6/9/2017 Spot Bird Surveys in the Caddo Region of the Ouachita National Forest

I’m writing this late, after the completion of the project.  I’ve had the opportunity to perform some bird surveys as a subcontractor for the forest service. 25 spot surveys at specific locations in the Caddo River region of the Ouachita Forest between US 70 and US 270 near Glenwood.  Each survey was 10 minutes long broken down into first 3, first 5, and 10. All surveys had to be completed after sunrise and before 11 AM.

There was a cap on hours and mileage so it was in everyone’s interest that I complete as many per day as possible. As it turns out, the average drive time to the first sport was 2 hours. When I started, in early May, the Sun rose at about 6:30 but was just before 6 by the time I finished.

The hardest part was getting from point to point.  I’m pretty good with my bird calls and ID was not an issue. However, the most detailed map I had was poorly marked showing mostly lines. Better marked maps tended to show numbers while the roads themselves showed names. Garmin was invaluable but didn’t always know that a forest road had been built or had been “retired”. Sometimes it would take only a half hour from point A to B, others it took more than an hour.

In all it took 5 trips, which was about what I originally expected but I made some mistakes and if I had to do it over I could probably do it in 4. Also it took over 1300 miles of driving (starting from Little Rock) which is way more than I expected. However it was completed.

Whooping Cranes

I had to keep quiet about this for a couple months because these birds are very at risk but there were a couple Whooping Cranes in NE Arkansas over the winter. I got to see them. Sadly the younger one on the right died after being hit by a truck.

The Molly Project continues…

To follow up on yesterday’s post, today I took the mirror box and the upper telescope assembly to the River Ridge Observatory so that I determine the proper separation. Besides the sky, the site has a view of another mountain across the valley about two miles away. Since yesterday I attached the focuser and telrad boards to the UTA and added the focuser. You can see my hi-tech boards and clamps.
Note: when walking around with a 16 inch mirror in the sunlight be careful not to burn your retinas out.

The Molly Project continues…

The custom made secondary holder and spider should be here by month end.
I have 7 1.25” aluminum poles, one as a spare. May get one more if I have the opportunity to avoid cost of shipping.
Here is a prototype truss connector I made yesterday plus another picture showing it attached to a simulated upper ring with a cam latch. I’m hoping that will work, one of the scopes I’ve studied uses them and they will be very convenient. Finally a shot of all six. You can tell they are handmade and each is unique. Later I may revisit this but for now I’ve had enough of working with aluminum.  Fortunately I have enough aluminum channel (barely) to redo them.

The 0.4m (16″) compact dob, code named Molly, continues

Here we have a simple plywood disk mirror cell in the mirror box. there are 18 felt pads at the calculated points for support of the mirror.
Here I’ve cut out two 30″ diameter altitude bearings and matching rocker box sides from a single 2’x4’by3/4″ sheet of plywood.

Here we see the altitude bearings attached to the mirror box, resting on the rocker box with the mirror resting on its cell.

Saturn, Mars, and Antares August 24, 2016

Wednesday evening I went outside and took some pictures of a rough alignment of the planets Saturn, Mars and the star Antares. The ruler straight alignment occurred earlier in the day so I had to settle for a slight bend. Vertically from the top, near the center of the frame the bright stars are Saturn, Mars, and Antares. If you know your constellations you can also make out the pincers of the scorpion on the right as Antares is the heart of Scorpius the Scorpion.This was shot with a Canon Rebel T5, 75mm lens, 1 second exposure, at f4.5, ISO 1600.

Saturn, Mars, Antares August 2016 1310

Binocular Mount

I just “finished” this parallelogram binocular mount. I will probably make refinements after using it. The tripod is borrowed from my small Nexstar altazimuth mount. The lumber from leftover bamboo flooring I’ve been holding onto for when I would need it for a project. The counterweights borrowed from a dumbbell set. Those are 7×50 binos you see. I’m going to use this for the Astronomical League’s Binocular Messier Club and maybe more. No idea if I will like binocular astronomy but I will find out. I plan to try the larger binos at the RRO with it as well.

Bino Mount


Finale of the Extreme Makeover Telescope Edition

If I had a schedule I guess I’d be about 10 months behind it. You may remember last summer’s Extreme Makeover Telescope Edition. I put a lot of work into turning a 10 inch tube assembly into a working Dobsonian reflector. Then I got a 9.25″ SCT and the 10″ just didn’t seem so important. Well, after working on the Library Telescope Project with CAAS and CALS I got energized again and decided to finish the project. See the picture.  We had first light about a week ago and the Moon looked just fine.  The yellow elastic band acts as a variable counterweight and seems to be just right.

I plan to use this on my quest for the Astronomical League’s Messier Club which does not allow for the use of goto mounts.  I’ve seen them all before, I’ve even photographed them all before (though I’ve lost them) but now I start over.  I plan to also work on the binocular version of the same club.

And In The End