Sunday, February 25, 2007

Analogue Native - Digital Rebel!

Here is Winter Hill taken from Scout Rd with my 200mm Zoom lens.

I'm now truely a Digital Rebel!
Bought the Canon EOS 350D Kit with 18mm - 55mm lens and 55mm - 200mm zoom lens. At last I have updated my kit to DSLR. My Pentax MV is great, but like everything else...time to move on!

Test images with the Canon are superb! Easy to use in Automatic Mode, just point and click!

I'm going to have some fun with this camera!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Digital Rebel!

The EOS 350D DSLR 'Digital Rebel' (It really is called 'Digital Rebel')

Twenty five years ago I bought a Pentax MV automatic SLR camera. It was state-of-the-art then and cost me 120 pounds which I bought through Littlewoods Catalogue. A super piece of equipment, fully automatic, 35mm...great!

Last year, I finally bought, on Ebay, a wide angle lense, 200mm zoom lens and flash for less than 30 quid! I have a superb 35mm set up!

So whats the problem?

The problem technology!

Film Photography is dead, you can still get photos processed two days later, but today you can choose and print your pictures immediately on the computer.

I want a state-of-the-art DSLR (Digital SLR) so that I can catch up on the latest techniques in photography, particulary in Astro-Imaging. My Sony Cybershot is fine for snaps, but when it comes to Deep Space Imaging it is useless. I use my Philips Toucam Pro II webcam which is great, but the best images that I see are with the Canon 350D DSLR.

So do I splash out and buy one of these....or carry on with my webcam?

Am I opening a new Pandora's Box when it comes to imaging with a DSLR?

Will it cost more money for all the add-ons, adaptors and stuff?

How can I justify spending 399 pounds when I already have a 35mm film set-up?

I'll let you know when I decide!!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Test Card F

An institution! Never to be forgotten and I will certainly always remember the famous BBC Test Card! During my twenty years or so as a Television Technician this wonderful piece of analogue art would light up the screens. As an apprentice I used to time the start of the BBC2 Test Card with it's music at Nine O'clock in the morning and try to guess which tunes would play first! Sometimes my favourite two tracks would come on first!

The test card of course was used for setting up and aligning colour televisions. The blackboard and noughts and crosses marked the centre of the screen. The cross was used to accurately align the Red and Green Static Convergence, the horizontal and vertical lines on the blackboard were used to align the Blue Static Convergence. Other outer white lines were used to set up the Height, Width, linearity and dynamic convergence controls. Many an hour spent trying to get the alignment 'that little bit better' and wishing you had never started!

During bad days the smile of that little girl and the relaxing music became quite theraputic when things were not going right!

So who is this little girl?

Her name is Carole Hersee, daughter of the Engineer and Designer George Hersee. She made her first appearance on BBC2 in 1967. (Where are you now Carole?)

Check out the Test Card History site and this great news page from the BBC about Test Card F

What about Test Card 'C' and the music? HERE!

How about your own Test Card F Wallpaper? HERE!

Some facts:

Carole Hersee has had more television airtime than Carol Vordermann, Coronation St, News 24 and Bart Simpson! (all put together!)

The ITV Test Card F which was transmitted from Winter Hill, was a 35mm photographic colour slide and flying spot scanner. (I actually held the slide!!)

The clown's name is called 'Bubbles'

Carole Hersee is four years younger than me!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Telpro Kids!

The only picture I have of me working on televisions! here I am with Brian quality checking some Telpros. OK...this was a set up... the photo went in a management magazine, so the televisions were not actually connected (note the wires!) We were given a couple of newly ironed white coats to make it look good. (In reality, I wore a short grey dust coat!)
Do you like the long hair and flared jeans?

Back in the 1970's Telefusion launched it's own version of the Decca Bradford television called the 'Telpro'. The circuit was identical to the Decca 2230, but the chassis and components were totally different. At first production started with the black and white TV called the M101 followed shortly after by the Telpro Colour Receiver.

