Harvest Moon 2013

It’s time for Summer to end and Fall to begin. Around this time each year is the very bright Harvest Moon. This is a HDR captured image using a DSLR attached to 130mm APO with tracking capability.

The 2013 Harvest Moon.

The 2013 Harvest Moon.

Posted in Astronomy Tagged

Energy Monitoring

Each month i’m amazed at the total energy spend, so I think it might make sense to start monitoring things to understand where all the power is going. I settled on a Brultech ECM-1240 system. The system is made up of many strategically placed current transformers (non-invasively track current flow) within the service panel as well as a small controller box that eventually makes the power information available over my intranet.

It took about half a day to install and setup everything. Most of the time was spend carefully attaching the CT probes in the crowded service panel.

Here is a shot of the final install, the main service panel is on the exterior of the building opposite of this wall.

Energy Monitoring Setup.

Energy Monitoring Setup.

Here is the ECM-1240 used to collect the current data.

ECM-1240.

ECM-1240.

Since the ECM-1240 has no ethernet capability it was necessary to use a ZigBee to ethernet gateway as a means to provide the raw data to server running the software.

Zig-Bee Gateway.

Zig-Bee Gateway.

Not all the power here is consumed, we have solar power generation that is tied through an inverter back onto the grid.

Solar Power Inverter.

Solar Power Inverter.

The Solar System can generated about 5-6 KW of power.

Solar Panels.

Solar Panels.

Below you can see the raw instantaneous data. Not the “Radio” tap is showing over 1 KW. Solar generation is 4KW and total energy being supplied is about 235W. This is because air conditioning is not running, otherwise the supply would be quick more.

Raw Data.

Raw Data.

Another “gauge” view of the data.

Gauge View.

Gauge View.

Any finally, the preferred output via web browser.This is live real time view, but you can also look at historical data.

Web Browser Data.

Web Browser Data.

After about a week of operation, I decided additional channels where required to get the full visibility into all the power consumption, so another ECM-1240 was added.

Upgraded to 2nd Controller.

Upgraded to 2nd Controller.

Posted in Projects Tagged

Updated Scanner Hardware Layout

All scanners are under software control and there is no need to see them so I have relocated them to a rack in the server room. Also relocated is the associated audio processing equipment: line level amplifier, compressor and USB sound card. Now I have more space in the main operating area.

These scanners monitor POR and CONUS UHF Satcom, local Military Air and Public Safety. All audio is recorded and streamed for remote use.

Scanners and Audio Processing.

Scanners and Audio Processing.

Posted in Projects Tagged

Perseid Meteor Shower

The Perseid Meteor Shower was a dud for me. I setup a camera on an intervalometer to take a 30 second exposure every 30 seconds for 5 hours but only recorded two meteors. This was the night before the “peak” and perhaps it was a grand show the next day but unfortunately I was not able to take any pictures so this is it.

The image below is a stacking of all images from first meteor event to last meteor event, a total duration of 34 minutes. This is not one long exposure, it just appears that way.

Two meteors over 34 minute window.

Two meteors over 34 minute window.

Here is individual image of the first meteor event.

First meteor after several hours of monitoring.

First meteor after several hours of monitoring.

Here is individual image of the last meteor event.

Final recording meteor.

Final recording meteor.

Posted in Astronomy Tagged

Large Dark Filament on the Sun

The image of the sun below was taken with a Hydrogen Alpha telescope. The image shows a large dark area in the lower left region. This is known as a “dark filament” and is more than 300,000 kilometers in length. The dark area is filled with cooled plasma and is expected to collapse at some point and produce a Hyder Flare. The is corrected to show north as up.

Large Dark Filament

Large Dark Filament

Posted in Astronomy

Kokee AFS Air National Guard Radar Site

Visiting the island of Kauai and ran across this beauty.

This is the 150th Aircraft Control and Warning Flight (aka GSU at Kokee Air Force Station, Kauai).

