NewGate School Technology Consulting and Setup

Recently, my school, NewGate bought a larger and newer campus to try to expand all of its programs. This building used to be a cancer support center but was abandoned (bank repossession) following the bankruptcy of the occupying charity.

I was called in to make the internet work. I donated hours of time over the span of 5+ weeks investigation the system in place, organizing technology, setting up wireless access, creating servers, installing WiFi access points, advising, and troubleshooting. What I ended up creating was a network that consisted of a router/gateway, control server (running Ubuntu and Unifi software) and a set of 6 WiFi access points. One of the most difficult aspects of this project was first making sense of the already “established” network. The IT room that they had was a giant mess of ethernet cables, unnecessary hardware and locked servers that first had to be assessed and dealt with before any work even began.

One one day I even stayed on campus working on the system until 11pm.

This was helpful to my school as it saved them tons of money and I learned a ton throughout the process and had fun providing a service to my school that gives so much to me.

Below are some pictures of the process:img_2557 img_2556 img_2622 img_2621 img_2623 img_2624 img_2653 img_2654 img_2655 img_2657 img_2656 img_2652

ARES Hurricane Matthew Shelter Activation

Hey Guys!

Since I live in West Central Florida, we are often very susceptible to hurricanes. Recently we had a very large (Category 4) hurricane come our way. Hurricane Matthew was a hurricane that affected us here in Manatee County. Matthew was so strong that it required Manatee county to open up some of its shelters. When they announced that they would open the shelters, myself and a few other members of ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Services) went to go activate the shelters. This entailed going to the shelters, introducing ourselves to the members of the National Guard who were running the shelter and setting up our emergency radios in the radio room. The shelter was at Braden River High School and and the radio room was in room 703. We met a bunch of really nice people who helped us gather the information we needed and prepare for the worst. Luckily, evacuation was never called for and the shelter was never fully opened to county residents but in case it ever was, we now know the procedures.

-Ben

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The cable connector for the radio (PL259)

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The shelter location (BRHS)

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The outside of the shelter

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The radio connector again

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Location of Radio room (evidently normally used for teacher planning)

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One of the VHF/UHF radios we set up there

Developing my Archery and Marksmanship

Just wanted to give a quick update! I am still developing my archery and marksmanship with lessons and trips put to the range. I really like working with my crossbow and I can get two shots on the crossbow within about 6 inches of each other at 30 yards. I would still like to get my grouping tighter but I guess it’s good that I don’t spilt the shafts of my bolts though :) Between the P290 and the Ruger .22 I definitely love the P290 much more. I think the barrel is a but short but other than that, it’s super accurate and my grouping is within 6 inches at 12 yards. I also need way more practice with the shotguns, the sights on the Mossberg 500 are really small and hard to use. Because it’s mostly bird shot, the target still gets peppered but with a deer slug I’m often off by 12 or more inches. Overall though, archery and marksmanship are both really fun and enjoyable and I really enjoy myself and am always working toward getting better. Marksmanship in general is like golf, in that you are trying to beat yourself and always get better each time.

 

As always, below are some pictures for you to look at!

Stay safe,

-Ben

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Range Day! & New Gun

Hey!

Today was one of the very rare instances of good weather in Florida. Usually it’s 90 degrees F with 90% humidity, or it’s raining. Today was a beautiful day so we (mom, dad and I) went out to the range. Mom got a new range gun, a Ruger SR22 for practice at the range. We had a great day, my groupings were good and I’m looking forward to coming back and going to the archery section. I want to practice with my crossbow again. :) There was even a really nice man who let me shoot his .556. He was shooting at the 1000 yd range and he let me take a shot. I hit the tire from 1000 yd’s away! Everyone there is super friendly and willing to help and teach you. It’s a great place to practice! I was a load of fun and I look forward to continuing this activity. I think I will do some research into youth marksmanship competitions either with guns or archery competitions with my crossbow.

 

-Ben

 

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My grouping was within 3” for 3 shots and I was very happy!

