Friday, 30 November 2018

An Un-Christmas Present

If Humpty Dumpty could have un-birthday presents I decided I could buy myself an un-Christmas present.  Regular readers may remember when I experimented with a video camera fixed (bodged) to a microscope. Some results were  reasonably good, especially the video captures. On the whole I was disappointed with the clarity of some still captures. The problems were - having a camera with a relatively low pixel count coupled with the losses converting the feed through a USB connection on the laptop.

What was needed was a decent camera coupled to a microscope. Recently I saw two different microscopes advertised which include the facility to couple a mobile phone so its camera could be used. In the end I chose the National Geographic one. I did wonder about the quality of the optics and how robust the build quality would be at the price of £80.

This is the beast:

 Screenshot (2018-11-29 10.19.10 pm)

 Screenshot (2018-11-29 10.19.29 pm)

One item is now fitted which is not part of the original package - I found that the cross table which wouldn't fit my other microscopes was a perfect fit on this one. That makes it much easier to position a slide in just the right place or track a moving specimen.


Build quality is pretty good and solid. The three objective lenses (4x, 10x and 40x) seem to be of decent quality as are the two eyepiece lenses (10x and 16x) and the 2x Barlow lens. There is a choice of lighting from above or below. The only part to watch when in use is the phone holder. That is a platform covered in suction pads to hold the phone in place. I nearly had one disaster with that when the iPod I was trying out slid off.  I found a solution, for my iPhone at least. It so happens I have it fitted with a magnetic back cover which is used to hold it in the phone case I use. I also have some powerful neodymium magnets. One under the plastic platform keeps the phone securely in place.


The phone only sees a smallish circular image but this can be digitally zoomed by its camera app. Though this will lose some definition it is not too much of a problem as the phone camera is 12M pixels.

Along with the microscope there are a few sample slides so here are some trial photos using the new set up.

This is the standard view without digital zoom

The hairy leg of a house fly:
80x optical magnification

200x magnification

800x magnification

Cross section of pine wood



I'm looking forward to taking some new videos of microscopic pond / water life.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Fish and Chips

Paid my regular visit to the Wagon and Horses in South Reston to meet up with D.
It was more than a bit breezy while driving there.
Twice I had to manoeuvre round fallen branches on the narrow back roads.

Wagon and Horses


As always it was for a glass of J2O orange and a fish and chip lunch.


As ever the haddock was cooked to perfection in a light batter and accompanied by home made chips. Neither of us like mushy peas but with the fish overhanging the plate it was a very filling meal. An enjoyable way to meet and exchange news and gossip.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Hot Lips

A month or so ago I first spotted a pretty plant on our early morning walk-about.
It has unusual small white flowers with bright red lips.
I've tried several times to photograph it without success.

After a search or two I found out what it is:
A Salvia with the common name 'Hot Lips'.
I thought to myself, 'That is a must have.'

A search of eBay brought up some plug plants from my favourite plug plant seller;

The original listing on eBay:

 Screenshot (2018-11-28 2.50.10 pm)

Today they arrived:

 Salvia 'Hot Lips'

When we returned from our mid-afternoon walk I set about potting them up:

Salvia 'Hot Lips'

They are classed as half hardy but should be able to survive all but the harshest winters.
For now they are in the greenhouse while they get established.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Bird Photography in Comfort


Left to right - top to bottom:

Set up a video camera to watch some bird feeders I had moved closer to greenery at the bottom of the garden.

Watch for any visitors on a monitor whilst listening to the radio.

Camera, set up in the kitchen, focussed on the feeders with wireless shutter control fitted. Sit in comfy chair in the warmth ready to press the button on the transmitter if and when anything comes to feed.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Monday Montage

Last week's WidsMob Montage modified photo was

Montage 52

which started out as


Wilma correctly saying it was a seed head with Adrian, Bettina, ragged Robin and The Weaver of grass identifying it as a dandelion. Sometimes known as a dandelion clock.

For your puzzlement this week I present a montage photo of

Montage 46


If you would like to have  guess please leave it in the comments.
They will be revealed, along with the original photo, next Monday.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

All That Glows ....

.... isn't necessarily on fire:


This is a thermal view of my air conditioning unit acting as a heat pump to extract heat from the outside air (presently at 9.3C) and keeping the room nice and warm. So, not a photo of a heating element glowing but showing the temperature of the warm air being blown out by the unit. This time I have set the Seek thermal camera to give a spot temperature reading.

