Boomershoot weather station upgrade

I have been having problems with the Boomershoot weather station since the first few hours daughter Kim and I installed it. The Hoarfrost accumulated overnight immobilized the wind sensors:

There were other problems as well. The communication between the “indoor” part of the unit and the outdoor sensors, above, was not reliable. I didn’t have a indoor environment for it. This indoor part uses an ethernet cable to connect to the Internet and a 900 MHz radio link to connect to the outdoor sensors. I put it in a plastic box that only barely protected it from direct exposure to the elements. And the insects, such as earwigs and yellow jackets made it their home:

Sometimes the connection would go down just an hour or so after I rebooted things, got it working, and was on my way home six hours away. And then there was the time it stopped recording rainfall. It turned out a bird had pooped in the rain gauge and plugged it up.

I tried moving the sensor closer to the Internet connection unit without improvement. Then when I visited just before Christmas I decided it was time to purchase a new weather station. The wind sensors were immobilized by freezing rain:

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I realize the manufacture is based in Arizona, but they are making a product intended to be used to measure weather conditions. It’s not like I installed this sensor in Barrow Alaska or something. Sure, this is a bit hostile, but it shouldn’t be unexpected to the designers.

Last weekend I installed a new weather station and made the “indoor” environment a little better.

It’s not really a coincidence that both the initial installation and this upgrade took place in January. There isn’t time to do it just before Boomershoot. And it’s easier to do it before the mud is so soft that you can’t easily walk across the ground. But the cold does make it a hardship. This year, compared to the initial installation, I was able to drive instead of snowshoeing in like last time, to the shooting line where we have the weather station… after I shoveled a path through berm in front of the driveway.

Before:

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After:

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To improve the environment for the “indoor” electronics I dug a pit and installed an underground box for the solar charged batteries, the charge controller, the 12V –> 24V switching power supply for the Wi-Fi connection, and the 12V –> 5V switching power supply for the ethernet switch and the weather station “indoor” electronics.

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It was just above freezing temperatures and frequently raining when I was working. Moving 130 pound batteries into the pit and connecting all the wires was less than fun. Notice the mud I was kneeling in to work on things:

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The end result looks pretty good. I insulated the lid and with the underground environment, some heat from the batteries and electronics, the temperature should be less extreme both in the summer as well as the winter.

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Here is the new outdoor sensor array:

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The spikes over the rain gauge are supposed to keep the birds from sitting on the edge and building nests in it. I don’t know that the wind sensors are more resistant to frost and freezing rain but I know the old one didn’t tolerate those conditions well.

It’s been almost a week now with no interruptions in service to the Boomershoot live web page.

That’s me!

It’s possible I noticed this before but it’s hard to say. The Firearms Blog has a picture of me at the event which inspired Boomershoot: At the bottom of the post is a picture from the 1997 Blanchard Blast.

I stumbled across this while reading Deplatformed: How Big Tech Companies & Corporate America Subvert the Second Amendment (very well done). This post linked to PSA: Microsoft’s ban on using its services to promote guns. Having worked there, and my daughter still working there, this is extremely annoying. And that blog post led to the Microsoft Gun Club post where the picture was found.

Boomershoot 2020 registration is now open

Today, as of 9:00 AM PST, Boomershoot 2020 registration is open to everyone. For the last several days Boomershoot 2019 participants and staff have selected their positions. The long range event on Sunday still has 42 of the 76 positions available. The Friday and Saturday Precision Rifle Clinic still has lots of openings with only three and four of the 16 positions taken on each day. The Field Fire, practice on your own with the steel targets with a range safety officer, is an alternative to the Precision Rifle Clinic and doesn’t have a practical limit to the number of people who participate.

The High Intensity events on Friday and Saturday evenings have five and 10 of the 25 available positions still available.

“What are the High Intensity events?”, you might ask. A few years ago Oleg made a great video which captures it:

The Sunday long range event is a little harder to capture. The thumps to your chest don’t come through the filtering of the video camera:

Anette gives you an overview of the entire experience:

And once experienced you will never forget the opening fireball on Sunday morning:

Boomershoot 2019 Fireball from Joe Huffman on Vimeo.

Register for Boomershoot 2020 now for an experience you will treasure for the rest of your life.

Quote of the day—Michael Z. Williamson

Keep calm. Spread the word.  Agitate against such outrages. Buy more guns.  Buy them legally. Buy them privately if you can.  Buy more, more, and yet more. There’s always the risk we’ll reach the point where America tips over. But that’s a chance we’ll have to take.

