Feb 262010
 

February has seen a decline in commenting, a dropoff in the otherwise linear trend in site visits, and a *massive* drop in business. As in holy crap I’m doomed levels of dropoff. New products have gone over like tungsten balloons, old ones have screeched to a halt. So… is the “blueprint” below a full-color scan of an actual blueprint? A colorized version of a grayscale blueprint? Or a wholly invented product of my own fevered, underfunded imagination?

Who can  say? WHO, damnit???

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 Posted by at 12:04 am
Feb 252010
 

Today ATK test fired the very last of the Shuttle booster rockets ever to be static tested. A few more Shuttle launches, then…. pfffft. End of the line. Unless some policy change occurs to keep the booster line open for some Shuttle derived vehicle – an unlikely proposition at this point – the day of the Reusable Solid Rocket Motor seems to be done. ATK-Promontory will likely turn into something of a ghost town. Hopefully that’ll help with the night-lighting situation out here, and permit better astrophotography.

Anyway, I and a bagrillion other people turned up for the show. The lighting for this test was *terrible,* there was a great deal of haze and overcast. Up until half an hour or so before the test, the test stand and rocket couldn’t even be seen due to fog. So, they ain’t the best pics, but they’re what I’ve got.

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 Posted by at 5:55 pm
Feb 242010
 

Taken last night. As the snow storm moved in, it was preceded by high altitude ice crystals which created a 22-degree halo around the moon. My widest-angle lens couldn’t encompass the whole thing, so this is ham-handedly stitched together from two separate shots. Note Orion in lower left, Pleiades in lower right.

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This was the first series of photos taken on the repaired tripod. A fair amount of “slippage” is noticable in some of the photos… the hinge isn’t nearly as rigid when locked as the original. Sigh. Well, hopefully tomorrow’s test firing of the RSRM – the last one ever – will go off on schedule and before my camera lens, and hopefully the tripod will holdup. I expect there to be a lot of Horrible Little Brats running around.

 Posted by at 11:36 pm
Feb 232010
 

Sadly, most available large-format diagrams are multi-generational black-and-white copies of the originals. The originals, up until the era of CAD and plotters, were typically hand drawn, ink on vellum. Finding one of these is a rarity. The next generation of drawings would have been the actual “blueprint,” with blue backgrounds and white-ish lines. These are cyanotype copies of the original vellum drawings, bascially the photocopies of their day. And to my mind, more aesthetically pleasing than even the original drawings. So when I came into possession of the actual cyanotype B-29 and Minuteman blueprints, I made sure to have ’em scanned full size, full color. I figured the expense would be worth it since they’d sell well (oops).

Some of the other drawings I have are only available in grayscale. It has been my practice when preparing diagrams such as these for sale to go in and completely clean them, turning them into black-lines-on-white-background diagrams. Servicable, but just not as satisfying to me as actual blueprints. So something else I’ve been tinkering with is “digitally reverse engineering” grayscale diagrams back into cyanotype blueprints. I have met with, I think, some success. Take for example the inboard profile of the Lockheed LS-200 space shuttle, previously posted here. With some work, I turned it into this:

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Neat, eh? Thne “flaws” that I’d normally spend many hours cleaning out of the diagram now become assets, adding to the character of the image. In fact, when the same process is applied to a “pristine” diagram, the results aren’t as satisfying, sach as with the XFV-12 diagram:

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Some random noise added to the mix helps a bit, but not quite enough, such as with the V-2 nozzle diagram:

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Some drawings are in such bad shape that I’m honestly not sure if they are an improvement or not, such as the V-2 cutaway drawing:

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Some produce rather odd “luminous” artifacts like with the B-45 diagram:

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Some, though, show considerable promise, such as this Boeing 733-197 SST diagram:

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And this Boeing 2707 SST:

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And this North American F-107:

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And this North American A2J diagram:

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One forthcoming drawing set shows early Apollo hardware utilizing the Saturn C-3, requiring on-orbit assembly and refueling. The drawings are not originally in color, but they are of a quality that they can be turned into blueprints. So not the question is… is it something worth doing? If there’s sufficient interest, I’d do the color versions separately from the B&W, as well as go back to some of the earlier releases and make color versions of them as well.

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Speak up, people!

 Posted by at 7:08 pm
Feb 232010
 

An article after my own heart…

Three films that would make Einstein blush

Film characters disappear into thin air, travel through time, and know how to fly. They’re all scientific impossibilities, but since they take place on the silver screen, we suspend our disbelief and go along for the ride.

But one scientist has had enough and is calling on filmmakers to temper their creativity by obeying the rules of science.

At a recent meeting of American scientists, physicist Professor Sidney Perkowitz suggested a new rule: every film should be allowed just one major suspension of belief for the sake of the story.

In other words, films shouldn’t repeatedly violate scientific laws. And they definitely should avoid internal inconsistencies – breaking scientific rules established in earlier scenes.

Hear hear.

The article lists “The Core” as the worst “science” film, and I can’t argue. It’s bad on a level that “Battlefield Earth” had to work really hard to attain. TheSpace Shuttle off course by hundreds of miles, and nobody notices. The Earth’s core stops spinning (go ahead and work out the angular momentum of a ball of nickel-iron “the size of Mars” rotating once a day). An electromagnetic pulse casues pacemakers to malfunction… killing their owners *instantly.* A slight wobble in the Earth’s magnetic field causes birds to go *insane.* A “hole” in the magnetosphereallows “microwaves from the sun” though like a fricken’ phaser blast, melting the steel of the Golden Gate Bridge in seconds. The idea that you can restart a ball of nickel-iron “the size of Mars” rotating by setting off a few dozen megatons of nukes next to it. That “unobtanium” will turn heat into electricity. That you can blast a ten-foot diameter tunnel into solid rock, a hundred feet deep, using lasers and *not* evaporate the observers standing just a few dozen feet away. Thin “spacesuits” that allow people to wander around in 9000 degree temperatures at millions of atmospheres pressure.
Gah.

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 Posted by at 3:09 pm
Feb 232010
 

Americas bloc excluding US and Canada is proposed

Latin American and Caribbean nations have agreed to set up a new regional body without the US and Canada, Mexican President Felipe Calderon has said.

The new bloc would be an alternative to the Organisation of American States (OAS), the main forum for regional affairs in the past 50 years.

Mexico is hosting a regional summit in the beach resort of Cancun.

Hey, I’ve got an idea… let’s take all the po’ foke  and make sure they don’t try to emulate the rich. Because if they did that, who knows… they might learn something and succeed. And the last thing dictators or socialists (but I repeat myself) want is people figuring out how to be successful. Better to make failure and poverty permanent, and blame it on the Yankees.

 Posted by at 2:47 pm