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The Orion project...

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#1 pdfermat

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 04:30 PM

After having to part with my "loaner" Orion XX12, I decided that my XT8i, while a great scope, just wasn't packing the aperture punch I had become accustomed to. So off went the XT8i to the classifieds (probably to be regretted, someday), and in came a new (to me) XT12i. I actively searched for a used XT12i instead of an XX12 because I really like how much quicker I can set up the solid tube version vs. the truss (also - my storage and transport methods don't require the truss, either). The one drawback that I was expecting however, was that the base of the XX12 is superior to the base of the XT12i. Orion has added some supports to the XX12 base that get rid of the flex that happens with the XT12i, and they added Ebony Star laminate on the XX12. Without this in the XT12i, there is some annoying stiction with the azimuth motion, especially at higher powers.

I had planned to just add some reinforcements to the XT12i base to get rid of the flex, and look for some magic mix of lubricant as well as maybe adding a laminate ring to the existing base, but I think I've decided to re-build the base from scratch entirely. (I'll re-use some of the existing hardware, but it'll be mostly a "from the ground up" project.)

The one thing that was keeping me from doing this, was I was a bit worried about being able to transfer the push-to Orion encoder/computer system to an entirely new base, but after really looking at the entire system, I think that's going to be a non-problem.

I've taken some starting measurements, and am in the process of putting together a basic plan, which I'll post as soon as I complete it. I'll also try to post pics of my progress/trials and tribulations. I'm starting this in the ATM forum since I'm guessing this type of thing is fairly small potatoes for you guys and gals. However, if I'm about to go down a precarious path at any point, some of you expert ATM'ers can give me a "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD MAN, DON'T DO THAT!!!"

I'll be moving somewhat slow on this though, since I'm kind of a "measure once, think about it for a while, measure again, think about it for a longer while, eventually cut" guy. Also - the scope is usable as-is, so there is no rush. I'm kind of setting an informal goal of having it ready for spring galaxy season.

Thanks in advance for any and all help and direction!

#2 tcmzodiac

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 04:51 PM

Good luck with that! One option is to go the easy route...do you really ave to build a new base...not that doing so would be all that hard to do. I mixed up a lubricant which you might want to try on your bearings too.

#3 pdfermat

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 05:14 PM

I looked back through your posts, and low and behold I did try your magic mix!! It was actually what made my scope usable stiction-wise, so many many thanks!

I've gone back and forth between doing an ground-up rebuild vs. a fix-it job, and I've kind of come to the realization that I think I might have a bit of fun going ground-up. I'm not going to ruin anything with regards to the original base, so humpty-dumpty can be put back together again if needed, and when I priced things out, it looks reasonable (famous last words, though).

#4 Gastrol

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 05:24 PM

Also, you don't have to follow the exact template of the stock base, except for certain critical areas. You can be a bit creative in the overall design of the new base.

#5 cpr1

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 10:50 PM

Good luck on your project. I am sure it will be fun and will most likely lead to more projects!!

#6 daveingu

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 11:11 PM

I am interested in your plans as well. I have my own pet project for my xt12i also (though I would like to improve the wobbly base as well). I am thinking of cutting the top 10-12 inches of the tube off and making some kind of split tube arrangement. This is just to make the whole thing a little more transport friendly. I am envisioning a 44-46" main tube and maybe an Obsession style upper cage. With some locating pins and latches to snap the two sections together
The upper cage would hold the focuser and secondary assembly etc.
Has anyone tried anything similar?
Dave

#7 pdfermat

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 12:36 AM

Here's my rough layout thus far:

Posted Image

The measurements I've included are ones I think are somewhat important to keep consistent with the existing base.

#8 Pinbout

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 12:58 AM

For the love of God man! Don't do that!!!! :lol:

I would laminate the entire bottom of the rocker box.

#9 pdfermat

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 01:09 AM

For the love of God man! Don't do that!!!! :lol:

I would laminate the entire bottom of the rocker box.


Indeed you are correct - why wouldn't I want to laminate the entire bottom? Much easier!

