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20Instructables489,459Views155 CommentsWhitehorse, YT, Canada
Most of the things I build usually relate to either astronomy, physics or woodworking in general.

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Grow Your Own Giant Sequoia Tree3 weeks ago
    Grow Your Own Giant Sequoia Tree

    Hi, I would probably wait until they have a few branches. You could put the pot in water for a few minutes and then slowly pull sideways on the base of each stem. Try to keep as much soil around the roots. It will reduce the stress for the plant.

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Newspaper Stand1 month ago
    Newspaper Stand

    There is enough room in a 4 by 8 sheet of plywood to cut all panels. I have attached an SVG version if you want to move the panels around to optimize your cut.

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Wireless All Sky Camera1 month ago
    Wireless All Sky Camera

    Thanks for the feedback on the dark subtraction. I'll look at the SDK when I get a chance an try to get it to work. If it's in the headers file and the doc pdf, there must be a way to get it to work.As for the sun shield, that's also something I will need to work on for my next build. I believe a small servo/stepper would probably do the job indeed. Some stepper drivers are fairly small and can easily fit in the enclosure.

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Wireless All Sky Camera1 month ago
    Wireless All Sky Camera

    That's excellent news. I will set up a github repo to keep all the latest instructions and so that everyone can contribute to the project.

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Wireless All Sky Camera1 month ago
    Wireless All Sky Camera

    Thank you guys for investigating the issue. Let me know if you find he source of this issue and I'll update the Instructable.

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Wireless All Sky Camera1 month ago
    Wireless All Sky Camera

    The ASI120MC is using USB 2.0 and can be powered from any device including a Raspberry Pi (0.5A is the max output from a USB 2.0 port). Is there a possibility to check the camera on a Windows laptop with FireCapture? I just want to rule out the possibility that that camera is faulty.

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Wireless All Sky Camera1 month ago
    Wireless All Sky Camera

    Hi,Can you plug a monitor to the Pi and see what's being printed in the terminal? Is there any error when running allsky.sh?Also I supposed you tested that already but the exposure value is in milliseconds so 1 sec is actually 1 000 000.Please paste a screenshot in here if you see an error message.

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Wireless All Sky Camera1 month ago
    Wireless All Sky Camera

    Hi Frankie, did you copy that file in /usr/local/lib ?

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Equatorial Platform for the North2 months ago
    Equatorial Platform for the North

    Hi,It depends what you are trying to achieve. If you want close-ups of the ISS for example, you'll need a telescope, a robust mount and a fairly high slew speed.Another thing to note is that satellites are not following the ecliptic, (except the geosynchronous ones of course), so you don't really need an equatorial platform for this task.I would go with an Alt-azimuthal mount (can be handmade) with high speed stepper motors.Then you'll need to use an arduino or raspberry pi or a computer to control the mount. A bit like this: http://www.instructables.com/id/Star-Track-Arduino-Powered-Star-Pointer-and-Tracke/I hope it help a bit.

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Wireless All Sky Camera3 months ago
    Wireless All Sky Camera

    That's wonderful Peter! And a nice enclosure box too!Thanks for the detailed instructions. I am sure it will help others. I honestly tried a few things to get the whole project to work and I couldn't remember all the steps. I'll update the typos.Here's the doc for cvSaveImage. I haven't played with the compression myself but here's a Stackoverflow example on how to use it.Hope this helps.

    libopencv_calib3d.so is a symbolic link to libopencv_calib3d.so.2.4.11. You could try to delete libopencv_calib3d.so and rename libopencv_calib3d.so.2.4.11 to libopencv_calib3d.soIf that works, try to do that for the other files.

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Wireless All Sky Camera3 months ago
    Wireless All Sky Camera

    I'm using Raspbian, no IDE. Compiling directly on the Pi.

    Hi Peter,Make sure you have a file called opencv.conf. If not create it here:sudo nano /etc/ld.so.conf.d/opencv.confadd this line inside:/usr/local/libThen run:sudo ldconfigThat should tell your system where to find the opencv installation. Hopefully that fixes your OpenCV errors

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Wireless All Sky Camera3 months ago
    Wireless All Sky Camera

    I'll try to build a binary that saves with lossless compression and without timestamp in the coming days. It might work better for your dark subtraction.Here's the link for ZWO software: http://astronomy-imaging-camera.com/software/They have camera drivers, ASCOM, SDK and astronomy software. You might be able to use python with the ASCOM driver.

