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ncjunk

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Blog Entries posted by ncjunk

  1. ncjunk
    As my 2 year old says..."Oh dear oh dear oh dear...it´s on the floor daddy". You could hear the screams from the Mount from miles away as I started attacking it with screwdrivers and Allen keys.."You´re useless"..."You´ll have bits of me left over you know!"..."What?? you´ve put the small bit on the floor for safe keeping...idiot.."
    But I ignored these imaginary words of encouragement and now have a dismembered mount sitting in the Garage....that´ll learn it. The idea, no the great plan of unbridled Genius, is to remove the nasty horrible Gears and replace them with a sun shine happy pully and belt system. This will have the benifit of the mount not sounding like a Herd of screaming cats at four in the morning. I´ve also bought a set of new bearings and a new "Astronomers do it in the dark" sticker to put on the mount. (Oh ok, I´m lieing about the sticker :p)
    All I want in return is a low Periodic Error and the winning lottery numbers for Friday night is that too much too ask? I have a nasty suspicion that the winning lottery numbers may be the easy bit in all this.
    So I find myself with the mount in a higher state of Entropy than it was a day ago.
    Now lets see if, when my machinist finishes altering the pullies, I can get this little swine back to a working state by the weekend. My boundless optimisum says yes...but my Brain says "remember that computer you took to bits? your getting no help from me"..damn you Brain...
    Still, it can only get more like a Mount from this point on!
    A bonus point to anyone who can tell me the Artist that I robbed the title of this post from! and a bonus point if you actually got this far in the post without your hands poking your eyes out to stop you reading this drivel!
    Saludos and Rainy skies for everyone till I get my mount back together.
    Neil C
  2. ncjunk
    Summers over, it must be as I have just spent the last week and a half looking at cloud. The thunderstorm was fun....for a while...but then back to the cloud....dull grey ones skimming across the Galician country side.
    The sneaky little buggers formed a huddle behind some hill then jumped out on me whilst I was setting up and no amount of shooing would get rid of them. I´ve even started naming individual ones figuring that if I name them I can take them to court and get them evicted from the skies...I´ll do them for invading my Human rights as an Astronomer them and the blumming street lights down the road. Who, I hasten to add, have been ma'liciously staying up late throwing parties and shining light into my Garden.....and laughing...I swear they are laughing at me as I walk by in the morning.
    Then theres the Dew! I never knew it could get so wet here whithout actually raining.....lie down Mr C....deep breathes...remember what the Doctor said..."If you don´t get out of my office RIGHT NOW I´m calling the Police"....not quite sure if that was an actual diagnosis or not but the Golf club hurt like hell, although his swing needed a bit of work if you ask me, so I thought I had better leave.
    So, after much pacing and looking skywards shouting the clouds cleared and the C11 came out....and then I got lost amongst the stars, couldn´t focus, tracked badly and generally behaved like a teenager on a family holiday....at which point I started doing a rain dance to bring the blumming clouds back, that´ll learn it.
    Damn it...I´ve ranted myself out...I think I need a lie down now...rest...that will do it and a nice visit to the Doctors for a game of Golf.
    Saludos
    Capitan Big Thunder
  3. ncjunk
    The Romans managed to build complicated feats of engineering that stood the test of time. They had an ability to design systems for transferring water over long distances and Cities that was phenomenal...the humble Aqueduct.
    I, on the other hand, have spent the best part of a year and a half trying to keep the stuff out of my observatory. I have tried No Entry signs, a system of fines and even shouting at the water from a distance. Unfortunately water is somewhat ignorant, can't read and doesn't listen, like a stropy teenager.
    So, with little pools of water gathering on the floor, I decided to have one last try at finding how the Ninja water was evading my defences and entering the sanctity of my green zone. It turns out my observatory must have been built by the blumming Romans! some idiot...(cough)...built some rails to guide the roof smoothly on its journey to openness. These rails look, to your average Roman, very much like mini Aqueducts and efficiently transport water from the outside to the inside. If I line the inside of the shed with pond lining I will have successfully built a great big eco water butt.....Oh bum.
