Mesa Arts Center – Arizona

Some photos I took awhile back at the Mesa Arts Center in Mesa, Arizona.


– Ken Ranous



The RTL-SDR for Linux Quick Start Guide – Second Edition v2.18

Greetings radio fans! I’m pleased to release an update to the guide. I’ve confirmed the installation process is the same in Linux Mint 18.3 as it was in 17.x. Most applications still work and have continued to evolve nicely. As any radio is only as good as it’s antenna system, I elaborated a bit more. An experiment in lightning detection was added as well as additional resources. And I geeked in Gimp for a fresh cover page. 🙂

Speaking of antennas, many radio enthusiasts in urban environments find RFI noise and restrictions on antennas to really hamper their hobby. If that’s your situation, time to think outside the box! Take an SDR and a laptop into the great outdoors. I recently took one camping on a mountain and strung up about 200′ of wire zig-zagging through the trees. The results were just phenomenal. In town I have good antennas at my QTH, but my spectrum has a lot of spikes and over-load from nearby pagers and FM-BC. Out there, there were even more spikes but most of them actual stations with good copy.

As always, feel free to distribute the info as you see fit. The direct link to the PDF is below and on the sidebar.



Getting Google Earth working in Linux Mint 18.x

I had been delaying an upgrade from Mint 17.3 to 18 because when I tried 18.0, Google Earth stopped working. Things were no better with Mint 18.1 or Mint 18.2. The problem was, Google Earth would install and start to run, but hang on start-up and go into a mostly unresponsive state. It would look something like this:


Google Earth blowin’ up in Linux Mint.


I did some research, tried safe mode, checking that all dependencies were satisfied and different video drivers. This was happening on any machine I installed on so I knew it wasn’t hardware.

To make a long story short, as of October 2017 the best solution I’ve found is to install an older version of Google Earth. It appears that Google Earth Pro build date 1/17/2017 installs and works as it should. Even the Photos load. There’s a thread on the Mint forums discussing this issue:


And according to said thread, the GE support team made version 64bit (.deb) available for download at:


Use this source at your own risk. I got it and it appears legit. If it was bogus, I tend to think the Linux Mint forum people would flag it. Might be a good idea to keep that .deb file backed up for future use.  🙂


Google Earth Pro working in Linux Mint 18.2. Life is good again. Unless that’s your RV.


  • Kenn Ranous


Update, 1.19.18 Linux Mint 18.3:

The same problem still exists and the same solution still applies. Use version

Caution! If you perform a ‘sudo apt update/upgrade from the command prompt, GE will get updated to the newer non-functioning version. If that happens, use Synaptic Package Manager to completely remove GE then reinstall using the .deb file you downloaded earlier (and hopefully saved). When update manager prompts you to update, right-click and select ‘ignore …’. Also go into SPM and type google earth in the search bar. Left-click it once and click Package > Lock Version. This will prevent Update Manager or Synaptic from accidentally upgrading you to the newer non-working version, however, performing a sudo apt upgrade from the command prompt will still force the upgrade.

How to view and edit RAW Security Camera DVR Video Files *.264 – updated & streamlined.

Back in 2015, I wrote a guide for Linux users on how to convert *.264 format video streams from a security DVR into something more usable. Since then, the handbrake utility has developed new features and capabilities, so the process can be streamlined. This process was tested in Linux Mint 18.2 and will likely work in any modern Debian or Ubuntu based distribution. Handbrake also has downloads for Mac and Windows.

1. Get the video clip of the date/time frame in question. Typically a security DVR will be setup to record only when it detects motion. By searching through the recorded footage, hopefully you can find the clip containing the activity. This file can be copied to your computer via a USB thumb drive or downloaded via the application used to remote view your DVR.

2. Get and install handbrake. It’s an open source video transcoder available via Synaptic Package Manager, but there’s a newer version on the developer’s website with instructions on how to add their PPA (Personal Package Archive) to your system.

   a. After install it should appear on your menu. Launch it. It’s reasonably self explanatory.

   b. Select the Open Source button to pick the .264 file to be transcoded.

   c. Select a Destination file and folder.

   d. Check settings:

       Preset 'Fast 1080p30'
       Format: MPEG-4 (avformat)
       Video Encoder: H.264(x264)
       Constant Framerate

   e. Click ‘Start Encoding’.


Handbrake Open Source video transcoder.


You should now have a .m4v file in the destination folder that can be played or edited with most applications and sent as an email attachment viewable in gmail. Youtube will also accept this format and I’ve confirmed an iPhone gmail user can view it as well.

If you need to stitch several video clips together, take a look at one of these editors:

  • Flowblade – My current choice of time-line video editors. If you’ve ever used Adobe Premiere, AVID, Final Cut Pro or similar this will be familiar. It can render high quality lossless streams.
  • Kdenlive – A good time line video editor with many features and capabilities.
  • OpenShot – Has multi-tracks and some creatively useful transitions.
  • Pitivi – Intuitive and easy to use. If you’re not familiar with time-line video editing and just need to put some clips together for presentation, this might be the one for you.


  • Kenn Ranous



An experiment in Photo & Sound: Oak Creek – Sedona, Arizona

It’s been awhile since I’ve edited video and even longer creating music. I’ve accumulated a few vintage synthesizers over the years and decided it’s time to take them for a spin.

The images document a day trip to Sedona, Arizona. Most are at Oak Creek by Red Rock Crossing, the last few are from Airport Mesa at sunset. After processing in Darktable, I arranged them into a slide-show with Flowblade. Audio capturing and processing was done with Audacity. Sound is from a Roland MC-303 Groovebox.



Thanks for watching!

  • Kenn Ranous

Through the welder’s mask: a solar eclipse

Setup here is a DSLR in all manual mode. ISO 100, f7.1, preset focus to infinity. An arc welding hood is placed over the front of the camera to protect it and more importantly the operator. Nonetheless, zero time was wasted grabbing shots. With the shutter already half depressed, it was point & shoot quick.


Through the welder’s mask @ 1/3200


Color Corrected – 1/1250


  • Kenn Ranous

Humongous Spider Invasion!

This friendly spider came to visit us tonight. I think we’ll name it Fluffy!


It's a three foot spider!

Huge Spider

I think it’s a Tarantula, and while native to Arizona you don’t see them too often. And you damned sure don’t see them 3 feet in diameter, but with all the rain we’ve lately I guess they’re eating good in the neighbourhood. When you zoom in and look at the eyes, it doesn’t look so scary. Nonetheless, I didn’t want it having my cat for supper. With a gentle blow, Fluffy scurried back outside.


  • Kenn Ranous