Weechat on OSX

This is recording how I got weechat on OSX updated to 4.0.4, and how I fixed /script to work as well, thanks to some helpful folks on IRC.

One of the slight annoyances with using weechat on OSX is that the Homebrew version is still 3.8 or so. I have multiple systems, with weechat on all of them, and OSX is the outlier in being outdated.

The #weechat channel on libera was horribly useful, and got everything straightened out, with first updating to 4.0.4, and then fixing a problem with scripts. I’m writing up what I did here, so it’s easily searchable.

First, the upgrade to 4.0.4. It’s important to know that while I did all this, I didn’t originate any of it. I can’t claim credit, and don’t. I was doing things that others suggested. (The users in question were trygveaa and R2robot; I don’t know them outside of those names.)

The first thing I did was run brew edit weechat, to edit the weechat recipe file for Homebrew. The values I needed to change were the url and hash values for the downloaded file; they’re lines 4 and 5 for me, and this is what I changed them to:

url "https://weechat.org/files/src/weechat-4.0.4.tar.xz" sha256 "ae5f4979b5ada0339b84e741d5f7e481ee91e3fecd40a09907b64751829eb6f6"

After that, it’s a simple matter of running:
brew reinstall -s weechat
… which should download weechat from source (and thus get 4.0.4) and install it from there.

Now, running weechat gives me 4.0.4; that’s one problem down!

~ > weechat -v
~ >

The other problem was that /script didn’t work; it would tell me it was trying to download the scripts from an external server, and… that’s it. No progress. No scripts window, no nothing. That’s suboptimal, because there are a few scripts I find highly useful.

I got it working by setting an environment variable. I actually tried two of them, but only one turned out to be significant:


With that set, /script downloaded the list of scripts, and I could install, autoload, et cetera. I had also tried setting WEECHAT_HOME to a different location (also a suggestion), and that worked as long as I had the fork safety disabled – and removing WEECHAT_HOME left my configuration where it was “supposed to be” (the default) and /script still worked, so the OBJC_DISABLE_INITIALIZE_FORK_SAFETY is what made the difference.

New Album: Transience

These are release notes, sort of, for my third album, Transience, which I put up on Bandcamp on May 31, 2023.

Yesterday I put my third album – Transience – online at Bandcamp. My first thought, thinking about it, is “How?!,” followed shortly by “Why?,” but sometimes that’s just the way things go: we do things, we realize we have enough, we’re okay with it, we set it free.

Transience is weird to me. It’s a transitional release – which it shares in common with Between Hammer and Anvil and Time and Distance, oddly enough, but unlike those other releases, it feels closer to what I had in mind in the first place.

I did everything on these releases. If you hear drums, I played them, whether they’re a real acoustic kit (on everything but Zuum and Fly) or BFD3 (for, well, Zuum and Fly). If there’s a bass, it’s my fingers. All guitars were mine, all of the synths, even the vocals on “Inhibition” were me, although Inhibition fed them through a vocoder.

Weirdly enough, this is my most guitar-forward collection, with Contrivance being the only track that features keyboards heavily in any role; apart from that song, keyboards are purely sound reinforcement, something that fits my limited skills better.

I tried to capture things as “live” as I could. I read recently that Led Zeppelin wanted Physical Graffiti to have a “real band recording an album” feel, so if a plane was flying overhead and the mics captured it, well, there was a plane on the album, and the album was what it became, warts and all. (If that album has warts, gosh, I wish my album had such problems!)

So with Transience, I decided that I was going to try to write and record something I could hear myself recording. There are a few places where I “patched in” to repair performances, or to maintain a vibe that changed over the recording, but for the most part, for each instrument, I hit “record,” played the song, and decided to either capture that performance as a whole, or discard it. What you’re hearing is what I was able to play. There’s no “studio magic,” for the most part.

I also captured changing processes. These songs were recorded over a couple of years, it turns out, and as such they reflect changes in how I recorded or set things up, or different equipment profiles.

This shows up most clearly in the drums, because I added drums, or changed cymbals, or changed my mic setup. I initially used stereo overheads, suspended equilaterally over the kit, and switched to a more traditional Glyn Johns technique (with a center overhead mic and a side mic over the ride); I also went from Shure 57s (because they’re what I had) to some PreSonus PM-2 condenser mics and a Shure 52A kick mic.

Changing mics isn’t easy, because you have to learn what the mics capture in order to record them well. I’m still not sure I’m satisfied with the drum sound, but… again, looking at Led Zeppelin, my conclusion is that the sound is what it is, and I’m going to have to be happy enough with it, or I’ll never release music and move on to something new.

The bass on this album was mostly my Rickenbacker. Contrivance and Glimpse and Heat all used my Jazz bass; after those were recorded, my Rickenbacker came in and I pretty much never played the Jazz again. I traded it for a new guitar, an Alex Lifeson Axcess, which ended up being very heavily featured on the subsequent tracks.

My amplification – such that it was – also changed over time. The early tracks used Amplitube for recording the guitars “in the box” – meaning that I plugged the guitars to feed into Cubase and software was used as an amp emulator. I relied heavily on Ampeg and Orange amp emulations for the bass, and the guitars tended to be Hiwatt, Fender Twin, or Marshall emulations (although there’s a Roland Jazz Chorus or three in there as well).

