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Questar PG3

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#26 Larry Geary

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 02:39 PM

I'm out testing the tracking. It was great using the lunar tracking earlier in the evening, and then I've spent about an hour looking around M31. Works just fine.

Have they done anything to reduce periodic error? Mine is about 70" arc peak to peak.



#27 Optics Patent

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 04:45 PM

Wow Justin. Just wow.  :bow:

 

Gorgeous first images I've seen of the PG3.

 

Looks so refined and sophisticated. A worthy modern time accessory for the Questar.

 

If this is an indication of where Questar is heading, it's future, and ours, looks brighter than ever  :)

Even as a Questar enthusiast and collector, I must dissent.  The look of the controller is less sophisticated than a programmable TV remote from 20 years ago.  Clunky, not elegant like something from Apple's design studio.  The small display area and large printed frame makes it look archaic, as does the low-contrast B&W display with orange back-light.  You can buy a small high-resolution color display for almost nothing these days.  This kind of electronic device is not one that you can expect to be operating reliably in 10 years, let alone 50.  For the limited number of functions, push buttons might make more sense for reliability and ease of use (but maybe there are more screens that justify the screen control).  Better still, a phone app with bluetooth controlling the motor would be ideal, and cheaper than selling hardware.

My choice would be a standard drive motor powered by on-board batteries, "hard-wired" (with a basic controller) to run sidereally, with a dip switch under the plate to provide southern hemisphere rotation.  The upgrade would be a more sophisticated motor controller providing lunar, slew, maybe goto speeds, and control of an optional declination drive, with a bluetooth interface for control by an iphone or android app.  Maybe that's next for Questar and this is only a stopgap?

I must acknowledge that the tiny volume Questar can expect to sell makes development of a custom electronic device almost economically impossible, and the fact that they can offer anything at any price is something I find truly amazing.  But that is what I truly appreciate and admire, not the appearance or function of the new device.

In this era, needing an extension cord to provide a few milliwatts(?) to power a clock is less than ideal.  Am I dreaming that one could create a 120V AC supply at very low currents using batteries and modern electronics?


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#28 Panotaker

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Posted 04 February 2017 - 08:54 AM

I still don't see why Questar doesn't just sell a DC motor that runs on batteries instead of the AC motor. My ETX 90 RA has one, so why can't Questar offer one. I personally don't like the whole idea of a hand controller. A simple DC tracking motor that runs on rechargeable AA batteries is all I need.


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#29 Larry Geary

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Posted 04 February 2017 - 01:53 PM

I still don't see why Questar doesn't just sell a DC motor that runs on batteries instead of the AC motor. My ETX 90 RA has one, so why can't Questar offer one. I personally don't like the whole idea of a hand controller. A simple DC tracking motor that runs on rechargeable AA batteries is all I need.

https://www.youtube....h?v=DqDbpQxvCDs



#30 Optics Patent

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Posted 04 February 2017 - 04:18 PM

I posed this question to electrical engineer friend and he pointed me to this simple and inexpensive circuit that one should be able to plug into the AC port on the drive to get adequate battery-powered tracking.  Maybe when I have some spare time I'll make up a few dozen. ;-)
http://www.circuitsg...dc-to-230v.html



#31 Billydee

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Posted 04 February 2017 - 08:18 PM

Ben,

 

But it will not fit in the Q base and where is the 12 volt battery going to go?

 

 

Panotaker,

 

But those 6 to 8 AA batteries and the circuit board will not fit in the Q Base.

 

Bill



#32 Optics Patent

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Posted 04 February 2017 - 09:39 PM

It won't fit in the base as I would wish but neither does any past or current factory offering. There is something at the end of a cord that connects to the base.

My desire would be a battery door and an on off switch in the base plate but that would require factory engineering. The goal of the above notion is to have convenient basic tracking away from power sources for far less cost than a complex guiding system.

#33 Larry Geary

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Posted 04 February 2017 - 10:17 PM

What Ben and Panotaker describe is very similar to the original internal Powerguide, also known as the PG-1. On/Off switch and Northern/Southern Hemisphere switch in the base. Inputs for external power (via 12V battery or an AC adapter), Questar illuminated reticle eyepiece (expensive and obsolete), the motorized Declination drive, and the hand control. (The hand control input doubles as an ST-4 guiding port.) It takes a 9V battery (inside the other compartment in the base) which will last for several observing sessions. You can bring the Questar outside, point roughly north, turn it on, and observe, leaving the hand control in the case. (I keep it where the AC power cord used to be.) If you want to use the hand control, you get a red LED lamp for reading charts (on top), a button to switch between lunar and sidereal rates, and another to turn on the Questar illuminated reticle. The 4 lower buttons move the scope in RA (left and right) and Dec (up and down, with the optional Dec drive) at guiding speed (very slow). If you press and hold one direction button and then press and hold its opposite you get a "fast" speed that is good for positioning objects in the field but is much too slow for goto or slewing. (I would have added a high speed/guiding speed switch like Takahashi uses instead of this kludge, but it works.) I like the PG-1 much better than the PG-2 or PG-3.

