Quadcopter Training Day Two – JJRC H8C

So I have decided to start messing around with Quadcopter drones cause I really enjoy the videos I see others making. It gives me the feeling that I can actually fly!

The wife has seen me eyeing an expensive one at the Ramstein PX and to my surprise she told me to go ahead and get it. Well I didn’t wanna spend $600 on a toy and then freaking crash it and get pissed that I wasted all that money. So I did some research on inexpensive beginner quadcopter drones with video and decided on the JJRC H8C. The JJRC H8C costs about fifty bucks on Andoer JJRC H8C which is a 2.4 GHz Quadcopter with 6-Axis Gyro and High Definition 2MP First Person View Camera. Based on my research, many very good drone pilots mess around with the JJRC H8C cause it is a fun drone to fly around and is pretty good once you mod it out a bit with quick motor connectors, bearing upgrade, weight reduction, and cooling mods.

Clicking on the image to the left will take you to the quadcopter on Amazon.

So I put in my order on Amazon and it soon arrived. I charged up the battery and went outside to give my new toy a try. Powered it on and DAMN!  One of the motors is dead! Dangit!  I was already aware based on the reviews and my research that the motors on this model burn out very easily but I did not expect one to be DOA! The motors cost only about two or three bucks a piece so it is not a big deal to replace them when they go bad. So I ordered another drone and figured I would keep this as a spare.

I also ordered some extra motors and some quick connectors that I will solder on to the drone control board when a motor dies.  I will also keep about 10 clockwise and 10 counter-clockwise motors on hand and solder the quick connectors on them so they are ready to swap out quickly in the field if need be.  Additionally I ordered some better bearings so that the motors don’t have to work as hard and should not burn out as often.

The second drone came in the mail on Monday and I got busy getting it ready to fly. I won’t post my first flight video because the drone spent most of the time on the ground. I flew it around the yards in my neighborhood and by the time the battery died I was feeling pretty good about my basic piloting skills. It takes about 90 minutes to charge the battery so I plugged it in, along with the battery from the broken drone and waited. About 2000 hours I grabbed both batteries and headed out to the fields to see what I could do. I was feeling pretty cocky and the result was that I almost lost the drone! I took it way too high and lost control of it.  I think the wind at the higher altitude caught me off guard.  I was very lucky to have found the drone in one of the wheat fields near my home.

So I went home since the other battery was not charged and figure I would take another crack at in tomorrow. But this time STAY AT HOME and polish up some piloting skills.

So today I got home and gave it another try. This video below is the result. Not bad I guess but I still have to practice much more. Spent less time hitting the ground this time and am getting better at controlling the direction. Many people don’t realize that even though a quad has four propellers, it still has a bow, stern, port, and aft. If you don’t know where the front of it is then there is no way to control it.

During the video I get some good altitude at about the 2:30 mark. At about the 3:30 mark you can see me wearing my black socks and sandals!! At about the 5 minute mark I have a hard time keeping it up as the battery was dying.  What I found out after putting in the new battery is that one of the motors is also already dead. Good thing is that I have the other drone to cannibalize which I will do so this weekend. Just need to buy some flux and solder. Or maybe I will wait until the quick connectors to come in next week.  We will see. Added some music to the video so you don’t have to listen to just the boring and loud motors.


WTF?? – I hope they never breed

How can anyone be so inept?  Simply amazing. I can not believe this  person has a driver’s license.

Kid Rock – CARE

This song says so much! Please take a listen to this wonderful song from Kid Rock. If we would all take this message to heart the world would be such a better place. There’s so much craziness going on the world and it seems there is nothing we can do about it. But the least we can do is care.

Don’t be concerned that this is a Kid Rock song…it is not explicit and there are no vulgar words.


John Prine – Donald & Lydia

Today I have been in a John Prine mood.  John Prine is not a well know artist even though his songs are very good.  His songs tell about life and can touch feelings deep down inside. One of these songs is Donald & Lydia. A song about two sad and lonely young people who long for love and romance but are too shy and / or awkward to seek it. Take a listen and tell me what you think. Really listen to the words and then message of the song.


Happy Independence Day 2016!

downloadThis 4th or July let us all pause to remember what this holiday is all about. FREEDOM and LIBERTY for all! Freedom and liberty for all races, religions, nationalities, genders, gays, lesbians, bisexuals…..EVERYONE! Let us begin today to embrace the true meaning of FREEDOM and LIBERTY by eliminating bigotry,racism, and discrimination in our own lives!


