Archive for November, 2007

comet holmes is full of deceit and lies

November 22nd 2007

comet holmes thumbnail

Normally I’m not one to get angry at celestial objects, but I’ve got some words to say about this so-called “freak comet” currently sailing above our heads. If you haven’t read the news, there’s this Comet Holmes thing, which is usually a mediocre ball of ice that’s invisible to the naked eye. For reasons unknown, a few weeks ago it got a million times brighter within the span of a few hours. Sounds pretty awesome, right? I’ve been pointing my head up every night for the past 2 weeks, expecting to see a blazing fireball, like this and this.

A big waste of time. This “comet” is hardly worthy of its namesake. Maybe it’s just because I don’t have a giant telescope, but to my naked eyeballs Comet Holmes looks pretty much like any other point of light in the sky. Perhaps ever so slightly more blurry than a star, but that’s about it. I would like to write an angry letter, but I’m not sure who to address it to.

Posted by dylan under outer space | 3 Comments »

infrared digital camera, pt. 3

November 5th 2007

point reyes hills in infrared thumb

The short story: I modified a crappy digital camera to make it capture infrared images. Step-by-step instructions available at this instructable.

The long story: A fortuitous sequence of events has led to the successful creation of a real, actual infrared digital camera, done right. The first step was to get my hands on a reasonable digital camera (ie: one that was actually compatible with my computer). For this, I marched straight into the nearest Ritz Camera store, walked directly to the counter, and stated “I would like to purchase your absolute cheapest digital camera, because I have every intention of possibly breaking it.” On that lucky day, there was a very nice woman working the register who simply reached down below the counter into some sort of lost-and-found and retrieved an orphaned VuPoint 3.1MP digicam. “You can have this one, if you want,” she said.

Not one to look a gift digital camera in the mouth, I graciously accepted the offering, said my thanks, and immediately left. Granted, this camera is just about the bottom of the barrel (fixed focus, plastic lens, dim LCD, generally cheap components), but it *does* have a removable SD card that I can simply stick in my USB card reader to make it interface nicely with iPhoto.

infrared digital camera thumb

Having procured 1/2 of the necessary components, the next step was to order a sheet of Congo Blue (Lee #181, Rosco #382) lighting filter gel from B&H. Once everything arrived in the mail, it was time to get down to business. In short, the idea here is to crack open the digital camera, remove the IR-blocking filter, replace it with lighting filters that block everything *but* infrared, and reassemble the camera, hoping nothing got broken along the way. Again, this is all describe in detail on this instructable.

The surgery was a complete success, and I now have in my possession a 100% certified infrared digital camera. For something that cost slightly more than $0, I am completely in love with this camera. Here is a smattering of pictures that I took at Point Reyes National Seashore and more recently at the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve. Yes!

Posted by dylan under machines | 1 Comment »