Is the new right hand pane in Adobe Reader DC, messing with your workflow ?

The new Adobe Reader DC looks nice but then when you go to use it, you have less work space. So how do you remove the right hand pane (This contains export pdf, create pdf, edit pdf, etc.) on Reader DC? (It takes up a quarter of the screen and many people don’t even use the tools.)

To remove it temporarily, you can either click the Right Hand Panel bar or you can use the keys Control+H to go into “Read Mode”. Note that “Read Mode” just displays the document and no panels. Also note that “Read Mode” does not stay between documents or sessions either. Opening another document brings the right hand pane back.

If you are an avid reader of PDF’s and do not need the tools, here is a permanent solution.

Open the install directory,
i.e.” C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Acrobat Reader DC\Reader\AcroApp\ENU” or ” C:\Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat Reader DC\Reader\AcroApp\ENU

Create a new subfolder (I used “Disabled”). Move 3 files from the “ENU” folder into the new “Disabled” folder. (Exit Adobe reader first).

Move  –

  • AppCenter_R.aapp
  • Home.aapp
  • Viewer.aapp.

Open a PDF and the Tool Pane is gone. It does also disable some menu items so if you want to still use the tools, read on.

Backup the file called Viewer.aapp. Edit the file with notepad (the file is XML abd located in “Adobe/Acrobat Reader DC/Reader/AcroApp/ENU/Viewer.aapp”)

The file contains a few lines however, edit it so that the following line is the only remaining line.

<Application xmlns=”http://ns.adobe.com/acrobat/app/2014″ title=”Viewer” id=”Viewer” majorVersion=”1″ requiresDoc=”true” minorVersion=”0″/>

Now open Adobe DC and the tools pane is gone but the menu items still work.

Life can get back to some normallity.

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Cryptowall 3.0

I have had a brush with Cryptowall 3.0.

Imagine this, visiting a website in your latest favourite browser (Any browser, Google Chrome, IE, Firefox, anyone of them) with a PC which has the latest version of everything (Adobe Flash, Java etc.) and up to date current antivirus, but you get hacked within 5 seconds.

No popups, no request to “allow this to download”, “allow this to run”. It just downloads and runs. You don’t feel it. The machine runs normal. (Even bypassed Microsoft UAC)

Then …  28 PC’s on your network, your Dropbox, your server, your NAS backup drives, your interstate user that is using VPN from a university interstate … are all encrypted and held for ransom.

The website you visited was a trusted website you trust implicitly and you buy goods from it. You had no reason to doubt the website. Nothing pops up strange …. until the damage is done.

You call the Company whom the website belongs to, they know nothing about it and pass you to their web developers. The web developers know nothing of this issue. They look further. All of their clients websites on their servers have been hacked. They take the servers offline.

Potentially thousands of people from around where you live use this service, surfing local websites for local businesses all now being held to ransom.

It could happen to anyone. It could happen to you or me.

It sounds like the work of fiction. Maybe an episode of CSI or NCIS ? Nope. That is what happened.

So how did this website attack this person?

We found a back door in the WordPress code that ran the webskite, over the internet to Russia. This back door was used to gain access to the website and then the code was modified to plant the malware onto visiting remote machines.

When figuring out how the website initially got hacked, I learnt that there are specific strings you can type into Google search.

This key search word shows you a list of every website where a certain file is accessible. The file likely used to allow this hack.

A hacker can click on this file and download it to their end. They open the file in something like notepad …. There is the username and password to the website in a “Hash”. They crack the “Hash” and log into the website, edit the code to include the nasty back door to Russia.

So, using Google … and notepad … and a website for the back door to point to, you can hack a large number of websites, inject this code, then let people browse the website and get infected without any indication on how they got infected.

The file size of the website changes very little and you can reset the file date back to an older date. The webmaster does not know they are infecting people and it goes on for several days. All their backups are now full of the malware.

Then the hacker sits back and earns millions of dollars a day in ransom money.

It scares me that malicious code can be put on your PC and run, and you have no idea. It scares me that you can perform the original hack of the website using Google.

So, trying the Google trick myself, I found the passwords to a hospital website and their member logon database.

Very scary. (I will let the hospital know).

We found the original malicious code and set it up on our Malware testing machine.

We setup wireshark to monitor what it does and Sysinternals Process Monitor. We disconnected the internet and ran the virus. Nothing happened. Double clicking made the mouse change cursor but then nothing.

After watching for a while, We connected the internet. Now the virus wakes up. It needed the internet to activate.

We double click the file and it deletes itself. It appears in C:\XXXXX where xxxxxx is the random name of the EXE file. Then it copies itself into the users startup section of their profile start menu. It then looks out over the internet at numerous internet domains, hands over a Cypher (Encryption key) and starts encrypting files.

I had placed some bait in a folder called C:\$fodder. (Some Microsoft Word and Excel files). This virus went alphabetically though my drive letters and folders and encryopted all my useful files leaving behind help_decrypt.html and help_decrypt.txt files in every folder, on the desktop, in my profile startup start menu folder and the deleted the virus executable when done.

I am encrypted and held for ransom :)

Technical details are at http://torblogjp5rjeyhx.onion/mickyj/cryptowall-3-0/

(Yes, it is on Tor. Only advanced computer users will know what to do to get to Tor and on the Tor network, I can post more details).

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There is a new virus and I found it ….. TROJ_CRYPWALL.XXRS

I am as proud as can be. I found an unknown virus and my company was instrumental in it being included in new detection routines as of 23rd June 2015. I am proud to be helping keep the IT world safe, a world I work in everyday and have helped create.