Production started at Cobden Mill (where I worked) then later moved to a new factory at Kearsley. I remember the very first employed production line girls (Janet and Susan) fresh out of school who later became managers on the production lines (where are they now?)
I was involved a bit with the design of the Telpro by telling Gerald, the design engineer and radio amateur, who I was pally with at the time, that it was not a good idea to use cheap foreign transistors, especially in the video output drivers! I got them changed to proper ones!!

I worked at the Heywood warehouse later and set up a Quality Control system for incoming goods from different suppliers, including Telpro. Managed to get them to change a few things at the factory like the convergence yolk, which cause havoc to the convergence of colours after the sets had been moved.

The Telpro was a good little earner for Telefusion and even produced a prototypes of a new model based on the Decca 80 /100 system.

Sadly...Telefusion was taken over by Visionhire, who didn't want to know when it came to producing televisions, so promply closed down the factory at Kearsley!
The end of an era!

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Well, the end is nigh!

The Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) has served us now for many years, but now there is a DIGITAL replacement...the Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) Alright, I gave in about about four months ago when I bought a 32" LCD Television to replace our Grundig 26" CRT TV.

Many memories of the CRT. These beasts were made of solid glass with a vacuum inside and were incline to 'IMPLODE' if you didn't treat them right! When I worked at Telefusion as an apprentice this was a common occurance if you dropped a Television on the floor or dropped the CRT that you had just removed. Scary stuff!!
One day we had a flood at the Gower St Mill when the fire sprinkler system went off just above the CRT store. One of my tasks was to take the CRT's out of the wet boxes and send them down a conveyer belt to the floor below for re-boxing. What a sight when a conveyer belt full of CRT's started to slide down the belt and collide with each other 'BANG!!' glass everywhere, we all ran for cover!!

These beasties needed 25000 volts on the final anode to make them work and the rubber connection clip would hold that charge for a heck of a long time because the CRT made a perfect capacitor. The final anode had to discharged before even touching the CRT, and what a crack it would make with a couple of screwdivers! Changing a Colour CRT was a regular job and I must have changed hundreds in my time, but always wary of the static voltage still on the frame even when discharged.

I once had a stint as an apprentice at CRT testing and re-juvinating (blasting) - a scary job!

No...I won't miss the served it's purpose, but let digital technology rule on this one!!

Rest in Peace! (See the link!)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Digital Birthday Cake

My 41st Birthday Cake to celebrate my advance in Digital Technology!

In 1995 I finally made perhaps one of the most important decisions of my life .... to buy a brand new PC Computer!

After weeks of heartsearching my final decision came down to:
Do I buy a second hand 384 processor computer or buy a brand new 486 processor computer at a price tag of about 600 quid, a lot of money at that time. I looked at Simple Computers first, but could not get through to them on the phone to find out more and possibly order. Then, out of the blue came a flyer through the letter box the same day from a company with a shop on Bradshawgate in Bolton, offering a 486 SX25 (25Mhz), 8Mb RAM, 240MB Hard Drive, monitor, keyboard, mouse for just over 400 quid! A real bargain!

I will always remember that afternoon at 4.00pm meeting Kath (my wife) and kids outside the shop on Bradshawgate, about this time of I remember. In we went and asked for the computer on offer, at the time Windows 3.1 was extra, but I couldn't afford that! We waited a long time in the shop while my machine was built and finally the boxes came in. Slight problem...they had no boxed monitors, so they let me take another monitor on show while they ordered my new one.

WOW!!! A brand new PC!

I remember loading up the boxes outside the shop on double yellow lines and driving off with a huge smile on my face! At home I sat on the carpet putting it all together, then going next door to borrow their discs of Windows 3.1 (7 floppy discs) It worked!
The next day we went off to MFI to buy a neat little trolley which fit nicely in our bedroom.

Never looked back...a lot of money, but what the hell!

My friend Doug supplied me with unlimited software and tons of advice for the PC. I'm still trying to remember the name of that shop that I bought it will come to me one day!
Ahhh! 'ESCOM'...Kath has just told me name of the company!

The PC served me well, I added a CD ROM drive later, updated the memory and put in a 486 DX80 processor.

Sold the computer a few years later and built one of my!!

How things have changed, last week I bought a 1GB flash drive! (Pen stick) GigaBytes were unheard of in the days of ESCOM and 486 machines.