Author Archive.

Mad Bad Dad

Posted by on June 27th 2014 in In the garden, Shiny new kit

When I was a kid I was never allowed anywhere near anything like this:

 

 

Now I'm 40 years older and getting into this "growing old disgracefully" malarkey, so I thought that I might as well give it a pop.

It's a tad more interesting than reading all of that Saga Holiday junkmail :-)

Here's the business-end:

 

 

Shooting with the fibre-optic irons is OK but I'm hoping that a suitable scope will be forthcoming on my birthday. After all, I've dropped enough subtle hints.

FWIW

Some like it hot

Posted by on June 26th 2014 in In the garden, Making stuff
Tags:

During the spring of 2013 we erected our "see if we get on with it" cheap polytunnel and we had a reasonable crop from it.

The only worry was durability - the frame was solid enough but the cover's stitch-work left a lot to be desired, and one of the window-flap's zips had gone a knacker within a couple of weeks.

Sure enough, it didn't survive to see this spring. One windy day in December totalled the thing within an hour:

 

 

We needed something better. We considered traditional framed jobbies but rejected them on the grounds of vulnerability - I didn't fancy the prospect of having to replace glass or plastic panes after they'd been speared by twigs and branches from the nearby Salix babylonica. Proper polytunnels were considered but the site is unsuitable for trenching-in the edges of the single polythene sheet covering.

In the end, after much "back-of-a-fag-packet" doodling, we settled on a hybrid design of five separate timber-frame panels covered with polytunnel-grade sheeting. Any one of the five panels can be removed for repair, and we can slip in simple extension panels if SWMBO decides that 3m x 2m isn't enough - the roof panel is oversize so we could go up to 3.5m x 2m if instructed. FWIW, I'm not planning to extend the height - IMO 2.2m at the lowest point is quite enough.

It took me and Chris (our helpful over-the-road neighbour) about a week to cut and creosote the timber and fabricate the frames, and another week to cover, staple and tape them. After that, the final assembly was a doddle.

It's been up and running for a couple of weeks now, the only thing still on the to do list is the guttering/downpipe/water-butt system. We've already got a list of possible future improvements (decking, trickle-watering, polycarb roofing) but that lot can wait until after the running-in period has exposed any unforeseen flaws.

It won't win any prizes for elegance but functionally it's excellent and maintenance should be a breeze.

You'll be wanting some pics, I suppose?

 

 

 

 

 

Now I suppose I'll have to sort out the rest of the garden :-(

Oh, and just in case you were wondering about costs...

  • 3x2 timber for frames ~£100
  • Misc. timber for windows etc. ~£20
  • Decking screws ~£10
  • Polythene sheeting ~£50 (enough in reserve for a full panel re-cover)
  • Mesh for windows ~£10
  • Tape for edges  ~£15 (plenty in reserve for minor repairs)
  • Misc. fittings ~£20
  • Auto-vent gadget ~£20
  • Guttering, staples, screws, door-bolt and a neat wooden monogram plaque - donated by Chris
  • Help from Chris - free and invaluable, I can't thank him enough

Not so Smug now, eh?

Posted by on June 19th 2014 in Astrostuff, Photo hosting, Pics, Site update

It's taken me 127 days to de-SmugMug this blog, but it's been worth it.

Maybe now I can get back to some serious blogging.

Or maybe some not-so-serious blogging.

 

Source

Cat-nap

Posted by on June 12th 2014 in Rambling on...
Tags: ,

Well, it's taken a few days, but here's proof that he does, occasionally, sleep:

 

 

I'll wager that in less than 15 minutes he'll be recharged and ready for another six hours of mayhem.

Here we go again…

Posted by on June 10th 2014 in Rambling on...
Tags: ,

Ever since we lost Bob last spring, Elvy has been a single cat. She's enjoyed undivided attention and a clear run of the house, and she has become a fine affectionate friend.

This weekend, however, saw a small addition to the household. Elvy's not too chuffed about it.

 

 

 

 

We named her Rosie - both me and the seller agreed that it was a Queen, there being no signs of the tell-tale Tom bits...

but one of those bits dropped during the night and the next day the vet proclaimed that she is a late-dropping he.

So now we've named him Loki, after the the Asgardian God of Mischief.

So far, it's been a quite appropriate name.

