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Everything posted by Astro-Geek

  1. Thanks for the responses and sorry for the delay in replying to everyone, I've not looked in here for a while. Yes Alan, Martin was correct, it is the skwatcher pillar, but with a couple of mods. I cut a circular hole just below the top so that O could change mounts without undoing the allen bolts around the perimeter to gain access. The simple moveability solves the apex blindspot of the Pod, and I can easily realign with the polefinder camera. I've had no problems with humidity under the laminate because my Pod is on wooden decking a couple of feet above the ground, so temperatures are equalised underneath. Good point about eyepiece dropping Earl ! Since taking the photos I've lined the tops of the pillars leg arms with foam pipe insulation and the laminate has just enough spring in it to hold the pillar firm without being as hard as ceramic tiles. No disasters yet, but I think there's a good chance that they would survive. I can't use carpet or felt becuase the pillar wouldn't the "glide" so easily. Quite right Swoop1, I only purchased the observatory to keep the house nice and tidy. (Good one, I'll have to remember that ).
  2. Thanks for the further replies, I'll check them all out.
  3. Thanks for the reply Craig. The river is fairly close, about half a mile away, but it's a fairly narrow waterway and 20 miles from the Sea. I did wonder whether the repeated fogging might be detrimental to the coating. I'd also considered silica gel dessicant, but even though it's a retracted flextube, it's still the same volume as a small dustbin. The Pod is cleverly designed to combat condensation by means of ample ventilation, with a 1 inch airgap all round the dome edge that still safely sheds rainwater. It is possible to seal it with removeable foam "backer" strip, but the combination of having to remove and refit it each observing session and keep a dehumidifer going 24/7 is something I'd prefer to avoid. My other scopes are fine in the same Pod's environment, with no misting problems. I have the 8 inch Dob and a 180 Mak, which is fitted with a silica dessicant dummy eyepiece which keeps the inside mirrors nice and dry. I'm still thinking that the 12 inch Dob's hefty 2 inch thick chunk of glass is a condensation magnet in anything other than a stable temperature.
  4. I have Skywatcher flextube 300mm Newtonian that I'm thinking needs resilvering. When I bought it secondhand a couple of years ago, the primary was quite "dusty and misty". I carefully cleaned it using methods I'd read on here, in a bowl of water with a few drops of washing up liquid, and carefully pulling cotton wool balls across it under the surface of the water, then rinsing with distilled water. I was very pleased with the result, it looked like new. I placed a new centre marker and it performed very well. I've had a bit of break in observing this year, and the scope sat in my skyshed pod, with the covers on, protected from the elements and dust. Despite that, when I went to use it a couple of weeks ago, it was completely fogged, due I guess to the Autumn UK extremes of day/night temperature on such a large and thick piece of glass. One dry and sunny day I brought it into the conservatory and left the covers off for a few hours and it cleared quite well, with just a bit of dust remaining. When I check it each day since though, it seems quite misty again. Now, finally, my question, Is the prevalence of the mist a sign that the coating is thin and needs resilvering ? My more portable 8 inch Skywatcher DOB standing next to it hardly ever mists over when closed up, but I realise the mass of the glass in that mirror is much less. If I do need to have the 12 inch resilvered, can anyone recommend a resilvering service in Norfolk UK ? The thought of posting it frightens me somewhat, so I'd much rather take it and collect it in person.
  5. Sorry everyone.... It must be me, I'm the Jonah. In the past two years my interest in Astonomy was revived dramatically after a thirty year break, and I set up a permanent Pod observatory and all the toys that go with it. (SWMBO's definition of my purchases.) I can't help it, the range of fairly affordable equipment is fantastic now, compared to back in the 70's.... I must admit I was surprised at the comparitive rarity of "good seeing conditions", or even just clear 'ish skies. However, there's no danger of me giving up, because I'm fortunate to have retired to a very rural Bortle 4 location, so when it's good, it's really good. As others have alluded on this thread, the secret is to have other interests, and luckilly none are dependent on clear night skies ! Although a permanent garden observatory is a considerable indulgence financially and space-wise, (no pun intended), it actually compensates greatly for the sporadic nature of good seeing conditions. It sits quietly out there, scopes mounted and at ambient temperatures, computer all plugged together, mount polar aligned, all set and ready to go within 5 minutes. Even just an hour's break in the skies is conveniently do-able with just 5 minutes to set up and 5 minutes to clear down. The prospect of setting up all that gear out in the open would be very daunting.
  6. Absolutely no need for apologies Steve. They were very small bags, (as the dessicant cap easily holds three of them), so I should have done it in 30 second bursts max. As I say my microwave is a really cheapo Tesco one, £29.99 about 10 years ago ! Its simple method of defrosting seems to alternate full power with intervals of fan only.
