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About TakMan

  • Rank
    Proto Star

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  • Gender
  • Interests
    Design, Photography, Foreign Travel, walking.

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

    Trick/Stunt kiting (Benson 'Gemini')

    Console Gaming (mostly PS4 - Project Cars (Fanatec CSW-V2 etc) and XBOX360) plus a retro collection: Neo•Geo AES, Vectrex, Saturn, Dreamcast, PS1, PS2, XBOX, Jaguar, Virtual Boy, N64(US), Gamecube(US), Wii, etc

    Helping to run the Rosliston Astronomy Group and 'astro' of course in any spare time!
  • Location
    Midlands 52° N
  1. TakMan

    What did the postman bring?

    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
  2. TakMan

    What did the postman bring?

    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
  3. TakMan

    What did the postman bring?

    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
  4. TakMan

    Perfect TSA-120 Setup

    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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. Wow - a Bank Holiday and sunshine! The wife was pleased - we'd only just got back from a short break in South Wales, so all the washing was done with the house solar panels kicking out the kWs and now it was all out on the line drying awaiting my super ironing skills! I invited my observing buddy Andy around too, he came with his own Quark Chromo plus his SkyWatcher Equinox 80 and new to him Manfrotto tripod with video head. I like this a lot – far better than his Altair Astro Sabre mount. Ice creams, food and drink, sun and warmth, good company... this solar malarkey is rather good fun! So, third time out for the Quark and new sketching tools.... This time the Pentel 0.7mm Graphgear 1000 mechanical pencil was equipped with the new 'Pilot Color Eno Neox' red leads that had come all the way from Japan (via Amazon!) I gave Andy my second Graphgear pencil, but with the *orange Neox leads so he could try sketching (in reverse) as well. I like the mechanical pencil - it's got a nice grip, retains it's balance and you don't need to stop to keep sharpening the point! I like the way this device has an extended metal tube to hold the lead and the way it retracts for safe storage. *Coloured mechanical pencil leads: When I started this experiment I chose Pentel red leads first as reviews stated they were less susceptible to snapping than the Staedtler 'Mars Micro range'. They were also reasonably priced, so 'worth a chance' to see if they would 'work' on black paper (that the scanner could pick it up and I could see enough to work with when actually outside). The Pentel's were... OK, but I found them rather hard and 'scratchy'. This did give a nice filamentary effect to prominence sketches, but were quite hard work to get some coverage down onto the paper and took a bit too much processing in Photoshop afterwards to get the look I was after. The internet search continued... to the Pilot Color Eno Neox - there is a cheaper 'non Neox' version I understand. These get good reviews in artistic circles. Soft but not too brittle, plenty of pigment, easy to rub out... more expensive! A purchase on Amazon and a wait for delivery.... I disappointingly found that the orange lead colour appeared more white on the cheaper black (dark grey) paper I was already using with the Pentel leads. In office scanner tests there was still enough of a colour to select in Photoshop for tuning later. Next purchase was a better black card stock. Thicker card, more 'tooth' to pick up the pigment in the leads and darker to aid colour contrast. 'Canson' black card stock (Amazon yet again). It has a decent weight (240g/m2), is much 'blacker' than the cheaper paper I had been using (helps the scan afterwards as well as giving more contrast when sketching), plus takes rubbing out without leaving marks on the surface. I still feel that perhaps the grain is too much, so will continue my search for an even smoother stock. This though was an improvement, but decided that the red leads would be even better. So another purchase and wait! Photo: Samsung Galaxy S7 through 32mm TV Plossl Same, with iPhone 6 Well, it still doesn't appear a rich red (like you see in Ha observing) when sketching onto black, but it's easy to see when actually sketching out under the sun. It's also much easier to scan and then tease into what I want the final image to be, without having to push/force things in Photoshop. The orange leads could even be used for night time sketching as it would be easy to desaturate any remaining colour back to white. The leads are easy to work - plenty of colour/coverage is easy to put down with minimum effort. I've not had one snap as yet either. They are easy to rub out without damaging the paper, soft so can be manipulated/smudged for subtle effects - would be good for galaxies/nebula.... but being soft, will run down quickly.... they remind me of my old (and favourite) Caran d’Ache pencils from art college. The other purchase that arrived for this observing session was the photo studio flash umbrella from eBay for £6 that had been mentioned previously. I had intended to fix with a goose neck device, but found that a bulldog clip did the job just as well. This is much lighter than the felt like fabric I've used at night (which gets damp...) It does let a small amount of light through, but being silver backed, doesn't get overly hot. I found that using my sun hat pushes out the loose fabric of the umbrella - giving me room to work/sketch - a 'result'! Now you see me... Now you don't! Since the last time out, I've added black felt (Wilkos stuff that I'd used to flock my 10" dob), to my homemade solar shield and just need to face it now with white card to strengthen it. It does warp slightly under it's own weight and probably the heat of the sun, so laminating some white card should help with the strength and reflect some heat, we'll see... Another good three hours then under the sun. Some nice proms and a sunspot to entertain us. The Quarks performed superbly yet again. Under the right conditions I think both the new 25mm TV Plossl and the second hand 20mm Pentax XW will be of use from what I saw on Monday. Sketches from the day - I think I'm homing in finally on my own style. Not quite there yet (think it's the background that's putting me off). My own representation then of what I saw - never going to be exact like a photograph, but a record of the event... with some fiery oomph thrown in! Sketches not reversed. Above prom seen at around 7pm on the GONG image below. Below sketch of prom seen at roughly 10pm on the GONG image below. Copyright: GONG/NSO/AURA/NSF. Clear skies, Damian
  9. TakMan

    20mm Pentax XW eyepiece (SOLD!)