    Now after a brief word from Mr Saw we are basking in the miracle of drainage slots but no longer have any water storage for the plants in the summer.
    Happy New Year!
    I spent all summer dreaming of long cold evenings having candle lit dinners with Orion...perhaps playing a little footsy with him and taking the odd picture of his big sword. Alas and alack, I have not so much as grabbed a quick peek at his weapon since the end of November and that was a hazy disaster...it looked more like a penknife. But it is the New Year and surely 2011 must contain less cloud than 2010....I am hoping that like the de-icer stores for de-icing London runways the Gods have mucked up and heavily under ordered their cloud supplies. In my dreams huge warehouses are echoing empty buildings with just the odd cloud left in the corner....oh please! please...be as efficient as a London Airport management team...I beg!
    Enough of the rambling....Merry happy New Year to you all!
    May all the clouds pass over our neighbours house and not your own.
    Saludos
    Neil C
  4. ncjunk
    Once more unto the observatory dear friends once more....
    Ahhh now an almost critical, possibly fundamental, requirement for your average telescope is the presence of light with which to perform the miracles of magnification. And apparently your average photon does not have the ability to pass through my lens cap...I ask you...photons today are just too damn lazy for your own good.
    Lets face it why couldn´t they have found a back way in? the cheek of it. So having turned everything on, checked the cameras, verified the autofocus and made sure I had removed the roof...I am let down by the refusal of the light (which has, admittedly, been travelling for rather a long time without even seeing a Welcome break or having a cup of tea) to use a bit of initiative and find a way past the lens cap.
    It could have knocked on the door and politely told me...
    But fear not, having wasted a clear night last night I have removed the cap and set it all up again....and the roof....but can´t help feeling I have forgotten something else....hhhhmmm
    Ohh is Astronomical Twilight the really expensive twilight?
    I have been reading about dark matter and the differing theories by people, some of these contrasting.
    I have decided that I too can jump on this band wagon and get a paper published but can´t be doing with all that research rubbish. I think I have it sussed you need fulfill the following points:-
    1. Cool Name that the newspapers can throw around
    2. Make sure there is no really easy way to confirm its existence.
    3. Chuck in a few big words and an “Artists Impression” of a star with stuff being sucked into it.
    So….I propose “Dark Stars” yes Dark matter is really just a lot of old dead stars that aren´t emitting anything and have basically got lost on the way home from the pub. This fills the first two criteria perfectly.
    Next we just add in a black picture with an ever so slightly less black circle indicating our artists impression of what a “Dark Star” may look like. I will then state that on the 27th August a Dark star will be the closest it has been to the Earth for ages and we will be able to “see” it if we all shine a big torch each at Mars…I could do an impressive power point and everything.
    This could be a whole new theory line, I could bring a new one out every couple of months….Dark planets, Dark comets….and then I could add a new range…Out of phase stars the light exists in one universe and the gravitational effects in this…hhhmm
    What would happen if we could get the whole of the UK to stand outside with torches and point them up and turn them on…perhaps we could blind a passing alien…
    I hope that by now you have realized what a waste reading this blog was but fear not! Whilst you have been reading this I was robbing your house!
    Aahhh till next time and remember a removed lens cap is a happy lens cap.
    NC
  5. ncjunk
    I am sad to anounce the destruction of yet another roof on the shed. It did, however, manage to snap a reenforced fence post in half in its BID for freedom.
    So beware the evils of bungee cord, i knew it wasn't strong enough and all four bungees frayed like the spineless buggers they are.
    I was expecting them to make some brave last bid stand with triumphant music playing and slow motion capture as poor brave jonny bites the dust......poor jonny. Ahhhh look out brad! Another gu....oh the humanity as brad bites the dust.
    But i feel it didnt happen like that and that jonny and brad bungee cords may have been sniveling in the corner crying for their mothers.....some may say it was again the generals fault for not supplying the correct equipement to the troops but i say pish and Tosh! They survived the last three storms so why not this.
    So our general is roofless and yet again without an observatory, i do have a rather nice swimming pool which has four walls and a door!