    Saving uncompressed images only requires to add a parameter in the C++.I think you need to fix the OpenCV errors first in order to get the compiler to work. I suppose you followed the instructions here so now you probably need to create/find opencv.pc

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Wireless All Sky Camera3 months ago
    Wireless All Sky Camera

    Hi Peter, We're not talking about really long exposure here. Somewhere around 5 seconds is the settings you would use. I don't expect the ASI120MC to produce a lot of noise for such a short exposure. However, if you need to subtract your dark frame, it can be achieved with the Raspberry Pi too. Luckily for you, you won't have to learn any C code and recompile the software, you can probably get around the issue by subtracting the frame using ImageMagick. You'll have to modify the convert.sh file. Here's a link that can help you: https://astrofloyd.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/astrophotography-with-imagemagick/

    FireCapture subtracts the dark and saves the image. In order to do that, you would have to modifiy the C code and recompile it. I would suggest to actually let the "capture" binary do it's work (i.e. save the image) and let ImageMagik subtract your dark file and save a new version of the image. That would be a 1 line change in "convert.sh".For example: composite image-full.jpg -compose subtract dark.jpgAnother thought: if you want to save some processing power on your pi during the night, you could instead subtract your dark frame to your list of photos at the end of the night, just before making your timelapse.

    Yes, in a terminal, navigate to the demo folder and type make test_gui2_snapThis should start the compilation and replace your "capture" binary in the allsky folder. You will probably get some errors because it's likely that you don't have all the -dev dependencies installed on the pi yet. For example, you might need libusb-dev which would be installed with:sudo apt-get install libusb-1.0-0-devBasically, if you get some errors, add the dev dependencies until it compiles. Then you can play with the C++ file to remove the timestamp.My thought about the dark subtraction getting worse is that the sensor heat increases throughout your imaging session and the dark frame is not a good reference anymore.

    Try this one:sudo apt-get install libhighgui-devOpenCV doesn't do the subtraction. ImageMagik does it.Yes jpgs have artifacts and this might be the issue. Saving as BMP or PNG could help as these formats support lossless compression. The cvSaveImage function (in the C++ file) can take a third argument which is the compression level.

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  • ThomasJ1 entered Planets Photography Guide in the Makerspace Contest contest 3 months ago
  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Newspaper Stand3 months ago
  • ThomasJ1 entered Newspaper Stand in the Wood Contest 2016 contest 3 months ago
  • ThomasJ1 entered Newspaper Stand in the Makerspace Contest contest 3 months ago
  • ThomasJ1's entry Wireless All Sky Camera is a winner in the Space Contest 2016 contest 3 months ago
  • ThomasJ1 followed mdavis193 months ago
  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Wireless All Sky Camera3 months ago
    Wireless All Sky Camera

    You can ignore the first error. It only means that it can'y find the latest image. That's normal since you haven't taken one yet.For the second error, it means it can't find the shared library libASICamera2.so. When "./capture" runs, it needs to find all the libraries it needs in order to run. Since our lib directory is in a non-standard location, we need to tell the Pi to look into this directory too. First you'll need to export the path and then update the cache. Here's how:export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/home/pi/allsky/lib/armv7Then update the cache with:sudo ldconfig -vYou should now see a list of libraries paths including the allsky one.

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Wireless All Sky Camera3 months ago
    Wireless All Sky Camera

    Thanks for the feedback, I'll update the instructions for RP3 regarding the autostart.Here's a list of steps you can try in this order:- Make sure you are working with a monitor, keyboard and Ethernet cable. This will make things a lot easier to debug.- Connect the camera to one of the 4 USB ports.- Open a terminal to your "allsky" directory: cd /home/pi/allsky- Type: ./allsky.shThe output of this command should tell you if things are working or not. If it works, you can start working on the autostart part.Let me know if you have success.

    Not all SD cards work properly on RPis. Here's a list that can help: http://elinux.org/RPi_SD_cards

    Most meteor tracking program currently rely on CCTV cameras which use PAL or NTSC video format. Once software get modified to take digital images, we'll be able to contribute to scientific data.