But I chose guitar amplification on a per-song basis; for one song (Contrivance) I used Native Instruments’ Reaktor for the electric guitar.

After a while, though, I switched over to a NeuralDSP-heavy amplification chain. Darkglass, Archetype Tim Henson, and Archetype Rabea dominate my recent tracks.

The mixes are… inconsistent. I am a somewhat competent recording engineer, at best: what I know is what I need, and that’s about it. Every mix is approached as its own project, and as a result, each song has its own mix and sound.

That’s borrowing yet again from Led Zeppelin as an inspiration, where on their earlier albums you’d be hard-pressed to tell which song belonged on which album just based on the sound of the song. (Later on, you could tell; songs on “Presence” sound like they were on “Presence,” you know? But on earlier albums, the mixing on each song was unique.)

However, one thing Led Zeppelin has that I do not was a mastering process; the songs sounded very different, with unique mixes, but the mastering was consistent (and excellent). If I had a criticism of my releases based on pure analysis (apart from the artistry, a subjective thing), I’d say that my inexperience mastering would be the most severe criticism. It is what it is. I don’t trust myself to master well; such is life.

I hope you enjoy the release.

I started a substack… and deleted it minutes later.

I deleted it because the main value in starting another site was that it could be faintly anonymous; I’m not worried about hiding as much as I don’t like putting my name near the front of anything I write.

I dislike cults of personality, and I recoil at the idea that I could be leveraging who I am, as opposed to what I create. I tried to remove my name from my publication, but it still was attached, and that meant substack was an inappropriate medium for me.

Such is life.

RC Flying, 2023 Apr 21: Night Flying?

Fun night of night flying with the RC club, but I had a slight encounter with a tree. All is well, or will be. I continue to learn, and that’s the goal.

The RC flight club had a rare-ish Friday night flight scheduled for April 21, where pilots were encouraged to show up with their lighted planes; there’d be food, formation flying in the dark, fun to be had by all, as usual, I suppose.

I have no planes with lights. I could have put lights on – and one pilot did actually get some lights for the evening – but I was pretty sure that flying at night, at my skill level, was a good way to end up down a plane. I ended up down a plane anyway, sort of, but not because of flying at night!

The other pilots did a great job. One lost control of his plane and we had to do a recovery to get it, but it was just system communication error, the best we can tell; he’s one of the better pilots in the club, and it happens to the best of us.

I flew four flights: three on my own battery, one with a borrowed battery.

The first flight was in moderately heavy winds; I kept the receiver on a fairly assistive mode, because there’s no way I had the skill level to fly in those winds. I had to keep the throttle really high to head into the wind, which made landing .. interesting. But it was a successful flight.

My second flight was in calmer winds (the winds were dying down as we went into the evening). That one, I put it into intermediate mode – which is some assistance but not as much – and stayed there for most of the flight. (I took off in basic mode, because I wasn’t sure what the winds were going to do, and switched to intermediate soon after.)

For the third flight, one of the other more experienced pilots had challenged me (very very gently) to fly in expert mode. The winds were calm, and I’d had a pretty good flight day so far, I was zeroed in and unafraid to fall back to assisted mode at need, so I figured… why not? Once I got it in the air, I switched it to expert mode, did a few rolls and loops (they’re fun!), and brought it in for the landing, all on expert mode. The landing was bouncy, but successful. For a relatively new pilot landing on hard mode, I was satisfied.

That was my last battery. The pilot said he’d spot me a charged battery for another flight while we still had light, and who am I to turn that down? Nobody, that’s who.

The last flight generally went the same way as the third flight did. Overall, it went pretty well, but I was making an approach for a landing, and lost distance on the plane; I flew behind the treeline and, well, straight into a tree. I ended up spending most of the rest of the evening trying to get the plane back on the ground.

We managed – as a group effort – and the plane’s tail is detached, but it was a clean break and should be really simple to fix. It’ll be back in the air tomorrow, with any luck at all.

Fun day of flying! The plane didn’t quite make it back in one piece, but as I understand it, I wasn’t even in the top three of the worst crashes of the week, and it really does look like a simple repair.

Put On Blast

I groused on a social media site about how I thought both major political parties in the US were venal and stupid, and someone unleashed an absolute masterwork of rhetoric on me in DM. It was unconvincing, because they apparently knew me about 1% as well as they thought they did, but still… mastery was in motion.

Over the last week, I mentioned on a social media site that I thought both the Democratic Party and the Republican party were venal and self-serving, evil.

A well-meaning acquaintance from waaaaaay back took it upon themselves to warn me away from such statements, and took issue with a number of actions undergone by the GOP as proof that they were evil… and since the Democrats were not doing those same things, clearly the Democrats were… apparently less evil.

They were rather unclear on the actual results of the Democrats’ inactivity; they didn’t actually say “less evil,” or even “good,” it was just about Republican activity. They took the conversation to private messages (direct messages, or DMs), which was … probably a good thing, but it was also vastly amusing.

That message chain was over 380 messages long. They wrote 286 of them. It was a work of art, really, and utterly unconvincing for some pretty simple reasons, few related to their actual assertions. (This is why it was amusing to me.)

