Aerial photomap of Belize Open Source

I flew the Mavic Mini around the property at 400 feet (~129 meters).

At Belize international Airport I had WiFi and was able to upload the images from my laptop to Drone Deploy’s cloud-based software which processed 486 photos to make an orthomosaic map and 3D model. Here is a screenshot from my phone.

BOSSD near August Pine Ridge

The high resolution map and model are at:;jwt_token=eyJ0eXAiOiJKV1QiLCJhbGciOiJIUzUxMiJ9.eyJleHAiOjI1MzQwMjMwMDc5OSwiaWQiOiI1ZTJkZDdiNTcxYWQwYTE1OWRiMzUyYmIiLCJzY29wZSI6WyJhMWY0MTk4YWIzXzQ1NUMxNTc2RjZPUEVOUElQRUxJTkUiXSwidHlwZSI6IlJlYWRPbmx5UGxhbiIsIm92ZXJsYXlfZm9sZGVyX2lkIjoiNWUyZGQ3NjQ3MWFkMGExNTlkYjM1MmJhIn0.248MAnt0ALRueQsnApWUcKeDgTNMaTew8dGTQ_ZEK7ipdpVLYCYHk9przjsX9BjIiKVixmKO1w73oZbApgiSKQ

Additional details about the map are at:

Leaving Gamboa, Panama

I’m was at Canopy B&B, waiting for ride to airport. Now I’m in line at the airport.

I had great time here. I came to visit Andrew Quitmeyer, at Digital Naturalism Laboratories (DINA: via invitation from Shannon Dosemagen, long-time Public Lab friend. You can see what Public Lab is about at:

I’d been intrigued by a map and 3-D model of Gamboa that Andy had made from a drone flight. I brought my new Mavic Mini that I had maybe 6 min of flight time with. Andy coached me, and we flew a section of Gamboa Marsh where a music festival had fumigated and dumped a load of gravel inappropriately. So it was a live, real use case. We took over 300 photos, at 2-second intervals, from 100 m, flying manually.

We started a map in Mapknitter, then I used Drone Deploy’s trial offer to make a map and 3D model.

Andy also introduced me to Andrew Coates. His firm Cresolus ( specializes in architecture and construction in the tropics. We were able to talk briefly and he’s interested in helping come up with an open source design with very simple IKEA-like instructions for building houses that might be used at the Belize Open Source – Sustainable Development site. It is convenient that he is already working in Belize for a government of Belize project funded by World Bank, to renovate a repurpose an old forest station with ~ 40 buildings, on the way to the Carocol Mayan ruins. He’s also renovated the facilities at The Thousand Foot Falls in the mountain pine ridge area of Belize. Andrew had great ideas about how one might approach this similar to a boat building company out of Chesapeake Bay. They offer

kits that you can buy and make yourself

classes where you can come and learn and build your own

or they build and deliver to you

Andrew talked about his Panama hut initiative which has trained builders to fabricate and then be able to flat pack and send the small very nice units. See:

I emailed Andy and Andrew that I was sure glad we were able to chat for a few minutes. Very productive!

I sent a PDF of the dual vault composting latrine design package, as well as the bill of materials, for the ones that we’ve been doing for ~ $415 per unit cost in Nicaragua (111 to date, with another Rotary global grant nearing approval to do 80 more in seven communities.)

I also sent link to the drum-based composting toilet system I spoke of separately.

I stressed I appreciate what Andrew is doing and the opportunity to try and partner on a vision for the little Belize place.

I think the open source construction manual, training workshops, sponsorship for the local Belizeans to become certified builders, all really sounds terrific.

After, Andrew wrote, “Good to talk to you.I love the idea of creating a simple tropical home that is kit built from an “IKEA” guide. Available to all.”

I also used another cloud based software to process a test set of photos from our El Llanito, Nicaragua water supply aerial image contractor who flew tests from up the hill to sector 5 in the community, just reaching our areas of active trenching (visible on far right side) in this scaled small sample aerial map. The preliminary results are encouraging for being able to map our project.

Test from processed aerial images

You can also download the results (in a BIG zip file) from:

Phil Bowman, our responsible engineer in charge (REIC) indicated winds that stopped them have stayed too high, so they will coordinate with EWB Nica Country Office and the water committee (CAPS) on when to return.

