Summer 2016

Summer 2016
Summer in Tsukahara

Spring in Tsukahara

gkimbal's Spring in Tsukahara album on Photobucket

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Rollaway Work Station

Continuing with the kitchen remodel, I built a rollaway work station. The moveable "island" is the same height as the kitchen counters. It can be easily rolled to the counters and becomes an extra work surface. The garbage cans sit on a shelf that pulls out. Wooden bumpers were installed to prevent the tile from chipping when placed next to the kitchen counters.

Here's a photo of the casters mounted to the bottom of the cabinet. All of the hardware was purchased at Handsman (my favorite store).

Friday, August 4, 2017

Part 2 The Finished Product

Here are some pictures of the finishing touches to the entry area. The sink area needed to be tiled and this was done at the same time the entry floor tile was installed. The painted area where the sink is going was scraped so that the adhesive would bond.

All the tile pieces were cut and ready for installation. 

The area is ready for the sink and moulding to be installed.

I'm prepping the entry area for tile. I will not miss that ugly tile the original owners installed.

Goodbye ugly brownish red tile, hello beautiful new black tile!

 The new "sleeping area?" was also tiled. It looks small, but the area is 2 meters long and 1 meter wide.

The sink area with tile and moulding. The intarsia frog on the cabinet was made about 10 years ago out of poplar and cedar. I'm glad it finally found a permanent home. All the area needs is a mirror, light, and a towel rack. 

The sink is plumbed and ready to go!

Here's the newly remodeled area under the stairs. Flooring, paint and moulding are installed. The recessed lighting adds a nice touch.

The paint scheme blends in nicely with the rest of the house.

It's hard to believe this used to be the ugliest part of the house.

Here's a photo of the floor lighting. This will come in handy if someone does decides to sleep in this space.

That's it for now. This project took about 3 months to complete. Up next, I will be finishing up the main entry area, kitchen, and utility room. Next year, I'll begin the stairwell and the second and third floor remodel. There's a lot more to come...stay tuned.    George

The last area of the first floor remodel (Part 1)

This is the last area on the first floor that requires some attention. It’s located next to the front door. The room was built without a floor. Huh? Well, sort of. The floor is the concrete foundation. The previous owners installed the ugliest tile on top of the concrete and called it finished. This created all kinds of problems during the rainy season. The floor would be wet from the rains. This caused mold and mildew to form on anything that was placed in the room. The smell from the mildew was sickening and it often stunk up the entire first floor entry area.

In order to fix the problem, a real floor had to be installed above the foundation. A foundation vent provides air circulation under the floor. The floor is made of 1.5 inch plywood and is supported with 4x4's. The exposed wood under the stairs was cleaned, primed and painted to prevent any mildew from forming. The treated wood was then covered with plywood and wallpaper. Some additional ceiling and floor lighting was added to give the area an updated, fresh look. The exposed logs were cleaned and coated with a gloss sealer. The new and existing floors received new black tiles. The new entry also received new tiles which blended the whole area together. 

This area is located under the stairs. The floor is concrete and the vent allows water to enter during typhoons. This is the worst area of the house and I plan on making it the nicest.

The light haze on the logs is mildew...yuk!

Looking up is the bottom of some of the stairs. This is going to be an interesting and challenging job.

The surfaces are irregular and the angles go in all kinds of directions. What should I do?

The light is a sorry attempt at lighting the area. The previous owners really didn't care about this area. I find this surprising since it is the first thing that can be seen (and smelled) when entering the house. All right...let's get started.

See any difference? (The next few steps are not pictured). The first thing that needed to be done was to remove and clean anything that had mildew. Next, I added supports and a new plywood floor. Plywood walls were also added and then covered in wallpaper. Electrical wiring was installed before the plywood was added. Recessed lighting was added under the first and second set of steps. I also added an additional electrical outlet for charging batteries and stuff.

The various angles were a lot of fun to cut out of plywood. A piece of black tile was placed to give an idea of what the new floor will look like.

Shelving was also added. Here you can see the wiring for the recessed lighting. The wall paper was a real challenge to install.

The area is large enough to comfortably sleep. It comes complete with lighting, a window, and a downstairs entry sink. This is a view of the entry into the remodeled area looking outwards towards the main entry. Confused?

Well anyway, primer, paint, and some molding will finish the walls. Here is a view of some of the unfinished electrical. To get to this stage of the project took about 2 months.

