Archive for category Illumination Tools

2010 Mitchellville Corn Maze

I’m horrible about updating my blog…

We once again went to the Mitchellville Corn Maze and as usual we had a great time. This year’s weather was exceptional, and although the corn crop isn’t considered the best much of the maze was over 11′ tall. The maze seemed a lot shorter this year, but was still great fun. I think the perception of it being shorter was caused by the much nicer weather.

Last year I made mention that I wanted to try a UV light to easily identify the chads from punches made at the various stations in the maze. I did try that this year, but it turned out to be a waste of time. Any UV light powerful enough to make them noticeable at a distance would be, imo, too dangerous to use without eye protection.

We went hardware lite this year, mostly using Quark “warm” LED lights from 4Sevens.com. Warm LEDs are still difficult to find, but 4Sevens does limited production runs of his lights with them from time to time. They really make the corn maze jump to life. Typical LED lights are heavily weighted towards the blue end of the spectrum and there is not much blue in a corn maze, or in nature in general. The yellow-weighted Warm LEDs really make the browns and reds pop and provide what I feel is a much more pleasing rendition of nature.

I recently traded my 2 GPSMap 60cs’ for Garmin’s latest GPSMap 62s model. I skipped the interm 60CSx model due to lack of useful new features but that was certainly fixed with the 62.

The 62 brings some great things to the table, map layering, multiple map support, aerial imagery and of course, improved accuracy. Unfortunately it also brings with it several 1.0ish build quality issues. It makes horrible creaking noises when you grasp it as the sides “cave” inward under the slightest pressure, and my power button is unreliable due to what I believe is the same flex issue. This is the first Garmin anything I have ever owned that disappoints me in the build quality. It’s my plan to return it to Garmin for repair in the next couple months; Garmin’s service has never disappointed me, so lets hope that continues to be the case. Electronically the 62s works great and it’s software is an upgrade to the 60cs in every way. It made a great drawing of the maze for us. Next year we’ve decided to mark way points for each located punch.

Garmin MapSource’s new exporting features support Google Earth for that added visual WOW factor. I have to admit the track log looks pretty nice superimposed on Google’s satellite imagery.

As you can see from the tracklog, it is much less of a Maze and much more of a scavenger hunt. One of the reasons we go only after dark is to make it more fun on both counts. We missed 2 punches this year, and after spending some time searching eventually went and looked up their locations. We had walked past both of them and just missed seeing them. We’d still like to try a larger maze, but even this one took us two sessions to finish due to our desire to only do it after dark. The walking distance was about 8 miles over the two evenings we spent there.

Corn Maze

Finally got out to the maze Friday night, Mary and I had a blast. She likes the gadgets as much as I do, sometimes I think more so. She decided to go GPS navigation for the entire expedition.

This year was better than last, the corn was about 9′ tall and there were several other groups in the maze, including at least 1 group we bumped into that had no flashlights at all.

We weren’t sure if we were going or not due to weather, but decided at the last minute to head out.

Ok, while I love doing these, I like to cheat fully utilize my available equipment, and here is what it looked like:

Corn Maze Gear 2009

Corn Maze Gear 2009

I have my Garmin GPS60cs, Icom IC-92, The large SOE Gear holster holds my M6-1185, the side light pouch is holding my 6PD-M60W, A2-Strion/GS and L2 are clipped under the flap until we arrive. My Ra 100WW was on my belt and 8x spare 123’s just in case were inside along with 2 Nite-Ize blinky reflective “tags”. It all fits neatly in/on my Maxpedition Versapack with the entirety of the main center compartment empty. I love this bag. I wish the Cell phone holster and built-in light pouch were molle-attach points, but other than that it’s great.

A multi-level light is a must, you don’t need lots of light or throw when walking around, this is where the A2 is awesome. The floody 5mm leds are great and the extra punch of the incandescent to reach down the aisle. The Ra also does OK, but it’s mix of throw and spill seemed to always be too much of a compromise, it would work well if I hadn’t have had an A2.

The L2 was for Mary, since she lost the A2 I gave her last year. A multi-level light is a must.

The 6PD-M60W is nice, but as usual when I use this light I find myself wishing it were a 2-stage. On high it’s just too bright for most things. It did do great for seeing down rows though, but I likely won’t take it next time.

The M6-1185… Well what really needs to be said? I used it to point down a long row to point out a punch that was needed for the scavenger hunt to another group in the maze and there were audible gasps, one woman asked who brought a car into the maze. For those who don’t know, the Welch-Allyn 1185 lamp used to be commonly used in airports as a runway landing light. Due to this intended use it’s an extremely durable and robust design that can be overdriven from it’s intended 9.6V drive(~900lm) to sunburn-inducing 13V (~1500lm). It’s not a HID, but it’s about the brightest thing you can have in an easily carried handheld design. It uses a custom 3-cell lithium pack that has more juice than modern Netbooks.

On my next trip I’m going to ensure that I have the A2-UV with me. This particular corn maze you have a scavenger hunt, as you find certain areas you punch a hole in an issued card to verify you were there. Each punch is a different shape, and it’s tied on to a rusty pole sticking out of the ground in the corn. I realized that a A2-UV will be great because it should cause the paper punch-outs on the ground to glow making the areas with punches very visible.

We didn’t complete 100% of the ship (this year’s theme), we skipped some detail inside the ship but we will be going back to finish it up another evening.

Here’s what the GPS said it looks like:

Mitchellville Corn Maze 2009

Mitchellville Corn Maze 2009