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minimalist

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About minimalist

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    Star Forming

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    midwest, USA
  1. Ok, went out today and took a pic of the kit as it is set up at home. Bear in mind that the tripod in the photo is not the one I use when camping or backpacking. That's shown in the previous pic. This one is an old Celestron wedgepod I had, which is now more or less permanently anchored in my back yard. You can see on the right side of the mount where I glued a vixen saddle (from a nexstar mount I had) to the altitude tightening knob. The guidescope is actually mounted on an Orion geared head, to allow picking out guidestars better. The whole thing is also mounted a bit forward due to clearance issues as the guidescope goes past the northern tripod leg. It hasn't caused balance issues as far as I can see. Hope this helps.
  2. Here you go Scott. This pic just shows the iOptron on the Induro tripod, this was before I added the guider kit. I'll take a pic tomorrow of the current setup, although it's currently mounted on my "home" tripod, which is not as portable.
  3. If you want the "full" astro experience (guiding and goto) while still able to go backpacking with the kit, here's my solution: Tripod: Induro AT-214 Alloy AT . For astro work, remove the center shaft. Weighs around 2kg. Mount head: iOptron Cube Pro. Throw away the tripod that came with it. The mount head by itself weighs about 2kg also. To use as a GEM, use a suitable bolt to mount the iOptron head to the photo tripod. Tilt the tripod to the desired latitude angle by leaving one leg short and lengthening the other two. Use tent stakes or similar to anchor the legs to the ground. If the ground is too hard, use netting attached to the center bolt and fill with dirt/rocks/etc to settle the mount. To guide: First I glued a vixen saddle to the altitude knob of the iOptron. Then you can mount your guiding setup to that dovetail, which also serves as a counterweight to the camera plus lens mounted to the other vixen saddle that came with the mount. I tried to guide through the usb port, but never got that to work. Instead I bought the st4 adapter from iOptron which works very well, although pricey. My guiding setup for this follows my minimalist philosophy lol. The guidescope is a Celestron Startravel 70mm scope, which is smaller and lighter than an st80. You can use a finderscope depending on the guide camera, which reduces bulk even more. However, I wanted to eliminate using a computer altogether, so I have a Celestron Nexguide, which required the larger scope. The combo works, although I'm not entirely happy about how Celestron implemented the Nexguide. But that's another story. The good news is that the whole guider part weighs less than 1kg. My imaging camera and lens (Canon 70-200 and modded 1000D) weigh another 1.5 kg or so. To capture images you can use a timer remote. I wrote an android app some time ago to do the same thing (it also does liveview, which is very handy), so I use that with my tablet. The whole thing is powered by a lithium rechargeable battery. Here's a link to the battery (sorry, it's US but I'm sure there's a version available in Europe): http://www.amazon.co...cr_notf_fhv_prd The battery will power the whole kit for about 15 hours. It weighs about 0.5 kg. I have a 40W folding solar panel which recharges the battery in about 4 hours in full sun. Alternatively you can use AA lithium batteries in a power pouch, which last a little bit longer. I got one of those from an old Meade kit I believe. But anyways, for about 7kg total, you can lug it around just about anywhere without getting too tired. :-) Hope this helps. I have pics that illustrate how it all works together. I'll post if there is interest. Daniel
  4. Ok, some updates. First off, a small update to the Celestron handbox, it now displays az/alt or ra/dec (you choose) as you slew around. If your telescope is not aligned, then ra/dec make little sense. Same thing, if you scope does not have an alt/az mode (like the CGE) then alt/az make little sense also. Let me know what you find out with yours. New doc link: https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0ByZXuV0vUfw7ZmQzZGVhNjEtMjczYy00NTJiLThmMWUtMWU5NGIxMjIwYmQ1&hl=en_US Next thing, a new app, the Autostar Handbox! Very similar to the celestron one (basically same UI) but no position display finctionality (the ra/dec button does nothing). One extra button for the Autostar is the Max/Quiet button, which toggles max slew from 4deg/sec (Max) to 2deg/sec (Quiet). And this brings me to some notes and observations on autostars: 1. I'm still not sure how slew rates work. On the handbox, you get 1-9 rates. However, from the command set, there are two parameters to set: max slew, which you can set to 2,3 and 4deg/sec, and slew rate, which you can select from 'guide', 'center', 'find', and 'slew'. As you can see, it's pretty confusing. So, I guessed and made the rate buttons choose between guide (G), center ©, find (M) and slew (S), figuring the (S) setting uses the max slew value. So please check this functionality for me, as I don't have an autostar to test with. Another issue is date/time. For the autostar, there are commands to upload date and time, but not set daylight savings... odd. The autostar II has a way to update daylight savings, and also a command to automatically enter date/time at initialization to bypass the screen prompts. The date/time button sends all those commands in the hope that some of them change the date/time correctly. Please let me know how this works for you as well. The upload location should work for all autostars. One caveat, this will replace your current site's location. If this is not what you want, let me know, I can update a specific site instead (like say, site #4 in your menu)... but in order to use the uploaded location you'll have to choose that site as your current site. Here's the link to the Autostar apk: https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0ByZXuV0vUfw7YTU1YzUyMWYtZmY3My00ZmI3LTkxYjAtNDVjN2JkY2QwMGU2&hl=en_US Per Terry's suggestion, I am next going to make something similar for the Orion Intelliscopes, although there will be no scope control, just position display. Hope you guys like this, and please let me have your feedback, fixes, suggestions, etc. Thanks and clear skies. Daniel