    Luckily the cameras and scopes were inside so its back to the drawing board and a new roof when the weather clears.
    Roofs aré over rated, still, up until i had to move the eq6 back indoors the alignment and Photos really were coming along nicely.
    The moral of this sorry tale is use moré bungee cords! Oh i kid, it is never look a gift hor....no thats not it....perhaps its never leave four huge m16 bolts in your car boot when they could be holding your roof down.....yep thats the one.
    I have a great design for a house of straw next and i am sure it will work....
    Clear windless skies all.
    Neil c
  6. ncjunk
    Ahh hello from Glalicia place of a thousand clouds!
    I get it all the time, I go home to blighty and people comment that I am so lucky to be living in sunny Spain rather than cold rainy England.
    Well there´s a thing....and here it is...it´s kind of a big thing..in fact it is huge...some would even proclaim "christ look at the size of that thing"...
    Not all parts of Spain have the same weather patterns!
    Hah I have said it now and please all of you taken note class because I won´t be repeating it (now there´s a lie if ever I heard one...my wife keeps telling me to shut up about the blumming weather!). So the next time someone tells you they are from Spain and living in Galicia in the north for christ sake don´t say "oohhh the weather must be lovely!". If it is me I am likely to give you a very nasty look and a chinese burn and then walk off in a huff! (I am a professional huff walker off-er!)
    I have had gales and rain for the last 6 weeks, believe me I tried to tell Gale she had outstayed her welcome but she wouldn´t listen, and when it clears up for a day the moisture in the air causes mist/fog to form ruining my lovely clear Astronomy nights. I need a weather machine or a big fan to blow the clouds away...hhhmm or a volcano..I saw a picture with one of those that had just erupted and punched a hole through the clouds. Do FLO sell volcanoes per chance??
    Perhaps a flock of trained Seagulls all flapping their wings at the same time would create enough of a breeze to move the clouds? there has to be a way...
    I am creating a cloud detector at the moment but I don´t know why...version 2 was a phenominal success...it got depressed and printed a sign saying "Its blumming cloudy just as it was yesterday...idiot" then buggered of down the pub. I think I made it too intelligent...and the legs were a mistake with hindsight.
    Its my birthday and I got a Sky at night subscription! my wife´s great! shame she didn´t take the hint about the 40" telescope but I will let her off as it would only get used a few times a year (damn it man! get over the weather....move on with your life!).
    So as I sit here with a strain of the Ebola virus, I am pretty sure it is the ebola virus...I have a slight cough and am whinging lots so it must be, looking at another cloud stubbornly weigh anchor and sit there staring at me and asking "wot you lookin at"....I come to the brilliant conclusion that my coffee has gone cold!
    ..aahh coffee and beer the solutions to all lifes problems!
  7. ncjunk
    Now, in the general scheme of things i like to think i can regularly out shine a low watt bulb. I know my brother would provide evidence to the contrary but, as i keep telling my son, uncle Ian smells.
    So, having done a degree which had electronics in it somewhere I decided to bravely copy someone elses good work and make a parraalllllel (never could spell that) port controlled focuser.
    I ordered all the bits and waited..and waited, then phoned up the delivery company got them to deliver it to an address they could find and finally everything was in place to banish bluriness.
    i had the stepper motor, the opto isolators, the transistors, LEDs and the thing to wire it all to. I can´t remember what it is called so it shall hence be known as the "board with the copper tracks that doth permit the works of the devil to be done".
    A perfect example of why my fledgling marketing carreer veered off the road and burst into flames.
    aahh but we last left our hero, thats me in case you are confused, battling with the...board thing... and splashing lumps of solder like rabit droppings onto components.
    This work of...well the word "art" springs forth from the asylum of delusion that is my brain...grew into a shiny birds nest of brilliance. Once hooked up to my modern day Indifference machine (unlike its more famous sibling the little known indifference machine can be programmed with a problem but doesn´t give a rats **** if it solves it or not and would much rather be down the pub with a pint and a fag instead of trying to figure out what 11100011010011 is....thank you very much), sprang gazelle like to life with flashing lights and a lack of smoke which brought forth joy to my heart!
