Zoom H4N Pro Portable Audio Recorder

I picked up this recorder a few months ago for recording cockpit audio and various amateur recording tasks where I might want better audio in the field than what simply recording with my phone is capable of.  It’s a bit large and the audio quality is massive overkill if you just want it for cockpit audio but I wanted something more versatile.  As Zoom proclaims, the mic preamps are excellent, having made some excellent test recordings from some higher end condenser mics in the studio.  The built-in microphones are excellent; not as good as a high quality condenser microphone on the XLR inputs, but for voice and some limited percussion recordings I tried, they’re very good.  The wind screens on the built-in microphones aren’t going to block out any wind but for recording normal speech from a distance they’re functional.  The auto-level is very handy for recording in the cockpit with such widely varying levels, especially in rental planes where I don’t have the opportunity to really sit and play to get things just right.

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GoPro/Action Camera Airplane Mounting Options

These are the two mounts I use to mount action cameras to the outside of the three planes I currently rent (a Cessna 162 Skycatcher, a Cessna 172 Skyhawk and a Piper Warrior).  Both mounts are designed to attach to the tiedowns.  I’d like to get video from the tail but until I’m mounting stuff to my own plane I don’t really want to get any fancier than these.  They’re easy to mount on the tiedown mounts so they’re very easy to put on and take off of a rental plane for each trip.

The fancier one with the blue bar is a MyPilotPro mount with a nice cinch down bar designed into it so you can simply run it through the tiedown, ballpark the tightness with the nut on one side, and cinch it down with the bar and you’re done.  The other one is a DIY made from simple hardware from Home Depot.  It takes some finger strength to cinch it down tight but it’s doable and only costs a few bucks to make.   The video doesn’t show the furniture anti-skid pads stuck to the inside of the washers and trimmed to size so I’ve included a picture of that.

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Wife’s first flight!

I mounted an action camera in the cockpit for Dominique’s first small aircraft plane ride (she’s flown commercial lots of times but never in a small general aviation plane).  The expression of sheer terror on her face turning instantly to overjoyed when we touched down safe and sound is pretty funny.

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More practice solos waiting for the checkride date

My Private Pilot checkride is now fast approaching, scheduled for the 22nd so I’ve been trying to schedule a solo flight once a week until then to stay current and prepared for the final test in about two weeks as of this writing.  I cut together some video from a camera mounted on the wing facing the left side of the cockpit and some from another day from a camera mounted on the tail.

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Padgene DZ09 Smart (ish) Watch

Somehow between the shower and the office I lost my watch (just an el-cheapo digital no big loss) so in looking for a replacement I came across these cheap “smart” watches on Amazon for just under 20 bucks.  This looked like the nicest of the myriad Chinese knockoffs so I figured I’d spend at least that on a new watch so I went ahead and ordered one.  The bluetooth sync with the phone works well and controls the phone and transfers audio that can be played on the impressively loud speaker, but it is sadly lacking in any of the features (apps if you will) that you’d usually find on a watch.  While the ability to use my watch to answer calls is admittedly cool, I doubt I’d use it for much else, and some of the apps are poorly implemented, the most notable is the calendar that doesn’t sync to anything and doesn’t even come up with the current date by default.  Also the battery life so far isn’t that great if you leave the bluetooth on or use it much during the day.  You’ll pretty much need to charge it every night.  If I had it to do again I’d just buy a regular watch with more watch-like functionality.

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Osburn 2400 Fireplace insert at about 550 Degrees F

This is just a short clip I recorded with my phone of the fire burning in the Osburn 2400 fireplace insert we installed last spring.  It measured about 550 degrees Fahrenheit on the top plate.  I didn’t think to measure the internal temperature at the time but given that it measures about 350 when it’s about 650 on the inside, I would guess it was roughly 850 degrees inside.

We’re really happy with this fireplace insert.  It burns very efficiently and hot enough to burn any creosote buildup off the fire bricks on the inside.  It easily heats an 1800 square foot area (the basement) and with the help of a fan, can push some of that heat upstairs.

I doubt it would keep the entire house warm on sub-freezing days but so far without using the heat pump it keeps the upstairs above about 65.

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SQ8 Mini DV Camera

This is a fun little toy but it has limited usefulness.  The image in bright sunlight is surprisingly good but the framerate is a paltry 15 FPS making it really only useful for maybe a cheap on-body camera or something.  The low light video is unusable for anything but security type recordings.  The IR feature does work – out to about 10 feet maybe.  The amazing thing about this camera certainly isn’t the video quality but that it really can record 1080P video and is still as tiny as it is.  Mind you that video isn’t all that great, especially in low light, but still it’s pretty impressive for such a tiny camera.

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Wimius Q1 4K Action Camera Review

This is a great little camera for the money.  The only real drawback is that the video has a slightly green hue compared to higher priced cameras.  The color balance can be fixed in software and it’s not so bad that it’s a deal breaker, not at the price they’re going for anyway.

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Second practical test prep lesson

This was one of the few remaining preparatory lessons before the dreaded oral and practical test for my pilot’s license.  About seven minutes into the video, you’ll see the tail camera suddenly change position pointing just about straight down instead of forward.  We were practicing short field landings and when we pitched higher than usual, the rear camera mount just barely kissed the runway knocking it to face straight down.  It made for some interesting footage as we spent the rest of the lesson mostly working on steep turns.

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Unexploded Minds website

Right now this website is on hold while I’m busy doing other things. I expect that eventually this site will become an aggregator for aviation, firearms and various review videos, and maybe the occasional rant, blog or something I find interesting.

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