Fly6 camera test on a cold, foggy morning

I saw the Fly6 safety camera on Kickstarter a few months ago.  I didn’t contribute at the time, but I did register interest.  The idea was so brilliant, so well conceived, or should that be “resolved”.

Timely too.  The number of bicycle accidents this year has been off the charts.  I do most of my riding alone and while drivers are generally courteous, there’s always the inattentive and the odd dickhead that gets too close.

I was invited to be one of the first to buy, offered at a discount so I bought two.  Yesterday’s delivery was after a two months’ wait.  Well worth it.

First test was this morning.  Despite the cold (2°c) and the fog (99% humidity, 100m visibility) I had to get a mid-week ride in.

Here’s a few minutes of unprocessed video to demonstrate the picture quality, stability and colour balance despite the awful light conditions.  Number plates of cars in the near lane are clearly visible, as are the bus destination displays.

The more of us have these, the more drivers might think twice about taking risks at a rider’s expense.

Frankly, this isn’t much of a review, so read all about it at the Fly6 website.  I’ll post more video under different conditions… just as soon those different conditions arrive.

  • Road: Kate Crace Road and Flemington Road Gungahlin/Harrison ACT
  • Those things in the picture: Top, saddle bag; bottom, mudguard; behind, Amandeep.
  • Why is it bouncing? That’s the Trek Domane, baby.  Smoooooth.
  • What time? It was 0730 on 2/07/2014 (today), not 22:30 on 1/07/2014.

Too early to rite off Spring?

It seems that I was a bit early to judge that Spring is declared too early.
While the first few nights have been seriously sub-zero, most days have been warm; if you stay out of the wind.

This does not detract from my main point: [speaking from a part of Australia that experiences four seasons] the dates for the start of those seasons should change from the first of the month to one closer to the Earth’s rhythms.


First day of Spring? My arse!

Temperature dropped from a cold and windy 10.8°c to 3.3°c in about 30 minutes. Kept going until it reached -6.3°c.

In Australia the seasons are set from the first of the month. So Summer starts on 1 December, Autumn on 1 March, Winter on 1 June and Spring from 1 September. Of course, weather and seasons can play tricks and it has snowed in Canberra in December.

However, you are on a hiding to nothing when you tilt the game against yourself.

Being at such high altitude and a fair way South, Canberra experiences four seasons in a significant way. Winters are cold and dry, Summers are hot and dry (with cool nights providing relief), Spring is cool and wet and Autumn can’t make up its mind. But suggesting that Winter has somehow ended and Spring is now solely responsible for the weather is a bit like blaming, I don’t know, a politician for a decision that was made before they came to office. And we wouldn’t do that!.

So I’ll wait until 22 September (is that right?) to declare Winter handing over to Spring. I think that fair on both seasons.

So how did I celebrate the first day of Spring? I plugged in my engine block heater.

BTW if one does bother to walk outside, you’ll find a glorious sunny day with frost-covered everything and a stillness and beauty that only sub-zero nights followed by sunny days can bring.

UPDATE: The official BoM minimum temperature was -6.8°c becoming the coldest September day since -6.4°c in 1982.

Getting colder

ANZAC Day 25 April is significant for many reasons.  It commemorates the landing of the Australian Imperial Forces at Gallipoli in 1915.  After its importance waned during the 1960’s and 70’s, it has recently become a more important and observed holiday than even Australia Day.

No less significantly, it marks a tipping point in Canberra’s climate.  The cold weather starts and there won’t be any warm nights and days until September at the earliest.

The tipping point is marked by frost-bitten tomato plants, an extra doona (quilt, duvet) and warmer pants.  Yes, the expedition-strength boxer shorts have been worn once already.

With the high rainfall so far this year, the trees got a bit out of sync.  But they are finally displaying intense red, orange and even purple leaves, contrasting with the evergreen gums and pines.

And you can tell whose garage is full of stuff by the frosted windscreens on the cars left out at night.  I rearranged a few things to fit the Prius in beside the Citroën to avoid any delay should I need to drive in the morning.

Canberra is at its most beautiful in Autumn.

Tree aftermath – Post Script

Who could forget the tragic but heart-warming story of my tree that couldn’t stay up and of the nice SES personnel in their highly-visible clothing and filthy boots who made it all better.

