31 August 2011

Top Shot ePostal extended...

through the 3 day weekend.  After careful coordination with TrueBlueSam we are proud to announce the second Two-fer weekend.  When you hit the range this weekend (and you know you will), take along targets for both the August "Top Shot" ePostal and September's "Trying in Vane".  10 shots on either target.  The Top Shot ePostal favors large calibers while Trying  in Vane favors small calibers. I love the contrast!

I need all entries for the August match by noon Tuesday September 6th.  If you get home too late on the 5th, send them in first thing Tuesday AM.

Here is likely my best target and I am happy as a clam.  If you looked outside, you might have seen me dancing in the streets!  Shot with the new-to-me S&W 629 which I am still getting used to.  It's been kicking severe left with the 240 gr Pb SWC bullets at just under 1500 fps.  But the two hits on the line were the first two shot of the 10 shot string.  I apparently changed what was working, probably because "it hurt to shoot it that way" and reverted to severe left.   Still I'm happy as a clam with my two hits plus a liner!

Recall in addition to the normal bragging rights on the line, the History Channel has some Top Shot swag on the the line (winners chosen by random lot).  You don't even have to shoot the match to enter.  Just send me an scan/picture/image of the target with your name on it and you will be entered in the drawing.

Match winners and History Channel prize winners will be announced by the end of the week.

BTW, I already have an entry from Bea who is recovering from surgery, so I don't want to hear any "my dog ate my homework" excuses!  Lets get those entries in to Sand Castle Scrolls at msn dot com.

26 August 2011

ePostal two-fer weekend

This is the final weekend to shoot the August ePostal "Top Shot" and TrueBlueSam has put up the September match "Trying in Vane".

It's a tough target but send in your scores no matter how low.  The History Channel has put up some prizes (Top Shot T shirts, shot glass & iPod case) to be randomly awarded to the entrants.  So lets get those targets in!

14 August 2011

Geeky fun with the SandCastle Son

Hi.  My name is danno and I am a geek.   Always have been, always will be, and proudly so.  Home video offered as evidence.   

Amateur radio satellite ARISS sat 1 was tossed off launched from the International Space Station last week.  Signals are receivable by anyone with a 2Meter band receiver on 145.95 MHz.

It transmits a recorded voice messages, station telemetry and still pictures from one of four on board cameras. 

It's been a learning experience.  First pass we used the radio (a 20 yr old Yaesu 2M HT) connected to the J pole antenna up in the attic.  The pass would occur at 6am-ish well before I'm done counting Z's.  So I connected the radio to the VCR and programmed the timer (Yes I still have a VCR and it still works! old school baby!).  It caught some good voice, but lots of phasing obscured a lot of the messages.

In search of a better antenna, internet to the rescue! Armed with a shopping list I hit up the local big box hardware store.  A 12' length of 1/2 x 3/4" wood cost about $2.50.  However they wanted about $5 for a 3' length of Aluminium rod - I passed.  Instead I visited the local metal euphorium.  A pair of 1/8" x 12' Al rods cost a little over $12*.  Last piece was some RG-58 coax.  Total cost ~$15 and about an hour to assemble.  I added a PVC "mast" to fit into the umbrella stand built into the pool.  Yes, We get to stand in the SandCastle pool while aiming the antenna to pick up the satellite!  Given daytime temps are in the 108F range, this is a big benefit.  Life doesn't get much better than this ;-)  Here's the SCSon on tracking duty:  (The blue horizontal pole is the pool pole and not part of the antenna).

The Yagi antenna completely solved the phasing problems and made for good reception.  Reading the audacity manual I learned it can be set to timer recording!  Woot, no more VCR for timer recording!

Even better is MMSSTV which decodes the images and also records.  I don't know if it can timer record, but since the antenna needs manual steering, it's pretty much a moot point.  Like I said, this has been a learning experience which is reason enough to make the effort.

We caught this on a pass Sunday evening:

What this post really needs though is audio.  Unfortunately while blogger can handle video, still photos and text, it does not handle audio.  So I'm working on editing some audio with the stills into a "video".  That will take some time.  Unfortunately the satellite battery is not performing as expected.  So if you want to hear it for yourself, time is a wasting! 

Best chance for a good pass is late in the afternoon/early evening.  While the satellite charges up during the sun lit pass, it resets every pass through the dark side.  So best reception is late afternoon/early evening at your location where the solar panels have had a long period to charge up the battery and before the battery has discharged during the darkness.

* A friend tells me I could probably have done better by checking the rem barrels.  Doh!  Wish I'd thought of that. 

10 August 2011

"Get it in Writing!"

One of my mantras doing business both at the dayjob(tm) and in personal life is "Get it in writing".  If the customer won't then I will.  Part of it comes from a life in software development.  If there isn't a requirements document in place the project never ends as the customer is never happy.  That's fine as long as the customer is willing to foot the bill, but soon they get weary of hearing "Here's my bill".  "This project was supposed to cost X and we're now triple that!"  The only answer to that is "the price for X included only these features.  You later changed  these features and added these other ones."  And that argument only flies if you have the original agreement in writing.

Friends ridiculed me for such a rigid stance "you are dealing with family and friends, what could possibly go wrong?"  Answer, everything!    It's just good business.  To a man they have come back later to say "OMG, you were so right."

