HackerBox #0021: Track My Hack

The latest HackerBox came yesterday, which is about a week earlier than expected. Unfortunately I saw the Instructables guide and know the contents, so an unboxing video would have been uneventful. Since this box doesn’t have a ton of individual items I thought I’d do a quick value lookup.

  • HackerBox reference card – $1 (estimate)
  • HackerBox sticker – $3 (estimate)
  • 6″ PCB ruler – $4.68
  • Half-size breadboard & jumper wires – $6.09
  • MicroUSB cable – $5
  • GY-273 Three-Axis Magnetometer – $3.77
  • MicroSD Card Reader Module – $7.98
  • RobotDyn Arduino Nano V3 – $6.99
  • NEO-6M GPS module with integrated antenna – $12 (couldn’t find the same module)
  • 16GB MicroSD card – $9.49
  • MicroSD card adapter – $9.99

Prices are from Amazon. Several of these items are cheaper if you buy packs of them, but I used all single item prices. I’m sure HackerBoxes gets discounts buying in bulk and some of the items are definitely knockoffs, like the SD card. Total cost of putting together this box on my own would run about $69.99 from my quick searching. Good value for my $44 subscription.

I don’t have any of the Arduino Nano style microcontrollers, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it compares to other boards. I’ve messed around a little bit with the accelerometer (Three-Axis Magnetometer) on Circuit Playground Classic, but it will be neat to have a standalone module. The GPS module is the coolest part of this box. Would be neat to make something for the car or for running. I’m starting to accumulate quite the collection of breadboards and jumper wires.

Link Dump – 2017/07/24

Garage Reorganization

Last weekend I started cleaning my garage and came up with an idea of how to rearrange things so that the lawn mower wasn’t blocking access to my workbench.

Maybe I should have turned on some lights.

Yesterday I continued the cleaning, but started with a couple of moves. I had to shift the vise over one stud to make room for the workbench on the same wall. I also had to move the wall tool hangers over to the front wall of the garage.

This project was a good opportunity to try out the time-lapse feature on my new YI Action Camera, which I think was configured to take a picture every 0.5 second. I didn’t realize until I’d already processed the video in iMovie and uploaded it that I forgot to add some audio. I wasn’t going to start over though.

This morning I continued with a few more improvements. I put up an additional 2×4′ pegboard to the right of the workbench. I’m using it for the less frequently used tools and accessories. It also allowed me to get some things out of the drawers. I bought a couple of brackets so I could put up another shelf I had in the basement.

I really like how the reorg turned out; the area is more functional. I was really getting sick of climbing over the mower to access my tools. I’m sure I’ll move things around and reorganize the shelves as I go to make sure the common stuff is within easy reach. This also puts the workbench underneath a light, which I hadn’t even thought about.

Always be iterating!

Hybrid Performance Method – Push Only Program

I tweaked my back pretty bad during the CrossFit Open this year. It seemed a good opportunity to lay off the squats and deadlifts to ease up on my back. I found what looked like a good upper body focused lifting program from Hybrid Performance Method, which they call their Push Only program. The main focus was on bench press, but there was also a fair amount of overhead pressing, pull-ups, and accessory work as well. I started it on 4/4/2017.

The program was structured to be 4 workouts a week for the first 10 weeks, a 3 workout deload week, and then 3 days of testing max lifts in the 12th and final week. Since I still wanted to attend a couple of CrossFit classes a week and not lose too much conditioning, I planned from the start to stretch out the program. It usually took me 8-9 days to complete a full week of the programming. Today, 109 days (15 weeks + 4 days) after starting, I finished.

Before following this Push Only program, the longest special program I’ve followed is my Thruster Attack, which takes 10 weeks, but is only two workouts a week that take 20 minutes or less. This program was a total of 46 workout days and I did 44 of them. I skipped two of the pull-up focused days in the last four weeks and I think I skipped some accessory stuff on two of the lifting days. Well, I skipped a lot of the accessory stuff in the final week, which was all about hitting maxes. At that point I was ready for the program to be over and change my focus.

Overall I really enjoyed the program. For the first 7-8 weeks, each workout was taking me about an hour to complete. Once the weights got heavier, the time commitment increased. All of the upper body accessory work was perhaps the best part of the program. My shoulders have never felt this good for so long.

If I had to go back and change something, I wish I had increased some of the weights 10# instead of 5# from week to week, because it seemed like I wasn’t lifting anything heavy for the 3 main lifts until the 8th or 9th week. That very well could be by design though. I can’t help but wonder if stretching the program out over 15+ weeks affected my results in a positive or negative way? I’ll never know.

I saw improvements across the board (all weights are in pounds)…

  • Push Press: 245 -> 260 (video)
  • Bench Press: 275 -> 290 (video)
  • Shoulder Press: 180 -> 185 (video)
  • MAX Strict HSPU: 11 -> 17
  • MAX Kipping HSPU: 14 -> 23 (video)
  • 100x Bench Press @ 135#: 9:37 -> 8:43 (video)

I highly recommend checking out any of the Hybrid programs, which only cost about $35/month.