  5. Dave, I have no experience with eqmod as of now. As timer permits I may take it up. Is eqmod open source? One of the things that has been suggested is being able to tie this into other android sky chart apps. I was thinking something along the lines of a widget that acts as a "smart hub". You can set it to talk with the scope in whichever command set (like celestron, synscan, meade, etc) and present a common interface to android apps a la ascom. I've not studied the ascom api yet to see how close I can conform to that standard... if not, I think I can come up with something sensible, for mounts at least. This would allow third party app developers access to telescope control without much tightly coupled code. So maybe eqmod can be easier to port over. My one other interest would be to tie something like openphd into android with some camera support. I really welcome any thoughts on this as I feel this is something well worth investigating. Daniel
  6. Cool! Ok, the info. This is what I posted in another forum: ----- Ok, here's the rundown on all the hardware: CELESTRON SCOPE any celestron scope with goto controller handbox (even the old ones without numeric pads I think). I will make a version later that will bypass the hand controller, but not yet. RJ45 SERIAL DB9 adapter This is your standard adapter that hooks from your pc serial port to the bottom of the hand cotroller. An example is here: http://www.optcorp.com/product.aspx?pid=105-243-470-1611 BLUETOOTH SERIAL ADAPTER There are many of them on the market, one of the cheapest I found that works well is here: http://www.usconverters.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=70&products_id=262 I bought the industrial version, as it has an external antenna and seems a bit more rugged. Note it has a female db9 connector, just like the rj45 adapter. So, if yours is similar, you will need... DB9 NULL MODEM ADAPTER MALE/MALE This will allow you to connect the bluetooth adapter to the rj45 adapter. Another thing you may need if it didn't come with your bluetooth serial adapter is a power supply. The one bluetooth serial adapter listed in the link is very nice as it has a mini usb connector, so it can connect to any usb power source (5v). It also came with a little connector with leads to hook up to a battery for example. It draws very little power (I think it's <100mA, it's in the specs on the site). Ok, that's all the hardware. Hook up the rj45 to the hand controller, then the male/male adapter and bluetooth serial and you're done! Oh, one thing more though. Make sure the bluetooth adapter is set to 9600 baud, because that's what the hand cotroller uses to talk. Also, the bluetooth serial adapter needs to be in discoverable mode. By default, that's how they're set up at the factory, just make sure. Ok, that's all you need. Load my app, then start is up. You'll see a very ugly handbox (runs in portrait mode only btw). Click on the menu, and choose "connect a device - insecure". There is also a secure option, but I don't think it's working yet. A list of bluetooth devices will pop up, you can scan until you see the bluetooth serial adapter showing. Click on it, and if you haven't paired with it yet it will ask you to pair - enter your pairing key. The it will connect, and a short popup will say "connected to #" where # is the name of the bluetooth serial adapter. So now you're ready to rock! Hold the buttons down, it will move as long as the button is down. I forgot to test whether multiple buttons work, probably not, since I haven't synchronized those calls yet. The red stop button will send both dec and ra stop commands, just in case something went amok slewing! The Spd+ and - change the slew rate. I decided to add two more buttons to the app. One uploads the current date/time to the handbox, the other uploads your current location to the handbox. You must have either gps or network (wifi) location enabled on your android device, and for some reason mine didn't work unless I enabled Google's Latitude whatever that is. But anyways, this makes the app much more useful to me, as I don't have to manually enter my location in the handbox every time I power up. And if I get a gps dongle (my nook has no gps), I'l be able to set my location in the field kit wherever I go. You can download and install from here: http://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0ByZXuV0vUfw7ZTg1Y2ZhYWQtOTA3Ni00YzMyLWI5YzItYzFiMmFkYWNlZTA0&hl=en_US Hope this helps, also here's a kinda blurry screen shot of it running on my modded nook color and controlling my cge. Which btw is the only hardware I've tested so far. This _should_ work with synscans also according to the info I've read, but no guarantees. Also, be ready with the off button on your mount, just in case, I don't want anyone messing up their mount because of this. This is why I put the big red stop button in the app, it will send stop commands to both dec and ra motors. Let me know what you think. I'm also working on a Meade version, will probably have it ready this weekend. Oh, to load the app. Since it's not on the market, you'll need to download it from your android using your web browser, or copy it to an sd card. You'll have to have some sort of file manager, plenty of them available on the android market for free. You'll need to change your system settings to allow install of unknown apps. Then use the file manager to navigate to where you downloaded the app and tap on it. The application will then be installed. Do make sure, unless you're comfortable with it, to disable installing unknown apps afterwards. That would allow you to accidentally install apps you don't want, included ones with viruses. This app should ONLY use bluetooth and location perrmissions (for uploading your location to the mount). If you see any other permissions listed, do not run it. You should only get it from the google docs url I posted, it's the only place I put it. I will see about putting it on the market when it's tested enough, I'm leery about publishing it until it's at least beta tested somewhat. Let me know how this works for you. Thanks for the encouragement and clear skies, Daniel
  7. Hi folks, Posted this in another forum, just gauging interest in this project. I managed to write an android app that connects to my celestron scope via bluetooth from my android tablet. It currently just does slewing and injects location and time into the hand controller. I plan to enhance that as well as make a version that connects directly, a la eqmod. As I understand, synscans use the same command set, so I wonder if there is interest in further developing this. I also plan to make a meade version, if I get the correct command set. Right now I have a set for the lx200, not sure if it's the same as autostar. Just seeing how much interest there is, I can provide more info on this. Thanks and clear skies, Daniel
  8. Ok, following advice on here and Richie's excellent article on the GaBany method, I did a reprocess. Unfortunately I overwrote the original, so the first post now contains the reprocessed image. Sorry about that. Does it look alright though? In addition to trying not to clip the blacks and eliminate the blue cast, I also left the image a bit softer. Clear skies. Daniel
  9. minimalist

