Lets review external sound card Behringer U-PHORIA UMC202, designed for professional use. It can work with sampling rates up to 192 kHz and 24 bits precision. Its frontal panel has : 2 combined XLR/TRS ( 1/4″ jack ) microphone inputs, to which MIDAS preamplifiers are connected and +48 V phantom power can be connected; for each of them there are linear/Hi-Z work mode and PAD switches, amplification control knobs and signal and clip indicators; TRS ( 1/4″ jack ) output for monitor headphones with volume control, Direct Monitor function switch, power and phantom power application indicators and main outputs volume control knob. Its back panel has : USB port, through which it is powered from computer and communicates with it; phantom power switch; Kensington Lock slot; and TRS ( 1/4″ jack ) linear outputs
It works in Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and newer and Mac OS X operating systems, with support of ASIO and CoreAudio interfaces, with which it tightly integrates with modern DAWs : FL Studio, Cackewalk Sonar, REAPER, Avid Pro Tools, Ableton Live, Steinberg Cubase and others. After purchases there are free recording software and instruments and plug-ins are available for download from manufacturer’s web-site. Card is covered with 3 years manufacturer warranty. Package contains : audio card Behringer U-PHORIA UMC202 itself, USB cable, optical disk with drivers and user’s guide. To speak shortly : it is one of the best external sound cards in respect of value/price relation : support of 192 kHz and 24 bits, large amount of connectors and functions and high-quality hardware. So, if there is need to buy external audio interface, then this one is one of the main applicants for this role.
From the ShunuthShe-wolf mountain, or slag hills near Degtyarsk are visible, I rode to them for exploration. At the beginning of a day it was cloudy and cold on the streets. Polevskoy highway is still not prepared for winter : it is not cleared from snow and not covered with salt, so, I rode on it carefully and with small speed, without problems I arrived to turn to Degtyarsk and Revda near Kurganovo and rode on this road. Strong west wind with snow in the face blew above it, road is full of uphills and downhills, but even on downhills wind slowed down movement speed, snowy landscapes and few still not frozen rivers swept nearby. I arrived to Degtyarsk – it is small mining city with ore mining plants, slag hills and quarries in it. Roads are narrow and are covered with snow in it, heavy cars often move on them, so, often I rode on the roads sides. On the way, chain started to freeze in cold and on wind and acquired a wavy form, because of this it started to try to jump from 2nd gear to 3rd one on the frontal system, with periodical slipping and falling inside, this made ride harder and longer and there often was need to ride on the first one frontal gear. Quickly I rode through the city and came to road to Revda : this snowy day asphalt-laying machines stood on it. On the way there is turn to the East with block-post and fence near it, which leads uphill to some industrial quarry and near which heavy cargo cars often move.
Next, entrance to Revda city goes on, on which wind, no longer chained with forest and hills, shows his full strength and fury, almost fully stopping me with the bicycle on downhills : city is open and there are lakes near it, so wind gains high speed and strength above them. Quickly I rode to turn to the She-wold mountain, I did not ascend on it this day, otherwise I would completely miss concert in Yekaterinburg, so, I’ll ride to it next Spring, when roads will melt and will be more easily rideable. Maybe from She-wolf Fun mountains are visible, Konzhak unlikely visible from them, but I’ll look in that direction anyway and next I’ll find where to look.
Road in this area periodically narrows and widens, giving ability to ride at high speed on a highway. Near Revda one of the drivers signaled to me in my support, I smiled in reply and rode further. Medicine and Emergency center with ready to take off helicopters is located near the road. All in all 40 km from Revda did not caused any difficulties, Sun even looked through the clouds and lit snowy landscape for a while. When I approached Yekaterinburg, it was already dark and city lighting appeared above horizon, on the entrance in city street and buildings lights met me : ride in the city at dark time with such lighting is one of the biggest pleasures in the life. I rotated pedals as I can, because DO and warmth waited me ahead. On the way to CK Ural I visited a couple of places for my own businesses and arrived to CK itself, I missed first part, but ride was worth it and 2nd and 3rd parts were interesting. This day Different Orchestra played “5 years” concerto, it turned so, I give my congratulations by the way, compositions of different genres and styles were played on the concert and orchestra prepared mix of a most, what it played before. Trip-hop, drum and bass and rap styles compositions were played and works of Depeche Mode and Sansara, Kurara and Ek-Playaz were performed, with participation of 2nd, 3rd and 4th ones. What was in a first part, I do not know for now, but soon videos will be uploaded and I’ll learn from them what I missed.