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  • ThomasJ1 followed woodumakeit3 months ago
  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Grow Your Own Giant Sequoia Tree3 months ago
    Grow Your Own Giant Sequoia Tree

    I would still keep them inside for a while. The windowsill with a curtain would be ideal. When they start making the first branches, they are old enough and strong enough to be outside during the day. You will have to put them in the shade of your house (or a tree) in order to keep a good moisture level in the soil. Then you can progressively give them in a sunnier spot each day. Seattle is a good place to grow Sequoia trees. They need moisture, moderate heat and a rich well drained soil. Here's a page with large specimens in your state: https://www.giant-sequoia.com/gallery/usa/washington/

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on tomatoskins's instructable Perfect Workbench3 months ago
    Perfect Workbench

    Thank you Troy for producing these detailed instructions. That's pretty much the workbench that my subconscious had in mind. I think it's time for me to get rid of that MDF board supported by a few 2x4.

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Wireless All Sky Camera3 months ago
    Wireless All Sky Camera

    I do have a lot of light pollution on these videos. When the clouds roll in, you can pretty much walk outside without a flash light. It also doesn't help that the deck is oriented towards the downtown area.On the videos, the pollution comes mostly by the clouds reflecting light from the high pressure sodium street lights so I would have to place the camera above the cloud layer which is impossible for my location.Placing the camera out of town is probably the best option. However, you need to get power and a fast internet connection in places that can be pretty remote.

    Absolutely, it would enable a lot of scientific opportunities. A program that can detect changes and movement between images (Open CV or ImageMagick for example) could be used to track the speed, direction and altitude of meteors. I would also be possible to estimate northern ligths altitude and produce stereoscopic vision of them using virtual reality headsets.

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  • ThomasJ1's entry Wireless All Sky Camera is a finalist in the Space Contest 2016 contest 3 months ago
  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Wireless All Sky Camera3 months ago
    Wireless All Sky Camera

    Thank you, I got the plans for the clock at this address. Clayton can send you either paper plans or DXF files to cut on a CNC.

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Wireless All Sky Camera3 months ago
    Wireless All Sky Camera

    That's one of my future projects. I would like to detect meteors but also aurora altitude by using multiple all sky cameras.This would be possible on the Raspberry Pi itself using the Open CV or ImageMagick libraries if it wasn't for the CPU limitations. These tasks are quite intensive and it would be better to offload them to a faster computer.Since the images can be sent to a server or stored on a NAS every few seconds, an other more powerful computer can crunch the data without affecting the performance of the camera itself.

    Yes, the ASI120MC (USB 2) is a good option for this project since the Raspberry Pi 2 and 3 only have USB 2 ports. However, I haven't tested it against the SDK so I can't tell for sure if the program would run without modifications. But I'm fairly positive it would.

    Yes, if you connect a NAS to your router and FTP the images there, you will have access to the pictures from any computer on your network. You could also get a server to do the job for you such as an Amazon EC2 instance. I believe they have free tiers. Here's a quick flow chart:

    Yes, the wireless aspect of it is great if you want to avoid drilling holes for cables or leave windows open. That's especially true in colder climates.

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Wireless All Sky Camera3 months ago
    Wireless All Sky Camera

    Hi, the exposure can be set in the configuration file from 32 microseconds to 1000 seconds. I could avoid overexposing the moon by setting a lower exposure value but I would lose the view of the aurora and the stars.I would also need a longer focal lens to see any details on the surface of the moon.A Fresnel lens is a good choice if you need to concentrate light but it would make a poor camera lens because of all the concentric rings.

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable See Through Star Map3 months ago
    See Through Star Map

    I used the Epilog Fusion from my makerspace. It has a 60W laser and 32 x 20 working area. This is quite an expensive machine but I believe you can find entry level ones as low as $500. Here's a quick guide.

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  • ThomasJ1 entered See Through Star Map in the Space Contest 2016 contest 3 months ago
  • ThomasJ1 entered See Through Star Map in the Makerspace Contest contest 3 months ago
  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Wireless All Sky Camera3 months ago
    Wireless All Sky Camera

    Yes, a Pi 3 should work. Version 3 came out around the same time I was building the prototype and I couldn't find any info about the range at that time. That's why I chose the Pi 2 + wifi dongle. The only advantage I can see to to the Pi2 + wifi adapter setup is that you could use a dongle with a directional antenna to possibly get more range.

