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Frustration with Coronado SolarMax II 60

Meade observing solar
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#1 Napp

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 02:45 PM

I bought a used SolarMax II 60 a few months ago.  I am just very frustrated with using it.  :(  I can't see anything other than a bright orange disk.  I know we are approaching a solar minimum so I don't expect to see sunspots.  However, I was hoping to catch the occasional prominence.  I am very frustrated at this point with everything but the finder which works well.  Do I have unrealistic expectations or just don't understand how to use it?  I can focus and get a nice bright sharp disk but that's about it.  I don't see that adjusting the tuning lever really changes anything in the image.  The instructions in the manual are useless.  I can't find any YouTube videos or other documents with tips on best use.  Any suggestions?   :confused:

 

Thanks.



#2 Richard O'Neill

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 03:08 PM

 As you can see, you picked a bad time to buy a solar telescope. :shocked:

 

http://umbra.nascom....t_171_full.gif?

 

https://sohowww.nasc...a.gov/sunspots/



#3 photoracer18

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 03:43 PM

I agree. I have hardly even opened the case on my MaxScope 40 due to the Solar Minimum right now.



#4 Glenn Graham

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 04:20 PM

I recently received a Coronado SolarMax II 60mm filter set that I am using on a TeleVue TV76 scope. While the disk features have been few, there have been quite a few prominences to view. If your filter is tuned and operating properly you should have seen some prominences over the past few weeks. I usually check the GONG H-alpha network to see what is happening. The prominences shown in their images should be visible in your scope.

 

Having said that, I would also like someone to describe their tuning process in detail. I agree the manual provided by Meade/Coronado does not provide enough details. I usually start with the TMax tuner completely closed, while observing the image I turn the TMax thumb wheel until prominences are as bright as possible, then turn the RichView ring to improve any surface details. Not sure if that is the best approach but it seems to work reasonably well.


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#5 Paul Hyndman

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 04:21 PM

There is just about always something going on in solar H-a. Soooo... IMHO,  the etalon may have de-contacted (the exacting tolerances between the plates has been compromised). This may be the result of an "oops" or happen during shipping but, if so, is best sent back for repair.

 

But hang on and see what others here might suggest before contacting Meade for a RMA.


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#6 germana1

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 09:48 PM

Might want to check the blocking filter in the diagonal to see if it's cloudy might have rust
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#7 Napp

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 11:45 PM

Thanks everyone for your responses.  I checked the GONG H-alpha network (thanks, Glenn) today and there were prominences there though I could not see them.  I have attached a couple pictures of the blocking filter.  I don't see rust.  I do see a glob of sealant(?) just outside the filter and a possible scratch on the filter surface.  The filter seems quite shiny.  The draw tube does not close tight though I do not notice any light leakage into the view.  Should the tuning lever exhibit any resistance to being moved?  Mine does not.  It stays in position but is extremely easy to move.  Thanks for your help.

 

Mike

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  • Blocking Filter 1.jpeg
  • Blocking Filter  2.jpeg
  • Draw Tube.jpeg


#8 marktownley

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 01:58 AM

There is rust on that blocker, on image 2 on the right you can see the ring of purple / red encroaching from the perimeter, but I don't think this will adversely effect it.

 

What magnification are you using?  Can you focus to get a sharp edge on the limb?


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#9 Napp

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 02:11 AM

There is rust on that blocker, on image 2 on the right you can see the ring of purple / red encroaching from the perimeter, but I don't think this will adversely effect it.

 

What magnification are you using?  Can you focus to get a sharp edge on the limb?

 

I have 12, 18 and (I think) 25mm eyepieces.  I can focus to get a sharp edge on the limb including when I use a 2x Barlow.      Should you feel any resistance when moving the tuning lever?  I do not with mine.  

 

Thanks,

Mike



#10 GUS.K

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 03:22 AM

You can adjust the tuning lever on the side of the scope to give you more tuning range. You remove the pin and adjust the tuner  until you see more detail, then re insert the pin into a hole close to the center of the slot, so you have some tuning range either side. This should give you better detail, as it sets the tuning range for your altitude, which will more than likely be different from the manufacturers. Like others have said, the blocking filter could also be rusted, but it would have to be pretty bad to lose all detail.

 

Ivan.


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#11 Procyon

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 09:09 AM

I bought a used SolarMax II 60 a few months ago.  I am just very frustrated with using it.  :(  I can't see anything other than a bright orange disk.  I know we are approaching a solar minimum so I don't expect to see sunspots.  However, I was hoping to catch the occasional prominence.  I am very frustrated at this point with everything but the finder which works well.  Do I have unrealistic expectations or just don't understand how to use it?  I can focus and get a nice bright sharp disk but that's about it.  I don't see that adjusting the tuning lever really changes anything in the image.  The instructions in the manual are useless.  I can't find any YouTube videos or other documents with tips on best use.  Any suggestions?   :confused:

 

Thanks.

Hey Napp, when using high magnification, do you not see any surface detail or granulation? You may possibly need to double stack it?

 

With the 12mm eyepiece do you see a full disc still or are you zoomed in much more?



#12 Napp

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 04:49 PM

I do not see surface detail even when I am zoomed in.  As to the proper use of the tuning lever this is something which I do not have a good understanding.  I have been attempting to tune within the range that the inserted pin allows.  The manual does not describe that you can remove the pin and adjust over a greater range - really a very poor excuse for a manual.  I remember reading in a forum somewhere that the scope can be damaged if "tuned too far".  Obviously, I need to remove the pin to adjust over a larger range and hopefully find the sweet spot.  However, how do I know if I am adjusting too far before I break something?

