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About TakMan

  • Rank
    Proto Star

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  • Gender
  • Interests
    Design, Photography, Foreign Travel, walking, astro (of course!)

    Motor Racing - used to be the coordinator for the BRSCC Fiat Racing Challenge.

    Trick/Stunt kiting (Benson 'Gemini')

    Console Gaming (mostly PS4 - Project Cars 1/2 (Fanatec CSW-V2 etc) and XBOX) plus a retro collection: Neo•Geo AES, Vectrex, Saturn, Dreamcast, PS1, PS2, XBOX, Jaguar, Virtual Boy, N64(US), Gamecube(US), Wii, etc, etc
  • Location
    Midlands 52° N
  1. Been a long time... first image since October 2014 Plenty to re-learn, I'm still (and always will be), Photoshop based - it appears many have moved on to PixInsight in the intervening years... Redundancy last year put paid to a four hour commute, now I work just 5 minutes down the road doing a job I actually enjoy. It's given me the time (a life!) to try and sort my guiding issues that always plagued my previous attempts at imaging. Turns out, it was probably never the mount... possibly the powered USB hub, an OS X glitch or hardware USB port issue, perhaps a mix of things..? A big thanks to Andy Galasso over on the PHD2 forum for his help. Whilst testing everything, I've managed to grab data for this subject, more 10 minute subs on the N.A. Nebula and even pushed to 20 minutes to grab some last minute OIII on the Rosette so I can try adding that to my old Ha data. I'm not sure if my set up suits the next coming months, but I hope to have a play when the weather gods allow and be ready for the bigger autumn targets later in the year! so: 18x 600sec subs. Takahashi FSQ106-ED + dedicated F/R @f/3.6 SBIG STF8300M + Baader 7nm Ha filter - controlled via the defunct MicroProjects Equinox Image. Guided with an SBIG ST-i / SkyWatcher ST-80 via PHD2 'Scopebuggied' Takahashi EM400 mount - controlled via the defunct MicroProjects Equinox Pro (all on a 2007 17" MacBook Pro) Preprocessed (Darks and Flat frames + Dark flats), aligned and stacked in Nebulosity 3 (attempted a drizzle stack and a light DDP stretch before exporting out). Processed 'to oblivion and beyond' in Adobe Photoshop CC2017 with 'Noel's Actions' on a 2016 Touch Bar MacBook Pro, calibrated Apple Cinema 30", A4 Wacom Intuos Pro. Thanks for looking... Damian Never understood why the image (above .png file) always comes out dark and contrasty when uploaded here (perhaps some things never change)? My machine is set up for commercial printing - what I see on screen is what I get in print. So underneath is a screen grab, how it looks to me! And to finish, two 100% screen grabs to show 'warts and all'.
  2. Sorry, the instructions are just for folks who grabbed one from me that I made up, although there are some useful handling tips in them! Very easy. One can, I prefer the baked bean size (as I can get 6x sheets cut to 9.8 x 20.2 cm of photographic paper cut from a single sheet of Ilford Multigrade paper measuring 12x16 inches. You get 10 of these in a pack and get via Amazon - so that’s enough paper to make 60 up). We tried the Milicano/Lavazza style coffee cans, but I could only get 3 sheets out of the same paper (11 x 21 cm and that doesn’t make economic sense to me!) Purely an observation, tinned tomato cans appear to be better! They are ‘lined’, I presume to stop the acidic tomatoes reacting with the tin..? Also, ‘branded’ cans seem thicker - makes them a bit more weatherproof and less prone to rusting! One ‘posh coffee’ (Kenko Milicano/Lavazza) or a Pringle lid (!). Paint inside of can (probably don’t really need to), but I do and also the lid with blackboard paint (Wilkinsons). About an inch from the top of the can I usually (when I can’t be bothered), use the smallest drill I have and put a hole in the can (used for my own solargraph shown above in original post). The ‘correct’ way to proceed though is to drill a bigger hole in the can. Clean off edges and then glue a square piece of tin (preferably turkey) foil over hole. ** **Note and warning if using foil method. I now paint or use a black Sharpie pen to paint over the foil (don’t block hole with paint though!!) as magpies will be attracted to shiny hole and try and peck it out! This will ruin poor solargraph (I believe this did happen to me once - hence why I now drill a hole instead on my own!!!) Await glue to dry and then prick foil with a needle/pin. This should in theory give a small sharp hole through thin material - so give you the best f/ratio and focus - sorry, I’m not clever enough to work it out using the width of the can, etc, etc. Another posh method (used by a member of our club) is to buy a laser cut hole (oooooo!) to attach to your solargraph! Close hole / shutter carefully if using this method (foil hole) with electrical tape (personally I stick it to my jeans first to take the edge of the stickyness). Load paper (photographic side facing inwards into the centre of the can!) I am slightly anal here. I do cut the fresh photographic paper and load it in the garage via my Astro red head lamp (but it is not fully ‘dark room’ dark though). I use tank tape to secure the lid plus a bit extra over the cable ties to keep everything in place. If using a stake to fix into garden it is a good idea to check that the paper hasn’t moved inside the can with the vibrations of the hammer, by peeling back the shutter to check that the paper hasn’t moved and not obscuring the hole. If it has, by this stage I just take into the house and as long as I’m not in direct light (under the stairs or something), open can, adjust and refix lid with tank tape. I usually pre-angle the can on the stake. I use bits of dowel, some use a pencil, others just afix to the stake (large cable ties) and then angle the stake back. You can check what sort of angle you need by holding the empty can up to a light and watching it inside the can as you move it around being projected through the hole. You possibly don’t even need to angle the can if you put the hole in the centre.... I don’t recall why the hole is an inch or so from the top... that’s just the one I copied long ago! I assume it and the angle has something to do with your latitude and the sun’s height..? If you don’t get this bit ‘right’, all that will happen is the top of the sun will get cut off, or you have too much foreground or too much sky.... if you are worried by this (and purchased the pack of Ilford paper), make a few up to experiment with - as there is a bit of preparation and making of a solargraph - drilling, painting.... make a load up to begin with and offer to observing mates or their child to try out. For the fullest effect, point South! Leave solargraph in place from Solstice to Solstice if possible. If you move it (hit with the lawnmower!!) all that will happen is you get a double exposure! ***The old notes of mine you added are useful here for placement and what you want to achieve, foreground interest, etc Once the six months has passed, or curiosity has taken the better of you, close shutter and take can inside. Open. We used to take great care - in the dark, etc, etc. Now we just turn the lights off, remove, dry with a hairdryer (if you don’t you’ll get a damp contact patch on the scanned image)! No point in worrying too much about it not being dark at this stage. Computer on, scanner is bright anyway! Don’t panic, the solargraph will not go black when exposed to light! You can rescan as well, and again if you need to. I have 4-5 year old ones that have started to fade, but are still fine to be scanned again (I do keep these in the old photographic paper black plastic bags and envelopes). Scan in COLOUR. You can always convert to B&W afterwards if you so wish. I scan at 600-900 dpi (depending on how slow your scanner is) and then resize down to a more manageable 300dpi in Photoshop later. I repeat, the solargraph won’t be ruined when you expose it to the bright light of the scanner, so enjoy the process of opening up the can, looking at the results (explaining to the kids that it’s horizontally mirror imaged and the image is ‘inverted’ at this stage), drying it off and carefully picking off any bits of black paint that have come off the inside of the can! Don’t start trying to ‘clean’ it though either as the paper surface will be ‘fragile’ and you don’t want to remove nature’s weathering, pollen, etc as that gives the thing some character in my opinion! If you took the effort at the beginning to make sure all edges aren’t too sharp (ring pull cans are the best rather than those can openers that horrifically remove the entire top of the can), then children can remove the paper with supervision and be part of the discovery... Hope this helps.... D
  3. Solstice to solstice gives the most. Doesn’t matter though that you’ve missed a week or so, just if you want the ‘full effect’ you go S to S. Can even do just a month or so if you wish to experiment first. Don’t go past either solstice though, as you start to overlap solar traces so could loose the gaps! D
  4. So easy to do! No need for developing fluids, just dry with a hair dryer and scan - in colour (the chemical reaction that takes place means (somehow) you can get a colour image from B&W paper. Just be aware that they don't always work... so that can be disappointing after waiting the full six months!!! Damian