It was a rhetorical masterpiece, manipulative from the very beginning, and clearly so, whether they intended it to be or not. I don’t know how self-aware my acquaintance is, but if they were trying to say “members of my tribe are definitely not evil,” and they expected to be representative, I think it’s safe to say that they actually more or less validated my original assertion without meaning to.

Here’s the thing, though: I don’t know if they were trying to assert that they were representative. Nor do I know if they had any curiosity about how evil I thought the parties were, or what I thought about individual members of the various political parties, because at no point did they bother to indulge any curiosity about what I meant.

(This was also amusing to me, because I’ve written clearly about how I see the parties and how I see the parties’ members, and at one point they said they actually were aware of my public stances, even though the entire lecture was predicated on an assumption that my public stances were … not what I actually think at all.)

The “taking it to direct message” was a smart move on their part, because posting a lecture on social media – even if it weren’t piecemeal like DMs are – makes one look arrogant, and DMs allow a tone that a generalized lecture does not. Also, taking it to DM allows manipulation through familiarity (“remember when…”) that public messages do not. Privacy also prevents observation and public correction; when a hundred people see a statement made in error, one of those hundred might observe the error publicly… and call it out.

It also implies that the one being corrected (me, in this case) is being protected by the lecturer (“I’m keeping your shame in the shadows, not calling you out publicly”) and that carries with it an assumption of shame.

I remember this person; I don’t know that we’re friends, exactly, as we’ve had no conversations of any depth whatsoever for the past … probably decade or so. If we have had conversations, I don’t remember them.

This actual unfamiliarity coupled an assumption of insight was the cause of the first error they made, actually, because I don’t consider them to have any actual insight into my thought processes or motivations, and they were literally trying to speak to those thought processes. (And that’s despite me writing publicly for decades now. I may not publish on a consistent basis, but I still publish, and the Internet doesn’t forget. My stances have changed over time, but I’ve tried to be honest about that, too, including acknowledgement of ideas and views I think were in error and hopefully out of ignorance. Ideas like… “the Democrats might actually be the good guys.”)

If my brother, who knows me well, had said the exact same words, they’d have carried an impact, because my brother does know how I think, and why, and he has access to an authority in my life that randoms from the Internet do not.

Of course, the randoms from the Internet could always… ask. I like to think that’s what I’d have done, had I chosen to correct someone on the Internet: find out if they’re actually wrong, first, you know? After all, this was initiated on social media, a medium that has as a primary flaw a … lack of representation of nuance. As people are rarely without nuance in their actual lives (regardless of how they appear on social media), you’d think the first thing would be to isolate what is actually being thought before setting phasers on “kill”… at least, if the lecturer has any social awareness themselves.

The lecturer started off with a long string of messages (short ones, and they were sent before I realized I even had any direct messages, as I don’t lurk on social media sites very much) where not only was my expertise questioned (“people like you rarely know as much about unrelated subjects as you think you do”) but my motivations questioned (“people who say such simple things are overly certain without cause” and “people are willing to undertake extreme actions”) and an explicit disassociation (“I’m no longer following you”).

(These are not quotes. I’m not likely to quote my lecturer here except by accident. Some of the words may be the same, but I’m not copying and pasting anything. All quotes should be assumed to be paraphrases filtered through my own lenses. I do have the entire conversation logged, because it was hilarious, but still: I’m going to avoid identifying the lecturer if I can.)

They also claimed specific expertise: they had multiple degrees and their parents were college professors, you know. So they knew. People with certitude could be dangerous, and my assertion exposed certitude. (You might even say the lecturer was certain. That is, if you thought things like that were funny, like I do.)

That brings up another rhetorical trick they used, actually.

I like words. I read quite a bit; I don’t know if I read more than the average bear or not, because I don’t know how much other people read quantitatively, but I think it’s safe to say that I read a lot. I believe most of the people who know me would agree with that statement. (I don’t read the most out of my circle of friends, I think; I know someone who I think reads more than I, for example, but I think even they would say that I’m pretty well-read.)

I read things in many genres. I read nonfiction and fiction. In nonfiction, I’ll cover history, philosophy, math, programming, music, science, the mechanics of writing (most books on writing are not written especially well, go figure!); in fiction, it could be anything: mysteries, fantasy, historical fiction, science fiction, horror. These are representative, not limiting. I’ll read almost anything I find interesting if I can.

The result is that my language is … broad. I read a lot of words, and words I like will enter into my lexicon. (Words like “lexicon,” for example.) When I write, I try to use words that are clear enough, I guess, but I’m often writing as myself and therefore, especially as I warm up, I use words that are more natural for me to use and retain my voice, as opposed to restricting myself to a simple set of 1000 words like Randall Munroe’s “Thing Explainer” book.

I could restrict my vocabulary more than I do, I suppose, and when writing for specific purposes I do, but in private messages where my conversational partner assumes familiarity? I’m more likely to use the language that occurs to me innately than I would otherwise.

My lecturer took exception to this. I used a word whose meaning I thought would be fairly clear from usage, and not only did they go pedantic on me (“that is not what that word means, specifically”) but they declared that I sounded like a self-educated high-schooler, along with a specific term that I’m sure was supposed to be an insult.

