Friday, December 09, 2011

crossing prelim

I've been noodling on trying to video record the International Space Station and Moon crossing, due to happen early Saturday morning. I already have the RASC Toronto Centre's SKYnyx camera! But I know it won't work with my f/10 telescope without a focal reducer. A small refractor should do the trick. Funny that Manuel is out of town right now. Wait a sec'. The Centre has a little refractor...

I emailed John for the status of the StellarVue 80mm. He said he had it; it wasn't booked out. Well, well.

So this made me want to preview the appearance of the Moon with the SKYnyx camera through the short OTA. But that would require SkyTools 3 Professional Edition. And that was on John Littlejohn. Which was running low on battery power. And currently without a power supply (as I forgot it at the Ontario Science Centre Wednesday night)! What to do... Just have to hack it, I guess.

I had noticed some time ago that the output of the little ASUS power brick was 12 volts. And at the time I thought that it would be good to make a little custom cable for when riding around in a car. No need to step the voltage up to 120 VAC with an invertor just to bring in back down again. So, I grabbed a spare universal adapter power plug that fit the Eee PC. Stripped the leads on the cable. Found a CLA adapter I had picked up some time ago and forgotten about: it would be perfect. It had push button clamps. I inserted the wire leads, plugged in the CLA to the gel cell battery ("D") already in the office and checked the polarity. Phil had responded to my early email request and passed on the power supply specs: centre pin positive, 12 volts DC, 3 amps. Flipped the plug and secured it with electrical tape. I confirmed the configuration, booted the netbook, and watched it switch to AC powered mode. Yes!

In SkyTools 3 I added the StellarVue AT-1010 telescope and associated the Lumenera camera with it. Created an observing list for this evening with the Moon. Activated Photography mode. Displayed the Interactive Atlas and opened the Context Viewer. Decided to set to the C8 just to check the field of view and it looked appropriate, with the Moon close-up filling the entire field. Switched to the StellarVue. Ha! The Moon was smaller. But still cut off! A little. If I rotate the camera the right way, perpendicular to the direction of travel, then I'll surely get it (assuming it will cross in front of the Moon)! I put the ASUS back into hibernation.

The next check or test now was to see if I would be able to power John Kim-Chi—the laptop with the LuCam software already loaded—in the field. It's old and its internal battery has failed. It can only run from its big power brick. Grabbed my old invertor and nearby yellow lead acid battery. Didn't work: the Dell wanting too much and the old power pack too old or too low or both. No surprise really. Tried one of the other gel cell batteries ("C") and it worked fine. All right! We have a working recording platform!

I put these two batteries on charge to freshen them up. Should to do that with the "D" (i.e. unit 4 of 4) battery as well.

Phoned John to book the telescope and mount. He suggested I pick it up immediately before he headed to work. OK. Hit the showers, changed, grabbed the solar "warning" stickers I had made for him Wednesday, Magic Bag, and headed over to High Park Ave.

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