Because if it’s impossible for the government to seize 300 million weapons (the lowball estimate), it’s way more than four times as impossible for them to seize 1.2 billion.

Michael Z. Williamson
December 15, 2019
The Virginia Debacle, Summarized (And Why You Should Buy More Guns)
[There is more than a little truth to this. But a gun properly buried in the woods and practically impossible to confiscate might as well be in government hands or destroyed. Just one gun, and enough ammunition, in the hands of someone skilled, able, and willing to use it will be of far more use that a thousand guns hidden and unused.

Attend Boomershoot 2020 (sign up here). Learn what your gun can do at a distance, increase your skill, have the confidence to use it if you really need to, and have a whole lot of fun doing it.—Joe]

Boomershoot 2020 registration opens soon!

I finally have the new credit card processing working. I had to move the websites to a different hosting provider. For various reasons, I am abandoning the boomershoot.org domain. Everything is now on boomershoot.com.

Entry opens to Boomershoot 2019 participants on Wednesday December 11th at 6:00 PM PST. When you sign up, the site checks your name in the list of 2019 participants. It will fail to find you in 2019 if you use a different name with this entry than you did last year. The classic is ‘Robert’ versus ‘Bob’. If you can’t figure out why you aren’t being recognized send me an email and I’ll look up your entry from last year.

Entry for everyone begins on the first day of winter, Saturday December 21 at 9:00 AM PST.

Sign up soon so you don’t lose your favorite position (or something close by) to someone else.

Boomershoot 2020 update

Entries for Boomershoot 2020 have been significantly delayed due to technical difficulties. Some involved the hosting provider and some involved a false positive phishing claim on the entire Boomershoot.org domain by Google Chrome.

I have moved to a new hosting provider and will be abandoning Boomershoot.org. The new domain is Boomershoot.com which I probably should have been using all along. I’ve made good progress recently and am certain the remaining issues are “just work” rather than difficult problems.Boomershoot.com is now functional but has a few issues regarding bad links.

Last Monday the ATF came  for a routine visit and the only issue of any significance is that I need to remove a branch from a tree that is about to grow into the side of the shed which houses the storage magazine. I had been planning to do this anyway and will take care of it before we store any explosive materials.

As a side note, the inspector will be retiring before her next scheduled visit. She told me that after she retires she will probably have something she would like to bring to Boomershoot and blow up. Clean up isn’t an issue with this item so it sounds good to me.

There were technical problems with the Internet connection for the shooting line web cam and the weather station itself. The Internet was working well when I left Idaho last Monday but is still flakey sometimes. The weather station is working most of the time. I suspect it has faulty hardware.

The weather station has a wireless connection to the “indoor” observer unit which does the actual upload to Weather Underground. When I’m on the local network I can connect to the observer and see that it has problems connecting to the exterior sensors. It had worked fine for many months but then it got flakey. Then it wouldn’t work at all. It is supposed to work at a distance of up to 300 feet and with my sensor only about 100 feet it should work. But I suspected the tall grass, particularly when wet, between the observer and the sensor was blocking the connection. I moved the sensor to within 10 feet of the observer unit (see the picture below) and it works much better but it still has problems sometimes. I need to contact the manufacturer and perhaps get a replacement.

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Layers of fact checkers

When you catch them in lies (or even errors) this big the correct conclusion to draw is that nothing they say can be trusted:

ABC News ‘slaughter in Syria’ footage appears to come from a Kentucky gun range

ABC aired supposedly shocking footage Monday and Sunday purporting to be from the frontline battle between the Syrian Kurds and the invading Turks. The only problem is: The footage appears to come from a nighttime machine gun demonstration at the Knob Creek Gun Range in West Point, Kentucky.

As J.D. Rucker said:

If @ABC News made a mistake, then their incompetence is startling. If they did it on purpose (and with the edits to the video, that seems to be the case), then they’re an outright evil group of bald-faced liars pretending to report the news.

This reminds me of what WSBTV did with a video of daughter Kim shooting a Boomershoot fireball target a number of years back.

Project Diesel Memento

This morning I received an email from Ken in NH:

Raymond doesn’t name check you, but you are mentioned indirectly:
https://devblogs.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/20190930-00/?p=102942 

Also, I think you promised to tell us about the ammonium nitrate souvenirs some time ago. Any interest in writing that soon?

