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About Woodsey65

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  1. Well, that was an interesting afternoon. Hands up! The backlash was unacceptable, as it should feel almost hewn from granite with a tiny amount of cushioned wiggle room. The RA was poor by our standards. However, we measure from the mount castings, not from the end of any telescope. It had backlash and was not serious, (this really wasn't and dialled out or could be run East Heavy, I'll explain why...) most certainly there was no stiffness or stiction. The dual axis spin test I did was performed before any adjustments made, straight-it-of-the-box. It is amazing. I've not spun one with a telescope on it before... The stiffness was simply because of clutch drag. Emil's levers fell back in the video while he spun it. That simple people. Also, the mount wasn't level, so the new axis bearings (I'm sooo doing this to my own HEQ5) actually spins like a bicycle wheel in RA, and rotates to a slow stop in 46 secs. Backlash in DEC fixed, and RA is running a load as I write this nearing midnight. We did two tests in both axis to replicate Emil's, and posted here first. It is highly probable that the new newly installed axis bearings took more time to settle. The human hair is 75-100 microns diameter. Our tolerances are less than 4 microns. So, the more time taken to balance the mount, the better. We are on the mechanical limits for these mounts so any testing must be a bit more scientific than demonstrated before. I prefer data. Could the mount be shaken in transit? Yes, physics dictate that high frequency oscillation could create a circumstance whereby backlash could increase. Being positive, we learnt from this and now add a thick dampening grease to the clutch screws, to stop them engaging and create a quality feel. Every new bearing pack will be run longer than the standard 6 hours. Test our mounts by all means but contact us first for any queries or complaints. Over 98% of our mounts work as expected and improve with use. Our legal contract is between us and our customer, not a consensus of opinion on forum in a parallel timeline which I'm sure you all appreciate. I do not appreciate the insinuations made that we provide a dodgy service or are a suspect company. You simply don't have all the facts, but do accept constructive critique this is the power of a forum such as SGL. We are here to better Astro-Imaging via a solid platform. Please adhere to our trading hours for contact and response, that's all I ask. We walk a tightrope of PHD graphs with every mount we rebuild and that's a challenge enough. Our continued successes are proof enough of what we do. Dave Woods DarkFrame Ltd. IMG_0811.m4v IMG_0807.m4v
  2. We don't have customers, we have friends. It also makes great business sense. So we really do look after owners and take a genuine pride and care in what happens to our mounts, and how they are used. The EQ6 is a great mount and the Rowan Belt kit is partly the basis of what transforms this mount. That said we've also been getting similar performance without it. I hate to send out a mount if I'm not truly happy with it and yours is one of the oldest we have rebuilt. It's new ground. It was run in, but for export we run them in for longer and under load for circa 10 hours. At £130 for shipment to Australia for example, recalling a mount head would be an expensive option! We'll re-run yours this way, but I will only validate a mount if I feel there is a need to (conflicting data from our model), as we don't have enough reliable decent sky in the UK to offer this as consistent service to gather data on a specific mount. I think the older Black EQ6's will provide really good performance but do need a bit more running in. I fitted new axis bearings and cones as a preventative measure. From your videos it shows the mount swinging smoothly. Any stiffness will be from the seating of the bearings. We love data. So if we find that a mount isn't provide the PHD data within acceptable parameters of the mount, then we have recalled mounts, sometimes before a customer is even aware there is an issue. We learn more from mistakes than from successes as that's where progress is made. As we explore what can be done to extend the lifespan and performance of these mounts, other owners are attempting them too with varying results. Your mount has already been rebuilt once, but was quite tired due to its age. Rushing a mount helps no-one, but we spent more time responding to your communications that actually building the mount. You are not alone in this, but until mount tuning becomes trusted, and keyboard warriors stop pouring skepticism on what we do I guess this will add to our workload. I have had some many accusations that this is all a con, and that our mounts are Snake Oil. Yet, I still read doubt. I've recently been accused that our videos are faked... That's not constructive criticism. I know that some small mount manufacturers also get similar flak. It's not nice. We have had a few customers take their mount apart to check out work! One guy even sent the images! This craziness has to stop. It is not 'morally disgusting' if a mount owner is offered to adjust backlash in a mount. They are designed to be adjusted and I'd rather teach someone to get their best out of their mount than do it for them. It rewards everyone. But if you don't want to then that's fine too. As proven in your example, backlash will be generated once a load is applied. This will build over time especially in DEC as it's harder to balance, so our mounts are built with this slight bias, and because of the build methods we use, it will feel almost rock solid, more so than RA. This was developed from customer feedback and data. If your mount is set up properly, i.e. perfectly balanced, and polar aligned there will be about a 2 to 1 ratio of RA to DEC tracking RMS. If the mount is really good then they will be about equal. Some of our customers have dialled out more backlash as their mounts run in, say to attain less than 0.4-0.6 arcsec RMS (AZEQ6GT) with a 10" Meade LX200 (15-30min narrowband subs and zero dropped frames) so that the mount performs to their needs. It's that, or a new more expensive mount. That's why we offer so much support, otherwise tuning a mount doesn't save money or provide better images. This hobby is expensive enough already. 