After concert I dressed my hiking ammunition and went to my bicycle, snowfall started on the streets and it became warmer, horse cold, waiting for me, but I quickly heated him up, ride through the night city, still full of activity, and I’m on the Polevskoy highway in the company of periodically riding nearby cars. On the downhills on biggest frontal gear chain straightened and stopped attempts to jump to other gears and slip. Pedals rotating and Mountain Shield, railway bridge, Kurganovo and turn to Degtyarsk and Revda, on which I rode whole eternity ago, pass nearby. And so I arrived to Polevskoy ( Jupiter, Venus and Mars rose on the East ) and to my home, at last, ate food, warmed myself and went to sleep. This day I rode 160 snowy, windy and cold kilometers. In real Urals freezes I’ll ride on bicycle mostly in Polevskoy, because on such distances technics can not withstand. See you on the next bicycles adventures!
In audio part lets review MIDI keyboard Korg Taktile 49 wih drumpads and arpreggiator. It is high quality keyboard, which has 49 full-size velocity-sensitive keys, 16 velocity-sensitive drumpads, arpreggiator module, 8 of each type programmable switches, sliders and knobs, 7 transport control buttons, pitch-bend and assignable wheels, and touchpad and OEL display. It communicates with computer and receives power via 1 USB port and has MIDI input-output, optional peal can be connected to it. It is supported by Windows 7 and newer and Mac OS X version 10.6.8 Snow Leopard and newer operating systems, in which it tightly integrates with modern DAWs, their instruments and VST plugins : Avid Pro Tools, Ableton Live, Steinberg Cubase, FL Studio, Cackewalk Sonar, REAPER and others. Its sizes are 750 ( width ) x 290 ( depth ) x 83 ( height ) mm, and mass is 3.8 kg. Package contains : MIDI keyboard Korg Taktile 49 itself, USB cable, user’s guide and card with PIN code for licensed software downloading and discounts receiving on various applications. It is high-quality MIDI keyboard with full spectrum of functions for home studio and professional use and it worth its money, especially, if it is bought with discount.
Lets review fixed wide angle photo-lens Pentax HD DA 21mm f/3.2 ED AL for Pentax K mounts. Its focus equals to 21 mm, diaphragm can be set in f/3.2 – f/22 range ( it is middle light strength lens ) with use of 7 diaphragm blades, it is designed for APS-C sensors and gives 68 degrees field of view with them. Minimal focusing distance is 0.2 m with auto-focusing support and without support of optical image stabilization ( which camera can perform itself via sensor shifting, if it has such function ). 8 lens elements in 5 groups are built into it ( it is relatively big their amount for fixed lens ), they all are covered with protective and anti-reflective multi-coating Pentax HD. 49 mm optical filters can be attached to it, its sizes are 63.5 ( diameter ) x 25.4 ( length ) mm, and mass is 119 g, it is released in 2 color variants : black and silver. Package contains : Pentax HD DA 21mm f/3.2 ED AL photo-lens itself, frontal and rear caps, carrying and storage case, 1 year warranty card and user’s guide. From one side : it is good lens with average glasses amount, average light strength, wide field of view and auto-focusing support, but from the other side : its price is quite big ( 390 USD in the middle of Autumn 2015 ). So, it should be bought only for auto-focusing with such focal distance, but if it is not needed, then it is better to buy other lens and use it via adapter or converter.
Lets meet in audio part with external studio audio interface ESI MAYA22 USB, which is oriented on professional recording of analogue sound. Card can work with 96 kHz sampling rate and 24 bits precision and has 102 dB range of analogue to digital conversion and 108 dB range of digital to analogue conversion. Frontal panel of card contains : microphone XLR input, to which +48 V phantom power can be connected; phantom power switch; instrumental TRS ( 1/4″, 6.3 mm jack ) Hi-Z input; and the same type headphones output; 2nd and 3rd connectors are gold-plated. Rear panel contains : USB port, through which it communicates with computer; linear analogue balanced TRS ( 1/4″, 6.3 mm jack ) inputs ( this allows to neutralize all noise, which is added to signal in cables ); and linear analogue RCA inputs; they all are covered with nickel coating. Card can simultaneously record microphone and instrumental inputs.
