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Automating My Scope Cover and Bahtinov Mask


AMcD
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With a view to ultimately being able to use my garden observatory remotely when I am away I have been engaged in an ongoing project to automate it.  So far I have got to the point where I can run the mount and camera from the house via a hardline LAN connection but I still have to go out to remove the scope cover, turn on the mount and roll off the roof.  I also need to place the Bahtinov mask on the scope periodically to refocus (I don’t get on well with autofocus routines for some reason).  It seemed therefore the next step was to automate these procedures and I am starting with the scope cover and Bahtinov mask.  The idea for the mechanism to be employed comes from a recent post on CN (see  https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/733505-automating-my-bahtinov-mask/).  I am only at the design phase at the moment and gathering some components but will post again when it is more advanced.  I am also going to try and write my first computer programme to control the stepper motors 😬

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The components are gradually coming together.  The mounting brackets for the stepper motors, the aluminium bars to join the end bearings to the motor plates and the box for the electronics should be coming in the next couple of days.  The plan is to use the Stepper Bee product as the circuit board.  I am currently adapting the open source programme that comes with it as the control software.  At present, the plan is to mount them on the saddle plate on either side.

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  • 1 month later...

The mechanisms for the automated Bahtinov mask and scope cover are finished and I have started work on the control box.  As I have been building it a lot of people have been urging me to get to grips with autofocus as a much more accurate method than the Bahtinov mask.  If I can get to grips with the autofocus software this project might become an automated scope cover and an automated flat field panel.  Or I suppose I can keep one of the mechanisms as a spare.🙂

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  • 2 months later...

I finally got round to wiring the mechanism up.  I now have a Pegasus Ultimate Power Box and so have wired the motor so it can be operated through the RJ45 port on the UPB via the Pegasus software.  I therefore now have a spare mechanism and a surplus Stepper Bee in a box 🙄 They may be destined for UK Astronomy Buy & Sell....

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And now in place on the scope.  I just need to shorten the shaft to the correct length and then I will be able to remove / replace a scope cover / flat panel remotely.  😀

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blimey, your obsy looks very neat.. as does everything in all your piccies.. even the tools & screws lined up. I envy this methodical approach and organisation. I start out like this and somehow get distracted once I get it all working and get lost looking for the vacuum to clean up 🤣

 +1 for autofocus... if you can do this stuff you can do autofocus.. and TBH if you're wanting to do remote imaging whether from your back garden or the other side of the world you DO want it.. Also, you should think about making it autonomous. What IF you loose your connection while in the middle of of controlling the scope?  I've been mainly using FocusMax for years (MaximDL & ACP runs my obsy) and it just does it.. refocusing when needed, filter change.. etc. The one time I've needed help for some obscure licensing/windows thing.. CCDware/Steve Brady was there.. superb response & support.

Looking very good, can't wait to see it in action :) 

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59 minutes ago, Sp@ce_d said:

blimey, your obsy looks very neat.. as does everything in all your piccies.. even the tools & screws lined up. I envy this methodical approach and organisation. I start out like this and somehow get distracted once I get it all working and get lost looking for the vacuum to clean up 🤣

 +1 for autofocus... if you can do this stuff you can do autofocus.. and TBH if you're wanting to do remote imaging whether from your back garden or the other side of the world you DO want it.. Also, you should think about making it autonomous. What IF you loose your connection while in the middle of of controlling the scope?  I've been mainly using FocusMax for years (MaximDL & ACP runs my obsy) and it just does it.. refocusing when needed, filter change.. etc. The one time I've needed help for some obscure licensing/windows thing.. CCDware/Steve Brady was there.. superb response & support.

Looking very good, can't wait to see it in action :) 

Thanks for your kind words.  I cannot pretend that I am always organised and methodical, but things are definitely easier when I am.  

I am now set up for remote operation and have for the first time this evening had the Dragonfly, the mount, the CloudWatcher and the Talon talking to each other and to SGP.  The system has a lot of failsafes built in to ensure the equipment is protected in the event of power failure etc.

I have now resolved to use autofocus.  So many people have said to me that by far the most accurate method and, as you say, it really should appeal to my sometimes methodical nature 😀. Accordingly, have fitted just a scope cover on the mechanism to force me to get to grips with autofocus...

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On 18/08/2021 at 19:44, Sp@ce_d said:

blimey, your obsy looks very neat.. as does everything in all your piccies.. even the tools & screws lined up. I envy this methodical approach and organisation. I start out like this and somehow get distracted once I get it all working and get lost looking for the vacuum to clean up 🤣

 +1 for autofocus... if you can do this stuff you can do autofocus.. and TBH if you're wanting to do remote imaging whether from your back garden or the other side of the world you DO want it.. Also, you should think about making it autonomous. What IF you loose your connection while in the middle of of controlling the scope?  I've been mainly using FocusMax for years (MaximDL & ACP runs my obsy) and it just does it.. refocusing when needed, filter change.. etc. The one time I've needed help for some obscure licensing/windows thing.. CCDware/Steve Brady was there.. superb response & support.

Looking very good, can't wait to see it in action :) 

Thanks to @Sp@ce_d for giving me the push to get grips with autofocus in SGPro.  I finally have it working.  Yay 😀...

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