The virus is not named after me but it is my claim to 5 seconds of fame. Now …. to put it into extinction. It has to go. It is a Crypto and dangerous.

I saw several of these viruses arrive in my inbox, with different subjects and senders names. The one common thread was a malformed attachment. Example name “check[1].zip size=16877″

(Contains 6d5770fd.exe(221184 bytes))

If you rename the attachment to a zip file, you can see the exe payload.

An example email:

From: bmack
Sent: Wednesday, 23 June 2015 12:28 AM
To: Michael
Subject: Hope this e-mail finds You well.

Good day!
Hope this e-mail finds You well.

Please be informed that we received the documents regarding the agreement No. 6489-245 dated from 3rd day of June.
However there are some forms missing.
We made the list of missing documents for Your ease (the list is attached below).
Please kindly check whether these forms are kept in your records.
In case you have any questions here are our contact details: 495-70-75. Feel free to give a call at any time.

Stacey Grimly,
Project Manager

If you see one of these, update your Antivirus. Delete the email. Don’t play with it.

Now, if you find something odd and your antivirus does not detect it, feel welcome to contact me. I will get it to Trend Micro whom will pull it apart. Once they have worked out how to detect and remove it, they share their info with other Antivirus companies. In the end of the day, everyone of these we knock out, get’s us one step closer to holding back the tide of these things.

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Publication Scammers at it again ?

Back in March 2014, we and a long list of other Businesses were scammed by what Scamwatch term “Publication scams”. (Scamwatch is an Australian Scam prevention facility).

My blog was very popular on the subject with many people adding more information about these scam’s, and names of more scams, to the list of scammers.

http://blogs.msmvps.com/mickyj/blog/2014/03/14/watch-out-australian-businesses/

Today I am in this situation again. Firstly a disclaimer –

I am not suggesting the names provided in this specific blog post are participating in a scam. Their behavior is “scamlike” and I have not yet found any mention or evidence of the company being involved or not being involved with scams. The company has an ABN registered back in 2013 and this should have been enough time for someone to have made public comment. I can’t find anything. If proven wrong, I will ammend this blog post and remove their details. All details that I have provided about this company can be found online using public facing sites.

So, what happened today?

I got a phone call from the “Children’s Community Bulletin”. The person on the phone sounded innocent, just like anyone’s Grandmother (I have their name but am not providing it). They well might be someones Grandmoher. They are likely a call center person whom has innocently been asked to followup on a list of clients.

I am paraphrasing however, this is the essence of the call:

Hello XXXXXXX. Firstly let me thankyou for your generosity and for contributing and supporting the “Children’s Community Bulletin”. I just need to confirm a few things. First, if I can confirm your address <Read’s out our Address> and your email address <Reads out my email address>.

Thankyou for your time and we will have your proof with you shortly.

After this call, I received a advertising “proof” via email.

Just keep in the back of your mind that I never authorised, arranged or viewed a proof prior to this.

The email arrives (Email subject “Artwork – Children’s Community Bulletin”) with the following instructions on how to respond

CUT AND PASTE RESPONSE:

ARTWORK, PRICE AND TERMS AND CONDITIONS ARE ACCEPTED for the attached artwork.

I am not likley to do that!

First I see these words at the top “THIS IS NOT A BILL. YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO PAY ANY MONEY.”. This feels eactly the same as the scam publications I have seen previously. They start with a weird call warning you something is on the way (They rarely give you any detail) and end with an invoice marked “THIS IS NOT A BILL. YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO PAY ANY MONEY.”.

I then see that the publication date is listed as “The books will be out in due course.” Then I see a proof I never helped build and that a generous ” $100 discount already applied” label sits besides the listed costs. ($450 ex gst).

There is no way I authorised this. Other items like the bank account details (BSB looks similar to one in the recent scamss I saw), the Queensland address (Why are they scamming from QLD ?) and urgency they try and put on this, makes it all feel like the same scam.

I then baited a responce and emailed them.

Thanks for this proof. Unfortunately we need to change some of the contents in the proof. Can you send through the original proof or contract we signed off on, to you guys? Whoever you have worked with at our end, does not know about some recent changes in the business.

The responce was by phone call. They rang me to correct the details.

The same person rang and I asked who signed off on the original proof and when. She said she spoke to me on the 16th March and said “You spoke with me and nothing is signed off or contracted until the last proof check, which is what we are doing now”.

I mentioned that this looked fishy and as the top of the invoice says “THIS IS NOT A BILL. YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO PAY ANY MONEY.” then I opt to may no money. I also mentioned I had been in previous scams and there was nothing about this process or invoice that looked real. The nice lady on the phone then got quite upset and told me that I was nasty and accusing her employeer of scamming. She also said that it was my right to not pay the bill but they have already made room in the publication and now they are “out of pocket”. She said that “THIS IS NOT A BILL. YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO PAY ANY MONEY” was a legal requirement to be put on any proofs in the advertisig industry. Hmm. not quite true. Unsolicited invoices yes, but not solicited ones.

I have a real proof and invoice from the real publication AiPol and it does nto say “THIS IS NOT A BILL. YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO PAY ANY MONEY.” and it does look real. (AiPol are a real publication by the way, and well worth supporting).

She said she was quite upset with me not wanting to pay and told me that they publised a large variaty of publications and know that there are scams out there copying their methods and that they are not a scam.

I was polite to her on the phone (Except to allude that this may be a scam) but she was quite angry and agreed to end the call.