The CrossFit “Cindy” Workout On Steroids

The other day I saw CrossFit Games picture of an athlete wearing a weight vest, which they’ve used when performing versions of the hero workout “Murph” in 2015 and 2016. It got me thinking of alternate versions of the workout “Cindy”, which is a 20 minute AMRAP of:

  • 5 Pull-ups
  • 10 Push-ups
  • 15 Air Squats

Most people do the 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, and 300 squats during “Murph” by completing 20 rounds of this format.

My initial thought was, “How can you make a harder version of Cindy without resorting to other equipment, such as a weight vest?” The first two movements were pretty easy to replace, but the squats were tough to ramp up. I came up with:

  • 5 Bar Muscle-ups
  • 10 Handstand Push-ups
  • 15 Squat Box Jumps

Yes, I know a box is other equipment. I’ve never attempted a squatting box jump (though I have done seated box jumps for height), but judging by the increased intensity of squat jumps, I think this would be a suitable increase in difficulty. I didn’t want to select squat jumps because it’s too easy to barely jump off the floor.

What do you think?

If you give this a try, let me know how it goes.

DIY Overhead Camera Rig

I’ve been recording more videos at my hobby desk and hanging a GoPro from my LED desk lamp via a Gorillapod wasn’t cutting it. Having to run GoPro’s Capture app on my iPhone connected over a WiFi network broadcast by the GoPro in order to see a preview of the camera view was also a pain point in my setup. I think I’ve even mentioned wanting to get a new camera in other posts.

My friend Casey was looking for a GoPro for his 5-year-old son, so it was perfect timing to get rid of my GoPro HERO3 Black Edition. I figured I’d just upgrade to the HERO5 Black, but it’s $400 for just the camera. After doing a little reading, I decided to get a YI 4K Action Camera with Selfie Stick, 2 spare batteries + charger, and an accessory kit. All of that ended up being $100+ cheaper than the GoPro HERO5 Black itself!

I had also been looking at a lot of videos and tutorials for building my own overhead camera rig. Then I remembered I had this lamp stashed away in a storage closet…


I took the whole thing apart.


I started putting things back together, using only the pieces I needed. I immediately noticed an issue. The swing arm would go up to about 20 degrees shy of vertical, but it wouldn’t go down more than this…


I tried to get a decent picture showing how this joint works, but it’s hard to see in the photo below. There is a slot carved out of the edge and then a screw that hits the edges of the slot.

Here’s a better picture at just the notch…


I needed to extend one side of the notch, which was quick work for my Dremel.


After the adjustment, the arm can swing down to about 45 degrees.

The next problem I faced was needing some type of bracket where the light bulb used to be connected so I could attach the camera. I found this old ceiling light fixture bracket in my box of goodies. The threaded hole in the middle was a perfect match to the bolt on the end of the stand.


I didn’t need the entire thing so I cut off one side with my Dremel.


I found another part (the long arm type piece you see below) in my goodie box, which fit perfectly in the camera mount pieces. I had to use a couple of mount pieces from the accessory kit to get the camera oriented in the correct position relative to the stand. There was one trip to Home Depot for the wingnut, thumb screw, and small washers (definitely needed a few for spaces with the camera bracket at the bottom). Here is everything laid out before assembly.

Of course I had to test it out right away, especially since I hadn’t even turned on my new camera yet. I grabbed a couple of fidget spinners and adjusted the rig.

I may need to create a cover or paint the base due to the reflection, which won’t be ideal for lighting.

Being able to frame the shot immediately with the camera LCD is amazing compared to the shit show I used to do with the GoPro.

Check out the video…

In case you weren’t keeping track, blue spun for 1:38 and black went 4:58!

Did you notice the shaking at the beginning of the video when I started up the spinners? Not good. I thought it would be super stable because the base of the stand is quite heavy (reminds me of the sand filled base of a moveable basketball hoop). Most of the movement seemed to be coming from the bracket I cut. An unused dead bolt bracket from my goodie box matched up well enough in size after making one of the holes bigger. This allowed me to double up the thickness, which does seem to help.


I’ll have to do some testing while working on a project on the desk, because if this rig shakes the camera every time the desk moves a little bit it won’t be good.

As a bonus, there are some really useful parts of the lamp left. Maybe I can come up with a neat DIY lamp some day. The foot switch is also neat and could be used for a lot of things.


How Do You Pour A Bowl Of Cereal?

2 Kinds of People is a site I’ve enjoyed for at least a couple of years. Usually it’s pretty clear which side I belong on, but this image about pouring a bowl of cereal puts me on both sides. I always start by pouring cereal into my bowl and then I add milk, otherwise your cereal floats on top and you need to smash it down into the milk. My second (and often 3rd) bowl starts with the leftover milk already in the bowl though.

What method do you use?