Aquarium downsizing an automation

NewAquariumStand900I started this aquarium downsizing and automation project a couple months ago, and it’s going to take at least another four to five months to complete–maybe longer. Even if all the equipment is ready, there’s no hurrying the life behind the glass–you never want to rush the beginning of a new habitat.  You have to let it come to life first, let it settle down, find its balance–and that can take anywhere from a couple months to a year. This may actually be the most difficult part of this hobby–the waiting, the patience required to just let things calm down on their own. You provide the stability, the nutrients for coral growth and the spread of that beautiful red and purple coralline algae (Lithothamnion sp. and the like).  But you can’t rush the process and be successful. You can buy all the frags you want, but it’s going to be hell without a mature system.

Okay, back to what I’m working on: You might laugh at the idea of downsizing a 30g/113l tank, which is on the small side in this hobby. (I consider it a “Nano reef” aquarium, as would many of my fellow aquarists). I have had 40, 60, 160, 200 gallon reef systems in the past, but for the foreseeable future I’m going to stick to a nano-sized system, anywhere from 12 – 18 gallons of total water volume, and I’m starting with the foundation, building out a better, higher-tech moveable base for the aquarium, lighting, dosing system, electronics (battery backup), and the automation infrastructure (timers, temperature control, pH, ORP, monitoring). I have all of this running smoothly right now on the 30g, and transitioning it at some point will be a fairly big task.  But back to basics: this weekend I have completed most of what I wanted for the base, the tank stand, with the lighting structure. (I run four Kessil LEDs, an A160EW Tuna Blue (all-day blue, color: 20,000K), A160WE Tuna Sun (Daylight, color: 9,000k), A150W Tuna Blue (Mid-day intensity, color: 15,000K), and an H150 Red (2 hours per day at dusk and dawn, wavelength: 620 – 710nm). I know, a lot for light for a smallish aquarium, but they’re not all on at the same time, and they’re on for varying lengths of time.

GIVEAWAYS Anyone?

SaltwaterWitch-ChrisHoward-BookSale
Here are a couple free copies of Teller–just click one of the links below and get the book for your Kindle–the actual device and the app. (If the first one doesn’t work, try the second. These are one-time use passes. When they’re gone they’re gone).

 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/gift-redemption/B0056QJEGE/GSWBHSANRD97BVP,Unused
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/gift-redemption/B0056QJEGE/GSSPCVPPYX683JV,Unused

 

I have four books on sale for 99 cents through the month of August, and I have been playing around with Amazon giveaways. I’ve seen the “Setup a Giveaway” button at the bottom of Amazon product pages for a while, but I never gave it any thought. Until a couple weeks ago when I setup my first. The way it works–essentially–is you buy the books (or presumably any product–toaster ovens?) and let Amazon run the actual contest and delivery part.
There are options for handing out special purchase codes that have to come back to you, and other fancy stuff. You can require participants to follow you on Twitter (which I recommend), watch a video on Youtube, or take a survey. There are three methods for setting up the contest part, you can specify a number of books and the odds (1 out of n) for winning. There’s also a magic number selection, where you can have every ninth contestant win a book, and then finally you can just have the first n number of contestants win. (I say I have been playing around with these giveaways because I have now tried all three, just to see how fast the books go, and how things work).
Pretty simple, and if your books are on sale, it can also be pretty cheap. I occasionally run Goodreads giveaways, and will typically have 1500 to 2000 participants for a set of books with some art prints (There’s one going right now for Saltwater Witch, as a matter of fact), but the thing with GoodReads is that these are physical copies of books, which a lot of people would love to win (me too!) What it also means is that I’m paying shipping costs, which can be fairly steep if I include the UK or Australia in the mix–and who doesn’t love to include the UK and Australia in the mix? I love running these giveaways, and I won’t stop, but now that I see how easy and inexpensive it is to run giveaway on Amazon, I think I’m going to add it to my publicity components toolbox. It’s just another way to get my books in the hands of readers who may have never heard of me. That’s a good thing, right?
Has anyone tried out Amazon’s giveaways? I would be interested in hearing your experiences with it. Any other sites or methods for setting up book giveaways out there?

Concept art for Salvage Issue2

I have been painting panels for the next issue of Salvage (Issue #2), and I am leaning toward a more painterly style, no hard lines, no pencils visible. Issue #1 on Comixology: https://www.comixology.com/Salvage-1/digital-comic/175314 –Based on the book Salvage (Masque Books, 2013) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ED0081O

http://SaltwaterWitch.com

Salvage_ChrisHoward_13_DISP

Saltwater Witch Audio Book…

Saltwater Witch audio book chapter 1 test reading (Yeah, this is what I sound like). http://saltwaterwitch.com/a/switch01.mp3 ‪#‎saltwaterwitch‬ ‪#‎audiobook‬

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Category: Saltwater Witch

Astronomy Night – January 5, 2016

I shot my favorite nebula tonight, the Orion Nebula (M42), using the Astro-Tech 6″ f/9 Ritchey-Chrétien–prime focus with the Nikon D750, all of it sitting on an Orion Atlas EQ-G mount. 40 stacked frames, 30 second exposures. And I was doing all of this camera and telescope stuff in a nice brisk 15°F/-9.4°C, has to be the coldest night I’ve been out with a telescope.

