Monday, October 31, 2011

20111031 Moon

I'm not interested to shoot the sun until I got a better filter.  When the sky was getting darker, I saw the bright moon hanging out the window, so why not?

I pulled out my Ranger, set it up on the GOTO Mark-X to take some snapshots.  I'm still searching for a suitable motor for it but at the time being, I can still do manual tracking.

I was using my Lumenera LU070M with my Tele Vue 5x Powermate.

First shot was taken at 1833 (GMT+8):-

And then the second one was at 1834 (GMT+8):-

You know, it's just bad!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Jogging under the starry night again

Went out for jogging as usual, the sky was foggy these days mostly due to air pollutant.  However, the sky was pretty black up there near the zenith.  Jupiter was hanging up there, shinning as one of the few "stars" in the sky.

Guess what, I immediately think of my newly acquired GOTO Mark-X.  My friend has promised to hack one from a EQ3-2 motor for me, but I've got no update since then.  I know that I could not rush and I should wait patiently until I got a phone call one day.

During the wait, I could still use manual tracking and I could still think more about how the mounting plate should be made.  The simplest design would be a simple slow motion control which allows me to rotate the scope like the DEC axis of any German Equatorial Mount, and the other side would be a ball head which I already had.  It would allow high power imaging and probably manual or webcam assisted guiding at the same time, and the ball head side would also allow wide field imaging.

I believe that I won't go for a counter weight unless I've something bigger, a movable 5 * AA battery pack should be used for assisting balancing. 

Time to sell that brass counter weight as well?

Now, my miscellaneous sales should include:

1. Shoestring FCUSB
2. Astrotech 1.25" dielectric diagonal
3. Bass counter weight
4. DIY 77mm macro adapter or 70mm f=500mm doublet
5. Small Chinese ball head
6. Metric threading tool set
7. Lumenera LU070M
8. DIY Mark-X mounting plate and counter weight system
9. 5.5" tube ring set

Tell me if you're interested of any of the above items.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

20111019 Sun

Seeing 2/10, transparency 3/10, moving cloud.

Thousand Oaks Type 2+ (full of pinholes), Ranger, Lumenera LU070M, tracked manually with GOTO Mark-X.

From the right side first, the bottom dark one is AR1314, and the bigger group in the middle is AR1319.  On the other side that large pale patch AR1323 and 1324.

This is the first time that I use the new Generic Chinese ballhead for imaging, it's strong enough but it's not very good for fine adjustment with high power (480mm * 5 = 2400mm) and I assume that I will need a fine adjustment head like Manfrotto 410 before it could be used for high power imaging.  However, my 410 is now serving as the polar alignment wedge.

That ball head is strong enough with my Ranger even at high power, no shifting noticed.

For wide field imaging, I don't have to go anything stronger.  For planet imaging, I will need another head but then now I just have my Ranger, no need to concern about high power at the time being?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Features of the Mark-X mounting plate

Before I make the drawing, I shall write down what I wanted:

1. Light weight and short
2. Able to balance for two equipments of different weight
3. Able to take two (ball) heads
4. Able to attach a mobile phone to aid initial polar alignment
5. Able to mount a battery pack on one end for balancing (e.g. 5 AA rechargeable)

Feature (4) and (5) could be done in an ad hoc manner, not necessarily a design time feature.

Anything else?  Here's the first draft:



1) Found a 5 * AA battery box, it could be used to provide 6V DC required by the motor, and therefore, this battery box should be fixed on one of the sides.

2) Should also prepare a way to mount a counter weight shaft there in case I wanted later

3) Or buy something like this:

cut the upper part and attach to one side of the plate?  It will then allow slow motion control.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A trial run of the Mark-X

We have some sunshine but we have even more cloud.  It would not allow good images but it would not stop me from trying out hand tracking with the Mark-X.

This is the setup.  The hand tracking knob is very nice, and it's long enough to be controlled by me with another hand on clicking the computer for which the LU070M is driven, hand tracking is easy and smooth and it's definitely good enough for solar or lunar imaging.  Planet imaging could be more challenging but then I believe it's also doable.

It's a bit ridiculous that I've a motorized focuser but not a motorized mount.  Anyway, I kept the NGF-CM mostly for its 2" capability rather than its motor.

I didn't even open the window mill since I don't think I can capture any good image under this sky condition.  Here's the result anyway, and the sun is full of activities!

It's a pity that I don't have an H-alpha filter with me now, not even a good white light filter.  Anyway, I will enjoy whatever I have on hand.

Conclusion of priority:
  1. I will buy a good ball head first so that I can use this mount by manual tracking first.
  2. Motor will be next, hacking the motor controller will be even later.
  3. Mounting plate final, not until everything is ready.

Polarscope of GOTO Mark-X

Today I set it up to test whether the polarscope was properly aligned, and if not, I've to adjust it during day time.

I look through the polarscope to distant objects and found that it's matte.

I pointed the polarscope to the corner of a building and then I begin to rotate the RA axis.  It's very smooth and it's a joy to turn it.  Obviously, the polarscope is still in great alignment with its axis, there's no obvious moment.

This is workmanship!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Trying out the GOTO Mark-X

Just put everything on that heavy DIY plate, and it's just a piece of cake for this robust mount.

I cleaned the GOTO Mark-X last night and it looks very fine now.

I've attached a small ball head and a small pan plate to that heavy DIY mounting plate to see how the whole thing works.

Even when the mount is not balance like this, it moves very smoothly.  I'm very impressed and really longing to have a motor for it!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


This is a real Japanese classic.  Thank God that I can get one for myself. 

The original owner has a DIY counter weight and mounting system for it as shown below.  However, it is probably too heavy for me, and so I should go for something else later.  I will need to design a simpler and lighter mounting plate for it so that I can attach a ball head to it, and maybe a guide scope on the other side.

After assembling, and they were put on my small Gitzo G106 tripod with Manfrotto 410 head, that DIY setup is really very robust and heavy.  I guess it will take a C8 without any problem! 

And finally, this is the most important part, the GOTO Mark-X.  The slow motion control knob is very nice, and you will feel the quality when you turn it with your finger.  This mount is over 20 years old but then it's still functioning great!  Smooth like cutting through butter.

I say goodbye to my Takahashi TG-SP II on the same day, and the GOTO Mark-X is acquired through partial trade.

The first thing that I will need to do is to find someone who is willing to adapt a EQ3-2 motor on it for me, the hardest part is to make it compatible with 126 teeth. I don't have the equipments to do it myself.

And then I should probably live with that DIY mounting plate first.  Yes, it's heavy but then I should test it first with a ball head which again I may have to buy.  I expect the motor plus the ball head would mean over 1K HKD, and I will probably need one more ball head, a polar scope illuminator, and a lighter custom made mounting plate in the long run.  But I will keep it simple and stupid at the time being, and maybe even do manual tracking first!