There are many times I prefer to use the air-con for heating rather than the gas fire. It has thermostatic control and can be remotely controlled unlike the gas fire. It only needs to be on its low setting and the maximum energy used is around 500W, averaging about 300W.

Friday, 23 November 2018

A Sleeping Hot Dog

First play with my new toy



A thermal imaging camera which plugs in iPhone or iPod


Resolution is 206 x 158 pixels. Temperature detection range -40C to 626C

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Determined Magpie

Three sides of the bird table have 2 inch metal mesh.
The fourth side has two wooden bars.

The idea was to keep out the larger birds and give the smaller ones a chance to feed.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Birthday Weather

Did you know that you can see UK weather charts / reports for the day you were born?
The Met Office has a freely accessible Digital Library and Archive.
It is possible to view or download a pdf file for the Month in which you were born.
(or any period you may wish to investigate)
It will include full records for each individual day in that month.
These can be large files. Mine is 66.9MB
There is information from 1860 onwards.

Don't expect  the sort of simplified charts seen on TV forecasts.
These are full reports / logs of temperatures, sunshine, rainfall, wind, charts, etc..
Presentation of the information varies depending on the methods used at the time.

This is a chart for the day I was born;

Screenshot (2018-11-18 9.44.28 pm)

As I was a bonny, bouncing war time baby I was not surprised to notice some of the pages on my charts were marked SECRET at the time. No sense in letting the enemy know when the weather would be ideal for a bombing raid! All are available to be seen now.

The Met Office Digital Library and Archive can be found HERE.
You can start refining your search HERE.

Information accessed contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Monday Montage

Last week's WidsMob Montage modified photo was

Montage 51

which was correctly identified as

Drummer Boy

a drummer boy by Adrian, Ragged Robin, Wilma and The Weaver of Grass.

I took the photo many years ago when there was a re-enactment in the grounds of Lincoln Castle of one of the battles from the Napoleonic Wars. I discovered the event entirely by accident. While shopping in Lincoln one Saturday I heard the sound of gun fire. Unlike today it was something to investigate. Found the source was in the castle, paid my entrance fee and had a very happy afternoon watching the various activities. If I heard gun fire today I would be heading swiftly in the opposite direction.

I wonder what this week's montage was a photo of

Montage 52

If you would like to have a guess please leave it in the comments.
They will be revealed, along with the original photo, nexr Monday.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Jack Pays a Visit

Crawled out of bed half an hour later than usual. Ablutions over I checked the outside temperature. 7.4C. Not too bad. Sky 90% clear. Sun rising. What a surprise as I felt the grass crunch underfoot as I checked the back garden for doggy deposits before we went walkabout.

Jack Frost had been a-visiting.



Frost patterns on the top of a plastic garden store:



On our perambulation through the village it was obvious the roads had been salted.
After breakfast I had a look at my weather recordings for this morning:

Screenshot (2018-11-18 8.40.26 am)

There had been a steady overnight drop in air temperature to 4.3C with no breeze.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Hello Vanessa

In spite of the temperature being 12.4C this Vanessa atlanta (Red Admiral butterfly) fluttered into view to rest and take advantage of the first period of Sunshine for several days.


Friday, 16 November 2018

New Additions

As posted last January I have been using this propagator in the conservatory.


Unfortunately it has been a disaster for growing my miniature orchids in.
It worked well in the cold weather with its heater keeping plants snug and warm.
Came Summer and even with plenty of ventilation and shading it got too hot for them.
I lost a few and others are suffering badly. Some may recover with TLC.

What did thrive were my Lithops (living stones)
Some so well they are due for moving to larger pots.
I have decided to add more succulents and one spineless cactus.

My latest arrivals (all in 3 inch pots)

Sedum Rubrotinctum
Sedum rubrotinctum

Lithops (living stone)

Fenestraria Rhopalophylla
Fenestra rhopalophylia (baby toes)

Cotyledon Undulate
Cotyledon undulate

Adromischus Cooperi
Adromischus cooperi

Astrophytum Myriostigma
Astrophytum myriostigma

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Seeing Red ....

.... with a bit of orange thrown in.

Starting the day
Sunrise DSCN9115c

Whilst planting some Ice Cream Tulip bulbs
a 7 spot ladybird
7 spot Ladybird DSCN9117c

In the garden

Chinese Lantern plant
Chinese Lantern Plant DSCN9150

Weeping Cotoneaster
Weeping Cotoneaster DSCN9123

Out and about

Berberis DSCN9146

Acer DSCN9121c

Sweet William
Sweet William DSCN9141c


CollageImage 1

To end the day
Sunset DSCN9164c
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