Project Stargazer

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January 1st, 2010, just after midnight

It’s New Year's Day.

I am starting this diary because I want to document my New Year's pledge. If you are reading this diary without my knowledge, please tell the guys from TrueCrypt that their software stinks!

I have been sitting on my ass for the last two years, looking up into the sky watching the stars while the rest of the world was going mad... and up into space. Astronomy and space flight has been always a hobby of mine, and maybe that is the reason why I am still here back on Earth. I know it's cold out there, or very hot in direct sunlight. There is no air to breath, no water to drink and nothing to eat, just a few hostile planets and stars shining in the endless night. How could someone with a small car or a truck survive there for more than a few months ? They should have been all dead by now.

But they are not, and the governments back home on Earth are just going crazy instead of embracing this new era... a bunch of Trekkies is building a base on MARS and the ESA is still using chemical rockets, what the hell is wrong with all of them ? I think the politicians just fear the new age... it's not NASA with billions of dollars anymore that pushes the frontier, it's can be everyone. They fear to loose control, fear to become irrelevant.

I have been looking at this pot of strange gray liquid for two years without doing anything with it. Time to try something new this year.

January 2nd, 2010

I heard that some of the Fen (as they call themselves) built their spacecrafts within days or weeks, but I don't think I can do it this way. I have to think things through before I can work on them, I am not a mad scientist in a web comic.

It took me two hours of browsing through Warez forums to track down a copy of a good 3D CAD program for my project. Maybe I have to buy a larger monitor on Monday, and maybe a second hard disk. I already have a name for my personal (and slightly mad) project...

Project Stargazer.

I think it sounds really great, it's now a folder on my encrypted hard disk... an empty one.

Okay, have to hunt down all available files on Fen and Handwavium tomorrow, and decide what I could use as a template for my personal spaceship. I know everything about the Honorverse and have lots of Star Gate DVDs, I should be able to find more than enough inspiration there.

January 5th, 2010

Honorverse and Star Gate, bad choice. Really bad choice.

The smallest spacecraft in the Honorverse is a LAC, a light assault craft... ten thousands tons of battle steel and molecular circuits. I will never get enough stuff together to build a LAC without having a friendly cop at my door, asking what this huge metal beast is doing behind my garage.

And Star Gate ? The only thing small enough to even think about building it would be a X302 or a Puddle Jumper. I would need an old jet to start building an X302, absolutely impossible to get here in Europe with the money I have available. The Puddle Jumper looked better, especially building a smaller one, but after reading through some files about Fen and their crazy spaceships I recognized something important... a Jumper has no visible machines, no mechanism, nothing which could help the Handwavium to do its job. Have to think about this again tomorrow, getting sleepy.

January 6th, 2010

I have finally decided to follow the lead of many other Fen, after watching the whole evening out of the window on the parking lot. I cannot built a spaceship from scratch, but I can convert my car into one! It sounds crazy, but lot's of Fen have been doing it, so it's feasible! Just have to make a checklist what I will need to change or build in to transform it into a spaceship.

Just a final game of HALO, then bedtime. Have to go back to my job tomorrow. This spaceship building will be expensive, so I need the money.

January 12th, 2010

The amount of Handwavium in the canister in my cellar is growing nicely from the metal I got from the scrap yard. I diluted the rest in the can with some water two days ago, but it does not look much different now, just again a small can full of Handwavium.

My 3D model of my car is making progress, I think I have hundreds of pictures of the car from all different angles now. Just have to integrate them into the 3D model later.

My checklist is growing too... air-condition as life support, motor as spaceship engine... but car radio for communication ? That sounds really bad, I might get a receive only radio! I need to think about something else later. Reinforcing the outer hull of the car against micro meteorites and air friction, making it airtight.

Lot's of things to do when I have enough gray goo.

January 16th, 2010

Damn, the 8 Gig of RAM are not enough anymore to hold the 3D model and all the photos at the same time. Why is this CAD thing eating up memory like I am breathing air ? I don't want to spend that much money for special server hardware with more RAM, what can I do ?