The aftermath was a pile of branches that were too big to be munched by my chipper, arranged neatly over my back fence.  I had every intention of moving it to the nearby green waste site where the carbon would have been most welcome.  However, this was looking like several trips as neither of my cars had a tow bar.  Oddly I couldn’t think of anyone I knew who had a ute.  My station wagon might be OK, but the longer branches would be a challenge.

Until one day I returned from work to find the lot was gone.  All that was left was a single, small branch and the leaves that had fallen from them.

The leaves were all that was left


Tree aftermath

That tree brought a lot of shade and privacy to the back of the house. The footpath behind isn’t used much but enough to discourage naturalistic tendencies with the curtains drawn. The other huge change is in the temperature. The back yard was often 10C° cooler than the front on a hot day and since I had managed to prune the branches high enough for me to walk under, it was a nice space.
Today’s jobs started with chipping the branches that were small enough to fit through my trusty Ryobi. Amazing to see a pile of branches the size of a small car reduce to the size of 2 pillows just by slicing it thinly enough. Already starting to warm up in the hot sun the pile was the perfect carbon to balance the nitrogen in my Aerobin® compost solution.
DISCLOSURE: The Aerobin produces more CO2 than other compost methods but none of the methane.

Next job was the fence. The fence posts are rotten at the bottom so there’s little support. I was astonished that the fence hadn’t given way but had actually slowed the tree’s fall and prevented any real damage. I had tied the fence post to the tree to hold the fence up, not the other way around.
One of the panels had pulled out from the top of the fence post leaving a gap. Closing the gap wasn’t so easy as I had to first make the gap wider, remove some very stubborn nails and somehow make it all better. The fence is a good 7 foot with overlapping palings and three rungs.
At the hardware store I found what is now my favourite tool; the Irwin Quick Grip XP600 One Handed Bar Clamp / Spreader. This thing can deliver 270kg of force with one hand. I also bought a crow bar, some huge galvanised nails and a rain gauge. (I figured that with the tree out of the way I could actually measure rain now.)
Last night the branches were thrown over my fence into a handy space in the shrubbery. Today I had to make it look presentable to 1. get to the fence and 2. to appear like I was just about to take it to the green waste dump in Mitchell.

Fence fixed, gutter fixed, tree still present

Realising that the fence post was no longer attached to the ground I decided to repair adequately and prepare for a tradesman’s opinion, tools and skill to do it properly.

Gutter was an easy fix.  One of the brackets had pulled out and it was straightforward to see how it fitted.  Clip, squeeze, clamp and it was done.  Pulled the last of the logs out of the gutter and it was done.

Just one job left…

Free to good home, 3 cubic metres of ex-tree

Tree fell over to some extent

Summer has been wetter and cooler than normal. I had the roof fixed yesterday to replace inadequate valleys that let in water even during light rain. Despite several heavy showers since the repair the roof showed no sign of water.
Then it really started bucketing down with hail from the Northeast. I checked the garage under the new roofing and saw a small leak, a few drops; nothing like the torrent I would have faced before. The roofer promised 98% chance of no leaks and he was right.
Moving to the back door to check the work at the rear of the house, I wondered why the yard seemed so bright. Where was the tree?

Resting against the fence and the roof, is where.

This was going to be tricky. First, call the experts. Told the SES (State Emergency Services) about tree and lack of apparent damage so that I wouldn’t get priority over some poor sod with an unexpected and unwelcome skylight.

Using my meagre hand saw and hedge shears I started to remove the “non-structural” branches to reduce weight on the rest. Texted a friend to borrow his chainsaw and for him to use his chainsaw since I had no idea how to us it.

Did I mention that we had friends over for a dinner party at the time? Sat down for dessert and coffee

So about 1 hour after my call no less than 6 SES arrived (and their supervisor later to check) dressed in orange and 3M tape with tools of destruction. The pipe saw was the most useful, an extendable whipper snipper with chainsaw head. Nice.

Quite a lot of fine trimming to lessen the weight before they were ready to risk dropping the rest. Gentle landing. A few more slices to reduce the trunk to bite-size bits and the job’s a good’un. Apart from the matter of clearing the green waste. Good thing I still have the station wagon.