Thursday, January 30, 2014

20140130 Sun (年三十)

Seeing quite nice, I would rate it as 6/10. Transparency not bad for solar imaging, 6/10. 1407 (GMT+8), Ranger at prime focus:-

1412 (GMT+8), Ranger with 5x Powermate, close up of AR1967:-

Saturday, January 25, 2014

From TG-SP II to Mark-X

About six or seven years I ago, I bought my Takahashi TG-SP II in the hope to use it as my life long partner, since it's very compact and portable with high quality.  Over those years, I even tried to motorized the DEC and to add autoguiding function to it.

Later when I have a calling from God, I found that I couldn't keep all these luxuries.  Then, I sold my stuff progressively and the TG-SP II was no exception.  That was my last tracking mount in my equipment cabinet.  Basically, everything that could be sold for around $100 USD has been sold.  I kept only my Ranger (with ugly looking lens), a couple of eyepieces, barlows, and a 410 head and a simple tripod to keep myself in the hobby.

It turns out really unexpected that I got my hand into a legendary GOTO Mark-X.  On selling my TG-SP II, the buyer offered to sell me a mount which left unused due to a failed tracking motor.  Later, I realized that it was a GOTO Mark-X and so I accepted his offer as partial trade at a very low cost.

This mount is very hard to find since the manufacturer discontinued it many years ago.  It was the mount of choice for portability and accuracy by then.  It has a DEC body for the full version and it's capacity and accuracy are far higher than that of the TG-SP II.  I took the plunge to get it, for the baseline is that, I could do hand tracking or even re-sell it.

After so many adventures, I made the following:

Lithium-ion 18650 battery used with the hand controller, can provide 20 hr of continuous usage.  For the loading, one side with manual slow motion control and Vixen style dovetail, another side with ball head.  I consider it done except maybe adding a polarscope illuminator.

Thank God that when I decided to give up for Him but then He gave me something even better, and this project even trained myself up on drilling, metal work, and electronic techniques.

Friday, January 24, 2014

20140124 Sun as the first test of my enhanced Mark-X

I'm active again, the Ranger focuser was regreased, and the Mark-X was enhanced.  The work was mostly done except only the polarscope illuminator was not yet fixed in place.

See the pencil mark to see where should be trimmed for fitting.

Fitted in and mounting screws hole drilled, fixed in place.

Two more holes on mounting the DEC slow motion control block in place, smaller holes were drilled first for the possibility of fine tuning by enlarging for better fit.

The old mounting bar was used to guide the new mounting holes.

Done and it looks as in my mind before all the actual drilling work.

The first light in action!

The ballhead side was not used, and it could be used for wide field imaging or simply as a balance.


This is the first light of the mount, 1209 (GMT+8):-

And dimmer group of the top center (a bit right) is very interesting and it should be AR 1957, worth continue monitoring if situation allows.

Ranger at prime focus.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Enlarging the hole of U-adapter

Before the process, I only have access of a simple hand drill borrowed from someone.

The difference is not too small, 3-4mm I measure:-

It was difficult and required a lot of patience.


This is close to done, but I would leave it alone first after like 2 hours of hard work:

When this is done, I've to enlarge the mount holes to fix it on the Mark-X mounting holes.  And then I will need to drill two holes on the mounting plate to fix the DEC slow motion control worm block.

Friday, January 17, 2014

U-adapter arrived

This is very light weight and strong.  It's originally for GP, and I've to enlarge the polar scope bore by 5mm.  I planned to do it slowly by sanding away those metal, a hard work but it should work out better than any other way.

The mounting holes have to be modified as well, and also to fix that DEC slow motion control in place.  Another side could be used to fix a 3/8" ball head directly.

Once this is done, I can start doing some wide field imaging.

I'm still waiting for good bargain on second hand NGF-S or NGF-CM.  The delivery of Solarmax is another unknown since the local dealer said Meade is having problem.

Monday, January 06, 2014

20140106 Sun

First light after focuser re-greasing.

Prime focus at 1342 (GMT+8):-

Close up with 5x Powermate at 1459 (GMT+8), the DEC worm block was re-greased after the above shot and before the following shot.


Re-greasing the DEC worm block

Did it after the prime focus shot, since when going for high power, I found some problem.

Adjusted the tension screws and the retaining screws, feel much better now.

Regreasing the Ranger focuser again

The focuser was getting bad over the years, I've re-greased once it after 8 years of ownership.  Now, it's the 16th year!  Despite the original focuser was retired itself for one or two years when a NGF-CM was used instead for motorizing focusing, it still serves me long enough.

Last time I just bought a Boron grease from a model shop and the grease was not sticky enough.  Focusing was smooth but you could easily go beyond the point since it's not sticky enough.  Recently, a local buddy gave me some sticky high quality lithium grease so I take the plunge to do it again.

This time, I was doing a complete regreasing.  Last time when I was regreasing my LXD55, I gained enough experience so I could do it more completely.  Last time, new grease was added but the old one was not removed.  Frankly, there's an emotional reason behind that since the Ranger gave a Tele Vue smell which is probably from the grease so I dare not to clean them up completely.  But now the smell was mostly gone, so I did actually remove all the old grease.  And during the removal process, I could notice some residue Tele Vue smell and it's now the last time!

The old Tele Vue grease mixed with Boron grease after around 8 years.

Some of the grease was dried up and this is probably why the focusing action was no longer smooth.

After cleaning.

And after re-greasing:

It works better than the first re-grease, nearly as great as the moment when it arrives.

Friday, January 03, 2014


We went to Pak Tam Chung (aka PTC for local buddies) for a short observation, taxi from Sai Kung was around $60 and it took just around 10 minutes to arrive.

Armed with my Ranger on a small tripod, and also my Canon 10x30 IS, we had some good time under the starry skies.  The sky was not very dark by any standard because we have some not-far-away street lamps and a toilet nearby with naked lights.  However, it's enough for several hours of target hunting.

Several local buddies were taking images so no green laser points to guide around, but it's not too hard to use finger and repeated descriptions.

This time, we have also bought a camping cookset.  It allows hot drinks and cup noodles which are so nice in cool weather. 

It's just wonderful to start a new year under a starry sky!


Equipment modified project:

I've just ordered a U-adapter originally for Vixen GP, and I shall adapt it to my Mark-X and the hardest part is to enlarge the 35mm polar scope hole to 40mm to fit my Mark-X.  Patience is the king.  Drilling holes for my slow motion control and to mount to the Mark-X should be relatively easy.