  5. All from Baked Bean cans within a 10 mile radius, using Ilford Multigrade B&W paper. Scanned and played with in Photoshop. For more solargraph info and previous attempts, see our club blog: https://roslistonastronomy.uk/category/equipment/solargraphs Here is the link to our solargraph archive (before we set up the new blog): http://www.thornett.net/Rosliston/Solar/html/solargraphy.html My observing mate - Andy's first one, slightly different angle to his usual version. And his second - massive amounts of water damage (was still a few mm of rain in the bottom of the can), but love the effect it's created. This is his usual angle (so can be compared to previous attempts). Can just make out the house bottom right of centre and the tree to the left. Mine, screwed to the house as usual, SSE facing. Sister's from her new home. Was surprised at the very upper sun trace, but it can be matched to my own above. Thought at first it must have moved or have been a reflection from the inside top of the can. The cans are painted black inside and any movement would have created a double image of the houses - there isn't anything to suggest that. Finally, one I made up for a lady at my new workplace. Still need to check the father-in-law's... Damian
  6. I had the original ‘BT Technologies’ one (the company designs, including the superb dove/saddle plates I understand got sold when the owner of BT Tech was killed in a motorcycle accident some years ago). Actually I had two in Tak green. They are fine and do the job adequately. I did find though that they didn’t quite attach/detach as smoothly as hoped, so I sold the two of them and waited for the ‘official’ versions to come up for sale second hand! I prefer Tak’s own, but they are more expensive, have a larger footprint and don’t offer much more convenience for the extra price.
  7. Slowly spiralling..... perhaps more ‘gently rotating’ Carole ! But too quick for the robotic arm to grab. The most difficult parts of the procedure (apart from manoeuvring the Shuttle into position), was the fact that English was only the Japanese astronaut’s second language, so Winston had explained that he rehearsed with him what he was going to say beforehand. Secondly that the really big concern was that there were sharp edges on parts of the satellite they were trying to capture... “sharp enough to rip through their gloves if not careful”. Damian
  8. Wednesday 14th November, 2018 I started my working day photographing ceramics at Richard Winterton Auctioneers (you might have seen him on daytime telly - Bargain Hunt and David Dickinson's Real Deal), ready for the next sale later in the month. One of the early lots was this pair of Lorna Bailey limited edition ‘Celestial’ vases…. very much a space theme in evidence: Later in the day I found Jon, our resident toy expert looking through some old newspapers, he’s here, hiding behind this one! and... I left work early as Julie had got us both tickets to Lichfield’s Guild Hall to see a talk by retired NASA astronaut, Winston Scott. Wikipedia entry - Winston E. Scott It was a 5.30 opening for a 6.00pm start. We arrived just after the doors opened and I was surprised to see the back of a man in a blue jump-suit… the main man himself ! Considering Winston and his wife had only just flown into the UK and had been travelling most of the day, he had a big smile and seemed genuinely happy to meet and greet us (and everyone else) on our arrival. Julie and I had chance to talk with him before his presentation and I said I was a member of a local astronomy group. He asked about us and I told him about the new observatory. He didn’t just politely listen (as you might expect), but asked what sort of scope we were going to put in it, etc. His talk lasted about half an hour. He told us about his childhood, education and how he finally joined the US Navy - becoming a fighter pilot, flying F14 Tomcats. As he explained for those that didn’t know their planes, that was the one made famous by Tom Cruise in TopGun – although he quipped that he had actually ‘flown’ the things! The picture below was taken after he had received notification that he was off to NASA for astronaut training... He explained that he trained to become a helicopter pilot flying anti-submarine machines in the Vietnam war, before applying to NASA. His talk continued about the training involved to become an astronaut and his two missions, which included early experiments for construction in space - what would become the ISS. One of the most important things he did (yet hadn’t practised for), was after the Shuttle had released a SPARTAN solar observation satellite that malfunctioned. It was decided that he (and his Japanese colleague) should try and manually rescue said satellite (because it was slowly spinning out of control, the Shuttle crew could not use the robotic arm). Instead the two astronauts strapped their feet into position and over a 3.5 hr EVA, Winston guided the Shuttle pilot ever closer to the satellite so the two astronauts could physically grab it and load it back into the Shuttle cargo bay! The satellite in question: A link to him talking about catching the satellite: Click to play - Catching the satellite video - 1 minute He then explained the re-entry and landing procedure for the unpowered Shuttle and the extraction of the crew. He made an interesting comment... that you never see the