I sort of remember making that “promise”. I went to Raymond’s blog and found Ken had linked to my post on the same topic making it easier to find. Raymond makes reference to me in his post with:

One of the DirectX developers owned a farm and gave each team member a small plastic bag of ammonium nitrate as a souvenir.

You might think it odd he mentions the farm but not Boomershoot. This was in 1997, over a year before the first Boomershoot event. I was working on the explosives at the time but had not yet found something that worked. I had the ammonium nitrate but hadn’t yet figured out how to make it go boom with rifle fire.

Back to the 13 year old “promise”. It’s time to deliver.

I went looking for the 22 year old Word document. Yeah, I’m a packrat and knew I wouldn’t have deliberately deleted it.

I found two documents:

Directory of H:\Humor

09/30/2019  11:33 AM    <DIR>          .
09/30/2019  11:33 AM    <DIR>          ..
07/22/1997  03:56 PM            35,328 Diesel.doc
07/22/1997  04:00 PM            19,456 Diesel2.doc

Diesel.doc:

Project Diesel Memento

Enclosed you will find about 1/4 pound of ammonium nitrate (N2H4O3). When mixed with approximately 1 teaspoon of diesel this common farm fertilizer could be made to explode with the force of several sticks of dynamite. If the charge were properly placed in the ground it would probably make a hole about large enough to bury a person (or two in the case of Raymond Chen).

As it stands, and even if mixed with diesel, it is extremely difficult to detonate. On the farm we used 1/2 stick of dynamite which itself required a blasting cap to be detonated. It requires extremely high pressures (several thousand PSI) and heat to detonate. On the farm we would bore a hole in the hard dirt and clay under a stump and firmly pack in about a pound of it (mixed with diesel and the dynamite booster) to “liberate” the stump from the ground.

Other means of detonation exist, see for example New and Improved C-4 — Better-Than-Ever Recipes for Half the Money and Double the Fun by Ragnar Benson or The Anarchist Cookbook. I have extreme doubts about the accuracy of the recipes in The Anarchist Cookbook and have been unable to get Benson’s recipes to work when attempting to detonate the mixture with rifle fire (as he claims will work). So, if you want to use this to blow something up you will probably have to obtain some dynamite and blasting caps or ask Timothy McVeigh for help (I believe he actually used nitromethane, not diesel).

Regards,

Militia Joe from Idaho

The Militia Joe from Idaho reference is to a skit I created for a Swine Before Pearls television show in 1995 while I was working at Microsoft on Direct X 1, The Manhattan Project.

Diesel2.doc:

July 22, 1997

Raymond,

One is for you (if you want it). Please give one to NWilt. The others you can distribute as you see fit (trinkets for the natives, whatever).

Have fun!

See you soon. You are coming over for harvest, right?

Regards,

I printed something like 20 copies of “Project Diesel Memento”. I put about a quarter pound of ammonium nitrate in “Seal a Meal” (as they were called at the time) bags. This was sealed off in the bottom part of the bag and the printed text was put in the top part of the bag and sealed. I then shipped the entire set to Raymond at Microsoft with the cover letter shown in Diesel2.doc.

NWilt was my manager when I worked on Direct X 5, Project Diesel. It was probably about 2012 when NWilt contacted me and invited me out to lunch. He told me he still had the Project Diesel Memento.

And now you know the mementos story I “promised” to tell so long ago.

Boomershoot 2020 prep

Last weekend I was at the Boomershoot site doing some preparation for Boomershoot 2020 (May 1st, 2nd, and 3rd). Among my tasks I created a new site for the opening fireball. The opening fireball for Boomershoot 2019 was a little too warm for comfort. So I found a location further away from the spectators and built a sand platform similar to the one for Boomershoot 2019. It also happens to be in a location with much better visibility from the web cam.

Had you been watching the Boomershoot Live web page you would have seen this as I worked on it:

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The sand platform serves two purposes. One is to raise the explosive targets high enough they can be easily seen by the shooter from a safe distance over the grass and ground. And the other reason is safety. Many years ago the site had farm buildings on it. Every once in a while we find scraps of metal from old machinery and things like door hinges. Making craters with explosives in this soil risks discovering such scrap metal in the form of a projectile. Putting the sand below the explosives eliminates this risk.

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Another task I worked on was replacing the air filters at the explosive production facility. One of the reasons we had excellent detonation rates this year was the quality of the KClO3. It is much finer than than what we obtained from our previous supplier. This had it’s drawbacks as well. The three little air cleaners were overwhelmed by all the dust in the air. Here are the filters:

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I think I need a better means of dust control for next year.

