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"Non-astronomy" equipment adapted for astronomy?

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#1051 Chris Y

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Posted 03 September 2019 - 12:19 AM

To keep the finder scope secure in the rings and not allow it to slip fore and aft or turn in the rings, I used aluminum muffler tape.  Each end has five or six layers wrapped around the scope.  The width at the ocular end is 3/16" wide, and the width at the objective is 1/2" wide.  This is spaced to fit the ring spacing on my Explore Scientific standard height finder scope rings.

The nylon tips of the adjustment screws make small indentations in the layered aluminum.  After aligning the finder scope with the muffler tape in place, I recapped the lenses, removed the finder from the Mak, and returned it to it's spot in the scope case.  I repeated the process five or six times, and the point of aim never changed.  The muffler tape also added the extra surface height needed to crank down the adjustment screws nice and tight, so that was a bonus too.

 

Muffler Tape Finder Scope
 
 
Edit: Corrected "5" to "five", changed "allowed" to "added".

Edited by Chris Y, 03 September 2019 - 02:40 PM.

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#1052 SamplingNature

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 12:02 PM

Aside from my scope itself (Meade ETX-80), zoom eyepiece and Barlow, almost my entire observing kit is cobbled together from non-astro equipment. My first kit for many years, I'm setting it up to be entirely grab-and-go.

My binoculars (Nikon Aculon 10x42) are primarily marketed to hunters/birders. My gear bag is a sling bag for range shooters.

My red lights are Duracell branded LED headlamps set up for the red light to come on on the first click of the power button. Additionally, I carry three red LED wand lights ($1 each at Walmart) as marker lights for tripod, gear bags, hazards, etc.


For initial setup, I carry a carpenter's bullseye level for my tripod and two line levels for my OTA. I also use an orienteering compass (adjustable for declination).

I power my scope with a 12v Talentcell battery marketed primarily to the theatre and A/V market. It and my Audiostar handset are attached to my mount via 3M "Dual Lock" adhesive patches (think velcro on steroids).

Both of my finders are actually gun sights. My green laser mounts to a Weaver plate attached directly to my OTA with Gorilla Mounting Tape so it's low-profile.

Last night, I added a rifle dot scope. At $40, it's about the same overall size as the lower-end red dot sights/finders, but far more robust. The housing is metal, and the LED projector is fully encapsulated. It's shape will allow me to wrap it in a Hot Hands chemical hand warmer if needed to ward off dew. The light output is variable, and I can choose between red, green and blue. It mounts to the riser that shipped with my telescope.

The zeroing mechanism for both finders is enclosed and designed to handle some recoil, so they should hold alignment better than a lot of the astro-specific options.

I'll also be using hand warmers held in place with velcro straps around the objective cell, eyepiece and finder to stave off dew.
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#1053 Greyhaven

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Posted 20 September 2019 - 06:03 AM

Have you noticed any negative issues with the hand warmer used as a dew heater? They produce way more heat than the conventional resistor style. To be effective the OTA only needs to be only few degrees above ambient  temp. Any problem with heat currents in the OTA ?

Those hunting sights sound real good for shooting the Moon.grin.gif Thanks for sharing.

Grey



#1054 SamplingNature

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Posted 20 September 2019 - 03:03 PM

I haven't actually tried it yet, just read that it works well on small scopes and is much cheaper.

#1055 SamplingNature

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Posted 20 September 2019 - 06:13 PM

Sorry. Had to cut the last post short.

I've also seen patches to make your own heated clothing on Amazon...they run on USB.

I can't justify putting almost $200 into dew prevention for a little scope.
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#1056 markb

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Posted 22 September 2019 - 09:03 PM

I have never had to work on a dew heater, but there have been plans around for a long time using simple series connected resistors or even modified pipe 'heat tape' used to prevent pipe freezing in homes, IIRC.

