FPV Quadrotor Operation – DRS120 Kit & Additional Components

This post documents the components in a DRS120 quadrotor kit as well as some required additional components sold separately. This micro quadrotor is intended to be used for First Person View (FPV) flight. It’s small size makes it easy to transport, maneuverable indoors, and the quadrotor is not currently required to be registered with the FAA since it weights less than 250 grams. This quadrotor, fully constructed with a camera and 750mah 1S battery is only 62 grams.

The construction and autopilot software are fairly simple on this quadrotor making it ideal for beginning pilots. Learning the fundamentals of quadrotor maintenance, programming, and piloting will enable pilots to transition to larger platforms with advanced features and sensors such as a camera gimbal, GPS navigation, or obstacle avoidance.

DRS120 Kit and Additional Components

This quadrotor comes available as a kit from the Drone Race Shop. The kit contains the basic items needed to build the quadrotor including the kit, motors, propellers, battery, and flight controller. A few additional pieces of hardware are required to turn this quadrotor into an FPV racer. The kit is shown below and each of the major components will be described in more detail.

Continue reading

WordPress & Heroku – Securing Your WordPress Database Connections

This post follows the post Heroku & WordPress Website Deployment which details how to create and publish a website using WordPress and Heroku. This post details how to secure the connections between the website administrator, the website database, and the website application.

Securing Your Login Domain

Each application also has a free SSL endpoint for the applicationanme.herokuapp.com domain.The code below will protect your login credentials by setting the SSL domain in the configuration variables for all logged in sessions.

$ heroku config:set SSL_DOMAIN="applicationanme.herokuapp.com"

We can also update the “WordPress Address (URL)” setting which is the address where your WordPress core files reside. We will update it to include the https Herkou domain name. This can be updated in the WordPress settings page as shown below.

Continue reading

WordPress & Heroku – Custom Website Development & Deployment

This post describes a rapid and flexible way to create, deploy, and maintain a website for free. I used WordPress to create and organize the website content, and Heroku to host and run the website.

WordPress

WordPress is a free and open-source Content Management System which is arguably the easiest and most popular blogging system on the internet today. WordPress can be hosted off of the WordPress network or off of an alternate internet hosting service. We will be using Heroku to host our WordPress software.

We will also be taking advantage of the extensive theme and plug-in ecosystem to customize the website. WordPress themes allow users to change the look and functionality of a website quickly and without altering the website content. The plug-in architecture allows users to tailor a website with custom functions an features.

Continue reading

WordPress & Heroku – WordPress Database Optimization

This post follows the post Heroku & WordPress Website Deployment which details how to create and publish a website using WordPress and Heroku. This post details how to clean-up and optimize your WordPress database using plugins and WordPress features to minimize your Heroku database requirements.

Using WordPress Optimization Features

As you add more content to your website, change things, and activate plugins, your database entries are modified and the database increases in size. This could make your website slower as it takes longer for the server to retrieve information from the database. Also, the ClearDB add-on for Heroku has a free tier which is capped at 5MB. If your database passes 5MB, you will no longer be able to write to the database and will have to pay for the next higher tiered plan. Therefore, regularly cleaning and optimizing your database is a good idea to keep the database size at a minimum. Check out the database description page on WordPress.org for more information about WordPress core tables.

One way is to used a database management tool to interface with your database. phpMyAdmin is the most common way to manage a WordPress database. If you are not using cPanel as your hosting control panel, your hosting plan may be using a different MySQL management tool to phpMyAdmin. This is fairly technical and detailed so if you would like to explore this option, see this page for more information.

WordPress has a native tool that allows you to repair and optimize your database. More information about this tool is available in the Automatic Database Optimizing section. To activate this tool, you must first add the following line to your website wp-config.php file.

Continue reading

WordPress & Heroku – Website Integration With CloudFlare

This post follows the post Heroku & WordPress Website Deployment which details how to create and publish a website using WordPress and Heroku. This post details how to integrate your website with CloudFlare for performance and security services

Importing Your Website to CloudFlare

CloudFlare is a company that provides a Content Delivery Network (CDN), distributed domain name server services, and internet security services. CloudFlare works by positioning its servers between the website hosting provider (Heroku in our case) and the website visitors. This is done by transferring the domain to CloudFlare’s name servers so CloudFlare can handle the DNS records. As a result, CloudFlare’s network protects, speeds up, and improves availability for our website. They accelerate the website’s content by edge-caching and other techniques while also offering additional availability and security features to automatically handle DDoS and other real-world problems. Finally, they also a free SSL certificate so all of our visitors can have a secure connection the our website. Since website speed and secure connection availability are used in Google’s page rank, these services also improve the SEO of our website.

The first step is to create a CloudFlare account and import your domain using the importing tool. More details on this process are available at this CloudFlare article.

Continue reading

WordPress & Heroku – Custom Domain Name Configuration

This post follows the post Heroku & WordPress Website Deployment which details how to create and publish a website using WordPress and Heroku. This post details how to setup a custom domain name registered through GoDaddy and integrating it with Heroku.

