Friday, December 23, 2011

Healing, Support, and Happy Winter Solstice

I have to say when Cook County wants to come together they do so beautifully,
The support for everyone affected by this event not only from our county, but the entire state, was heart warming to see.
One positive out come from this tragedy could be that this huge surge of  support and caring for others might continue and grow.
People are healing and that's the best news!

Trying hard to stay somewhat politely correct in the "Holiday Season"
I want to wish you all a happy
Winter Solstice
In the world of  astronomy one should be sad with the increasing daylight hours but as a person that lives in a remote setting in the woods I say

I also want to thank all you readers
we are approaching the end of the second year of our 1 year building project so
 "we're right on schedule
and all we're lacking is finishing up".
(my old boss just hated this statement)

This blog started in mid-January 2010 and we are working hard to be up and  running and shooting photos by our two year anniversary.
We will do a entry on that anniversary with a complete list of visits
but here is a little sample:
As of today the site has had
over 8,000 visitors
over 14,000 pages viewed
with visitors from  over 80 Country/Territory's
and well over 300 hours of content read.

So again thanks!
Coming soon will be the .com site for the observatory
and my new blog on Cook County politics.
For all  my neighbors in the small end of the lake,
yes the beavers are hitting you all hard, the new lodge is now built on Lonny's dock
and I have seen very little down my way,
 They must be very happy down there but with the water as low as it is I don't know why.
I'll try to get you some photos.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Courthouse Shooting and a Need for Change

I have to start by  sending positive thoughts to Tim Scannell and his family,
I  really appreciate Tim  both as our county attorney and a genuine human being.
My heart also goes out to all the people this entire episode has affected, both mentally and physically, and I hope everyone can move forward.

I hate to get political on this site but I have to explain the break in observatory progress.

It started years ago with my laundry.
 My laundromat is right across the street from our county courthouse, and as I waited for my cycles to run a combination of boredom and curiosity drove me to attending court and getting educated on just what goes on in our community.
After a year or so of court I got somewhat depressed and frustrated with it repetitive nature and all the dealing with alcohol.

I  then decided to changed my focus to the county commissioners meetings. 
Keep in mind that I had no local government experience what so ever, 
and I do mean none.
Now after over more then a year of sitting in the audience for 3 Tuesdays every month,  I have grown somewhat frustrated with the system, 
actually more frustrated with our fractured community and their thinking that 5 commissioners doing what ever their special interest constituencies what them to do, will fix anything.

Ghandi stated
"When the people lead, the leaders will follow"
I believe this to be true.

I wanted to live in Grand Marais since I was a child. I guess what I really wanted was
 to live in Mayberry.
(the fictional setting for The Andy Griffith Show)
Well this ain't it 
and the sad part is that I think it could be 
  but it's going to take 5000 people to come together enough to make some positive changes.

 Rolling around in the back of my mind all this time 
(lots of room for rolling back there)
I have been planing some kind of interactive, organic blog that might help and
 this was the perfect week to put pen to paper for the rough draft and outline.

The week was perfect because Cook County was having a large jury trial that was expected to last the week.
I know this doesn't seem like much but up here jury trials are somewhat uncommon and I haven't seen one before.
Monday  morning I showed up at the courthouse with pen and note pad knowing there would be slow times to think and compile my overview and outline.
The blog I'm thniking about  would give every person a voice,  a site were they could post and read positive suggestion's and solutions,
maybe inspire some out of the box thinking,
any avenue to bring a community together.
After three and a half days in the courtroom,  my note pad is pretty full of ideas,
 and final arguments in the trial are complete and the case is in the hands of the jurors. Around 1:00 in the afternoon  I left the courthouse to run some errands.
I had left my number with someone to call me when they had reached a verdict, receiving no call I headed back to our house around 5:00 pm. By 5:15 my phone started to ring with calls that there had been a shooting in our courthouse and that people I know and care about are shot and or traumatized

Where the f--ks my Mayberry?

I will try to get the new blog running soon so we won't have any political views on this blog but if 5000 people can't get it right were screwed as a society.

Friday, December 09, 2011

The Wait is Over, Now It's Learning Time

Our wait ended today.
After a waiting period that felt longer then a performance of Madam Butterfly that I attended
some years back,
our copy of Maxim DL Pro was in the mail box!

I'm very happy we had to order the boxed software instead of the downlodable version because a 402 page manual was included, it's around $60.00 dollars more but not having to print it was worth every dime, besides its nicely printed.

