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Smart EQ Pro......heavily modified!!!

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#1 PGW Steve

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 12:19 AM

I have been playing around with various travel ready rigs suitable for wide field and telephoto photography with DSLR for a while.
I started with an original Astrotrac, changed up to a new version with autoguiding and the whole travel pier, wedge and EQ head. I have a Vixen Polarie with PAS and owned a Sightron Nano, but it was DOA and I never got to see what it could do.

I purchased a Smart EQ Pro, and found the tripod to be greatly lacking. I own a machine shop, and make a lot of my own stuff, I looked at the tripod with improvement in mind. That quickly changed when I realized I would be making all new parts to fix the deficiencies. I then came up with the idea of making an adaptor to fit it onto a Manfrotto tripod with already great stability.

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#2 PGW Steve

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 12:20 AM

I did some testing with this and determined that the block that attaches to the declination shaft with two set screws, did not satisfy my OCD.

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#3 PGW Steve

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 12:22 AM

I then started to add a modular system for attaching various telephoto/DSLR combos that will have widely ranging balance points.

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#4 PGW Steve

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 12:24 AM

A long time ago, I made some mini 60 degree dovetail plates for all of my telephoto lenses and camera bodies, thus I made little clamps as well to fit on my ball heads.

Since this is intended to be autoguided with the tiny SBIG STi Autoguiding kit, I made a custom mounting for this as well.

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#5 PGW Steve

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 12:26 AM

This is what the whole rig looks like with a 400mm f5.6 Canon lens, and a 5DII.

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#6 PGW Steve

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 12:27 AM

Here are all of the pieces laying next to each other.

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#7 PGW Steve

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 12:33 AM

I've had this assembly out under the stars for one evening at -20C, the mount worked fine for about 2 hours till the cold made it freak out. The autoguiding worked 'okay'......I have to figure out the settings for PHD using a 100mm focal length lens. By okay, I mean the mount guided for about an 80% success rate on 5 minute exposures at 400mm FL. I had some weirdness calibrating which I attribute to me not having the settings at optimum. I'm sure once I get these settings nailed, this mount will work great for its intended role.

#8 Astronewb

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 10:31 AM

Excellent machine work Steve, nothing like a nice pile of alloy chips on the floor. I like your over-under solution for the autoguider, very nice.

Looking forward to seeing how it works for you under the stars...

Thanks for sharing

Paui

#9 Raginar

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 10:54 AM

Steve,

That's beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

#10 CounterWeight

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 11:50 AM

Agree - very nice work!

#11 PGW Steve

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 04:31 PM

Thank you Gents!! I've got some feedback on the SBIG Yahoo Group and I'm going to try the new settings when the weather cooperates.

#12 s800

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 12:18 AM

Well done!






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