Friday, September 12, 2014

Nexstar+ fixed

To follow up the issue of “Bootloader invalid package 0002”, and actually, it could be 0080 or something else.

In short, you will need to re-flash the firmware and you will need a serial cable.  I found the cheapest one here:


And it's just RMB 17!  The quality is excellent, way better than the ebay autostar serial cable I got a few years back, and it's much cheaper as well.  I got it on the following day and it is from Shanghai to Hong Kong!

And then you will need a serial port, i.e. RS-232, but then it's really hard.  I searched through all the PC that I could access but none of them got a serial port.  So, I took the plunge to buy a USB serial adapter.  I have experience on that with my Autostar before, so I got this one:

And it comes with a long USB cable too!  This cable will work with my Lumenera 075M, too.

From that taobao site, I realized that Chinese firmware is available, so why not?

And we still have English with this firmware.

It's just quick and easy!  I might want to use a bluetooth serial module from ebay some days later so that I can control the Nexstar with my mobile phone remotely!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Nexstar SE failed in mid-autumn festival

Last night, we went out for watching the moon and playing.  I only brought my Ukulele without a telescope since the weather was no good actually.  But to our surprise, the moon came out from behind the cloud.

Anyway, I still got my mobile phone.

Arriving home, the moon was about in the right place from imaging, I pulled out my Nexstar SE mount in the hope to use it with my C5 plus my DSLR to shoot a big moon.  But then the Nexstar Plus hand controller refused to boot up with the following error message:

“Bootloader invalid package 0002 ”

Apparently, the firmware was corrupted and a quick google exercise confirmed that.  Ordering a cable from US results in a heavy shipping charge and long shipping time.  Checking from Chinese site taobao gives a cheaper and faster option.  Finally, I managed to find a OEM or better say DIY cable at very low cost!  I expect to have it on hand on Thursday.  So, I can still use the mount on the planned local trip on Saturday.


We have plenty of sunshine today, but my Mark-X does not allow me to point at the sun due to its position from inside my playing room.  Got to wait until the Nexstar SE is fixed soon hopefully.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

20140905 Moon

After work and jogging, I saw the moon hanging high outside, so why not?  Moving cloud means poor seeing, I'd rate it as 4/10, transparency rather high at 7-8/10.

Prime focus first:

2329 (GMT+8), Gassendi:-

2333 (GMT+8), Clavius:-

With 2x barlows, 2336 (GMT+8), Clavius:-

2341 (GMT+8), Gassendi:-

At the end, I pulled out my 4mm TMB to enjoy some visual observations!

Focusing at high power requires some patience for this smaller Nexstar SE mount.

Monday, September 01, 2014

20140901 Moon

The moon was rather low, seeing sucks but why not?

Just for fun and I believe I could fine tune the collimation soon.

Prime focus:-

 With 2x barlows:-

All taken with my C5.

20140901 Sun

This morning, I replaced the tap of my toilet... this is a long outstanding issue, but it's finally fixed.  So here we go for solar imaging again!

Seeing 3/10, transparency 7/10 with so many cloud around, so I couldn't do mosaic... I really want to do a big sun again soon!

First up is a near full disc at 1347 (GMT+8), the monster filament is the eye catcher!   Here are the active regions from the left to the right: AR2152, 2153, 2151 with 2149 close to the left limb.

So the next step is to capture a close up of the monster filament with a 2x barlows, the camera was rotated to align with the diagonal of the CCD chip, taken at 1349 (GMT+8):-

Going up to 5x for some more close up, at 2400mm with a small 1/3" CCD, poor seeing reveals no fine detail, taken at 1355 (GMT+8):-

AR2151 at 1358 (GMT+8):-

AR2152 at 1402 (GMT+8):-

AR2149 at 1404 (GMT+8):-

Finally, a three frames mosaic of the monster filament at 2400mm from 1359-1401 (GMT+8):-

Moving cloud renders uneven illuminations.

Monday, August 25, 2014

20140825 Sun

The sky is pretty decent today, excellent transparency at 8/10, seeing rather good at 6-7/10.  I got plenty of sunshine from inside my home, with my Nexstar SE mount plus the newly repaired windows, I have far more time to observe now!

First up is an image taken at prime focus, I'm going to make a simple reducer to get a full disc at one shot, taken at 1516 (GMT+8):-

The hedgerow prominence on the 8 O'clock position is an eye catcher definitely, so here we go with a 5x powermate, taken at 1519 (GMT+8):-
Keeping at 5x, here's the other side with a semi-detached prominence, taken at 1522 (GMT+8):-

AR2149 at 1523 (GMT+8):-

AR2150 and 2151 at 1525 (GMT+8):-

AR2146 at 1527 (GMT+8):-

Going back at 2x for wider field of view, first up is a combination of AR 2149, 2150, 2151 taken at 1531 (GMT+8):-

And then finally, the area around AR2148 taken at 1533 (GMT+8):-

I really love those filaments....

I'm still not very competent on tuning the T-max and RichView combination, still exploring and I expect more.

It has been quite long ago for me to take so many H-alpha images in one session, very enjoyable.

I'm going to use this setup a lot hopefully:

20140824 宣道園 BB 312 觀星活動

基督少年軍 312 生活營觀星活動

I bought my Nexstar SE mount together with my C5 OTA, I found the 20mm widescan not very nice for beginners, eye positioning is not trivial enough for some of the kids.

We went through some basic knowledge about the sky: constellations, star colors, the concept of light year.

We observed Saturn until it disappears behind a tree, and then we visited M6 and M7.

Time is too limited, but the kids enjoy.

GOTO is accurate, tracking is superb in this kind of situation: queuing and observing.


When I arrived home, I found that the alt arm is getting loose, and to re-tighten it, I just need to remove that little plate where the power socket and the power switch lies in.  Simple and effective.

Monday, August 18, 2014

20140818 Sun (resuming solar imaging!)

This could be considered as the official day which I resume solar imaging at home!

Previously even after I got my new filter set, I didn't get a proper mount, and my window couldn't be open widely... but these were solved.  The focuser is good after regreasing but a motorized focuser would be better.   Balancing is not a huge issue when the scope was pointing directly up!

I was trapped first my the internal reflection of the sun which results in an ugly image but by slewing around, I found a much brighter sun which is the real image.

Transparency 5-8/10, seeing 3-4/10.  Rather windy since the scope was shaking during moments with stronger wind.

Prime focus, taken at 1308 (GMT+8):-

I was not familiar with the new RichView plus T-max tuning, need some more time to train myself up...

5x, taken at 1324 (GMT+8):-

I also watched using my 20mm eyepiece at prime focus and with 5x Powermate, confirmed that the sky is foggy (thin cloud) without good seeing too!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Windows repairing

I finally got my home windows fixed yesterday.

How does it relate to astronomy?

Since I took most of my astronomical images from inside home.  Solar imaging, lunar and planets and that's why the windows are so important, if I couldn't open them wide enough, I even couldn't point my telescopes to those targets.

I will hopefully resume production soon.  Now given my Nexstar SE mount which can sit low in my window platform, I could even aim higher from inside window. 

Solar imaging is ready with my new H-alpha filter set but then I will probably need to handle the balance issue.  A motorized focuser will probably help in shifting the center of gravity back to the rear side, in addition to the ease of imaging. 

I can also retire my Mark-X for indoor purpose due to its bulkiness, no more need to use that DIY dec motor.