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • PG1-1.jpg
  • pg1-3.jpg
  • pg1-2.jpg

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#34 Optics Patent

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Posted 06 February 2017 - 08:25 AM

Now I know exactly what to wish for!



#35 JHollJr

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Posted 06 February 2017 - 10:24 AM

I just have to say that despite some of the wish list, a lot that I agree with, the PG 3 does work well. I had it out last evening tracking the moon, and then switched to sidereal tracking. Having upgraded from the 1979 AC and using extension cords in the back yard, the PG 3 really makes it much easier to set up and get to observing.



#36 Optics Patent

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Posted 06 February 2017 - 12:31 PM

I confess that if I send in one of mine for a tune-up, I'll probably invest in the PG3 upgrade (unless there are rumors of a smart-phone bluetooth controlled system in which case I'll hold out).

 

I just think that $700 for a battery drive found in $700 telescopes isn't very appealing to one who doesn't need the guiding control, and who is even fine looking seeing the moon drift a tad (3% of the drift of an undriven scope).


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#37 Billydee

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Posted 06 February 2017 - 09:10 PM

Ben,

 

Just ask and you will receive.  When the PG-III was in Alpha testing the company in this ad worked with Questar to get the proper interface so Bluetooth would work through the new HC and Questar was to add it to the production model.  I understand it is now $99 not the listed $119.  You should contact them for info and quit sitting on your wallet and make Questar happy.

 

 http://astronomy-sho...om/?page_id=171

 

Bill



#38 Optics Patent

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 07:39 AM

...the original internal Powerguide, also known as the PG-1. On/Off switch and Northern/Southern Hemisphere switch in the base. Inputs for external power (via 12V battery or an AC adapter), Questar illuminated reticle eyepiece (expensive and obsolete), the motorized Declination drive, and the hand control. (The hand control input doubles as an ST-4 guiding port.) It takes a 9V battery (inside the other compartment in the base) which will last for several observing sessions. You can bring the Questar outside, point roughly north, turn it on, and observe, leaving the hand control in the case. ... I like the PG-1 much better than the PG-2 or PG-3.

I wonder if there is a reference on the PG units.  I see "Powerguide" controllers for sale now and then (with the cylindrical hand control).  But they don't seem to be part of this system.  Are those for sale of any use without a scope converted like this, or do they plug into the the classic AC power port?

Meanwhile, I'm probably searching for hen's teeth to find a fairly-priced mount already converted like yours!

I'd be happy to trade a Duplex for a Standard with this conversion, in case anyone reading is interested.

 



#39 Larry Geary

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 01:51 PM

Ben, I'm not sure what you mean by a reference. The Powerguides you see for sale that are wooden boxes work with the AC motor Questars. Here's a write-up that describes them in detail: http://www.company7....erguide_ac.html

 



#40 Optics Patent

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 02:10 PM

Thanks, Larry.  By a "reference" I meant that some nerd had compiled a detailed article on the history and differences of the different products.

I understand that the "the original internal Powerguide, also known as the PG-1" (which would be my first choice) is different from the "Powerguide" in the wooden box, which adjusts the tracking rate of the original internal AC motor drive, and requires AC power.



#41 Larry Geary

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 02:47 PM

Thanks, Larry.  By a "reference" I meant that some nerd had compiled a detailed article on the history and differences of the different products.

I understand that the "the original internal Powerguide, also known as the PG-1" (which would be my first choice) is different from the "Powerguide" in the wooden box, which adjusts the tracking rate of the original internal AC motor drive, and requires AC power.

Company Seven is a good source of historical info, though you have to root around a bit. Here is a link to the PG-1 and the PG-2.



#42 Billydee

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 08:57 PM

Ben.

 

PowerGuide    =  Wooden or in a few cases metal Box (about 8" X 8" X 6")  worked with battery and or AC.

 

PG - I               =  9 volt battery in the base with HC

 

PG - II              = 9 volt battery in HC

 

PG - III             = 9 volt battery in HC (display)

 

Bill



#43 Optics Patent

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Posted 08 February 2017 - 06:12 AM

Thanks Larry and Bill for the key info.  I'll have to read carefully to learn why the change from PG1 to PG2, since PG2 loses the benefit of tracking without the paddle, and adds to the base dimension.



