Ubiquiti airFiber 5X Teardown

I recently came across a malfunctioning Ubiquiti airFiber 5X radio, so I decided to take it apart. The radio’s case can be opened by removing six T6 screws on the back. The PCB can then be removed by unscrewing six Phillips #1 screws, two of which are under the RF shields, and by removing the parts that secure the RF connectors to the case. The front part of the case is plastic, while the back part is aluminum; there is a gasket where the two case parts join and around the RF connectors. A polyimide film insulates the PCB from the aluminum case back.

Front Continue reading

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Camp Workcoeman Map App

Although I started mapping Camp Workcoeman years ago, I’ve always published this data as printed maps (and PDFs). I finally published my map in a different form: a mobile and web app. The apps are built using Mapbox GL, native for the Android app and JS for the web app.1 The Android version is completely offline, with the map data and style files bundled as assets. The full source code for both is available on GitHub. Download the app for Android or visit the web app (and add it to the home screen on iOS).

Camp Workcoeman Map

  1. Due to Apple’s developer fees and requirement to use OS X for development, there’s no native iOS version; I might reconsider this if there’s enough demand.  

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Climbing Cerro Toco

As a follow-up to my December climb of Lascar, I climbed Cerro Toco last week. The 5604 m tall dormant / extinct volcano is slightly taller than Lascar, but the climb has about half the vertical gain, so it’s easier. As I’m currently working on a telescope situated on the slopes of Toco, the climb was somewhat obligatory. The mountain, and the telescopes on it, is located within the Parque Astronómico Atacama. Leaving from San Pedro de Atacama, one gets to the trailhead by taking the Paso Jama road (CH 27) towards Argentina. There is then a turnoff for an unpaved road just after kilometer 35, which takes one up the mountain to the trailhead, which is located just past Toco’s three cosmology experiments. The trail is easily visible from the road. Driving past the trailhead allows one to see Toco’s abandoned sulfur mine.

Trailhead Continue reading

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Pannellum 2.2

After a little over a year of work, I’ve just released Pannellum 2.2.0. New features in this release include an experimental API, instead of just a standalone viewer, for better integration with external code; support for the PosePitchDegrees and PoseRollDegrees XMP tags, as used by the Ricoh Theta S; an optional fade animation for tour transitions; and a debug parameter to assist with placing hot spots. Noteworthy improvements include vastly improved equirectangular video support, high-DPI display support, and unification of regular and tour configuration files. Finally, there are numerous bug-fixes.

Previously, equirectangular videos were sort of supported, but the user experience was terrible, as there were no playback controls. Pannellum is a panorama viewer of course, not a video player, so I didn’t want to write my own video player nor did I want to build it into Pannellum—this is where the new API comes in. Instead, I wrote a Video.js plug-in that uses Pannellum to render the video; this achieves the objective of a fully-featured equirectangular video player without actually having to write a video player.

I would have created a new release sooner, but I didn’t want to release yet another version without much in the way of documentation, specifically examples. At the beginning of December, I received the Ricoh Theta S I had pre-ordered, allowing me to quickly shoot a variety of panoramas1 to use with examples—this is when my push to write documentation started in earnest. To this end, I converted pannellum.org from using Jekyll to using Hugo, as it better suited the documentation effort (and moved it to a dedicated repository). I then wrote examples, integrated the existing configuration parameter documentation, and added the new API documentation. Finally, I created a Pannellum CDN and integrated a configuration generator to allow one to easily display CORS-hosted panoramas (e.g. hosted with Imgur).

As always, report bugs on the GitHub issue tracker.

  1. Actually, they’re all of Baltimore near my apartment or of the area around San Pedro de Atacama, Chile where I’m currently working.  

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Climbing Lascar

Two weeks ago, I climbed to the summit of the Lascar volcano in northern Chile. The 5592 m tall active volcano last erupted in October and is the most active volcano in northern Chile. Before climbing the volcano, one first has to find it. While finding the volcano itself on a map is pretty easy, information on the location of the trailhead and how to get to it proved more illusive. Most descriptions I found online contained only loose wording and none included any sort of map, which is important due to the lack of road signs in the area. I eventually found a KML file on a shady download site that contained the trail and the track to the trailhead, which was mostly correct.1 This provided enough information to find the trail, in combination with a GPS receiver.

“Road” to Lascar Continue reading

  1. The parking area was shown in an incorrect location.  

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