 

Unfortunately, it's too cloudy today to experiment and the forecast for the next few days is not looking too good. 

 

Thanks,

Mike 



#13 DAVIDG

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 05:40 PM

There is rust on that blocker, on image 2 on the right you can see the ring of purple / red encroaching from the perimeter, but I don't think this will adversely effect it.

 

What magnification are you using?  Can you focus to get a sharp edge on the limb?

   I agree with Mark that while the  filter does shows signs of rust that would not cause you not to see H-alpha features. When you tune the Etalon do you see multiple images  of the Sun ?  If so that is a classic sign that the Etalon has decontacted. It doesn't take much  to decontact one,  a good bump or short fall will do it.  They can be repaired thou  and I have done a couple myself.

 

                     - Dave 


Edited by DAVIDG, 11 January 2017 - 05:42 PM.

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#14 Napp

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 07:09 PM

You can adjust the tuning lever on the side of the scope to give you more tuning range. You remove the pin and adjust the tuner  until you see more detail, then re insert the pin into a hole close to the center of the slot, so you have some tuning range either side. This should give you better detail, as it sets the tuning range for your altitude, which will more than likely be different from the manufacturers. Like others have said, the blocking filter could also be rusted, but it would have to be pretty bad to lose all detail.

 

Ivan.

 

 

 

There is rust on that blocker, on image 2 on the right you can see the ring of purple / red encroaching from the perimeter, but I don't think this will adversely effect it.

 

What magnification are you using?  Can you focus to get a sharp edge on the limb?

   I agree with Mark that while the  filter does shows signs of rust that would not cause you not to see H-alpha features. When you tune the Etalon do you see multiple images  of the Sun ?  If so that is a classic sign that the Etalon has decontacted. It doesn't take much  to decontact one,  a good bump or short fall will do it.  They can be repaired thou  and I have done a couple myself.

 

                     - Dave 

 

Ivan and Dave, I do not see multiple images when tuning.  I suspect and hope the issue is my lack of knowledge about tuning the Etalon.  I have only been trying to tune within the range the inserted pin allows.  I was not aware that it's OK to remove the pin and tune over a larger range.  I had thought about it but had previously read a forum entry that led me to believe I could damage the Etalon if I moved the adjustment too far.  Is this true?  If so, how do I make sure I do not cause damage.  I guess what I am asking for is a basic tutorial on tuning the Etalon.

 

Thank you.

 

Mike



#15 GUS.K

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Posted 12 January 2017 - 12:43 AM

Hi Mike, have a look at Stephen Ramsdens solar scope reviews, he has a review of the solarmax ll SM60. Half way into the review, there is a description on removing the tuning lever. It may or may not improve your view, but won't hurt to try. In my case moving it a few slots improved the view compared to the original setting. The other issue at the moment is that the Sun is very quiet, detail is sparse, even for a 100mm scope. 


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#16 DAVIDG

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Posted 12 January 2017 - 09:59 AM

 One thing to double check is that you are correctly focused.  The optical arrangement of an H-alpha scope can fool you that you are in focus when your not. The draw tube pulls out of the focuser to get you close and then you use  the helical focuser to fine tune the image. It has happen to me a couple of times that experienced night time observers have come to me saying their H-alpha scope doesn't work and it turned out that they did not understand that they needed to pull the draw tube out of the focuser by some distance to get their eyepiece to come to focus and not just use the movement of the helical focuser.

 So my suggestion is push the draw tube all the way forward and then slowly pull it out until the Sun looks to be in sharp focus and then keep going to confirm that was the position of best focus. Then use the helical focuser to find tune the image and finally turn the tuning level to see if H-alpha features become visible. I have never seen the sun were H-alpha feature were not present even when there was no sun spots. The surface always has a "hairy" look to it when tuned correctly.

 

                   - Dave  


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#17 Napp

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Posted 12 January 2017 - 12:38 PM

SUCCESS!!!  It was indeed a matter of properly tuning the Etalon.  I removed the pin and slowly moved through the range.    It took some patience because the sweet spot was a long way from where the starting point.  The reward was worth it.  Several prominences were visible.  One was particularly striking. It appeared as a suspended bright cloud with filaments that looped to the surface.  The longer I observed the more I saw.  Taking short breaks from the eyepiece seemed to help by allowing me to see more detail.  I attached a picture I took with my iPhone.  Please excuse the poor quality but you can make out a couple of the prominences.  

 

I got excited enough to double stack but quickly realized I wasn't ready to tackle the added complexity.  I decided to keep it simple for a while and learn the basics first.  Thanks to everyone for your help.

 

Mike

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#18 Glenn Graham

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Posted 12 January 2017 - 02:56 PM

Yay! So glad you are having some success.

 

I just got in from viewing and those prominences are small. Wait until you see some large ones and active regions on the disk!


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#19 Glenn Graham

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Posted 12 January 2017 - 03:03 PM

By the way. After searching through old postings looking for descriptions of how others tune their Coronado filters I moved my pin as well and found I could put the filter on-band with the TMax tuner fully closed (no tilt) using the RichView tuner alone (I have an external etalon which provides both tuning mechanisms, like your double stack etalon). Previously I had to utilize both to get it on-band as the RichView tuner would reach the end of its pinned range.


Edited by Glenn Graham, 12 January 2017 - 03:09 PM.

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