Making the Final Move to Android

android-logoAfter almost two years since jumping off the Apple iPhone wagon I am ready to begin making a complete break from Apple products. The path to this decision has not been straight and the ride has been bumpy but I am now used to Android and look forward to moving forward and watching it develop.

My journey to here got off to a rocky start. One of the main reasons I wanted to try Android was because I kept hearing how great the Samsung S5 was and how it was an iPhone killer. So I went down to the local T-Mobile shop in Landstuhl Germany and for a 16 GB Samsung S5.

Right off the bat I started regretting the decision. I could not stand all the Samsung crapware and it the phone locked up and crashed often.  Especially when running Samsung apps. I was wondering what the hell people thought were so great about this phone. When I got the S5 I could not figure out how to get the camera icon to appear on the Lock Screen so I could quickly take a photo.  Come to find out that this was disabled in the T-Mobile version of the Samsung S5. Whoever thought this was a good idea is a complete idiot. I learned to live with it since the phone still have the music controls on lock screen,  A few months later there was an upgrade that gave me the camera icon BUT TOOK AWAY THE DAMN MUSIC CONTROLS!!  I was furious but was into the two-year contract that I could not get out of without paying a large fine.

One of the self-inflicted problems I immediately had was I could no longer receive text messages from my iPhone using friends. This is because I did not disassociate my iPhone from iMessage prior to switching over. Also all my iPhone friends had to manually change me from iMessage to regular text message.

Another thing that bothered me about the Samsung S5 was the low quality of the device itself. The thing is completely plastic and unless you put a good case on it breaks very easily.  So far I have broken the screen twice and the rear camera is also broken. I never had this problem with my iPhone 3G, 4, or 5. I still have all three of them and other than having to replace the batteries they have required no other repairs. I treat phones rough with my outdoor hobbies such as Geocaching and I use them to track my workouts like Nordic Walking and bicycle riding. The Samsung S5 just can not handle this type of activity. I might get the S5 fixed again since it can still be used for music and other activities but if the screen breaks again it will not be repaired.

I don’t even want to go into all of the shitty bloatware that Samsung and T-Mobile puts of their Android phones that are impossible to get rid of unless you jailbreak it. I tried to jailbreak it once but it failed and I never tried again. I should also mention that the Samsung Music and Fitness apps are crap!

Finally I did not like the fact that I did not get Android OS updates until both Samsung and T-Mobile decided to release them. This could take up to six months!

There are a few things I liked about the Samsung S5 such as the Micro SD card slot and being able to swap the battery just by removing the back. But other than that I hated this phone.

Based on my bad experience with the Samsung S5 I have decided to NEVER buy another Samsung product. Not a phone, TV, smart watch, blow dryer, not ANYTHING!


So you might be asking yourself at this point why I have made the decision to stay with Android. Well, after talking with a few other people I discovered that it is probably better for me to go with a pure Android version which comes from the Google phone. Better known as NEXUS. So during my last trip to the USA I stopped by Best Buy and bought Nexus 6P 32 GB phone which is totally unlocked and runs pure Android.  I turned it on and was instantly impressed with how much better it runs! Plus the NEXUS 6P is a high quality phone made of METAL! I wish they had a 64 GB version of the phone when I went to Best Buy and now regret not going ahead and just ordering a 128 GB since I like to put my entire music library on my phones.

So I have now had the NEXUS 6P for about a month and I am very happy with it. Yes, it is still a bit quirky but nothing like the Samsung S5. Sometimes the OK GOOGLE, which is Android’s version of Siri, does not activate and the phone has crashed a couple of times but it is still a 100% improvement over the Samsung. The only features I miss from the Samsung is that the NEXUS 6P does not have a Micro SD card slot and the battery is not easily replaced.

Additionally by going with a pure, unlocked, not carrier specific Android I get all updates immediately when they are released from Google.

So now I am starting to make the conversion from Apple and iTunes to Android and Google Play. I have signed up for the Google Play unlimited music service and will be cancelling my Apple Music service. I will keep using my Apple TVs until they no longer work but will now also start using Chromecast more when I want to stream music, movies, and TV.

My plan it to also move away from using FitBit devices for workout tracking and use solely Google Fit and MapMyFitness.

Another reason for making the switch is I am not forced to use expensive, proprietary Apple hardware. I can research and choose from a cornucopia of Android devices costing from as low as $100 to $600.

