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Filter Centering Masks - Buckeyestargazer


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I just installed a set of filter centering masks from Buckeyestargazer and am so impressed with the masks and the service received from Joel at Buckeye that I feel a review is in order.

I recently purchased a QHY filter wheel and 50mm Chroma filters and installed the filters using the QHY screw and washer system. This led to a number of concerns:

  • these are expensive filters to trust to the QHY screw and washer mounting system. Whilst the washers held the filters in place, and there was no evidence they were going to fall out, I didn't have confidence in that solution. When I had to flip filters I found the washers originally used were weakened and new washers were needed each time, that left me wondering how good they had been when installed.
  • I was having issues with large halos on my narrow band flats. I didn't know the cause but one potential issue was light either reflecting or getting around the edges of the filters.
  • Using the QHY screws and washers is a time intensive fiddly nightmare. I have been having problems with ghosting and have had to flip filters many times while testing. I now have individual filters orientated with the anti-reflective surface in different directions. I spent literally hours installing and uninstalling with washers - three for each of seven filters. Getting the filters centered is painful and you also have to be so careful not to scratch the filter whilst installing.

I came across the filter masks after contacting Joel to get some feedback on a CFF telescope I was thinking of buying (I subsequently bought a CFF and will do a full review in the near future).

Joel sells various astro items and currently makes the masks for QHY and ZWO filter wheels.

I ordered a set of masks and initially had a couple of issues, neither down to Joel. The first set of masks didn't fit as QHY had very slightly changed the design of their latest filter wheel. I contacted Joel and was promptly offered a refund or the option to get some new masks made to the new specification. Great customer service and I chose the latter.

The masks were shipped promptly to the UK but took a long time to arrive and appeared to have got lost in Japan. I contacted Joel and again he offered a refund or replacement. A new set was sent out very quickly and, sods law, the original ones then turned up followed by the new ones two days later.

Neither of these issues was caused by Joel or the masks.

Things can always go wrong with any purchase and for me one of the key aspects of good customer service is how well a vendor resolves issues. I have to say Joel excels in this area and I have absolute confidence in buying other items from him knowing this. Well done Joel and many thanks for outstanding customer service.

So, how did the masks do?:

  • they are beautifully made and fit the filter wheel perfectly - Joel prints the masks himself.
  • the masks are rebated to the correct depth for the filters and hold the filters perfectly.
  • they are a joy to install - no fiddling with washers. Much quicker to install and less risk of scratching a filter.
  • my flats are now great. I still don't know exactly what was happing with my flats but the masks fixed the issue.
  • They are very secure and I suspect there is less risk of over-tightening affecting the filters as the masks have a standoff for the screws.

Conclusion

I will never use washers to hold filters again! This solution is just so good.

The speed of installation is a joy and significantly reduces the advantage of using mounted filters. Some people are put off using unmounted filters just because of the washer based installation process. However, unmounted filters can be flipped which can help significantly in reducing reflection/ghosting, an option you often don't have with a mounted filter. Worth considering.

These filter masks are the best optional extra I have bought for my rig and excellent value. Well done to Joel for outstanding customer service.

Joel's shop is here https://buckeyestargazer.net/Shop.php

 

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