Few words about me:

From very childhood I loved computers, electronics, lasers, sulfuric acid and liquid nitrogen. I always wanted to be making microchips, UAVs and see nuclear explosion.

Now I am doing software engineering and in the spare time - some microelectronics and physics/chemistry experiments.

I live and work in Russia, Moscow.

Growing mint and dandelion

Some of you know that I like black tee, sometimes with mint. But buying good looking fresh mint is challenging. Obvious solution is to try to grow it myself. It also appeared to be not a trivial task as seeds are dust-like and quite hard to germinate. It was also hard to not forget to water it without auto-watering :-) Final result is pleasing:

Also I've planted dandelion (taraxacum) - but it might take a while more until it flowers. It was unexpected that literally no one sells seeds of dandelion in Russia - had to get it from Great Britain.

I've also shoot timelapse video of plants growth : first part is 40'000x realtime (2 weeks in 28 seconds, there is no wind there - it's natural plant movement during growth), second part is 6'000x realtime (during daylight movement is much faster as sun moves around):
October 18, 2016

Long journey to a decent 50x/0.8 microscope lens

Some time ago I wrote that my old used 50x/0.8 Carl Zeiss Jena microscope lens appeared to be worse than my original Chinese one. This did not stopped me - I bought more modern used Olympus UMPlanFL 50x/0.8 lens - and it appeared to be even worse : it was probably dropped once or twice, so it was completely misadjusted and it's resolution was several times worse than difraction limited. This lens was sucesfully returned to the seller.

Finally I got older Olympus MSPlan 50x/0.8 - and this one appeared to be nearly perfect. It took me 3 trials to get a decent 50x lens - yet another remainder that buying optical goods on ebay require some caution and that good optics visually does not differ at all from the terrible one...
See below quality comparison of all 4 lenses.
May 11, 2016

First moments of 2016

May 3, 2016

First run of X-Ray tube

For quite some time I wanted to build X-ray "microscope" in order to observe internals of multi-chip packages and MEMS (after etching often you cannot tell how it was assembled in the first place). Main concern is of course safety - I've got 12kg of sheet lead for shielding and radiation detector with thin mica window which could detect (but not measure dose!!) of very low energy x-rays. X-Rays with low energy (generated with 5-10 kV acceleration voltage) have very weak penetration power and could be stopped even by a sheet of paper. So at this point it is relatively safe with main safety issue being high-voltage supply and HV capacitors. Also beryllium from tube's output window is harmful.

For few years I was limited by X-Ray tube availability. I happen to get 1 BS7 tube (up to 15kV voltage) - it's power is only 0.02W, but spot size is extremely small and useful for x-ray microscopy - 2 µm. The tube worked fine, but when I got X-Ray fluorescent (intensifying) screen and was anticipating first photos - I opened box with the tube from the wrong end, it slipped and hit the floor. Getting a replacement was impossible - apparently production ceased in Soviet times, and replaced by modern models which could not be obtained that easy.

I was unable to get tubes from domestic manufacturers ("MELZ" and "Svetlana-rentgen"). But finally I was able to find BS5 tube from old Soviet stock - it is designed for higher acceleration voltage (30kV), power is 0.6W but spot size is also larger - 6µm. Friend of mine also got me BSV3 - Soviet monster tube with water cooling, made in 1964(!!!) - it was in storage all these years and it is still operational. Power is immense (400W), but spot size is extremely large, not really suitable for any microscopy.
May 2, 2016

Chinese lenses are still russian roulette

Tried new line of Chinese metallographic fluorite microscope lenses (LU Plan Fluor). M26 threading, 60mm parfocal distance could cause mounting issues on many generic microscopes. I was saved by 0-height adapters to M30 threading of my microscope.

The price is getting higher, 5x and 10X are 120-175$ each, and 50x is 460$. Unfortunately, they all disappointed me. Image quality with them dropped significantly to the corners and there were significant chromatic aberrations. They could still be better than "200$ for a set" microscope lenses, but not matching good Olympus ones. All lenses were returned to manufacturer.
April 1, 2016

Operation "Green Eagle"

One summer in my childhood I've spend with friends of our family near Lida city. The most memorable things were 19th century chemistry book with periodic table missing half the elements and eagle glowing in the dark. Over the years I've tried to find it several times, but this year I've finally succeeded. Granny in Ufa was selling it, but she refused to mail it and accept payment remotely. It took quite an effort to find someone in Ufa to personally visit her and send the eagle to me via mail.