Cutting the hay crop at Boomershoot

I’ve been whining to Barb about the tall grass when I went to the Boomershoot site about 10 days ago. Daughter Kim, Jacob, and I taught some new shooters (report coming any day now) how to shoot handguns and rifles and we had to drive and walk over the hay crop to get to the berm where we could shoot safely. I hated doing that. The crop belongs to the renter and we were damaging it. When I was growing up on the farm it was considered normal to be putting the hay crop in the barn on the 4th of July. This year the crop hadn’t even been cut. We did have a very late spring so it wasn’t really a surprise. Even though it was a very small percentage (probably like 0.1%) which had some damage I felt bad about it.

Yesterday the renter cut the hay and my webcam got a pretty good picture:

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Quote of the day—Monte Milanuk

This year’s goal: no singed wookie!
#boomershoot #fireball

Monte Milanuk
Tweeted on April 30, 2015
[At Boomershoot 2014 Monte, who does resemble a wookie, fired the opening shot to detonate the fireball target. There were some miscalculations and Monte was too close. Watch this video for details:

I didn’t discover Monte’s tweet until yesterday.—Joe]

Boomershoot 2019—Sunday

Staff started arriving at 7:00 AM to mount the reactive targets on the wood stakes we had driven into the ground Thursday and last night. By 8:30 we had completed that job and the opening fireball target, designed by Barron Barnett, was complete by 9:30.

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There are a dozen pieces of 10 foot long rebar stuck in the ground around the target. On each piece of rebar are two road flares. The flare are to ignite the gasoline. The placement of the rebar was determined from viewing the video of previous fireballs. We have learned that placement is critical to getting good ignition of the gasoline.

The opening fireball target was detonated by 9:57:

Notice the last frame of the video. The sand platform was only reduced to about the same level as the surrounding ground. It worked wonderfully, resulting in almost no crater.

I think we have this fireball creation dialed in. There was no question about ignition of this fireball. We is suspect the good ignition was the reason it was the hottest, by far, of any fireball we have ever produced. Notice the photographer leaving the area as the fireball climbs into the air? His left arm received a minor burn from the radiant heat.

It was wonderful weather for the long range shooting. With almost no wind, hundreds of targets disappeared in minutes. The rate of target detonation approached that of a high intensity event.

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One experienced Boomershooter told me he got six boomers with eight shots, all of which were over 650 yards away. The entire upper area of the hill was emptied of boomers within just a few minutes.

People loved all the steel. The big USPSA silhouette targets range like bells. You could easily hear the most distant one even though it was 700 yards away. One Boomershooter told me, “It sounds like I’m at church!” Yup, this is The Church of Guns and Explosives.

Without any wind the targets were so easy to hit that of the nearly 700 hundred targets available only 15 were still undetonated by lunch time. The only target we found that definitely had a sold hit without detonation was hit by a .22 caliber bullet at about 650 yards. It’s just too much to expect for the .223 cartridge to deliver the velocity required at that range.

With the near perfect detonations and the good wind we learned a new lesson. Watch the weather forecast and adjust the number of targets accordingly. We needed far more targets for a day like today.

We let the participants shoot at the steel another hour after lunch before we packed things up and everyone went home. Barb and I were headed down the hill to Orofino by 5:00 PM.

It was an awesome Boomershoot.

Update: More fireball videos.

Quote of the day—danno

OMG.. This is a bucket list item… I’m trying to figure out why I’M NOT THERE” This is a “walk over coals” event.

danno
May 2, 2019
Comment to Boomershoot 2019—Thursday
[I ask a lot of people that same question. After people attend just once they are either there or have extremely good reasons, like, “I can only afford to drive from Maryland once every two years.” Or, “I’m dying of cancer and I don’t have the strength to get out of bed.”

Today is Boomershoot Sunday. Why aren’t you here?—Joe]

Boomershoot 2019—Saturday

Daughter Kim got the Boomerite production back on schedule and we have all the targets we need for Sunday. This is the production line as seen this afternoon:

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Here is the finished result, just under 700 targets:

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Yeah, there is a large stuffed bunny in one of the crates. But guess what it is stuffed with!

The dry ice is to keep the targets cool and fresh. The targets go dead over time and the dry ice slows down that reaction. We want the targets to be easier to detonate after being stored overnight. It made a big improvement in the successful detonation rate.