Kokee AFS Hawaii Air National Guard radar site

Kokee AFS Hawaii Air National Guard radar site

Posted in Radar Tagged

Earth Scope Sensor at Mt. Lassen Volcanic National Park

Ran across something called “Earth Scope” on a recent visit to the Mt. Lassen Volcanic National Park. Some quick googling yielded:

GPS geodesy provide complementary measurement systems for resolving strain-rate over the time period proposed for the Plate Boundary Observatory. GPS strain rate sensitivity is better at longer periods, which allows for the detection of plate motion and long-period transients.

This location is part of a backbone network of 136 sites that provide a long-wavelength, long-period synoptic view of the entire plate boundary zone.

GPS Antenna and Receiver.

GPS Antenna and Receiver.

Electronics box with Solar Panel.

Electronics box with Solar Panel.

Cellular/Radio Antenna, presumably for internet access.

Cellular/Radio Antenna, presumably for internet access.

Posted in GPS Tagged

Annular Supermoon

Once a year we are treated to a moon that appears much larger than normal (especially at the horizon). This occurs when the moon is at perigee and is full. June 23, 2013 is this year’s event. Click on the image below to go to my Supermoon page.

2013 Supermoon.

2013 Supermoon.

Posted in Astronomy Tagged

Good Friday Sonde Hunt

Another great day for Sonde Recovery here in sunny California. The winds are good, the weather is nice and the sun is still up at landing time giving plenty of light. This Sonde was originally predicted to land near Rancho Murieta, CA but the winds and descent rate changed that to somewhere near Galt, CA. As i drove past Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant (retired) I thought “good thing its not landing here”.

Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant.

Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant.

The Sonde started out in Oakland and made steady progress until the balloon burst around 32,000 km, then it made an usual rapid descent into a country neighborhood known as Saddle Creek in a small town called Galt. It seems from the landing site that the parachute only partially deployed explaining the rapid descent. The parachute was not fully deployed because remnants of the balloon entangled the lines below the chute.

Sonde Path from Oakland to Galt.

Sonde Path from Oakland to Galt.

Elevation Profile.

Elevation Profile.

The output of r00ts RRS decoder software is shown below. This is a combination of data received from the home station and the mobile station. While in route to landing area, r00t informed me that the home system lost the signal. So I pulled over and pointed the 8 turn helical antenna to re-acquire the signal. This gave us some additional data points for r00t to know which neighborhood the landing will occur. The sonde landed while I was still 14 miles out from area.

Final Landing Location.

Final Landing Location.

As you can see from the image below, as I entered the neighborhood (i have tracker so r00t can see my location) it was pretty easy to re-acquire the signal and get the exact location of the Sonde. It landed in someones backyard and I could see it from along the fence line. I found a neighbor that contacted the properly owner and obtained permission to enter the area and retrieve the Sonde.

Sonde Landing Location.

Sonde Landing Location.

The recovered Sonde was in pretty good shape but did have a impact area on bottom due to rapid descent speed.

Recovered Sonde.

Recovered Sonde.

Hard Landing.

Hard Landing.

Here is short video about home receiving station, mobile setup and the recovery of this particular Sonde.

Posted in Sonde Tagged ,

SP5T Microwave Switch

Too many signals on different bands and tired of manually changing feed lines? Mini-circuits has a nice line of RF Matrix Switches that are USB controlled. I recently acquired a USB-4SPDR-A18 and have now finally gotten around to mounting and installing the new switch.

The switch is made of 4 independent relays that must be wired for proper group operation. The relays are controlled by a small embedded processor with a USB interface.

USB-4SPDT-A18 configured as SP5T (except for one missing jumper).

USB-4SPDT-A18 configured as SP5T (except for one missing jumper).

Since the relays have SMA connectors it is necessary to jumper to some additional SMA to N Female bulkhead adaptors for proper stress relief and cable management.

5 inputs and 1 output.

5 inputs and 1 output.

Bank od sma to N female bulkheads and grounding block.

Bank od sma to N female bulkheads and grounding block.

The final placement, just before wiring. Note the station ground block, this will connect all receivers to station ground system (located near the coax entry area in another room).

Freshly installed microwave switch along with station grounding block.

Freshly installed microwave switch along with station grounding block.

Here is screenshot of the software I am using to control the relays. I plan to use an included DLL to customize a GUI for my own use.

The sample software from mini-circuits for relay control.

The sample software from mini-circuits for relay control.

Posted in Projects Tagged