Oddly enough, I am a self-educated high schooler. My comment to that, written through laughter (because it was funny!), was that I had me a high school diploma lying about somewhere, if I could only find it… (It’s also been recorded as an actual fact that insulting the person you’re trying to convince is very effective. It worked for Trump, right? I’m pretty sure my lecturer would have gone ballistic at having such a equivalence pointed out.)

But notice what’s happening, rhetorically: they were trying to use my very language against me. They didn’t ask what I meant (even though I thought it was clear through usage); any attempt to clarify was met with disdain for the term.

And it goes on! One of the other rhetorical manipulations they used was simple entrapment through falsification. They started off (in public) enumerating a number of sins of the GOP, sins that … honestly, probably are sins. (They were presented without specificity, and in very coarse terms, were probably accurate; it’s when you drill down that you find that there might be some justifications for those particular sins. Note the use of the word “might.”)

I didn’t bother addressing those. Why would I?

I was making an assertion of venality on the parts of both major parties, after all; if someone presents evidence (even lacking nuance) that validates that at least half of my assertion was true, why would I disagree? They were saying that I was right, after all.

Of course, they took issue with my statement that it was both parties and not just one, making it an attack on the blue tribe as well as the red tribe, and there was the source of the offense. How dare I say the blue tribe is bad, too?

So in the lecture they presented a number of grave acts on the part of the GOP, and challenged me to dispute them, saying to tell them anything the Democrats had done that was “as awful as” this, or that, or the other.

I did not dispute the acts themselves. I could have; those descriptions lacked nuance, after all. And they didn’t take place in a vacuum, and what’s more, if the Democrats had wanted to do some of them, they would have (and they’ve tried, in some cases. But they failed, so they “didn’t do them.”)

But … disputing them would have been both a strategic and tactical mistake, on multiple levels.

For one thing, strategically, those terrible things agreed with my assertion that the GOP is evil and stupid. Disputing them defends a party I do not want to defend.

For another, tactically, disputation gives a falsifiable angle of attack; there are a lot of rhetorical ways to address such disputations. You could go for precision (“You said this happened in January 1995, when ACTUALLY it happened in early February, you don’t know what you’re talking about”) or widen the scope of the disputation to incorporate external facts (“Well, you’re failing to account for von Moltke in 1887, who …”)

Lastly, it’s a strategic error about intent. I had stated early in the lecture (when I had finally started paying attention to it and interacting) that I had no intent of trying to convince anyone of anything, that my lecturer should feel and think what… you know, they felt and thought. My permission wasn’t necessary, nor was my approval, but I wholly feel that people should be who they are. I was making a statement about my own feelings, after all, and I didn’t mind what anyone else thought. I’ve said so publicly and in many forums.

If you think I’m trying to convince you to think what I think, you’re missing something very simple about me: I’m happy to influence people positively, I guess, but it’s a passive influence. If you think what I think because of something I said, it’s because you read something from me and thought – to yourself and for yourself – hey, he might be right.

I try really hard to not decide things for other people. I don’t even tell my kids what is right to think; I tell them what I think and why, and if they find that compelling, we agree. If they don’t, we disagree, and everything’s fine between us; if they tell me what they think and why, well, maybe I’ll change my mind. (I’ve changed my mind and behavior inspired by arguments from my kids multiple times. I’m proud of them.)

So… for me to dispute these claims about the GOP… what would it serve? I’m not trying to tell my lecturer that they’re wrong, after all; if they don’t realize their own contextual errors, well, who am I to correct them? And that their error reinforces my own decision – I think their assertions lacked nuance, but the result was the same, after all – well, that only makes a disputation stupid.

I may not be the sharpest light bulb in the shed, but I ain’t outright dumb. When my “opponent” makes my point for me, I will let them.

But the request was to show what the Democrats had done that was “as evil as” those acts, which were mostly focused on legislative actions to counteract Democratic motivations.

That, too, was really pretty elegant on the part of the lecturer. Note what they’re doing: they’re ascribing a generalization to all Republicans.

It’s like saying “All Republicans are racist” because some Republicans are racist. (After all, the non-racist Republicans – were they a thing – would surely eject their racist brethren, right?)

But that’s not the way the world works, on any level, and actually indirectly ties into why I think the Democrats are venal and stupid, too.

It’s worth pointing out that neither party is monolithic. I know a lot of people in both parties, and members of both constitute my “inner circle,” people I do listen to with great intent. I think they’re good people, even when they agree with the things their parties do with which I disagree. I understand these people, and why they agree with the things I find wrong. This is important. I know them, they know me, we respect each other, we can dialogue in good faith and we know it. The parties are evil. It doesn’t mean that the people who make up the parties are evil, individually, although they might be. This is something my lecturer seemed to fail to understand, based on what they said to me.

I used the word “racist” a few paragraphs ago, right? … what does that word mean? It has a technical meaning, I guess, but applying it technically to anyone will lead to a conclusion that all people are racist, and if all people are racist, this deserves a reaction, and any racist’s assertions should be discounted.