    It was at this point in the proceedings i decided to try the stepper motor i had bought and low a deep pit of foreboding opened in the shallows of my soul.
    You see, i had completely forgotten to check which stepper i had got, the 6 lead center tapped one or the four lead one which requires, remembered from a daze of uni drunkeness, an H bridge transister congfiguration.
    Unfortunately it was the one that requires an H bridge and I had built the circuit for the other better looking brother with the two extra flashy leads with go faster strips.
    And thus after a Journey of Giants, sword fights and really big lizards with bad breath...we find ourselves but a mere 2 steps away from the start point with 1 artistic board, a computer that has buggered off down the pub and the ford fiesta of stepper motors which only has 4 leads.....
    Ahhh I knew I should have bought the stepper motor driver chip but it seemed too good to be true...surely God would not allow the existence of such a useful chip?
    Back to day dreaming and planning for the next home-made botch job for me my lad...I´ll get you next time damn you..
    Neil C
  8. ncjunk
    Well little Xacobe was born on the 7th of May and kept us busy ever since. Sleepless nights used to be spent swearing at the fact I couldn´t find M81 again and the focus was slightly out. Now it appears to be whether the nappy is dirty, he is hungry or little johnny has broken his leg down the old abandoned well (I figure communicating to a child is much like the old black and white lassie episodes...I am pretty sure a lot of the communicating is telling me about some poor child has had an accident in a little used mine shaft or something).
    Well I am pretty sure little Johnny will be dead by now as I changed the nappy instead and went back to sleep. I am just not as caring as those people who owned lassie.
    Did Flipper communicate in the same way? or did he just bring back people who had got cramps whilst swimming? and could Flipper beat Lassie in a fight?
    :confused:
    Still, the roof is complete and I spent a very productive half hour doing a Homer simpson (roof goes open.....roof goes closed....roof goes open). I can hear my mum now..."if you don´t stop playing with it it will fall off".
    Hah! well shows how much mum knows...it is still working!
    Now....I am going to start hallucinating about sleeping.
    I think it would depend where the fight was held....Lassie woudn´t stand a chance in the sea...unless you could create a dog underwater super outfit.....
    .............
  9. ncjunk
    Ahh a holiday weekend with visions of completing the roll off roof before the end and before the kid is born.
    Unfortunately the wood didn´t get delivered...well I knew it wouldn´t deep down inside, you don´t order wood in spain 3 days before you want it and expect to get it. Ordering anything in this country is very much a zen experience. You place the order and whilst waiting are able to contemplate the inner workings of the universe and reach an inner harmony very much like yoga. The wood will decide when it is ready not the other way around...oh to get the wood you must think wood...and live wood...to be wood is to understand...
    Think soil, water and sun...ahhh become the tree...
    I am willing to admit that a 3 day break and not having the wood to finish the roof may have affected me somewhat.
    Still, I need to waste some money as well but I don´t have much. So I have decided either a kayak or an E-book. I NEED the e-book because obviously paper isn´t good enough...although now I am thinking about it being stranded on a mountain in the cold you wouldn´t be able to light a fire with the e-book. The kayak I need because I am becoming unfit and old...[removed word] another ten seconds have gone by SEE I am ageing again..damn it aged again..
    You see I could put all the books on the e-reader and take them where ever I want....or I could get fit in the Kayak and prolong the life somewhat.
    It is just too big a choice so I may have to spend 50 quid on the lottery friday instead. With 110 million I could buy a blumming huge telescope and all the wood I want when I want it! hahhahahhhahahah :icon_eek:.
    Ahh well back to bed ready for work tomorrow, I hope whoever reads this realises they have just wasted valuable seconds of their life! you fools!
    Neil C
  10. ncjunk
    I had to rebuild the PC controlling the mount so decided to go for the Intel Desktop Board D945GCLF2 with Integrated Intel Atom Processor 1.6g dual core. It was a nightmare to install as I had a dodgy power lead (The black lead that plugs into the mains) and didn´t realise. This meant the motherboard worked but sometimes failed to start properly. I have never come across this problem before.