Orion Nebula (M42)

Orion Nebula (M42)

Category: Astrophotography, photo

Around the Gulf of Mexico

I finally got around to putting together some interesting industrial shots I took around the Gulf of Mexico–mostly shipping and oil industry stuff.
AroundTheGulf_20015_01

AroundTheGulf_20015_02

AroundTheGulf_20015_03

AroundTheGulf_20015_04

Category: Ocean, photo, ships

Cover art process

AucklandAllies_Cover-ChrisHoward

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I spent a good chunk of the weekend painting, most of it on the cover art for Mike Reeves-McMillan’s novel Auckland Allies. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of my original concept sketch and something close to the final painting on the right. I’m very late on this one, but I love the way it’s turned out!

Category: art, Books, steampunk

Shooting the moon with Nikon and William Optics

I’m just starting out on this astrophotography adventure, with a nice camera and a nice scope. I’ve been using Nikon DSLRs for a while, moving up to my current main camera, a D750–full-frame, 24MP. I just got a William Optics GT-81 refractor, a beautiful piece of equipment. I’ve added a pic of my camera before putting it on the scope in case you’re wondering what I’m using for the setup. The second pic is my GT81 set up for viewing, with red dot finder, mounted on the AltAzimuth–that’s what I use for the moon because it takes some time before it wanders out of frame, and you’re probably not going to be shooting exposures longer than 1/30.

WilliamOpticsGT-81-ChrisHoward

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s my setup for visuals:

WO-GT81-LookingAtTheMoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NikonDSLRTelescopeMoonSetup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here’s shot of the moon (Nikon D750, 1/1600, ISO 4000, single shot–no stacking, prime focus with the William Optics GT-81)

Luna-Earth-20150824-ChrisHoward

 

cover260-TearApartWorlds-ChrisHoward
Want to read a story about oceans, colonizing other worlds, friendship, and how time and memory are part of the fabric of the universe? Oh, good. Here’s my short story “Tear Apart Worlds”, first published in Pen-Ultimate: A Speculative Fiction Anthology, Edited by LJ Cohen  and Talib S. Hussain.

Tear Apart Worlds – PDF
http://www.SaltwaterWitch.com/files/TearApartWorlds-ChrisHoward.pdf
Tear Apart Worlds – EPUB
http://www.SaltwaterWitch.com/files/TearApartWorlds_ChrisHoward_oI9UtLHTXv.epub
Tear Apart Worlds – MOBI
http://www.SaltwaterWitch.com/files/TearApartWorlds_ChrisHoward_oI9UtLHTXv_amazon.mobi

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Seaborn Books Timeline

Several readers have asked for details on how the “seaborn books” are connected, and in what ways. Most of the books and stories I have written over the last ten years are tied together in one timeline, sharing characters, a couple of them extending over a generation. A few clearly share the same setting–our near-future world, with seaborn characters, but without Kassandra making much of an appearance–or not at all (Salvage).

You may have noticed that there’s a genre mix, from what would neatly fall into fantasy, urban fantasy, dark fantasy, etc. to stories that could legitimately be categorized as science fiction or tech-thriller (Nanowhere, Salvage), to stories that may not clearly fall into any bucket (Winterdim). Futuristic fantasy?

You may have noticed that most of these stories take place in the future. That’s on purpose. You could also look at the stories in this timeline and see the advance of technology from one to the next–especially when you get twenty or ninety years into the future, from Nanowhere to Teller and finally to Winterdim. I am a software engineer and technologist, so I am always interested in the progress of technology, where it will lead us, and where it will be applied in the fields of health, culture, military, and–very important to me–in or on the ocean, in support of preserving ocean wildlife as well as how we will continue to provide enough seafood for the world’s every growing market for it.

Want to print out the timeline, or get a closer look? http://www.saltwaterwitch.com/img/TheSeabornBooks-ChrisHoward_rev9.pdf

Let me know if you see typos, problems with the order or dates. I threw this together quickly, a lot of of it coming out of long email discussions with Georg (https://www.facebook.com/gtrimborn), Lorena (https://plus.google.com/117462233542667604483), and others. Also, I mention characters, plot direction for future books, and other details that you may consider spoilers, so read some of the longer blocks of fine print at your own risk!

TheSeabornBooks-ChrisHoward_rev9