(meteorobs) Remote observing and vehicle tips....

C.L. Hall chall at cyberus.ca
Thu Jan 12 15:14:55 EST 2006

Malcolm et al -

Up here in the Canadian wilds ;> we always try to be prepared for just about
anything... whether observing or just travelling by vehicle.  Must be the
'be prepared' boy scout background...

> More annoying in my 2002 car is that there's no off switch for the
> interior white light.

I have covered my interior light casing with the small red plastic sheeting
pieces that are sold as 'patch kits' for broken tail lights.  The material
is adhesive on one side.  Pieces can be cut to cover your interior light
casing completely.

For a temporary solution.... always carry pieces of a cheap red plastic
tablecloth with you (available at party stores)... and a roll of masking
tape.  That can be used for covering just about anything, although you'll
probably have to use it double or triple thickness.

Bob commented:
> May I suggest that those observing away from home purchase a portable
> re-chargeable battery with built-in jumper cables.

You can also get a power pack that just plugs into your lighter socket...
charges itself while you're driving... and then is available to run stuff
when you're not driving.  They're probably not as 'heavy duty' as the
'charge up at home' type... but can have their uses.

> A car radio actually drains very little energy so unless your car battery
> well past its prime, starting your vehicle several times during a watch
> would actually drain more energy than it replenishes.

While doing a lot of scope observing a number of years back, I used to power
my scope's drive system and full heater system most of the night.... using
my car battery in my old '81 Oldsmobile.  The car never let me down in the
morning, and many nights were colder than -20C.  Make sure your car battery
is a good one though, and test it every year.

The only time the car wouldn't budge was one weekend it hit -45C... a record
for the place I used to observe... and it was way too dangerous to even
observe that weekend.  Several of us got stranded.... it took 2 days of
warming the engine compartments on our cars (by lightbulb suspended in the
engine compartment... and blankets on the hoods)... then being double
jumpered by both a tractor and truck... to get the vehicles started.  That
was cold.  We stayed inside for a couple days while the vehicles warmed...
and when venturing out, wore full 'Nanook of the North' attire... down
parkas, snow pants, Sorel boots.  Good test of some new Eddie Bauer gloves
though... nice warm hands.  Always test out clothes for cold climates....
some work beautifully... others don't.  Always get stuff rated for <much>
colder than you figure you'll <ever> need... then you'll stay warm.

I tend to try and stay prepared for just about anything with my vehicle, as
I'm always driving just on my own.  Many recommendations hold true for not
just observing... but driving or travelling in general.  I always keep in my
vehicle the following items (many good for both observing/travelling and
just travelling):
... a couple emergency blankets
... heavy duty jumper cables
... special flat jumper cable clips (needed for many vehicles)
... a heavy duty cell phone... many of the pocket sized ones won't work well
    in rocky areas or remote observing areas
... extra fluids.. oil, wiper fluid, pre-mixed rad fluid
... an insulated cooler... to keep several large flashlights in (keeps
    batteries warm, and hence flashlights usable in winter... cooler keeps
    batteries cool in summer, and also camera gear)
... a bright orange emergency road triangle... and a 'visibility' vest
... a corn broom with a long sturdy handle (anti-animal gear)
... a real good first aid kit
... in the summer, a canteen always filled with water
... in the winter, about 200 lb. of kitty litter... for traction on a
    rear-wheel drive vehicle (every spring, I donate it to the local vet
... extra warm clothes... backup mitts, scarves, hats
... etc.....

Anyway.... you get the idea ;>

Just a couple comments...

Clear skies!
- Cathy Hall

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