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Showing content with the highest reputation since 24/09/19 in Blog Entries

  1. 4 points
    Hi all Been a while since I added to my blog. To be fair, not really had much to report! I have been out of furlough for over four weeks now, and with nearly 2000 of our Greene King pubs reopening in the space of a week recently, the last three weeks have been manic! We have a reduced team, but have all pulled together and got each site across the line! I would like to say things are slowing down a bit, but that just doesn't seem to be happening! But I'm not complaining - happy to be busy again! All this work had meant I have not been out under the skies for some time now. Sure, the weather hasn't been very cooperative, but on the odd evening where the clouds have cleared, I have just wanted to go to bed! So, I made a conscious effort that this weekend would be different. I had been keeping an eye on Clear Outside all week, and Sunday looked like the best evening. I wanted to see the comet, so decided I would make a trip into the Peak District (I live in Derby), to find some darkness! So, at around 10pm, with a still bright horizon, I hopped in the car and made my way to Thorpe Cloud near Ilam - an area a few miles North of Ashbourne. The car park I used to use when I came here to do some Landscape photography has now got a barrier across it, so I had to park about a mile away and walk back. Note to self: Next time, pack a torch so I don't have to use phone! Here is a light map of the area. Am surprised its Bortle 4 here - thought it darker than that: The 30 minute walk across the side of Thorpe Cloud gave my eyes time to become dark adapted. On the way round, I saw a pass of the ISS. Was as high as I remember ever seeing it, and it was very bright. I checked this morning, and it was -3.4!! I took my time and drank in the Milkyway over head, with Cygnus buried deep in the star clouds. I came round the side of the Cloud and there it was! Nestled just above the horizon below the pan of Ursa Major! I needed averted vision to see it with my naked eye, but when I turned the 20x80's on it - WOW!!! The most amazing site. I have not seen a comet since Hale-Bopp, so this was a special moment for me. I spent a good half an hour on the bins, and then decided to try and take some photos. I will freely admit that I am at the very start of my AP journey. I have a Canon 400D, and a fixed tripod for widefield, while my EQ3-2 is manual right now. Using the 500 rule theory, at 17mm on my 17-55mm f2.8, I worked out I could get 18 seconds exposures before trailing would be really evident. I opened the lens wide, set ISO to 800 to try and reduce noise and set the shutter at 15 seconds and started snapping away. When the first preview appeared I was quite pleased - there was the comet as I had seen it through the bins: Yeah, I didn't nail the focus. Difficult with nothing to actually focus on, and only a small (non-live view) screen to look at! However, if you squint a bit they look ok! The wider shots are better: It was getting late, and I had to be up at 6am, so started to head back to the car. It was then the ISS came over for pass #2 of the evening. Very much the same brightness, and I followed it across the sky. I had put my camera away by this point, otherwise would have taken a long exposure of it going over. Got back to the car, and headed home, getting in at about 2:15am, and went straight to bed. I intend to run these images through Photoshop this evening and try and pull put some more detail. I am also going to try and stack some of the images I took! Thanks for reading all! Nige
  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. 2 points
    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.
  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. 1 point
    I think I have the design for my latest ASC pretty much finalised now so I'm starting a Blog for it.
  9. 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.
  10. 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+
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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)
  14. 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.
  15. 1 point
    GOTO Telescopes. Being someone who has had both types of scopes and mounts I can honestly say I have learned more with the GOTO setup than I have ever learned with the manual set up. Previous to my current setup which is a SkyWatcher 200p (8” Mirror) and a EQ5 with SynScan GOTO added I have either manual mounts or mounts with a RA tracking motor for photography. Both Refractors and Reflectors and I certainly prefer reflectors unless you have a very large wallet. Now unless you use your telescope for large bright objects and have loads of free time then I would certainly choose the GOTO every time. If you like me and have a work schedule and family like to slot in around you hobby (should that be the other way around?) You will find a manual telescope very frustrating on anything other that the brightest object in out solar system. I may only have a couple of hours to go out with the scope and I have spent many frustrating hours searching for DSO’s (Deep Space Objects) and getting nowhere, arriving back home without seeing the objects I was searching for. What did I learn from this experience? Space is very big! Now since having the GOTO option I have learned, a lot about Polar alignment, how to set up and telescope correctly, how to align a telescope to 3 bright stars, to get correct alignment. Just learning the bright visible stars is an achievement and if you go at different times of the night and months throughout the year you get to learn all about the local bright stars that you need to know for correct alignment. When I go out these days it what used to take me 10 minutes to set up (Manual) now takes me 30-40 minutes to get everything, balanced, polar aligned, and GOTO 3 star alignment set up, but once set up correctly that is it for the observing session. A full catalogue of objects and planets are at my finger tips, full visual tracking of objects, anyone who has manually found DSO objects in the eyepiece only for a few seconds later is gone? Things move fast out there! The bigger your scope and the higher power eyepiece you use the smaller your field of view and you are constantly adjusting your scope, where as with the GOTO option once correctly set up objects remain the the FOV for very much longer in fact nearly all night if required. I can spend most of my evenings observing session actually viewing the objects I wanted to view from my observing lists, and yes I'm learning more about the night sky than ever before simply because GOTO made it a less frustrating experience and allowed me to spend my time with the telescope doing what I like to do, which is view our vast expanding universe. People who say to me you are not learning about the hobby is rubbish, I have learned more since I went GOTO than ever before, If you want to learn the sky manually that's great get a star map book and a pair of binoculars and enjoy your hobby, but to say to me I know more about the sky than you, could be true? But ask your self this! What did you come into the hobby for? To sit there night after night learning star charts so you could point out to people oh there is M31 or M57? Or did you come into the hobby to view the wonders of the night sky and out planets? Just because I have a GOTO telescope does not mean I'm not learning, in fact I could point out a vast amount of objects and planets in out sky, simply because once GOTO has positioned the scope and cantered the object, that's not the end! I step back from the eyepiece and look up “Oh that's where it is” can I see it in binoculars? What's the nearest constellation? Any bright known stars in the FOV. GOTO simply means you have options, how you use those options depends on the person. For me the whole galaxy is there, and other galaxies as well so don't be an Astro Snob! GOTO is a fantastic achievement for the average astronomer and has released the hobby into the 21st century . My telescope time is no longer a frustrating experience and is more a giant learning curve learning about DSO’s, nebula’s and galaxies and I’ve now moving on to astro-photography this again is another massive learning curve, but now I have the time to learn about the photography side knowing that I can at least find the DSO objects next step is photographing them Ray Gilchrist
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