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adder001

Polar Illuminator for Skywatcher Star Adventurer Improvemet

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As the title says I have made a DIY version of the polar scope illuminator for my Skywatcher star adventurer. I have only had it for about 3 weeks and I must say it is fantastic, well made feels solid and is easy to use. However the illuminator is really bad. I can not believe that they made something so good like the star adventurer where you can see that a lot of thought has gone in to designing it for ease of use and functionality but the illuminator appears to be an afterthought.

 

The issues that I had are:-

1. You cant switch it off ! (You can only dim it right down or unscrew the cap so that the battery doesnt contact and then store it upside down)

2. If you use the attachment so that it can be used with the L bracket, the thing is unstable and keeps falling off.

3. hard to adjust when you are crouching down and looking through the polar scope, I just kept knocking it off when trying to turn the brightness dial.

 

So I decided that I would make my own. Anything would be better than the one it came with to be quite honest which is a pity because the star adventurer itself is brilliant and well made.

I bought small project box (£1.05 from CPC) and the rest of the bits I already had but all you need is a 1k resistor, 10k variable resistor(Linear), an LED, a switch and a battery(I used a 3v cr2302 but any 3v approx setup would do, eg 2 x AAA batteries) so the total cost would be probably less than a fiver if you had to get everything. I had to make quite a big hole in the box which I initially drilled then made bigger with a knife, thats why it looks a bit scruffy but I'm not too bothered about that so long as it works. Then I attached the whole unit to the L Bracket with Velcro where it will stay but If I need to remove it I will just peel it off.

I have attached some pictures and the circuit diagram in case anybody else would like to do something similar. Now I can just leave it in place and switch it on/off as required and I dont keep knocking it off.

Hope this is of some help to someone who may be in a similar situation

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Great work, adder001! Hope you are able to get many hours of great observing using your new illuminator.

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I'm glad I'm not the only one who felt it was a bit poorly thought out. It does just fall off the L bracket! Good job there. 

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Thanks for your idea, I like the use of velcro. I will have a trial just using velcro on the bracket and velcro on the adapter. I find the illuminator stays on the adapter it's the adapter that falls off the bracket :-)

Cheers,
Steve

P.S. It works! Placing a short length of sticky velcro on either side of the bracket slot and the same on the adaptor and using the opposite type of sticky velcro to secure the bracket and adaptor together. Even holding the bracket upside down the light stays firmly in place :-)

Edited by SteveNickolls
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Hi Steve,

6 hours ago, SteveNickolls said:

I will have a trial just using velcro on the bracket and velcro on the adapter

I thought about that or something similar where I still use the adapter but it was the not being able to switch it off bothered me and because I cant use it as often as I would like I bet the battery would be dead when I came to use it.

glad it works though:)

 

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I've just got a big dob of blue tack on mine, leave it on all night while imaging so I can check the PA occasionally, battery lasts for ages anyway.

Dave

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I cant understand why anyone is crouching down looking through any polarscope, there have been lots of threads mentioning the use of a camera right angled viewfinder :icon_biggrin: its such a simple solution.

Alan

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15 hours ago, Alien 13 said:

I cant understand why anyone is crouching down looking through any polarscope, there have been lots of threads mentioning the use of a camera right angled viewfinder :icon_biggrin: its such a simple solution.

Alan

Yep. Thats my next project ?

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Great DIY illuminator. What I do not understand:how does this (or the original) work optically ? It looks as if the red LED is simply shining into the scope. For my illuminated finder on my telescope, I have a LD which shines from the SIDE to the etched glass with the crosslines. But this design is just shing fro opposite direction,I would think one would only see red light and no polaris anymore.

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I had my led fitted to the side with a reflective strip around the circumference but oddly enough a bight light actually helps to find Polaris as when doing polar alignment during twilight hours, its very hard almost impossible to pick it out when its totally dark.

Alan

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Yes you are correct in that if it is too bright then indeed all you see is a bright red light. But once it is dimmed then there is just enough red light to light the markings but not enough to obscure the stars(some do still get drowned out even by that small ammountnof light) but polaris and other bright-ish stars are visible through it. Another thing that I found  is that if you have the red lightnon the side then you get an uneven illumination and it ia a little harder to get the balance between lighting the markings and seeing the stars through it

