Tawangmangu Day 4

Friday, 26 February, 2010

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) Birthday.

My Room at Hotel Garuda

10:00 am

Packing up. Finished the half remaining bar of rice chocolate and had a glass of hot coffee. Checked-out and checked-in at Pondok Garuda near the town. This hotel had passed its prime, quite dilapidated. For Rp 60k with breakfast and hot water, it was a bargain, at least for me though.

Nothing much to do and was still tired. The hotel with wifi hotspot was too expensive for me. I didn’t feel like going to the Internet cafe. Had lunch and rest.

6:30 pm

Went out to buy instant coffee and shampoo. Dinner was Ayam Penyet after which  I headed back to the hotel.

Tawangmangu is a small town. At eight in the evening, life is almost at a stand still except for few eateries stalls by the roadsides and restaurants. You can have western foods at some of those restaurants. I am about to have coffee and the night rest.

Road leading to Tawangmangu from Mount Lawu

Tawangmangu Town Centre as seen from hotel

Tawangmangu Day 3

Thursday, 25 February, 2010

4:00 am

Summit Marker

Preparing for the day trip up to the summit of Mount Lawu. Had breakfast of nasi goreng and hot coffee. Needed the carbohydrate for energy. Left for Cemoro Kandang at 6:00 am. At 7:00, registered my name at the post and headed up. Along the way there were five resting posts excluding the one at the summit. After rest post 2, it’s a long and winding path upwards. There were new tracks the that goes straight up, making shortcuts of the winding path. It looks like it was made by the water going down and taken advantage by climbers. I did tried but it made me gasping for air after each level. Not for me though, so I took the long and winding road, resting a while at each resting post. After six hours, I reached the summit. Had some snack and drink for the energy needed for the hike downwards.

1:15 pm

Descent. In order to make short the time, I went along the water beaten path. Holding, sliding and stepping along. Upon reaching post 1, saw a group of four men on the way up. A little chat and good wishes, then on my way down again.

5:25 pm

Arrived at Post 1. Could had reached earlier but I was tired and the path after Post 3 was slippery, it had drizzled earlier. Had quite a number of slips and a few falls, still I trudged unrelented along the slippery track while trying to beat the light.

5:30 pm

Had to make it to the entrance before the daylight was gone. Tried to walk as fast as I could but the slippery sloping path made me took baby steps. After half an hour, it was dark, I rummaged through my sack for the torchlight. Sadly it was not there, I had left it at the hotel room, forgot to pack it in. I tried to carry on but was afraid that I might get astray. I rested a while. It was raining slightly and I was feeling cold. I tried to head back to Post 1 for shelter using light from the handphone. After about 50 metres, I gave up and stayed put at a slightly opened area under a tree.

Maybe because of the dense vegetation, the handphone signals came and gone. I was lucky to get into contact with the driver that was supposed to pick me up. I asked him to inform the ranger at the entrance post about my situation and to come and get me as it was raining and cold plus the coldness of high altitude.

8:45 pm

Heard voices shouting. I replied, “Here!” Then when I saw lights swaying, I lighted my handphone and swayed it. Two rangers came. They brought food and hot coffee. I said that I was not hungry but immediately gulped down the hot coffee. On our way down two more rangers came up.

Back at the entrance post, I thanked the rangers and headed back to the hotel.

9:30 pm

At the hotel, I ordered two glasses of hot coffee. Thirsty indeed. At least nine hours of hiking excluding rest. Feeling very tired and weary, I retired early.

Height Fact

Starting Track

Midway Track

Almost There Track

Tawangmangu Day 2

Grojogan Sewu Waterfall

Wednesday, 24 February, 2010

11:30 am

Back into the dream world. A quick brunch and coffee then off to Grojogan Sewu waterfall. A short distance away. Not many people as it was weekdays. Down the winding steps and went straight to the waterfall. Took some photographs from afar. Much more water falling as compared to my visit here in November last year. Raining season. The authorities had put up barrier line preventing visitors from getting near the pool where the water land. I understood their action. During raining season there could be a sudden drop of wall of water. It could be raining heavily over the mountain and not a single drop at the waterfall area. Possibly it could knock one’s head hard to the ground…eh, granite.