  7. Thanks for the very prompt and helpful replies. I tried three of them in my microwave on the defrost setting, but even though I tried for just two minutes initially that was to fast unfortunately. To be honest my microwave is a very cheap affair, with no variable power settings for defrost, so my fault. The three bags got very hot and two burst open, though the cystals had become a nice bright yellow. On reflection I think I should have tried just 30 seconds at a time, with intervals to cool down. No worries though, I still have spares from the original kit, and I'll know for next time. Thanks again for the replies.
  8. Sorry to resurrect such an old thread, but I have the Flo Dessicant cap and wondered about other ways of drying the crystals out for re-use. The instructions only mention placing the packs on a radiator, but that's tricky in the Summer (even British Summers ! ) I was wondering if they could be dried in a microwave as well ? I searched on line and that seems ok for the crystals that go from blue to pink, but I couldn't find any reference to these ones that go from yellow to dark green. Also, the three "tea bags" that fit in my cap may be too little in the microwave, so I was thinking about just popping them in when I brew a coffee in there (three minutes). Commenting on the cap itself, I've had it for several months now and I think it's an excellent design. Dual fit 1.25 and 2 inch, and with holes just at the bottom, so you can stand it on a shelf while observing and so it keeps the crystals sealed while the scope's in use. The two outer diameters fit all of my scopes and adapters perfectly. I'd originally intended being a cheapskate and modifying a suitably sized plastic container, but this precision made item was well worth the expense. It lives in my Maksutov 180 and keeps it nice and dry in my Pod.
  9. Well I didn't slink quietly away, it turned out to be quite successful, ( the mark two version anyhow ) My generic unbranded cheapo manual filter wheel was ideal for the conversion because it had just enough area around the front T mount opening to accomodate the larger EOS lens mount ring donated from an extension tube. I cut the hole very carefully and incorporated the original spring loaded latch. In order to get it thin enough to give me enough backfocus with my Altair 1600M (17.5mm), leaving just 26.5mm max from the EOS's 44mm BF), I had to mill the centre framework thinner by 3mm (it was just plastic so that was fairly easy). My original mark one version rigidly mounted the filter wheel on a short vixen bar, which then supported the camera and lens, but that was not practical, as it was awkward to rotate it to align the camera's chip square to the subject. The mark two version was to use a couple of spare 100mm scope rings lined with cork to hold the camera instead, leaving it free to rotate. I now have the ability to use any of my photo lenses and still have a backfocus safety margin of a couple of mm. The beauty of using an EOS lens flange is the multitude of cheap adapters available for it (Nikon, Pentax, Olympus etc.) The final photo shows my Olympus Zuiko 135mm lens mounted on the Altair. Thanks for the original thread Guy, it spurred me on to do the same.....
  10. Been there, done that, got the T Shirt.... I'll be cutting the hole in the filter wheel faceplate very carefully with my metal scrollsaw, (very slowllllly). It's fortunate that the Eos lens plates are readilly and cheaply available, that precision would be way beyond me......
  11. Thanks for confirming it Guy. I'd scoured the Internet and hadn't found any other than that expensive TS drawer system. I've marked out my cheapo wheel and will start cutting the hole this afternoon.... I'll post the result on here, (if successful), and if not, I'll slink quietly away....
  12. I found this thread in an online search, where Guy has modified a manual filter wheel in a way that I'd been thinking about. The problem it overcomes is to be able to attach Canon Eos lenses to Mono T2 astro cameras with a backfocus of 17.5mm. The Eos camera mounting has a standard backfocus of 44mm, from the front plate, (and therefore the back flange of Eos lenses) to the CCD sensor. So 44mm minus 17.5mm gives 26.5mm maximum thickness for the wheel and EOS adapter. I already have the Geoptik T2 to Eos adapter, but that is already 19mm thick, and I haven't found any filter holders (wheels or drawers) as thin as 7.5mm. The Geoptik does have the facility to hold 1.25" filters within it's body, but then the lens would need to be removed between LRGB changes. TS do a very neat T2 to Eos adapter that incorporates a magnetic drawer that is just the right thickness, but it's over £200 delivered to the UK with 4 drawers, (that's the unit kit plus two extra drawers). ...and the Artesky Italian ones are even more expensive. I couldn't find any (thin) Eos adapters with filter holders on the FLO website. ...so, back to Guy's idea, I'm thinking of modifying my old redundant manual filter wheel with the Eos lens flange from an old Eos film camera, (dirt cheap now, secondhand...) The wheel and Eos flange are just the right thickness, (as Guy also found), and is not only considerably cheaper than the TS drawer, but more convenient, I guess... Before getting the Black & Decker out, I thought I'd just ask on here to see if anyone else had found other solutions to EOS lens adaptations with filter wheels or drawers...