But “any racist’s assertions should be discounted” is an assertion. And if all people are racist, well, that implies that the person who says that is also racist, and therefore that assertion too should be discounted. Taken to an extreme, the implication is that mankind is beyond redemption, that any person can be attacked for any reason (at the very least, you could accuse them of being racist, and they could deny it; but wouldn’t a denial be exactly what a racist would offer?)

It’s a black hole of suckitude. (It also lacks nuance. It’s why I can know people who I think actually are racist, without deciding to excommunicate and cancel them without reprieve.) And one of my greatest problems with the Democratic Party as a whole is this whole leaning into a failure of terminology and nuance. For a Party as a whole to lean into being unable to assert what a woman is… that’s awful. You can carve out specifics all you like, but to be unable to generalize? There’s a rot in that oak, and it needs to be chopped down and burned.

And words matter. If you can’t use words, you can’t discuss. If I say “the GOP is evil” and you change what the understanding of “evil” is to suit your purposes, I lose the ability to talk about the GOP being evil. (Does the new definition even mean that I think the GOP is evil?) We can’t come to a meeting of the minds, because that requires an ability to establish a common ground, and if you change the meaning of words, there is no common ground. You’ve built a wall between every human, that you can erect at will.

That’s a dominance game, and it’s insidious and explicit, and it is what I consider to be evil, and yes, I do consider it to be worse than most of the short-sighted things the GOP does. The GOP can be countered by an electoral cycle (and a lot of education about rational thought.) The destruction of the ability to teach rational thought (“what does that even mean? Let’s change it”) … that’s something that requires burning down a culture and rebuilding it.

I think that is evil, and a great evil, at that, maybe even the greatest. It provides a mechanism to invalidate the ability to do good. And my lecturer never once asked me about what I meant when I referred to it. They didn’t care. They had an axe to grind, and they were a-grindin’.

After a while, the conversation ended, with them asking me to stop messaging them (remember, they messaged me initially), and I accepted that request. That was around message number 330 or so. They then sent nearly seventy more messages to me, reprimanding me for writing as I do, for thinking as I do, adding a few other rhetorical manipulations (“I told someone something positive about you, and you didn’t know about it, how could you not be overwhelmingly grateful for something you didn’t know about?”) along the way.

I remain unconvinced. If I really, really cared about what a casual acquaintance thought about me, specifically, and assigned power to their perception, I might have been swayed, but given that there was no exchange, no consideration for anything I thought or said, it ended up being funny to read – and in some ways, it might have convinced me that my original assertion (that both major parties were evil, and that one party’s evil was more difficult to address than the other’s) was even more true than I thought it was.

RC Flying, 2023 Apr 2

Sunday was mostly an administrative/setup day; not a lot of flying, but what flying I did went all right.

Sunday was mostly an administrative/setup day; not a lot of flying, but what flying I did went all right. Nothing spectacular, nothing really to write about, but here goes anyway.

April 2 was mostly a “field administration” day. The club had a meeting to go over activities for the next year, as well as field maintenance – we rent our field from a local farmer, and we take care of it because good will is important. Not only is it necessary for us to keep our field access (the farmer could always stop renting to us, after all) but because it’s kind to take care of the relationships you have with other people.

I actually repaired my AeroScout; a new fuselage and canopy showed up on Saturday, unexpected. I moved over the electronics and motor, and did a bench test of the plane; it worked, for some definition of “working,” in that all of the control surfaces responded when I expected them to.

It’ll need a full setup when I decide to fly it again.

I put in the Spektrum AR631 receiver, although I have some RadioMaster R88s lying around as well. The Spektrum receiver was chosen mostly because I have two transmitters – a Spektrum and the RadioMaster TX16S – and while the RadioMaster can connect to pretty much any receiver known to man (to which I would have access), the NX8 can only connect to Spektrum receivers.

So for me to fly with one radio means either choosing the TX16S – which is a better radio but with lesser integration with the Spektrum receivers for now, because I’m still learning the platform – and the R88 for the Aeroscout, or choosing the Spektrum receiver, to which I can bind both transmitters and switch between them as needed.

Given that the Apprentice Mini is my primary plane for now, that means the Spektrum ecosystem wins… for a little while. My goal is to get to the point where I don’t need the safety features the Spektrum ecosystem provides, then I’ll be able to use whichever radio I happen to want. (In other words, the TX16S, because it just feels like a better radio, physically. The ecosystem’s safeguards are the main thing holding me to Spektrum right now. They do that astonishingly well.)

On Sunday, we were basically going back over the Apprentice. I did some telemetry extraction on the NX8, which told me nothing particularly useful (which is all right, because I was mostly curious about what data was being recorded), and apparently the process of setting up the NX8 for a neutral model for the flight simulator mangled some settings for the receiver itself, because the plane was… configured poorly.

We (well… I say “we” but it was mostly some of the experienced pilots who took on the task) ended up spending most of the day fixing the plane, setting it up again for consistent flight. That was my “flying day,” watching two pilots with years’ more experience than I try to get the plane to fly as they expected it to, something I wouldn’t have known how to do, and I wouldn’t have even known how to judge the plane; I’d have thought, “man, I’m a terrible pilot” and left it at that.