Custom Domain Name Configuration

By default, Heroku assigns each application a URL resembling applicationname.herokuapp.com. However, some users may prefer to use a custom domain name, like example.com instead. Heroku has written a detailed blog post titled “Custom Domain Names for Apps.”  The relevant portions are below with specific details regarding GoDaddy domain name hosting.

Heroku allows the users to add custom root domains and subdomains using the Heroku CLI. Examples of the code are shown below.

$ heroku domains:add example.com
$ heroku domains:add www.example.com

To verify the domains are added, run the following command.

Continue reading

WordPress & Heroku – Updating Website Content, Themes & Plugins

This post follows the post Heroku & WordPress Website Deployment which details how to create and publish a website using WordPress and Heroku. This post details how to update your content, plugins, and themes due to Heroku’s unique file system.

Updating Content, Plugins & Themes

Heroku doesn’t allow for files to be stored permanently on the dyno’s filesystem.This is a problem if we want to include files such as images on the website. The easiest solution is to use a cloud based sotrage service like Amazon AWS to store the files for you. There are multiple plugins that connect your WordPress dashboard to your Amazon AWS accounts. I prefer to just manually upload my files to AWS Simple Storage Service (S3) myself and insert the image from the URL provided by Amazon for that file.

Since Heroku doesn’t allow files to be written and stored on their file system, we have to update and install plugins, themes, and new versions of WordPress locally and then push them to Heroku. Composer is used to provider version control of installed plugins, themes, and the WordPress version. The download and installation instructions for Composer are available here.

To install a theme, first identify the download link where the theme is available. You can search for your plugin or theme on WordPress Packagist at WordPress.org. The link for the decode link is replicated below as an example:

Continue reading

Developing a Naval Correspondence Document Generator

This page details the progress I have made developing a web template to correctly format official military documents. The goal of this project was to eliminate time revising and editing errors in official correspondence by developing a web based interface that would allow a user to select the required fields and submit their content and immediately receive a properly formatted document for their review.

Why Was This needed?

In the Department of the Navy as well as the United States Marine Corps, official documents are required to follow strict formatting rules in order to ensure proper handling and dissemination. The official reference publication that describes these requirements is the Correspondence Manual (SECNAV Manual M-5216.5). The manual includes procedures for e-mail, faxes, memorandums, and business letters. The majority of official documents created and handled on a daily basis is the standard naval letter.

This format was developed when documents were written on typewriters requiring specific number of spaces between elements in the document. However, the formatting required isn’t easily recreated on modern day word processing software. This typically results in small errors which require extensive man-hours to edit and revise, often going through multiple drafts as it works it way from the originator, up the chain of command, and finally to its destination. Continue reading

Koran, Kalashnikov and Laptop – Discussion Guide

The questions below are meant to be used in a guided discussion on the book Koran Kalashnikov and Laptop by Antonio Giustozzi. A brief synopsis of the book is reprinted below from Amazon.

Koran Kalashnikov and Laptop by Antonio Giustozzi
“Since the Allied invasion of Afghanistan in 2002, the Bush administration has celebrated the imminent demise of the Taliban, with claims of a “moral and psychological defeat” playing a prominent role in the presidential elections of 2004. Some commentators suggested that “reconstruction and development” had won over the Afghan population, despite widespread criticism of the meager distribution of aid and failed attempts at “nation building,” not to mention the infamous corruption of Kabul’s power-hoarding elites.

In March 2006, both Afghan and American officials continued to assert that “the Taliban are no longer able to fight large battles.” Unfortunately that theory would soon collapse beneath the weight of a series of particularly ferocious clashes, causing the mood in the American media to turn from one of optimism to one of defeatism and impending catastrophe. Suddenly faced with a very sophisticated and creative form of guerilla warfare, the West found itself at a loss to fight an insurgency that bore little resemblance to its former enemy.

In the first book ever to be published on the neo-Taliban, Antonio Giustozzi provocatively argues that the appearance of the neo-Taliban should in no way have been a surprise. Beginning in 2003, a growing body of evidence began to surface that cast doubt on the official interpretation of the conflict. With the West cutting corners to maintain peace within the country, which included tolerating Afghanistan’s burgeoning opium trade, the Taliban was able to regroup and grow in strength, weapons, and recruits. Giustozzi’s book poses a bold challenge to contemporary accounts of the invasion and its aftermath and is an important investigation into the rise and dangerous future of the neo-Taliban.”

Continue reading

Islands Of The Damned – Discussion Guide

The questions below are meant to be used in a guided discussion on the book Islands of the Damned by R.V. Burgin. This book is in the Career Level Officer section of the 2013 United States Marine Corps Commandant’s Reading List. A brief synopsis of the book is reprinted below from Amazon.

Islands of the Damned by R.V. Burgin
“R.V. Burgin reveals his experiences as a Marine at war in the Pacific Theater, where Company K confronted snipers, ambushes along narrow jungle trails, abandoned corpses of hara-kiri victims, and howling banzai attacks as they island-hopped from one bloody battle to the next. During his two years of service, Burgin rose from a green private to a seasoned sergeant, and earned a Bronze Star for his valor at Okinawa.

With unforgettable drama and an understated elegance, Burgin’s gripping narrative chronicles the waning days of World War II, bringing to life the hell that was the Pacific War.”

Continue reading