I climbed the slope on the left side to have a better view of the small pool and took some photographs. Before heading back to the hotel, had two glasses of coffee at one of the stalls. As I reviewed the photographs, I can’t help but overheard the stall lady talked to her friend something like, “… photographs of stones.” Jajaja.

3:00 pm

Back at the hotel. Arranged for transport tomorrow morning to Cemoro Kandang (one of two entrances, the other is Cemoro Sewu) and return trip in the evening. After a little bargaining, agreed on the sum of Rp 135k. I intended to get to the summit of Mount Lawu. Had coffee and rest.

4:00 pm

Head to the main road, Jalan Raya Lawu. Walked up the sloping road a few kilometres and then down a few kilometres to town. Tawangmangu town is very small, populated with shops, market, food stalls and a bus terminal. Bought some food and drinks for my journey tomorrow and toiletries. Took ojek (pillion ride on a bike) back to hotel.

Budget Hotels Abound

7:30 pm

Had dinner of nasi goreng (again!) and coffee (my favourite cuppa). Write this journal, charging batteries and preparing for tomorrow. Hoping for a fine day for the trip.

Solo – Tawangmangu Day 1

Tuesday, 23 February, 2010

8:30 am

Arrived at Adi Sumarmo Airport, Solo. After immigration and custom clearance had a instant ABC coffee outside the terminal building for Rp 10k. Took a taxi to Tirtonadi bus terminal for Rp 55k. Paid Rp 9k for bus ride from Tirtonadi to Tawangmangu. At Tawangmangu was approached by a runner and brought me to Santoso Mulyo (meaning Honourable Always) Hotel. Just 70 metres away from the Grojogan Sewu Waterfall, I was told. Van ride to hotel cost Rp 10k and paid Rp 120k for two nights stay. Had a light meal of instant noodle for Rp 5k and two glasses of coffee.

11:00 am

No internet access, sleep and rest for the day.

4:00 pm

Woke up and had a shower. Went out but it was almost sunset and cloudy, went back to room. A while later I intended to have a look around but it rained slightly. Instead, had dinner of nasi goreng. Asked for coffee but was given chrysanthemum tea instead. After dinner the rain had stopped, went out to the main road to have a look-see at the surrounding. Quite a very large number of budget hotels in the neighbourhood. Not much activity there at that hour. Took some night photographs. Few vehicles passed by to give that streaking lights. One and at some lucky times two vehicles passed by once in a while. No complaint. This is not a big town.

8:15 pm

Back in hotel room and type the day events while charging the notebook and camera batteries.

Here’s the pic.

Jalan Raya Lawu near Beji

KL Low Cost Carrier Terminal

Tuesday, 23 February, 2010

It’s quite busy. Lots of flights. It seems to go into sleep mode at between 2:00 am to 3:00 am, then suddenly springs into life. Obviously because of the prior two hours check-in time before departure. Many shops with wifi hot spots. Unfortunately the terminal wifi hot spot is quite slow, probably too many accesses at the time I am logged-in.

The dropping-off and pick-up areas formed a semi-circle. To the left end is the International Arrival while at the other end is the Domestic Arrival and between them are the International and Domestic Departures.

In about 30 minutes time, I will be checking-in for my flight to Solo, Indonesia. Flight time about 2 and a half hours.

Till in Solo then.

International Arrival Exit

International & Domestic Departure Entrances

On My Way to Central Java

Well, they say new broom sweeps clean. These few days, I have been very active in updating this blog. Now on my way to Solo, Indonesia.

I left the house at 6.30 pm and reached Johor Senai Airport at about 8.00 pm. Had nasi lemak at Marry Brown. The counter to KL had not opened yet so I waited a while. Later with the boarding pass in hand, went straight in and loitered around in the departure hall. Found a corner with power point, fired up the comp and start surfing while waiting for boarding.