The next step to my conversion plan is to get a smart watch and even here I have a choice from many devices such as the Motorola Moto 360, Huawei, or even the low-cost ASUS ZenWatch. I like this because they cost less and I can have multiple watches instead of being forced to buy the expensive Apple Watch.

So there you have it. I know there are some die-hard Apple iPhone users that think I am making a mistake but on the other hand there are even more die-hard Android users.  I think in the long run I am going to be very happy with my decision. Especially as Android continues to mature and provide more features than Apple and at a lower price.

I can’t wait for Android Nougat to be released!

Top Secret Lost Place – Sankt Martin Bunker

Yesterday Sabine and I attended the Cave St. Martin Geocaching Event Cache where were took a tour of a Cold War Bunker which is now a “Lost Place”. The location is actually a bunker that was intended to be a Top Secret military communications bunker which was built by NATO during the Cold War.

Construction began in 1964 and was complete in 1972 at a cost of $8,000,000 which at that time was about 24,000,000 Deutschmarks! After completion it was decided that due to advances in communication that the bunker would not be needed afterall.

The bunker sat empty for the remainder of the Cold War and then was sold to the nearby village of Sankt (Saint) Martin in 1997 for 1 Deutschmark! Germany also gave the village 90,000 Deutschmarks to make improvements to the bunker so it could be used however they wanted.

The village of Sankt Martin is located on the Deutsche Wine Strasse which is famous for Palatine wine and they used the bunker to host Wine Fests.  But in about 2004 the German Safety Agency declared that due to limited number of exits (2) that it could no longer be used to host public events.  The bunker is now only opened for special tours for 30 people at a time.

Below you will see a few photos but I would like to point out the photo of the well.  The well is over 50 Meters (150 feet) deep and the water is the clearest and  purest you can find.  The village of Sankt Martin used to let people learn scuba diving in the well until an instructor and student drowned inside.  The water is very clear but if you touch the walls calcium is released which can cloud up the water and leave the divers with zero visibility. This happened with the two that drowned. The lost all visibility and became disoriented.  They did not know which way was up or down.

I think that I might be the only American to have entered this bunker in over 40 years!

We had a great time touring this bunker and it is very cool to see locations that most people do not even know exist, let alone get to see.

If you enjoy outdoor adventures then I encourage you to check out Geocaching!

Here is the location of the bunker.





Completed the Geocaching 81 Matrix!

I finally finished the 81 Matrix by finding a cache at an almost 800 year old castle and had to climb into the hole they used as a toilet back in the 13th century. Here is my log: http://coord.info/GLN4J0FT.

To complete this matrix you must find at least one cache for each Geocache Difficulty and Terrain rating which begins a 1 Difficulty / 1 Terrain and goes up by .5 to 5 Difficulty / 5 Terrain.  There is a total of 81 combinations.

Glad I have finally completed this as it was difficult to find caches that fit the last ten or so spots.  It only took me 7 years and 3145 caches!

Click here for some info on Burgruine Graefenstein.


Luxembourg American and German Cemeteries and Memorials

Today Sabine and I visited the American and German Cemeteries and Monuments to pay our respects to the American and German Soldiers who gave their lives in service to their countries.

The Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial is near Hamm which is a bit Northwest of Luxembourg City. The US Army 5th Armored Division liberated this site on 10 September 1944 and a temporary military burial ground was established on 29 December 1944. The Grand Ducal government of Luxembourg has provided this land to the US dead perpetually without charge or taxation.

This is the burial location of General George S. Patton and 5076 other American heroes including one female Army nurse.  The cemetery is located on 50.5 acres and contains 4958 cross,118 Stars of David, and 101 unknown Soldiers.  There are 22 sets of brothers buried side by side. The names of 371 Missing in Action are listed on the memorial. This cemetery was officially dedicated on 4 July 1960.

Contact info:

Luxembourg American Cemetery

50, Val du Scheid

L-2515 Luxembourg

Tel: +352 43.17.27

GPS N 49 36.771 E 6 11.157

Entrance to the Luxembourg American Cemetery

Entrance to the Luxembourg American Cemetery

22 Brothers Buried Side by Side

22 Brothers Buried Side by Side

WW I Vets Remembering

WW II Vets Remembering

Luxembourg American Cemetery Monument

Luxembourg American Cemetery Monument

Luxembourg American Cemetery Monument

Luxembourg American Cemetery Monument

Luxembourg American Cemetery Monument

Luxembourg American Cemetery Monument


Unknown Soldier

Unknown Soldier


Grave of General George S. Patton

Grave of General George S. Patton

The German Soldier Cemetery is a few kilometers from the American Cemetery in Sandweiler. The bodies of German Soldiers who were Killed in Action were recovered, cared for, and buried by the American Military Burial Service.  A total of 10913 German Soldiers are buried here. 4829 are in a mass grave behind the cross of which 4014 are identified by name and 815 are unknown.  Additionally there are 5599 individual graves which also include many unknown Soldiers.  In 1952 an agreement was signed by the Grand Ducal of Luxembourg and Germany making this the first official German Soldier Cemetery built outside of Germany.