In the end, though, I did get the plane up in the air and back down; I don’t think I flew especially well for that flight, but that’s okay. The main goal was to get the plane up and back down; that was successful, and I’m going to leave the radio alone now as it has a consistent setup for the simulator and the Apprentice, and it’s been backed up with the known-good configuration.

It was also a beautiful day for flying, and the club meeting went really well; we had four prospective new members introduce themselves to the club at large. I’d already met all four of them, so they weren’t introducing themselves to me, but to the club members who hadn’t been at the field with them yet; what was funny for me in all that is that all four of them were really eloquent and represented themselves very well.

I was laughing my way through their introductions, thinking of how happy I was that I didn’t have to introduce myself in the same way they were doing, because mine would have been something like: “Hi, I’m, uh, Joe, I’ve been, uh, flying pretty much not at all, uh, how ya doin’, next person, please.”

Flight Report, 2023/Mar/26

Today was a good day, after all was said and done – started off rainy and miserable and an unlikely day to get into the air, but it all worked out and turned out well.

Just a smooth, simple day of flying, with no drama – which was pretty much exactly what I needed.

Today was a good day, after all was said and done – started off rainy and miserable and an unlikely day to get into the air, but it all worked out and turned out well.

I took my new radio and plane out to the field, hoping the weather would clear up, as it was pretty rainy. Not a really hard rain, so much, but persistent; I figured even if I didn’t get to fly, it was okay, as the guys who go to the field are pretty chatty and informative and a decent set to be around.

So we spent a good hour and a half (while I was there) just shooting the breeze, gently picking on each other and recounting various war stories… nothing especially memorable apart from talking about the old days of having to pick frequencies, I think, and it was pretty interesting hearing some of it, because I remember going to airfields with my father and watching him do all that stuff himself.

At four in the afternoon, the weather finally turned. The rain dropped off, the sun actually found its way out, and we got to see some planes fly. I mostly watched for a while – it’s nice watching things do well in the air, after all, and that’s why I wanted to fly myself, and I finally asked one of the more experienced pilots to help me set up my plane and radio.

That took a while; we did a radio check and we thought everything worked, got the plane in the air, and sure enough, something wasn’t right. The Apprentice wouldn’t shift out of the “safe mode,” which was the same problem we’d been fighting with my AeroScout – even though we had completely different gear in play today. Like, literally nothing was the same except a battery, which would have had no effect on anything in the communications between transmitter and receiver.

This is where the shift in radio from RadioMaster to Spektrum paid off, though, because with the input of a few of the other experienced pilots, we worked out which setting was wrong, and changed it. (If I’d still been on the RadioMaster, I’d have been on my own still, and I think I have enough experience to say with confidence that this would not have worked out well.)

After that, the plane got in the air and was set up properly. I got the radio back in my hands and flew the plane around a bit – in some ways I’m back to square one in the air, but that’s okay. I need to get some successful flying time – a lot of it – and advance more slowly than I’d been trying to.

And that’s exactly what happened. It wasn’t an exciting day in the air, mostly figure-eights and some other really simple patterns, some good takeoffs, some good landings (with no errors this time at all, although my landings could have been a little smoother, maybe?) — but the key is that there were no crashes, nothing done on my part that I could have or should have prevented, no miraculous rescues in the air, nothing out of the ordinary whatsoever.

Just a smooth, simple day of flying, with no drama – which was pretty much exactly what I needed.

Flight Report and a Set of Radical Changes

It’s been an inconsistent set of flying days for me. I made it out to the field on the weekend, but didn’t fly because I knew the wind was going to be too high for my AeroScout; I managed to catch a first flight for a new build for one of the other pilots, and that was really cool to watch.

I did make it to the field during the week, though, for a short bit – the winds were supposed to be pretty low, the weather was decent, and I wanted to fly to get more air time.

It did not go well.

It’s been an inconsistent set of flying days for me. I made it out to the field on the weekend, but didn’t fly because I knew the wind was going to be too high for my AeroScout; I managed to catch a first flight for a new build for one of the other pilots, and that was really cool to watch.

I did make it to the field during the week, though, for a short bit – the winds were supposed to be pretty low, the weather was decent, and I wanted to fly to get more air time.

It did not go well.

The flights themselves… the AeroScout just couldn’t get aligned in the air. I’d done some surgery on it with a new receiver, and done bench tests to make sure the radio and receiver were communicating well, and that went fine, I suppose. In the air, though, the ‘Scout was highly erratic, highly sensitive to every burst of wind, and could never establish level flight.

In the end I put it down three times, none of them very hard especially, but one apparently hit the plane in just the right place to split the front of the repaired fuselage down the middle, including separating the front wheel from the foam.

It’s repairable – again – and at the very worst, I could just get a new fuselage and replace the bits that are damaged wholesale. But the flight day was really informative.

For my skill level and experience, I’ve made a series of decisions regarding the flight that are understandable but probably wrong for me.

I’m a systems architect. My job is to look at processes and progress, and decide what the next best step should be based on results and new information. A lot of my job is literally to decide when to fish or cut bait, and while emotion and intent factors in sometimes, emotion is rarely a useful lever for making decisions.

The rough flying day gave me information I needed to decide that I needed to switch some things out.