    Still, the motherboard is Micro ATX and is tiny! it cost me 95 euros and all I had to add was 1 stick of memory so for about 100 pounds you can have a fully working PC (assuming you have an old case). 1 point to note is there is only 1 memory stick slot but a 2gb card is more than enough for astronomy.
    The motherboard will fit in an ATX case but I purchased a Mini ATX as the micro ATX was not available. You get the full range of connectors on the back :- Six USB 2.0 ports Two SATA ports (3.0 GB/s) One parallel ATA IDE interface with UDMA 33, ATA-66/100 support One serial port One parallel port PS/2* keyboard and mouse ports 10/100 Ethernet
    All you would need for connection to a mount. I have tested it with the following configuration:-
    MaximDl
    Meade DSI
    ATIK 16 IC-S
    EQMOD
    FTDI lead
    PHD guide software
    ACP observatory control.
    The motherboard copes extremely well and has no problem running all of the above at the same time and a remote desktop (oh and a wireless card as i installed on the one PCI slot) I have been damn impressed with this and see no reason why you couldn´t mount it in a micro ATX box directly under the mount for a really small solution.
    If you are looking for a cheap replacement to a dead motherboard or you want to build your own cheap solution I can recommend this as an answer and the small form factor could be the ideal solution to a permanent observatory PC.
    I have added a link to the specs and if anyone has any questions feel free to ask.
    http://www.intel.com/Products/Desktop/Motherboards/D945GCLF/D945GCLF-overview.htm
    Neil C
  11. ncjunk
    After watching QI and seeing them talk about the higgs boson I thought I would get a book on the subject and see what it was like.
    I did what I usually do and searched through the books on the ereader site and picked the one which seemed interesting to me and not too tedious. I went for "Natures Blueprint - Supersymmetry and the Search for a Unified Theory of Matter and Force" by Dan Hooper and I was pleasantly surprised as it is quite an enjoyable read.
    He narrates a tale, rather than going into the mathematics of it, and takes you from the 1900´s through to the present day. Although I am only half way through it I have found the evolution of particle physics damn interesting. As well as whom did what and the roles that were played in taking the science to the next level or discovery.
    His descriptions and analogies help to make a difficult subject seem easy to understand (and I do mean seem as quite evidently you cannot hope to understand the finer points without the deep mathematics involved)
    Those physicists need to learn a bit about naming things as calling something "strangeness" and defining quarks by colour just seems abnormal...although I am starting to like the colour definition..I must be succumbing to the dark side!
    On the whole I can highly recommend the book as an enjoyable read.
    Ahh the Shed, I now have two weeks off so it is with great trepidation that I plan to do version 3 of the roof. The roll off roof project. The last removable roof, version 2, turned into a 3 meter Kite during high wind so I have decided that pond liner doth not makeith the roof.
    I understand I have to make a frame, remove the roof, put it on wheels and chuck it all back together. It all seems too easy!
    Only problem is I have no idea were to get the materials in spain but I will post some pics as I go along.
    Add to that the inability I have to make anything, even those blue peter things were impossible for one as incompetent as me!
    Well 2 weeks so we shall see what happens.
    Neil C
  12. ncjunk
    Ahh yes the sky is clear ready for another night of stargazing but unfortunately I am too knackered...if only I could flog my good weather to someone else and then buy it back again when I am less tired. Imagine the possiblilities! Mother in law coming over? no problem buy in some rain and save the clear weather for another night. Unwelcome guest? thunderstorm and force nine gale should do the trick!...aaahhh stinking reality....my imaginary world functions so much better.
  13. ncjunk
    Ahh a new forum so I have decided to play with everything. First the blog where I have nothing funny or interesting to write so will aim to cause mass narcolepsy.
    Well I say mass but as no-one will actually read this I may have to add fake links to it from the internet from dodgey websites. Perhaps a form of torture the CIA could use.
    Anyhoo this afternoon involves the search for the mythical Shed grail of a shed that doesn´t turn into a swimming pool every time it rains. I am hoping sealing it in a water proof paint will work but we shall see.
    NC
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