#44 Billydee

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Posted 08 February 2017 - 02:07 PM

Ben,

 

I know of a few problems with PG-I.

 

1.  The motor in PG-I gave them problems so they found a new bigger and better motor and built PG-II.

 

2.  The battery door in the base was a problem, they either broke or were lost. No replacements are available.

 

3.  I understand that there are problems with the power in the base and the board in the handset.

 

These problems were solved in the PG-II.  Not many PG-Is were made before PG-II came out.

 

Bill



#45 Optics Patent

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Posted 08 February 2017 - 02:23 PM

Thanks, Bill.  I'll limiting myself to wishing for what the PG-1 aspired to, not what it was.



#46 Larry Geary

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Posted 08 February 2017 - 03:49 PM

Thanks, Bill.  I'll limiting myself to wishing for what the PG-1 aspired to, not what it was.

For someone with electronics skills (i.e., not me) it could be an interesting project to build a new Powerguide from scratch - new motors, new electronics, encoders, wireless interface with Sky Safari, etc. The PG-1 used a simple microcontroller, and there are probably better, smaller, more power efficient versions available today. Something like an Arduino might work, at least for prototyping, but I'm not sure how much power it uses. The advantage of a simple controller is that it starts the drive tracking the second you turn it on, unlike a tiny computer that may need boot-up time.



#47 Billydee

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Posted 08 February 2017 - 07:27 PM

Larry,

 

Yes, it can be done but there are problems in parts sourcing.  Questar is having major problems obtaining PG-II motors and has had that problem for over 2 years.  The PG-II needed a quartz clock to run.  Making something that is simple would make the Q 3,5 into a Meade EXT-90 (a real cheap Q).  Here is your interface with Sky Safari and they can also provide encoders:

 

http://astronomy-sho...om/?page_id=171

 

Bill


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#48 starblue

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 02:45 PM

Ben,

 

I know of a few problems with PG-I.

 

1.  The motor in PG-I gave them problems so they found a new bigger and better motor and built PG-II.

 

2.  The battery door in the base was a problem, they either broke or were lost. No replacements are available.

 

3.  I understand that there are problems with the power in the base and the board in the handset.

 

These problems were solved in the PG-II.  Not many PG-Is were made before PG-II came out.

 

Bill

Those are Questar's problems. I have a Q3.5 and a Q7 with PG 1's installed and have never encountered them. The main problem is for the user--switching the battery in the scope's base when the old one goes dead. Removing the little Q from its tripod is no big deal but rather inconvenient. But removing the 50-lb Q7 from its base is a major operation even during daylight when I'm feeling fresh and strong--doing it late at night in the dark when one is not as alert is a potential recipe for disaster; if the Q7's battery goes dead early in the evening, I may resort to the slow motions, but later on it's easier to just quit for the night.


Edited by starblue, 12 February 2017 - 03:06 PM.

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#49 starblue

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 02:56 PM

 

For someone with electronics skills (i.e., not me) it could be an interesting project to build a new Powerguide from scratch - new motors, new electronics, encoders, wireless interface with Sky Safari, etc. The PG-1 used a simple microcontroller, and there are probably better, smaller, more power efficient versions available today. Something like an Arduino might work, at least for prototyping, but I'm not sure how much power it uses. The advantage of a simple controller is that it starts the drive tracking the second you turn it on, unlike a tiny computer that may need boot-up time.

 

 

I was part of an Internet-organized visit to Questar HQ in 2000, and they were considering the PG3 even then. I've never understood why a company that makes equipment for the military, which presumably incorporates advanced electronics, couldn't get the PG3 out faster. Even back then they mentioned Bob Vanderbei's deep-sky photos--they could have copied his design (with his permission, of course) and had it out in 2001.



#50 Larry Geary

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 05:26 PM

 

Those are Questar's problems. I have a Q3.5 and a Q7 with PG 1's installed and have never encountered them. The main problem is for the user--switching the battery in the scope's base when the old one goes dead. Removing the little Q from its tripod is no big deal but rather inconvenient. But removing the 50-lb Q7 from its base is a major operation even during daylight when I'm feeling fresh and strong--doing it late at night in the dark when one is not as alert is a potential recipe for disaster; if the Q7's battery goes dead early in the evening, I may resort to the slow motions, but later on it's easier to just quit for the night.

Does the PG-1 in the Q7 have a 12V input? Then you could carry a jump-start battery and appropriate cord, plug it into the base, and carry on observing.




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