Mars Pic

Mars is on its closest approach for the next 9 years, so I checked it out a few nights ago. They aren’t kidding when they call it the most disappointing object in amateur astronomy. I hoped that computer enhancement would help out a bit, but not much.

As always, gear was an Orion XT8i scope and NexImage camera. This is not natural color, it was shot through a red filter. You can make out some of Syrtis Major and maaaybe some south polar ice cap but that’s about it. Oh well. Still, I can cross Mars off my list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Workshop

So, I was complaining about how I was out of room on my workbench and had no real room to expand. Kathy’s response: why not rearrange this stuff like this, do this, and take over the whole other side of the basement instead? Woo hoo!

limberjack in progressThe last project I did before rearranging was a limberjack, an Appalachian dancing puppet. (You may recognize him from Mister Show if nothing else.)

I’ve been interested in wooden automata for a while, and the book Making Mad Toys & Mechanical Marvels in Wood has some great full-scale plans.

The first project in the book is a limberjack, so I thought I’d give it a shot. It turned out to be an excellent introduction to the whole process, from transferring the pattern, planning the cutting, and assembling.

limberjack complete Using the scroll saw, it took a loooong time to cut the pieces from such thick wood, even though it was just soft basswood. Although he’s a bit rough, I really like how he came out. I was especially proud of the joints. As soon as he was finished, I put on some good bluegrass and let him dance!

After that project, it took several months of weekends to get everything moved around the way I wanted, but it’s finally done. Instead of one workbench jammed in between the beer fridge and the electrical panel, I’ve got 2 workbenches and a sit-down worktable. That gives me enough room to get a couple power tools in and star doing a little more complicated work. Kathy got me a bandsaw for my birthday, and my dad is giving me his old table saw. We also had some additional outlets put in, and some overhead lighting so I can finally see what I’m doing.

It’s really exciting, and hopefully I can do justice to all this new potential. I want to start off with some simple wooden toys, and continue looking into automata. Now that I can use the bandsaw to rough stuff out, I hope to be able to get more done, quicker. I also want to learn more (well, anything) about electronics and do some simple projects, and, and, and…

the new workshop