Asa-tro Photography

Hey here’s some interesting info I just read (you may already know this stuff!).
I’ve been trying to find out if it’s worth dissecting my canon DSLR T2i and removing the IR filter for better astrophotography.  
By removing the IR filter I can get RGB+IR light. The cool thing is that I could still use the camera as a normal RGB camera by simply sticking on an IR cutting filter externally… (The only issue I have to investigate is that the focal length is affected by removing the internal IR filter, so I’d lose infinity focus unless I cut or buy a squarish piece of totally transparent glass to stick in it’s place…….)
At any rate I found this surprising piece of information: lots of great photos of planets/nebulas and shit are taken with a fucking piece of shit WEBCAM!!! yeah… crazy. BLEW MY MIND.  Actually some of the forums were talking about that a webcam’s DENSER arrangement of pixels on the sensor are better suited for telescopic light versus a DSLR’s larger sensor…
A lot of people say the main advantage is being able to take hundreds of photos or even just a video clip and then using software to (1) accumulate and stack the light and (2) eliminate noise by subtracting dark frames….
The incredible thing is that people are using relatively small 6” or 8” scopes with a webcam hotglued on the end to get this:
 So now I’m trying to figure out what software people use to do this… one is called “registax” but I don’t think they have that for mac.
I guess it’s good news because it’s less incentive for me to tear apart my perfectly good dSLR, and the other camera equipment is so cheap and shitty I could find it at a truck stop!
I also discovered that tons of the awesome astrophotography is actually just HEAVILY PHOTOSHOPPED and not straight-from-camera. Here’s a quick sample I made: 
Inline image 2
same photo P’Shopped:
Inline image 3
…. That’s how people get all the color and depth… This is a shitty picture to begin with though.
Anyway, that’s not the end of the world because it means I don’t really have to buy a new camera just to get photos like the pros… just a little time on photoshop.
okay well time to go to sleep!… (I’m going to make a simple motorized barn-door camera tilter for tracking stars during the earth rotation… I could probably easily 3D print a few extras!)

I also gave hyperlapsing a whirl.  This was taken ~1am across the Ross-island and Sellwood bridges… It’s really a lot of work to minimize jitter- since you take a picture and then lift and walk the tripod a few steps down and take another picture, you’ve gotta spend a lot of time picking your nose in front of some video stabilization software. I’m learning to keep the camera pointed at a distinct object to make this easier for the software next time… more to come!

Anyway some great progress on quadcopter: I’m flying it with some more pinches of trust- I made a little X-Y tilt servo gimbal for a goPro. Here’s some footage I took whilst in CA this winter:

I just got a GPS-control board and a video-feed system (one that hopefully DOESN’T interfere and crash it!) that should make it EVEN MORE AWESOMERRRRrrrrrrrrraaarrr.

I still don’t like tumblr

…I gave a glance.. I need something where I can EASILY post vids, photos and rants AND be able to sort them into nice tidy topics- this endless blog thing is just messy. Wix appears to be a little to single-purpose webpage… All i want is a nice tidy section for RC shit, Random projects, my photos and videos. Why is that so hard? (oh yeah my own domain name would be nice to put on my LED business card too)

I’ve been meaning to try an action stack photograph too.. It’s easy to make so I can’t wait to try it on something that isn’t me being totally lame!image

I’ll keep looking around for a decent web builder thingy piece of shit… goddamnit…

oh well. The weather sucks here.

How to get started with RC flight

I need some flying partners- here’s what you need:


Radio Rx/Tx controller 30$ (this is about the best deal you can find on a 6channel transmitter. For airplanes, you only need 3ch, but the extra will be handy for quadcopters and video cameras!)

2x metal geared servos 5.50$ each (you can get plastic geared servos for 2$ but they easily break in a crash. Metal is worth it!)

brushless motor 8$ (these are powerful and cheap… I don’t recommed this particular one for quadcopters bc the shaft sometimes comes loose. but they’re okay for planes!)

Speed controller 7.70$  (electronic speed controller “ESC”)

800mAH 11.1v LiPo battery 8.36$

Other details:

bullet connectors 5.44$ (solder these onto the leads of the ESC and the brushless motor to connect them quickly)

T connectors 3.77$ (solder these onto batteries and the ESC for quick connection)

3mm propellor saver 3$ (this keeps you from always breaking propellors when landing with a flexible coupling!)

propellors: get a variety like 9x4.7 or 9x6 (3$ for a 4pack)

LiPo battery charger 6.70$

minimum Total = 90.00$

**final note: this is the minimum to get started. You should get spare parts to save yourself time and frustration. Definitely get a spare motor, 3 of the batteries, a spare servo, and a spare ESC. recommend Total = 127$

okay… so it’s not DIRT cheap, but it’s a good hobby. If you know how to solder and repair things, you can transfer all of this equipment for the quadcopter you’ll build in the future. The quadcopter only needs 3 extra motors (+24$) flight control board (+25$), and 3 extra ESCs  (I found a great solution SPECIFICALLY FOR quadcopter ESCs (+30$).  So that’s all +80$ extra for quadcoptering.