My choice of radio is the RadioMaster TX16S II. I really like that radio. The feel is great, the approach of the operating system fits me and suits my approach to hardware and software. I have no qualms with the transmitter at all … but it’s the wrong radio for me right now.

The planes that I have ready access to use a protocol that my transmitter leverages poorly; there’s an integration mismatch. By that I mean that the receivers in the AeroScout and most other planes I’d end up with have features that the RadioMaster will either not support, or will support incompletely, because there’s a giant documentation gap.

I knew that when I got the radio and thought that would matter less over time. I think that’s still correct, but because I am a new pilot, the impact of the feature gap is magnified. My inexperience coupled with flying on “hard mode” all the time may teach me hard lessons about flying that I’ll need, but I can’t afford all of those hard lessons.

I have the transmitter that came with the AeroScout, the Spektrum DSX, which is a starter radio with full integration with the receiver, so I have access to all of the features that I’d need, except the DSX – while capable – feels like a toy to me, and for whatever reason I rebel at the thought of using it. It’s a psychology thing; since I feel like it’s a toy, I treat it like a toy, and I just can’t wrap my head around using it seriously, regardless of its actual capabilities.

It’d be like joining a band with a bunch of other guitarists, where they’re playing PRS, Gibson, Gretsch, high end Fenders… and you’re playing a First Act guitar. Sure, you can make the same notes they can, and there’s no indication simply based on equipment of what your skill level is compared to theirs, but the difference in gear would affect most players. It’d certainly affect me. I wouldn’t be in there with the high end guitars either, but I know my guitars and whatever I’d take would be sufficient.

The DXS is a better transmitter than a First Act guitar is as a musical instrument, but the impact remains. For me to enjoy flying, I have to have a sufficient transmitter. Maybe that’s a flaw in my character. It probably is. I don’t know.

So the AeroScout is not in airworthy condition and the radio is wrong. This is useful information, because it means that I need to either take a break and fix the AeroScout (something for which I’ve apparently proven I’m insufficient) or replace the fuselage (which I can probably do pretty easily); even if I did that, the winds would still push my AeroScout around.

Other pilots at the field fly it pretty well, but they’re better pilots than I am (I have no shame about this, and I’m going to get better) and the AeroScout is interfering with my progress. I need a heavier plane with better flight characteristics.

With the “better plane” I need to revisit my transmitter choice, because most of the planes have receivers that are designed to protect pilots like me – people who’re learning. The RadioMaster is a great radio, but it’s designed for people who know how to fly, a set in which I do not belong yet.

So after consideration and discussion with the other pilots – which were well-intentioned, even if accompanied by some slight ribbing over the choices I’ve made along the way – I decided to “give in” and get a Spektrum NX8 transmitter – the transmitter used by probably 90% of the club, and the brand used by an even higher percentage – and a HobbyZone Apprentice to take the place of the AeroScout.

My goal is to keep flying and learn enough such that I’m good enough to move back to the RadioMaster. The NX8 is, I believe, a less capable transmitter than the RadioMaster, although it does everything you need a radio to do.. the most important things about the NX8 are that the club has a wealth of experience with it (something they cannot say about the RadioMaster at all) and that it integrates extremely well with the Spektrum receivers (also something the RadioMaster cannot say).

It also came with a 200+ page manual, whereas the RadioMaster came with a single page, printed on both sides. The hardware may not be as good, but the documentation gap in Spektrum’s favor is incredible.

I haven’t even unboxed the Apprentice yet – that’ll probably come this weekend – but I’m looking forward to flying. And hopefully the changes I’ve made in approach and mentality yield better improvements.

RC Flying, 2023 Feb 26

It was a good day of flying for the RC plane, despite the wind; we got the radio and the plane set up much better than it had been, and despite some issues and hiccups, it was a good day.

I made it back out to the RC field today, a little concerned about the winds (which were from 6-10 miles per hour, which is a little gusty for my plane), but I was going to give it a shot, because a lot of the other pilots tend to be there on Sunday afternoons.

It went okay. The biggest problem I had was that my plane needed to be set up more completely with my radio, especially after the catastrophic crash from two weeks ago; I’ve been up since the crash, but that day was cut short due to weather, and I was up in the air such a short time that I really couldn’t collect any data about the plane, and I was also alone, so I couldn’t share from the communal knowledge.

Sam – one of the club trainers, and the guy who got me in the air when I first went to the field – took some time with me and the plane today. He said that there was a lot set up wrong – the plane’s trim was awful (not a surprise, considering all the changes it’s endured lately), but the radio was also set up really strangely.

That’s an experience thing. I don’t know what to look for, so I had no idea what I was setting up improperly. He does know what to look for, so we rolled up our sleeves and went to work on the plane, reversing the prop for full power (whoa! I didn’t even know you could install it incorrectly and still fly!), aligning everything (some of the servos were not quite set up right), setting up dampening on the controls (a big one, and why my plane flew so badly!), and trimming it out in flight as well.

Flying itself went… okay, I guess. No catastrophic crashes; I had two, but they were both really minor. One was caused by my use of a battery that was already dead: I lost throttle in mid-flight, and glided down to the field. The other was caused by taking too shallow an approach on a landing; I caught a wind gust and then lost the plane. No damage was taken in either event, thank goodness, and in the second crash I managed to warn the other pilots this time.