Hotwiring the fragment-links and superceding the binary— binary— binary— binary— binary— binary— …

Posted by on May 4th 2014 in Photo hosting, Pics, Site update

If only I could do that, the task of editing all of the blog's image, image-link and mouseover URLs (to reflect the changes associated with migrating all of my pics out of the failing SmugMug and into WordPress) would probably be a doddle. As it is, it's a tedious manual-edit jobbie that's taking me ages.

Two months in and I'm still not a quarter of the way there. It didn't help that a fortnight ago WordPress updated to version 3.9 and the thing fell apart because of the limitations of the bundled "upgraded" TinyMCE visual editor which had been gelded of various features that I need to do the editing. The techies at BlueHost did a restore from a their monthly backup to get me back onto WP3.8.3 with the previous TinyMCE... that put me back in control, but it undid a month of editing and scrubbed a month of uploads.

So, expect this place to be a mess while the transfer is in progress. I reckon I have about 6,000 URL edits still to do, so it's going to take a long time.

FWIW, I did try reversing the polarity of the neutron flow but that had no beneficial effects. The sonic screwdriver...

is helping a bit.

Maybe I need a Doctor.

Every Which Way but Luss

Posted by on March 30th 2014 in Campaigns and Petitions, Pics

Here's a reminder that voting for the Woodland Trust "Transform the Trossachs" project closes tomorrow (Monday).

If you want to support this project you can find more details here.

The good news is that it looks like they've already started the transformation, with a little help from Photoshop: 

 

 

 See how easy it was?

Right turn: Clyde.

:-)

Recent additions to the F.A.K.

Posted by on March 28th 2014 in Illness and injury

A few changes to the first-aid kit:

I never bothered with a Styptic Pencil when I used to wet-shave, but of late it's been handy to have around for those minor nicks and scrapes on various bits of me. Being on Clopidogrel and Aspirin means that even the smallest cut can take over three hours to stop bleeding, but one application of this stick stops most leaks within seconds. Stings a bit, though. Costing less than two quid, weighing only 12g and lasting for many years, it's a worthwhile addition to a first-aid kit regardless of background afflictions.

 

 

I've changed tack on tick-removers. For years I'd been using a Care Plus Tick-Out, it was good for pulling out the big ticks but iffy for the tiny ones. Now I'm using the O'Tom Tick Twisters that I liberated from the cat's med-box, these babies cope with all sizes of ticks and are a lot easier to use and to clean. Two sizes per pack, a choice of colours, piss-cheap from the vet's, and only 2g for the pair! What's not to like?

 

 

The final one needs no explanation:

 

Mind-map

Posted by on March 26th 2014 in Maps, Video (YouTube, Vimeo etc.)

Sometimes a bit of idle surfing can get you to where you didn't realise you wanted to be...

During a short "free period" I'd been poring over some maps. Real maps. Big flappy unruly Ordnance Survey paper sheets. If you remember these things, you'll remember the faff involved in folding them away neatly after use. You'll likely also remember that repeated use destroys any stressed/strained intersections of  folds.

Anyway, duty called so I put away the maps. Some DIY was required, a drill was necessary, and the all-singing, all-dancing one that I'd bought for my Dad (so that I could borrow it permanently) was, for some strange reason, at my Dad's place. No matter, a detour to the local Lidl during a cardio-exercise walk resulted in the acquisition of a cheap cordless jobbie.

Back at the ranch I did the DIY and decided that the cheap jobbie was in fact quite good. So good that I looked into buying a spare battery-pack for it. At some point during the web-search I got distracted by Wikipedia's page on Li-ion batteries and found myself reading about their flexibility (see here).

I got side-tracked by the Miura Fold/Solar Panel Array thing...

And Google took me here and here...

And then the dropping penny reached its target.

Yeah, I know it's been done before, but I've a mind to give it a try for myself on a newish real map once I've ironed-out all of those standard-issue O. S. creases. I might start with a Memory-Map printout and work my way up from there.

Here's a YT clip of how it works:

 

(Late) Observing Report 13th-14th March 2014 (Another Moon Mosaic)

Posted by on March 25th 2014 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports, Pics

There's not much to report here, no stargazing was done - poor seeing and too much haze for visual observing of faint and/or fuzzy targets. The Moon was about the only thing worth pointing the scope at. Suffice to say that 26 slightly hazy .avi files were taken, stacked, trimmed and stitched to make this image:

 

Moon (13/03/2014 @ 22:00 approx). 26 panes stitched with iMerge.
Each pane is ~300/~3000 stacked frames. DMK mono CCD camera
on the GSRC6M.

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