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I proposed at Cloudynights a thread with some tricks to improve the accuracy of the Sky Watcher mini equatorial wedge that many of us use for their mini tracker.
Here is the thread : https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/700024-skywatchers-small-equatorial-wedge-improvement-solution/
Those tricks are quite straightforward and greatly improve the wedge's behaviour.
I popped this topic on CN too but noone seems to know anything.
I came by an old Celestron Ultima 8 pre-PEC. I really like the scope and the mount it may be that I have read too much of Uncle Rod's and other's praise that I feel this scope has some intangible personality and charm.
Circuitry in the base seems to work fine even though the batteries don't hold charge but drive the Ra axis . I have 2 replacement on its way to me.
Now my issue: It didn't come with a hand controller. I know it is not needed for tracking, and I don't have a Dec motor but I find it would be useful for centering in RA and D.A.R.V. method drift alignment.
I was on the verge of making a crude controller out of veroboard and 4 momentary switches that I thought to be correct from the info on various sites, but then I came across an Ultima 8 project that clearly showed the hand controller for my scope.
The pic attached is the one.
I am looking for help on how the dial and buttons are wired in and/or photos of the innards of the hand controller or if anyone knows what else is inside the handbox.
The sources I was going on so far is a combination of the following 3 links:
These of course don't include drive rate rotary switch in the middle and if I could I would really like to to restore the full ability of this mount without spending too much on electronics. Plus I don't want to spend time and effort on wiring something that doesn't work.
Oh and lastly I have no background or experience in electronics just own a soldering station and a whole lot of determination.
Thanks in advance
From my other post, you all should realize 2 things about me. 1: I can't leave well-enough alone. and 2: I like to fiddle around with things. In my last thread, I got setup with my goto telescope and managed to control it remotepy with KStars or Stellarium and even got my CCD working so I can sit inside in comfort while stargazing.....ALMOST. I still have to run in and out to turn the focus knob. So....
There is a raspberry pi running the INDI server pointing the scope and managing th CCD. I have a nice little geared motor and a HAT board that I know how to connect and control with the pi to make the motor go fast or slow, or forward and backward. I can manage the machine work to create a connection to the focus mechanism for the motor. What I need to know is if there is already a DIY-ish or configurable driver for INDI. And yes, this probably is a post for INDI forum, but for some reason I can't get a login there. So, if anyone knows or has done this, thank you in advance for any information you are able to provide.
I've finally got around to making my flats box.
I decided to go for a cylinder rather than the normal square as I thought it would maximize the amount of reflected light and limit any 'dead' areas. I could also use the Celestrons dust cap retaining pins to lock the flats box onto the 'scope.
I purchased some of the craft board that has a thin foam sheet sandwiched between two sheets of thick paper/thin card. In order to bend the card into a cylinder, I creased the board every 20 mm by pressing the edge of a steel ruler into the board. It took two of the sheets to make a cylinder big enough to fit my C9.25, with only a couple of cm trimmed off.
I then made a reinforcing ring/defuser holder from two strips of the foam board; this time creasing them at 15mm intervals. I stuck these level to the bottom edge so the joins were 90° to the main cylinder joins. These strips were cut wide enough to ensure that the diffuser cleared the secondary housing.
The cylinder was designed to lock into the C9.25s dust cap retaining pins so next I cut two keyways into the bottom outer side. They looked a little weak so I reinforced them with some Christmas chocolate reindeer plastic packaging!
Although the foamboard is quite shiny, I wasn't happy with all the grooves, so I lined the inside with white A4 paper. The Perspex sheet was cut to shape and hot glued into place onto the ledge.
Next, starting at the top, I notched the edge of the cylinder to run the LED string lights cable through and then started to spiral the LEDs around and down the cylinder.
The top cap/reflector was made from two discs of foamboard. One to go inside the cylinder and one to sit proud of the edge. They were glued together before being hot glued onto the top of the cylinder. The LED light string that I bought has an integrated on/off button as well as both up and down brightness buttons with a 3M sticky pad on the back, so I stuck this to the top cap.
As I had previously made myself a 'scope mounted power distribution box with aircraft sockets for power, I removed the 3 pin UK plug/ac-dc converter and soldered on an aircraft plug to match my 12 volt DC supply socket.