My last flight, with a good battery and in the most advanced flight mode the plane had (more on this in a few paragraphs), went pretty well, easily the best flight of the day for me. The plane had by this point been set up about as well as we could do it, and the same for the radio, and the dampening helped me fly immensely – no longer were little adjustments causing giant changes in the flight. I even made a really smooth landing, which got a lot of clapping from the other pilots – it was a good landing, but I think they were also clapping for me, since I finally had a respectable flight after so much trouble over the last few weeks.

Other pilots were there, of course, and one had a P-38 – I was in awe of that thing! (The P-38 is my dream plane, and there’s no way I have the skill to fly it – but I was so excited to see one at the field!) Sadly, the wind fought that thing, too, and despite the skill of the pilot, it cracked up on a landing approach. He said the plane was easily repairable, and would be back.

One of the pilots’ daughters was there, too, and she was flying a glider – which I think is really, really cool. She’s been flying a shorter time than I have, and I think she’s better than I am already. It’s really neat seeing some of these young people advance in skill.

So: what takeaways did I have today?

The biggest one was the setup of the plane and the radio. We changed a lot about the configuration, and it was really unusual for me to experience the plane working the way it was supposed to. From that standpoint, today was a smashing success, despite the issues. However, there were issues.

First, my plane is still in some kind of safe mode. I don’t know how to get the receiver to stop correcting the flight; I can’t get it to roll or loop. I can get it to 90% angle, flying sideways, but that’s as far as I can get it to go. That’s not how it’s supposed to be; I checked the manual, and I think I have the radio doing the right thing to set the flight modes, but it clearly isn’t, for whatever reason.

Sam suggested that I replace the receiver altogether; with the radio set up properly, the features the receiver offers me aren’t as necessary. I’m certainly giving that some thought, because my last (and best) flight was with as few safety guards as I could get, and it was probably one of my best flights ever. (It wasn’t that much fun to watch, I think, unless you count the landing, but by golly, everything I tried to do I accomplished, and it went well.)

We’ll see. I also need to continue repairs for the lane from a few weeks ago; it’s airworthy, but could still use some fixes. I have most of the stuff I need, but one of the glues I got was too thick, so I’ll have to fix that.

Lastly, I still need to change how I react when the plane gets in trouble. I find that I invert the controls in my head once I lose track of the plane in the air, which means I might make an error by turning right, for example, but when that happens, I have a tendency to lean into the error, magnifying it, instead of correcting it. This needs to be fixed, and it will be fixed, but it’ll take time and practice and dedication.

It was a good day at the field. It was windy, and that made for some rough flying (for many pilots, not just me, but I definitely had a rough time with the wind), but we got the plane set up much better than it had been, and that last flight gives me hope.

Flight Report, 2023 Feb 19

I got the RC plane back in the air Sunday; it was a short day of flying due to weather, but it was a successful day in that the plane suffered no more damage and I accomplished the goals I’d set for myself.

My AeroScout has been repaired, after the hard crash last week; I used a glue gun to repair the nose, and I have some CA tape and fixative to clean it up further; the prop has been replaced, and bench tests passed, so it’s “airworthy” even if it’s not in pristine condition.

On Sunday, it was drizzly and winds were on the cusp of being too much for the plane, but I figured I’d take a shot anyway, because last week I flew terribly and I wanted to get a successful day in the books if I could.

Goals for the day were really low: take off, fly a few patterns, and land. Given that the plane’s just been repaired, I figured this was pretty reasonable, plus it gives me a chance to literally focus on the basics that I applied so miserably last week.

When I got to the field, I was the only one there; that’s okay, too, because the weather was turning, and this gave me a chance to zero in on flying rather than on anything else. Plus, if the flight went bad like it did last week, I wouldn’t endanger anyone else.

I only got one flight in. I took my time bench testing the plane and letting the radio connection settle in, just in case there was a sync problem that caused the flight last week. Everything checked out, so I put the plane on the landing strip and gave it some power.

It pulls to the left on the landing gear. I’ll have to fix that. In the air, the wind made flying really difficult; I left the plane in beginner mode because I don’t trust myself to fight the wind enough with such a light plane, and the winds were definitely pushing it around a lot in the air.

I landed, took off again, and landed. None of the flying was what I’d term “spectacular,” and on both landings I bounced once – which isn’t that bad, but isn’t quite what I’d hoped. After the second landing, it was starting to rain, so I pulled everything back and left the field. As much as I like rain, I just didn’t think that was the right environment for me to fly in.

In flight, one thing stood out: I had the volume up on my RadioMaster, and the radio kept telling me the connection with the plane was “low” and “critical.” I wasn’t losing connection, but the warnings were unnerving. It turns out this is part of the telemetry setting in the model; if the connection is 45%, it’s “low” and if it’s under 42%, it’s “critical.” This is adjustable; I’ll probably drop the settings a bit, because I think the warnings are a little early to be practical.

So it was a “successful day,” overall, and I’m satisfied with it even if I’m not thrilled with it; it could have been better, but I met all of my goals except for the number of flights I’d have liked to have had.