So, I am still not sure. Is it a scam ? (If it walks like a Duck, talks like a duck ……..It’s a duck)

Refering to:

www.ors.act.gov.au/page/pdf/2063
http://www.consumerlaw.gov.au/content/the_acl/downloads/sales_practices_guide_dec_2011.pdf

Businesses must not issue an invoice for unsolicited goods or services supplied unless the invoice contains the required warning statement ‘This is not a bill.You are not required to pay any money’.This warning statement must be the most prominent text on the document.

What are unsolicited supplies?

‘Unsolicited supplies’ are goods or services supplied to someone who has not agreed to buy or receive them.

So following this then, this is an unsolicited invoice requesting money for something I never signed on for. To me, that says “Scam”. Continuing to read the information online

In a dispute, the business or person demanding payment must prove they have a legitimate right to it.

So, I did the right thing asking for proof. This is where the caller got angry.

Must someone who receives unsolicited goods or services pay?

Someone who receives unsolicited goods or services does not have to pay for those goods or services. They also do not have to pay for any loss or damage to the goods, or due to supply of the service.

Now I know I am within my rights to hold back payment.

Requesting payment for unauthorised entries or advertisements

It is unlawful to ask for payment for an entry or advertisement relating to a person or their profession, business, trade or occupation, that was not first authorised by the person or business concerned.

An advertisement or entry is authorised when the person, business or their nominee has signed a document that:

> authorises the entry or advertisement
> specifies the details of the entry or advertisement, the name and address of the person publishing the entry, and the charges that will apply, and
> was provided before payment was requested.

I have not signed any documents leading up to this.

So it is possible to send an invoice for an unauthorised entry or advertisement, if it contains the warning statement required by the ACL Regulations:
‘This is not a bill. You are not required to pay any money’.

It does not mean you need to pay it and it does not mean you requested it. It is unsolisted and relying on you to not over think it and just pay it. To me, this says “Scam”.

This company emails from sales@kandrmarketingandmedia.com.au, there is no website at www.kandrmarketingandmedia.com.au. There is not much on the internet about “k and r marketing and media”. I can’t find anything about Children’s Community Bulletin. So much for this being a big advertising house with many publications going out regularly.

This company details (Taken from the PDF in the email) are

PHONE: 1300 493 646 FAX: 1300 492 535 EMAIL: sales@kandrmarketingandmedia.com.au ADDRESS: PO BOX 474 TUGUN QLD 4224

COVERING THE LATEST in Children’s Safety and Developing Issues – PUBLISHED BY K & R MARKETING AND MEDIA ABN 56 415 329 623

The document has highlighted areas making the document feel like an approval and invoice document.

  • PLEASE SIGN & RETURN
  • PLEASE MAKE CHEQUES PAYABLE
  • In big letters 100% tax deductable
  • TERMS: 14 DAYS FROM THE ABOVE DATE

You need to sign against this statement

I confirm the ADVERTISEMENT in the CHILDREN’S COMMUNITY BULLETIN and acknowledge terms of payment as shown above. Signing below gives my permission to go ahead with the printing of my advertisement in the CHILDREN ’S COMMUNITY BULLETIN. The books will be out in due course.

Followed by these words

NB: TEXT WILL NOT BE ALTERED AFTER APRROVAL BUT THE FORMAT – Proof copy below

The email header tells me that it came from “KatiePC” with IP address 149.135.28.202. An IP lookup lists this as

Name:    kat1091736.lnk.telstra.net
Address:  149.135.28.202

The IP Address is registered  in Brisbane and the Business Address is on the Gold Coast. the ABN is registed in NSW.

An ABN lookup shows

  • The Trustee For K & R Marketing And Media Trust ABN 56 415 329 623
  • Entity name The Trustee For K & R Marketing And Media Trust
  • Type Discretionary
  • Trading Trust
  • Status Active from 27/02/2013
  • ABN56 415 329 623
  • GST Status Registered from 27/02/2013
  • Business Location NSW 2486

The internet Domain informatiopn

  • Eligibility Name The Trustee for K & R Marketing and Media Trust
  • Registrant Contact Name Mary Heaton
  • Registrant Contact Email heatonmary8@gmail.com

The PDF file was created by a computer that thinks it’s users name is Katie. The PDF was created 22June 2015 1:27:04 pm (Containing the poof) and the email is stamped Mon, 22 Jun 2015 14:51:41 +0930 . The PDF was created using Micrsoft Publisher 2013.

I can’t think of too many advertisers that create proofs in Microsoft Publisher and surely they would not create the Proof just before they email it? Why did it take from March to finally get it to me if all they were doing was knocking it up in Publisher? I think the passage of time was meant to weaken me.

It is a pity as I would love to have supported a real charity like this. Googling “Children’s Community Bulletin” shows nothing by that name.

$450 ex gst saved by me. I hope that this also saves someone else.

 

 

 

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Light painting with orbs and firewool spinning

13978787462_dc8eeb9416_z_top

For some time, the art of creating a Light ORB has been an unintentional secret. There were no tutorials on Youtube, no articles online and many people scratching their heads working out how it is done.

There were many attempts to think it though and create Orbs, but the results whilst OK, were not as good as those they were trying to copy.

The ultimate way to create an Orb, is expensive. You need something like a Telescope equatorial mount with a motor (maybe a drill on slow speed) attached to long wires (maybe 1 meter) or a pole, which attaches a small battery source to a light source and can spin so that the extended swinging lights always pass over the ground in the same spot. This will give a perfect sphere and spin the lights at a constant rate, with the right mount programming.