It can work in operating systems Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8.1 and newer via special drivers with support of ASIO 2.0, MME, WDM and DirectSound interfaces and DirectWIRE; and Mac OS X 10.4 and newer without additional drivers installation with support of CoreAudio interface. In them it tightly integrates with modern DAWs : FL Studio, Cackewalk Sonar, REAPER, Avid Pro Tools, Ableton Live, Steinberg Cubase and others. Package contains : ESI MAYA22 USB external sound card itself, optical disks with drivers and software, USB cable and user’s guide. It is good sound card with high sampling rate and precision, which is oriented on professional recording of microphone and instrumental inputs and completed signal transmittance. So it is good device for home studio. Wherein there is need to note, that if card will be used for work with MIDI instruments and digital signal transmittance, then it is better to buy card, that has corresponding connectors.
Lets meet in optics part today with compact standard photo-lens Sony SEL-20F28 for Sony E mounts. Its 20 mm focus is fixed, diaphragm can be set in f/2.8 – f/16 range ( it is relatively light lens ) with use of 7 diaphragm blades. It is designed for APS-C sensors and gives 70 degrees field of view with them, minimal focusing distance is 0.2 m, it does not support automatic focusing and optical image stabilization ( which camera can perform by itself via sensor shifting, if it supports such function ). 6 lens elements in 6 groups are built into it, among them 3 are aspherical for chromatic and geometric distortions reduction, they all are coated with protective and anti-reflective multi-coating. 49 mm optical filters can be attached to it, its sizes are 62.6 ( diameter ) x 20.4 ( length ) mm, and mass is 69 g.
Package contains : Sony SEL-20F28 photo-lens itself, frontal and rear caps, protective and carrying case and user’s guide. All in all, this is a good fixed photo-lens with small glasses amount, aspherical lens elements, relatively high light strength and big field of view; it is more oriented to photos making, because it does not support automatic focusing and optical image stabilization ( which camera can perform by itself, if it supports it ), but experienced photographers can use it for videos recording also.
Lets review fixed light photo-lens Nikon AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D for Nikon F mounts. Its 85 mm focus is fixed, diaphragm is set in f/1.8 – f/16 range with use of 9 diaphragm blades, it is designed for 35 mm full-frame ( with 28 degrees 30 minutes field of view ) and APS-C ( with 18 degrees 50 minutes field of view ) sensors, minimal focusing distance is 0.85 m. It supports automatic focusing and does not support optical image stabilization ( which can be performed by camera itself via sensor shifting, if it supports it ). 6 lens elements in 6 groups are built into it ( it is adequate amount for fixed lens ), they all are coated with protective and anti-reflective Super Integrated Coating. 62 mm Screw-on optical filters can be attached to it, lens sizes are 71.5 ( length ) x 58.5 ( diameter ) mm, and its mass is 380 g. Package contains : Nikon AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D photo-lens itself, frontal and rear caps, carrying and storage case and user’s guide. It is good fixed light photo-lens with small lens elements amount ( for light dispersion and internal reflections on optical surfaces amount reduction ), it supports auto-focusing and is useful for photos making and videos recording ( especially if camera supports optical image stabilization ) by novice and experienced photographers.
Once upon a time at the cold Autumn day I rode to Shunuth mountain, that was yesterday! Weather favored : at Wednesday and Thursday it was very cold in this area and everything froze, at Saturday at morning and daytime temperature was around zero and everything is not blockaged with snow yet. At Thursday in the cold I was slightly blown and rode at this morning with small hum in the head with not very high speed. Road to Zuzelka village did not caused any difficulties, on the uphill over Azov mountain I started to upheat myself and cold started to retreat. Further along the way there are 6 km of asphalt, then frozen clay, which now is rideable through. On the way I met 3 hunters with guns, which asked me : “Didn’t you saw gonschacks?” – “Whom?” – “Dogs!” – “No, I didn’t saw them,” – and rode further along my way. Clay area is elongated on 2 – 3 km and alternates with frozen puddles-skate rinks, on them I stretched a couple of times : how without this in such a journey. Next to the Large Lavrovka village relatively calm frozen dirt road with stones leads, which only rarely crossed by waves of dirt. Village itself is small with only around 10 – 15 good looking houses in it.
After it field goes on, on the southern border of which frozen grassy road is located with breaking crust of ice on the puddles, it leads to the forest. In the forest I oriented with map, which I draw ahead of time, and compass. In one area I turned to the north and rode 3 – 4 km on road, I met bridge through river and cordon near field on my way, I passed them and after some time road turned to the east, I have no need to ride in this direction, understanding, that road leads me in a wrong way, I turned back to the place on which I step off from more trodden road. After some time it lead me to the field and the same cordon, that is visible in distance : there was ability to pass through it and arrive to the right path, now I’ll know this, in case if I’ll need this. Further ahead frozen grassy road goes on, which is quite rideable on the bicycle.
