Moonshots 2


Moonshots 2:

So I gave the long lens shots of the moon another try tonight, and I think this one came out a little bit better. The primary differences from the last shot included:

1) The moon was directly over head, putting less dirty atmosphere between me and it.

2) It’s rained the last couple of days, making said atmosphere less dirty to begin with.

3) Being directly over head, I simply laid beneath the tripod in a very short (read: stout) configuration, making it less susceptible to vibrations.

4) I did a better job locking all the rings, knobs, and nonsense down before taking the shot.

Overall, I’m happier with these results, but I still think it can be sharper. Not sure what else I can do with this lens other than go out into the dessert (better conditions) or try and mess with its internals and get the infinity focus a little better. Then again, its probably inherently limited by the quality of the glass within and I should just upgrade to a photo mountable telescope… is it Christmas again yet? 🙂

Original photo by Dana P. Howard (

In Search of the Perfect PC Game Chair – #1 (Taking a seat)


As many coworkers of companies past can attest too, I’m something of an ergonomiphile (and yes, I’m making that up).  I’ve probably tried 12 different office chairs and 5 times as many computer / office arrangements in as many years, playing with chairs, input devices, monitor arrangements, lighting, and a multitude of other things.  One thing in particular I have never been satisfied with is in finding the perfect seated PC chair.

In full disclosure,I have owned more than a few commercial chairs, and in recent years (for work, anyway) resorted to standing desks and the occasional kneeling chair for my PC needs.  But when I come home from a day of work and just want to relax and play some PC games, the average chair just wont do.  I’ve tried $150+ office chairs, kneeling chairs, plugging my PC into the TV and playing from the couch, and just cant seem to get it “right”.  So, faced with this frustration and in need of a new chair for the new apartment (came with the new wife 😉 ), I’ve decided something custom was called for.  And the PC-Car seat quest was born.

Step 1: Take a Seat

This is not a new idea, many have mounted car seats to PC chair bases , and even more have built race car and flight sim seats using similar techniques.  However, the later does not suit my purposes (purpose built, not good for every day use) and the former has one key problem – it uses the same base (casters, frame, and piston support) that most often fails when I use an office chair. So, time for something a little different…

The first step was getting a seat.  After a little research, I opted to visit my local pick-your-part yard and go hunting.  $6 got us in the door ($3 each, the wife came along for moral support and aesthetic approval 😉 ) with a bag of tools slung over my shoulder and we started walking among their rather extensive selection. After some rooting and seeing a wide array of candidate seats, a number of important criteria emerged:

  1. Leather is better (easier to clean and better looking to boot!)
  2. interface between the seat and the car floor needs to be as flat as possible (note, many seats have attachment points that are perpendicular to the plane of the floor.  This would make mounting anything to the seat difficult later)
  3. Passenger seats are probably better (A – they tend to be in slightly better condition and B – their inner workings have likely been used less, making them more reliable).

After much searching and wrinkled noses (don’t ask), we stumbled upon this lovingly restored (cough) 2003 Jaguar S Type…


.. and it’s intact, incredibly comfy,  leather seats!


Getting the seat out of said Jaguar was something of a challenge.  The seat was in the aft position on its rails making getting at and releasing the back two bolts a challenge.  But a little blood, sweat, and a borrowed 15mm box end wrench later (thanks loaner guy! whoever you were…) we had it out and headed for the cashier.


Now, LKQ’s pricing guidelines were anything but clear (I even called ahead and was told to expect a $40 hit), so when the greasy fellow behind the counter flatly asked “is it electric?” (yes), and said “$100”, I was a little set back.  But I was too deep in car blood to walk away now, so I quietly paid the man and hauled my prize to the back of my jeep and took it home happy knowing I had some electrical work, frame design, and much PC gaming bliss ahead of me.

To be continued… (#PCSeat)

Cover photo borrowed from

All other photos by Dana P. Howard (


One of my first tasks with NextGen Aeronautics was in support of the MFX-1 morphing aircraft program.  A follow on to the N-MAS (NextGen Morphing Aircraft Structures) effort, the aircraft demonstrated stable flight with a single degree of freedom (sweep and chord moved together) stretching wing.  Powered by a single Jet-Cat engine, it flew successfully several times proving NextGen’s morphing concept.  The research  program was sponsored by DARPA and overseen by AFRL.

NextGen Aeronautics – 2005 (