You need the mount to be thin and move so it does not appear in the image. A long exposure should remove it from the image and the bright light hide it. (Especially if it is black). Spinning the orb far enough from the camera should hide any imperfections.

Set your camera for a long exposure and set your rig running. In reality, you only need about 180 degrees in the right direction to get a sphere.

If you expose long enough, the surrounding will come out in your photo, and a sphere.

5038305767_9e3dd3e8a3_z

 

You want your photo to start after the device is spinning at a constant rate so you do not see any odd light marks on the photo.

I have often heard that people have built their own machines to make orbs. I have yet to actually see one. I am just guessing how to put one together.

Update: After reading this, you might like to watch http://youtu.be/e9xhhs5qg6w (It is a low quality video I knocked together to show some friends how I do these things).


Orb machine version 1

So, the cheap alternative, is what I started with. It creates a wobbly orb and relies on my steady hand.

cable spinner_sm

I have an LED light on the end of some wire which I spin over a single location on the ground (Marked with a coin) as I turn my body.

The photo starts after I start spinning (Timer or 2nd person) and have the light going at a constant rate and I try and have my hand that holds the centre of the Orb in place, at the same place at all times. I wear black and try and not appear in the image. (Avoid doing this in a strong Wind).

My spinning is not accurate and the LED’s do not always pass over the coin, my hand moves to keep the momentum happening and I don’t turn at a constant rate.

The pictures look ok, but I need to practice more to get a good image.

13959290101_c6ab3e05b9_z

I started with 1 LED and a 3.3 v button cell battery but that was useless. I needed something brighter.


ORB setup version 1.1

To make this new setup, you need to know the basics of using a soldering iron. (Don’t do anything silly, know how to “tin” your leads and don’t burn yourself).

You need to know how to use solder.

I purchased:

  • 15 LED’s (white .. or your favourite colour). I used 3.2 volt units.
  • Suitable Resistors for LEDs
  • A length of 2 core cable (around 2 metres) .. Car audio cable is good
  • Insulation (Electrical) Tape (Black and non reflective)
  • 2 x 9v Battery’s (18v)
  • 2 x 9v Battery Connector’s (To be connected in Series)
  • Push-to-Make (Momentary push) Switch
  • Small yogurt container
  • A coin (To spin over)
  • Soldering Iron, wire strippers and Solder
  • Solder Shrink
  • Fishing sinker or weight (Use large bolts ?)

Understanding how LED’s work, I joined 5 x LED’s in series (Note the LED’s have short and long legs, join a short leg from one, to a long leg of the next).

Once I had three sets of 5 LED’s in series (Which I will call “runs”), I eventually joined the groups so that the three “runs” of LED’s were now in Parallel (But that is a few steps ahead).

Depending on your power source (I will have 2 x 9 volt wired in Series giving 18 Volts) you can add a resister to each of the runs, to make sure you don’t blow your LED’s. (attach the resister to the last LED in the run)

To help you decide how many LEDs you will be using and calculate what resistor will be needed, you can use this resource (LED Series/Parallel Array Wizard) which will work out the resistor required for you and provide you with a circuit diagram. http://led.linear1.org/led.wiz

After you have wired each “run”, make sure the LEDs are the right way round. Now it’s time to solder the LED’s in the “Run” and the resister, to make the connections secure (The forces in spinning the rig could make them come apart). Use the soldering iron to apply heat to the underside of the twisted parts and push the end of the solder onto the top. The solder will melt and coat the twist.

I then used Solder shrink tubing to melt over the LED’s legs. You don’t want any of the legs to touch each other (except where we have joined them) as this will cause a short-circuit. I also covered over the resister in the run.

I left the first leg of the run and the last lead of the resister free.

I take the three runs and join the first legs together and the least lead from the resisters to join all the runs in parallel.

I now solder all of these twisted legs to make it rigid and secure.

SONY DSC

Now strip back a length of your cable and slide some solder shrink around it. This cable will go to the battery and switch so should be a good length, around 1.5 to 2 metres would be good. Twist one wire onto the positive wires from your orb tool, and twist the other wire onto the resistors. Solder them all into place, and remember which colour wire is positive and which is negative.

Shrink the solder shrink into place.

To hold it all together, wrap all the LEDs in tape. Try to position the LEDs so they point in the right direction. (And when you spin this try not to bash them into the ground).

SONY DSC

Spinning this will be easier if the wires are taught. I wired a fishing sinker to my LED’s and then wrapped insulation tape around my creation.

I then grabbed an old yogurt container. This will be a container to hold my 2 x 9v batteries, the on off switch and I cut two slits in the sides so I could slide my belt through. I found the belt holding my pants up is at the perfect height to have the power switch and the excess cable.

I made a hole in the end of the yogurt container, slipped my switch though and tighten the plastic but to hold it in place. I took the 2 x 9v power connectors and joined in series. Wired the black lead from one connector to the red of the second one. Connected the live (red) wire (from the 9v connectors in series) into one of the terminals on the switch and soldered it in place.

Strip back the other end of the cable that goes to your orb tool. Remember which colour was connected to the positive legs of the LEDs. Connect it to the other switch terminal (switch leads will be assessable inside the yogurt container) and solder in place.

Twist the remaining wire from the cable onto the negative (black) wire from the battery connectors in series. Solder them together. (Again the wiring is done so that it can poke into the yogurt container)

Now add the batteries and test it. The light should come on.

cable spinner 2sm

At the end, the length of swinging cable from the LED’s to the batteries is 1.9 m

If everything is working, insulate the connection in the wires and the switch terminals to ensure nothing can short-out. Just wrap some electrical tape around them.