The lightbox illuminated.
[A few more photos are in the imgur album]
Made this telescope for observing sunspots. The Sun gets projected onto a piece of paper after bouncing from 3 mirrors inside the frame.
It's compact, light, takes only a few seconds to point at the Sun, and sketching sunspots is as easy as circling the spots on a piece of paper.
It can even project the Moon:
The design is inspired by a commerically available telescope, but I’ve done all the designing myself, just for the fun of it.
Sunspotter is full of little details that make it interesting. How do you fix the eyepiece in the exact place where it needs to be? How do you keep the lens in place and perfectly aligned?
Building the telescope was a lot of fun, I’ve learned to use a jigsaw, X-Carve and a 3D printer. The plan is to use it to complete the Astroleague Sunspotter Observing Program, but unfortunately I completed it at the minimum of a Sun cycle, and won’t see any sunspots until next year.
Magnification: 75x Size: 41cm x 41cm x 15cm Weight: 1kg Design: Keplerian Projection size: 75mm Materials needed:
Lens: Ø52mm f=750mm achromatic doublet Mirrors: 1, 2, 3 Eyepiece: Baader 10mm ortho 1.5m² of 10mm plywood Wooden glue 5m of PLA filament 12 nails Compressed air Isopropyl alcohol Tools I used:
Jigsaw with a 30° bevel capacity X-Carve 1000 3D printer A laser pointer Clamp Learned modelling basics in:
LibreCAD Easel TinkerCAD Fusion 360
Part 1: Choosing the lens
The idea of a sunspotter is that the light goes through the lens, travels inside the telescope, bouncing from 3 mirrors, enters an eyepiece and the image gets projected on one of its sides.
The distance the light travels before entering an eyepiece is the focal length and it determines the size of the telescope.
I chose a Ø52mm f=750mm achromatic double. Observing the Sun doesn’t require a large aperture, 50mm is more than enough. I wanted a high magnification and went for the longest focal length I could find, which was 750mm. Achromatic doublet design is what people use in refractors. If it is good enough for a refractor, it’s definitely good enough for my project.
With the focal length chosen I could design the wooden parts. A drawing showed that the frame needed to have sides 30cm long, but I wasn’t sure about the placement of the mirrors and went for 31cm sides, planning to shorten the light path as needed by adjusting mirror positions.
This is the LibreCAD drawing of the layout of parts on a piece of plywood:
Part 2: Building the base
Having a drawing of the base in LibreCAD, I printed the drawing 1:1 scale on multiple A4 sheets of paper and glued them together. I transferred the drawing to a piece of cardboard and cut it out.
Applied this cardboard template to the sheet of plywood, and cut out two parts with a jigsaw.. I’m not an experienced user of jigsaw, and couldn’t manage to cut half-circles accurately enough. Even worse was that the two parts were very different. I didn’t want the frame to randomly tilt left or right when adjusting its altitude, and had to spend a lot of time with sandpaper to make the halves as similar as I could.
Glued the two large parts with three small parts in the middle. Additionally nailed the parts and the base was ready.
Part 3: Frame
The frame is simply a triangle made of three pieces, with short sides cut at a 30° angle. Most jigsaws can cut at 45°, but not at 30°. Had to buy a new jigsaw with a 30° bevel capacity.
Cut out three sides, cut short sides at a 30° angle, but didn’t put them together just yet.
The lens needs to be perfectly aligned with the Sun-facing part of the frame, otherwise the Sun projection isn't circular but elongated.
My solution was to carve a hole with a little step as shown on the image.
The inner hole is Ø46.5mm, the outer hole is Ø50.8mm.
The outer hole is the exact size to let the lens fit, but with a little bit of friction. Had to carve several holes to find the minimal size the lens could fit in.
The step is just large enough to have enough surface for the glue to keep the lens in place, I didn't want to reduce the aperture too much.
I used an X-Carve for carving and Easel for modelling.
With all 3 sides ready, I could assemble the frame. It appeared that my 30° angle cuts were not very precise, but after some sandpapering the sides started fitting together alright. Glued the parts together and left them to dry for a day. To apply some pressure on the joints, I wound several twine loops around the frame really tight, made sure all sides fitted well together and left it to dry like that for a day.
