Aurora Borialis


So I discovered (Hannah has known for ages) recently that it would be possible to see the Aurora from Sudbury. The Aurora occurs directly over the magnetic poles, logically when the earths northern pole is tilted furthest towards the sun the Aurora appears at it’s strongest in this hemisphere. Thus the best time to see the Aurora Borialis is around the Spring equinox, which has just past. I spotted this afternoon that the Aurora had a rating of 3 out of 10 and was forecast as being “strong” for this evening:

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Also I checked the cloud cover forecast for the evening:


so Hannah and I invited Craig to come with us on our drive out of Sudbury and away from the light pollution that might obscure our view. We went as far as Crab Lake and waited, eventually we saw some strange lights in the sky, my camera struggled to get an reasonable pictures of it, This is all I got, Craig got better pictures which I’ll get off him at some point.

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Categorised as Canada

Maple Syrup

Tuesday afternoon Hannah and I took a trip out to Powassan to Mathew’s Maple Syrup Farm. It’s about a 2 hour drive from us, as we approached the farm we were able to see loads of blue pipe, about 10mm in diameter going from tree to tree. Brendan joked that this was for cider, and Hannah being gullible believed him! Te he he. They drill a hole into the tree, then drive in the tap, which the pipe connects to. The pipe then joins into a main line which returns to the distillery come refinery. Hannah is stood next to the mainlines below in the pictures. The tree produces about 20psi of pressure to push the sap up, a vacuum is used to help draw the sap along pipes. Reverse osmosis  removes the first 20% water, then they heat the sap to remove yet more water until it is 60% sugar. The syrup is filtered to remove impurities and lastly bottled. As simple as that! Also they had a some cool ATV’s with tracks, and a sledge, which would be horse drawn, but we didn’t happen upon the horses.

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We were able to sample the sap right from the buckets on some of the trees, the sap is only about 2% sugar, so pretty much just water. We bought cotton candy made from the syrup, it was particularly light in texture and melted in the mouth, more so than the regular stuff. That evening we had Belgium waffles with ice cream and the real syrup. We also went for a very short walk on Lake Nepissing, this is the largest frozen lake I have ever set foot on.

Friday we went for a walk down at Ramsey, which is beginning to melt, we did observe people walking on it and also a couple of snow machines racing across it, but the ice is turning black, this is a sign that it’s melting and unsafe to be on. But it was a beautiful day, cool clear and sunny.

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There is running water everywhere now as ice and snow melt, the grit has small rivers meandering through it.

Categorised as Canada

Tail fin replacement

I broke the tail fin which protects the tail rotor from contacting with the ground. I ordered a replacement part, but being a little tight, I thought I would spend less than $3 on only the part rather than more than $12 on the full assembly, figuring that regardless I would save a little. However I had to buy a soldering iron to complete the job, on which I spent almost $25. Now way over budget, I returned home and started the procedure of stripping all of the tail apart. I had to press the motor from the broken tail fin, in doing so the back came off the motor. I successfully un-soldered the connector as required, and re-assembled and soldered the joints. I tried to replace the back of the motor which houses the brushes, which being so tiny was not easy. Needless say this didn’t go well, I damaged the brushes, upon closer inspection with my microscope, were well bent. I got it working, but not well enough. I have now ordered the full assembly, as the motor is the expensive part… Either way it  as fun to do it and I know for next time.

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Whilst I was doing repairs I also fixed up the now broken ‘new’ chassis which I replaced a new of weeks back!! I used some very thin plastic and super glue.. not yet tested as I can’t fly it at the mo..

As my two original 200mAh batteries are beginning to fail I thought I’d take the opportunity to upgrade. I got a couple of 240mAh batteries, they a little longer. (Old is yellow ended ones)

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The last image is of the small bulge which locks the battery connector into the helicopter connector, it was very good at it’s job, so much so that I removed them.. should make my lift much easier!

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Hannah got a couple of pictures of Tigger and I having a little wrestling match.. then Tigger got shy!


Hannah can’t wait for Easter, She’s not had chocolate, crisps or Coke since lent started. She’s done very well, I suggested that I would do the same in support of her cause, but within only days I had accidentally ordered a muffin with chocolate in it, then days later chocolate milk, so a fail on my part! Kinda gave up after that, but still when I am with Hannah I stick to the rules..

Walking on Ramsey

Last week Hannah got some pictures of Tigger hiding out around our apartment:

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I think I forgot to mention that on our way back from Chutes we saw two transport trucks, with a tank on each and behind that a Land Rover each!