    Any alternatives are welcome and encouraged. Thanks for mentioning it here.

    To tell the truth, I already had the camera at home (I use it on my telescope) so I didn't do much research for an alternative camera. However I am sure some of them have similar features for a lower price. You just need to make sure that they have a high sensitivity in the dark and can take exposures up to 5 seconds. Then you would have to find a software that can use the camera and generate the time lapse. A command based one without a GUI is preferable to lower the CPU consumption.This prototype is expensive but offers a lot of flexibility. For a simpler purpose, you might be able to cut the price in half.

    I feared it would be the case. That's why there's no extra components like a heater of a fan. It actually worked quite well. I couldn't find the electrical consumption of the camera but I believe it must not be too crazy.

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Wireless All Sky Camera3 months ago
    Wireless All Sky Camera

    Thank you Brian

    Yes the idea was to put it on the roof but we're just renting the house so I didn't want to make any modifications on it. This winter was more an experiment to see any problems that could show up on the prototype so it was handy to have it on the deck.An extending pipe is a good idea but it would need to be really sturdy in order to stay still during the 5 seconds exposure. If any movement occurs, you will get a shaky time lapse.This setup already has the capability to post images or make a time lapse during daytime. All you need to do is to restart the program (using sunwait or a cron job) using a shorter exposure value. The only drawback is that fills up your SD card twice as fast (day+ night) .

    Hi Curtis, snow is the actual tricky part. Here's a video to see how it accumulates. Here in the Yukon, snow is quite dry and I just blow on the dome to get rid of it (a brush would probably scratch the acrylic). In NY, the snow is a lot more heavy and sticky so you might have to add a dew heater to your camera. The raspberry CPUs and black pipe also helps clearing the snow from the dome during the day. The idea was to place the camera on the roof but we are renting the place and I was still experimenting with the prototype. For cloud monitoring you definitely don't need an expensive astronomy camera. I used the ASI224 because I already had at home.

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Wireless All Sky Camera4 months ago
    Wireless All Sky Camera

    I was wondering about it and I thought about making a motorized cover for day time. I never got the time to do it and after 5 months of continuous operation, I haven't noticed any damage to the sensor. I believe that's partially due to the type of lens used. The sun is a really tiny spot on the image and I believe it doesn't really heat up the sensor that much.

    Hey Garth, I also found that sometimes the "All Steps" button is a bit buggy. I can assure you there is more than 1 step :)Try this link.

    ​Thanks. The camera is really sensitive to light and the lens is a really wide angle so the moon would appear as a big white spot on the left side (south). Here's a video where you can see it. You can even spot a faint halo around it.

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  • ThomasJ1 entered Wireless All Sky Camera in the Space Contest 2016 contest 4 months ago
  • ThomasJ1 entered Wireless All Sky Camera in the Makerspace Contest contest 4 months ago
  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Dragon Piggy Bank4 months ago
    Dragon Piggy Bank

    Thanks, Go for it and please post a picture if you make one!

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  • ThomasJ1 entered Dragon Piggy Bank in the Wood Contest 2016 contest 4 months ago
  • ThomasJ1 entered Dragon Piggy Bank in the Makerspace Contest contest 4 months ago
  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Equatorial Platform for the North4 months ago
    Equatorial Platform for the North

    Thank you Larry, I wish you good luck with the build and don't hesitate to post comments or send me a message if you have any questions.

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on sigifredo's instructable Motorise your own telescope.4 months ago
    Motorise your own telescope.

    I love it! Just when you think you've seen all the possible telescope designs out there, here comes another one with great ideas. From the guitar tensioners, to the bike wheel filled with epoxy and the salvaged stepper motors... I really like how you re-used common materials.

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Equatorial Platform for the North4 months ago
  • ThomasJ1 entered Minimalist Chess Set in the Wood Contest 2016 contest 4 months ago
  • ThomasJ1 entered Minimalist Chess Set in the Makerspace Contest contest 4 months ago
  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Simple Vault Mechanism4 months ago
    Simple Vault Mechanism

    You're absolutely right. In my case, there's not much stress applied to it as it serves as a cap for my telescope. But it you use it for a door, you might want to enlarge these walls. Also, the peg caps can be made larger to cover the entire slot. That way the arms won't be bending on that weaker spot much when someone's pulling on the door.

