Sat 30th July (Big Badda Boom!)


It’s crazy, I keep on meaning to get the planes going, it just never quite happens.  Thinking back it probably is a contributing factor that I never get more than 3 hrs continuous sleep (changing battery packs).  Hmm maybe I should have invested in one of those large battery packs, or just jury rigged one myself.  So on the evening on the Saturday I decided it was time to get rid of the potassium.  The stuff is a damn liability in a hot car.  Sure it’s under oil, in an airtight bottle, in an airtight metal can, but even so, its just a liability to have in a car that is your ‘home’.  Turns out I had about 12 grams.  Initially I used my ‘dunking’ apparatus for 4 grams, to show that it would shatter glass easily.  So inside the dunking kit I had a glass.  This is of course the smart way to do it if you don’t want broken glass everywhere.  The kit was a bit war torn by travel and needed some patching together.  I also had to find a ‘safe’ place to do this.  Safe in this case means sufficiently isolated that you are not going to disturb anyone (easy enough in the high sierra) and far enough from vegetation as to not cause any fires.  Eventually found a ravine that would do the job, but damn was it exciting getting my little NYer down those dirt trails for all terrain vehicles.

Turns out the apparatus stuck a little, but the end result was still more than acceptable!

You will notice in this reaction the immerser is fired out.  Turns out on the immerser there was still unmelted and unreacted potassium.  This for me was a fascinating discovery in that it shows the rate that the heat is generated on the surface greatly exceeds the metals capacity to conduct heat!!

Also led to one of those ‘thats why we wear facemaks’ type moments:

I then basically emptied the rest of the potassium out (about 7-8g in total) and wrapped in in aluminium foil and attached it to the emmerser.  Knowing how these things can scale in trecherous fashions, I moved the cameras and myself further away this time.

The 8 gram reaction was again very satisfactory, and I was glad to get rid of that potassium.

The wind regrettably was very high, and only later did I get a ‘sock’ on the mike, meaning most the audio I got here was mostly wind noise 😦  .  On the grand scale of things that was a small loss.  With these sorts of en-devours you can be so frequently screwed by the smallest absent minded moment (take for instance the previous day, when just not setting the focus on the camera resulted in a nights wasted effort).

By the time it was all over I was exhausted, the more so after I had nursed the car out form the dirt trails to nowhere.  So I rolled the car back to where it was kinda overlooking Ridgecrest and watched the over the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  It was beautiful with the brillant yellow sun peering through the clouds, torn by the wind, shining through into the valley in the foreground filling it with a warm glowing orange to the misty mountains beyond.  It was while I sat there in the silence of the high plains musing on how well the potassium thing had gone, that I suddenly realized that I hadn’t really talked to anyone for days, well, least ways anyone who actually knew my name.  Did think about heading down into Ridgecrest, simply to talk to someone on skype, or phone (mine doesn’t work out here), but I was exhausted, and the sunset was pretty, and by the time it had sunk below the mountains, fatigue had caught up with me.

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3 Responses to “Sat 30th July (Big Badda Boom!)”

  1. Jan Says:

    Great setup you have made there whith the dunking device and all.
    MacGyver would have been proud of you. the camera dome is awesome. i just love the way the (8 gram) experiment, punches trough the plasticbox whith ease.. cool.

  2. Jeff Phinney Says:

    DAMN ! Doing this alone, outside of cellphone coverage or immediate contact to emergency services,… you’ve got some steely brass balls there!

  3. PCPete (aka Cephas Borg) Says:

    TF, if you let me know the makes & models of the cameras, I’d be more than pleased to design a BMF power pack for you.

    You can go the one-per-camera option (with enough juice for a 12-hour session for each camera), which would be relatively cheap; OR a “power station” – a luggable box with connections for each type of camera. Expensiv-er, but very flexible.

    I’ve done one for my own Pentax K7 DSLR, with LiIon rechargeables and a 240V IEC input (so I can use a 12V-240V inverter from the car) it came to around AUD$85 – and I get around 17 hours out of a single charge!!

    BTW, I’m also figuring out stacking as a n00b, so your first efforts are pretty impressive! Keep up the great work, I love seeing the Northern sky highlights!

    Email me if this could help, and my apologies if you’ve already got your electron source sorted…

    Love your work 🙂

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