Here is what the High Intensity event looked like from the perspective of the targets:

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We put out hundreds of targets and after only a couple minutes only five targets were left. One guy melted his hand guard on his AR-15 from shooting so much. Another melted his blanket with the muzzle of his AR when he touched it on the blanket.

This is only a hint of what High Intensity is about. You just cannot capture experience of multiple shock waves hitting each second. Multiple new shooters came up to me afterward and said something to the effect, “That was amazing! I know you told me, but I had no idea.”

Attend Boomershoot 2020 and find out for yourself.

Boomershoot 2019—Thursday

Boomershoot is, technically, a three day event; Friday through Sunday. For Barb and me, it is a five day event. Among other things, we arrive on Wednesday, rent a U-Haul trailer, get the ATV from my brother, get gasoline for the fireballs, make sure the generator is working, and generally prep for Thursday when a bunch of the staff show up.

Thursday we put wooden stakes with little signs indicating the position number at each shooting position, distribute garbage cans along the shooting line, pound targets stakes on the hillside, fill milk jugs with gasoline for the fireballs, and put the steel targets out.

Usually we put out about three or four steel targets. This year, in addition to the new targets I put out a couple weeks ago, I put out ten steel targets. Four are full size USPSA Poppers. Two are oversized bowling pin shaped targets. And four of them are full size USPSA silhouette targets as seen on the left side of the picture below. This one is at the 375 yard line. The other targets are spread out between about 600 and 700 yards. This is the first time I have used the silhouette targets at Boomershoot.

I brought out the full size silhouettes so people could relatively easily make a hit compared to connecting with the other targets. The targets will swing and ring with a fairly loud sound when hit. This will give new shooters and those with low end equipment some reward for reaching out to greater distances than they might normally be successful at.

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In the picture below you can see the hillside (click on the picture for a higher resolution version of the same picture) after nearly all the steel for the Precision Rifle Clinic was deployed as well as the Boomershoot steel.

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Thursday went really well this year. The weather was dry with partly sunny skies. This enabled us to transport materials easily and stay comfortable as we did almost all the outdoor preparation work.

Friday and Saturday the Precision Rifle Clinic takes place during the morning until late afternoon when the High Intensity event takes place. The rest of the crew will be busy during the day on Friday and Saturday making the exploding targets.

Last year we tried a sample from a new chemical supplier and decided to go exclusively with them this year. The ammonium nitrate from them is denser than what we have used in the past. We will have about the same number of targets as last year but have considerably more explosive mass. It will total over 2,600 pounds of explosives. This will be the most explosives we have ever made for a single event.

Boomershoot 2019 is going to have great weather and a real blast!

New Boomershoot steel

Last weekend I installed some new steel targets for Boomershoot at the 375 yard tree line.

Here is the old steel (picture from last December):

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The targets were made and donated by an extremely generous Boomershooter. They thought they were doing the right thing by making the targets out of soft steel. The thinking was that this would prevent ricochets. It turns out this is not the way to do it. The steel becomes cratered:

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The craters cause the bullets fragments to spray back at the shooter and large fragments can travel dozens of yards at relatively high velocity. It is very dangerous and you should be 100+ yards away to be safe.

Very hard steel causes the soft bullets to turn almost into dust and come off of the flat face at about a 20 degree angle. These targets are safe to shoot at a much closer distance.

I purchased four targets from ShootSteel.com and installed on the old target stands.

The previous targets were suspended by chain which was welded at both ends. No problem. I have bolt cutters.

Uh… not as easy as I thought. The chain was really tough. By putting one handle against my chest and pulling on the other handle as hard as I could I could just barely cut through one side of the link. This didn’t leave a gap to disconnect the target. I had to cut the other side of the link to get the link apart. Two extremely difficult cuts per chain. This wasn’t the best solution.

I went back to my car and brought back my AR-15 with some M855 ammo. I got back about 20 yards and cut the chain with rifle fire:

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Much easier!

Here are the new targets.The two old targets on the right couldn’t be replaced easily so I just left them.

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Yes, it was very muddy. But the weather since then has been pretty good and the forecast is good. I’m expecting decent ground conditions and weather (cloudy with highs in the mid 50s) for Boomershoot 2019.

The new targets are not the ideal shapes. What I really wanted was seven inch squares and four inch squares to mimic Boomershoot targets. I could have had targets custom made but I ended up just purchasing off the shelf targets and painting them to mimic Boomershoot targets.

Here is one of the targets after being shot with my AR-15 with lead core bullets (the targets are rated for 30 caliber magnums at this range as well) from the shooting line:

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No craters!