Monday, January 30, 2012

We Now Have a Bobcat Living Under our Deck

We are down to one very nervous looking squirrel feeding under our bird feeder
since the bobcat moved in. 
We have seen the cat twice, it's den'd up under our deck.Right now there is enough snow that two sides of the deck is bunked up blocking the wind nicely, and the small open end is looking out over the ground under the feeder.
I'm sure the cat has been picking off the squirrels, mice, bunnies and birds that ground feed on the spilled seed. 

We decided to put two of Jim's game cameras out and see if we can't get a few good photos.
First night I set up the cameras, unfortunately one without its SD memory card installed and the other with a  SD card installed but locked so needless to say no photos.
After learning how to unlock the card, I charged the batteries, installed the cards and set them back up for the daylight hours yesterday to make sure I know what I 'm doing.
 I pulled them late that afternoon to check photos and recharge batteries and what I ended  up with is 187 photos of birds and that one nervous squirrel. No bobcat, but at least I'm getting photos now so back out the cameras went for the night shift.

You might want to click this photo (squirrel mug shot)

We awoke around 5:30 am this morning to what appeared to be a super model photo shoot going on in the side yard. Every 60 seconds the camera would take two photos with its flash lighting up our entire cabin with that harsh bright light. As we slowly made our way over to the window we were startled by the large deer head that popped up and stared at us for just a few seconds then dipped back down for more seed, setting off another round of photos.

If you're ever looking for close-up deer head or leg shots let me know!

In this shot you can see the opening under the deck that the bobcat uses to hunt. The red under the deck is a concrete blanket we wrap around the base of our cabin to help insulate so all in all it's a very nice warm place to stage a hunt.

Observatory News

Work continues in both the warm room and observatory,
mostly punch list stuff that I have put off for a while. I also have a friend, Paul ,coming over Wednesday to help me with software comprehension and test running equipment.
We have been getting light snow with lots of wind  the past few days making it hard to open the dome. Pat and I have been going out in the truck at night trying to find clear skies for northern lights with no luck. The first trip we drove Highway 61 half way to the Canadian border, another night up the Gunflint Trail but we just  couldn't get out of the clouds. We have had two well below 0 clear sky nights but have seen nothing in the way of northern lights.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Cook County Blog Has Started

Well last month I promised to stop being political on our observatory blog and to start a Cook County Minnesota blog, 
and it's now up and running and called
We Do Things Different Around Here
 here is the link

This is going to be an open blog that will organically develop with the help and input of others both in and outside of the county.
If you want to become a co- writer, have any suggestions, or have any questions please email me with the link in my profile form on either blog.
Please try your best to stay positive, this blog is looking for constructive out-of-the-box thinking that might help unite not incite.

Observatory news
Bookshelves almost done and the telescope wiring is now complete. We are now heading out onto the lake to look for Northern Lights, should be a great night. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cords, Cables, Connect, Repeat and Bookshelves

 I didn't take the first photo by my Jan 14 deadline but I'm all wired up and very close.
I do remember reading in my research books that I shouldn't short myself
on electrical outlets, but
apparently my reading comprehension skills suck because I'm way short in the outlet department.
Here is the power panel in the observatory with both 110 and 12 volt,
the bundle of cables on the right side are communication cables, it's weird but when I work on the panel
I always feel like someones watching.
This is the wiring at the base of the telescope, USB cables are all powered because of their length,
The observatory also has multiple cameras installed so we can monitor everything from inside the warm room. This is the computer that runs those cameras.

Design work on the bookshelf has gone very well and I'm finally happy.
The 1st shelf just above the monitors is oversize, deep and strong, 
this shelf helps supports the 4 corner shelves, 2 per side.
The right hand corner shelves are temporarily spaced and held up by plastic file boxes 
so I could see them in place.
They will get pulled down, painted and installed this week.

First chance I get to open the dome I'll try running everything from inside the warm room but lately we have been hit with nuisance light and blowing snow.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Back On Track, More Cables & Clean Up Fires

I should say back on tracks.
Last week we had a weather prediction of heavy snow followed by cold temps
so we decided to install the tracks on the 
Rodeo on a 30 degree day instead of below 0 day in deep snow.
Track installation didn't prevent the below 0 weather but did keep the snow fall to around 2".
Even though we still don't need them, at least they're on and being ready just might keep the snow away!
Plus you have to admit this is cool.
Although my neighbors some how think there CJ looks tougher,
 I can say Rodeo is one hell of a lot easier to get into.

Jim and Michele were up over the holidays and I was hoping to run the telescope
but no such luck. Over Christmas I had placed a large order for the cables needed to hook everything together and they hadn't arrived,  so in the interim we loaded a pile of software and drivers along with registering everything.

After receiving the long powered USB cables we routed and pulled them through the conduit between
the observatory and warm room. I then started wiring everything together, guide camera to the CCD camera, CCD camera to the desk top, auto focuser to the desk top, 2 web cams to a lap top, all the power cables for  the cameras, powered USB cables, dome rotation motor and  telescope power.
I was feeling pretty smart right up to figuring out I had forgot the communications cable that runs between the telescope and the computer and it seems that one is important.
(who'd thought)

Just a few of the wires and cables, I'm going to need the big container of zip ties.

We have had enough snow to light our clean up fires
During our dirt work this summer Dean stacked up 4 large burn piles of brush, stumps and dead trees
So over the last few days we have burned 3 of them.  I can't help but think I caused great hardship for all the critters that had made the piles their winter home.

That's all for now
Happy New Years All