pan/tilt webcam with telescope
Monday, December 30 2013
Recent rains and warm weather (it was 68 degrees Fahrenheit a week ago yesterday while we were in Curaçao) had thawed some of the soil frozen back in the cold spell of November and December, and I took advantage of those conditions to dig two holes in the main garden plot and then bury a drum's worth of poorly-composted kitchen-and-cat-litter compost and a five gallon bucket of leaves soaked in urine (collected from my laboratory urinal system). Compost enthusiasts are always talking about the virtues of well-composted compost, but I've gradually come to the opinion that a lot of nutrients that are good for plants (particularly nitrogen and elemental carbon) are lost by the offgassing of composting. I now believe that compost should only be minimally-composted and the buried deep beneath the plants so that the offgassing can happen anærobically and percolate up slowly from below. This might not kill all the pathogens in the compost, but only clean freaks and helicopter moms (in other words, 99% of Americans) care about that.
As I worked, temperatures fell quickly, and by the time I was done my fingers were hurting just from the cold.
For some time now I've had a pair of webcams that can be remotely made to pan and tilt by manipulating controls on their configuration web pages. That's a nice feature, but in the real world it doesn't add much more capability than a widescreen webcam on a fixed mount. I've had it in my mind to attach a small telescope to the pan/tilt webcam that would allow me to examine much greater detail in the environment of the webcam using the pan and tilt features, but I've had trouble figuring out how to attach such a telescope. I've taken delivery of a variety of cheap telephoto lenses designed to be attached to smartphones, but only today did I take delivery of one that looked like it would work. The lens came with a little boot into which it could be inserted and locked, and that boot was just large enough to fit over the knurled ring on the webcam. With two drops of superglue, I secured the boot in place and then attached the little telescope. Unfortunately, the view provided with this set up was a bit off-center and obscured in the corners, but otherwise it worked well. The pan and tilt still worked, even with the additional weight and torque of the telescope. You can see the results in this video:
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