60% of the EQ6's we get in is because people think tuning is just slapping in a bit of grease and a belt kit. Lithium grease fails within 18 months, and those Astro-Baby SKF bearings are only part of the answer (in fact, I use better ones as we test everything!). That's why we are one of only four professional tuners worldwide, and use lathes and CNC milling machines. As far as I know DarkFrame is the only one to supply complete data, from independent owners and willing to back up their support with a two year limited warranty. I am under constant pressure to return the mounts quickly, and will refuse to send a mount out if it is ready. We try to run to a two-three week turnaround, and about 80% of our jobs achieve this. Repairs are slower, and if we run into a mount with a lot of problems, then that job can be seriously delayed. It is all very labour intensive and rushing any mount risks a recall. Sometimes our communications can be patchy, as the workload is always high as we are constantly being badgered by most customers to return the mounts almost as soon as they arrive. We offer a 5 email system to update progress, but this is always massively exceeded by 80% of of jobs. If anyone builds a better EQ6 mount than us then I'm yet to see it. That confidence is only supported by data, our customer reviews, and feedback. How much proof does anyone need? Now, off to work ;-) Dave
  3. Wow. Tough crowd. if anyone here has more experience in tuning mounts than myself. Please put your hands up. Anyone. Anyone? No. Hypertuning mounts polarises the astro-imaging community like no other subject, and that makes a challenge to improve what is effectively a low-end mount. Yes, £1000 equatorial mount is low-end if you own something more expensive. There's lots to choose from. I've done over 400 EQ mounts in two years so far and counting. Every mount has been used/abused and as such each requires varying time to get right. Some EQ6's we get in are approaching 10 years old. Some are in poor condition (Engine Oil, anybody?), most are quite good but it's down to their history at the end of the day. We have proven Hypertuning works with customer data. Remember they have paid to find out how our mounts perform, so we are walking a tightrope with every one. Some owners have spent more time scrutinising our mounts than using them, such is the expectation of high performance. The vast majority of the time we deliver. Not every mount will work the same. If a CGEM-DX spins for minutes, then a 10 year EQ6 may not do the same but it will be close. Their build and design are different. Any stiffness reported is relative and likely to be the fact there is new bearings that need running in or reseating. From the videos shown, Emil's EQ6 rotates well, but the backlash is unacceptable so we have recalled the mount on that basis alone. Did it go out like that? No. We video every mount before and after and take images of every rebuild. I suspect the mount has settled further, because it was substantially rebuilt. The backlash is an easy thing to adjust and not scary to do. The EQ6 has the capability to adjusted, and we offered Emil the opportunity and sent requested instructions, but he decided we should do it as we have more experience. This isn't unfair or a fob off. Every mount will encounter backlash, but not for some time I admit. The courier was booked late Sunday night, before I saw this thread. We have had over 40 full emails and texts to date, so communication hasn't been a problem in this instance though I understand this looks really one-sided. All mounts are run-in for 4-6 hours, but do need a further 15-50 hours so their performance levels out, then they can be capable and very rewarding way over a standard mount. Again, check that pesky published data but I have to ask, where's yours that proves that it doesn't work? Yes, we have published customer data and images that demonstrates EQ6's doing 10mins unguided with an ED80, 5 mins with a 200P. Please visit our website for more info. From the many comments I have read on this thread many haven't. No Snake Oil, just British Engineering to 1 micron level surface finishes, and science that has evolved a mount build that have been proven and developed by real-world usage. I would read your palm for a fiver... But don't do speculation. The Data isn't fake, the customers aren't fake, the reviews aren't fake and the results are very real. Some mounts do take longer than others, so please be realistic about what you supply and what we have to work with. We improve these mounts with a refined engineering process and QA that the factory provides, with a few innovations of our own. We have UK based Reference Mounts, to gather build data, to test new builds and to improve our services overall. We watch ourselves like a hawk, thank you very much. We offer a two year (worldwide) warranty for the work carried out. If there is a problem (it is very rare, but it happens as nothing is perfect) we sort it out at our own cost. That warranty has always been honoured without question, and we also include PHD Support to help our owners get more out of these mounts and to gather more data. No-one else offers what we do or has the pool of payload data to back it up. I'm an imager myself, so driven to get better images. But please, don't be judge, jury and executioner until you have all the facts, or better still used our mounts. HTH Dave Woods DarkFrame Ltd
  4. Cool Roka, Coming along nicely! 60secs would meant that you may get nearer 70% (ish) success rate with your frames. Did you increase your ISO? The PE on these trackers range from 23-40 arcsecs for smaller tracker and from 10 arcsecs for the AstroTrac and as little as 6 arcsecs for the SkyGuider over 10 minutes. These have been confirmed independent tests. I'm getting 6-8mins with my AstroTrac with a 70-300mm Zoom and a EOS450D, and 90% success rate. Look forward to see some of your images soon!