    M42

    Nice start Mark! Keep getting data on this one, you'll be surprised how much more faint stuff you can pull out. Daniel
  10. Very nicely done Martin. Well, if you're going to quit, might as well do it with a bang then, and this is a pretty good bang! Daniel
  11. Very nice Nick, haven't lost your touch! Daniel
  12. Thanks guys, very much appreciated. Kevin, you're right, I think I'll have a redo of this one. Not had a chance to work on anything else, been busy catching up with the world. Paul, the setup I use when traveling is actually fairly inexpensive. The lens I use is not cheap, however you can get one that performs as well (and maybe even better) as an astro lens for a fraction of the cost. Daniel
  13. Awesome image Richie, and thanks especially to the link explaining the different processing methods. Tbh, I never thought about maintaining saturation from the beginning, I've always done it towards the end. Now I have some more learning and experimenting to do. Daniel
  14. Not sure if anyone's interested, but went on vacation to a really dark site (near Yellowstone Park in the US), horizon to horizon Milky Way. Took a few different target pics, still processing most of them. Thought I'd post this one, taken with my field setup. Canon 70-200 f2.8 lens at f4, modded canon 1000D with astronomik luminance filter, and at iso 800. 18x10min subs. I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of the image, and the fact that I hardly had to fiddle with the colors at all. Hope you like. Daniel
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