    I have a few astronomy related Instructables coming up. In case you missed it, here's the one about the telescope http://www.instructables.com/id/Wooden-Telescope-Part-1-The-Mirror/

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Grow Your Own Giant Sequoia Tree4 months ago
    Grow Your Own Giant Sequoia Tree

    Hi Dave, it depends where about in Michigan you are located. The Giant Sequoia is usually rated for a USDA zone as low as 6 (https://www.arborday.org/images/zones/zones6-8.png). However, there are many examples where it grows in colder climates. Here's a short list of specimen growing in Michigan https://www.giant-sequoia.com/gallery/usa/michigan/

    I wish you the best of luck Dave and yes, keep us updated!

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Simple Vault Mechanism4 months ago
    Simple Vault Mechanism

    A plexiglass panel can be a good option if you want to protect the moving parts while keeping it visible.

    You're right, this mechanism has been in use for a while. I thought I would make an Instructable to share the concept with other makers. Thanks for mentioning the fact that the rotating part doesn't need to be in the center.

    Great, post a picture once it's finished :)

    Thank you

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable A Greenhouse for the North4 months ago
    A Greenhouse for the North

    Hi Maxime,I think I would reinforce the roof if I lived in a place where I get a lot of heavy snow. Sometimes, there can be a foot of snow accumulated on top because the plastic sags a bit between the ribs and creates flat areas. It doesn't matter too much for me because snow is pretty light in the Yukon. Hower on the east coast of Canada, snow is a lot heavier and it may damage the plastic or the PVC ribs. Adding a 2" PVC tube under the plastic sould solve the issue.There is also the problem of ventillation. The first year, I kept the base of the greenhouse open (about 1 foot) and got a good harvest. The second year, I stapled the plastic all the way to the bottom and got mold which killed most of the plants.If you don't live in a windy place, I would leave the bottom of the green...see more »Hi Maxime,I think I would reinforce the roof if I lived in a place where I get a lot of heavy snow. Sometimes, there can be a foot of snow accumulated on top because the plastic sags a bit between the ribs and creates flat areas. It doesn't matter too much for me because snow is pretty light in the Yukon. Hower on the east coast of Canada, snow is a lot heavier and it may damage the plastic or the PVC ribs. Adding a 2" PVC tube under the plastic sould solve the issue.There is also the problem of ventillation. The first year, I kept the base of the greenhouse open (about 1 foot) and got a good harvest. The second year, I stapled the plastic all the way to the bottom and got mold which killed most of the plants.If you don't live in a windy place, I would leave the bottom of the greenhouse or the door open.

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  • ThomasJ1 commented on ThomasJ1's instructable Grow Your Own Giant Sequoia Tree4 months ago
    Grow Your Own Giant Sequoia Tree

    Hi MitchL7,I found that I usually have more success when the seed has sprouted not too long ago. That way, when you spot a newly sprouted seed, you can place it in a pot about 1/2" below the surface. If you plant it too shallow, it will grow with the envelope on the cotyledons which will limit the amount of light available to the plant. By planting the seed deeper, the envelope is more likely to stay in the soil. It also helps to keep the seedling at a better moisture level (the surface dries quicker).Another tip is to place the seed flat or upside down in the pot. It will force the root to bend down and the cotyledons to grow up, away from the envelope.As for watering, I would suggest to only add water when the surface looks dry. I usually water them once every morning when the we...see more »Hi MitchL7,I found that I usually have more success when the seed has sprouted not too long ago. That way, when you spot a newly sprouted seed, you can place it in a pot about 1/2" below the surface. If you plant it too shallow, it will grow with the envelope on the cotyledons which will limit the amount of light available to the plant. By planting the seed deeper, the envelope is more likely to stay in the soil. It also helps to keep the seedling at a better moisture level (the surface dries quicker).Another tip is to place the seed flat or upside down in the pot. It will force the root to bend down and the cotyledons to grow up, away from the envelope.As for watering, I would suggest to only add water when the surface looks dry. I usually water them once every morning when the weather is hot. You should also try to move them in a less shady spot once they have the cotyledons spread out. The seeds are small, there's not much energy in it so the seedlings need to get some energy quickly.Let me know how the second batch goes.

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