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theropod

Hi Everyone

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Hey all,

Last summer I figured out how to capture images of meteors during the Perseid shower using my iPhone 6+ and the app NightCap Pro. Since then I have managed to grab over 200 of these speed freaks. I built a barn door tracker and learned how to drive it with an Arduino, Easy Driver and a salvaged bipolar stepper motor from a dead Epson printer. After numerous adjustments of the code to get the speed just so I can get 5 minute shots with little to no trailing in the wide field work I am doing. The tracker can run for about 5 hours before it needs to be rewound to the starting point. The variable interval setting in NightCap Pro is perfect for the kind of images I am after. Attached is one of those Perseids that started this whole affair well beffore my barn door tracker came to be.

Of course this was enough to cause an addiction, and I bought a little Celestron C90 mak. I love the scope, even though it isn't an earth based Hubble. The erector prism is a joke as is the tripod and finder scope, but the main scope is a fine little machine. So far I have managed a few fair shots of Jupiter and Saturn, but my barn door tracker is not sturdy enough to carry the scope.

In an attempt to overcome this I bought the iOptron Skytracker Pro and matching ball head. Let me just say I am far from impressed. This tracker is mounted on a 1/4" plate of aluminum which is in turn mounted to a water filled 55 gallon drum that serves as a large pier. My barn door tracker is also mounted to this plastic drum, and the barrel sits on a thick bed of crushed limestone. I also drove steel T posts into the ground nearly level with the barrel top, and then clamped all this together with a 1 ton ratchet strap. No matter how hard I crank down the setting knobs on the ball head the scope droops slowly to plumb. When I just mount my iPhone to the ball head this issue doesn't arise, and I have made 25 minute exposures with nice crisp stars. The scope is supposed to be well within the capacity of the tracker and ball head, but apparently is not.

So, my next purchase, after months of research, is going to be the Celestron Advanced VX mount, and I may give the iOptron gear to a deserving kid. I don't care about serious deep field work, but the C90 can easily resolve more faint objects than I thought it would. Resolving the major moons of Jupiter is a trvial endeavor. The narrow field of view doesn't bother me at all. Perhaps I will buy a larger scope in a year or so and use the C90 as a guider.

Some personal info:

I am a retired 63 year old man and live off the grid in north central Arkansas Ozark mountains on 60 acres with my wife of 24 years. In a former life I was the executive director of a small natural history musem that focused on the terrestrial fuana of the very latest Cretaceous of the Hell Creek formation in South Dakota (when non-avian dinosaurs became extinct). Currently I am attempting to recover from a broken fibula that happened the second monday of March, but had a CAT scan last Friday in preparation for reconstruction surgery later this week. The breaks, yes multiple fractures, have failed to reunite as they should. This, of course, will mean a restart of the mending and effectively put my sky watching in a bind for another 6-8 weeks. Even if I am back on crutches I will be ready for the Perseid shower, and will probably visit with my son in Oregon to watch the total solar eclipse in August.

So, here I am and eager to absorb the collective knowledge I have already seen is a commonality on your fine forum. Thanks for having me. Perhaps I can even contribute a few tidbits from time to time.

Roger

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Well hello Roger and welcome to SGL -it's great to have you aboard!

We love questions and finding their answers here, so always feel free to ask or answer any that go by you like a meteor!

Starry Skies -

Dave

 

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Welcome. Hope you heal quickly and get back to enjoying the hobby. ??

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Hello Roger and welcome to the community, a great intro, looking forward to

more posts from you, see you around the forums.

Clear Sky's.

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Hello Roger and welcome from me too, located on the west coast of Norway. :smiley:

 

Rune

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Hi Roger, welcome. Looks like we'll be getting advice off you. There's some clever stuff going on there. 

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One of my personal problems is a desire to DIY anything and everything. Sometimes my efforts are rewarded, and sometimes not so much. My older brother died a few years ago, and left his entire estate to me. Among his things was a broken set of binoculars. The left side would never focus. So, I took one of the 2.5" objective lenses, some PVC plumbing parts, the aluminum base from a dead full size hard drive and the 12.5 mm eyepiece that came with my little Celestron C90 and made a little refractor. This combo is surprising in a number of ways. It isn't all that powerful, but it is crystal clear. Last night I was able to see the Lagoon Nebula while my phone was looking for meteors. Here's a picture of what I came up with. I will paint it flat black inside and out when I get around to it. The focus is achieved by sliding the eyepiece in and out in the fittings which is snug enough to hold this very well. The zip ties will eventually be replaced with U bolts.

Oh, thanks for the warm welcome y'all. I think I have found a nice bunch of folks!

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Edited by theropod
To add thanks.

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Hi Roger and welcome aboard. :smile:

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Hello and welcome to SGL... that's a great innovation with the motor from the Epson printer...

Hopefully you will recover quickly to enjoy the dark skies.

 

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Welcome

Loving your DIY projects. I'm a fan of barn door trackers and my one currently is manual but have all the bits to fit, Arduino, Easydriver, and stepper motor though no idea when that will happen.

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