Will take a short break from working on Stargazer tomorrow and play some games, maybe I will have a good idea tomorrow.

January 18th, 2010

It is official now, I am an idiot... I have stuff that transforms cars into space ships and I am thinking about not being able to buy a better computer! I have already backed up my files and disassembled my computer, now the parts are nicely soaking in a large bowl full of Handwavium... I just hope I will get something powerful enough to finish my project. Working with Handwavium is fun, you just have to remember to wash your hands afterwards.

January 20th, 2010

Okay, the Handwavium has been absorbed by the components of my computer, or maybe the other way around. The assembled device has shrunk by 40% compared to the original size and it has some strange new plugs on the back I don't recognize. At least the USB ports and the Ethernet plug is still there... and the old DVD burner is now able to play and record Blu-Ray disks, at least according to the new sticker. But I am still not sure why my Star Gate DVD was ejected by the drive as a bluray disk. Star Gate has not been shot in 1080p! Have to convert the rest of my disks later.

Booting up was a funny experience, the BIOS memory test justs stops with a memory size of "enough" and the password screen has been replaced by some stylish 'speak pass-phrase' one. Worked like a charm, but I was a little bit shocked that my dual boot manager was gone. Linux looks nice as ever, even the windows CAD program is there. I have no clue what the system is doing, but WINE was never be able to run this damned thing. All data is still there and NO OUT OF MEMORY error happening anymore. Will test the rest of the system tomorrow.

January 24th, 2010

Its Sunday and the day started really strange.

Okay, this was my worst and best day combined into one. I am not a 'morning person', I really like to get up late during the weekend.

Being yelled to get up by your own computer was no fun, especially not at 9am on Sunday morning! My thoughts were racing at ludicrous speed... the cops, the military, my friends with a surprise party...

I tried to jump up in bed... I think I got entangled in my blanket, because the next thing I remember is laying on the ground besides my bed with a light headache, the voice in the background still shouting. In retrospect I should have uninstalled HALO before applying the Handwavium, having a computer with an insane and genocidal 343 Guilty Spark inside would not have been fun at all.

Getting yelled by Cortana until I plugged in my web-cam and apologized for not connecting the computer to an external network was not that much better this early in the morning, at least until I recognized what had happened. Together we two could finish my project, build things much better than I ever would have been able to do so alone.

It took some talking to Cortana to explain the situation, the really stupid plans on her computer (hey, it's mine!) and a lot of things. Connecting her to the Internet and telling her about Wikipedia, Google and some good news sites helped a lot. I just hope she will be careful while surfing the web, I told her that the cops won't like what we are doing here, so no hacking for now. She told me to take the day off while she would think about our situation.

Later in the evening I told her about my dream of a self made spaceship to leave Earth and to boldly go, where lot's of Fen have gone before. I think she likes the idea.

January 31th, 2010

I think our plan is progressing very well.

The computer model of my car is finished and we have been starting a list of things I have to buy for the project. Cortana wanted a CB radio and my Android smartphone for communication, but I told her about something much nicer. Just a week or two, then we should get our two USRP2's. I am already curious what a pair of waved software defined radios will be able to do when controlled by someone as clever as my new friend. The dozen web-cams will make a good way to look out of the car later, especially to the top and to the bottom. I just hope I will not run out of money before we lift off.

February 14th, 2010

I have started to reinforce the frame of my car with gray Handwavium to allow it to withstand the stress of space travel, heat and micro meteorites. The surface of the car looks different now, but it is difficult to say how it looks like. One of the windows have become some kind of clear crystal, and the integration of the cameras is going great. Cortana is a great assistant, especially since she uses my waved Android smartphone as a small remote for her computer.

The longer I work with the Handwavium on my car, the easier it is. Small flashes of insight, inspiration, it is just great what you can do with it. This is really the stuff to make dreams come true, just molding them with my own bare hands.

