Beyond: Bronica SQ-a1, 80mm f2.8, Fomapan 100, Rodinal 1:50

There are two reasons why I have not posted anything here for over a year now.

The first was Covid. With the third full lockdown in January of 2021 my business was having difficulty finding supplies – despite massive demand from customers and coupled with the delights of Brexit and the increasing hassle of trying to do business in Europe, I finally made the decision to take early retirement.

With the stock I had on the shelves, it wasn’t long before I was able to sell the whole shooting match to one of my competitors. Getting all this collated and shipped off to the new owner did take some considerable time, but it all with smoothly and without a hitch.

The second was my website had been stuck in a state of unusable limbo when my provider decided they were going to move it to a new server. I was unable to access it for months and when I finally did get my hands on it, a number of features stopped working.

Rather that spend ages trying to trouble shoot it, I decided it was better to start again with a self hosted server on Amazon AWS and basically do a fresh installation of WordPress and rebuild all the content from the old website.

So what else has been happening in the meantime.

My old and trusty Losmandy mount finally bit the dust last March and with my preferred replacement of a Skywatcher EQ8 being as rare as hens teeth, I decided to go for the mid range iOptron CEM120EC.

Once this got back up and running I did get interested in Spectroscopy and ended up adding a Shelyak Alpy 600 Spectrograph to my imaging arsenal. The weather did play ball for a few months, which did give me time to get to grips with what is probably the most complex of all the practical astronomy disciplines.

I’ve also been back with iTelescope in New Mexico doing variable star measurements of about 60 Long Period Variable stars and adding that data to the AAVSO website for those professional and amateur who do research on these fascinating stars.

Over the winter of last year, I also got hooked on amateur radio. I took and passed my foundation license in October 2021 and hold the callsign M7VLT.

Loving all thing computer based, rather than go the traditional transceiver route, I plumped for the Russian built Expert Electronics SunSDR2 Pro Software Defined Radio, which has a four screen ‘glass cockpit’ front end which to operate it through.

I’ve also dusted of some of my old medium format film camera and has started to shoot film again. Our trusty old Epson scanner didn’t die, but was no longer supported with drivers, so I’ve acquired its current replacement the V600 photo.

For printing, we did replace my old Canon 9100 series for which ink has been increasingly difficult to find, so we replaced that with their rather gorgeous Canon Pro 10 S model.

I’ll try and add some retrospective entries on the blog over the next few months to explain the journey through all these new interests.