Monday, 19 January 2009

Shiny Fixie

Have done an overhaul on my Condor fixed gear bicycle. New tubes. New Ultra Gator Duraskin gyres. Cleaned whole bike.

And the weather is Pish and my back is killing me - will wait for a better day for recommencing bike commute!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Blew up Joe Blow

On the spur of the moment, decided to cycle to shops rather than walk.

Decided to give Fixie a go - was pumping up front wheel when loud pop and whoosh of air :(

Turned out not to be inner tube but Stupid Joe Blow pump. Bottom plastic surround has cracked and therefore not airtight.

Not to be thwarted I found my trusty emergency hand pump and set to with gusto - unfortunately with a bit too much in this case. Bent and broke valve pin - new inner tube required :(

Having arranged to meet Denise at shops I was desperate to leave quickly - not enough time to change tube - instead got the Grass Hopper out of the grave and pumped tires. Hurrah! Success and off t'shops.

So.. After a bit of research have decided to try Topeak/Joe Blow brand again but this time go for what looks a bit sturdier - the Sprint.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Mount in pieces

Got a return authorization from the folks at Astro-Physics Inc.

They suggest sending both motors, GTOCP2 control box and Y-cable to them so they can fix and check all electrics.

It's tempting to get the Declination upgrade at the same time - this includes a spring mounted bracket for the Dec motor as well as lots of other improvements - wouldn't be bad for resale price as mount would be up-to-date with current version.

I think the motors themselves would stay the same - as long as there is nothing wrong with them.

Anyway - I'll look into the postage costs!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

The Pen is mightier than the mouse

The last Christmas gadget we got is a Wacom Bamboo Fun digitizer pad.

The idea is to allow the boys to draw and paint and interact with the PC with a pen as well as the mouse.

Toby seems more keen at the moment, appearing in the family room saying "drawing!" then saying "no, 'puter!" when I gave him a crayon...

Total Control

Santa was nice enough to bring me a new universal remote to replace
the five units we normally use.

Though it is fair to say that Ethan can operate all the existing
remotes - the rest of humanity don't seem so capable

Christmas Gadgets

Fed up with Ethan telling me "but you've been playing with your dwarf for ages Daddy! I want to look at" - I asked Santa if he could provide us with a netbook for Ethan and Toby to use...

Voilà - Santa came through with one of the best specc'd netbooks on sale at the moment - the Samsung NC10.

Good almost full size keyboard with good positioning and size of shift key etc. (trackpad is a little small but you get used to it)

Clear, large 10.2" screen

160gb hard disk

Best of all - over 6 hours battery life!

After spending a few hours getting the machine patched with hundreds of windows updates then installing complete McAfee suite, I used the supplied Samsung backup utility to create a good baseline complete restore image on different partition.

Now just need to try out the McAfee parental control software to make sure Ethan doesn't watch too many Yoda slicing up the baddies YouTube Lego videos....

Monday, 5 January 2009

No more astro...

For a while anyway.

Have packed up the scope and mount in the wee hours - thankfully before it started snowing.

I'll wait to hear from AstroPhysics Inc. on what I should do about the non-functioning declination motor. Or I should say motor controller as when I swap cables I can drive Dec. motor when connected as R.A. motor (but not RA from Dec control) The options seem to be:

1) send the GTOCP2 control unit for repair
2) upgrade to GTOCP3 unit
3) upgrade one or both of the motors

Could end up pricey but without Dec. motor working you end up pretty limited in what you can do.

Meanwhile I heard from Mike Unsold that new ImagesPlus v3.75 is going to be released at the end of the week which he'll then send so I have a lot of image processing stuff to learn - and try out on those images I got last week.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Astro Image Processing

So I have quite a few good shots of the moon and Orion nebula in RAW .NEF files but I need to do some serious image processing on them to improve image quality

Some obvious steps to do :

Stretching dynamic range

Noise removal - I did in-camera Long exposure noise reduction (NR) on D3 which tends to be considered inferior to PC based NR. Maybe more I can do on pc after stretching though

Gradient subtraction - should be able to remove sky glow and any vignetting by doing some Gaussian frames and subtracting them from images

Stacking - combine multiple shots to improve signal to noise ratio and level of detail.

Registax or ImagesPlus should be able to help with these tasks - Registax v5 is in the works so I'm trying the free v4 on the moon shots - not much of a noticeable improvement so far though. Waiting for my upgrade to ImagesPlus 3.5 to arrive in the post from the US.

Will update blog with progress reports.

Trying out BlogWriter Lite

Though I can email text and photos to my blog easily enough I wanted to try a dedicated blog posting app - especially if it is possible to read and edit posts as well

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Orion Nebula - with some post processing

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Orion Nebula

This is the first shot I have taken with my DSLR in prime focus on Orion. This is from one shot - may try Registax on multiple to see if I can improve it.
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