March 2nd, 2010

Damn, I forgot our bi-weekly Shadowrun group... and their call got nowhere because my android phone became Cortana's remote and the simcard is laying on my desk. Promised them to replace the 'broken' phone soon and asked why they did not sent me an email.

But at least the waving (it is still feeling strange to use this word) of the cars frame is finished. I can neither dent the metal nor the windows with anything I have, I think they should be okay for our big adventure. The new radio system has replaced the old car radio and we have been designing the necessary antenna arrays for this little beast. Even Cortana and her computer have got a good place in the car and as long as I do keep her connected to my DSL line, she promised not to hack the local mobile network, at least not too much.

I confirmed that the car is airtight today and now we are working on life support. As soon as this is done, we will start working on the engine to awake my little baby.

March 16th, 2010

Life support is working fine, the air stays clean and fresh inside and oxygen levels seem to be normal. Did some tests by taking some of the air in a glass container and burning a piece of paper inside, no difference to normal air.

The Handwavium for the engine conversion has been growing well, mixed with science fiction books about cool spaceships and some printouts Cortana made of our 3D model of the engine. I even sacrificed my LEGO model of the Puddle Jumper, I hope this will turn out the right way. If I get a high powered engine without an inertial compensator, I might instantly die the moment I push the throttle to the max.

I plan to launch in April, so I have quit my job today and took vacation for the rest of the month. There should be enough money left to buy anything I need and pay all bills for the rest of the year.

March 23th, 2010


After six days of nearly constantly waving engine and control panels inside the car, both the engine, the fuel tank and the controls have stabilized. My gear shift lever has only three settings left, "G", "A" and "S". I think they mean ground, air and space... but Cortana says it's gratuitous, acceptable and superb. There are also two small buttons, one for reverse driving (or flying ?) and one for parking.

It was a great feeling to sit in the car, shifting to 'air' gear and press the start button. There was some electricity in the air as the new engine started for the first time and I heard some new background noise... for a moment I thought nothing had happened, but then I noticed that the car slowly drifted backwards. I hit the parking button hard and jumped out of the car... and there it was... I would have never thought that this small finger wide gap of air below the wheels would be that exciting. I still remember laughing like mad about my triumph over Newton until Cortana talked me into calming down again.

I christened the new spaceship on the name 'Stargazer' the same evening. It's no longer a car like thousands of other cars, it's something special now so it earned a special name.

March 24th, 2010

I am pretty sure the car top was not transparent yesterday.

The car tank is now filled with some strange black crystal, a solid type of Handwavium I think and contains no liquid anymore. I am not sure what to do if I need a refill, I hope the crystal is able to replicate as easily as the normal Handwavium.

Cortana and me are now working on the fine details we will need for the launch and our journey into space. I bought a combined microwave oven, it's already waved and in the back of the car. I just have to find out whats the “macro” setting on it does. Instead of getting a refrigerator, I waved three rolls of plastic wrap and aluminum foil, both with the same Handwavium I used for life support. I hope it will keep eatable things fresh for a good amount of time. I have bought food for the next month to test it in my kitchen.

Had some talking with my Shadowrun group. Told them I would have to leave the group, not enough time to get there the next months. The sessions sucked anyway since our old gamemaster left the town last year. Damn... there goes my favorite character to play. Cathy I will miss you.

Still have to get a new smartphone.

March 25th, 2010

Today I surprised Cortana with a small video projector I got for the Stargazer. Soaking it in Handwavium and mounted it at the top of the interior of the ship, pointing forward towards the front window. Should not be difficult for Cortana to project an image on the window, just like a good head up display.

She has been downloading lot's of stuff from the Internet to a local storage disk the last days, both scientific data about Earth, the solar system and all star catalogs she was able to track down. I am not sure what she wants to do with the star catalogs, the Stargazer will not leave the solar system... At least I think so.

March 30th, 2010

Started working on a collapsible bathroom as I call it. A ground plate with several large compartments in it that I will use as tanks, one for waste being filtered by a well waved cat box granulate. I build in a plastic sack around it that you can draw up to the ceiling of the car to use it to wash yourself and use it as a shower. Will be a short shower because the water tank is just too small, even with the additional canister in the back of the car. Waved the plastic sack that keeps the water from sprinkling all around in the car with some diluted Handwavium I used to reinforce the hull to prevent me ripping it easily. Just have to get some fresh water from time to time.

