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About Mike37N113W

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    Southwestern Utah, USA
  1. I bit the bullet and ordered a Unihedron Sky Quality meter. It sounds easy to use, but if anyone has had experience with one I would appreciate any tips or cautions. Thanks.
  2. The St. George Astronomy Group (https://sites.google.com/site/stgeorgeastronomygroup/home) is planning to conduct night sky surveys in 2014 to seek International Dark-Sky Association certification in a couple of communities in SW Utah. We need two pieces of equipment: A Unihedron Sky Quality Meter and a fish-eye 180 degree lens that will fit a Nikon D80 DSLR camera (or could we use your camera). Please contact me if you have either of these items and are willing to share them in early 2014, or better yet, participate in the survey. Thank you. Mike Scott (mike37n113w@gmail.com)
  3. Vic Maris at Stellarvue was very responsive when I asked him about the alignment problem. I'm really impressed with his finder in spite of the alignment issue and also very impressed with his customer service. He gave me the following information about the rotating problem: "This is an issue with this design. To keep the price in line and to keep the weight minimal, there is no lens cell and since it is extremely short in focal length and there is some necessary play in each component, this crosshair issue arises." "This includes the tolerance of the eyepiece insert tube, the centering of the reticle in the eyepiece, the variation in the threaded helical focuser, the angle and position of the prism relative to the objective." "While there is little difference visually as you rotate the back end, with this extremely small amount of variation, it does affect the position of the cross hair in the magnified eyepiece relative to the FOV." "I have thus far [not] found any way to solve this issue without doubling the price. That would take an otherwise perfect finderscope and render it too expensive for the market." "I appreciate your positive reviews. I personally designed this finder and applied for a patent when I did so. What I did not expect was the multi-component tolerances keeping the crosshair from remaining perfectly centered. I have put some time into it but the solutions are relatively expensive."
  4. Michael - your solution to my "zenith neck" problem is outstanding. I wish you had not shown it to me! I thought I was at the end of the journey - now you show me I have a few more miles to travel. Mike
  5. I like the finderscope Meade includes on the LX200, but my neck and back disagree. Not only disagree, they finally rebelled a couple weeks ago while I was zeroing in on the Pleiades almost directly above my head. So I ordered the Stellarvue F50-2 9x50mm Deluxe Finder scope from Oceanside Photo & Telescope (OPT) because it has a diagonal with a rotating back, so you can easily look through the eyepiece, whether your telescope is aimed at objects near the horizon or straight up, simply by loosening the rotator locking screw to adjust the eyepiece to the angle you want. All that stops it from rotating a full 360 degrees is my optical tube. Support staff at OPT said my current Meade mounting rings will work with the Stellarvue finder. They were right, saving that expense. That doesn't happen often. Also, the Stellarvue finder comes with a 1.25" 23mm eyepiece with reticle, but no illuminator. You have to buy the illuminator seperately... or not. I have had a Meade 9mm eyepiece with illuminate reticle for a couple of years, but don't use it much due to its narrow true field of view in my telescope. I was happy to find that its illuminator screwed into the new Stellarvue reticle eyepiece and works perfectly. So now I have two reticle eyepieces with different powers and fields of view that can share an illuminator. And, because the Stellarvue finder accepts other 1.25" eyepieces, I can use its 23mm reticle eyepiece on my telescope as well. Here are my "first" impressions based on two nights of observations. The Stellarvue finder scope appears to be solidly built. It looks good, feels good, and the moving parts work smoothly. The eyepiece has a focuser for the reticle crosshairs. The finder has a helical focusing ring which moves very smoothly. There is a learning curve involved in using this finder, because it has so many moving parts grouped together in such a small area. My Meade finder scope has only one moving part, the focuser. The Stellarvue has six (once you add an illuminator). But you get the hang of it quickly. Here's a rundown of those moving parts, starting where the scope ends and the diagonal begins: (1) Locking rotator screw to hold the diagonal at the angle you want for comfortable viewing; (2) rotator (this is done by turning the diagonal); (3) helical focuser; (4) screw to lock the eyepiece in place; (5) focuser for the reticle crosshairs, and (6) on/off brightness knob for the illuminator. It does take an hour or so to get used to all of these and to find them easily in the dark without looking. That's particularly the case for the helical focuser and the reticle focuser, because they are so close together. But they are spaced almost an inch apart, and the knobs have a very different texture. This is not a complaint. It is exactly because of all of these moving parts that the Stellarvue finder scope is so versatile. And more moving parts on the Stellarvue means fewer moving parts in my neck and back.