  5. Hi Roka, If you were on holiday, and under really dark skies then you'd no doubt get even better results! I'd be happy with that result. This is really good for a 60secs. I would have gone with 30secs, a higher ISO and a small lightweight 66mm APO Doublet to let in more light. I'm actually going try this, as the scope I have comes in just 2100 grammes. Add that to my EOS 450D and I'm nearly a kilo within the payload of 3.5kgs. For extra silliness I'll also see what I can do with a 3x Barlow (1200 fl) and a webcam for some planetary! I've previously benchmarked the iOptron SkyTracker against Vixen Polarie and the SW Star Adventurer. Also the iOptron SkyGuider and AstroTrac TT320X-AG, all with 200mm-400mm lenses. This provides the focal length range that divides these portable trackers into two distinct groups. The latter two are great at longer focal length for exposures over 60 secs, and of course small OTA's under 100mm aperture, and under 1200mm unguided. The issue with tracking using 400mm lenses on APS-C DSLR's is that you're getting close to 600mm equivalent focal length, and the moment arm this creates due to mass, means the lens and camera body should be balanced in DEC. Usually it's not, and this can (and will) affect tracking performance especially as most people use the standard mounting points of either camera, or the lens foot if it has one. The Star Adventurer can be balanced in RA, if used with its counterweight. The SkyTracker could work with, say, a Borg 71 if correctly set up, but again, I couldn't recommend going over 30-40sec for this focal length. Keeping it short means you should have less trashed frames. But the advantages of using a small APO over a 400mm telephoto lenses, is that there is less glass, easier (lockable) focus and more light gathering over a zoom lens to provide greater resolution and detail. Lovely shot though. Don't care about the core. The Nebulosity wins every time, don't you think?
  6. The idea of doing 20 minute podcasts is that we can produce more higher quality episodes. We are planning some longer 'specials'. We have found many people skip through 60 minute podcasts, or listen to them in parts. As we tighten up our production we will be increasing the shows. It's all down to how much people like what we do. Thanks for the feedback so far and keep it coming. We will be doing more book, Apps, software and telescope reviews!
  7. Thanks Lee for the link. It'll be interesting to see how many can turn up at short notice. We will be announcing our text-alert service soon to members, as many don't pick up their e-mail in time.
  8. HantsAstro - FREE Observing Tonight @ Butser Hill 6.30pm Hi - just to let you know that as it's going to be 100% clear tonight - we are arranging a LAST MINUTE OBSERVING SESSION tonight (10th Oct) on the top of BUTSER HILL (Tower side - not Butser Ancient Farm). I realise that this is extremely short notice and some of you may not be able to make it - but for all of you that can please come along at 6.30pm and join us for what should be a fantastic evenings observing. Butser Hill (Tower side) is FREE observing, however, there is a parking charge of £1.00 Directions to Butser Hill: J1 A3(M) Go past the Hampshire Hog Pub going north, turn left into Petersfield Road, first right in to Hog's Lodge Lane. At Junction of North Lane turn right,and continue up the hill. Enter the car park with ticket machine. Car park barriers close at 8pm but you can leave at any time, as there is a one way exit. We are at the top of the entrance to Butser Hill. Just head to the top by the Tower, for spectacular views of the Solent at night... Hope to see some of you there... Dave
  9. We're still meeting at Butser Ancient Farm, nr Chalton now twice a month and Butser Hill once a month, as well as INTECH nr Winchester. The skies can be great on the east-side... Mag 20+. Great to see SCAG going well. How is the New Forest these days??? Dave.
  10. We'll be bringing along our 16" and 10" dobsonians, and a Skymax 102 to check targets. We will also be testing a new digital setting circles Alt/Az gizmo, that uses inclinometers to 0.1 degree. Should be interesting to see how it works. Cloud from 25% to <3% by midnight, but quite mild at 15C.
  11. Once the the review is complete I'd be happy to publish it.... ;-)
  12. MoonFest@Petersfield, Hants 18th April 2010. Starts 7.30pm The Town Council Playing Fields nr the TARO Centre, Penns Place, Petersfield GU31 4EX Free Public Astronomy Event! Come along...Clear Skies? Hope so! HantsAstro - MoonFest Free Astronomy in Hampshire Bring along a telescope or use ours, we'll have may there to see through... Back up date 25th April 2010 if too cloudy. :-( See you there! Pic below is MoonFest@Alton with over 160 visitors that night!
  13. Watch the Shuttle STS-131 live! Lift-off at 10.21am today! It will repeated throughout the next few days after launch. Courtesy of spaceflightnow.com
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