Part 4: Mirrors
When selecting mirrors I was looking for the smallest mirror that fit the cone of light. Small mirrors are a lot easier to place, and they let me better control the length of the light path. I considered using elliptic mirrors, but they were bulky and really hard to place. All mirrors are first surface mirrors, otherwise planning their locations would be a lot more confusing.
This was my original plan of placing the mirrors:
As you can see, all the angles and distances were carefully measured, and I wanted to simply make mirror holders of those exact dimensions. This was clearly a bad idea.
I 3d-printed some parts like this:
And only later I realized that the frame angles are not exactly 60°, and that there are drops of glue along the edges that don’t let me fit the pieces deep enough in the joint between the sides.
I cut angles from all the mirror holders:
After I put the first mirror in place I realized the angles are all wrong, and that I needed to re-do the holder. Separating the mirror from the holder was a huge pain, which resulted in an accident. The mirror fell off the desk and got damaged.
Luckily, only the back side got damaged, the front side was still working:
The final designs of mirror holders looks like this:
The holes in the front surface let me apply pressure on the back of the mirror if I ever want to separate it from the holder. The recesses collect the excess glue to avoid mirror skewing when gluing them.
All other holes are simply to save the filament.
Part 5: Placing mirrors
What I learned is that you can’t plan positions of several pieces with high precision and just hope that it all comes together. I needed a feedback about the precision of mirror positions.
I used a laser pointer to verify mirror positions at each step.
In the picture you can see that the laser is firmly set in a hole in another piece of wood, with layers of isolation tape on the tip of the laser pointer to make it stable. A clamp holds the piece of wood in place, ensuring that the laser ray goes in the same direction as a solar ray would. A crosshair of black thread at the center of the lens ensures the laser goes exactly through the center of the lens.
When placing each mirror, I marked the spot where I expected the laser to end up. While gluing the mirror holder to the frame, I kept the laser as close to that spot as possible. If for some reason, the laser couldn’t hit the expected spot, I did my best with placing the mirror, and recalculated locations of the following mirrors.
I saw the first sunspots after placing all the mirrors and simply holding an eyepiece in hand.
Part 6: Eyepiece holder
I tried eyepieces of different focal length and liked the picture I got with a 10mm eyepiece the most.
An eyepiece needs to be in a very exact spot to produce a sharp image. At this point it was obvious that my frame doesn’t match the model, and that I didn’t even know what exactly was wrong with the frame. I didn’t want to rely on the model and moved forward with trial-and-error.
I printed several parts to hold the eyepiece, with different eyepiece locations:
The part in the photo was a total disaster. It needed quite a lot of filament, at the same didn’t have enough surface area to be glued to the frame, and not enough surface area to hold the eyepiece firmly.
The next iteration was a lot better:
This part has a lot more surface area, and needs less filament to be printed. I intentionally printed the hole for the eyepiece too small, and had to sandpaper it a little bit, to make the eyepiece stay firmly fixed.
Adjusting the focus is done by sliding the eyepiece up and down until the Sun becomes a circle with well defined borders.
Part 7: Dust
All optical parts should be kept clean. Dust on the mirrors and the lens will make the image darker. Dust on the eyepiece will show up as artifacts on the projected image. Unlike sunspots, the artifacts will not move with the Sun. To clean the eyepiece I used compressed air. To clean the mirrors I used isopropyl alcohol.
Part 8: Fire safety
Don’t leave devices with magnifying lenses lying around. Once the Sun happened to be in such a spot that its light went right through the lens, burning through the cap of the eyepiece. Luckily, nobody was hurt and no other damage was done.
Part 9: Future work
Build quality of the base is very poor. The frame tilts sideways when adjusting its altitude despite all my efforts. I’d like to build a new base, but leave all the work to the machines. I already have a model for an X-Carve to make both base parts, compatible with my current frame:
A notch along the edge of the half-circle should eliminate the tilt. The precision of the machining should make the base very stable. Maybe next year, when sunspots become a common daily sight, I’ll get to this project.
Thank you for reading this far!
I hope you enjoyed it.