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I recently bought a 2nd hand Lunt 50PT Ha (on a different platform). The vendor said he had only used it a handful of times since buying it and it shipped in the original box. It seems fine, focuses well (although I find the helical focuser a bit of a pain compared to crayfords). But it doesn't show any Ha features on the surface of the Sun!
Long story short, I completely opened up the pressure tuner and found a bizarre thing. Its well greased, there's no detritus (and it doesn't lose pressure). But there was only one O-ring in it?! The tuner itself has grooves for two o-rings and the video on Lunt's website (on how to replace o-rings) shows a tuner with two o-rings when it comes out. And they ship replacements in batches of two.
So I'm guessing that somehow the original scope shipped with only one o-ring fitted? (It wouldn't make sense for the vendor to have removed one?).
I'm hoping that's what it is, b/c then the inability to resolve Ha features may just be insufficient pressure building up? In which case, does anyone know where I can get these replacement o-rings please (Lunt's US website has them but that's only for shipping to the US)?
If it's not that, and the scope is only meant to have one o-ring, any ideas on the problem? The ring & tuner seem well greased.
(EDIT: in the meantime, the next time the sun comes out, I'm going to try moving the current o-ring from the higher groove to the lower groove in case that longer distance from the base is why the pressure isn't building up sufficiently?)
We have a fledgling Astronomical Society at my place of work and we're intending to have some telescopes available for colleagues to view the transit of Mercury in November. While the majority will use appropriate solar filters it would be good to have at least one set up for projection. However, we only have reflectors and Schmitt or Maksutov Cassegrain scopes among the members. I was considering buying a small refractor second hand to use for this but thought I'd ask for advice here first.
Which is the best type of scope to use for projection?
What do we need to look out for (overheating & fire risks for example)?
What is the best umbrella to protect kit from the inevitable deluge on the 11th November? ☔
I have been away from this forum from possibly July - I never find a lot of time to do anything these days, same to be able to relax reading and interacting Astronomy forums.
I asked here a few ideas about making a solar scope or modifying whatever I had and I was recommended to also see Solar Chat Forums and I did.
Thanks to solarchatforums I have been able to do something decent and here is what I have done so far - very slowly!
1. I purchased a second hand PST and replaced its ITF with Maier one from the US and it finally had a clear image coming through + moved Etalon screw to third position - all the usual thing everybody does [after I researched it]!
2. used a new SCT screw-on short focuser [used once or twice on a LX200 R Classic] and using Teflon tape I screwed the PST Etalon to the focuser and purchased a 2" adaptor to fit on Etalon.
3. then used a Chinese 2" to 1.25 and modified the 2" side socket taking internal ring off and making 3x 120° threaded holes and 3x nylon thumb screws and used that as an adaptor to fit the original PST eyepiece holder - strangely enough at present this adaptor is also used as a tilter ... until I buy a proper camera tilter
4. then fit the above eyepiece holder into the SCT focuser with 2" to 1.252 adaptor in it and screwed the whole Gold PST tube with Etalon in it and made a BETTER PST - see image
5. I also initially tried a 2.2x DSLR camera Lens magnifier in front of PST and it decently works too - so PST will be fine for full solar disk mainly and without the 0.5 angstrom - not forcibly needed, I am probably around 0.7 as it is!
6. more importantly, I decided to make my own 90mm solar scope using the above bits and pieces.
7. with the help of Solar Chat Forums [great guys with a lot of knowledge, some are professional - i.e. they know the optics mathematical details - which helps] I purchased a cheap Bresser AR90/900
8. the ONLY usable thing there ... is the main tube, a nice and thick tube - the rest is ALL plastic!!!
I dismounted all parts and saw tube shorter ... a bit too much ! - I could have saved ~6cm really as I went with original ideas, but forgot I was using a different telescope from my initial thoughts - silly me!
So, I added a 6cm extension - no problems there to reach the 20cm inward needed for the PST Etalon which has ~20cm FL
9. initially I used a Tuna Fish 100g tin to adapt the SCT focuser onto my AR152 and fit Etalon inside the focuser to get near the 20cm needed- lets call it Quark unit - which it is really!
It worked well, so I decided to add a second focuser to tune the Etalon ... getting back to AR90/900 ...
10. I was trying to avoid overspending, I could not afford to spend too much - then I remembered I had a unused AR102SX which in my mind I guessed ... the focuser should over AR90/900 and it did!
It just fits perfectly - then drilled three holes for the holding screws et-voila'
11. I purchased a second hand 75mn Baader D-ERF and fit it INSIDE the AR90 tube at about 20cm inside from the front air-spaced doublet lenses, as there are the usual internal rings soldered in and just sit on it and I have about 70mm aperture - i.e 70mm width from the D-ERF for photons to get through.
At that ~20cm distance from front lenses the beam is still very large - probably about 60-65mm - there is no heat in between - no need for air-escaping holes
12. when I have the time I will make a solar finder scope and fit it on the tube - not that is really needed - I usually use CDC to get there almost over The Sun [having an almost exact spot on the yard!] - then use my eye without eyepiece and look thourgh the PST eyepiece holder for solar shinging and centre the telescope over The Sun.
Well, it works well after tuning Etalon focuser correctly and then focusing/tuning Etalon etc. - the usual.
See some images - still learning imaging/processing and a lot more to learn about Solar ... a lot!
I will probably need to get a Power-mate 2.5x when I can afford it!
1st mod - without the original black box - it works so much better - better focusing and sharper viewing too.
This is the AR90/900 shorten tube with AR102SX focuser and adaptors to test it normally
This is complete with the Quark Unit on the right side
Since this image there have been some changing - do not use the revelation adaptor any more and added a 6cm 2" extension.
Here are some images:
By Mandy D
I've just bought a Daystar Solar Scout 60mm DS for H-alpha imaging of the Sun. I am now looking for a suitable camera to use with it. I know I could use my DSLR, but for H-alpha that is not going to give best results, so am looking for a dedicated monochrome imaging camera. I have identified the ZWO ASI178MM as a possibility that fits my budget and has a large enough (I think) sensor to image the entire Solar disc if I use a 0.5 focal reducer which will give me a total focal length of 465 mm.
Does anyone have any experience of this camera in this application, or know if it will be suitable? I know it does not have an IR blocking filter, which I understand is an advantage for H-alpha. The spec is available here:
[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.