Out comes the yellow highlighter, reading glasses and coffee with Baileys.
I need to read just enough right now to make sure all our drivers are 64 bit and compatible,
understand what hooks up and determine the last of our cable needs.
We are coming up on two year anniversary of the project and this blog and I would love to be showing you some photos of at least the solar system by then.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Feels Like the Best Christmas Toy with missing Batteries

That just how it feels right now.
12 days ago the computer was all set up and I started loading camera drivers and software only to find we were missing a huge program needed to run just about everything.
We had thought this software was included with our camera purchase but it wasn't and the fact our camera was bought over a year ago didn't help.
After calling our supplier they agreed to have the company drop ship the software to the observatory, well after a week of waiting we called them again only to find they had ordered a down loadable version which doesn't help us up here in slow Internet world.
Now I'm promised delivery this week!

Other news,
the weather has been very nice with only light snow.
I have another damn raccoon in the bird feeder and the live trap is set right now.
I installed the tracks on the neighbors jeep
and I also get to put a new radiator and fuel pump in my pickup. (lucky me)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Computer Up & Running and Camera Back Installed

Our new computer was delivered the first part of the month.
I unpacked it and played with some preliminary setups trying to maximise desk top space.
Happy with the lay out I drilled large holes in the counter top for the cables, theses holes were then finished off with desk grommets.

The main computer with it's dual monitors will run the camera, guide camera, auto focuser, telescope and Photo Shop.
The others will be split up between running the dome, weather data, observatory lighting, Internet and warm room music.
I am very happy with the quality of the monitors,
I'm extremely impressed with the whole package, it's rocket fast.
Thank you again Barry!
We received a great bang for the buck and
couldn't have done it without you.

Work in the observatory included:
more wiring both 12 and110 volt
degree indexing the inside of the dome
installing the dome rotation set-up
lighting controls
and camera back installation.

Camera back installed

Side view
click any photo to enlarge

Camera comes very close to the inside of the forks when the telescope is looking north.

Starting to get some snow

Today just a little open water left and with temp right now of 12 degree's it will be iced over solid by morning.

I promised a road update for my neighbors,
all the holes have been filled, big rocks pulled, some ditch work, the real bad mud holes dug out and filled along with the brush pushed back to open up the edge's.

all photos are from the east end of the road to where the gate was,
if you want more info or photos email me.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Telescope Camera Back and .COM Site Address

We have picked up
domain name and will be setting it up over the next few months.
Both the blog and .com site will run concurrently with the .com site containing much more technical information, easier to navigate and search and be strictly astronomy based.
The blog will continue to be more of a life journal about living in the woods and running the observatory.

Other news,
our computer will be here in the next few days and I should be able to determine just how far over my head I really am, so to be ready I started with putting the camera back together and here is a quick overview.

Back view of the QSI 583 camera with internal filter ring.

Front view.

Opening the camera to expose the filter wheel.

Empty filter wheel.

Filter wheel had to be removed for the filter installation, you can see the shutter at the top.
This is like buying a new Nikon camera, bringing it home and taking it apart to see how it works.

This is the 4 filter set from Astrodon and is the
LRGB E-Series
CCD Filters
Generation 2
Red, Green, Blue and Lumicon.

Filters installed in the wheel.

Re-installed the wheel, then the camera housing and I had no extra parts or screws!

Next was the installation of the AutoFocuser.

Jim's choice of focuser is the
I have to say that it's a very high quality piece of equipment and fit perfectly.

Last but not least is the installation of the guide camera,
again Jim stepped up with one of the best.

This is the,
StarLight Xpress
Lodestar Autoguider

The business end with it's visible CCD chip

The complete package ready to attach to the telescope.
The guide camera mounted without any kind of adapter or trouble.

I am also finishing up the wiring in both the warm room and observatory along with installing the last 2 windows in the warm room.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Raccoon Relocation Program & Pumpkin Artist

After Fridays nights blog we found a slight flaw in our new bird feeder.
I awoke to the sound of my poor cat Itchy frantically pounding on the inside of the living room window and evidently giving something a piece of his mind.
You see, we leave the porch light on so the cats can watch for any visiting animals and there's been many.
I walked over to Itchy's window and peered into the night, but couldn't see anything so I went back to bed. Not 10 minutes later he started back up with the ruckus and back to the window I went where, to my surprise, there was a jumbo raccoon in our new bird feeder,
so now Saturdays to do list suddenly included running to the hardware and renting a large live trap.
When picking up the trap I did receive some great information on what I should use to bait trap as well as a rash of crap about not just pulling out my 22 and shooting him.

Paper bowl with 1 broken egg, chocolate chips, peanut butter, black sunflower seeds, 1 unbroken egg and we had him in the trap by 10:30 Saturday night.