Phil and the team have continued to make great progress on the well support building and other tasks.

Installing the plumb lines to ensure the cement blocks are laid level and straight
Alara, Claire and Tuana help with the grout
We were able to coordinate with Martin and Maribel today on trench digging. Our UC Berkeley chapter colleagues were assigned a stretch of trench to dig near Zeleyda’s house

Guest writer

My friend Peggy Schimmelman was gracious to feature a short piece of mine on her site. It’s set in Belize.

Peggy has many writing credits and publications so it was my pleasure and honor to share the 2015 Las Positas anthology awards for poetry and prose with her.

Photos are at:


Short videos of me accepting and reading from my memoir piece are in this playlist:

Thank you Peggy.

7-18 Belize Open Source Update

I recently spoke with David Dyck and Natalio Soliz, my contacts in Belize for the Belize Open Source place. When I was there last June, we decided to move forward with adding a fence to divide the back part into two pastures, clear more of the regrowth bush and plant more Humidicola improved pasture grass. We liquidated our cattle herd to let the new grass come in. We’d been disappointed in how the new planting had come in. But in our recent conversation, David indicated that while not great, it was better than he initially thought. He suggested we restock with a smaller number of cattle to use our existing pasture and then keep the smaller herd out of the one fenced pastures when we replant during the rainy season. Natalio sent me some recent photos showing the new fence:

and the condition of the grass:

These and his other photos are on Flikr at the album link below. They show the new fence dividing back into two pastures and the condition of the pasture grass. They also show the neighbor to the back’s place for their caretaker and our caretaker’s house.

Public Lab/citizen science

I’ve been involved with Public Lab (and Grassroots Mapping) since 2010, when I wrote to Jeff Warren after seeing the diydrones post showing his map of a settlement outside Lima, Peru. 

Public Lab is doing a Kickstarter campaign for aerial photomapping kits, from small lifting kites and balloons to the classic larger ones.

Jeff, Stewart Long, Mathew Lippincott, and others in the Public Lab community helped me learn simple aerial photo mapping techniques. 

They also helped me start a grassroots mapping program to map the 40-acre Belize Open Source – Sustainable Development (BOSSD) site at high resolution to support site development work and progress reporting, to make this methodology accessible to local landholders, to engage schools to develop capabilities for educational and community mapping and make an initial set of maps.

I’ve presented at Engineers Without Borders (EWB) workshops and poster sessions on Simple, Inexpensive Aerial Photomapping

In 2013, I applied these techniques at the BOSSD site and sessions at the August Pine Ridge RC school and Muffles College.

I’ve not been as active with Public Lab due to other priorities, but I am looking to get back to it.

CWC TVW Critique groups run year round

At our last meeting of the California Writers Club Tri-Valley Writers Branch this season, President, Patricia Boyle, asked me to speak about our STEM critique group.

I was happy to. As my members page indicates, in part:

Patrick D. Coyle journals and writes memoir and personal stories about travel and sustainable development. His short memoirTime of Your Life, won first place in Impressions, the Las Positas College 2015 anthology.

Other memoirs have been published in the Voices of the Valley: Word For Word, Encore, and First Press, California Writers Club Tri-Valley Branch anthologies (2015, 2013, and 2011); 4th Street Studio’s Livermore Wine Country Literary Harvest and Saturday Salon Literary Harvest anthologies.

I’ve been involved in critique since I joined the Tri-Valley Writers Branch in 2005 as a charter member. My good friend and mentor, Hector Timourian, led this group until he he handed it off. I picked up the responsibility to “clerk for us,” getting the announcement out to people about when the monthly meetings are coming up, letting people know who has submitted pieces, and showing up to facilitate the critique session discussion.

I’ve benefited from the feedback from others, reading the diversity of others pieces, and offering comments about what I liked, what gave me pause, and suggestions.

The monthly critique sessions also encourages me to write, to get a piece ready to submit for critique. I don’t like to be empty handed.

I joke with others that my only hope is that writing is a learnable craft.

We continue the STEM critique group through the summer.

I encourage you to write, to check out our CWC TVW branch, and to consider the critique groups as a way to improve your writing.