German Soldiers Cemetery Sandweiler

German Soldiers Cemetery Sandweiler


Entrance to German Soldiers Cemetery Sandweiler

Entrance to German Soldiers Cemetery Sandweiler

Entrance to German Soldiers Cemetery Sandweiler

Entrance to German Soldiers Cemetery Sandweiler

German Soldier Killed in Action and Unknown German Soldier

German Soldier Killed in Action and Unknown German Soldier




Gravestone for mass grave of 4829 German Soldiers - 815 unknown.

Gravestone for mass grave of 4829 German Soldiers – 815 unknown.

Gravestone for mass grave of 4829 German Soldiers - 815 unknown.

Gravestone for mass grave of 4829 German Soldiers – 815 unknown.

A solemn place.....not often visited.

A solemn place…..not often visited.

In My Heart You Live Again. Even the German Soldiers had loved ones.

In Our Hearts You Live Again. Even the German Soldiers had loved ones.

Bert’s 1999 DiamondBack Sorrento SE Bicycle

I would like to share today my 1999 DiamondBack Sorrento SE bicycle. I bought this bike back in 1999 at the US Army PX in Hanau Germany. It had been a long time since I had owned a good bike and I figured it was time to get one so I could ride.

The Sorrento SE is a hardtail Mountain Bike with front suspension. The original MSRP was $349.00 but I don’t remember what I paid for this one.  Probably the MSPR. This was also the last year for this DiamondBack model.

I think that for a 17 year old bike that it still rides very well!

Here are the specifications. SOURCE

Frame & Fork
Frame Construction TIG-welded
Frame Tubing Material Chromoly main triangle/hi-tensile steel rear stays
Fork Brand & Model SR Suntour M-7500, 1.95″ travel
Fork Material Aluminum/chromoly, triple-clamp crown
Rear Shock Not applicable


Component Group Mountain Mix
Brakeset Lee Chi ProMax linear-pull brakes, Lee Chi ProMax levers
Shift Levers Shimano Alivio RapidFire SL
Front Derailleur Shimano AceraX top-swing, bottom-pull/clamp-on 31.8mm
Rear Derailleur Shimano Alivio
Crankset Shimano AceraX, 22/32/42 teeth
Pedals Wellgo LU-983D
Bottom Bracket Tien Hsin BB-7700, 110mm spindle
BB Shell Width 68mm English
Rear Cogs 8-speed, 11 – 30 teeth
Chain Shimano CN-IG51, 1/2 x 3/32″
Seatpost Aluminum micro-adjust, 29.2mm diameter
Saddle Diamondback All-Terrain
Handlebar Lee Chi
Handlebar Extensions Not included
Handlebar Stem JD aluminum
Headset 1 1/8″ threadless Aheadset STS


Hubs Joy Tech aluminum, Q/R
Rims Alex VP-20F, 32-hole
Tires Front: 26 x 1.95″ Kenda K-877, Rear: 26 x 1.95″ Kenda K-887
Spoke Brand Shuhn Lih stainless steel, 2.0mm straight gauge
Spoke Nipples Brass nipples

My bike is pretty much stock but I have replaced the Crank, Bottom Bracket, and the Front Shifter mechanism. Current crank is the Shimano FC-M311-L Alivio and the bottom bracket is the Shimano UN55 BB.

I have added a RACKTIME ADDIT rear rack, Vaude Karakorum Panniers, RAM Mount X Mount phone holder and Bike Planet Comfort Gel seat.

For lighting I have Bike Planet front and rear LEDs and See Sense ICON smart lights. The See Sense ICON lights are Bluetooth enabled and I can adjust the pattern and brightness on my smart phone. The rear light also detects when I am slowing down and acts like a brake light.  Additionally if I crash the lights will automatically send my location to another phone via a text message. I got the See Sense ICON light via a Kickstarter project.

For tires I am currently running Kenda Khan K-935 26 x 1.75