As a result - eagle glows just great :-) Although if you compare it's to modern phosphorescent pigments it fades rather quickly (minutes/dozens of minutes).
March 28, 2016

Crosman 1077 CO2 rifle and sight "upgrade"

About 10 years ago I had MP-60 PCP rifle - and it was quite a pain to shoot. Reload after each shoot, somewhat non-straight recoil... This semi-automatic Crosman 1077 promises better experience with it's CO2 and 12-shot clip.

Since army times (and BF3) I didn't liked open sight, so I had to successively get 2 collimatior sights - pure noname chinese (right) and ZOS HQ 434 (left).
February 3, 2016

Really fast optics: F1.2 and F0.85. Canon 55mm F1.2 + Lens Turbo-II

As an amateur photographer from the very childhood I was quite "spoiled" by fast lenses: my first photos were made by "Zenit" camera with one of the greatest Soviet lenses - Helios 44 (58mm, F2). After getting a digital SLR - Sony a100 I got Sony 50mm F1.4. So I never felt that fast apertures are hard to work with or tricky to focus because that's the only thing I was using.

Next step might have been going for F1.2 - but there are no F1.2 lenses made for Sony/Minolta A-mount at the moment. Apparently I had to dig deeper into the hystory of manual lenses. Manual Minolta MD lens might have been an obvious choise, but it's flange focal distance is smaller than one of Minolta A, so making passive adapter is impossible. Adapter with lens is possible, but it would work as light teleconverter, reduce image quality, make the lens slower which would ruin the whole idea. Canon FL/FD have even shorter flange focal distances. Nikon F-mount lenses have a bit larger flange focal distance (+1.9mm), but it seems that building mechanical adapter with such thickness is impossible. So this all rules our any adoptation of almost all F1.2 lenses on Sony A-mount cameras.

The only exception seems to be M42 F1.2 ones, which are rare and expensive. So I might need a different camera with shorter flange focal distance in this journey.
January 2, 2016

Carl Zeiss Jena vs China

We used to believe that complex devices from China are bad, and ones Europe,Japan,USA are good. Especially with a known brand. Ever heard about Carl Zeiss - world known 170-years old optics brand?

Recently I've got somewhat old and used Carl Zeiss Jena 50x/0.8 Planachromat HD microscope lens. "Jena" means it was manufactured in East Germany part of Carl Zeiss in the (late) Soviet times. Surely after receiving it I was anxious to compare it to my Chinese 100x/0.8 Plan lens... BTW it looks like my microscope is somewhat similar in design to Carl Zeiss Jena - that was the first non-native microscope lens which was usable without an adapter (M30 threading and infinity corrected)
December 3, 2015

Toshiba Libretto 50ct

Final vintage computer (after Atari Portfolio and Palm's, 5000 and others), which I wanted to get - Toshiba Libretto 50ct notebook, which I was able to get in surprisingly good condition, even with working Lithium battery.

I remember we were going to programming competition to Saint-Petersburg in the late 90's, and there in the shops I've seen it - it was so beautiful and prohibitively expensive :-) It's size & weight is impressive even these days. From the hardware side it has Pentium 75, 16Mb of RAM, 800Mb HDD, color LCD display with 640x480 resolution. RAM and HDD are upgradeable - I might need to try that.

After working with it for a while you can really recognize the usefulness of USB and WiFi - it is exceptionally hard to upload "large" volume of data to 50ct when you only have serial/parallel/IR ports and external FDD with PCMCIA interface (which was missing in my case). Anyway, even with FDD it is a whole day work to transfer 100Mb :-)

Apparently I will have to look for 16bit PCMCIA cards with USB, Ethernet and WiFi - and this tiny notebook will be much easier to work with :-)
November 23, 2015