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Dad watching me reload the .22

 

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Ham Radio Update 1

Twell, it’s time for a Ham radio update. I got my technician license in December of 2014, its April 2015 now. Since then, I have joined three Ham radio clubs, ARES, BARC, and MARCI. I have built myself my own J-Pole antenna (a very intensive build, a separate post w/ video on that soon.) I built myself my own Ham “shack” in my room, I even built the desk myself (more on that in another post soon). I have made a ton of friends, all of which are really nice. The other night I talked to a kid who was 14 and was visiting from Boston, MA. Every Tuesday night of the month I go to a Ham radio meeting. I hope to get on the board of directors at MARCI and I am building a brand new website for BARC (yep, another post on that too coming soon). Their old website looked (looks) like it came fresh out of the 80’s.

Anyway, thats all for now, more posts to come on all those projects!

-Ben

Poetry Out Loud 2015

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Hahahah, this one is recent and is really funny. I never, and I repeat, never thought I would be good at poetry recitation. Something like that was better left to the people who like English. Now, in all honesty English isn’t my favorite subject and I prefer Math and Science exponentially more :) Anyway, a yearly tradition for English class it that we all learn two poems and participate in the national Poetry Out Loud competition. I chose “Machines” by Michael Donaghy and “In the Desert” by Stephen Crane, both poems that I enjoyed. I memorized them both very well and went into the competition with no high hopes at all. I hoped to do average. Anyway, I emerged in second place, just 2 points behind the first place winner Dylan Caruso. I got a cool Poetry Out Loud T-Shirt (that my English teacher has me wear to school on casual day) and it turned out that after a series of unfortunate events Dylan left the school and had he left a week earlier I could have taken his place at the state competition. Maybe next year? We shall see. A local magazine, Sarasota Magazine, featured our event in one of their newsletters. The full story from their side can be found here: http://srqinsidethebrand.com/2015/02/04/srq-studios-hosts-poetry-out-loud-with-newgate-school/

Only one picture today and it is above. Make sure to checkout the link to SRQ Magazine’s article!

-Ben

ASHRAE Meeting

Hello, I have a very interesting and coincidental story to tell. It all started with solar panels, a bank and a husband. In September of 2014 I really really really wanted us to put solar (PV) panels on our house. I had done all the research including gathering all the electric bills, calculating how many panels we would need, finding the inverter etc. After all that I called up the local PV solar installation company and arranged an in home visit. We went over my numbers and calculated the final cost with installation.  The last step was paying for it. The total cost came out to around 30,000 dollars and since we didn’t have that kind of money laying around we would need a loan. The solar company rep and I did the math on a loan at a reasonable interest rate and we found that the monthly payments on such a loan would come out to save us money on electricity every month. (The added bonus of PV solar is that it helps you prepare for the coming Zombie Apocalypse) The last thing we needed to do was head down to the bank and get the loan. To make a long story short, the loan would have to be taken out against the house and there wasn’t enough equity left over the satisfy the bank’s 20-30% safety zone. So even though we couldn’t get the PV panels, the woman at the bank we worked with was impressed with my knowledge of electrical systems and PV and gave me her card and told me her husband was an HVAC engineer and I should email him. Well thats exactly what I did. His name was Ross Montgomery and I had a really interesting conversation with him and in the end he invited me to a meeting put on by his company, ASHRAE. ASHRAE is interesting because it is sort of a company that other companies join and they host networking an get-to-gether like events usually with cool speakers. ASHRAE is international and its members are mostly HVAC engineers. Anyway, I met lots of cool people and had a great time learning about another field of engineering. I think its fantastic when I meet other people who are complete strangers who are so nice and willing to teach me and help me. For me, the moral of the story is that having a good network of people is very important and necessary in order to function as a professional, no matter what you do.

Below are some pictures of the event as usual. They also put me in the Sarasota-Bradenton ASHRAE January 2015 newsletter!

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Here is me in their newsletter!

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This is me with Ray Patenaude, the speaker, he was talking to me about HVAC engineering and showing me some diagrams of poor insulation and poor HVAC systems.

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This was Ross at the event. It was so nice of him to invite me and I had such a great time with him.

United Systems Internship

Hi,

About two weeks ago, from January 12th to January 16th, I held an internship with United Systems. United Systems is an IT management company. This internship was part of an internship program that my school has. They give you the time off from standard school to go out and experience the workplace in field that you are interested in. I contacted United Systems and asked them if they would have an intern for a week. They said that they normally don’t accept interns under the age of 18, however, because I already had experience and knowledge in that area they would accept me. It was a fantastic week and below is a powerpoint of what I did all week.