After a couple of kilometers frozen skate rinks on the roads-rivers or rivers-roads go on, knee or waist deep in some places, it is good, that everything froze, because at 0 degrees on Celsius drench boots or find yourself these knee or waist deep in the water is not quite Feng Shui. Closer to Shunuth roads-rivers are frozen only partially and on one or both ruts brooks flow. In some places, waiting for me, insidious ice breaks under bike : these place I walked on the frozen road sides. In one place road is crossed by 1 – 2 m wide river, there is ability to pass it offside from the road by jumping from one bank to the other. Next uphill, rocks on the sides of road and on it itself and brooks flowing towards me go on : I’m on the right way, I’m going there, from where rivers flow. On one of the crumbling ice jams I capitally slipped off and landed with my right side on the bike frame in the area slightly higher than liver, breaking plastic food jar – but this is ok, there are no adventures without this. After 2 – 3 km road became dry and there was ability to again ride on the bike on it, such uphill goes on for 3 – 4 km and road rests in the another one, which goes from south to north. In the southern direction road goes slightly in the hill, so I rode slightly on it, but my feeling told me that I do not need to go there and I remembered from the map, that there is no need to go to south at all. I turned to the north and after 300 – 400 m met sign : “Especially protected area Shunuth-Rock mountain,” – oh, yes! Northern road went down – I do not need there, western road went up – I need to go here. After 1 – 2 km I met Old Man Rock sign, after another 300 m rock itself. I made some photos, recorded video and admired the view. After it road with the sign about Shunuth Mountain, that leads to the north, goes on, it is covered knee deep with snow. Wet rim in the snow and wind and cold started to freeze and to stop rotating, by freezing up with V-brakes on the front wheel, I rotated it a couple of times and broke icy connection, further on the way in the snowdrifts front wheel did not stopped movement. After around 100 m I arrived to southern Shunuth rocks.
Winter already took its frontier on Shunuth. From the west cold wind blows. I took with me my raincoat : even this can be anticipated from Ural’s weather, and it excellently protected me from wind blows and saved warmth. And I saw tops of the trees and areas open on tenths of kilometers, sky is within reach of a hand. Made some photos, drank hot tea and ate banana. Sun looked out from the clouds. And I continued to make photos and record videos and accrete with my soul to this view and let in view, sky, air, snow, rocks inside of me. So I’ve been there for a half an hour, exactly for this I rode here, oh yes, I made it! This is exactly what I needed so much.
With quite different mood and being quite a different man I rode home. Now downhills from Shunuth, on which all ice scrapped off from front rim and rear disk. To the south, then to the east again and winter started to retreat : again roads-rivers flow and stones look out from under the ice. Downhill from mountain is much easier, I rode on my traces, without any problems started to approach cordon near Large Lavrovka, Sun set around 2 hours ago, above the forest dusk thickened, I rode past cordon and arrived to the turn, on which I rode to the north. It became completely dark.
Road between field near Large Lavrovka and cordon forms circle with 2 – 3 km length and in the darkness it is easy to start riding in circles on it, which I made. First I saw 2 pairs of protectors of bicycle wheels and thought : “Who decided to follow my steps here?” – but then understood, that this is quite little likely and this is I again ride to the north-west to Shunuth, this time in the darkness. So, I decided to orient on compass, instead of bicycle wheels prints, but after n-teen of my falls and waking ups with bicycle it started to oftenly confuse north, south and east and west : “O-o-o, now here are 3 pairs of bicycle protectors prints, now I pave fourth one, here is the whole bike path formed in these backwoods, there is need to look as if ‘other’ bikers would not rode on me,” – panic waves started to approach me, but I calmed them down with that I’ll stay in the forest for a night in a extreme case and will find right way at morning with sunlight, thank to Shunuth, which protects this area from west ( winds here are mostly western ), still not frozen rivers bring warmth and humidity and forest also protects from wind and keeps warmth, so, even at nights at the end of October here is very warm and, wrapping in the spruce branches, here is ability to sleep for a whole night without problems. Moon looked out from clouds, she recently rose and was somewhere on the south-east, I need to go there, so, I walked to her and she took me off from this “vicious” circle.
