to fly my new delta wing.

Freewing Mirage 2000 Tiger Meet , a French plane, in front of a French-style foosball table

Freewing Mirage 2000, a French plane, in front of a French-style foosball table

Table of Contents


My new problem

You cannot easily take an AR636 that is pre-programmed with SAFE for aircraft wing type X (say normal aileron and tail), and reconfigure it for another wing type Y (say a delta wing with elevons), without losing SAFE in the process.

Transplanting a SAFE AR636A from V900 to Freewing Mirage 2000

Transplanting a BNF SAFE AR636A from V900 to Freewing Mirage 2000

No one has done this before. Or at least no one had clearly documented how to do this online before. It took me some time to figure out how to do this. Thus this sequel to the 2016 article.

Transmitter:Receiver Programming Cable USB Interface

USB Programming Cable

The only physical tool I needed was the Transmitter/Receiver USB Programming Cable (SPMA3065). This time I would be using the PC app Spektrum Programmer, a more powerful version of the mobile one. That said, the audio jack-based AS3X programming cable is still useful, for tweaking rate gains at the field, if you are able to find this discontinued item today. It has now been replaced by the Bluetooth programming module.

While I use the example of teaching the AR636 to fly a delta wing, the text explains basic concepts that Spektrum neglects to elucidate. I learned much from this rcgroups.com thread on Experimenting with SAFE Settings on AR636. Mark (mdmyers), SystemsGuy, Flightengr, santanig5 and many other dedicated fans reversed engineered SRM and SAFE parameters. I found the SAFE Model Builder written by Flightengr to be essential for anyone attempting similar feats. Long-running discussions on the same topics can be found on these threads: AS3X (rcgroups), SAFE (rcgroups) and AR636 (wattflyer).

Safe Model Builder for SAFE by Flightengr

SAFE Model Builder by Flightengr

If you found this article, and you have read so far, then you must be researching for a solution to the same problem. Read on.

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Anyone can Darth Maul Beat Saber with a double-bladed DIY adapter for Oculus Touch

The title of this article is not exactly wrong grammatically. You really can maul your way through Beat Saber, with a homemade double-bladed saber. And you do this on your Oculus Rift, with your Touch controller.

But first, you must 3D-print adapters for the Touch, and modify a PVC pipe to connect the two adapters. You will also install unofficial Beat Saber mods, in order to record a 3rd person view of your battle. When done, you’ll be able to make great videos to brag about online, like the one below.

This DIY tutorial is based on the Touch adapters designed by friedPotat0, which is in turn inspired by the Sith Tuber Lord, ragesaq, of the double-bladed Beat Saber fame. Saq got ProtubeVR to make a special ProSaber. If you live in Europe, you can just buy one online, and skip half of this tutorial. But if you would rather 3D-print your own Darth Maul saber, read on.

Darth Maul Oculus Touch Saber

The end product: Darth Maul Oculus Touch Saber

Here is another video recorded after I became more like a Sith Lord.

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