I previously hinted the SandCastle Queen's renovation project.  All through the project she'd report "The cabinets are going to cost this, I've bought the granite for the counter tops here, and the installer is going to do his part for $x. "  She had written estimates from the cabinet people, and the granite was an over the counter deal.  But the granite installer never put it in writing.  I asked the SCQueen and explained my concerns several times. (It's just good business!)   She called and left plenty of messages without result (which is a red flag in itself).  She pooh poo'd my concerns "He's recommended by our contractor friend and they all know him at the rock shop".  "Get it in writing... It's just good business" I'd answer.

Mr granite guy came by today to make his final measurements now that the cabinets are in.  Today's quoted price was nearly 2x the original.  The 'Queen argued and got him somewhere back down to the vicinity original quote.

She called me at the dayjob saying "you were right".  (I did NOT respond with "told ya so".  That's just not constructive).  Ok, but we fix the problem here.  He needs to know no work begins without a written quote, other wise we get to go through this again next week!  And next time he shows up here, there better be video running!  It's just good business!

BTW, Mr Granite guy, you may think you won today.  In reality you lost.  Several of the SCQueen's friends are interested in similar projects.  She was all set to recommend you until today.  Your lack of professionalism cost you a lot of future business.

Oh, and BTW, just assume we will be running video anytime you are in this SandCastle!

"Get it in writing - it's just good business!"  Today I'll add, and take audio/video of the negotiations!

05 August 2011

August ePostal: "Top Shot"

Top Shot season 3 kicks off this coming Tuesday August 9th (History channel, 10/9C).

Here's your chance to see if you've got what it takes.  Last season challengers had to split a bullet on the blade of an ax.  You can relive Darryl Parker's shots here.

Here's our take on the challenge.  It will be a bit easier as the entire bullet width is usable.  a round nose bullet on a blade might not bite in enough to split the bullet.

The History Channel has offered up some Top Shot swag on the table for entrants.  Looks like they have both Red & Blue team T-shirts, a shot glass and a iPod case.  Winner(s) will be chosen by random lot so there is no incentive to "fudge" on the scores.   Winner(s) will be notified by email so make sure your e-addy is good.

Actually shooting the target to enter is not required and there is no entry fee.  Anyone wanting to enter for the drawing should download the target, fill in at least your name and email it to me.  Presumably the email will include an email address I can follow up with to get a mailing address should your entry be drawn.  Odds of winning depend on the number of prizes and number of entry.  Neither of these are known at this time but will be published when known.

Course of fire:
Download and print target here.

One target, 10 shots. 

Range: 7 yds or range minimum which ever is greater.  Standing unsupported, one or two hands. No time limit.

Update Revised scoring scheme:
Scoring is binary.  Either the shot cuts the line or it does not.  +1 for a hit, +0 for a miss.  Max score: 10, Min score: 0.
Cutting the line is a difficult shot.  The original scoring scheme reflected that.  On my first try I scored a couple of 1's.  The rest of the sand castle crew tried and scored goose eggs.  So here's the new scoring scheme:   Cutting the bullet on the blade the ax scores 4 (previously scored 1).  A hit completely within the ax scores 2 and a hit touching the ax scores 1.  Max score 40, min score 0.  I don't want to discourage "low scoring" entries.

It is still a difficult target, but the new scoring scheme should produce more "partial credit". Sorry for changing the rules mid stream, all I can say is "my bad" and better to change mid stream than push a bad position.

Ties will be broken by distance.  The longer distance takes the place (7yds < 7 M < 25ft < 10 yds < 10M < 11 yds).

Enter as many times as you like with as many weapons as you can lay your grubby hands on. 

Classes:  You got it? shoot it and we'll find a place to record the score. (I reserve the right to draw the line at tater-guns & scatter guns).  Obviously wider bullets have an advantage but you can shoot it with anything you own or can legitimately beg, borrow or steal.
  1. .177 cal air pistol, iron sights (air or C02 powered)
  2. .177 cal air pistol, optic sights (air or C02 powered)
  3. .17/.22 cal rim fire pistol, iron sights
  4. .17/.22 cal rim fire pistol, magnified optical sights
  5. center fire pistol, iron sights
  6. center fire pistol, magnified optic sights
  7. Misc.  If it doesn't fit above, tell me how you shot it and we'll record it here.
  8. Null entry (for people that want to enter without shooting)
Score submissions: scan or photograph your target, fill in the gun info (make & model & caliber), distance, class, on-line identity (name/pseudonym as you want it on the score sheets, blog reference for linky love ) however you want to be remembered on the score sheets... email to SandCastleScrolls-at-msn-dot-com.

Post Scripts (the fine print):
Thank you to the History Channel for putting up the prizes.

FTC disclaimer:  I have not been, nor do I expect any actual money to change hands in exchange for running contest.  Mr. C had a hole in the schedule and I wanted to run this tie-in.  Win-win.  The History Channel has suggested some trinkets might be in my future, but nothing as of yet.

As always, your electronic information will be kept confidential.  I will not add you to any mailing lists.  If necessary to send out prizes, information may be shared with the History Channel.

If you've never shot before and want to give shooting a try, drop me a line with your general area (city & state).  Many gun bloggers are open to taking first timers out and I will try to refer your to someone close by.  No Guarantees, but we'll try.

04 August 2011


You've seen it in the movies, you've seen your friends do it and it just looks cool with the handle sticking out.  Of course you lose style points when it's your "fiancee's pink pistol" sticking out of your waistband. 

This is why you should never just stick a gun in your waistband.  Even the powder burns to the wedding tackle at that range are going to leave a mark.

The 911 call is a good example of why 911 recordings should not be public domain nor played on TV.
911op: "Apply pressure to the wound, but don't look."
911reporter: "I already looked..."  
There are a lot of questions not answered by this story.  Hopefully those details will come out in the near future.