Okay that’s not that cheap either… anyway. it’s fun, and way more powerful than a store-bought aircraft for the same money.

Later I’ll post how to make a plane from pink insulation foam and some packing tape! But order this shit because it takes almost a month to ship! (but it’s the best price you can find!)

So it’s been a while. Summer was BIG:

-6weeks travelling:

2days NYC, 2days Connecticut, 4hrs Zurich, 2days Istanbul, ~2weeks Izmir (exploring down along the coast, ruins and towns on the eastern half), 4days Belgium, 1night Paris, ~10days Hungary, 2days Vienna, 3days NYC, PDX forevs!

As with any trip, I got a little homesick around the last 15% our escapade. It’s nice to be back in the quotidian rhythm of regular life…. and to be making cash!

The job is great. A good bit of what I work on is in a ‘non-disclosure agreement’ so I can’t delve into juicy deets. The projects have been diverse. From a one-off laser research station to making revisions on an injection molded part for which we’ll have 2000 produced. I’m learning a lot too- there are some days where I have to acquire the knowledge for a project. Capillary force (blood sampling!) , thermal (liquid cooling!), programming (i2c, interrupts, python!).  So there’s a lot of knowledge that one can only amass on the job- It’s just school that gave me the strategies and patience with math and other concepts that makes the new knowledge applicable.

Upcoming Projects: So we have a makerbot replicator2 at work. It’s mostly unused so I can goof off with it.

3D printing:

-Quadcopter Parts: new folding hinges that fold upward (this will be nice way to fold a hex copter!).  

-Super f’ing bright Laser and high-power LED enclosures.

-Pan/Tilt servo assembly for my FPV system!



-Infrared Conversion Hack. Well I’ve bricked yet another canon point-and-shoot. I had to burrow all the way down to the sensor and carefully pluck away the IR filter.  I’ve connected and screwed in everything correctly- why the hell is it not starting up??!??!?  I mostly want to do this because astrophotography is supposed to be really enhanced…. grrrr…

- Soft box/light box thingy… I saw some projects on and it looks great just to get some fluoresecent lights to make a square light rig…. Can’t wait to take pics of Jane all jazzed up!

-Solid Black, White, and other interesting cloths.

Other Crap:

-hunting for a dualsport motor bike! I’ve seen a couple bikes I couldn’t get in time on craigslist: Suzuki DRZ400, Honda XR400 and yamaha YZ400/426 and WR400/426. Floating around 2000-2500$. The trick is finding STREET-LEGAL ones! Can I risk buying it and trying to convert it??

-Video games: finally treated myself to an xbox360 and playing all the halos I have resisted for so long..   MineCraft: Nels and i want to build shit together and have another mode of interaction. I think I finally got the port-forwarding and server hosting together!!!! phew!

okay,… so i kind of hate tumblr. I just don’t like the format of any of these blogs. Plus I want my own domain name where I can sort crap like my tutorials, professional work, personal project portfolio, funny photos, etc… So that will probably be another little project!

alright, sorry no photos. I’ll make up for it sometime.

Wahoo!! Popping champagne and lighting cigars! Just graduated with my MSME, started my new job in product development, and taking a 6week trip thru NYC, Zurich, Istanbul, Izmir, Brussels, Paris, Budapest and Vienna with my lovely bride-to-be! So glad to be alive! More pictures of our trip will come… Projects later..

it uses information from tilt sensors (gyroscope and accelerometer) to adjust the propeller speed based on an equation that models the physical system (inertia, damping, motor dynamics, etc…). This project is aimed at balancing a quadcopter….which will take a lot more time, but I’ll keep working on that!

I used matlab to make a first-order TF that has the same experimentally determined gain and acceleration characteristics as the motor: 0.0865 / (0.8*s + 1)

I made a Free-body diagram that included the moments of inertia. I could use these equations in Matlab to begin making a P, PI and PID controller.

