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Straight into the deep end - advice on an older 24” Starmaster? Photos of your assembly process wanted!

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#1 jkade

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 06:47 AM

Hi all,

 

I recently purchased the 24” Starmaster that had been owned by the late and sorely missed John Causland of the University Lowbrows astronomy club in Ann Arbor, MI. Here’s the Cloudy Nights classified for it. My understanding is that the scope had at one time been Rick Singmaster’s demonstration scope to sell telescopes. The mirror is full-thickness f/4.5 and was made by John Hall / Pegasus. The scope is fully outfitted with SkyTracker goto and SkyCommander setting circles.

 

I picked it up on Sunday and am in the process of setting it up now. And I’m perhaps a bit over my head! I should note that my biggest telescopes up until now have been two 10” dobs, neither of which has goto. I regularly help assemble and run the 22” Big Dob built and owned by the Warren Astronomical Society. I don’t have any direct experience with SkyTracker or SkyCommander; I’ve seen them in use at star parties, but that’s about it. I’ve never directly controlled a big dob goto platform.

I had hoped that I would be able to find videos online documenting how to assemble one and hook up all the electronics, but it is not so. I had also hoped I would be able to figure it out, but that also isn’t the case so far, heh.

 

I’ve been able to make some guesses based on photos online, but they’re just guesses. It might be a lot to ask, but are there any Starmaster owners with a similar setup who might be willing to take some photos of their assembly process?

 

My overriding initial question is: how does the mirror cell go into the mirror box?? I’m sure I’m going to feel stupid when I figure it out, but so far I’m not seeing how the mirror hangs up into the mirror box, or how to physically lift it up and in.

 

Any advice and/or encouragement is much appreciated!

Jonathan


Edited by jkade, 11 July 2020 - 07:05 AM.


#2 havasman

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 09:56 AM

I have little time right now but will help you out. Mirror cell -mirror edge supports on the bottom, handles end up toward the aperture, install with struts and UTA installed pointed horizontal (I use a support to lay the UTA on a support @ 15" tall), put the bottom cell rail onto the mirror box lip, tilt the mirror into position and install a bolt in the top to hold, put all the bolts in and snug 'em up good. Mirror cell installed and the scope should balance in alt motion.

 

More later and pics. Gotta go now. GREAT SCOPE!!!


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#3 astrophile

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 10:24 AM

Jonathan:  I like Dick have a 16" Starmaster (f4.3 variety) and my mirror/cell installation is the same as his.  I'll clarify that your scope may have come with a felt-tipped dowel that, once the scope assembly is tilted to horizontal, goes into a hole in the inside back of the rocker box to point up and support the mirror box horizontally once the mirror goes in.  And the mirror cell handles point into the mirror box as you tip the cell in.

 

However I've never been around a 20"+ Starmaster and cannot say whether those larger cells install the same.  I hope someone with a 22 or 24 incher will weigh in here.

 

On the electrics--big thing is to complete ALL component wiring connections before you plug in the battery to the system LAST.  Otherwise a blown fuse will ensue.  The manual and personal experience align on this one tongue2.gif

 

I have the instruction manual for my SM16, if you get stuck I can scan some of the pages but like I said it'd be best to hear from a larger scope owner.


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#4 GeneT

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 01:55 PM

"The mirror is full-thickness f/4.5"

What does full thickness mean, i.e. how thick is the mirror?


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#5 Mike Lockwood

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 02:08 PM

Do you have the instruction manual?  That covers most things, but not the newer Wifi module.

 

The mirror looks like 2" thick.


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#6 Bill Weir

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 02:09 PM

This is me putting the components on my 20”. I just did it quickly without the scope being fully assembled. https://youtu.be/YPBb0MRZt74

 

On the Sky Engineering site you can find the manual on how to run it but surprisingly there are no installation images.  http://www.skyeng.com

 

You could possibly try calling Carol Singmaster (Rick’s wife) and see if there are any Starmaster manuals laying around. It has all the instructions you need in it. Her phone number should be on the plate on the side of the scope.

 

With regards to assembly of the structure I do the poles first. Then I tip it and install the cell/mirror tailgate. Then I right it and then add the upper cage. Then I put on the electronics. 

 

Hope this helps.

 

Bill


Edited by Bill Weir, 11 July 2020 - 02:13 PM.

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#7 jkade

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 04:17 PM

Thanks to @bigdob24, it’s all together and ready for some clear skies tonight!

 

I’m still not 100% on the computer stuff. I have a Brainboxes module that I believe is a Bluetooth module for the computer to replace the RS232 connector, but I’m not sure where in the chain that goes.

 

I also have two large screws with brackets. I’m not sure what the purpose of those is.

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Edited by jkade, 11 July 2020 - 04:23 PM.

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#8 Bill Weir

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 04:58 PM

The plugs on the Brainbox look the same as those on the Sky Commander so I’m guessing you use it in place of the Sky Commander module then use whatever program you might have and Bluetooth it. As to the screws. my Starmaster came with 2 extra screws. Not sure what the angle brackets might be for. Maybe as part of attaching wheelbarrow handles? Looking at them now perhaps they were used as tie down points. One on either side in the wheelbarrow holes would give a point for a tie down strap. Just a guess. From the discolouring on the treads it’s obvious they were used.