Now tuck your battery’s and connectors into the yogurt container.


Spinning your first ORB

So, you have your orb tool but now need to use it.

  • Find a great location with very little light (Except the moon)
  • Have a camera capable of long exposures and maybe a remote release (or use a timer)
  • A good Tripod (Be sure not to trip over it)
  • Black clothes (maybe a beanie to cover your hair)
  • A torch and a bag to carry the odds and ends.
  • A second person helps.

To create the light orb, you are spinning your light (Swung around on your wire) which has the lights at one end and your switch at the other. This setup will allow you to turn the lights on while they are being swung around.

I slide my belt through the yogurt container so that the switch and all the batteries are at my side, easy reach and don’t have to carry it as an extra item.

Find a dark space and set up your camera (use your torch to figure things out). Put your camera onto the tripod and compose your shot, ensuring your camera is focused properly. You will want to ensure your camera can see the entire orb so leave plenty of space in your frame at first.

If you have two people, wander out into the area and shine your torch, have the second person focus on the light. (Or drop the light out in the scene and focus yourself).

Pick your place carefully. Ideally, you are not going to light your path or start your photo until the orb has started, else you will get trailing lights.

Set your camera to Bulb mode if it’s available (Or I sometimes use 30 seconds on a 10 second timer if by myself) – Bulb mode allows you to open the shutter for an unlimited time. This will allow you to take as long as you need to create your orb. Most cameras require a shutter release cable or remote control to do this. If you don’t have bulb mode or a shutter release then set your exposure to the maximum time allowed, usually 30 seconds (like I mentioned) so you’ll have to be quick! Set your aperture to a mid way point to start with, around f/11 should do for now. If your lights are not very bright you can set your aperture a bit wider (lower number), or smaller (higher number) if it’s particularly bright. Go for a low ISO setting to avoid noise in your shot. ISO 100 or 200 are good.

Find a spot within your frame and place your marker on the ground. A coin makes a good marker as it’s shiny, but a stone, weed or any small object can work well too.

Hold the lights by your side in one hand and start swinging them in a circular motion. Try to get your circle directly above your marker. Once you have established a good swing you can turn your lights on.

Now comes the tricky part. You need to start turning yourself around while still swinging the lights in a circle. The circle must stay centred above your marker at all times. Start to shuffle your feet backwards and move slowly around your marker.

Don’t let your LED’s hit the ground. Keep a constant speed. If you feel your orb is not lined up, don’t try and make big corrections.

You need to move around 180 degrees to create an orb, or you can go round the full 360 degree circle to create a fuller orb.

Turn off your lights and then stop swinging. Get out of the frame. Close your shutter.

There are lot’s of tutorials for this online, now. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7k3yhicxYVw

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mickyj_photos/sets/72157644233735631


Orb machine version 2

So, at this point, starts the project for my orb, version 2. This is an experiment and I have no idea if this will work.

I have started this with a very small LED as my light source as I am just testing.

I have collected together

  • An LED
  • 3.3 v button cell battery and holder
  • Switch
  • 2 meters audio cable
  • Zenith eye bolt
  • Adhesive Teflon furniture slides/glides
  • 2x 25mm x 2.5m black flyscreen frame (Note – Black)
  • washers and nuts
  • A cork
  • Large long nail
  • Fishing sinker
  • Cloth tape (100 mile an hour tape) – Black and not reflective
  • A drill with drill bits
  • Soldering iron, solder and heat shrink
  • Black permanent marker

I wanted to join the two flyscreen frames like a big pair of scissors. The plan was to hold one frame and spin the other through 360 degrees. (One becomes a walking stick touching the ground).

orb2_sm

Of the first of two frames, I measured up to 1.5 meters and bent it. I then marked about 15 cm from the bend and cut of the excess. I basically had a metal “walking stick”.

I cut the other piece of flyscreen frame to 2.06 meters and drilled a hole in the centre (1.03 m). I then drilled a hole in the walking stick, up near the bend and used the Zenith eye bolt to join the two. The long 2.06 piece is about 2 inches short of touching the ground as it spins around. Perfect. I have a walking stick to hold and an arm that rotates through 360 degrees.

On the flyscreen frame, there is a running trough where the fly screen is pressed in and secured. Into this I wedged a nail into the end of the “walking stick”.

orb2_5+sm

It stuck out about 1 inch. As is was a big nail, it wedged into the trough, tightly.

This gives me a point to spin this contraption on it’s new axis (On the ground). I used the cork to make the nail blunt whist I was working on this and for transport.

On one end of the long section (2.06 m) I wedged the fishing weight (Sinker) in. This is to make the piece want to spin back to earth. I taped it over to hold it in, using black cloth tape.

orb2_1_sm

Now, I pulled the centre bolt out. I fixed the adhesive Teflon furniture slides/glides (About 1 cm in diameter – round little buttons) between the two flyscreen frames and drilled through them. I ended up with a sandwich of Zenith eye bolt to washer, to Teflon glide outward facing, through the first frame, through the next Teflon glide inward facing to the next washer and spacers, then to the next Teflon glide facing in on the next flyscreen, through the next flyscreen, the next outward facing Teflon glide, a washer and some nuts. All of this to make these two flyscreens glide easily.

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Now that this all spins easily, I ran the audio cable up the flyscreen trough to the end without the fishing sinker. I soldered an LED onto the cable and then wedged it in. I drilled a hole in the trough and poked some excess cable out and back into the trough so that I have excess to play with later.

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At the other end, I soldered on the button cell battery holder and a switch.