There was about 35 minutes delay. At 11.05 pm the flight left Senai and arrived at KL LCC terminal 45 minutes later. Nice to see that the terminal is bustling with people, some leaving and some staying and hanging around. A look at the departure board I found out that there were lots of international flights departing in the morning starting at around 5.00 am. I guess they were all like me waiting for the morning flight.

Will post some pics later.

Update: Ok here is a pic of Senai Airport departure hall.

Senai Airport Departure Hall at 10:30 pm

Gray-Hoverman UHF Antenna

My rented house in Kulai (now Kulaijaya), Johor, Malaysia do not have an outdoor antenna. For local tv channels reception using indoor antenna, it is good since the transmitters are on a mountain nearby. I want to receive good analog tv signals from down south Singapore as well as from Riau, Indonesia which I estimated some 80 to 100 km away.

Since the ball had started rolling in constructing antennas (previously for my wireless client and the access point), I began to search for a good high gain UHF antenna. After a while, my attention was immediately focused on a little known, at least to me, Gray-Hoverman antenna. Interesting comments and feedbacks. What made me attracted to this design was the high gain plateau that covered most of the channels I’m interested in. Without much hesitant, I began on planning although I felt that this antenna was a bit on the hard side to construct.

Gray-Hoverman Dimensions

more details here.

Having had the diagram in hand, I figured about doing it my way based on those projects done by others. Once done, I laid down the plan. The reflectors would come from aluminium tubes salvaged from scrap antennas although some were of different diameters. Frame would be constructed from domestic pvc water piping tubes, T joints and tube holders. The radiator elements would be a 6mm diameter copper tube. I then listed down what were the items needed to be bought, the amount required and the length.

In constructing the antenna, first thing I did was the frame, then the reflectors, followed by cutting and bending the radiator elements. After attaching the radiator elements in place, I placed 4 short pieces and 2 long pieces of pvc plastic wiring conduit that had the sides cut off to hold them in place.

Here’s the rest of the construction pics at certain stages.

Update 13 Jan 2011

Actually I had a different idea for attaching the reflector elements, but I don’t have with me a tube that will fit in the reflectors nicely. What I had was a tube with internal diameter bigger than the external diameter of the reflector. So I cut it and riveted the reflectors to it. Also I did cut a small V groove on the flat side of the tube holder so that the reflectors will stay fixed and not to slide out.

Update 15 August 2013

I have constructed a GH10n3 Gray Hoverman which can be viewed here.

My First Serious Antenna Construction

I had done constructing antennas albeit in a makeshift way and the results were never satisfying. I was never serious about it until recently. I had an access point which was some fifty metres away at another house and I was getting weak signals. That was the turning point, I decided to build a good high gain antenna.

It goes without saying that the first step was to do a research. After all the searchings and readings, I set my mind on the biquad antenna. It was simple, easily construct and did not have many parts plus I had the parts readily available. Suffice to say that the construction was not exactly according to the specifications given that parts were practically from scraps.

The main radiator element came from the field coil winding of a car alternator. Aluminium plate encasing a pc floppy drive was flattened and used as reflector, and an RF(?) panel connector to connect them together.

After spending some times cutting, filing, drilling and bending, the result was as in picture #1. On the downside, I had to connect a RF to BNC female connector at the back of the antenna. Another potential loss, this was not good. I improved it further by constructing another design. This time the antenna was directly connected to the RG58 cable at one end and a female BNC at the other end while being encased inside a tube. I knew that the BNC was not up to par but it’s almost there and cheaper. Furthermore my situation was not that very critical that every improvement matters. I ended up making two antennas this way with slight variations.

There was improvement in signals but still there was interference. The transmitting and receiving angles of the biquad were quite broad. I wanted to narrow it down. In the end I ended up with a narrow, almost line of sight, high gain 21 elements yagi at both ends, the access point and my client.