 

Bill


Edited by Bill Weir, 11 July 2020 - 05:02 PM.

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#9 bigdob24

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 05:47 PM

Thanks to @bigdob24, it’s all together and ready for some clear skies tonight!

 

I’m still not 100% on the computer stuff. I have a Brainboxes module that I believe is a Bluetooth module for the computer to replace the RS232 connector, but I’m not sure where in the chain that goes.

 

I also have two large screws with brackets. I’m not sure what the purpose of those is.

That’s a great scope, makes me miss my old 24”

It was fun helping out, Ill be sending a copy of the manual soon, we’ll be waiting for the observing report

Enjoy


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#10 BrendanF

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 06:08 PM

I have a copy of my StarMaster manual as a set of PDF files (5 files, 5-9.5Mb each) which I would be happy to send you, though there is not much in it that you have not already figure out.  PM me if you want a copy.

 

I can't help with the L-brackets, though.  My Starmaster does not have that piece, nor did I see it in the manual.  Not sure about the extra wires...


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#11 astrophile

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 06:35 PM

The plugs on the Brainbox look the same as those on the Sky Commander so I’m guessing you use it in place of the Sky Commander module then use whatever program you might have and Bluetooth it. As to the screws. my Starmaster came with 2 extra screws. Not sure what the angle brackets might be for. Maybe as part of attaching wheelbarrow handles? Looking at them now perhaps they were used as tie down points. One on either side in the wheelbarrow holes would give a point for a tie down strap. Just a guess. From the discolouring on the treads it’s obvious they were used.

 

Bill

From the original CN Classified ad's Photo 1, it appears the handbolts with brackets were used to attach the rear of the wheelbarrow handles.

 

I wonder if the Brainbox maybe inserts between the Sky Commander and the computer jack on the rocker box?  Or, since that same photo does not show the Brainbox anywhere, is it inside the rocker box between the computer and either the Sky Commander or the hand control connector?


Edited by astrophile, 11 July 2020 - 06:40 PM.

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#12 jkade

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 07:27 PM

Thank you for all the information, all!

 

When I powered everything on with the Bluetooth module installed, it tried to run the scope backwards. Oops. I got the hand controllers working manually, but then the azimuth motor kept running even after I stopped pressing buttons. My guess is that the batteries are not charged sufficiently. I’ve heard this can lead to a lot of trouble.

 

From the original CN Classified ad's Photo 1, it appears the handbolts with brackets were used to attach the rear of the wheelbarrow handles.

 

I wonder if the Brainbox maybe inserts between the Sky Commander and the computer jack on the rocker box?  Or, since that same photo does not show the Brainbox anywhere, is it inside the rocker box between the computer and either the Sky Commander or the hand control connector?

Yes, it definitely gets power directly from the batteries. I suspect it just takes the place of one of the hand controllers in a two-way splitter.
 

Here’s a product page for it. My guess is that it’s not compatible with SkySafari and other mobile applications; you probably have to install a driver to add it as a virtual RS232 port on a computer.

 

Edit: yep, that is the case. It just went out of production on June 1, but drivers are still available: http://us.brainboxes...or-my-bl-819830

Guess my old Surface Pro has a reason to stick around now!

 

This is me putting the components on my 20”. I just did it quickly without the scope being fully assembled. https://youtu.be/YPBb0MRZt74

 

On the Sky Engineering site you can find the manual on how to run it but surprisingly there are no installation images.  http://www.skyeng.com

 

You could possibly try calling Carol Singmaster (Rick’s wife) and see if there are any Starmaster manuals laying around. It has all the instructions you need in it. Her phone number should be on the plate on the side of the scope.

 

With regards to assembly of the structure I do the poles first. Then I tip it and install the cell/mirror tailgate. Then I right it and then add the upper cage. Then I put on the electronics. 

 

Hope this helps.

 

Bill

Thanks a million! It’s great to know that Sky Engineering is still in business. If I recall right the SkyTracker was also their product, but it’s no longer produced, right?

 

Jonathan:  I like Dick have a 16" Starmaster (f4.3 variety) and my mirror/cell installation is the same as his.  I'll clarify that your scope may have come with a felt-tipped dowel that, once the scope assembly is tilted to horizontal, goes into a hole in the inside back of the rocker box to point up and support the mirror box horizontally once the mirror goes in.  And the mirror cell handles point into the mirror box as you tip the cell in.

 

However I've never been around a 20"+ Starmaster and cannot say whether those larger cells install the same.  I hope someone with a 22 or 24 incher will weigh in here.

 

On the electrics--big thing is to complete ALL component wiring connections before you plug in the battery to the system LAST.  Otherwise a blown fuse will ensue.  The manual and personal experience align on this one tongue2.gif

 

I have the instruction manual for my SM16, if you get stuck I can scan some of the pages but like I said it'd be best to hear from a larger scope owner.

It actually ended up being exactly the same! Thanks!


Edited by jkade, 11 July 2020 - 07:36 PM.


#13 Jack Day

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Posted 29 July 2020 - 02:33 PM

So, reading the test sheet included in the listing for the mirror (upper left of the sheet)

 

Mirror is 1.625 inches thick anf F/4.224




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