crew leave the Shuttle as that is always done in isolation, "because some don't cope with the return to Earth too well", which is unlike the footage we see when they are being pulled / carried out of the Soyuz craft... had never occurred to me, that fact. After concluding the main talk, the floor was opened for a half hour question and answer session which covered questions relating to travel to Mars, his training, pre-flight feelings and expectations, the private sector and space tourism, the future direction of space travel… and even his Navy ‘Call-Sign’… no, it wasn’t Maverick.. or Ice Man! At the end Julie and I both went up separately to thank him. J got chance to ask a few more questions (!), one was about languages (as you might expect from a modern languages teacher!!!) and the other was about how they decide which way is ‘up’ in space – he’s answering that question below… (it depends on the craft). We left with a signed photograph having had an absolutely super evening. We couldn’t have met a nicer and more down to earth guy. If intelligent life ever visited Earth, he would make a great ‘First Contact’ ambassador ! Damian & Julie
  9. It's just as well there are no pedants here on SGL to jump on that one So, what is the story behind the four year wait? Lost in the post or just a longer waiting list than a 15" Frac? The full story I’ll tell (as best I can), as part of a complete review - I owe that to Charles’ memory as there is little about his Nova Hitch Mount on here or Cloudy Nights. But here is a draft: I believe (can only be speculation on my part), that revenue streams ran out as the upper end of the astronomical mount market shrank, the banking crisis hit, costs increased for raw materials and the small runs of the CNC machined parts- all whilst demand for cheaper Chinese imported mounts grew. Charles was well known for tinkering as well, never satisfied with his creations. He’d add to, upgrade parts and took more time constructing and adjusting them than perhaps he’d accounted for in the costs - this was particularly true for early adopters of the Nova Hitch like myself. Perhaps he also fought his illness for longer than we on the Yahoo forum knew about and that took it’s toll as well...? This all added to the delays... months turned to years... then we got the news he had died. I thought that was it, but I contacted his son (who was helping develop a new mount), to offer my condolences. In corresponding, Jake offered to try and fulfil his father’s outstanding commitments. As for the number of tracking units I quoted originally, in the hands of those that had ordered them, Jake thought only he and myself had them as of last week, so two - fact. Mine is numbered 5 on the back of the unit, in a run of (I think), 20 units. I knew this number of 2 in use that Jake had mentioned was not correct, as Charles did send one to an American based observer to test the final production unit - I recall seeing an entry on the users forum with regards to his findings (Jake has the pre-production unit, a video of it can still be found online). I mentioned this as unlike problems with say a SkyWatcher handset, where you could post an issue and gets loads of response from others with the same kit, having a bespoke unit can make life rather difficult when trying to resolve issues (voltage drop in my case). Thankfully Jake sent pictures for me to check my wiring against his (Charles’ test mount), as my mount was one of the few completed with the motors/gearing/wiring loom pre-shipping, due to the expense of having to ship it back to him at a future date for a retro-fit! I think looking back, that my insistence that he did fit everything before he sent it to me (although delaying the mount originally), turned out to be a very good thing. But, because my mount was shipped whilst the tracking unit was still under development, could have lead to the sort of problem I faced when the unit arrived and I hooked it up for the first time. Jake decently sent full schematics for the unit to aid locating the issue (in case things like wiring had changed). The information we gathered addressing the problems have been sent back to America so any of the other units sent out can be pre-checked before sending out to others like me who have spent years patiently waiting... Damian