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I setup the switch and Battery on the outside of the swinging edge so that when the two flyscreens meet, they don’t make contact. I also made this arrangement stick to the swinging flyscreen with the cloth tape, at a comfortable height to find the switch to turn it on. All the cables were in the trough with tape over it.

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Now I need to test this and fine tune it. Use the permanent marker pen to blacken out any scratches in the black fly screen.

To stop the two flyscreens banging into each other, I need to spin this slowly. This will mean with the camera, bulb will be best. I need to rotate this slowly and also need to rotate the whole arrangement on the nail, slowly.

I will post back and update when I try this. I will likely need bigger batteries and more light to make this work in the final version.

Update: My rig needs more light. I need to spin it slower. I need less vibration and I need a more complete orb. Here is my first test shot. Camera on ISO 50, BULB (90+ seconds), F/2.8, 10 sec timer.

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Update: I am onto my 3rd Generation of the ORB tool.

I have added more power and more LED’s.

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I have combined 3 x 6 Volt White LED’s in series and 2 x 9v batteries in Series (18v). I have added the 9v Batteries to one end of the spinning arm (rotor) and  some fishing sinkers to the other as counterweights (I removed the original weight). I have cut a slot in the central spinning bolt and fitted an R clip to stop the nut undoing as I spin.

I am now working out the best swinging action and how far to be from the camera.

133 Seconds, 18mm, Manual focus, Bulb mode, ISO 50, F/4, remote trigger, Tripod and torch.

I used

  • 2 x 9 volt batteries
  • 2 x 9 v connectors
  • 3 x 6v white leds
  • 2 x fishing sinkers
  • Some black cable ties to fasten the batteries to the arm (rotor)

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Update: I have added black Velcro to the end of the swinging arm, near the LED’s. I then cut some thin strips of  clear plastic, folded and stuck different coloured cellophane into the hinge I had made. I stuck the other half of the Velcro to the clear plastic. Now I have different coloured Gel’s to put on and off during the long exposure.

I now have white, yellow, green, purple and red. I can change these between orbs.

I have also taken the various items I have made and attached some reflective tape so that they are easy to find if I drop them at night.

Now I can change colours quickly.

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Firewool Spinning

Another light painting favourite is Fire Steel wool or Fire Wool spinning.
Here are some examples of mine https://www.flickr.com/photos/mickyj_photos/sets/72157644233719551

Disclaimer: Wear three layers of clothing. Wear glasses, a beanie for your head. Wear welding gloves and have no skin showing. Realise that this is dangerous. If you do this unprepared you can burn, blind, or set fire to yourself. A burning shard of metal can burn through the three layers of clothes in seconds.

Wear welding gloves, have a fire extinguisher and a person on standby. Do it near/over water. Don’t do it in a fire danger season. Check the area for danger before doing this and hang about afterwards and make sure nothing ignites.

Be very sensible and limit people hanging about watching.

Ok, so what are we doing? We are spinning a cage holding steel wool. We are not doing an ORB, just a circle. The steel wool will catch fire and ignite when air flows over it after applying heat from a lighter or a short created by a 9v battery.

Be aware that banging the cage into an object might send shards your way. The cage I made may melt and large chunks might get out.

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What I like to do is ask myself before performing this shot, “Is there anything nearby that could catch on fire?” When I say nearby, I mean within 150 feet. Spinning steel wool as fast as you can will shoot chunks of flaming wool in multiple directions. Unsure whether it’s safe? Then don’t.

I have seen this made with a whisk but I like this cage idea.

  • Roughly 120 – 130 cm (4 feet) of 1/16 steel cable (which will spin)
  • Chicken wire or wire mesh (Thicker wire will last longer but be heaver to spin and retain heat longer)
  • 1 x 4 Pipe (Becomes your handle to spin this and if you pull the cable through it, can create vortex photos)
  • Dog Leash Buckle
  • Sleeve Stop wire crimps (holds metal wires together)
  • Extra Wire
  • Wire Cutters and Needle Nose Pliers
  • Lighters
  • #0000 / fine steel wool

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Cut the wire mesh in the shape of a squashed box. This will be bent into the shape of a box. Cut the mesh so that the tabs on the sides are sticking out to be used to hold the structure together. This wire cage will be about 3 wide on each side, but only about 1.5 tall.

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Bend the sides up and start making the box

Use the protruding wire tabs to bend around the sides to hold together. The step requires a bit of patience and it can help to have your needle nose pliers to help twist the tabs around the support wire on the corners. Make sure not to stick yourself with the wires. Repeat on all for corners.

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Cut out a separate top piece with one row extra on one side and bend that down. This will be the lid, and the extra row bent down helps keep the lid in place when closed. (It will overlap with the box)

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Use the extra wire to make a hinge by wrapping it around the opposite side from the bend, and secure the lid.

Take the steel cable and string through the front opening and the lid. Create a big enough loop so the you can open the lid far enough to put steel wool inside the cage.

The cable will pull on the box and lid and due to the forces whilst spinning, will keep it all closed and the wool inside it.

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String the cable through the pipe, and crimp the dog leash buckle on the other end.

You hold the buckle in your left hand, and the pipe in your right. This allows you to change the radius of the fire wool by just letting cable in or out as you spin it.

The cage it is re-usable in a quick fashion to set up the next shot. Replacing the steel takes only a few seconds. Be aware that the wire cage can be hot, so it is a great idea to give it a few seconds, or dip it in water before reloading.

If you hit the cage against anything or it melts, it can be dangerous so please check your cage.

