August 2nd - Ups and Downs

Roadside gravel and the sky
The road had very dark and steeply-banked gravel. I like the contrast and angles.

We continued southward and westward today, coming up and over two small passes. For the next few days, we were mostly in the middle of nowhere, passing through ranching and farming areas with very few people.

Aubgust 1st - Plenty of Nowhere

Side road with grass growing through cracks
Next to the nicely-paved road was this post-apocylaptic looking track. Between the grass and the barren plains, civilization left this place behind.

Today's ride took us out into the middle of nowhere. Our next real destination will be in California, and between here and there, we'll be riding through a lot of empty space and high desert.

Live view of the USA

The US, as seen by GOES-East
The world really is a circle! The greeks were right!

The US, as seen by GOES-East is a simple visualization of the US, based off of NASA's data. It scrapes the latest image from GOES-East, adds the timestamp, and displays it in an auto-refreshing format. The source script is called by cron every 5 minutes and lives here: In fact, all of the source images and data are visible from - the below URLs are just pretty aliases to the .html pages.

It's nothing groundbreaking, but it offers a near-live view (usually about 30 minutes off from real-time) of the US. I enjoy having the site up on a secondary screen just to watch the curvature of the earth spin by. (I'm planning to set up an old tablet in a picture frame on my desk to display the earth.)

For a more exciting take, have a look at - that site shows the past 24 hours or so of GOES data, and you can see the sun rise and set.

Framing it up

Front of the frame
Attaching the sides to the front. Note the MDF 'square'... I don't own a square yet.

For a while now, I've been interested in making a camper trailer. Something hard-sided for winter camping, but lots of ventilation for summer. It'd have to be light enough to tow - under 1000 pounds or so, and cheap enough to build without worrying about expenses.

Now that I have a job and a workshop, I can! It's kinda exciting.

July 31st - Tortillas?

Helen and I at the Oregon state sign
We biked to Oregon. How did we bike to Oregon?

Today's ride took us from Boise, ID to Ontario, OR. That's the penultimate state crossing!

We passed a little tortilla bakery, and they offered us a few bags of tortillas to take back and share! Fresh tortillas are delicious.

June 30th - Loss on the Trail

My tire with a large staple in it
This is the only picture I have from the ride today. Fitting, I suppose.

As much as Bike & Build emphasizes safety, cycling - or being outside in general - is dangerous. Especially with hundreds of riders and thousands of miles, accidents are all but unavoidable.

On another Bike & Build trip, one rider, Patrick Wanninkhof, was killed and another, Bridget Anderson, was hospitalized when a distracted driver struck them.

Our ride took us from Mountain Home to Boise, ID. When we arrived, the leaders brought us together to let us know what had happened, and give us time to talk with each others and think with ourselves.

It was a quiet day.

Don't drive distracted.

World's worst RNG.

I've been working on a USA medallion recently, and wanted to add a flickering effect. Something to make the lights twinkle randomly. That's not too hard on a real PC, where resources are cheap. But the ATTiny 44 I'm working on has only 128 bytes of ram. (That's 1/8th of a kilobyte, which is 1/1000th of a megabyte, which is itself 1/1000th of a gigabyte, which is what your computer has.)

Most of the RNG's around need 4 bytes or so for storage, and more for calculation. Mine doesn't! (It's also not very random, but you can't have everything for free.)

Graphic Copper in Kicad

Bitmap2Component icon
Doesn't look like much, does it?

For my trinket, I wanted to make the front side unmasked copper, since it's shiney and reflective and looks cool. KiCad supports converting graphics to component files, but only for the silkscreen (user text) and soldermask (the green stuff) layers. But, with the new plaintext components, it's trivial to get graphic copper. Here's how.

Bitmap2Component iconStart by opening Bitmap2Component. From  the main KiCad window, it's the icon to the side here. That'll open the program shown below. You can follow the usual way of creating a component: click on Load Bitmap, adjust the threshold value to select which parts are in the component file, and so on. The Black&White tab shows the final outline. For copper, try to use a resolution above 300dpi (600 or 1200 is best); modern processes can create really, really small features, and you want to take advantage of that. When you're done, save it as a Pcbnew file (.kicad_mod). It doesn't much matter which layer you use, but I'll pretend you're using the Front Silk Screen layer.

July 29th - Lost on the Oregon Trail

The tennis court we slept in, at dawn
Daybreak at the Y

Just about six months ago today, I was lost on the Oregon Trail. Heading out of Twin Falls, we started off the wrong way, turning a 95-mile day into a 105-mile one. With headwinds. It was a pleasure.

A very long day, and a very tiring day, but we got to bike on the Oregon Trail, out in the middle of nowhere. I love biking in the middle of nowhere.

At the end of the day, we wound up in a surprisingly built-up town, Mountain Home. You couldn't even see the place from 5 miles out, yet it has a population of about 15,000.

This really kind woman put all of us up in her house. Apparently, her boss used to host B&B, and when he moved out of town, he asked if she'd like to.

July 28th - To Twin Falls!

Ellie and Abra, sitting ... on Abra?

Today's ride took us out of Burley, into Twin Falls, ID. Twin falls, named for Shoshone Falls, was a large city, as cities in Oregon go. The real feature, though, was the waterfall.

Helen and I rode down (literally - it was a few hundred feet of descent) to get to the falls with some other riders, and we all explored for a bit. The pictures have captions, too!

(I promised I'd finish uploading these, and I will. It's just that driving across the country, starting a job (I have a job now!) and moving into a new house are all time-consuming.)