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Defork a RCX400

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#101 kennyrichmond

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 08:11 PM

Nick,
What software are you using to control your RCX focuser? And secondarily, would it be immoral to use a secondary focuser, one that was Ascom compatible with Maxim or CCDSoft and Nebulosity, etc. etc.?

Ken R.

#102 Nick Cook

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 04:31 AM

Hi Ken,

I have experimented using CCDSoft and the ASCOM drivers for controlling the RCX focus motors for automated focusing, but so far haven't really had much success. However, to be honest I find it simpler to select a star in CCDSoft and focus it using the graphs and Mk1 eyeball to see the faint stars suddenly appear in the capture frame. I've always found that the RCX is excellent at holding focus - so usually I haven't needed to refocus again during a imaging session.

Immoral only if you find yourself enjoying the vibration of the focus motors I guess - but then hey, it's a free world! ;)

Nick

#103 kennyrichmond

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 04:49 AM

Nick,
At the recent star party in Cherry Springs,Pennsylvania, all the big celebrity astrophotographers used ACP, Max Point, Max Focus, Nebulosity and CCDSoft. They turned their laptops on then went to sleep...that is until their alarms went off to notify them that their mounts were correcting for a half pixel. (I was the interloper in the designated astrophotography area). Everyone of them had the most skillful laptops. You could tell because in the morning they were well rested and stood in front of each other's screen saying, "ummmhmmmm...ummmhmmm."

I want to be just like them. :D


Ken R.

#104 Nick Cook

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 07:23 AM

Max Point looks interesting. Do you think it would make a difference when we already have the Smart Mount on the RCX? Another option would be TPoint from Software Bisque.

I just remembered I use the TheSky as the focuser option in CCDSoft (to select the Ascom focus drivers for the RCX). I think that's the only way to get it to work currently?

For image processing I use ImagesPlus - a great program.

#105 kennyrichmond

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 08:25 AM

I have an early version 2. of MaximDL and Focus Max that worked fine with an LX200 and 1657 (?) focuser and an SBIG 7E. I have since downloaded Ajai's latest RCX iteration which does not like the "absolute" election on the focus settings. At some point that I have not carefully documented, my handset locked up and then Focus Max locked up. If you have successfully operated the focuser from within CCDsoft, that's the answer. I'll download the trial version and try it. But meanwhile, a secondary focuser has the potential of reducing the public anxiety over the RCX focusing system. One can collimate, set and forget, then turn to the more easily serviced "hang on" focusers. I watched Chris use CCD Autopilot on his Gemini G11, selecting targets, camera orientation for guide stars, apparently refocusing his Tak with each filter change completely hands off. Stephen Roffo, a Philadelphia neighbor of immense technical talent and seemingly unlimited Takahashi budget was likewise rather casually producing breathtaking images with an FLI focuser, so it occurred to me that this might be the simpler approach, but I am still experimenting.

Ken R.

#106 Nick Cook

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 08:38 AM

How would you use a 'hang on' focuser with the RCX though. There is no manual focus knob to attach a secondary focuser to - or have I misunderstood? Is it different on the 20" RCX?

#107 gillmj24

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 08:50 AM

Something that attaches to the SCT visual back, like a motofocus or moonlite, can be adapted for computer controlled focussing.

#108 kennyrichmond

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 09:25 AM

Nick,
"Hang on" is Philadelphian for not OEM equipment. Something added later. A focuser like an OPTEC TCF or an FLI PDF would attach right to the visual back of the OTA just like the focuser on the LXGPS.

Ken

#109 gillmj24

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 09:36 AM

I only recently moved here so I didn't know what "hang on" meant. I figured you meant something hanging onto the back of the OTA, like a separate aftermarket focuser. I guess Ken and I meant the same thing after all. :lol:

#110 kennyrichmond

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 10:06 AM

Nick,
Look at it this way. Your greatest gift to America is the English language. Our greatest gift to you is the Philadelphia improvements on it.

Ken R.

#111 Nick Cook

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 12:04 PM

Fantastic - I just love the crossed wires that happen like this sometimes between us over the pond!

I hadn't thought of the Moonlite focusers. That would be a great option although on the standard RCX fork mount, they might be issues of clearance with that and a SBig STL11000M attached as well. Of course for those of you lucky enough to have a Max Mount... ;)

I've been looking a bit more into the RCX FocusMax issue and there may be a way around it to make it work properly. From I've read (and I think this was the issue I had with @focus), the program sends the motors whizzing out to their limit and then tries to bring it back unsuccessfully to the focus position.

I believe the solution is to manually take the focus all the way out. Then start up FocusMax, then select FocusMax Focus tab and a double click will zero the position numbers. Then go to the Focus Start Position and enter the appropriate numbers for the RCX (I'm guessing here you manually focus and make a note of the value). Then start the focus routine.

Once my camera comes back from it's repair, I'll ket you know if it works. Having said that the ease of use and saving wear and tear on the main focus motors sounds very appealing with a Moonlite!

Regards,

Nick

#112 kennyrichmond

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 03:37 PM

Nick,

The FLI type flat focusers have no issue with fork clearance.
I believe that you might have hit upon the problem with focusing the RCX using ASCOM. It seems to want to find out where it is, but if you elect "relative" position rather than "absolute" when the RCX box opens up, it may cure the problem. I do recall reading about this somewhere and the process is among the several I plan to experiment with in the coming week. But check out the FLI style focusers.

Ken R.

Ken R.

#113 Nick Cook

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Posted 07 October 2007 - 03:32 AM

Ken it looks like you have just persuaded me to spend a thousand dollars - curse you! ;)

Seriously thanks for pointing me in the direction of the FLI focuser. The idea of reliable automatic focusing is just so appealing. I'll be placing an order tomorrow.

Apologies to Joad to dragging this thread so far off topic. :)

Nick

#114 Robin Lee

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Posted 07 October 2007 - 05:38 AM

Erm.. an off-topic question, Philadelphia is a state of US?

#115 Ben Ritchie

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Posted 07 October 2007 - 05:42 AM

The idea of reliable automatic focusing is just so appealing. I'll be placing an order tomorrow.


The reality is even better :)

I'm using Robofocus with my 'scopes rather than the FLI, but same principle. It's great to be able to do a filter change and refocus via VNC without having to leave the house. Lazy, moi?

#116 JerryWise

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Posted 07 October 2007 - 07:54 AM

Erm.. an off-topic question, Philadelphia is a state of US?


It is a city in the state of Pennsylvania.

Technically anyway. I've very close friends there that obviously do not hail from this planet.

#117 Robin Lee

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Posted 07 October 2007 - 08:37 AM

I see. Thanks :)


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