Monday, October 3, 2016

Canada and Flashlights

This past Summer we took a trip back up to the vacation home of my brother-in-law's family. It is not really a home but an entire island. Before they bought it many years ago it was a fishing camp. It is located up in the Georgian Bay close to the town of Killarney. They have spent every Summer going up and enjoying the utter beauty and tranquility as well as improving it as they went along. I have been up several times over the years and, in my opinion, it is one of the most beautiful places on the earth. I dearly love it there. The stunning beauty, incredible weather, pure water and star strewn night sky are hard to describe for anyone who has not been there.

A photo from the island from 2007

Part of the allure for me is that it is rustic. There is no commercial power to the island so when you are there you need to have a few critical tools with you. A pocket knife, a lighter and a flashlight are standard. You just always seem to need those with you. Since I am bit of an excessive when it comes to flashlights, this is just fine with me. I love little flashlights, and big flashlights, and ones that flash and one that do not, I love lanterns and spot lights, too. Which brings me to the point of this post.

A few years ago, I recommended to my neighbor, a US Navy SEAL, that he participate in a Kickstarter program for a custom made programmable flashlight called a HexBright. He put down his money and waited a pretty long time before the product became a reality. When he received his light, I was immediately jealous, it was a very cool; solidly built, rechargeable, very bright and long lasting.

But best of all, it is programmable! It is not a simple mode and level type programming; it is fully programmable, built around an Arduino board with an on-board accelerometer and high power LED drive circuit. I have been programming micro-controllers for a very long time, so this thing was perfect for me. I wanted one of these little guys very much, but the cost was nearly $100! That is lot of money for a flashlight, but I came into some found money, I think I won a gift card at a meeting and then I took all my loose change and cashed it out and it totaled just enough to get one. It is my absolute favorite tech tools. It is heavy duty, waterproof, self-contained and works perfectly. After I received it I began working on programming it right away. I was able to take an excellent existing program called "Up and Down" and improve it. With the program I made for it, it has capabilities far beyond the reach of any normal flashlight.