 

Camera with Manual Mode

  • Wear a hoodie, beanie or hat, long sleeves, and pants. Dark clothing, and goggles/glasses.
  • Steel Wool (#0000)
  • Lighter or 9V Battery (to light or short out the steel wool)
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Gloves
  • Flashlight
  • Spinning Wool Rig

This is where having a second person will help. I don’t ever recommend doing this shot without a second person. Wherever you plan on standing to spin the wool, have your friend shine a flashlight on their face so you can set the focus manually. On Canon cameras, you turn on Live View and zoom in to set the focus with the help of the LCD screen. Remember, that most likely it will be dark out, so having a flashlight will help in more ways that just being able to set focus.

You don’t want the sparks to fly at the camera, or other people, so stand perpendicular to the camera when spinning the wool. Chunks of flaming steel wool will be flying out of the spinning cage. The faster you spin, the farther the flaming sparks are able to fly.

Camera Settings (Manual Mode)

  • To reduce the amount of noise, set the ISO to around 200
  • Your exposure should be set to 20 to 30 seconds. You can have wool last the entire 30 seconds if you don’t spin too fast.
  • I’ve experimented with different f-stops(f/9 – F/11 recommended)
  • Some cameras have long exposure noise reduction settings
  • Lock the shutter open to minimize camera shake.
  • Set the camera to include a 10 second delay or use a remote release

When you light it, don’t panic, it will not catch fire. It looks like it’s smouldering when you first light the steel wool. You don’t get fire until you spin it, causing oxygen to fuel the fire.

 

Use a wide angle lens or fish eye, to capture everything

Hang around after taking the photos and look for anything that is burning. Also check your clothes.

Make sure any remaining steel wool in the holder goes out.

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I bought a Personal Solar Telescope .. now what ?

I have seen some excellent images of the sun. Some up close, showing the writhing gasses moving about and some with sunspots, with patterns around them. Huge prominences shooting Plasma into space and more.

Here is a classic example.

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Wow, looks good!

I want to do this with my PST. So how?

I have found very little newbie information online. The one page introduction I got with my Personal Solar Telescope (PST) was lacking. The box looked great with fantastic images but can I really do these things?

I have by no means achieved the same results as per the marketing images. With the right gear and a lot of patience I believe it can be done. I am not there yet. I wanted to share my experience to help other newbies with PST’s.

My Gear

I have the Coronado PST (Meade). It is a 40mm f/10 H-alpha telescope – 400mm focal length – 0.5 Angstrom. (external tunable etalon)

It is a Hydrogen alpha (Ha) band pass scope. It allows light into the eyepiece from the Hydrogen alpha frequencies. You can get scopes using other frequencies but for us amateurs, Ha is the most interesting and with it we can see surface features and prominences (via tuning for the right feature).

An etalon is just the optical device containing parallel mirrors which gets the image to you. This PST let’s through a frequency range of just .5 Angstrom’s (This is just a very small unit of length).

I got my unit as just the scope, end caps and an eyepiece, in a box.

No fancy tripod or extra eye pieces.

Coronado PST

Tripods

I grabbed my Manfrotto camera tripod, bolted the Manfrotto quick release base to the PST and tried to point at the sun.

First lesson, camera tripods are really for looking straight ahead or down. Not up. I rescrewed the camera mounting plate on backwards to how it would normally be (It has an arrow pointing to the lens, I just reversed it). This means using my Manfrotto tripod, I can now point up, by my adjustment handles for the head are in an awkward place. Still, I can point up at the sun. (Just be careful … and make sure all adjustment screws are *Tight*)

Solranger

Now I need to find the sun. I used the built in Solranger and got the sun in the middle of the viewing window. I looked through the eyepiece. Nothing. I tried the method of reducing the equipment shadow (if you minimise the shadow, then you must be pointing directly at the sun). Nothing. There are two problems. The Solranger just gives a rough idea to let you know if you have the scope pointed in the correct direction. Once in the correct direction you need to do some very small movements to actually locate the sun. You have to hunt about in a vast sky before you find it. You also need to avoid clouds, even little whispy ones. The Solranger window actually represents a large amount of sky. 1/2 a mm off of centre is thousands of kms in the sky.

Below you can see the Solranger with the sun centrally.

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Often whilst moving about, you see the image of the sun fly past the eyepiece. You just have to practice to find the sun.

This is where I also learned about Eyepiece relief, he effects of wearing glasses and the “mm” rating on the eyepiece. The larger the relief around the viewing end of the eyepiece, the more accurately your eye needs to be in position to see an image. Sometimes moving your view just slightly will show an image. As normal eyepieces can be used (All the filtering is done by the PST so it is quite safe), I borrowed a 20 mm and 12.5 mm eyepiece from my skywatcher telescope. This made things easier.

Focus

Finally, I can see the sun. It was blurry. Turning the knob on the back, underside of the PST, the image was getting sharper and easier to see. Don’t wind it if you feel tension. You are at the end of the available focusing range.

At this point, I had a clear orange disk. No features. Turning the tuning mechanism on the tube, I could suddenly see prominences at one extreme and surface features at the other. You can’t see both at the same time.

The next problem is the sun moves from your field of view, very quickly. Putting the PST on an equatorial mount that is trained on the sun would be very helpful. Many mounts using Goto can track the sun. (My Skywatcher HEQ5 pro does).

I can see the sun, not in great detail, and I have it focused but a bigger zoom in my eyepiece would help. Maybe a Barlow extension is needed.

Cameras

Time to add a camera or even a laptop.

My first attempt at a photo was using the Afocal technique. a Camera held to the eyepiece. (An iPhone)

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I can see a sunspot. Not much more.