April 2th, 2010

One of the guys from the Shadowrun group appeared today, asked a lot of strange questions what I am doing and what is wrong with me. Hope he did not see the small cup with Handwavium in the kitchen.

My bathroom is working well, I just wish I had more space for something much larger. Water filtration takes a few hours, but it is working much better than anything hardtech. I think I am nearly ready, maybe we can launch next week. Just have to buy new food and drinks, and maybe something to trade stuff after I am up in space. Or maybe exchanging my money for Australian Dollars, it seems that Australia is the only country that seems to be staying calm in this insane world.

April 5th, 2010

Damn, I thought about launching tomorrow evening, but Cortana wrecked this plan with an innocent comment. "You certainly own a spacesuit, right?" made me facepalm hard. Damn... I knew I had forgot something important. Of course I need a spacesuit, without it I have no chance to do repairs when something happens in space. But where should I get one ? Maybe I can mod some suit for motorcycle driving, but I would like a completely transparent helmet. Let's google for some good shops to movie props like this. With this delay I hope we will still launch in April, luckily I have money left to burn.

Memo to myself, buy some Duct tape and wave it for emergency repairs.

I have been feeling sick the last days, I hope I didn't got something serious... maybe just working too much, too much excitement.

April 7th, 2010

Finally being well again... at least I hope so. Oh my god, I messed up completely. Most likely I did not clean up the remaining Handwavium well enough from one of my aluminum foil rolls. That or I was just a little bit too careless when applying all the Handwavium to the systems of the Stargazer.

Did I say I would miss Cathy, the Shadowrun rpg character I have played the last three years ? My nice poor little catgirl changeling ? Let's just say I wont miss her anymore... the bad thing is no one else will miss her too. Damn...

How shall I get more food for the launch now ? Going into the next supermarket sounds like a good way to be put in a hospital quickly... and in jail afterwards when they find the Stargazer. And HOW ON EARTH shall I construct a fitting spacesuit now ?

Cortana is still laughing about the whole thing, but I have to admit laying in my bed in the morning with the sun shining through the window and purring was great.

April 8th, 2010

Have been getting out of the bed late again. Cortana demands that I close the curtain before I go to sleep. I think as an AI she cannot understand that I need a little bit stress relieve.

I decided to order a final batch of stuff in online shops and ask my neighbor to take some of the parcels for me because I am 'out of the house' for a few days. I will get the rest of the packets from packstation in the night.

Ordered a replica of an astronaut space helmet, some solid looking boots, an climbing belt and a catsuit... the name is fitting (I need a space-suit for a humanoid cat) and it's should be easier to get airtight that normal clothing. I will have to wave a little bit more to get the tail problem solved, but I think I can do it. The new smartphone, two small flashlights and bluetooth headset should complete the spacesuit well.

I have begun putting all the things I want to take with me into my car and setting up some more batches of Handwavium for the spacesuit. I hope the pages from Webers Apocalypse Troll book about the cool spacesuit and the other printouts of advanced concepts for spacesuits will help the mixtures. Now I just need an idea how to get that grin off Cortana's face.

April 11th, 2010

The spacesuit is ready, all praise the mighty Handwavium when applied by creative hands. Washed the whole suit from the outside with some diluted version of the strain I used for the reinforcement of the car and the inside with the same strain I used in my life support wavings. For the helmet I just added some sun cream to the mixture, I don't want to get my head burned off by the unfiltered sun. The phone has integrated itself on the left wrist, my flashlights on the right wrist and at the neck ring of the helmet. Even the belt and the boots are now directly attached to the suit, the two spare lithium ion batteries have vanished below the belt.

I will wait until tomorrow to give the Handwavium time to stabilize the whole thing, I don’t need more accidental transmutations.