I used the arduino to measure angle error (accelerometer), and the angular velocity (gyroscope).. It inputs that sensor info, runs it through the equation and outputs the PWM for the motors….. The real P,I,D settings that were optimal were much different than what I calculated in matlab…. anyway I’ll post the writeup somewhere…. hopefully I can improve this and start making my own full 6-DOF quadcopter controller!!!

Here’s my new quadcopter frame I built.  It’s a little more stable, but I’m hoping to make big improvements because I’m programming my own flight-balance system as part of a class project for my controls/robotics class.  I also just got an FPV (live video feed) system which should make it easier to pilot it around obstacles and at long distance (up to 1-3km is from it’ll be capable of!).  So more good shit to come (within ~3weeks), especially if my own balance-system works out as well as I hope- then I’ll be able to focus on good video angles rather than just keeping it from crashing!

I’ve concocted a stupid-simple no-knead bread/pizza dough recipe that’s awesome because it (1) doesn’t involve kneading (2) or involve lots of space and (3) it’s yummy! 


1-Mix  ~4c bread flour + ~Tbsp dry Yeast + dash of salt and sugar in a big pot. 

2-Add enough water and stir until dough is gummy and slightly tacky but not so sticky that it sticks and clings to your hands! (about 1 - 1.5c).

3-punch and roll it for 1minute inside the pot. (okay… a little kneading).

4-cover with plastic, paper or pot lid.  Let rise at room temp overnight (between 6 and 30hrs). *Can rise faster in a warm oven in just 2-4hrs: get oven to 100-140°F by turning it on for just 60seconds and let the pot rise in there. [After it’s risen you can refrigerate up to a week]

For pizza: you can just roll it and stretch it. BAKE AT 500°+ (the hotter the better, real pizza ovens are ~900°) for 10-15mins. (tip: Put some polenta/cornmeal underneath the flattened dough before adding toppings to help slide and transfer it to the baking sheet or pizza stone.  Spread olive oil before adding sauce and toppings to keep the crust crispy.)

For bread: Roll and Form it into a loaf, cover and let sit for 20-60mins. BAKE AT 500°+ (again, the hotter the better)  for ~30-40mins, occasionally spritzing with water or just put a pan of water in the oven to make it humid. (tip: score the loaf just before baking, and dust it with a little flour after baking for a pro look).


(1) You can use regular flour, but bread flour produces much gummier and richer breads because of the higher gluten content.

(2) You can also cut down the rise time to just ~2-4hrs for the pizza: Turn on the oven for just 60seconds so that it’s warm 100-140°F, and stick the pot to rise in there.

(3) You can easily refrigerate the dough ball after it’s risen in plastic for about a week, easily peeling off portions to bake or make pizza every night!

(4) this is loosely based off some other no-knead recipes I’ve tried but those are pretty strict. Cut corners and F around!

WhispEars: windblocks for Athletes

This is another one of my innovation grant projects I had started last year- Here’s the idea: Whenever running or biking fast there’s a huge blustery sound of the air whipping by your ears.  It’s easy to ignore the sound but over time it can cause permanent tinnitus.  It also means you have to crank the volume of your Headphones really loud to hear.

I noticed that if i place a couple fingers along my sideburns it cuts the wind noise substantially- So why can’t we have a dumb piece of plastic do this?   Ideally I’ll have invented something that looks cool, is less than 10$, and actually works!


I made a replica of my ear (with dental alignate cast and plaster mold) and put in a little microphone so I could record the noise reduction of different designs within the windtunnel.  I made the ear holder out of plumber’s putty (the stuff harden’s like ceramic, it’s a good proto material!) and some variously sized windblocks that I could slip in and test rapidly.


Honestly, it was impossible to measure the wind noise in the windtunnel. The sound of that big fan just overpowered the relatively small wind noise within the ear.  Anyway, took the best measurements I could and began 3D printing some potential designs- I feel it’s important to make the design as ‘elegant’ and ‘organic’ as possible otherwise they could easily be regarded as dumpy and lame. But the message by wearing these is “I GO FAST!!”




So here’s the first round- It doesn’t really cut the wind and it doesn’t quite fit right so it’s about as lame as I had feared!  I made some changes and 3D printed a new model over the weekend so I’ll take a look today and see if it’s any better!

Here’s my POV business card in action- slow, slow action. It’s in slowmo so you can appreciate how each little light blinks and then I added a ‘Trails’ effect so you can see how the persistance-of-vision effect is created. Also note how the lettering can reverse so that you can ‘reswipe’ the word in both directions. Hope you like the music too, it’s an oldie I made on Ableton, it’s just a sketch from 4yrs ago but maybe I’ll polish the ‘ol turd.

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