SDR fun

It’s been an interesting time recently, properly nerding out with the dabbling back into Software Defined Radio. Using a USB device, getting radio signals from around the world into the laptop, and doing interesting things from there. It’s pretty cool to be able, with the same device and hardware and antenna, to tune in the time signal on 60kHz, through getting shortwave radio stations from Botswana tuned in, to deciphering digital radio stations, to decoding the RTTY weather forecasts from the German weather service, to picking up faint FM radio stations from around the south of Ireland, to hearing Marine …

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Scope problems..

My lovely new 20″ scope appears to need glasses. Seems as though Skywatcher didn’t make the mirror as well as they should have, and there is somewhere around one to two waves of spherical aberration present on the mirror. This is ruining the fine contrast on planets and making the scope a little frustrating to use. Currently working with the vendor to get a replacement mirror. There is also another issue with the scope, where the primary mirror support structure has enough movement present under the change in altitude, to ensure that the scope cannot maintain collimation. My investigations so …

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Facebook stupidity continued..

Just checking my phone today, I saw that there were three Facebook applications running on my phone. A Facebook app manager, a Facebook app installer, and “Facebook services”. I’ve never explicitly logged into Facebook on this phone, and I’ve had the app completely disabled (couldn’t uninstall due to Three having baked this piece of crap into the ROM) since taking delivery of the device two years ago. The Facebook service app had transferred some 8gb of data since Feb 20th. At least now those apps are denied running. Pretty piss-poor of Facebook not to take the hint on my device …

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Scope review

My largest scope up to buying this one was a 12″ manual Dob, with some lovely views and memories from it. I had been hankering after an upgrade for some years though with the intent of getting a scope that would satisfy my aperture fever.. I wanted the largest aperture I could handle by myself, without needing to have it stored assembled. I’ve not got the room to keep a really large scope fully assembled so I needed to make sure I could assemble and disassemble whatever scope I got in a fairly short space of time given Irish weather, …

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New toy arrived..

It arrived.. It’s a Skywatcher Stargate 500p Dobsonian truss-type telescope. The primary mirror is a full half-metre wide, it has a 2 metre focal length. It’s an absolute light bucket. It comes with a computerised goto drive, and it takes me less than about 10 min to set it up and have it running. It came in 4 large boxes, with a shipping weight of about 95 kg. I updated my eyepiece collection to suit the f/3.94 focal ration, with a Paracorr, a few Ethos 100-degree eyepieces, and a widest-field Explore Scientific 25mm 100 degree eyepiece. I now understand exactly …

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PC update – new hardware in the main desktop

I got my hands on a Xeon E5-1680V2 processor last week. This is about the best CPU that I could get for my motherboard, and it’s an overclocking monster. Comfortable at 4.7Ghz at <80 degrees, currently at 4.6 and staying under 75 after extended benchmarks. Adding to this the fact that I finally jumped 4 generation of graphics cards by updating to a Zotac 2080 Amp MAXX card, gaming and GPU computations are now impressive. All games at max details at 1980×1200 (none of that tiny HD resolution) now are pretty much stable at 60 FPS, and oh *so* pretty. …

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More retro PC updates

So, the Optiplex 960 bios does not boot with a Xeon e5450 chip, and had I done my homework on that, I would have been able to find that out. However, I sourced an Asus P5KE motherboard with 8Gb of DDR2-1066 and a Q9550 chip in it for a decently low price, to further my retro PC ideas. The Core2-Quad q9550 dropped straight into that Optiplex, making that a quad core 2.83 instead of the dual 3.0 it had been. Now I can install XP-32bit on that and get the mid-Naughties retrobox up and running properly. The Xeon e5450 works …

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A lovely little telescope, resurrection and refit.

I answered an ad on one of the astronomy forums I regularly peruse, where someone was getting rid of a badly water-damaged telescope. I figured it would make a nice project for myself so why not reply and see how much it was going to cost me. A mate of mine picked up the telescope from the owner, and warned me that it appeared to be in relatively bad condition, so I was a little apprehensive. When I collected the scope and paraphernalia from my friend, I recognised the scope as a Celestron CPC800 – a Schmidt-Cassegrain design with 8″ …

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