2018 January 07

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Albany County Rail Trail
Delmar, NY

January 2018
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Questions? Need an updated map? Email me andy@andyarthur.org.

For all intents and purposes my LED light controller and LED strips, mounted in the channel are completed and done in my bedroom. I’ve learned a lot about electronics and programming the Arduino microcontroller, and gotten a lot better at soldering electronics.

While not my final project, and I’m hesitant to declare it fully done and forever on changing, it works, is semi-permanently mounted to the wall, and I don’t envision much in the way of changes for now. I do need to tweak the code to avoid remote button bounce (reading the signal multiple times due to my finger lingering on the buttons for too long) but for now I’m happy with the way it works.

Probably my biggest disappointment with the final product is the disappointing brightness of the LEDs. They are supposed to be able to put out 15-20 lumen per LED at 12 volts with a 100% duty cycle. They don’t do nearly that much light, I ended up building a third strip to bring the 1/4 watt LED count up to 480, or three double 1 meter strings. At full brightness, that means they will use upwards of 120 watts in total, and should be upwards 7,200 lumen output but I doubt I’m actually getting even 1,600 lumen which is what a standard 100 watt bulb puts out. That said, rarely do I ever drive all channels at 100%, and indeed that’s not recommended for a long life with the LEDs. The power supply has some voltage drop, which further reduces the wattage put out and I’m not sure if the transistors are operating at full saturation, as I might have too big of a resistor protecting the Arduino. I was a bit confused about that point based on the spec sheet for the transistors I purchased.

I decided to leave the wires bundled with wire ties draped along the walk rather than use plastic romex to hide the wire. I figured that the colored wires were pretty and I have no reason to hide them. Although I do have to say they do look a bit sloppier then I would like just hanging down with cable ties. It kind of reminds me of a wiring job by a farmer or in a Bodega. But they are low voltage and are properly connected per standard with soldered connections and heat shrink, so any messiness is just visual.

I’m glad this project is done so I can move forward with other ones.

This afternoon, I skiied my favorite section of the Albany County Rail Trail is the section that gets out past the large and tacky suburban McMansions of Font Grove, into the hinterlands of mostly fallow farm land, heading out towards Tygert Road. It was a pleasant evening, especially as the sun started to set and all the dog walkers and power skiers flew by in their rush to escape the darkness, as I watched the sun set.

I enjoyed watching the sun set over this semi-wild land, put to the human service of agriculture but remaing largely undeveloped and wild. Many parts of the land starting to revert to woods, at least until greedy politicians and land developers turn it into even more suburban tract housing, with chemically treated lawns, vinyl siding, granite countertops and a 200 amp connection to the mostly coal and natural gas fired electric grid. The artificial world where all that really matters is your pet and your favorite program on your big screen color TV.

This land is special, because it’s kind of a wilderness that isn’t far from suburbia. It’s not a nature preserve, it”s land that is used but it’s also a wilderness. It’s a wilderness in the sense that your unlikely to see any human on the land, bar the farmer as he works the land or a hunter during the autumn land. It’s land not covered by blacktop, dominated most of the year by the wild forest beasts and to a lesser extent domestic beast. It’s a place that I can get to by a five minute or 15 minute walk, then head out along the rail trail.

Something about the setting sun, the hills, the fields, the trees, the wilderness touches something in the soul. Maybe it’s the beauty, or the wild nature of this land so close to suburbia. Maybe not quite a great as land you might see from the far reaches of county line in Berne or Rennslearville, peering into the great hollows from the hills above or seeing the grand Catskill Mountains to the south, but it’s still beautiful wild land, not too far from home.