In retrospect, signals are best amplified immediately after the antenna and not after the loss incurred by the cable. This means that I need to spend away with a usb dongle that can be attached to the client antenna almost immediately. Then, instead of RG58, I just need a longer usb cable. I will not be doing this on the access point side because of the cost involved and the hassle of putting up the access point router and POE device to power it plus the need to protect it from the weather.

Anyway, here are the pics.

Learning Photography

Now it is cheaper than ever to pick up photography. Previously the cost involved is quite prohibitive. Even though you can get the gadgets cheaply but the cost of seeing the results is expensive. In the learning stage, you need to practice a lot. This means you need lots of films and with that lots of money to get it developed and printed. I for one, get by this by being a photographer for weddings and special functions. In all those times, I got the knack in taking pictures to show the events as it evolved and making sure that the main event is captured. This ends me up with two cameras just to make it safe and sure.

A must tool that I belief every cameraman covering a function should have  is a good and strong auto flashgun. This matters very much when you are out in the open or in a very large room with high ceiling. For me, partly it is because wherever it is possible, I will use bounce lighting.

Present cameras will let you review the results immediately. You then have the option to delete those horrid results. Or maybe you would like to keep it and ponder later what when wrong. As most of the cost involved previously is on the output side, this is what makes photography these days a lot more cheaper. Only the good ones get printed.

If you have the money and time, it is good to take a course in photography. it will shorten the learning period. I took the long route. I bought books and magazines. I got to know a lot about the camera, the lens, the films and what it can do or cannot do plus the jargon.

There is no doubt that the most important part of a camera system is the lens. Although there are debates about the size of the sensors in modern digital SLRs, for me its a small matter. What matters is the result. To produce result, you need to know a few things. Things like composition, lighting and its effect plus the colour it produce, colour combination and details to name a few. I took a while to understand colour combination until I took time to look at those beautiful photographs and paintings and began to take notice of the colours there-in.

So, if you are very eager to start and your pockets are not deep enough, just get a good and cheap camera. Make it a dSLR because with compact, even though it has a manual setting, not much you can do. A dSLR will expose you fully to all those exploitations. Playing with aperture and it resulting depth of field are very interesting. The alternative is to pick a camera that is almost like a dSLR but not. This is my case. I got myself a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 to pick up on photography where I left. I am looking forward to get my hands on the Pentak K7. Body at least. Still I miss those doughnut shape lights that came with catadioptric lens.

Interesting 2010 F1

As of today, four more weeks to go before the start of the first 2010 F1 race in Bahrain on the 4th of March. Two of the four new teams, Virgin and Lotus, are testing their cars in Jerez this week. This left two more teams, USF1 and Campos, to show up with their cars. Of these two teams, one team seems unlikely to make the grid while the other might probably will albeit in another form. On another note, there is one more team, Stefan, waiting by the side ready to jump in. Hopefully all is well.

I have been following F1 for quite a while now. Now I have a team to root for. Go Lotus go, smoke em. Also, I will be watching in earnest, the other new team, Virgin. They have decided to do away with wind tunnel and rely solely on Computation Fluid Dynamic or CFD. To those who have not heard of it, CFD basically is a simulation program.

I do not know much about wind tunnel but I do know computer. While having huge computational power helps in shortening the computing time, it is the CFD program that matters. To produce a good and accurate simulation in aerodynamic, first, the programmer must have detailed knowledge in aerodynamic. The resulting CFD program will then at the very best, be equalled to his knowledge. Second, the coding of the program with all the algorithms must be accurate and no bug. Third and last, the person that is using the program. He/she must know what he/she is doing very well. These are the basic limits to a good and accurate CFD approach in designing F1 car in my opinion. As we know Rome was not built in a day so too are CFD programs. As time goes by, it will only be getting better and better. Just look at the aeroplane today and compare it to the one built by the Wright Brothers. Whether CFD only approach is right or wrong, we will know it at the end of the year.

One for the wallpaper