  6. I love the sound of those words! Thanks. Yesterday I swore I was done with dealing with this - I've spend more time on this problem than I've spent behind the eyepiece. But you give me encouragement. I will go for it one more time. I feel kind of like a crack addict who can't shake his addiction.
  7. Thanks - are you running windows 7 Professional? And have you torn all your hair out like I have?
  8. This is a follow-up to my post a couple of weeks ago. I was having problems connecting my HP notebook to my Meade LX200 so I could run AstroPlanner and SkyX Professional software. Well... not really a "problem".... more than a problem... it just wasn't working. I won't repeat all the steps I took to try to find a solution (they are described in my last post. Since the last post, I received the Keyspan USB serial adapter. It works fine on my old computer running Windows XP. But the new adapter doesn't help my problem with my Windows 7 Professional notebook. Three adapters (Keyspan, Meade, Gigaware); no success. So far I have eliminated the following possible culprits: bad RS232 port on the telescope; bad RS232 cable, bad or incorrectly wired RS232/Serial adapter; and bad USB serial adapter. I doubt my windows 7 notebook has a bad USB port (I tried all three). That leaves just one possible reason for the problem: Windows 7 Professional does not like something, whether it is the cables, adapters, or telescope. Here's my line-up: Option 1: One side of the Keyspan USB Serial adapter plugs into Windows XP computer serial port, the other side plugs into a SoftwareBisque Serial/Rs232 adapter, and an RS232 cable runs from there to the Meade LX200. Option 2: And, since my XP computer has a serial port (my notebook doesn't), I can eliminate the Keyspan adapter completely, and just plug the SoftwareBisque Serial/RS232 adapter into my XP serial port. Although option 2 has fewer "parts" and should be more stable because of its simplicity, I've chosen to use option 1. Why? Because I have bought three USB Serial adapters so far and I'd feel foolish if I didn't use at least one of them. Well, at least I can connect to my telescope using my old XP laptop for as long as it holds up. Not a great solution. but better than nothing. I'd like to hear if others have run into the same problem. And I'd really like to hear from anyone who has figured out a solution for a Windows 7 Professional computer.
  9. Thank you everyone for taking the time to help me solve my problem. Thanks to you I have a solution. It was suggested that either Windows 7 was the problem, or my Meade USB/Serial adapter was the problem, or both. (Note: If the Meade adapter is the problem, I also had a problem with a Gigaware adapter previously.) I never thought to use an old computer I have that runs Windows XP and does have a serial port. So I set up AstroPlanner on it and hooked it up to my telescope and it works perfectly. Sometimes you can’t see the stars for the sun. I don’t want to use that old computer for astronomy, but will if it is all I’ve got that works. So I am following up on other tips you offered to try and get my newer netbook with Windows 7 & USB working. This includes getting a different adapter (before reaching a solution this morning, I ordered the KeySpan adapter some recommended – should get it 12/28) as well as check the cable wiring, etc. I can’t thank you all enough. I spent hours trying to get this owrking, along with buying multiple cables and adapters. I’m thrilled. Now instead of having a bunch of variables porgrammed in my hand controller, I can use the computer to more easily pick out and move to appropriate variables any time. Best wishes to all of you for a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2012. I will report back in a week or two to let you know how I got the Windows 7 computer with USB working (if I do get it working).