#10 m. allan noah

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 08:29 AM

The base of my 6" f8 is 17 inches in diameter. I can't imaging putting a 12 inch on a disk that small. I'd say 22 inches is a minimum. Try to put the side walls of your rocker box above your laminate ring, rather than outside it.

allan

#11 pdfermat

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 01:34 PM

The base of my 6" f8 is 17 inches in diameter. I can't imaging putting a 12 inch on a disk that small. I'd say 22 inches is a minimum. Try to put the side walls of your rocker box above your laminate ring, rather than outside it.

allan


That footprint seemed kind of small to me as well, but I was going off of dimensions I saw from Obsession's 12.5" rocker box. I've increased the bottom dimensions to 22"x22", which has also allowed me to put some "wings" up the sides like Orion does on their xx12, which should also help the flex problem.

Here's version 1.1:

Posted Image

#12 Lynnblac

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 01:42 PM

LARGER ALT BEARING

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#13 Lynnblac

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 01:43 PM

MORE

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#14 Lynnblac

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 01:44 PM

13.1 dob

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#15 Gastrol

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 01:46 PM

I also agree going with larger alt bearings if you're building from scratch. That'll also bring the height of the rocker box down, adding rigidity.

Here's a difference in height between the original and modified Lightbridge base and the new one I'm currently working on:

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#16 pdfermat

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 02:32 PM

I've gone back and forth quite a bit debating replacing the bearings with larger ones. Recently, I had to remove them to install some flockboard, and they come on and off fairly easily - just 2 bolts on each. What's keeping me from doing it at this point is the Orion dsc system. The alt. encoder screws on to on of the bearings, and I'm not sure how I'd be able to make that system work reliably with new bearings.

#17 Lynnblac

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 03:43 PM

It can be done easily. I adopted the Orion system to an Obsession. I mounted the encoders in plastic project boxes, attached an arm to the boxes, ran 1/4" bolt thru the hollow Orion encoder shaft. Then mounted them to the scope like standard encoders.

#18 pdfermat

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 03:55 PM

It can be done easily. I adopted the Orion system to an Obsession. I mounted the encoders in plastic project boxes, attached an arm to the boxes, ran 1/4" bolt thru the hollow Orion encoder shaft. Then mounted them to the scope like standard encoders.


Really!! Now that is interesting! You don't happen to have any pics of your handiwork, do you?

#19 Lynnblac

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 12:10 AM

Sorry no, when I added a Servo Cat to the scope I needed to switch to Sky Commander. So I sold the Intelliscope setup on AM.

#20 Lynnblac

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 03:34 PM

I found some shots of the Intelliscope setup.

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#21 Lynnblac

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 03:35 PM

encoders

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#22 pdfermat

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 05:44 PM

Hey - thanks much!! I'm seriously mulling taking this thing to the next level with larger bearings.

#23 pdfermat

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 10:49 PM

Version 1.2

Posted Image

I moved the front board in about 1.5", which (I think) will stiffen things up even more, and I've notched out the tops of the sides a bit after looking more closely at the xx12 base.

After considerable mulling, I don't think I'm ready to to a re-design with the bearing system at this time. Perhaps after I get my feet wet with this project.

I hope to be buying some plywood and making some cuts this weekend. (As long as temperatures don't plummet between now and then, as I'll be cutting in my garage and outside on my deck.)

#24 pdfermat

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 03:34 PM

Rough cuts done:

Posted Image

I used a 4x8 panel of 3/4" birch plywood from Home Depot. I suppose I could have spent twice as much at a specialty wood shop on a higher grade, but I think my mediocre woodworking skills will end up being the "diffraction limited" part of this project, so I figured this would do.

Next, I'm going to take a leap of faith where I disassemble the original base, remove the encoders, and use the original base panels as templates for drilling holes.

While at Home Depot, I looked at some vinyl flooring samples. They sell smallish samples of a number of different types, but the sample size ends up being too small to cover my base board. Any suggestions for my source of Ebony Star-like laminate? I see I can buy the real thing from some specialty scope stores, but I was hoping I wouldn't have to spend near that much.

#25 pdfermat

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 11:18 PM

The deed is done, original base disassembled.

Original hardware and encoders bagged and tagged:

Posted Image

I used the original base pieces to transfer some important measurements to the new pieces:

Posted Image

On the laminate front, I see that there is a lumberyard in the area that deals Wilsonart (makers of Ebony Star) laminates. I've heard that Ebony Star is no longer offered, but maybe they offer something close. I'm also hoping they have remnants, as I only need a 2'x2' piece, and it looks like entire sheets run about $100.






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