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Showing content with the highest reputation since 04/06/19 in Blog Entries

  1. 7 points
    Hello there!! Yeah, its been a while since my last blog post. Work and family life have been unbelievably busy these past months – added to that the summer nights being short, things on the astro front have taken a bit of a hiatus. However, the nights are slowly drawing in now, and following our recent holiday to Cornwall I am slowly getting more time to get out under the stars! A couple of weeks ago, we took a family holiday to Cornwall. We stayed on a working farm, on the edge of Bodmin Moor. I had done some homework, and the farm had Bortle 4 skies, compared to my 6 at home in Derby!! I was looking forward to seeing some proper skies! The first few days, while warm and sunny, moved to cloud in the evenings. However, I got my chance on the Wednesday evening – clear skies from horizon to horizon! I waited for the sky to become fully dark, and went out into the little garden we had the use of at about 10:30pm. I was lucky – the farm didn’t have any floodlighting, and the only light was a security lamp on the farmhouse. I was well hidden from it anyway in the garden. I wasn’t able to take my 150pl with me (too big!!), but took my Celestron 20x80’s along. After my eyes became adjusted, I was rewarded with one of the clearest and brightest skies I had seen since my days living in rural North Norfolk! The Milky way was a bright band across the sky, with Saturn nestled in it toward the horizon, and so many stars I had trouble making out the constellations! M31 was bright and clear, and Double Cluster was amazing. I spent a good half hour just sweeping my bins along the star clouds of the Milkyway. It was then I decided to go and get my camera, and try and my hand at some basic AP. I set up my tripod and Canon 400D, set the ISO to 1600 and opened the lens to f2.8, and pointed it at Casseopia with a 30 second exposure (couldn’t do any longer than that as I had forgotten my cable release!). The image came back and even on the LCD I could see I had captured a lot of detail! I took a few more, and the results are below. Did some basic editing in CS-5 – just tried to make the detail stand out a little more. Am quiet happy with them – only 30 sec exposures! The lack of LP was a real bonus!! This has ignited my desire to take the AP further. Nothing like getting an expensive mount (yet!), but I plan to get the dual enhanced motors for my EQ3-2 and attach my camera to that. Hopefully I can get at least a couple of minutes exposures at moderate focal length. I only have a 17-55mm lens, but is the f2.8 version. I have also looked into getting an adaptor so I can attach older FD lenses to the 400D. There are some real bargains on Ebay for 135mm / 200mm and 300mm FD lenses. I will do a separate review of the place we stayed – it really is perfect if you are looking for base to explore Cornwall and Devon ,and also want dark skies at night!! Thanks for reading, and hopefully, it won’t be 6 months before I post again!! Cheers
  2. 3 points
    This evening I prepared the tube for all the new parts- filling in old holes and drilling new ones- the end is in sight
  3. 3 points
    Hi all, Thanks for dropping into my blog – I have had over 9000 views in total now, which is incredible, so thanks all! As you will know if you have read the previous posts (dating back 4 years or so), I have very slowly been pulling together various bit and pieces of astro gear. Currently I have the following: Skywatcher EQ3-2 mount (white, non-motorised) – second hand for £90 off ABS Skywatcher 150PL OTA – new from RVO for about £180 25mm, 10mm eyepieces and 2 x Barlow (came with scope) Cheshire collimating device – new from RVO for £25 Celestron 20x80 bins – new from RVO for £99 Old Dell Laptop – Downloaded all the free software I can find for it. Free – old works one that wasn’t wanted. CMy trusty Canon 400D with EF-S 17-55mm f2.8 A dodgy old Webcam – this has been duly butchered and adapted to allow me to slot into the focuser. From the above, all but the Canon have been procured over the past 4 years, and only the OTA and Bins where purchased new. Going forward, anything I buy I will note how much I have spent. So, I have set myself a personal challenge!! I want to try and show AP can be done on a small modest set up like this! Up till now, its been purely visual that I have been doing. However, alongside that I have decided to dip my toe into AP. My interest was piqued while on holiday in Cornwall a few weeks back. I took some very basic (and out of focus!) shots of the Milkyway, and was impressed with what detail a single 30 sec exposure teased out. Now, general wisdom states that to get into AP, one needs to start with a decent, solid mount such as the HEQ5. I’m not one to argue with wisdom, but I don’t have the funds for big mount right now, nor for any guiding stuff to make things easier, or even a dedicated astro-cam! So, I have decided to see what can be done on a real budget with the kit that I currently have. The only addition I intend to make is to add the Dual Enhanced motors to the mount. I'm getting these for my Birthday at the start of October! Over the coming months, this blog will highlight the ups and downs of my journey. The aim is to start simple, and work upwards as my skills and patience get better!! I have also discovered the 'Imaging with the EQ3 mount' thread here on SGL, so that will be a good guide as well. I intend to try widefield to start with – using my DSLR directly connected to the EQ mount. I also am going to attempt to use the webcam for Lunar and some Planetary photography. Moving on, I may even try some AP with the Canon attached to the 150PL – but lets walk first eh?! I am also planning some DIY on the scope and mount, and will do my best to document this as well. First job is some ring rotator’s, and that will be in the next post! I hope you drop in and see how I am getting on!
