FaceBlimp Found!

On January 7th, 2011 at ~6:45pm someone left me a voice mail saying:

Hi, I think I have found your FaceBlimp… so if you would like it returned, please call me.

First, I have to start with a big thanks to this guy for calling me and returning it. I’m waiting to get shirt sizes from him so I can give him and his family some Facebook t-shirts as a thanks. None of that would have been possible if it weren’t for Google indexing my site and making it the top results in a search for “Faceblimp” and of course all of the retweets by various people helped with this. So a big thanks to Google, h0bbel, chr1sa and others for that.

I called him back and he told me that he had found it in the trash area of the complex he lives in. At first, he thought it was some junk left out so he picked it up to throw it away. Realizing it was an enormous balloon, he untangled it and discovered all the electronic bits and the word “FaceBlimp” written on the side in sharpie. A Google search of course turned up a page full of lost FaceBlimp results, leading him to my site. He said he had found it about 10 minutes before calling.

At first he suggested that his wife could bring it to someone she knew that worked at Facebook, but I was so excited to have it back that a few minutes later I asked him if we could just come over and see where he found it and talk to him a little. He showed us the trash area and approximately where it was, so we could take a picture for a dramatic recreation.

Dramatic Recreation

The damage sustained was quite reasonable. The mylar envelope was popped, with a big rip at the seam in the top. The cheap Chinese lithium polymer battery was shot and will not take a charge. One of the motors was completely missing, most likely due to the fact that I tweaked the motor mounts to make them easier to remove. The most amazing find was that the Arduino board still functions. In fact, I am using it in the FaceBlimp that I am currently reassembling.

The dental floss tail had a bit of fresh tree branch tangled up quite well, so I suspect that the blimp did most of its traveling in the first few hours or days of freedom, then got caught in a tree maybe after it got too high and the pressure popped the mylar envelope. It probably stayed there for most of the 5 months it was missing, then finally fell the rest of the way to the ground after all the wind and the rain of the past few weeks.

View FaceBlimp in a larger map
Where FaceBlimp was Lost and Found (zoom out one if markers aren’t visible)

Posted in Real Life |

Missing Faceblimp

My recently assembled blimpduino escaped because I forgot to close our portch’s screen door. It is a large blimp shaped silver mylar helium filled balloon with some electronics and propellers attached to the bottom. If it fell off the balloon is history, but if it didn’t maybe someone will find it.

Written on one side in black permanent marker is the word “Faceblimp” and the other side has a small blue and white Facebook sticker that is just the letter “f”. The front has a pair of eyes and a mouth, also drawn with black permanent marker. The gondola portion is mostly Legos, electronics and a LiPo battery. It looks very much like the image below, except it’s silver. The video is actually the very blimp in question.

It was neutrally buoyant inside, but I suspect once it got out into the sun it became slightly positively buoyant and made it into the wind that looked to be blowing 5-10 mph in a south west direction. I lost it at noon on 7/24/2010 near W. El Camino Real and S. Rengstorff.

When I noticed it was missing, I immediately looked around our apartment complex on foot. Not seeing it, I hopped on my bike and went a few blocks in the direction the wind was blowing. I then hopped in the car and drove a bit further into some neighborhoods. I even asked a couple strangers and one co-worker if they’d seen it. Obviously, I didn’t have any luck.

If you’ve seen or found it, I’d love to hear from you via email or phone at 415.685.3764. I’m posting this here in hopes that search engines will index this post. Then, if someone finds it and searches for “Faceblimp” this will be among the results. I’ve also posted in craigslist’s lost+found section.

A picture of a blimpduino, an autonomous blimp

Update: Thanks to h0bbel, chr1sa and others on twitter Faceblimp is the #1 result on Google.

Posted in Real Life |

Facebook Like on Posts and Pages

After today’s f8 launched Facebook’s new Like button for the internet, I used jdingman’s Using Facebook’s “Like” Plugin with WordPress and Facebooks Like Button documentation to add said Like button to this site. It was straight forward and easy, and it prodded me into posting a bunch of updates too!

Update: I switched from a hand crafted iframe in my theme to a wordpress plugin which uses FBML, so the like button loads much faster. Next goal is to add it to gallery2 or gallery3!

Posted in Updates, Website |

Formula RallyX @ Sonoma County Fairgrounds

On Sunday, April 11th 2010 I experienced my first rally cross. After almost a two hour drive, we made it to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds where the rain was pouring down. Mary Ann and I spent a few confused minutes walking around the course where tracks from the previous day didn’t *quite* line up with today’s course. After that, we came back to the car to find someone looking at the tires and after talking to them, discovered that not only did he have an STI but that he had been doing the rally school the day before. And that he had made a mess of his bumper, pulled out a wheel lining and lost a mud flap. At that point, I almost backed out in fright of doing damage to the car.

Mary Ann told me to man up and so I registered to drive. Of course, she didn’t follow her own advice and chickened out of driving. I had a blast, as someone at the rally said, it was the most fun I’ve ever had driving at 18 miles per hour. It was slow, slippery, dirty and the mud was deep. The STI’s AWD and Blizzak snow tires were amazing, I think the car just absolutely loved the mud.

Parade Lap

This is the parade lap, which I was very thankful they did. It let me drive the course slowly, following a bunch of people who seemed to already know the course and what they were doing. We also discussed the course a little bit as I drove. You can see 3 more videos after the jump, but I didn’t want to clutter the front page with all of them.
Continue reading

Posted in Real Life |

Auto Cross @ Marina Airport

On March 28th, 2010 Jesse Mullan and I went to our first ever auto cross at the small airport in Marina, CA. We both had a blast and got to watch a bunch of cars driving around a cone course in an airplane parking area. We arrived for the second half of the day and worked on the course for the first group of cars. We drove in the second group, alternating driving after every lap. We brought our DSLRs, but we were both having so much fun that we didn’t take any pictures.

My times for laps 1-5 were: 61.181s, 59.626s, 59.399s, 58.454s and 57.883s. I’m proud of the fact that every lap was faster than the one before it. The results can be found in this pdf on their site.

Posted in Real Life |