I created a custom T piece to mount my Canon EOS camera.

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I used a  MEADE Series 4000 #126 2x Short-Focus Barlow (1.25″) and a cut down T piece. the T piece is cut so that the hilt fits up against the top of the eye piece holder on the PST and I removed the lens from the Barlow and drop that down into the Eye piece holder on the PST. This gives my Canon EOS prime focus.

Using the live view feature on the camera, I can now zoom in and get better focus. I took my first few photos this way. I also took some video, with the sun at the top right hand side and let the video go to the bottom left of the view finder. I get about 30 seconds on my normal tripod before the sun is starting to wander out of view. If I used an equatorial mount I could have longer exposures and better images. Something I will one day try.

I have tried a Canon EOS 600D full spectrum modified, A canon EOS 7D (unmodified) and a Canon EOS 500D with a Ha band bypass expansion for astro photography.

I like that the 600D lets me manually select ISO in video mode but out of all the cameras, the 500D with Ha modifications works the best for me. Here is a photo from the normal Canon EOS 7D on the T piece.

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I was then introduced to the idea of taking my image into an image editor, breaking into a Green/Blue/Red split image and only keeping the red image. I could also combine two images. One with a tuning emphasising prominences and one with surface details.

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I am still not seeing the incredible images that I see in the advertising.

Video Stacking

I now take the video I took and put it through Registax and AutoStakkert. I used pip to convert the Canon Video into a supported format. Using Wavelets and playing with the tools I was starting to see something cool.

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To get the best image for this purpose, try and have the video taken only when the full disk of the sun is in view. Any clipping of the image as it has moved off frame seems to upset Registax. Any editing or converting reduces the image quality so try and get it right the first time.

Using a connected laptop

I quickly learnt that using “EOS utility” on a laptop, connected to the camera via USB, allowed me to see the images from the camera far better. I needed to shield myself and the laptop from the sun. The reflections on the laptop screen were very distracting and I needed to block out the sun to help my eyes adjust to the laptop screen. I grabbed a table, a large box, some alfoil (Aluminium wrap) and tape. I wrapped the box in alfoil to reflect the sun (keep me cool) and the box was big enough to almost sit my chair under it but my body in it, dropping a sheet or towel over my back to block the sun. I could reach the PST to make changes.

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Using the EOS utility I could zoom in and focus better. I could tune better as I could see the prominences and surface features larger. I used a remote trigger and mirror lockup to reduce camera shake. I did find that to see the image on the screen I had to unreasonably increase the shutter time and ISO. (I take many sun images at 1/13 sec and ISO 400, I view at 2 seconds, ISO 3200 or 6400).

So to produce these images you need a really well focused PST, long video (use an equatorial mount to track the sun) and then stack images and colourise the final result.

I wish someone had explained all this to me before I started down this road.

Double Stacking

Now I want to see more. Time to double stack. This allows sharper focus.

I first had to order the SME40 (new name is the SM40) Coronado SolarMax II 40/ RichView Tuner Package for Double-Stacking SM40 Filter Set or Telescope

Increase the amount of detail you can see through your SolarMax II 40 filter set or SolarMax telescope when you add a second filter! This is a genuine Coronado Instruments SolarMax II 40 / RichView unit that will, when properly matched, narrow your bandpass to <0.5 angstroms, greatly increasing the amount of surface detail you can see and image with your SolarMax 40 telescope. The unit is a second SolarMax II 40 filter and RichView just like the primary unit on all SolarMax II 40 Telescopes. The new unit will fit directly to the front of your existing unit.

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This arrived, I screwed it to the front of the PST. I went to line up the sun with the SolRanger and found it does not work. The SM40 is wide enough to block light into the Solranger. I tried lining up the PST first, then screw on the SM40 but the time that this takes (doing it carefully) the shaking you produce means it is not lined up. I tried hunting for the sun but even with the tuner on the SM40 turned all the way to the left (which seems to let the most light in) I could hardly see the sun. There was very little light let in.  I made a home made Solranger.

Home made Solranger for double stacking

I used some tin snips to cut a length of a tuna tin, 1 cm wide by about 5 cm long. I drilled the smallest hole possible in one end, bent both ends up. Taped the arrangement to the PST (Actally used Blu tack in the end). Without the SM40, I alighned the built in solranger, located the dot of light on my home made unit and marked it. Now  I attached the SM40 and can align to the sun fairly accurately. It is tall enough not to be blocked by the SM40.

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Observing whilst Double Stacked

I found winding the tuning of the SM40 from the left to the right (Standing behind it), the image got darker and darker.

I attached my camera and laptop. No matter what I did, I could not get an image on my laptop. I tried Tv of 10 seconds, ISO 6400 and higher. Nothing. Then I accidently took a photo and I saw the sun.

It seems liveview can’t see the sun (it can’t emulate the final result) but a photo can. I reduced the ISO and Tv vsalue to stop the image blowing out.

Now I had to focus it. I took a photo, focused a little, took another photo, focused better again. After I was focused, I turned the tuning knobs and tried to capture some detail. This is hard. Especially as the richview tuner and other bits of the SM40 easy screw off when you try and tune.

In video mode, I can’t see the sun.

I am limited to photos at the moment. This means I am not going to get good sharp images as I can’t run anything useful through Registax (video). This is my next challenge. Here is a photo with a little curve manipulation in Photoshop.

Adding a little colour, patience etc I am sure I can now reproduce the images I have seen. Maybe also another Barlow lens. Zoom in a little more.

 

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