Hobbies have become an important part of our lives during social isolation. Whether it helps de-stress or entertain, we at FireSpike LLC are sharing our isolation hobbies with you!

Arthur is Studying Languages By Arthur Breur

After all this social isolating is over, when we can again travel the world, I might just be able to talk to some of the people I meet using their own languages.

Growing up in Southern California I studied Spanish. I did great on tests and could translate everything very quickly, but truly speaking the language—of thinking and conversing in Spanish—never happened for me in grade school.

Years later—after four years of college in Illinois and one year living in North Carolina—I moved back to Southern California. One day I offhandedly read a billboard, and it wasn’t until a few moments later that I realized the billboard had been in Spanish. I’d understood it without even thinking about it. I started listening to some Spanish-language radio and discovered the language had “sunk in” during the five years I had been ignoring it.

Now I’m studying multiple languages using the free DuoLingo app. Spanish, of course, but I’m also getting pretty good at beginner’s Italian and French. Just for fun—and to me it is fun—I’m also studying Portuguese, Dutch, German, and—wait for it…—Chinese! (That last one I picked just because it’s TOTALLY different from the different European languages. It’s the hardest, but it has also been the most rewarding.)

I look forward to when I’ll be able to put some of those languages to use—in person!

Gunny Likes to Spend His Free Time Building Drones By Chris “Gunny” Bond

The amount of attention I have to provide this pastime allows me to drown out the world around me. The attention to details and specifications literally has me hyper-focused on what I’m doing—often to the point of looking through a magnifying glass to solder thread-thin wires to a 1mm pad with a soldering iron tip that always seems too large for the job.

Building drones is hard. Doesn’t matter if you get yourself a kit or if you hand-pick the parts yourself. More often than not you end up buying something that is either a clone, already-used, or broken. So the hardest part of building a drone is finding working parts.

Determining what parts to buy is only half the battle. It all depends on the size of your drone. From 100mm drones that flit about like a hummingbird on steroids, to 500mm drones that lumber about like an elephant with wings—they all require different size propellers and motors to even have a chance to succeed.

While larger drones require larger propellers, they also require slower turning motors and smaller drones need smaller propellers with faster motors. But that is only the start. The size and capacity of your battery has a large role to play. Too heavy a battery, and your drone won’t lift. Too small, and you can expect only a few minutes of flight time. Still, even finding the perfect combination of propeller, motor, and battery might net you at most 15 minutes of flight and that’s only if you spend your entire time hovering in place.

Then there is the flight controller, which is basically a computer that sends all the information from your transmitter (what some might call a joystick), through the receiver to all the motors. This computer has to be programmed perfectly to even stand a chance at level flight. Some common issues with mis-configured drones include shooting straight into the sky, never to be seen again or immediately flipping upside down on take-off.
It’s a frustrating hobby. You are attempting to build a miniature aircraft with the hopes that you can continue to fly it over and over again. Most of the time building a drone is troubleshooting one problem or the other.

I like to build “first-person view” (“FPV”) racers. There is a camera component that allows you to see through the ‘eyes’ of the drone as if you were a bird. FPV racers are acrobatic: meaning you can do flips and rolls and all manner of tricks. But they are usually very fast and hard to control. I am still not very good at it. And while I have larger drones that I have built for the purpose of aerial photography, flying them is not as exciting as flying the smaller, zippier drones.

I recently bought a brand new FPV racer (BNF), which means bind-and-fly—all you need is a transmitter and you are ready to go. My first flight was fun, until the moment I did I flip and didn’t bring the throttle down fast enough. I slammed it right into the sidewalk and broke one of the motors.
To get better at FPV flying I have a simulator you can buy on steam that lets me directly connect my transmitter of choice to the game. I am hoping to get better some day. But until then all I can say is I like to spend most of my free-time building drones. I spend the rest of it learning to fly them.

Angela Makes Amigurumi Crochet By Angela Geno-Stumme

I have continued my crafty hobbies and found crochet to be relaxing, as well as a time to de-stress during the day.

The project I am working on now is an “amigurumi”—the Japanese term for crocheting small stuffed toys— Pokemon called a Galar Weezing (see photo below). I found a fan pattern online for a Pokemon Weezing and I am modifying it into the Galar version of a Weezing as a gift for one of my brothers.

The repetitiveness of crochet helps me relax, and modifying an existing pattern satisfies my creative side. And of course, having it turn out the way I am planning makes me happy about finishing a project well.