Monday, December 28, 2015

New Notebook, busy year

Today is an extremely exciting day.

I started a new notebook!

This year has been fantastic.  I hope yours has been as great as mine.

Fixed: Meade ETX-70 Slop and Fat Finger Focus problems

A few months back I got a Meade ETX-70 Computer Controlled Telescope.  It's a fun toy, and for $30, I couldn't beat the price.

When I tried it, I found a couple of problems.: one with aiming, and two with focusing.

First up is an aiming problem, and it's not the telescope's fault.  The computer control discovers its elevation and azimuth by asking you to focus on well-known stars.  Unfortunately I'm star defective, and can't tell Cygnus from an antenna tower.  This is an ongoing problem, but I'm learning slowly with help from and "Collins Wild Guide to the Night Sky" from McKays.

The focusing problems are more involved.

To focus this telescope, there is a small (less than the diameter of a dime/1.5 cm and ~2 cm long) focusing knob near the eyepiece.  There are two problems with this.

First, when the telescope is vertical there is no way to reach the focus knob with my giant ogre hands.

I fixed it.  With the disassembly instructions from, I manufactured a flexible replacement for the focus knob.

The replacement is made from a flexible piece of plastic jacketed steel cable, a turned steel coupler, and the original focus knob.  It lets me focus even at the extreme of the vertical travel.

Second, on my telescope, was the obscene amount of backlash in the focus adjustment.  If I was turning left and overshot, I'd have to turn back right 8 turns before the lens would respond.  That sucked.  Disassembly and reassembly helped with this, but I wanted a more permanent fix.  Here it is.

I shortened the adapter enough to fit in a thin brass washer.  This washer is bent, to provide some springiness that takes up the backlash in the focuser.

I just finished it and am really excited to test it.   Sadly, Murphy's law says...
... it will be a while.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Fixed: Google voice on an At&t Lumia 640

I got a new phone!  It's a Microsoft/Nokia Lumia 640.*

* Full disclosure: I work for Microsoft now, but not in any business related to PR/Marketing/Phones.  This is not a promotion, and I bought this phone to replace the one I left in a Taxi due to my own ineptitude.

I ran into a snag when I was trying to configure it for my Google Voice Voicemail.  Normally all I have to do is dial a special code (**44*my Google voice number*11#) and that configures no answer/busy/offline call forwarding, but it didn't work this time.

On this phone you configure call forwarding differently.

Open Settings >> Network+ >> Call Settings >> Set
Here I was able to configure individual options for no-answer call forwarding and all is right with the world again.  Magic!

The phone is pretty good so far.  The battery life under actual use conditions is head-and-shoulders above the HTC.  I miss the physical camera button, but will eventually adapt.