Things seem darkest before the light.

The date I posted last was a very eventful one. I was enjoying the evening with my wife, or at least trying to, given my attitude about the R/C Club’s 2.4 GHz policy... and my wife decided to take a shower. During that time, I received a phone call from my brother in law, who informed me that my father in law had just passed away of a massive heart attack.

I was pretty incredulous – first, because I didn’t recognize his voice, second because I thought it was a prank call. It took me a while to realize that it wasn’t a joke (it helped when the caller identified himself). After hanging up, I could hear my wife signing in the shower, and in a really good mood. So I decided to let her finish. It also gave me time to figure out what to say; her dad wasn’t that old, and was the healthiest I’ve ever seen him. Angela had just talked to him earlier that day, and he was fine.

Having to tell your wife that her daddy had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away wasn’t something I ever wanted to do. We drove to the hospital (there was no reason to hurry, though – he was already gone, after all). Then my wife, her sisters, and her mom sorta gathered together. My heart ached for them. The doctor said it was a massive heart attack, and that my father in law probably didn’t feel anything.

My Father in law came home from walking his dog, and sat down in his chair. My little 4-year old neice, Mila, was there, and was talking with him. Then he said he just laid back with his eyes open. Then she ran into the kitchen (10 feet away) and told my mother in law “something’s wrong with papa.” So at least he wasn’t alone; the really surprising thing is how unaffected Mila was about the whole thing; it didn’t seem to traumatize her.

I really liked my father in law, but I’ve only known him a little over 18 months or so. And then to add insult to injury, the hospital told us we had to pick out a mortician before we could leave – at 11:30 PM, no less. For crying out loud, my father in law hadn’t even assumed room temperature yet, can’t it wait until actual business hours?!? It just felt utterly heartless.

So, we spent the next while planning (and going to) the funeral. My wife is grieving, which is stressful for me in a number of ways. I don’t expect that to really change for a while. I think she’s handling it better than I would, though, and I’m trying to be as supportive as I can.

The day after the funeral, I got my dental implant installed; it took a lot less time than I thought. I was thinking an hour or two; but it only took about 15 minutes (and ten of that was just waiting for the anesthetic to kick in).

Oddly enough, Angie told me (out of the blue) that I could get a new radio for my Helicopters. I was really touched by that, and grateful. (I wouldn’t dream of getting a new radio without her OK). I bought a Futaba 8FGH, which uses 2.4 GHz Spread Spectrum (It’s a blend of Direct Sequence and Frequency Hopping, that Futaba calls FASST). FASST is supposedly the most reliable out there. Knowing what I do, having done the signal processing courses in college, and being a ham radio operator, I felt that the way FASST does it is more robust and bulletproof than anything else out there. (Though it is a bit more expensive; both the transmitter and receivers cost about $20-50 more than its nearest competitor, Spektrum/JR DSM.) But as I’ve said – I’ve seen lots of crashes due to radio lock-outs on DSM systems, and nothing with FASST.

So, I then had to manually transfer all of the models from my old radio to the new radio. Then I had to setup the helis – which included installing the new receiver, finding a way to route the new antenna(s), and then doing a full-up setup on all three helicopters. That took no small amount of time.

Saturday, I was able to go flying for the first time this season. Of course, with three helis with “new” setups, it meant that I had to do a lot of setup work (there’s only so much you can do on the bench). So I had to do blade tracking, pitch tweaks, throttle curves, gyro gain tweaks, governor set points... yeah, it was a busy day. I have three different problems, one for each heli. My Raptor just needs a part replaced (a pushrod is bent weird, which causes the pitch to act strangely on that blade – bad for flying with. My Sceadu Evo needs a new main mast (I think) - it’s got a vibration and wobble in the main mast, which is making it almost impossible for the gyro to do its job. Plus it’ll eventually shake the poor thing apart. Lastly, my Synergy N9 needs more engine tuning (but that’s to be expected as I’m still breaking the engine in...)