You can see my potato cannon from space.

January 25, 2013

One of my larger potato cannons is visible in the latest Google Maps imagery!

space

There it is!

As some back-story, this is out at a friend’s property in rural Wisconsin. We started clearing some camping and bonfire spots last year, and made a “town square” with a flagpole (Rachael made the awesome flag!). The cannon got placed in the town square as a ceremonial reminder of something-or-other (or just to keep it from cluttering up the yard at home).

square

As far as the imagery source goes, it seems to be from late fall of 2012. Based on the info below, I’m about 99% sure it’s satellite imagery, but the resolution is pretty high for the stated capabilities of Google’s imagery suppliers, so it *could* be from aircraft aerial photos. As you zoom in, Google maps displays info about the imagery source on the lower right. At the closest zoom, it just says “Map Data © 2013 Google”. The next level up mentions Geoeye, and as you zoom out it starts mentioning the USDA Farm Service Agency and Digitalglobe. I would tend to assume that the attribution text tells you where all or some of the imagery at a certain zoom level came from, but again, I’m not sure.

Looking into the listed imagery sources, I’ve come up with the following possibilities:
GeoEye contracts with Google to provide imagery from their GeoEye-1 satellite, with 16-inch resolution.
Digitalglobe has several satellites, the newest of which offers an 18-inch resolution.
The USDA Farm Service Agency provides approximately 36-inch resolution, and does not seem to have data from 2012 yet.

I’m guessing the Google Earth image above came from the GeoEye-1 sat. If so, it can obviously discern features slightly smaller than 16 inches, since the potato cannon is only about 3″ wide. You can even faintly make out the wider chamber (6″ IIRC) on the left side.

The smaller blue blob is also my doing, it’s a woodshed with a blue tarp roof (I meant to roof it with tarpaper shingles but got lazy, and another friend was already roofing his nearby shed with tarps, so we went the redneck option all around).

woodshed

So, I now have the questionable distinction of creating things that are visible from orbit! I suppose it’s only fitting that those things are total hillbilly creations 😛 Once Google updates the data over my new house and shows my roof repairs, I’m sure I’ll have more to look on with (actual) pride, but for now this will have to do!


Latest Project: Mini-airboat

September 27, 2011

Here are some pictures from my latest project, a mini-airboat made from a small Jonboat and a paraglider motor. The eventual goal is to have an all-terrain vehicle with wheels that can run on water, land, and ice. This is the first time I’ve worked with a radial engine or done anything with an air-propulsion boat.

The engine is an MZ-34 Paramotor that is rated at around 30hp.

The first step was to get the parts together. The boat hull was small enough that I didn’t even need a trailer! I was able to find it on Craigslist for $100, and it included a bunch of free mice living in the seats!

Here’s the initial setup to verify how things should look.

I constructed a safety cage around the motor and propeller, which also serves as the framework for the rudder.

 

I also installed a complete electrical system with battery, running lights, headlights, bilge pump, and even a horn!

 

The entire engine and rudder assembly folds down for easier transport and storage.The wheels are designed to fold up and/or be removable.

 

Here are the initial on-water tests. The boat still needs a few tweaks and some final adjustments, and I’m still working on a few components for the wheels.