    PM'd you... ;-) D
  10. Nothing wrong with them sketches - I particularly like your representation of the prominences in that lower left image. The softer (traditional graphite) lead has given a nice subtle transition to their intensities and structure. The Quark excels at high resolution views of course, but it would be nice to see the full face of the sun as well (not sure I can smuggle yet another scope past the wife though for that purpose!) That's a good representation in the upper image, showing the scale of filaments and the like (gives the prominence observations some context, which I can't portray). The harder coloured leads are naturally more 'scratchy' - which inadvertently gives a good impression of the filamentary structure of prominences - I think you'd call that 'artistic license'! That is 'intensified' by the inversion in PS, that gives that overall 'luminescence' to the final drawings - giving them some fiery oomph (in the process hiding my lost artistic skills - now I spend most of my time in meetings and production... yawn, rather than anything... 'creative'! We use graphics tablets at work for anything Photoshop related, so it is something of a novelty to use a real pencil now and again ;-) ).
  11. If it was, I would need plenty of cardboard extension adapters - at least they are considerably cheaper than the Tak metal variety! Thanks Michael, it's taken long enough to put together. When (if) the tracking unit for the mount ever arrives from the States, we will be properly set up to enjoy sketching and dabble in the odd imaging with the DMK cameras... Thanks guys! Yes, coloured leads were a surprise to us at work (in house graphics), although we did used to fill up Rotring pens at art college with white gouache, so it shouldn't have come as a huge surprise really! Staedtler do a red - Mars Micro range - I suppose we should have got them for the 'Mars' in the title, can't remember now why we chose the Pentel version instead - perhaps softer or more pigment... or that reviews said the Pentel's were less prone to snapping. Still these leads are quite hard, so I need to pop into my local art shop and find a new sketch pad with a paper stock that 'works'. You can (just) sketch onto black paper with them, which is what I would do with white pencil crayon. The scanner does pick it up, but the effect isn't as good as the method I tried here. It is also more difficult to see when out with the scope than just experimenting indoors! The new lead I am awaiting is the Pilot Color Eno Neox - there is a cheaper 'non Neox' version, but we decided to try the stronger pigment variety. These are (should be), softer with more pigment and get good reviews in artistic circles. They are also of course more expensive and coming (from Amazon)..... from Japan! Another clever solution we thought we'd come up with is to use the complimentary colour of red (lead) - we tried blues and greens, but converting in PS still didn't give better results.... just in case you thought of trying that! Damian
  12. Sunday afternoon's weather was better than expected, so I decided to give the Quark its second run out... Thought it was a good chance to run it from my RavPower LiPoly battery pack that I use to power the Nexus WiFi device and occasionally the iPad running SkySafari (rather than the mains adapter). Useful to know for when mains isn't available when doing outreach and the like. My mate finds that one of his packs turns off periodically - when the Quark has heated up and then stops drawing power... note also new, matching 'red/black' micro USB cable (a single pound from Amazon... all the way from China!) As well as the 32mm Plossl used before, I'd acquired a S/H 40mm Televue (awaiting the 25mm) off eBay, so it was a chance to try out that as well. Rather than using white pencil on black paper as previous, I'd been thinking of other methods - so this time I was going to experiment with a new Pentel 0.7mm Graphgear 1000 mechanical pencil with red leads onto white paper. Pleased to find that the battery doesn't auto switch-off and over the 2 hours of observing didn't even drop a quarter of its power (according to the four little blue lights). The 40mm is useful for when the conditions don't allow for the 32's extra magnification (although the eye relief is way too much - I'm going to get some of them TV eye extenders I think). Actually ordered three today (Monday from The Widescreen Centre), already - another £29 a pop! It's amazing the difference my black (night time observing), cloth increases the view (contrast), but it is a little too heavy and warm... and not really big enough under the sun to do its thing, so I took a chance and purchased one of those photo studio flash umbrellas from eBay for £6, that was mentioned in a thread a few weeks ago. I have a plan to attach it to the sun shield... or something ! Update: that also arrived today (3rd July), I'm thinking of using a 'gooseneck' like I do with the iPad to hold it in roughly the right place. I think that will work better than on the sun shield or just loose on my head! Sketches from the day. Inverted in Photoshop. I'm liking the red pencil leads (there is quite a nice luminescence to the sketch now), although they are slightly hard. I've got some hopefully softer leads on the way and will probably change paper stock as well. Copyright: GONG/NSO/AURA/NSF. GONG image included for comparison. My sketches above not inverted but you can match up easily the 'second' and 'fifth' sketches to those on the upper left and right of the GONG image. When I was drawing the 'fifth' one around 5.15, I thought it reminded me of a fishing fly... it still does here! The Quark behaved admirably yet again and seems a good match to the TSA, showing superb prominence structure and plenty of surface features (despite the lack of them yesterday!) Clear skies, Damian
  13. TakMan