This weekend has been cold with a high of -14 today I believe, though the sky is clear and blue, the sun is busy melting the snow. Ramsey Lake has very little snow left on it, the ice is showing through now. There are still ice fishing huts and people driving their trucks on the lake today, so we took a stroll out towards to island. Hannah was very concerned that we might fall through. If we had fallen through we have about one minuet to get out of the water before one is unable to move.. Luckily for us the ice is very thick, easily able to support a 2 tonne truck, and probably more, in fact in the video there are two trucks parked beside an ice fishing hut out on the lake, but they’re only a few pixels across because the video was taken on my camera.

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The south facing snow banks are really melting away now, as can be seen by the one by our car. The grey colour is down to all the road grit.

Helicopter news, I flew the helicopter from to room to room today, Tigger takes very little notice of my antics these days, he used to be weary, but now I  guess he used to it.

The Aloe Vera is doing ok, though it doesn’t appear to have grown much recently, perhaps it’s waiting for spring.

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This past week has been “warm” in terms of Canadian winter. It rained on Sunday all day and didn’t stop until mid week. Much of the snow and ice melted. The parking lot (Carpark) is now clear of snow and ice, the roads are all clear, it’s just the snow banks and snow mountains that remain. There is road grit everywhere now, the snow melts and runs away leaving the grit behind, up to half an inch thick in places, enough to cover the lines in the road and parking lots.

I moved cube today, I am now one the other side and at the far end of the row, it’s a dark spot, as noted by Terry Pratchett; light thought it was the fastest thing in the universe. But no matter how fast it travels  it finds that darkness got there first and is waiting for it. Sure enough this is the case, there is plenty of darkness hiding out the corners of my cube, there are no lights over head that cast direct light into the cube and also no windows that allow day light, the fastest kind of light, to drive the darkness out. Only a dark blue wall for a view. So I let the maintenance guy know just that, I have his word that I will get some faster light to beat the darkness.

Categorised as Canada

Chutes and lift

Firstly, Chutes, the Provincial Park, which we visited last year in the summer, this is the entry. Anyways, this time it was only a couple of degrees above zero. The snow is becoming like ice pellets, a little wet and heavy, so hard to snow shoe through. We were unable to drive into the park at all, the snow bank at the entrance to the park was about 3′ high, I tried to walk through it but wound up sinking very deep and then struggled to get back out, Hannah stood by and laughed at my predicament. We snow shoe’d down to the “beach”..


Now in the summer it looked like this (just in case you DIDN’T check out the old entry!!):

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We passed a sign, which we have tried to get pictures of a number of time, but failed until now:


Hannah got some pictures of Tigger


And lastly, I have been flying the helicopter lots, a few times every night if I can, today I wondered how much it could lift. Now I saw a program on bees, they were studying how a bee’s wings work, to measure the lift that a bee can achieve they tied a bit of cotton around the bee and attached tiny known loads to the cotton at increments, then they simply thaw out the bee, which regains consciousnesses and tries to fly away (They freeze them so that they’re easier to tie cotton too). They are now able to easily count how many of the loads it can lift from the ground, there by finding the maximum lift that bee has. I applied the same theory to my helicopter. my tiny loads were beer bottle tops, I weighed 20 of them to get an accurate weight, turns out they weigh 2.1 grams each, and the helicopter can lift 5 at a push, and can fly but only just with 4, when I cut one more off it was controllable. And the other picture is of the tail rotor, broke.

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Been ill. Back now.

My health has been sub-optimal for approximately a week, only a sore throat and a cold. Didn’t stop me, just annoying. So the blog failed to get updated. I enjoyed drinking milk..

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We visited Science North to see Ripley’s Believe it or Not show which is being hosted there. We saw some pretty amazing things and some gruesome things also. Afterwards we visited Science North, having been through the first floor including the butterfly room (which is now also home to some small birds) we began our accent of the ramp leading to the second floor where we were met by Quillen on his daily walk. On the second floor they were boiling maple syrup and then cooling it in snow and wrapping it onto popsicle (lollypop) sticks (second to last photo below).

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We went snow shoeing around the area that we picked blue berry’s last year, just to see what it was like when it is all under a couple of feet of snow. 

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Helicopter. I have found that there is no negative correlation between flying ability and the number of crashes one has. As I get better I simply push the envelope further, crashing just as regularly. Sure, the crashes are different, for different reasons, but still I crash. I have smashed the fuselage up a number of times now, it is cracked all over, I broke one of the skis a week or so ago while flying at work, and lastly I have now completely lost the stay that used to protect the tail rotor.

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Hannah and I celebrated eight years since we met the other day, we went for a meal at Curious Thymes, Hannah got these pictures from the table we ate at. The food was lovely, and very very prompt service. It was a fantastic evening.

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