  10. Well packed from it’s journey from Humble, Texas, USA... My Nova Hitch Hand Tracking Unit - the only one in the U.K. (in fact there are only 3-4 worldwide at the moment), so we’re quite... ‘unique’! So gives my encoder equipped ‘push-to’ alt/az mount, not only manual slow motion controls, but also track-and-train functionality (which is what drew me to making the purchase in the first place - always wanted a Takahashi and a Super Half Hitch alt/az Mount.... somehow ended up with both, in a fashion... and a TEC 140 which is what the Nova Hitch was designed to carry - a refractor in the AP130 / TEC 140 size or a Celestron 8-9.25” SCT, 210 Mewlon). At last I’ll be able to comfortably sketch at the eyepiece and perhaps try the odd bit of webcam imaging... There were some teething troubles on arrival (motor board potentiometers needed adjusting - thankfully sorted by a retired electrical engineer from my Astro club - thanks Ed !) and I now need to check the mount clutches and gear meshing, but hopefully the mount I ordered off plans on 29th September 2012 (delivered May 1st 2014), is now.... complete! All good things come to those that wait, hey ! Just a pity that it was Charles’ son Jake, who helped me finish the mount after his father (The owner of Half Hitch Telescope), passed away a few months ago... Now I need to really put things through their paces and do a full review. Damian
  11. Any idea what's in the box...? Turned up last week.... after a.... 4 year wait - I kid you not! Looks like it came with some much needed cloud... could really do with some rain as well ! Damian
  12. The FTX is sadly out of production as the designer/maker (Charles), passed away a short time ago. His son Jake is looking into the possibility of fulfilling the orders already on the books. So your only chance will now be the second hand market. As an owner of Charles’ Nova Hitch mount, I can say that if you should see one come up for sale, I’d buy it in an instant ! Damian
  13. Sad news... I found out today that the creator of my beautiful Nova Hitch mount, Charles Riddel (based in Austin, Texas), passed away after a short battle with cancer. Some of you will know of his hand built, CNC machined creations - the Half Hitch and Quarter Hitch alt/az mounts (and their 'super' variants), plus the Nova Hitch and FTX range. http://www.halfhitchtelescope.com Recently he has been working on bringing to market the Hitch Hiker, see here: http://www.hitchhiker-om.com/index.html I'm sure you'll join me in sending our astro community condolences to his son Jake (who hopes to continue his father's work) and to the rest of the family... RIP Charles Damian
  14. Six months has flown by…. Time to collect the solar graph we ‘planted’… Yes, a few days early to be collecting, but today is my last one in the office and I wasn’t thinking of doing a 124 mile round trip to collect from Leominster on the shortest day! What a lovely start to the day, a slippy stile and muddy walk! My first attempt at this location (Summer > Winter 2016) had been damaged – probably due to the shiny ‘foil’ pinhole being pecked out by an interested magpie! 2x previous photos of new solar graph in situ…(Above and below) The site from Google Maps: Kimbolton Church (Nr. Leominster) is in the centre. The solar graph is sited in that first tree-line (towards 10/11 o’clock), looking back to the church – thought it would make a nice view/foreground… This time, we had forgone the foil (you pin-prick it to get a fine hole and therefore sharper image recorded) and instead drilled (No 1 drill bit), straight into the tin. No bird was going to get through that!! Would this one fair better…? This was it’s rough view as seen this morning upon collection at 8.45am…. First impressions were good… the baked bean can pinhole camera looked to have survived it’s six months and was in remarkably good condition with hardly any rust – sheltered under the trees. Back at the office, second impressions were of a unremarkable small image and some image shift (double exposure)…. look how the church is double exposed on the original below…. ;-( I don’t think it was ‘vandalised’ if it had, it would have been ripped out and strewn across the hedgerow… ‘Mother Nature’…. perhaps…? More likely a horse or sheep rubbing up against the stake (or wire fence) – although I did try and protect it somewhat… (Above: Initial scan – 900DPI, Colour-Millions, mirror reversed on the horizontal plane, cropped). If this hasn’t worked, that’s 18 months from the first try (summer>winter 2016) – I didn’t have another pinhole camera prepared after the first go to put imediately back in place, so waited until this summer solstice in 2017 to try again. Again, I didn’t have another prepared to start again this morning either, so another camera would have to wait until summer 2018…. But…. With a little Photoshop magic, it’s amazing what can be achieved! Phew So, KIMBOLTON CHURCH SOLARGRAPH Summer > Winter 2017 Wishing you all a Merry Christmas! Damian
  15. 7.30pm at the Forestry Centre…. but we’ll get going whenever our Chair, Andy turns up (so 7.45 – 8.00 hopefully) ! Plenty of Food, Raffle, good company…. and a fun quiz – a great way to round off another RAG year ! All proceeds to the Club Observatory Fund. **LIMITED SPACES** - please contact us to reserve a place and for more details (food, etc) Piccies and Clips from last year: http://roslistonastronomy.uk/rosliston-astronomy-group-christmas-quiz-and-meal-9122016 Damian
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