The Bonehead Maneuver!

It all started so well!

So I was up on Pine Mountain Oregon, at the observatory, the supernova was ready, and the sky forecast looked good!

The scope was set up early, and initially it was all going so perfectly.

I showed people saturn, and they thought it was cool.

I showed them Titan, the most distant object with a manmade lander, and they loved it!

Sure it was a lousy image as it was just about to set, but for those who had never seen saturn before, it was still really cool!

Then, as I still had the digital SLR at prime focus, I turned the scope to the trifid nebula, and then M22, in both cases giving wonderful images of a nebula and a globular cluster!

Trifid nebula (left) and M22 (right)

After that the troubles started 😦

I was having terrible trouble getting the deep sky video camera to play ball.  Mind you it was a terrible strain on the poor old laptop, which by this time had manycam, an external webcam, an internal webcam and the video capture software from the DSVC going.

To make matters worse it wouldn’t work at all with the netbook. GAH!

The clock ticked on as I tried to sort out the problems while intermittently trying to explain what was going on to the blogtv room which has some 1000 people in it. – no pressure!

Eventually I figured it was a conflict with the microsoft webcamera.  Aha… in business at last!  Then another disaster, the scope had powered off with all the cable pulling.  GAHHHH.  No problem I can just realign.  However while repositioning the laptop I realized the DSVC was no longer working.  NOOOOOO!  NOOOOTTT NOW!.  On further inspection, the cable had ripped the connector out of the video converter that came with the camera.  I mournfully looked at the ripped connectors, knowing that it was now impossible to deliver what I had promised 😦 .

Ripped connector on AV / USB converter that came with camera. VERY FLIMSY design compared to 40 buck converter shown below.

Sensible video converter design (right), and DSVC (left). Whenever people see all the junk I travel with, they call me CRAAaZEEE! Who else would carry an AV/ usb converter? However a few drivers later, and I'm operational again! 🙂

Could I mend it?  Maybe at my best, but these four sub millimeter connectors that needed resoldering.  Not a chance of doing it in the dark, on top of a mountain, with gloves on in the near freezing windy weather in less than half an hour.  I starred in beleaguered disbelieve as how but for a slight tug on a cable a 500 buck video camera was now rendered helpless.  Having decided the video camera was a hopeless situation I formed the best contingency plan I could.  ‘Well, everything else might have gone tits up, but I can still do a live shot of the supernova through the digital camera.’  So I roll the now aligned scope around and shoot M101.  The frame come out a peculiar red. ‘No, NO, that can’t be! it’s up there, I can see it, the seeings not that bad, why do I only get this washed out red crap with only the slightest hint of a core of a galaxy’.  Needs must when the devil drives, and it was clear that the supernova was all but the brightest thing in the field, and I managed to compare it to previous images.  It was a very disheartened Thunderf00t who ended the blogtv show that night.  The wind had gotten up, and moisture had started to coat thing, increasing the windchill.  Cold, tied up in cables in the dark and all alone atop the mountain and burdened by not having delivered what had been promised.  I ended the show and turned my mind to packing up.  The sky was now very poor, with it only being possible to make out the brighter stars.

Then as I was packing up, I came to put the lens cap on the telescope, and all of my troubles with the later imaging became clear.

Oh yes, I had pulled the bonehead maneuver in spectacular fashion.  The corrector plate was covered with dew/ice.

My only redeeming thought was, with all that moisture, there was nothing I had that could have prevented that level of dew/ ice up.  The even sadder irony is on inspecting the deepsky forecast again.  ITS ALL THERE! Just look at the humidity prediction on the deep sky forecast at the top.  Gah! The Bonehead Maneuver!


10 Responses to “The Bonehead Maneuver!”

  1. Seth Martin Says:

    If you need the connector soldered back on I can fix it for you if you can’t but I have a feeling you have spent some time with a soldering iron.

  2. Kevin Says:

    You needed an assistant.

  3. Daniel Mauldin Says:

    Man, that’s too bad. I was in the room watching and had to get some sleep for work. I missed all this misadventure.

    Hopefully all is well for the next time!

  4. Cephas Borg Says:

    I was nearly tearing my hair out, trying to get back into the main room so I could yell “de-ice the corrector!”. I really felt for TF. That was so much pressure and so little that could be done!

    As a viewer, I loved the fact that you kept it interactive and fun, but at the same time, once the viewer count got past 800, the quality deteriorated really fast, and most of us were left with 10-second loops of sound and a slideshow… That’s when my flash player crashed and I got kicked.

    I was also really surprised at the incredible levels of ignorance and intolerance (not to mention moronic stupidity) in the viewers. There were a few of us who were answering questions as well as we could while TF was working his arse off trying to fix things each time something went wrong… But people were just unable or unwilling to read the flow of comments (let alone listen to the original UT video where TF explained it all so well, or listen to TF explaining stuff), and kept asking the same questions over and over again until they personally got an answer.

    I have nothing but naked admiration that TF can deal with so much laziness and stupidity… I couldn’t spoon feed the masses like that without serious doses of valium and/or a big stick!!

    I’m not an elitists, everything I know about astronomy I’ve taught myself, slowly and carefully, and I’m still learning, thankfully. But even some of the non-trolls must have felt the stupid burning!

    Well done TF, you did fantastically well under some really difficult circumstances. Can’t wait for the next show!

    • Thunderf00t Says:

      chuckle… many thx 4 the empathy n sympathy Cephas, it actually really helps to know there r folks out there who know this stuff aint easy… well, not that easy anyways 🙂

      • Cephas Borg Says:

        Mate, if I had a buck for every time a training session or presentation went wrong at “just the wrong time”, I’d have a bigger ‘scope for sure…

        There’s not much that can compare with a roomful of bored, frustrated spectators watching you try and figure out why something you know worked just fine an hour or two ago has suddenly given up the ghost.

        There needs to be a new law to describe it :
        Maybe “Thunderfoot’s Law” : The probability of something going ‘pop’ in a presentation environment is directly proportional to the number of audience members and the number of connectors and/or adapters used.
        Cephas’ corollary : The more foolproof the connections, the more likely that it’s a connector fault; conversely, the simpler the connectors, the more likely it’s a cable fault in a cable you can’t replace! 😦

        Heh heh.

      • Anonymous Says:

        Nah, that’s just plain old Murphy’s Law.

  5. Homo Singularitus Says:

    I don’t suppose you’re going to try again tonight? (Friday night?) I could let the kids stay up if so. 🙂

  6. Says:

    When someone writes an post he/she keeps the idea of a user in his/her mind that how a user can understand it.
    Thus that’s why this post is outstdanding. Thanks!

  7. Karissa Class Says:

    Excellent article. I’m experiencing some of these issues as well..

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