  13. I've been tinkering with virtual box on Windows for several weeks now. I've found the VB software itself to be stable, but I haven't had any success with some of the particular programs that I've tried to run within it. If you're hoping to use Virtual Box to run non-windows Astro programs on a PC, that may be the drawback, rather than VB being stable or not. I'd created an Android virtual machine within it, to be able to run Skywatcher's SynscanPro app, to control my scope via the Synscan wifi dongle. It probably sounds ludicrous, because Skywatcher also supply a Windows version of the app, which works perfectly on my PC. The reason I need to run the Android version of the App on my PC is because if you want to run SkySafari Pro to control your scope's wifi, you have to have the SynscanPro app running in conjunction with it, (and SkySafari Pro isn't available as a Windows program). The frustrating thing is that although the Android version of SkySafariPro runs beautifully within an Android machine in Virtual Box, when I try to tun SynscanPro, it flashes up, but then drops out immediately, with no error message. So I'm thinking that Virtual Box may be able to emulate other OS environments, but some programs are able to spot that they're running on the wrong hardware and refuse to play.... ( I've also tried running standalone Android emulators too, like Bluestacks, which run SkySafari and other Android Astro programs really well in windows, but frustratingly, none of those are able to run the Android SynscanPro app either.)
  14. Thanks for the reply, it was an interesting thread, but unfortunately my problem isn't emulation of the App without a telescope attached, but running the App itself from within an Android emulator. My problem is that it won't even start up. It was interesting to see user's various comments about how shortcomings when the adapter first came out, these appear to have all now been overcome with the "pro" version of the app (still free), which does connect to SkySafari and is so much easier to use than the handset.
  15. There are two types of the SynScanPro app, one that runs on a PC, and one that runs on Android. They both work really well on my NUC PC and my Android Tablet. However, I can't get the Android version to run in my PC's Android Emulator though, (I've tried Bluestacks and Memu). ..."Why I would you want to ?".... I hear you say, , when I can just run the PC version on the PC anyway... The reason is that I need to run it in conjunction with the Android version of SkySafari Pro so that it can control my scope. The frustrating thing is that SkySafari Pro runs really well in the Andoid emulator on the PC, no lag, nice display, it's just that it can't connect to the Synscan Wifi adapter without the Android SynscanPro app running underneath it. I guess the Bluestacks emulator is some sort of restrictive "box", though it does connect through wifi to the Internet with no problems, downloading apps through Playstore etc.. I guess it's unlikely anyone else has tried to run the Android SynscanPro app in an emulator, but if anyone is has any ideas why some Android apps might not run in an emulator, I'd be grateful of any pointers....
  16. ...hang on, it must be me. I just tried VSP3 via another of my PCs and it connects ok with that one. Time to get the spanners out on my Obsy's NUC.....
  17. ...well, it's something to struggle with during all these clouded in nights.... I'm trying (and failing) to use my Skyfi III to control my Nextstar wirelessly from my PC. I know all the hardware is fine because I can control it wirelessly from my Android tablet, running SkySafari Pro, with the Skyfi connected to the Celestron hand controller via a USB lead. When I connect the handset's USB lead directly to my PC's USB ports, I can also control it fine, through any of my Ascom enabled apps, (eg Stellarium). ...However, when I want to connect the PC wirelessly via the SkyFi, I have to enable a "virtual serial port" to be able to give the Ascom device selector a valid com port. ..and that's the bit I haven't managed. I was following the instructions here: synscan wifi adapter and skysafari — Star Surfing ...but whenever I set up the com port pointing at my Skyfi's IP address, it doesn't appear in my PCs list of valid Com ports, so I can't choose it in the Ascom driver. Whenever i click the create Com port button in VSP3 it says " status - not connected " ...helpppp...
  18. What amazes me the most is that even the most modern and expensive digital cameras in the world still invariably have a 20 x 1/4 UNF tripod bush, as does almost every camera tripod ! We Astronomers then suffer with the hotch potch of tapped threads found on dovetail bars and scope rings.......
  19. The OTA lifts out of a large slot in the Alt axis drive pivot, leaving the electrics fully in situ and still operational. The 2 foot long connecting lead has an RJ45 8 way connector at each end, linking the Alt plastic housing on the side with the AZ plastic housing in the base. It then never needs to be unplugged at all from the 300p size and downwards, because the MDF base remains in one piece, even when the OTA is lifted off. Even on the 350 and larger sizes, where the MDF base can be further dismantled for manouvering through doorways, (It's a monster !), it only needs to be unplugged from the AZ end. The strange thing is that Skywatcher do use a completely different socket for exactly the same purpose on their EQ5 Synscan mounts for connecting the Dec axis cover to the RA axis cover. On those it's a 7 pin circular DIN socket, a plug that is much more rarely seen on telescopes, so much less chance of confusion.