  4. 2 points
    Initially I planned to make the focus motor quick release and the magnetic coupling made some sense but I ended up going for a simple screw mounted motor so it makes less sense now But it’s done now and it works really well- better than I’d expected. It allows for lateral misalignment yet is a nice stiff rotational coupling for the sort of torque required to turn the moonlite knob. A ptfe pad keeps the magnets slightly separated so the two plates can move a little easier against each other. The black magnet holder on the focus knob is 3D printed and a press fit on the knob
  5. 2 points
    The spider hub came together tonight- bit of a mare as it’s glued together with high strength retaining compound which gave me about a minute to assemble everything and try to align all the screw holes - needless to say it was a right panic not helped by a friend deciding to strike up conversation at the critical moment. Wish I hadn’t rushed it as it’s not perfectly aligned and not much I can do about it now but it’ll do I think. It’s getting a bit hefty though which is a worry- 200g already but that’s all the chunky bits bar the mirror itself. A lot of that is the central 10mm stainless shaft- might think about replacing that with aluminium or at least drilling a bore all the way through. the adjuster screws need to be shortened a bit too
  6. 2 points
    Been working on the handset today and I think I'm almost ready to get the parts printed- exciting!
  7. 2 points
    Working on the motor mount this evening- needs a bit more work but the general idea's there. I'm going to use a magnetic coupling and am thinking to make it quick release so I can take it off if I don't want to use it.
  8. 2 points
    Perhaps the open outlook to the east Ensures the leaded panes catch every ray And part explains why on the dullest day My eye is drawn up to the colour feast, After a rubbish couple of months, finally a holiday........a week in the Yorkshire Dales, only a 7.5 hour drive from Kernow but worth it! A little cottage east of Hawes, nothing but sheep and pheasants and yes dark skies. Great food in small pubs with the friendly locals, Abbey ruins visited and gloriously recommended to sooth the soul and switch off the rat race (Easby Abbey nr. Richmond, Jarvaulx Abbey nr. Ripon), honestly THE best chips from The Chippie in Hawes and of course beautiful scenery! With not much room in the car (have to take the family not just the scopes?) I only packed the Heritage 100P and my BST eyepieces, opposite to my home viewing where I can only see the southern sky, here it was the West and North, typically for me the cottage had the only street light for at least 100 miles to the south.....still new things to spend time on........ So two clear nights.....once I got over the nervousness of total dark away from civilisation and wild animal noises I've never heard before....out with the little dob Auriga....the 3 open clusters, M36/37/38, even with a waxing moon, still was able to pull these out, have to say that the 12mm BST is turning out to be a particular favourite, reckon I could make out about a dozen of the brightest stars in the pinwheel cluster. Stars Capella and El Nath (start the Taurus debate here...) a lovely distraction....now if I hadn't taken the wife and son would I have seen the famous nebulae with my 8" Dob? On to Cassiopeia....and after the owl cluster.....and what a revelation. The first time viewing and frankly spent far too long staring at this beauty....actually think I could see it in my sleep that night! The whole constellation was a wonder confirming I need to be less lazy and get my scopes to local dark skies more often......just don't let work life get in the way Spent a fair bit of time viewing the moon, decent views with 5mm BST, and just staring up with my eyes at a dazzling dark sky full with stars. All in all a wonderful week, great days out, dark and clear skies at night, great food (and drink), if you get the chance, pack away some clean undies and a scope and head to the Yorkshire Dales (If you're interested...opening lines are from a poem called east window by Alan Hartley relating to a stained glass window in Leyburn)
  9. 1 point
    I think I have the design for my latest ASC pretty much finalised now so I'm starting a Blog for it.
  10. 1 point
    A new improved version of my "GinaRep Mini" 3D Printer. The first version used cord for the drives whereas this one will use the standard timing belt for X and Y and trapezoidal screw drive for Z. I also expect to use a stout wooden case of 18mm plywood like my Concorde printer, for maximum rigidity. This is to be a specially accurate 3D printer with option of nozzles as small as 0.2mm. Print bed will be 200mm x 200mm with around 200mm printing height. Essentially this is to be a reduced size, higher resolution, version of my Concorde printer.
  11. 1 point
    This blog describes Installing 3rd Party Drivers into a Raspberry Pi having installed Ubuntu MATE and followed the instructions to run the AstroPi3 script to install INDI and other astro related software. SSH has been enabled so that now the RPi can be accessed remotely from Terminal. eg. ssh gina@rpi where gina is my user name and rpi is the computer name as set up during the Ubuntu MATE installation. This set up process is detailed in my blog :- Setting up a Raspberry Pi for Astro Imaging and Control - Updated Feb 2020 for RPi 3B & RPi 3B+
  12. 1 point
    I modify my 28BYJ-48 stepper motors to run off the A4988 driver modules, just like the Nema 17. I use these for remote focus for my astro imaging. These motors come with centre-tapped coils with the centre-taps connected internally. We need the full coils without the centre-taps and these need to be separate so the internal link needs breaking and center-taps ignored. This in turn effectively changes a 5v rated motor to one that works fine with 12v. These photos show the coils and connection PCB taken out of the motor, to explain the process. (Don't jump straight in and take the motor apart, it isn't necessary.) The yellow and blue wires are one coil (or winding) and the orange and pink wires are the other. The red wire is no longer used and cut short for safety. At first I opened the motor casing to get at the connection PCB but it was very difficult to get everything back in so I decided to try and cut the PCB track without taking the motor apart. I carefully drilled a hole through the blue plastic connection cover to access the PCB where the strip wanted cutting through. Then I was able to take a very small screwdriver and scrape through the track without disturbing anything else. This is shown in the close-up photo below. As before the coils are orange-pink and yellow-blue. Do not connect the red wire. Note :- Seems not all motors use the same colour wires but the outer two wires are one coil and the inner two are the other. The middle wire is not used and should be cut short and insulated for safety.
  13. 1 point
    Finally bit the bullet and knuckled down to wiring the handpiece- really made a rod for my own back though with the very tight space for the wires...it’s going to be really tricky getting the other half of the housing on there without squashing wires But it works-almost perfectly-almost that is except the pwm on the LED isn’t pwming I swapped from a nano to the new Arduino nano every and I’m guessing the code isn’t totally compatible... 0E01F364-3061-4211-904D-1334A76EFE8A.MOV
  14. 1 point
    Disappointed with the function of the design yesterday due to friction issues I’ve modified it- it now has only one spring and 4 screws. The spring keeps the indexing screw in contact with the v-groove in the mirror cell top plate. Adjustment is achieved by slackening all the screws then adjusting the tilt to focuser angle with the indexing screw, and the focuser-axial rotation with the 2 side screws then all 4 can be nipped up to lock it which is better than just relying on the springs I think. The movement in the video is extreme but shows the arc of the movement around the ball joint and the function of the swash plate. In real life I’m not sure the small adjustments required justify the swash plate really but it at least stops the screws digging into the aluminium. It works C3A6ABFC-96A1-4C98-82CE-3CDB042F09E6.MOV
  15. 1 point
    24C2AE88-8FBD-47E7-BD34-716FB9018988.MOV Managed to square up the waveform for the step at the expense of halving it’s max frequency But I’ve changed the driver board for the version that actually has half step input so my new max speed is about 3sec/rev which looks ok I think. It’s slmost working how I want it but I need to figure out how to shape the response as it’s too long in the very slow movement then suddenly shoots off into high speed- not sure why as the step times should be linear from the pot Needs some thought Mark (Hopefully the video will load better this time with different codec)
  16. 1 point
    After tinkering with the smaller K40 we decided it wasn't quite up to our needs and decided a small upgrade would be more beneficial in the long run. A 12 hour drive and overnight stay in the Lake District later and we arrived back home with a larger 50W machine, a second hand 80W CO2 tube and upgraded power supply. The 80w upgrade will have to wait as we want this machine cutting asap. It's all set up and running now, but waiting on some extras to make the process a little healthier and cleaner. New extraction system (a bouncy castle blower), a water chiller, new focus lens, and a load of stock is due to arrive (3mm plywood, mdf and slate coasters) Took a while to get aligned, but is cutting 4mm MDF in one pass now so happy with that. Once this is up and running fully I can concentrate my efforts on finishing up the CNC build.
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