    Quark Chromosphere Test and First Light

    Thanks guys for the welcome... to the 'Light Side' and the info re: eyepieces. Indeed, we both commented on Saturday that 'Solar' is far more of a social affair... Clear skies, Damian
  14. If you've got a mint/very good condition one for sale with its original end caps, please PM me - cash waiting (UK only) . Don't mind the odd micro-scratch on the silver barrel or the usual odd bit of fluff stuck on the eyecups, but that's a far as my OCD will allow ! Would like the original box, instructions and silver sticker as well, but not a deal breaker. Otherwise it'll be a wait for the next Telescope House 10% sale ;-) Thanks in advance, Damian
  15. Have been umming and ahing for months (years!) over one of these Hydrogen Alpha ‘eyepieces’ since seeing and being amazed at the view through one when we went to the The International Astronomy Show… My night time observing buddy has been saying I should get one as well for ages…. but I was put off by the increasing price (they’ve gone from £650 at launch to over a grand now) and the reports of quality control issues and the response from the manufacturers to sort the problems… So, when one came up on AB&S just over a week ago, including a 32mm Televue Plossl eyepiece I decided to take the plunge (despite the decent price giving me slight worries that something may be amiss). I’d made contact with the seller in the week, exchanged contact details and all appeared OK – he sounded like a decent chap. He duly delivered it by hand on the Friday evening and we spent an hour having an ‘astro’ chat over a cuppa! It seems that he just could "not get on with the Quark" (perhaps he thought it wasn't a 'good' one, hence the inclusion of the eyepiece..?) In hindsight, I wonder if the actual issue was his scope - a Celestron 102ST, or more likely the focuser not being 'true'. It wouldn't take much droop for the incoming light to loose its parallelism and make the Quark go off-band...? Anyway, surprise, surprise the wife was away over the weekend AND Saturday was clear – perhaps ‘new equipment syndrome’ doesn’t affect solar gear!? Looking at the various ‘Solar Imaging/Observing’ threads on the forums you get better views first or last thing in the day… by the time though I’d done my chores, finished the Club’s Solargraphs and set the scope up, it was lunchtime (I’d even got up early just so I could make a new sun-shield for the scope – where does the time go?!) With some trepidation I placed the Quark in the 2″ Televue Everbright diagonal (fitted with a 2″ extension tube sitting inside the focuser end and a Baader 2″ UV/IR cut filter) and waited for the Quark to come up to temperature before taking a peak… No full disk solar views here (as expected – done the homework you see)! With the Quark’s inbuilt Barlow, the 816mm f/8 Takahashi TSA-102s is effectively running at F/32 and 3264mm focal length (Daystar recommend between f/27-32 for the best performance). The Televue 32mm Plossl included in the sale giving a hefty 102x mag. Thankfully the Quark appears to be a good one with a fairly tight bandpass (Angstrom). No apparent ‘sweet spot’ – just an evenly illuminated and focused view across the field, no ‘banding’ either… loads of surface detail – boiling in and out of focus. The Quark came initially from The Widescreen Centre who had stuck a note to the box: “Dimmer image, good prominence views and EXCELLENT surface details. Would be good for imaging with CCD.” Once that was out of the way I took a picture with the iPhone6 held up to the eyepiece (which I’ve always found REALLY difficult to do), to send to my mate (who was coming over for an afternoon of solar observing/imaging with his Equinox 80 and Quark). Then we enjoyed a good few hours observing, trying out some different eyepieces (Andy’s 17mm Vixen is too much for my set-up at 192x), experimenting with our DMK cameras and I got the sketch pad out as well. Very pleased with the purchase and I think that really does complete the astro purchases…well the ‘big’ ones anyway… Already purchased this morning a S/H 40mm Televue Plossl for a less magnified view when conditions don’t allow more (81x) and now looking for a 25mm TV Plossl (130x) to complete the solar set-up! Even better, it gives the old Tak refractor a new purpose after it had become somewhat redundant after importing the TEC140 ED APO. It becomes the ‘solar scope’ with the Quark for Ha and white light views with the Baader Cool Ceramic Herschel Wedge. Damian Prominence – only a single frame from a (second hand) old ‘Firewire’ DMK41 (it’s first light as well), captured at 2.41pm – the same one as that drawn first at 2pm above. Controlled via OACapture on my 2016/17 MacBook Pro. 'Controlled' in the loosest of terms(!)', no idea what I was really doing with webcam imaging and trying to MANUALLY guide the mount at f/32... perhaps one day I'll get the hand tracking control unit from the States that was promised 2+ years ago....

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