  10. Michael - first off, it's nice having someone to bounce ideas off of - so thank you. I don;t know any other amateur astronomers in my area so having you and others here to talk to is great. Yes, someone recommended the KeySpan adapter. I just ordered it 30 minutes ago - here by 12/28 so I'll either have success with it or i will be the proud owner of 3 adapters (meade, gigaware, and now keyspan) my computer picks a com port number )7, 8, or 9) - all of the software defaults to a lower number - com3 i think - but you can click an update button on the software and it looks for the right port - and finds it. Thanks again - maybe it will be as simple as the Keyspan adapter. I guess i can use thye other 2 adapters as paperweights.
  11. Thanks again Michael - I think i originally copy/pasted wrong info from bisque site - the cable i got from them does only fit into the rs232 port on the telescope - it is too big to fit into the hand controller or the port on the scope for the hand controller --- this is what i meant to say i bought from bisque = Software Bisque
  12. Thanks Michael - sorry - I should have mentioned the com port - yes I am telling AstroPlanner (and the other software I've tried) what com port my computer assigned. My computer picks a comm port number of 7, 8, or 9 - nothing lower. I'm wondering if that's a problem? no idea if it means anything. someone suggested i try a Keystone usb/serial adapter - so i ordered it today. i'm wondering if the rs232 port on the telescope is bad (i've tried both of them with no success) - but no idea how to test for that. oh well -
  13. Thanks for helping. The telescope listed in astroPlanner I selected is LX200 GPS 10" -- that's my scope. I have tried to connect to the scope using AstroPlanner, Meade's software, and SkyX Professional --- not working for any of them.
  14. I hope you can help – I’m going crazy. I have a Meade LX200ACF 10” (bought new 2 years ago) and I have never been able to hook it up to my computer. I tried when I bought it and gave up in frustration. I’m trying again – and have been for 2 weeks now. I’m totally missing something but don’t know what. First – cables: I bought: (#1) the Meade USB/RS232 adapter cable; (#2) A female RJ11 to female DB9 end adaptor for Autostar and compatible devices (from SoftwareBisque); (#3) A 15-foot, four-conductor telephone-type cable terminated with a male RJ11 modular plug on one end ("telephone-type" plug) and a male RJ22 modular plug on the other end (from SoftwareBisque). Note: #1, #2, and #3 above – first I bought generic versions of these from RadioShack – they didn’t work so I thought they were the problem. So I bought the items above – they don’t work either. Second – driver I installed the Autostar Suite version 3.1 software CD. Didn’t work. I installed the Meade USB to Serial software download from Meade Instruments Corporation - Meade Customer Support - didn’t work. I ran the driver remover DRemover98_2K.exe and then re-ran the “download driver” – didn’t work NOTE: The operating instructions sheet from Meade says what folder and file names are created – but that’s not what I get. I get a folder in “my documents” called “PL2303_Prolific_DriverInstaller_v1210” – in that folder is the application file with the same name. I run that application to install the driver. After reboot I plug in the usb adapter and look for it in control panel – I find “Prolific USB-to-serial Comm Port (Com7)” – I right click to troubleshoot – no problems found. I right click for properties – under hardware, device status it says “the device is working properly” I click properties – port settings and get all of the correct settings: 9600, 8 , none, 1, none. I click “driver details” and it shows 2 files with the first one selected = C:\Windows\System32\DRIVERS\ser2pl64.sys --- the 2nd file is same location, name = serenum.sys – but it is not highlighted/selected Today I went to the prolific site and downloaded a newer version of the driver. After all this – and uninstalling and re-installing a number of times – when I plug in to my telescope (the jack directly right of the handbox jack) – nothing happens. I have tried starting the telescope first and going through the 2 star alignment before plugging in – I have tried plugging in before turning on power to the scope. I have tried the other jack to the right of the first one. I have tried my generic Radioshack adapters/cables. The only thing I have not tried yet is shooting myself in the head – but I’m getting close to that decision. Thanks for any help you can offer. Mike
  15. Thanks for the feedback Damian. The author explains how to balance the scope, but that's one thing I'm still having some trouble doing right, even though it should be really easy for me since I use it in alt/az mode - no wedge.
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