April 12th, 2010

Strange feeling wearing my new spacesuit, especially because it widens when it's not worn so that I can get in easily... but constricts as soon as the fastener is closed. The smartphone even gives me a nice summary about the status of the suit, including air supply and button to lock and unlock the helmet. It seems to be a compromise between NASAs soft suits and these BioSuit designed by the MIT. Wearing it for a few hours showed up no problems with sweating or breathing.

Leaving Earth tonight, it's not necessary to wait any longer. Let's the adventure begin!

April 13th, 2010, 0:30 am

Damn, the engine is not starting anymore. Not a single noise, just an error number in the display. What the hell is going on here, it worked perfectly on all earlier tests.

Cortana says that I AM the problem, not the Stargazer. Because the captain of the Stargazer (me) is a cat, the car wants some fitting decoration.

After cursing for a few minutes I managed to organize a ball of wool from my flat, which I knot to the inside mirror.

I am sure this is just a damned joke by this pesky AI. Yes of course, the CAR wants this. Sure. Really.

April 13th, 2010, 0:45 am

--start of audio recording--

Cathy: Cortana, Is this audio transcription working? Perfect...

Cathy: We are on our way, on the street towards the coast. I want to climb to orbit over the North Sea, less chance to kill someone if things go wrong and I fall to the ground.

Cathy: It's nearly 4am in the morning, I should have started my journey earlier. We switched to air mode and left the coast behind us, slowly climbing higher while we race over the water.

--MEEP-- --MEEP-- --MEEP--

Cathy: What the hell ? Cortana, why is the parking slot sensor beeping ?

Cortana: I am detecting a pair of jet fighters closing quickly on our position.

Cathy: Jet fighters? Lets increase speed and climbing rate, I think we are far enough away from land.

Cathy: I already like my new parking lot radar system, took this jets some time to reach the Stargazer. Being escorted by two Eurofighters looks really nice. Cortana, see if you can get me a radio connection.

--static noise--

Radio Voice 1: Yes airbase, it is a small car, flying at 800 kilometers per hour at 9000 feet and rising quickly. I will try signal the pilot to turn around and land.

Cathy: Good morning both of you, nice to have an escort for my maiden flight.

Radio Voice 2: Who is this, identify yourself ?

Radio Voice 1: How do you got on this frequency ?

Cathy: Sorry, from the sound of your discussion I assumed you want to talk, right ? Just look at my car, I am waving at you at the moment.

Radio Voice 2: Unknown... flying car. You are in violation of national airspace and are suspected having broken several laws regarding the substance called Handwavium. You are ordered to turn around and land at a military airbase. This is for your own safety.

Cathy: I am sorry again sir, but I don't think that would be a good idea for me. I am aware that the government does not like handwaved things and persons, all what is waiting down there for me is a hospital or quarantine. Just do yourself a favor and spare the money for a missile. The police should already have got an email with the address where I built my spacecraft, so you can clean it up without much fuss.

Radio Voice 2: You will turn around at once. This is your final warning.

Cathy: Sir, you should really think about investing in reactionless drives... you can really do interesting things with it like breaking hard in the air... and flying straight up. Oh, and ask the government for more money for better encrypted radios!

Radio Voice 1: Sir, the car suddenly stopped movement and is now raising very fast. We are trying to get back to it. *bzzz*

Cathy: Enough of these guys. Cortana, we have to reach the maximum ceiling of this birds as quick as possible. Switching to space mode, full thrust, get us out of here.

--end of audio recording--

April 13th, 2010, 11:00 am, low earth orbit

The jets never caught up with me again, maybe they agreed that it makes more sense let me get into the orbit than contaminate the ocean below me with several strains of Handwavium. I like the idea that the military back home has some common sense.

We raced higher and higher until the sky became dark and the first stars were shining down on us. I pulled the Stargazer back horizontal from our vertical climb, turned my seat back and stared out of the transparent ceiling. I was pretty tired and as soon as the excitement was over I fell asleep.

Waking up with a sky full of stars hours later was the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced.