This blog is mainly about Telescope making, and some things about my politics. At last we finally have a President that can say "Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me twice; shame on me." instead of mixing up with an old Who song.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Testing my 12.5"

Back in an earlier post I was talking about the foucault tester I made. Well, I tested my mirror with it this weekend, and the little green LED was just not bright enough for my old eyes, so I got a big huge jumbo white 28 cp LED, and rewired it with a rheostat so I could control it. So much easier now, and I have some pictures. In fact, videos too.

Say hello to my little movie.

And this one too. I have a couple of questions, and I hope to get some of the ATMs on the ATM list to watch and comment.

And these pics in no particular order. As usual, click one to get the full detail shot.

Note the roughness on the first two shots. That is the kind of finish the polyester polishing pads give. Its pretty rough, but should polish out without too much hastle when I switch to pitch.

This one has a funny way with it. At first glance it appears to be a bowl with the light source to the right. Then, blinking my eyes it appears as a mound with its light source to the left. Both of these are tricks, of course, because the light source is actually right below the camera lens.
There appears to be bleed through in the shadow that shows the line of mounting holes in the mirror stand for other size mirrors. I think I will put a white (or maybe black?) card in behind the mirror next time.

The glare is where I got a little ahead of myself with the new bright LED and didn't baffle it very good.

Polishing my 12.5"

August was cool. A few days got above 90 but mostly it was in the low 80's and even into the 70's I managed to finish up the fine grinding on my scope in the evenings, in one or two cases I was done with only an hours worth of work, but even still, I kept at it for at least 2 hours on each grit. I did this partly because I wanted to get the ROC as close to 137.5" as possible before going to the next level, even though there were no pits left. At one point, I think it was the 320 grit, I was thinking that I was going to run out of tile. It got awfully close to the concrete. In one place I actually had to dig a grain of sand that was at the same level as the tile and re-seal it with hot wax. But that worked, and the subsequent grits didn't wear any more tile away that I noticed.

Finally it was major clean-up time before going to the polyester polishing pads and Cerium Oxide. I was getting absolutely paranoid.

Then I applied the pads. They look like those flowery bathtub thingies that keep you from sliding around in the shower. I put them in an off-centered hex pattern all over the mirror and cut them where they ran over. I put about a 1/2 teaspoon of CeO2 on it and within two times around the barrel it was already a noticeable shine. But the drag! Man it was like pushing a car around. So I washed off the CeO2 and removed 3 or 4 pads and that made it much easier. In total, I have spent about 3 1/2 hours on it now, and there are no pits left from edge to center. I tried the 10x magnifier - nada, sun test -nada, the lazer test - nada, and I finally found a little hand held microscope down at Radio Shack that goes all the way to 100x. There are simply no pits left... except one set in the very center.

Once while I was polishing and getting over zealous I let the mirror tip over the edge of the tool, and it sheared off chunks of tile. I stopped immediately, cleaned everything and inspected, and sure enough, small scratches. It wasn't too late, I could have gone back to fine grinding, but I decided to continue for a few more whets to see if they would clear up by themselves. Well, for the most part they did, but there are still a couple of the strays, 2mm long, in 2mm patches. But they are within the shadow of the secondary mirror, and one of them would be covered up with an alignment ring eventually anyway, so I'm just going to ignore it and go on.

I really recommend using the pads. It shortened the amount of time I needed to polish the mirror tremendously, and perhaps got me to the point where it is fully polished. I might not have gone that far had I done it with a pitch lap and been tempted to start figureing too soon.

So now I am ready to start getting the shape to a sphere, in preparation for getting it to the shape of a paraboloid. And for that I will need a pitch lap. But while I am waiting for the Lap mold to arrive from Kevin McCarthy at, I can practice using my Foucault tester.

Political things: McCain proves daily he lacks the capacity.

I said that this blog would be about politics and telescope making, but I haven't done much about the former. So, here goes.

In the evening this past week, of course it was the Democratic Party National Convention on TV. We spent the final night down at the "Thinking Man's Tavern" with the Drinking Liberally crowd. It was an exceptional time and I am really motivated now to go out and campaign for Obama-Biden.
I don't think the Republicans will be able to match it. In fact, I think they are going to fissle out because of Hurricane Gustov. Bad luck there. Just remember, it wasn't our idea to pray for rain for their convention. But while God may not fiddle around with our petty conventions, we do.
With McCain's pick for VP, I'm simply amused and almost embarrassed. There are plenty of people that don't have the credentials to be President in the Republican Party. But to pick the one that has no credentials? Good grief! Imagine Biden and her in a debate? He would loose simply because everyone would feel sorry for her. If I were Biden I would refuse to debate her. Not the same league. Not even the same game.
McCain could die. He may get cancer again, or a heart attack, or meet up with some nut job or have a bad case of the flu and not pull through. He knows this and he picks some cute gal from Alaska.
He sure likes the cute gals though, doesn't he? His first wife was a divorced swimsuit model but got injured in a car crash so he dumped her. Then there is Cindy with the looks (once upon a time) and money (and drug habit and thievery of them in recent memory). Now it's Sarah who still has the looks and is being investigated for abuse of power by the FBI who McCain has designated as his stand-in should he be deemed unfit. He sure has a knack for picking good looking but flawed women. But that's ok, he was in a prison camp, they all did that (not!). Remember Stockdale, Ross Perot's VP pick? He was in the same camp. He was a hero. He never used it as an excuse. James Risner was in the same camp. He was a hero of Vietnam and Korea. He never did crap like that. But while some of these guys were qualified to be President, being a POW is not what made them qualified. McCain who is certainly qualified and has the credentials is that way, not because of being a POW, but despite it.