The next post I'll show the finished project. Erika is really happy with how it came out too. Stay tuned.          George

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Medusa Nebula in Narrowband

This project was fun! I finally had a chance to use my narrowband filters. This image was taken in May 2017. Total integration time in Ha/OIII/ SII is 10 hours. I used a modified Hubble palette for processing. This is my first narrowband image and I was not sure how to process it in Pixinsight. The image always came out too green after I color combined. After doing some homework and experimenting with Pixinsight, I finally found a combination that would work.

I find that color combining narrowband is not restricted to a certain pattern (flowers are red and green leaves are green.) This opens up all kinds of possibilities for creating "pretty pictures". I think that this nebula should be predominately red (hydrogen) to give an accurate representation of the object. Who cares! The colors chosen to represent a celestial body is entirely up to the individual. This is where personal taste and artistic preference takes precedent. That's why I love astrophotography and narrowband produces some pretty cool colors! 

Here's NOAA interpretation of the Medusa Nebula. This image is amazing! Take a close look and discover dozens of background galaxies. The Medusa Nebula is a planetary nebula. No, it's not a planet, but rather a star that is dying. The snake like filaments (hence the name Medusa) are being thrown into space as the star sheds its outer layers.

The universe has an infinite number of spectacular and fascinating wonders to behold...just look up!      George

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Needle Galaxy

Thanks to tsuyu (the rainy season in Japan), I’ve had some time to process some images. This image has an integration time of 680 minutes in LRGB. The cool thing about this image is that the photos were taken while I was asleep. The automation process in CCDAP worked wonderfully. Over the course of several weeks in May, the observatory was under the control of the computer. All I had to do was tell the program what I wanted to image and how many images to take and that was it. Opening/ closing of the dome, temperature regulation of the camera, focusing, mount control, autoguiding, weather monitoring (the dome did close once due to cloud cover), camera rotation, filter changes were entirely automated. I still needed to do the calibration frames, but most of the hard work was done. Automation is a good thing…when it works. The weakest link in the system is the focuser. I’ll be replacing the focuser very soon with a FastFocus system and Lacerta. This will give continuous focusing which should improve the FWHM. Currently the FWHM is around 3.5. I expect that number to decrease to around 2.5 or better. Stay tuned...

The Needle Galaxy lies about 40 million light years away. The edge of the galaxy is visible which makes this a popular target for astrophotographers. The distinct shape is narrow and pointed which is why it's called, "Needle Galaxy". If you look closely at the image you'll see some faint fuzzy objects which are other galaxies. For an even closer look at this galaxy, please check out the image NASA took with the Hubble Space Telescope. George

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Air Conditioner Covers

Recently, we had several air conditioners installed to keep things cool for our guests (and us) during those muggy summer afternoons and nights. We didn’t like the “industrial” look of having so many air conditioners in front of our home. The solution was to make covers to hide and protect the units. It sounds easier than it was. The covers required several hundred parts that needed to be made from scrap lumber. 

Each slat was cut on the bandsaw. That's 120 pieces! Then each slat required a spacer and that's 240 additional pieces! 

The rough lumber was planed. After each cut on the bandsaw, the piece needed to be planed. This project started to get tiring quickly. I guess that's why it's called, wood "working". 

Putting the pieces together was a simple process of gluing and nailing. 

The lid was the next thing to be made. Using scrap siding from the remodel, I went ahead and cut everything to size. 

Each piece was planed and routed. That's another 48 pieces. 

Before the slats for the lid were installed, a moisture barrier was added. The bottom of each board was then stained by Erika and I glued and nailed the whole thing together. (The moisture barrier is not pictured).

Erika finished staining the inside and outside of the covers and the lids and bodies were assembled in place. They were too heavy and awkward to move as a single unit. 

Mission accomplished...the air conditioners are hidden and protected. I'm glad this project is done. Up next, it's time to do more tiling. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

NGC 2403

NGC 2403 was imaged in March 2017. Integration time is 12 hours in HaLRGB and processed in Pixinsight. I wished I had more integration time, but the weather prevented any chance of gathering more photons. The jetstream is above Kyushu during the winter. This causes the "seeing" conditions to decline, making focusing a challenge. FWHM averaged above 3.5 most of the integration time. It was frustrating to go outside and see that the night sky was crystal clear, but the high winds in the atmosphere was making focusing close to impossible. This produced bloated stars in many of the images. Rather than throwing out those images, I went ahead and processed what I had. No worries, there's always next year to try again. 

NGC 2403 is a spiral galaxy located about 10 million light years away. Here’s a much better photo of this galaxy. Image processing continues to be challenging, frustrating, and rewarding. The original image contains much more detail, but some of that detail was lost converting to a format suitable for this blog. On to the next project...the Needle Galaxy (NGC 4565).