A return to model building and flying. Part 63

February 2010

That B#xx!!! Brodak  Bearcat

After months of deliberation and procrastination, finally getting some of my computer problems out of the way enabling me to  claw back some time, and just plain getting annoyed at getting up every morning to stare at the pile of bits that are the Bearcat kit.

I started to once again tried to fit the bellcrank assembly into the wing. This process involved several days of struggling on and off, giving up, then trying again, repeatedly; each time getting more frustrated that no matter what I used, from  an original J Roberts to a home made, and even custom made bellcrank,  all had problems with access and fouling push rods.

At the point of throwing the wing out the window and giving the whole thing up as  bad job, I decided to go back to basics and think it all through again. I am not building a class one carrier model, it doesn't have to look 'neat and pretty'.,and It's one of the crappiest designed and constructed model kits I have ever had the misfortune to try and build. It is possible to build a profile fuselage with between 6 and 7 parts, or 10 -15  if you want to get really clever and go to town with lightening things, I did a quick count of the number of different pieces of wood that make up the fuselage of the Bearcat kit, and ended up with 30. Bearing in mind that this is a profile fuselage and you start to wonder what was going on in the mind of the designer; certain hallucinogenic drugs maybe, or into some sort weird masochistic cult that insists you crawl to work every day on your hands and knees and, and then take it out on everyone else? So why should I try to make things even worse for myself by trying to do a neat job or playing his game? I finally decided to stick the bellcrank outside the wing... Oh what a relief! Suddenly a lot of things become do-able and much less of a struggle.

many parts

The complicated structure of the fuselage can be seen here,
along with the many holes in various bits of the wing to try and make things work

There seems to be a minimum depth of wing section that can hold a three like bellcrank, any less and it becomes just too fiddly to work with. The Bearcat sufferers with a really stupid and ill thought out plywood plate that runs between the wing mounted undercarriage blocks, and is also supposed to hold the bellcrank. The fact the the wing has dihedral and the plate is flat and lies horizontal, makes it drastically reduce any vertical space available. This was either of no consequence to the original designer, or they  just didn't care. Well to me it does! There are any number of ways to have an easy fitting load bearing member between the U/C blocks and not foul up the space left for the bellcrank; why this method was chosen is totally beyond me.... Except maybe one of my suppositions above?

So hopefully I can now gain a lot of lost ground with this model, the rest of the build should be fairly strait forward ..HA! ... Fingers crossed! I just, have, to produce a new model to replace the Hellcat, I'm getting fed up with putting up with all it's vices, and it's looking a bit sad these days, it's had a hard life. And I am determined to not start on any new building projects, until I finish the ones l have lying around the place. At least some progress is being made.

And one one day I will design a functional easy to build carrier model, because what I have experienced so far with models is far from good. If you want an idea of what a good design is, albeit small, get a copy of Jan Odeyn's, Wildcat.



B#xx!!! Magazine Scans

If really let rip with foul language this page would turn red!

After several months of the problems and trauma with getting my operating system/desktop in to some sort of working order. I decided to finally get down to some work preparing some of the magazines I had been sent for uploading. That's when the problems started.....

Having to individually crop every page  (I can't find an automated way of doing it) because the whole scanner bed is showing around the images, and having to rotating pages to get them strait because they were scanned at an angle, is very time consuming and does the images no good at all, especially if they are .jpg files, leaving smeared text in patches and lines in images. I learned along time ago that the more time spent getting the original scan right, the less time is spent faffing about trying to edit them into shape post scan; this a rarely successful, causes  big losses in quality, and also consumes vast amounts of time, of which I am have less and less to spend on this project.

I'm lucky, in respect of having hardware and software,  that's beefy enough to open every page of a magazine scanned at several MB per page, and still be able to edit them without the whole thing grinding to a halt; or I would have given up years ago.


As I am writing this, I have spent a solid week doing nothing but trying to work out what the hell is wrong with some of the scans. The sad fact is, although people mean well by sending them, and do not misunderstand me, for that I am very grateful; mistakes in not understanding how important scan  resolutions are with relation to  file size (if I was to be able to print some of them I could paper the walls of my flat with a couple of pages!) ,  or understanding that jpg files are not good for archiving the magazine or book scans, can cause me considerable problems.  JPG  was developed as a way of highly compressing colour photographic images, but looses a lot of detail information in the process.