This guy isn't a maverick, he is a wannabe playboy that happened to do a heroic job as a prisoner by helping his fellows there. He made a noble decision that I am not sure I could make, staying in a Hanoi prison when offered early release, and he chose not to. That shows he has character, but it alone does not qualify him to be president.

If he were a maverick, then Biden would have to debate a worthy opponent. He could have picked the governor of a real state like Romney or even that party traitor Lieberman from Connecticut like he wanted to. But he did what the party hacks told him to do - maverick no more. Just more of the same.

Ask yourself... Hell, ask "the google" -- "What has McCain accomplished in his 19 years as a senator"
-- Tried to rein in the tobacco industry. big success there eh?
-- Campaign Reform- yeah right. McCain/Finegold was a rousing success.
-- Limited big corporations liability due to Y2K software bugs. Remember y2k? Wow that was bad. I fell for it too. plenty of old canned corn in the crawl space.
-- He won the Line Item Veto battle at last! Struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. Oops. Republican Senator Arlen Spector of PA and head of the Senate Judiciary Committee once said McCain just has other interests than law. Yet, he's a senator, whose job it is to pass.... gas? no, "laws". And as POTUS it will be his job to enforce "laws". I would think that he might be somehow interested in the subject and know something about it, but appearently he knows about as much about the law as he does about economics.
-- McCain led the fight to strictly limit gifts to senators and their staffs and to cut back on junkets paid for by special-interest groups. Thats nice. It appears he is still in the pocket of washington lobbyists despite the ban though. A real 22 year insider he is, not that he has done much with it. That's leadership for you.
-- In 1997, he brokered a deal between the networks and family groups to establish a voluntary TV ratings system. Does anyone care any more? Did it actually do anything? Did people change their viewing habits because of it? It was specifically designed to be used with the V-Chip, which was mandated to be built into all television sets manufactured since 2000, but the guidelines themselves have no legal force, and does not apply to news or sports programming (like WWF although they use it).
-- Last year, McCain co-sponsored a bill by Sununu of NH, the Internet Tax Freedom Act, John Conyers sponsored it in the House where it was opposed by 2 people. The Senate hasn't voted on it. That's leadership eh?
-- Back in 2000 after he dropped out of the race back then, he passed some legislation for Boxing reform. Is that violent sport still around? oh my. I guess that's leadership... for a minor niche industry. Good work John!

Reagan or FDR -- They inspire, they are visionaries that show us what we can do. LBJ or Eisenhower they know how things work in government. They are mechanics. They steer millions of people to do great things.

McCain is not a dreamer. He doesn't motivate people to action and make things work. He is a survivor -- only a survivor. He survived a horrible prison camp with its torture. He kept his head above water in the Senate for 26 years.

But lots of people merely survive. but that doesn't make you a hero. Lots of people are heros. But that doesn't qualify them to be decent President.

The world and America needs to do more than survive the next four years, we need to transform ourselves into what we will be for the next 100 years.

McCain lacks the capacity.

Obama has it. Now in this time and place. And we will grow and transform ourselves and our world.

Other things

August was one of "those" months...whatever that means... Well I guess I could say, since this is a web log and all. It was a relatively cool month and everyone commented on it. I found myself having to defend against attacks on global warming theory, but as nice as it was I wasn't too convincing. Gas prices even went down, and I didn't take MARTA to work nearly as much as I had intended. The end of July was pretty hectic with all my IBM/Lotus certification exams I had to take, so it was nice to take a breather at the beginning of August to work on the design of my telescope. And then there was the Olympics, which I swore I was not going to watch, but I got sucked into it anyway. I used to be on the high school swim team so that has always interested me. (yes, geeky Uncle Bill once played varsity sports)

Susan closed our shop Nease's Needlework in Decatur. We are going strictly on line from now on. But after 9 years and a bad economy and lack of heart we were just not making it. It's a sad thing, as we were continuing a legacy in the town that went back to 1973 when Mrs. Dennis started Dennis-Art Needlework. But the good news is that we are still on line as we have been since the start. But we won't carry knitting patterns or yarn anymore. That was because of the deal we made with the person we sold the store to! Yes, the town will continue to have its shop for a few more years I hope. Susan sold the yarn and knitting inventory to one of her employees and she is taking over the lease and she is bringing in a new line of business - spinning. That means, Spinning wheels, bulk carded wool, dying supplies, classes on how to do it, and the whole shebang. Carrie has named the place "Sheepish" -- because all the cute names are gone. yeah right, like that's not cute. I hope she does well, and when she gets a website going we'll put a link up. I might even try my hand at spinning. (after I finish my telescope).

We spent last weekend moving all the needlework and cross stitch and framing and flosses and related stuff and their shelves and "Oh My God I Forgot All About That" items. Susan rented a 10X30 storage unit into which we piled it all. We didn't get finished with moving everything until Wednesday. That meant we spent the time dodging intermittant downpurs from the remains of Tropical Storm Fay that went through here.

It's well organized actually. There is no electricity except the automatic overhead flourescent light, so she can't actually do work there other than retrieve stock and box it up to send to customers etc.. We can get to everything, but there is still work to do. Susan will be taking a few months off before finding a part time job. Whe wants to beef up the marketting of the website and make a good go of that and sell a lot of the things we don't want to keep on eBay.

With the nice weather and even a lot more rain than usual all summer, the lawn greened up pretty good, so I've spent a bunch of time puttsin' in the yard.

And of course the mirror, always the mirror. It's been cool enough to spend a lot of time on it. I've finally gone down through all the grades of grit in the fine grinding and started polishing.