Havilland Online

A Havilland Online Blog Production

October 29, 2016

Tech It Out!

Ok, so I left off last time talking about Zelda. Speaking of geeking out, I was hanging out with my old college roomie, and he was telling me about the solar panel technology he’s been working with (he was smart enough to end up in electrical engineering), and it’s just bonkers how efficient and productive that field is! There’s no reason to be using non-renewable energy, when all these huge leaps are being made in renewable solar energy. He’s been working on some Salinas solar panels recently. Cali definitely has a water shortage, but they definitely don’t have a sunshine shortage. Ha!

I should have listened to him in college – renewable energy is where it’s AT! It made me start to daydream about the possibilities, and hear me out – imagine solar charging your laptop or cellphone, like a full charge in a reasonable amount of time? I am always thinking, hey, maybe I could be an outdoorsy guy! But then I sit down and marathon videogames for 4 hours straight and realize that unless I can combine the two, I’m probably not forfeiting my tech for the wilderness. Who knows? Maybe with the increasing interest in solar, we might eventually have access to a neat little commercial unit that can help me find the perfect mix of nature/technology: Hey, I might even end up one with nature, Netflix and chill by the bonfire? Playing a first person shooter in the woods? That sounds right up my alley.

I’ve been thinking of making the plunge into virtual reality more and more, and I know – I’m the guy that threw a lot of shade in that general evolution of gaming, but I was lucky enough to hangout after hours at Best Buy with a friend that works there, and we logged a few hours playing games, and oh man it was so much cooler than I thought it was going to be.

Yes, I was slightly motion-sick and hyper aware of how goofy I probably looked at first, but then there’s this magical moment where you become one with the system and BAM it is clear why it’s called virtual reality. There was a group of us there, and we were taking turns with a few systems, and everyone was blown away – which is really telling considering some of them have had access to these babies for a while.

The general consensus seemed to be the lack of content as the biggest downfall for the current system, but if you’re someone that gets their kicks from watching others geek out about technology (I AM) it’s totally worth the purchase. I can’t imagine having the nieces and nephews (and hell the aunts and uncles) over for a famjam, and seeing their reactions after their first go… Yeah, I totally think it’s the perfect addition the game cave! I’ve really been trying to make it the coolest possible place, and really, what is cooler than being somewhere else in time or place, or even in a completely alien world without leaving your couch? I definitely think it’s my next investment.

I guess now is as good of a time as any to talk about my LAST investment – some KILLER lighting! I bought (and installed) these awesome track lights that change color, and are remote controlled (awesome for my couch potato-self). This controller does more than just turn the lights on and off – oh no, my friend, this remote can actually set the lights to any of the colors or cycle through them all. It’s RGB (Red/Green/Blue) so you literally never have to settle for a color! Apparently my specific lights have 16k+ possibilities for patterns and colors! Aside from the awesome mood lighting that comes with the variation in colors, there’s also a brightness control. Right now my favorite is the slowest light cycle, where each shade lasts about a minute– and there are SO MANY shades.

I use this pattern, and it has such different mood lighting at each brightness, so it’s just a nice way to adjust the lighting to match the occasion no matter what sort of get-together I’m hosting. The guys have been using my gamecave for movie night lately, and this week’s event was better than ever with because everyone was stoked on the lighting, wanted to mess around with it (lol). I think I may have inspired a few friends to start/renovate their own battle stations.

I know that I’m pretty tech savvy (Thank you, Captain obvious!), but the installation was pretty straightforward. I used 16-4 wire (14 gauge, with 4 wires in the jacket), and I am going to give you a pro-tip right now, so listen up! PURCHASE A COUPLE EXTRA FEET for your RGB installation – believe me, you’re going to use it for two wire connection between the color controller and the power supply. This is seriously cheap (I paid 0.69$ /foot), so it’s better to spend 3$ for a few extra feet than have to put your whole project on hold to run to the store (I didn’t learn this the hard way, I swear – cough).

I have a gapped-molding that I ran the lights along, and it looks like something out of Tron, even though you can’t directly see the lights from the ground, the effect is still really slick. I’m excited to do some more work with the lighting in my house – and I may or may not wander around with this new obsession in mind: Where can I put these lights next?

I think the whole project (not including the return to the store which added an extra hour and a half) took about 3 hours, and the whole thing was done under 75$. I would have easily paid someone 300-400$ for the same result if I didn’t have the skills (or I guess the ability to google tutorials…)

Which reminds me of one last helpful tip for all you folks out there: ALWAYS GOOGLE THE TUTORIAL. I’m serious; there are tutorials for almost everything out there. My fiancée taught herself to crochet by watching YouTube tutorials, and had the basics down in an evening. I still see her watching them occasionally, but you’d never know someone walked her through her projects. Everyone just assumes she’s a stitch witch! While I’m not advocating you rewire your house or anything (please be safe and hire professionals), but always check out what you’re paying for – at least then you can negotiate the price with knowledge of the costs and difficulties associates with the task. Remember, safety first.

Alright I’m signing off for now, but stay tuned for more updates on what’s going down in the Bat Cave. I’m about to hit the hay (more like log a few more hours in Zelda).

Catch you later.

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