All loaded up for his road trip. He's lucky a karma conscious gun owning Buddhist spent the 8 bucks for the trap rental and gave him a nice home still in the Murmur Creek river valley.

Today Pat had all day meetings in town and before leaving she asked if I would carve the pumpkin.

and here's what she got.
There's a lot to be said for adult supervision.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Getting Ready for Winter and Knee Repair

Wow this month went by fast.
With my knee surgery looming October 10th, we wanted to get as much done as possible before it and winter, and at the top of the list was the cabin roof.

Here is the finished product.
We stripped the old shingles and pitched them into our trailer, a road trip to the Tofte dump followed.
The steel roof went up very well, we completed it on the 8th, traveled to the cities on the 9th and I had knee surgery the next day.

Before the surgery my doctor had told me to expect a 2 to 3 week heal up time but being the finely tuned athlete that I am I knew in my heart I'd be good in a week,
Hell it took 2 weeks just to get off the pain killers. I'm not sure when I'll be able to kick a 50 yard field goal but it's getting better.

During the 1st week as I healed, I mounted the electric motor on the auto focuser

Photo of the focuser.

Other projects on light duty included building a jumbo bird feeder.

It mounted nicely to the corner of our deck.

Also completed the computer order with our IT guy Barry, who did us an outstanding job getting our main desk top configured. We did have a small communication barrier, but the Georgia accent doesn't show up on the emails and that helped a lot.
Barry, I can't thank you enough for the help, you are a stud and there is a little something being shipped to your house that I know you"ll like.

Last but not least we also started mounting the electronics keeping the center open for the new dual monitor coming with the new computer.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Punch List, New Equipment and Georgia IT Support

We are starting to compile our punch list and can see the end of the building phase,
along with this Jim has been researching and ordering some of the remaining hardware and computer gear.
Our guide camera showed up a few days ago and Jim went with the
Starlight Xpress
Lodestar Autoguider
It's a perfect fit with our camera in both attachment and quality. I will assemble the entire camera package on the next rainy day and document it completely.
Next week will be computer decision and ordering, helping us with this we have a computer specialist in Georgia that I will call Monday.
(We call him a specialist because he's sensitive about being called a geek or nerd and we don't want to upset the big sensitive guy)

Site clean up is going well and most of the tools and saws are packed up.
Here is a few new photos taken today.

View from the road.

Front view

Pulling into the parking lot.

End wall facing the parking lot,
still looking for windows to put in that upper roof line.

We will build a board walk around the buildings.

,Back, including power box, extra conduit runs and the grounding cables for the lightning protection.

Runs between the buildings
2 for power and 1 for computer communication cables.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Landscaping, Utility Run and Roofing

Wow, it's been crazy around here
starting with two trips to the cities to get my knee surgery set up.
Mike and Joline brought the grand kids up north
for a short get away that included lots of camp fires, fishing, 4 wheeling and fun
so again the observatory took a back seat.

But then Dean showed up,
anyone who has hired Berneking knows that when he's done you're Happy.

We had a list,
"The Dean's List"
and 1st thing was to set hun's propane tank cover in place


It was nice to move it over to it's permanent home.
We built it in the driveway and it was somewhat in the way.

The big dig began at the electric meter.
Years ago when running water and power to our cabin we back filled this part of the ditch with sand and a marker post knowing we would have to re-dig in the future.
This ditch is 6 foot deep and running up our driveway, the depth was needed for the water line.

Looking back down the ditch with our bundle in the middle. The bundle includes a power cable, water line and two empty conduits.We then sand padded and insulated the bottom of the ditch before back filling.

The ditch by the meter was sand filed and layered,
this hole has propane line, water curb stop, 2 water lines, 3 eclectic lines, 2 empty conduits.

At this point we split the ditch into two paths.

The 6 foot deep ditch turns right and ends at a water hydrants, the shallower ditch runs across to the warm room and still includes a water line that will drain back to the hydrant.

This is the same corner you see 2 photo's up with the hoe parked on it,
we had some lager boulders on site that Dean pulled out and placed to build the corner of Pat's large terraced rock garden.

It ended up being a nice large garden.

Upper corner of the garden with water hydrant.

Now came the landscaping around the warm room.

Over the build we had been backing right up to the warm room door and this pulled a lot of the rock and soil from the front of the building, so Dean continued the rock wall around the front,
this allowed for a wider, level path around the building and more planting space.

There is now a parking area to the right of this photo.

The path from the parking area goes right by the blocks, Dean found a nice flat rock to support the post.
(it's level, bad photo)

Pat and I also installed the steel roof on the warm room, we just need to trim it out and I'll put a photo in next time.