 

A quick search turned up this ST piece

 

https://www.skyandte...diy-dew-heater/

 

Recalculate for 5V for USB, but remember the port limits on laptops vary, .5 A or 500 mA comes to mind, with some limited to 100mA. A lithium pack like my well-liked Talentcell may easily exceed those limits on the usb port, while simultaneously supplying q2v to run the scope.

 

I think one intent of the chemical pack was to avoid wires, but I cannot speak for the poster. I would agree that the amount of heat is likely excessive.

 

Perhaps there is a lower temp alternative to go cordless?

 

Or simply use a AA battery pack, alkalines have relatively high amp-hour ratings.



#1057 jcj380

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 09:08 AM

Have you noticed any negative issues with the hand warmer used as a dew heater? They produce way more heat than the conventional resistor style. To be effective the OTA only needs to be only few degrees above ambient  temp. Any problem with heat currents in the OTA ?

Those hunting sights sound real good for shooting the Moon.grin.gif Thanks for sharing.

Grey

I use Hot Hands or similar chemical warmers with a rubber band on my 80mm and 120 fracs.  Never had a problem with them getting too hot or thermals.  YMMV.


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#1058 j.gardavsky

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Posted 27 September 2019 - 08:12 AM

Here it have been the microscope eyepieces,

https://www.cloudyni...my-microscopes/

which have replaced even the best astronomy Plössls and Astroplans,

 

and the filters used also in the microscopy,

 

JG


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#1059 Chris Y

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Posted 05 October 2019 - 05:29 PM

I have a couple fairly heavy duty carry bags for my camping chairs, at least one of which will be seeing duty as a tripod bag when I take a scope to one of my kids houses.

 

I also have a 35x10x10 Neewer tripod bag on the way to use as a transport bag for my AR102 grab-n-go.  If it's sturdy enough I might make a swappable set of foam inserts for it and use it for my 152 Mak at times.



#1060 markb

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Posted 05 October 2019 - 08:42 PM

When I need cases for any astro gear, I look to the photo, tripod and lighting storage solutions, too.

 

I just replaced the same Neweer bag (great case). I was using for my 5"  f5 folder Jaeger's and replaced it only because it was TOO big and sturdy and I needed a smaller diameter bag for quick runs to the backyard.

 

It will be perfect for my much fatter 6".

 

The length of my folded f5 and regular f5 are almost the same, so it will fit either.

 

Another tripod bag to the rescue. A bit cheesy, it was $18 (!) and fit the Jaeger's, with dual speed 2in reflector focuser on the side, great. Hense brand, Amazon in one day!

 

A lighting equipment hard case for 1/3 of the expected 'astro' case cost got me a wheeled carrier for my 100mm binos.

 

Chris's mak will almost certainly fit in an oversized photo bag or a lighting case.

 

Another lighting case nailed storage of my large SCT tripod, wheeled, padded and subdivided!


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#1061 KevinFH

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 04:36 AM

Dimmer on Amazon by TORCHSTAR on Amazon ~$15.00
DC12V-24V 9A PWM RGB LED Dimmer Controller - 3 Channel Output for RGB Multi-color LED Strip Lights and Single Color LED Strip Lights

 

I adapted the RGB LED dimmer as a dew heater controller.  It only allows you to vary the temperature without temperature sensing and feedback.

The PWM controller has these specifications:

 

Input: 12V to 24V DC

Output channels:   3

Output type: PWM 0-100%

Output current: 3A/channel

 

My dew heaters:

Main OTA:   20 Ohms (may need to get a lower resistance heater for the main OTA)

Finder:         5 Ohms (Protage brand )  

Guide scope: 5 Ohms (Protage brand )


Edited by KevinFH, 20 October 2019 - 04:41 AM.

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#1062 25585

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Posted 14 December 2019 - 01:54 PM

New aid for both visual & imaging views.

 

http://www.silkyfox.co.uk/hayate.php 7.7 model. 