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All, 

Came up with an alternative method, but requires you taking the illuminator apart (not difficult - screws are under Max-Min label) and have some fine soldering skills.  In the first pic, assembly on the left is fully illuminated with stock illuminator, the unit on the right is after the mod (sorry color balance is off).. Dimmer works fine and light will go "off" when turned to Min position.  The second image is the modification. Note the wire (actually an old LED leg) running alongside  the upper side of the LED. It is soldered to the positive (+) connector of the LED on the circuit board and hooked over the top of the circuit board. This makes better contact with the casing (which carries positive (+) ).  It doesn't fix any issues with falling off (but someone above said they got a velcro assembly to work with the stock light).  This is a "do at your own risk" project and I very strongly suggest you not attempt it if you're not comfortable soldering in very tight small areas. I can only attest that it worked very well for me. YMMV...  I'm also sure it would also void any warranty you may have on the light..   There may be other variants of bringing more power from the positive (+) casing to the LED that others may come up with.  Clear Skies

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Edited by JayS_CT

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On 24/04/2019 at 00:31, JayS_CT said:

All, 

Came up with an alternative method, but requires you taking the illuminator apart (not difficult - screws are under Max-Min label) and have some fine soldering skills.  In the first pic, assembly on the left is fully illuminated with stock illuminator, the unit on the right is after the mod (sorry color balance is off).. Dimmer works fine and light will go "off" when turned to Min position.  The second image is the modification. Note the wire (actually an old LED leg) running alongside  the upper side of the LED. It is soldered to the positive (+) connector of the LED on the circuit board and hooked over the top of the circuit board. This makes better contact with the casing (which carries positive (+) ).  It doesn't fix any issues with falling off (but someone above said they got a velcro assembly to work with the stock light).  This is a "do at your own risk" project and I very strongly suggest you not attempt it if you're not comfortable soldering in very tight small areas. I can only attest that it worked very well for me. YMMV...  I'm also sure it would also void any warranty you may have on the light..   There may be other variants of bringing more power from the positive (+) casing to the LED that others may come up with.  Clear Skies

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Hi there,

Just wanted to say that i did the above and it definitely makes the red light brighter, so thankyou!  Yet to try it in the field, but Im looking forward to it now.  So not knowing much about electronics, by doing the above have we also bypassed that black box (resistor? capacitor?) marked B200/8200?  And so what in layman's terms have we done?  Thanks again.

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Hi, I'm new here and I want to do the same mod where the wire start? And terminate?

Thanks a lot

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Davide Lomonaco said:

Hi, I'm new here and I want to do the same mod where the wire start? And terminate?

Thanks a lot

 

 

Davide,

First. This is very precise soldering and wiring.  If you don't have experience with doing circuit board wiring, or have the right equipment, you may want to see if there's a friend who can do it for and with you.  Also, doing this will void any warranty from SkyWatcher.  OK that said.  See my images above your pictures..  Start by pointing the LED itself the same direction it is pointed in mine. Pay attention to the R0 and R1 notations on the board. You have to attach (solder) a very small (preferably solid core) thin wire as I describe in the instructions.  I tried to make the instructions very very precise. In theory, it would likely work soldering a wire to the back as well.. just make sure it's the same connection spot on the front.

Jay S.

 

Edited by JayS_CT

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On 30/03/2020 at 01:51, EmuHead said:

Hi there,

Just wanted to say that i did the above and it definitely makes the red light brighter, so thankyou!  Yet to try it in the field, but Im looking forward to it now.  So not knowing much about electronics, by doing the above have we also bypassed that black box (resistor? capacitor?) marked B200/8200?  And so what in layman's terms have we done?  Thanks again.

EmuHead,

Sorry for the delay.. Don't think it's a bypass but adding a better grounding (which I felt was lacking) back to the battery attachment to the case.. Seems to work!  Glad you were able to make the connection!

Jay S.

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Posted (edited)

Appreciate this is an old post but just got into astrophotography and just found this thread.

I did PM you JayS_CT 

Looking at your pictures and looking inside my illuminator, I think you have put a much bigger (brighter) LED in there.

What is it please?

 

IMG_8066.jpg

Edited by cheddar-man

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17 hours ago, cheddar-man said:

Appreciate this is an old post but just got into astrophotography and just found this thread.

I did PM you JayS_CT 

Looking at your pictures and looking inside my illuminator, I think you have put a much bigger (brighter) LED in there.

What is it please?

 

 

No LED change.. Just added the bridge wire..  Perhaps there was an LED change in newer versions??  Have you tried the bridge wire to see if it will work?  You don't need to solder it to test first..

Jay S.

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Thanks JayS_CT for coming back to me. Your wire does bypass on the the ballast resistors therefore putting more voltage to the LED but as it's only fed by a 3v battery should survive!

I went a slightly different way, putting the wire from the LED +ve to the casing on the reverse side off the PCB, easier to get access, and I soldered it to the earth strip that runs round the outer edge of the PCB.

 

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