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New adapter for mounting Moonlite focusers on MNs

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#1 Bob A (SD)

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Posted 17 September 2005 - 10:18 AM

In an earlier thread with the same subject line I commented that Ron Newman at Moonlite was fabricating a series of new adapter plates which would easily and elegantly allow owners of Intes-Micro and Orion-Intes Mak-Newts to upgrade their factory agricultural grade focusers. In the past folks wanting to upgrade had to drill the factory focuser plate to accept focusers from JMI, Moonlite, or Feathertouch.

My MN56 (bought new in 2000) is what I deem second generation in that it reflects the addition of a removable primary cooling plate over the original model but retaining the original helical focuser. Later models added improved but still rough crayford focusers, additional mounting plate screws (4 over the earlier 2) and cooling holes in the meniscus corrector surround ring. I'd toyed with upgrading over the years but didn't want the hassle of drilling holes.

After extensive web research including the reading of numerous user comments and focuser comparisons I concluded that the Moonlite focuser was the best bang for the buck (a step up from JMI and comparable performance to the Feathertouch at a lower price point). Going to their web page I found they offered a service to drill the factory mounting plate to accept the CR series focusers sans the stock base. (Here is a thread Ricky posted illustrating his experiences with the old method of upgrading: http://www.cloudynig...art=&PHPSESSID= ) I still didn't like this idea but had gotten to the point where I could no longer live with the stock helical. My timing couldn't be better as I found out when contacting Ron at Moonlite that they were machining new adapter plates (at that time not listed on their web page) which would couple their CR focusers to the OTAs without the need for drilling any holes. In addition to the benefits of not modifying the stock configuration, these plates allow the standard configuration Moonlite focuser to be moved to other OTAs and when on the Intes-Micro or Orion-Intes scopes permit full orientation adjustment of the focuser to place the focus controls where ever the user prefers.

The first adapter plates made were "drop in" pieces for the factory two and four hole mounting plates. These MN models both feature a pair of setscrews which serve to retain the stock crayford and now the Moonlite adapter. The rub for me was that the original (earlier) Intes-Micro OTAs employed a threaded screw in arrangement to affix the stock helical focuser to the OTA. Working with Ron and the gang at Moonlite, they added a third MN adapter variant to address this older threaded configuration. And I have become the first MN owner to install a Moonlite CR (in my case the dual speed CR2) on the older threaded style OTA using this style adapter plate. Despite the threaded versus drop in nature of the my adapter, none of the flexibility of user focuser control orientation adjustment has been lost. I am extremely pleased not only with the buttery smoothness of the CR2 but with the painfree elegant nature of the adapter plate as a means to upgrading. Very highly recommended to those considering upgrading their stock focusers :)!

I will be posting a series of pictures later this weekend to this thread which will illustrate my upgrade. I also note that these new adapters are now listed on the Moonlite web site. I have no connection with Moonlite nor am I being compensated in any way.... just a very happy customer :)
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#2 Bob A (SD)

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Posted 17 September 2005 - 10:54 AM

I neglected to comment about the offset problem Ricky encountered with the old upgrade method. These new adapter plates completely obviate that issue allowing the new focuser to be centered over the secondary without any complications such as Ricky had :) !

And for the curious I opted for the short 1.5" drawtube to permit imaging applications. I coupled that with a 1.5" extension tube for the 1.25" eyepiece adapter and specified the new compression ring style versus screw holder as well.

#3 Bob A (SD)

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 11:34 AM

Okay, here are some additional photos.

Here you see a MN adapter plate on the factory 2 hole focuser mounting plate with the secondary visible
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The dual speed CR2 focuser installed oriented with the focuser controls perpendicular to the OTA axis (a mix of plastic and aluminum ep retaining screws are shown here...)
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The CR2 is shown here in my preferred position with the controls parallel to the OTA axis. I'm sinistral (right handed but left eye dominant) and prefer observing from the right side of the scope (yeah, I know :) ). Eyepiece is the Speers-Waler 5-8mm A zoom. All ep screws in use here are aluminum. The shot also reflects the 1.25" ep 1.5" tube extender which is not needed with this ep... just shown to illustrate the "full stack."
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A full profile shot. Neither this nor the picture above reflects the OTA turned for proper ep viewing. Staged this way simply to give a better view of the installed CR2 :)
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#4 Bob A (SD)

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 02:01 PM

Okay, just got asked. The finder is a 8x50 RACI Antares. The finder optics including ep work great although I have read past reviews where others apparently received less than steller units. The green laser is from Atlas-Nova. Found them through great reviews on CandlePowerForums.

Although not asked about I might as well flesh things out. The wooden tripod is from NatureWatch in Canada. And the wooden spreader is a DIY from a design found at AstroDesigns. Both made a huge difference in stability and vibration control over the stock aluminum legs and thin metal tray :)

#5 darylf96

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Posted 18 November 2005 - 02:33 AM

Bob:

I really like your setup! I will be ordering the MoonLite focuser soon. Got the dual speed for my 80ED and was sold. I have the newer factory crayford focuser. It isn't bad, but not nearly as nice as the MoonLite. You also need to be constantly adjusting the drawtubes with various length EPs, which is a pain. Haven't had a chance to use the MN66 on the CGE mount yet. Hope to in the next week.

My concern with upgrading to the MoonLite focuser: wILL IT BE NECESSARY TO RE-COLLIMATE MY SCOPE? I have real fears of fouling up an now perfectly collimated scope. I suppose I should learn to do it properly, but I would rather pop the focuser on knowing that the scope will remain in good collimation, as was the case adapting it to my 80ED - no affect on collimation at all.

#6 Bob A (SD)

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Posted 18 November 2005 - 07:49 PM

Daryl,

Actually the Moonlite is just a drop in with the new adapter plates so it should still be centered above the secondary. But as great as the optics are in these OTAs I still recommend being on the safe side and using a sight tube to ensure things are centered. Assuming the scope's optics are collimated you should then be good to go :)

BTW I just replaced my modified Spectiva EQ4 mount shown in these pictures with a SkyWatcher EQ6 SynScan. This move gives me a mount that is fully driven. GOTO is a plus too. Should I go to a larger OTA like a MN76 or 86 my new mount is quite capable of handling things :)



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