Author Archives: Jim Hannon

Bending Beta Particles with Magnets

By George Dowell There are many different types of atomic and nuclear radiation. “Atomic” refers to the atom as a whole, but the commonly accepted definition of atomic reactions are those that originate in the electron shell area of the atom. “Nuclear” on the other hand is specific to the nucleus of an atom. Some radiation consists of particles of matter, betas and … Continue reading…

Posted in Amateur Science, DIY, Magnetism, Nuclear, Physics | Leave a comment

Sky Temperature Sensor

The first sensor to go on my instrument platform may be an infrared sky temperature sensor. The sky temperature can be used to determine if the sky is clear or cloudy and when the sky is clear the temperature is a measure of the total column water vapor above the sensor. The sensor electronics consists of two modules from SparkFun Electronics,  an evaluation … Continue reading…

Posted in Amateur Science, Climate, DIY, Electronics, Experimentation, Imbedded Software, Instrumentation, Measurement, Programming, Sensors, Software, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Instrument Platform

The sensors for my atmospheric observatory need to be mounted somewhere they can have unobstructed access to the sky and weather. The solution is a platform located away from buildings and trees. The platform is built using the same materials and construction that one would use to build a deck for a house. For the legs I buried four 12 foot treated posts … Continue reading…

Posted in Amateur Science, DIY, Meteorology, Nature Study, Observation, Sensors | 1 Comment

Alter Type Windscreen

It can be fairly windy here especially in the spring, fall and during snow storms. My CoCoRaHS rain gauge does not catch all the precipitation it should when it is windy. This is a common problem and a WEB search or two turned up a number of different solutions. Most involve some sort of screen around the gauge to block the wind. The … Continue reading…

Posted in Amateur Science, Climate, DIY, Environment, Instrumentation, Meteorology, Projects | Leave a comment

Living With Our Sun

I attended the first of four sessions of the University of Iowa alumni association senior college class called “Living With Our Sun: The Science of the Earth’s Place in the Solar System” last Tuesday. It is a 100 mile round trip drive to the university campus so I was hoping the class would be worth the trips. The class was held in Van … Continue reading…

Posted in Astronomy, Conferences, Education, Magnetism, Meteorology, Space | Leave a comment

A Review of MICA

I have been looking for a way to get accurate high resolution data of the sun angle below the horizon after sun set and before sun rise. The first place I go for this sort of information is the U.S. Naval Observatory web site. http://www.usno.navy.mil/USNO/ There I found that they have written a software application called MICA (Multiyear Interactive Computer Almanac). This application can … Continue reading…

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Analog Microcontroller Review

I have been trying to decide what to use to digitize the signals from my sensors that have analog outputs. The original thinking was to attach a 16 bit A/D converter to an ARM processor module. The other day I decided to revisit the Analog Devices Analog microcontroller family of parts. These parts are intended to process analog signals with their built in … Continue reading…

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Pal-Dows Observatory Visit

The Cedar Amateur Astronomers club had a solar day at the Pal-Dows Observatory last Saturday. I went to see the facility and possibly visit with some of the club members. The facility is located in Linn County Iowa.   This is an overall view of the facility. In the foreground are concrete pads on which portable telescopes can be set up. AC power … Continue reading…

Posted in Amateur Science, Astronomy, Optics | Leave a comment

Collet Chuck

collet_6

Some of my upcoming projects need some small parts machined on my lathe. The standard 3 and 4 jaw chucks that I have just don’t hold small parts well. The other day I broke down and ordered an inexpensive Chinese collet chuck and a set of 5C collets to go with the chuck. Since there are many different chuck mounting methods for lathes … Continue reading…

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Infrasonic Microphone Part I

Another sensor planed for my atmospheric observatory is an infrasonic microphone. I have a design sketched out and  fabricated the mechanical bits needed. So what is an infrasonic microphone good for? The recent Chelyabinsk meteor was detected by the infrasonic microphone array set up around the world to detect cheaters on the nuclear test ban treaty. Some work has been done on using … Continue reading…

Posted in Amateur Science, DIY, Instrumentation, Machine Shop, Sensors | 9 Comments