  20. I've bought quite a few items from FLO over the past few weeks, (as several separate orders), and everything has arrived really quickly, all within 48 hours at least. Excellent service....
  21. Damn... just like my slide ruler days, I keep putting the decimal point in the wrong place.....
  22. The crucial factor of speed (and therefore flight duration), appears to be the biggest limiter to our Earthbound mindset. Life support, food, air, water, radiation exposure, could all be accomodated if we could go fast enough. With even Proxima Centauri being 4,200 light years away, it seems insurmountable. Since space is a vacuum though, "warp" speed is just a matter of acceleration and deceleration, rather than maintaining thrust, as in our atmosphere's drag. The Moon's 240,000 miles took 3 days, because we could only use the slingshot effect of the orbits. If/when we can devise a way of accelerating and decelerating in a vaccuum, we'll have cracked interstellar travel, with no "warp" speed limit, unless there's a "light speed barrier" !
  23. I recently "blew up" the motor board on my Skywatcher 300p flextube goto Dob by plugging an EQMod adapter into the wrong socket on there. Thanks to extensive friendly help from members of this forum, it has now been repaired, saving a great deal of money and a delay of several months for the parts to arrive from China. In my defence, it's such an easy mistake to make that I wouldn't be surprised if other owners have made the same costly mistake. The problem is that the main connection point, on the Alt axis plastic cover, has three connecting sockets. A coax power, an RJ12 6 way for the Synscan handset, and an RJ45 8 way which is exclusively for the short linking cable that runs down to the AZ axis motor in the base. This RJ45 socket is directly connected inside to the very sensitive PIC chip that contains the firmware, so almost anything else plugged into that socket in error will immediately destroy the PIC. It's unfortunate that Skywatcher chose an RJ45 socket for such a sensitive connection because it is so common with other third party astro add-ons. Even though it is clearly labelled, it's so easy to plug something else in, even in daylight, let alone in the dark. In fact even most Synscan handsets usually have RJ45 plugs, whereas the Synscan handset for these goto Dobs has a special RJ12 plug, which goes into the socket right next to this RJ45. I'm getting more forgetfull in my old age , and I want to make sure that I never make the same mistake again, (or anyone else using my scope), so I've added a small clamp to hold the plug into the socket semi-permanently, as it never really needs to be removed. (In fact it would have been far safer for Skywatcher to have fitted it as a permanent flying lead from the Alt motor cover.)
  24. I've got quite a few extras on the top end of my 300p flextube goto, so needed slightly heavier counterweights. I've never found economic bespoke telescope weights, but have just managed to do the job very neatly with a couple of buys from Amazon. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Neewer-Aluminum-Removable-Balancing-Stabilizer/dp/B01JCJLUJE/ref=sxts_sxwds-bia-wc-p13n1_0?cv_ct_cx=Neewer+Aluminum+Alloy&dchild=1&keywords=Neewer+Aluminum+Alloy&pd_rd_i=B01JCJLUJE&pd_rd_r=43056ae7-0535-4e86-b1a2-2e1948aaa662&pd_rd_w=MEPcj&pd_rd_wg=MlQGa&pf_rd_p=e3a968a9-db34-4cb6-962f-ddcde7323cf7&pf_rd_r=1STYWN0RXG1T1P2RSHQ5&psc=1&qid=1591642983&sr=1-1-91e9aa57-911e-4628-99b3-09163b7d9294 and (two) https://www.amazon.co.uk/Magnet-Expert®-thread-Rubber-Coated/dp/B0058DBAV2/ref=sxts_sxwds-bia-wc-p13n1_0?cv_ct_cx=Magnet+Expert+79+x+53+x&dchild=1&keywords=Magnet+Expert+79+x+53+x&pd_rd_i=B0058DBAV2&pd_rd_r=78d7903b-b9b0-40e9-ac82-7b27e12401e6&pd_rd_w=TgvBF&pd_rd_wg=Optx0&pf_rd_p=e3a968a9-db34-4cb6-962f-ddcde7323cf7&pf_rd_r=QS4XK6YC6QEJ6P4V35S2&psc=1&qid=1591643032&quartzVehicle=88-1160&replacementKeywords=magnet+79+x+53+x&sr=1-1-91e9aa57-911e-4628-99b3-09163b7d9294 Total cost, £30, giving me two 1 kilo magnetic weights with strong non-scratch rubber covered magnets. The only slight glitch is that the magnetic pads have M6 metric male threads, and the weights have photographic 1/4 x 20 UNF photo female threads. They do screw on firmly (binding), but for neatness I use an M6 tap on the weights, so that they screw right on. (Only works on steel tube OTAs though !! )
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