Dennis Sprinkle: Blog en-us (C) Dennis Sprinkle (Dennis Sprinkle) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:29:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:29:00 GMT Dennis Sprinkle: Blog 90 120 Building a permanent pier for my telescope I have an opportunity to install my telescope into an observatory with some of the nicest skies I have ever got to see. This is something that I have wanted to do for a very ling time. This will allow me to take photos much more often, with much better results, and can be remote controlled from anywhere I have service. This is going to improve my astrophotography images immensely!

Here is the problem, I needed a permanent pier to install into the observatory. I didn't plan well enough and thought there might be one available... I should have asked (my mistake). I could always set up my tripod mount for it, but there is always the risk of it getting bumped into and everything getting out of alignment. Not a good thing if you are 1000 miles away.

Well in my normal procrastinating fashion I rushed off to all the websites I know that sells piers. No one had one in stock. And most were 4-6 weeks lead time. I needed this in less than a week. Did I mention procrastinating? So my only other option was to build something. And while I am pretty handy on making things, this was out of my skill level and did not have the tools available anyway. So luckily I know some very talented fabricators and they were able to help me out and in a very short time frame.

Rough pieces laid out to check fit:

Rough pieces laid out to check fit.

Josh Eustice doing some trim/leveling work to the pipe. The store I got the steel from doesn't do a very straight cut:

Josh Eustice doing some trim/leveling work.

Its all welded together:

All welded together

And here is the completed pier after I painted it with some Rust-Oleum Farm Equipment Enamel (still wet):

Nice and painted!

This should be nice and dry by the time I leave Monday morning. It will have a nice new home in Marathon, TX at the Marathon Sky Park located at the  Marathon Motel and RV Park.   If you ever want to get out and see some amazing dark skies please check this place out. Some friends and I made our first trip out there a year ago and fell in love with it. This is going to be my third trip and definitely won't be my last. They are great about having mini star parties with their telescopes and making viewing the night sky fun.


If you are interested in having one of these piers made for yourself or if you might need anything else fabricated, check these guys out:

Josh Eustice:

Justin Hixson:


(Dennis Sprinkle) astro astronomy astrophotography fabrication observatory permanent pier pier telescope telescope pier Sun, 03 Jun 2018 02:43:38 GMT
Conasaua Falls The weather lately has been kinda crazy. Either it's too sunny to get out or it is raining so hard that you would get drenched. Yesterday the forecast was calling for a good window early in the morning. This was after a rain so the water levels should have been good... well turns out it rained a lot more than expected. This meant the water levels were really high and the water muddy looking. But it was still a chance to shoot some and I wasn't going to pass it up. So a friend and I drove a little over an hour to Tellico Plains, TN and down this very rough road to Conasauga Falls (not recommended for small cars).

The hike in is very easy until you get to the falls. Then things get a little rougher as the trail is washed out and very slippery in places. But we managed to make it down to the water. Again the levels were up really high so we were mostly limited to shooting from the edge. Wasn't too happy with the main falls images I got, but lower down the creek I managed to get a nice shot of some cascades. Nearly fell several times getting to this but worth it LOL.

Conasauga Creek

On the way back we decided to shoot some macro. There were quite a few little critters to play with. Even saw a baby turtle and a snake. Though no photos of them. There were more jumping spiders than I have ever seen in one place and most did not want to cooperate of course. But found this little guy and it was curious enough to stick around for some shots.


Overall a great trip and even passed a lot of horses and wagons out for some riding on the dirt roads. Made for some interesting stuff on the drive back.

(Dennis Sprinkle) cascade conasauga creek macro spider tellico plains tennessee waterfall Mon, 28 May 2018 17:42:00 GMT
So I gave in.... So I gave in on two different things. I have decided to add a microwave. Which of course meant I had to give in and add an inverter. I had planned to keep everything in the van at 12V. I hate wasting energy to convert from 12V to 120V, but the only place that makes a 12V microwave is out of stock and no idea when or if they will ever get more back in stock.

I will admit I am very spoiled by having a microwave. I thought that I would be fine without one and I know I could handle it if I tried hard enough. But being able to boil water really quick and not have to break out my stove is so nice. And eating cold leftovers suck... I am usually too lazy to break out the stove and propane connections just for a quick reheat (and then of course more dishes to clean)!!

I decided I needed a really small microwave since space is not a luxury I have in such a small van. Looking at all my local stores I realized that a 700W microwave was the smallest one I could find. Problem is, a 700W microwave actually pulls a lot more than 700 Watts. In fact most pull in excess of 1000 Watts which means I needed to get a pretty big inverter. Again space is limited so I decided I wanted to stick to a pretty small inverter. I found a nice 1000W pure sine inverter that had great reviews and fit in the area I wanted to put it. But it was not powerful enough to handle the 700W microwaves. Luckily I was able to find a 600W one on Amazon that again had great reviews. This particular model had a 950W input requirement. Since the inverter I wanted to use was capable of handling 1000W continuous and 2000W peak I figured it would work well. Turns out they work very well together. At least so far. I have tested it several times and will post back on here if I have any issues in the future.

Now this being a much smaller unit and quite a bit under powered compared to most microwaves I knew that cooking/heating times would take a lot longer. I did a quick test and on high power it will bring one cup of water to boiling in about three and a half minutes. Perfectly fine for me especially since this is free energy for me anyway... thank goodness for solar panels!! Another big plus for this microwave is that it does not have a built in clock. This means that it is not drawing any power when it is not being used. And since I plan to unplug it every time I drive away I don't have to worry about a 12:00 flashing clock every time I plug it up!



Below are some links to the inverter and the microwave I purchased.



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(Dennis Sprinkle) camper camper van campervan custom inverter microwave small van vanlife Sat, 26 May 2018 00:30:18 GMT
New Website Hello everyone! Look at me... I have a blog!! I recently upgraded my website which allows me to have this blog as well as and most importantly... sell photos from here. I still have a little tweaking to do to the website and the ecommerce part of it. But this should be much easier than having an external link to sell photos. So please explore the site and if you see anything you like, know that all sales help me continue to be on the road and sharing these photos and adventures with you! If you try to order something and you see problems please let me know and I will fix it as soon as I possibly can.

Thank you!

(Dennis Sprinkle) Thu, 24 May 2018 18:20:42 GMT