Last day at Belize Open Source site

Yesterday, first thing, I drove into Orange Walk Town to pick up my reconciled tax statement before Armin Cansino left for Belize City.

At 10:00, I met with Natalio Solis and Pedro Wall who is refurbishing our corrals and adding a chute to vaccinate or load cattle. I watched his crew as they worked.

We also discussed improving the little 12′ by 20′ wooden house that I put in as part of the first visitors accommodations for the Cleveland State University EWB chapter when they did the new classroom building for the school in August Pine Ridge.

I also need to add more facility improvements, so there is more “there” here. We talked about a new house, but in context of overall plan. Pedro cautioned about spending too much on improving the existing house vs a new one.

But good news, the hot water showers were working. They weren’t in December when I was here.

I walked the place, taking gps waypoints (WPs) and laying down a track.

I looked at cashews on trees, the first I’ve seen on our old ones planted in the 1970s and the new improved varieties in the orchard in the front.

Watched our caretaker add molasses-water mix to hay we’re using to get the cattle through the dry.

David Dyck, Natalio, and I made a workplan to sell the herd after we fix the corrals, add fencing for more parcels, clear and plant more land, fertilize, and restock when pastures are reestablished.
Today, I was able to meet with Osmany Salas who is always bristling with good ideas. Such a great citizen of Belize – always looking for ways to make things better. Lots to follow up on.

I also met Albert Burn, who knew my dad from back in the 1970s at Carver Ranch. He also knew the rest of the cast of characters too, from Jack Garden to Carlos Carmona, to Chester Cotter. He didn’t go into details but described the trouble Carmona made for my dad and the ranch.

Got my flight home upgraded to first class!

I’m in Houston, waiting to board flight to San Francisco.

Cashews and GPS track in Belize

The two screenshots from Google Earth show today’s route and a bit of yesterday’s. I caught water taxi to San Pedro at 3pm, then took a taxi to Mahogany Bay to look at their development using houses they prefab in Belmopan. 

I caught a ride back to town with Scott Fuson who showed me around Mahogany Bay. His friend, Mario, taxied us back. Mario also called and found me a room at Zen Belize.

Fred at Zen Belize was very gracious and deserves highest marks. 

I was able to met up for pizza with our old family friend, Francisco Bergen.

I booked a 7am flight on Tropic Air and Mario got me there in time. We landed at the municipal strip and Arjun taxied me to the water taxi parking lot via scenic route, I got a few photos of Belice City I will post later. Then up the northern highway to Orange Walk and out past August Pine Ridge to the Belize Open Source site. Our caretaker, Franco and I walked to the back. A few of the old cashew trees were still fruiting (and nutting).

Belize Open Source Sustainable Development

I’ll be traveling to Belize, Wednesday 5/31 and be there till mid-day 6/3/17. Since I’ve been in Nicaragua for the composting latrine project, makes sense to stop in on my way home.

Here are photos from my last stop in December 2016, after our Engineers Without Borders assessment trip for the water supply project in El Llanito, Nicaragua. These selected ones show me with one of the improved cashews in our orchard, the caretaker’s residence, and our “tiny house,” where I usually stay.In the background can see our shed which covers our 40′ shipping container and part of our corrals. I’ve also include a photo of our cattle.

Belize Open Source Sustainable Development is a work in progress.

In October 2006, I got response from CA Secretary of State indicating we were incorporated and in June 20008, got letter from the IRS with the determination that Belize Open Source – Sustainable Development is exempt from Federal income tax and we are qualified to receive tax deductable donations.

Here is a bit about the story on the property. As the background page indicates:

I went to Belize in ’74 to help my parents, 2 younger brothers, and my sister relocate to a land development project between August Pine Ridge and San Felipe. My sister, the oldest of my siblings, is 11 years younger than me.

Roy Carver, an American businessman, had a 24,000 acre property along the Rio Hondo River border with Mexico. My dad, who had managed ranches in Wyoming and Arizona, was hired to run the beef cattle operation.
I was 27 and met my wife in Belize. She was working in Belize City on a Canadian Aid Project to bring water and sewerage systems to Belize City. Almost as a lark I bought the 40-acre property down the road from the ranch. I thought it might make a separate get-away for us away from the rest of my family.