On the way from field to Large Lavrovka I a couple of times ( to the full bowl ) slipped on the ice and fell on it, braking its crust and falling with my left boot and basing on my left hand in the water, so, left boot and mitten was completely wet from this time, right boot was moist, but not wet. On the way I met cross-country jeep : there is ability to imagine what driver thought, meeting bicycle rider at this time in these backwoods. After village on the open area and to the south from Shunuth cold western wind started to blow and it started to purge wet left boot on the speed. But no cold and small freezing of legs did not upset me after this. On the puddles-ice skate rinks I stretched a couple of times more and looked on “Austerlitz sky” and further my way went without falls. I set my wheels on the asphalt : “Oh, ye-e-es!” – road to the Azov mountain here mostly goes downhill and I took a pleasure at night on this speed, uphill near mountain did not caused any difficulties this time for me. Hello nighty Azov, hello lighting Zuzelka, good night falling into sleep Polevskoy.
Thank you to the Ural’s weather, the thing, that I reached Shunuth is 50% its merit, because it froze everything at Wednesday and Thursday, and all hardly rideable clay and dirt and roads flooded knee or waist deep in some places became calm; at this day it was -2 – 0 degrees on Celsius in area; and these places are still not covered by heavy snowfalls. Thank you to my bicycle, that withstood all this without any complains : all this way and all these falls and wakings up. Thank you to MERIDA, which creates bikes, that withstand all this ( but, fairness for, there is need to note, that there is not much left from original bicycle ). I was on the southern Shunuth rocks, there are also middle and northern rocks, they are even taller, there is road to them, but it was covered with knee deep snowdrifts this day and, if to walk to them, then there is need in tent and food supplies, because there were before sunset hours at that time on Shunuth, so, I’ll ride and walk to them next Spring, when daytime will be longer and winter freezes will pass : or at the beginning of Spring, when snowcrust will be thick and will withstand bicycle, or at the middle, when roads will more or less melt and it will be below zero at night and around 0 at daytime, or at the end of a Spring, when there will be heat and clay and roads will dry. There will be need to make vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis at this winter, to be prepared for such rides. And I’ll buy more shock-resistant compass, so that I’ll always find my way there and back again, maybe I’ll buy something with electronic satellite navigation. This trip – this is exactly what I needed so much, next in the Winter up to next Spring I’ll ride on the bicycle mainly locally in Polevskoy and Yekaterinburg and near them closer to civilization and will become acquainted with some winter-time sportive transportation. See you in the next adventures!
You can see rest of photos here. Tomorrow I’ll upload 1 remaining 5 minutes 30 seconds video and photos to the album.
Lets review standard light lens Yongnuo EF YN 50mm F/1.8 for Canon EF mounts. Its 50 mm focus is fixed, diaphragm can be set in f/1.8 – f/22 range with use of 7 diaphragm blades, its field of view is 46 degrees and minimal focusing distance is 0.45 m. It supports automatic and manual focusing and does not support image stabilization ( which can be performed by camera itself, if it supports it ). 6 lens elements in 5 groups are mounted into it, they all are covered with protective and anti-reflective multicoating. There is ability to attach 52 mm optical filters to it, its sizes are 73 ( diameter ) x 55 ( length ) mm, and mass is 120 g. Package contains : Yongnuo EF YN 50mm F/1.8 photo-lens itself, frontal and rear caps, 52 mm thread frontal cap and user’s guide. It is good standard photo-lens with adequate lens elements amount, high light strength and automatic focusing support, which costs much less, than Canon prime lenses. It will be useful for photos and videos making ( especially if camera supports image stabilization ) by novice and experienced photographers.
Lets meet in audio part with mini MIDI keyboard chord Micro MU Control Station with functions, that are inherent to high-level keyboards. It has : 25 velocity-sensitive mini-keys, 8 velocity-sensitive drumpads, 4 programmable sliders, 4 programmable knobs and 8 customizable buttons. Wherein its sizes are 320 ( width ) x 35 ( height ) x 190 ( depth ) mm and mass is 750 g. It is powered from 1 USB port and works without additional drivers in Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and newer and Mac OS X operating systems via Plug and Play technology, in which it integrates with modern DAWs, their instruments and VST plugins : Avid Pro Tools, Ableton Live, Steinberg Cubase, FL Studio, Cackewalk Sonar, REAPER and others. Package contains : chord Micro MU Control Station MIDI keyboard itself, USB cable and user’s guide. Overall, it is mini keyboard with very rich functions, which costs approximately 60 USD at the middle of Autumn 2015; pitch-bend and modulation control wheels ( programmable sliders, knobs and even buttons can perform their functions ), pedals inputs and specialized transport control buttons ( programmable buttons can act as they ) can be wished, but with such price it has quite adequate functions.