Here is the powerpoint:

I had a great week and Chris, the manager at United Systems wrote me an awesome letter of recommendation!

Letter of Recomendation United Systems 2015-page-001

Starting Flying Lessons

Hi,

For as long as I can remember, I have loved airplanes. Every time I would go on a trip somewhere, I would wake up the day of the trip and say to myself, “I can’t wait to get to the airport.” Last summer (2014) I was looking for stuff to do and I stumbled upon the Young Eagles program. Its a program by the EAA (Experimental Aviation Association) where they offer to take kids 8 – 17 up for a flight. It was right a my local airport (KSRQ) and so I decided it sounded fun. I went up for the fight and loved it! So I asked the people there what the next step was, and they told me to do some ground school and study some airplane fundamentals. I did an entire ground school course in a week and decided I wanted to pursue getting my PPL (Private Pilot License). I went back to the Young Eagles guys and there I met Greg Lewis, a really nice guy who took me flying in his Cessna 172. I sat in the pilots seat and we did some 0G maneuvers. Afterwards he said he would take me flying again and because he is a CFI (Certified Flight Instructor) all the time I spend learning with him counts towards the hours required for my PPL!

Below are some pictures of me in various airplanes:

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(This is me w/ Greg, its a pic of a pic so pardon the low quality)

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(Me taking a fun ride with some of the guys at the airport)

Amateur Radio Technician Test

Hi,

About a month ago, I decided that it was high time that I got my Amateur Radio license. I had done some studying up on the subject and I decided that I wanted to take the test for the Technician class license. I studied the online test practice website and when I felt I was ready, I RSVPed for a test date one week later. I did a little studying every day up until the test. For the test, we drove down to Venice, Fl and I met some really cool people there. I took my test which consisted of 35 questions. I only missed one question! 34/35 questions means I earned 97.14% on my test! After I passed, the VE’s (Volunteer Examiners) wrote up an element 2 credit slip (picture below). About a week later, I received a piece of mail from the FCC with my license card (picture below), and my station license (picture also below).

I am now KM4GPL and now I’m on the quest for some radio equipment!

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The Start of Archery

Hi!

Just making all of the posts needed to update my site and get everything current.

About a year ago, I got interested in wilderness survival and preparations for food shortages. That sort of stuff. All of that led me to hunting and since I really didn’t want to hunt animals (skinning dead animals doesn’t sound very pleasant) I thought I’d take up a shooting sport. I decided on archery. Compound bows have their drawbacks and require holding your hand in the drawn position for long periods of time. Events led to events which led me to getting a crossbow for christmas :) Then came the dilemma of where to use it. In my neighborhood shooting crossbows across the street would be heavily frowned upon, so I looked for a local archery range in the area. This turned out to be harder than I had expected. I eventually stumbled upon Manatee Gun and Archery Club, a sort of local (30 min away) place where I could practice w/ my xbow. Before I went to the range, I got some xbow lessons from a professional. That was the first time I had shot an xbow, and I learned that I am actually a pretty good shot. I learned lots and I love practicing at the range.

Oh… archery eventually led to another activity. Shooting. The guys at the range and my mom turned me on to shooting. Anyways thats a story for another post.

Below are some pictures of me shooting my xbow and other stuff :) (Adding them soon)

 

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My X-Bow instructor: Glen Klawitter

 

The Start of Marksmanship

Hi!

In the previous post I mentioned how I got into archery. Archery eventually led me to shooting. Its actually a very long story, but Ill condense it.

Basically I thought it would be fun to take a gun class, so that I would know how to use a gun safely and not be totally clueless :) (I don’t like being clueless) At the end of the class you get to practice with a .22 at about 14ft. From my archery practice (I think that where it was from) I was a good shot and the guy teaching the class suggested I go to the local range and practice some more. I thought it sounded like a cool idea and the guys at the range were really helpful. They gave me tips and pointers on my stance, grip, trigger pull etc. On of the guys was practicing with his sniper rifle over at the rifle section and he let me try it. Down range at about 600 yards there was a tire to aim at. With only my eyes I couldn’t even see the tire. With the scope of the gun it was much easier and on my first try I nailed the tire.

Thats how that started and now I go practice with a 9mm at the range about twice a month.

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