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#1063 harbinjer

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 08:59 AM

was

Dimmer on Amazon by TORCHSTAR on Amazon ~$15.00
DC12V-24V 9A PWM RGB LED Dimmer Controller - 3 Channel Output for RGB Multi-color LED Strip Lights and Single Color LED Strip Lights

I adapted the RGB LED dimmer as a dew heater controller. It only allows you to vary the temperature without temperature sensing and feedback.
The PWM controller has these specifications:

Input: 12V to 24V DC
Output channels: 3
Output type: PWM 0-100%
Output current: 3A/channel

My dew heaters:
Main OTA: 20 Ohms (may need to get a lower resistance heater for the main OTA)
Finder: 5 Ohms (Protage brand )
Guide scope: 5 Ohms (Protage brand )

d as

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#1064 jtsenghas

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 10:00 AM

These LED dimmers,  both DC direct wired and remote do well not only for dew heaters,  they also are excellent for variable speed on 12V fans. 

 

Because they pulse at full voltage they provide full torque to the fans even at low speed. 


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#1065 Gd5150

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 01:17 PM

Giant trash bags make a good telescope cover when you’re done for the evening.
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#1066 jcj380

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 05:46 PM

I store my OTAs in a wooden wall unit.  Up until today, I've put them in a plastic storage bin with some foam rubber and bubble pack.  Just got back from HobLob with some 12x12x2 polyfoam squares.  Took out the bin and laid the squares in the unit, laid the scopes on top of the foam.

 

I should also be able to put the foam in the bin for transport.

 

$15.



#1067 Ivor Redtorch

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Posted 29 January 2020 - 10:43 AM

Wonderfully imaginative posts in this thread, mine are less innovative, but

 

I use photography backdrop sheets and frames to cut out street lighting, and I sometimes hang a length of turkey roasting foil in a tree to eclipse a particularly inconvenient bathroom light. It works fine, except on very windy nights (bit noisy too). I use bungee cord to raise and lower the branches when required. I weigh the black sheeting down with magnetic table cloth weights and the frames with a sand bag.

 

I had a children's toy stuck on my Dec knob to stop me unscrewing the dovetail from the mount because the manufacturer had put both similar knobs next to one another (I suppose replacing smashed OTAs is good business).

 

I have bits of luminous tape on my tripod feet (but I think most of us do).

 

I use chalk to draw a rough star map on the shed wall, just beneath the start themselves.

 

Now I can try some of the many suggestions in this thread!


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#1068 SimonMiller

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 09:17 AM

A folding aluminium table - lightweight and keeps valuable stuff off the ground.

A Red head torch - with rechargeable Lithium battery and a RED mode e.g. cycles red only on, flash, off or on/off with no chance of a white light (unless required) with bonus of also swapping rechargeable for AAA batteries.

A 17Ah 12V battery - sold as a Starter. Gives direct access to the battery for driving a mount and dew heaters via two 12v sockets and includes a (fairly) intelligent charger and wall mains adapter (about same price as just the battery).

Some non astronomy purchases can be just as good e.g. some cases for EPs. Or a case for a OTA or a case for a tripod.

Are astronomy filters overpriced? I just acquired a 2” ND filter. Seems quite expensive e.g. in the same range as an EP. Quick check and camera filters especially large sizes are also expensive. Just how good do these need to be e.g. can any be really so bad for looking just at the moon?

It seems that a plastic multipurpose box can be inexpensive, but if the name includes “astronomy” then the same item, will have a price that will be “astronomical” too! Buyer beware.
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#1069 djones498

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Posted 08 February 2020 - 11:33 AM

Soft coolers for accessories and for 90mm Cass/Mak OTAs and mounts. Pop up canopy/tent zipper bag for a tripod. Semi transparent laundry detergent cap/measure for eyepieces. Red coke plastic bottle caps fit some maglights for night vision use.

Edited by djones498, 08 February 2020 - 11:39 AM.

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#1070 jcj380

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Posted 10 February 2020 - 10:07 AM

A folding aluminium table - lightweight and keeps valuable stuff off the ground.

I have a small folding nylon camp "table".  Not very tall and probably not able to handle much of a load, but very light and portable.  The built in drink holder has occasionally been used to hold a specific EP, phone, etc.


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