TBS Vendetta drone in a cake

A good friend invited a larger group to his birthday party. We decided to give him as a present a TBS Vendetta quadrocopter (racing drone). But how to hide the present in an appropriate way? Well… let me think about it for a second…

Every time I’m invited, I bring a cake to the party. So why not use the cake as a decoy or gift wrapping?

Fortunately the drone is packed in a very neat box. Therefore I could create a cake with a hollow core, matching the size of the box. I inserted a rectangular frame with aluminium foil and filled a larger load of choccolate dough all around and above.
After baking, I wrapped the drone box in cling foil, added a cardboard sheet to the top with more cling foil as protection. The package went inside the cake. The cake received a good amount of white choccolate mousse as frosting. For the decoration, I added several choccolate bananas, cookies, M&Ms and the like to mimic a drone. Real drone propellers did the rest for the presentation 🙂

Clearing a stuck zoom lens in a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20 camera

A friend of mine asked whether I would repair their camera. After dropping the camera, the zoom did block operation. After switching on the camera, the zoom tried to extend. Though as the soom got stuck somewhere in between, the camera retracted the lens and switched to error mode.
I agreed to do my best to restore operation. Unfortunately this task got more challenging as I expected:

I had to fully disassemble the camera, to reach the zoom barrels. The zoom barrels (made of plastic) have a sophisticated set of guides to operate the lens. That said, the pattern set up defines the movement of the front and center lens assembly, to focus and / or zoom. By dropping the camera, one of the tiny guide pins got pushed to the wrong aisle. So the camera could not move the lenses and barrels freely. As most of these cameras detect an overload, and the Lumix DMC-TZ20 does this as well, the camera retracts the lens for protection and sets error mode.
By repositioning the barrels and lense assembly (which was not at all an easy task), the camera could return to normal operation!

Questions? Leave me a note! I will try to help 😉

Mercury transit

Today Mercury set its path in front of the sun. The tiny black spot was a nice view to observe. As I was in the office that day, I used a tripod, 1000mm lens and a wired remote trigger to capture a few impressions of the event:

Sun in H-alpha light with deep sky filter

I questioned myself whether it would be possible to enhance images of the sun using deep sky H-alpha filters. Most likely a filter with 7nm bandwidth would not show prominences. Prominences are so dim, that the rather wide bandwith of the deep sky filter passes too much of bright light to see them. Keep in mind, that typical solar H-alpha filters are in the range of 0.3-1.5 Angstrom, which is 100 times more narrow than the deep sky filter (7nm = 70 Angstrom).
But who knows – perhaps the granulation becomes visible or at least the surface texture may improve…

ATTENTION: Never ever look direct at the sun! You risk your eye-sight, especially through optical instruments without proper equippment! I use specialized filters, suitable for solar work

I think, the result speaks for itself! It is an significant improvement, as the surface texture is no longer flat!

Modify the characteristics of propane gas torches

I was challenged by the need of more thermal power of one of my propane torches to melt higher quantities of metal. Furthermore, I needed to modify the characteristics of the flame, to have a neutral flame to perfectly balance the available oxigen levels as well as carbon levels around molten metal.

The first change was quite straight forward: To increase the possible thermal output of the torch, higher volume of gas has to pass through the nozzle. My nozzle had a 0.5mm hole for the gas to exit. So enlarging the size by drilling a 0.55mm hole was – apart from the rather delicate work – not so much of an issue.

The second change required to modify the air flow. My nozzles generated a somewhat carburizing flame. Therefore the available oxigen was a bit too low. When higher amounts of air may be sucked in by the gas travelling through the nozzle, the flame gets more reduzing. So I opened the air holes by small amounts from each test to the next, until my desired flame characteristics was met…