Magazine pages are not colour photographs! The print process, especially with older magazines probably only used a handful of colours a lot of the time,  the front page is usually the only one having more than two. Scan an old page in full colour (quite a few thousand) and all you are doing is recording the yellowing of paper as an extra shades of colour. Scan a black a white page as colour and things get worse.

Grey scale (or gray scale if the program developer was American) is usually 250 shades of grey from black to white. this obviously is much better for black and white images, and can help keep the size of file sensible. GIF format  usually contains 250 colours,

PNG can usually be reduced from a few thousand to 2 digit numbers successfully, It uses lossless compression which keeps the file sizes high, so other means have to be used to reduce the size. this format carries colour in formation in a way that allows it to be manipulated. sSo I can reduce the colours, aiming for 200 for colour and 32 for black and white ( have got away with 7 on occasion ). Loosing colours can play a part in making the black and white page look more like a black and white page and not a murky grey or yellow one.Unfortunately as far as the scans I upload are concerned, they have to be reduced to bordering on quite bad in an attempt to keep the file sizes down.

The original archive scans sitting on my hard drive are of much higher quality, at the original scan resolution and colour count. A months magazine will weigh in at anything from 50 to 100+ MB. This variation in size can be due to lots of different factors, far too many to describe here. Reducing colours in jpg files can be difficult  to accomplish, the format  was never designed  for that in in the first place.

You can compress a jpg file a lot, and probably get it smaller than the ones I produce, but it will not look very good trying to display small printed text on pages. In a colour photograph it doesn't matter if the colours bleed of blur at the boundaries, as you eye doesn't look for such fine detail in a photograph. But your eye does on a printed page, and you will soon notice smudged or blurry text.

I bulk process a whole month at a time (sometimes several if I know the original scans are good), it's the only way to do it, or I would be sitting in front of a screen 24 hours a day. But, if there is a mistake somewhere alone the line, then all files are lost, and I have to start again. By the time I realise what is happening, things like the total file size was either unusually high or refusing to reduce, or odd files mysteriously  become corrupted, I am loosing files and have to start from scratch several times to try and get something usable. Trying to convert jpg's in to png files can also loose quailty. If I don't convert I have to alter every line of code in the web page that relates to png. to jpg, then back again the next month, coupled with desperately trying to control all the losses of quality with each and every process, it can all becomes a huge nightmare.


I was pretty pissed off by all this wasted time. It has been bad enough spending hours getting a computer working environment sorted out that I can rely on and be comfortable with, and before you say it, I still don't like Windows 7; having to run a search on it to find the disk formatting tools, is not my idea of ease of use, nor is deciding to call things 'Libraries', what's wrong with a 'Folders', or even 'directories' to use the proper name, hiding file trees, file exensions, dumbing down, and burying everything under layers of buttons and pannels,  just becomes confusing and frustrating if you need to access something on a hurry.

Starting to learn how to work in a different way because of my own Openbox desktop is taking time, but at least it's very logical. Most of the time it's getting used to finding  that I can get from A to B remarkably quickly, without having to search through endless menu windows.

With all this going on, it's just shear luck that some of scans are still usable if a little larger in size than is good for uploading or downloading. I really have been at the point of giving up altogether more than once. So be thankful that I am still carrying on, I really do have better things to be spending my time on.

And one last thing.

If you use Dropbox, don't do what I just did before I wrote this. I was getting very lazy about copying  all the configuration files from PC to PC and drive to drive (6 times in all), it saves having to install it every time and going through the login screens. I slipped up with the last one, by making an empty Dropbox folder, instead of copying the folder and it's contents to it's latest new home. The thinking was that the remote server would sync with my empty folder. Suddenly seeing lots of messages about deleting all my files, then watching them wink out of existence in the file manager on the original PC nearly gave me a heart attack! Yes it did sync! but not in the way I expected......

Stupid! when I thought about it. The empty folder I created made the Dropbox server think I had deleted all the files at my end and start deleting them at the remote end. Fortunately Dropbox doesn't actually delete any files for 30 days. so all I had to do was log into the website and tell it to restore all the files. But none the less, it was one heart stopping moment, because my three websites are now stored there whilst I work on them just in case anything happens to my home PC/s.  So try and avoid that particular mistake if you decide to copy the config from one system to another; you might just live a few days longer at the end of your life.

Part 62 left        right Part 64

Back to the beginning of the saga