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EQ6R-Pro erratic behaviour in RA on permanent/fixed setup

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#1 rofus

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Posted 16 June 2021 - 11:32 AM

Hello everyone

 

after looking around for the many other topics, I finished what to think and try for my problem, so I'm now humbly asking the opinion of other fellow astrophotographers to see if I can figure out what's wrong with my (brand new!) EQ6R-pro.

 

I have a permanent setup outside, on a Skywatcher pier tripod. I used this setup for years with an HEQ5 and it worked brilliantly, despite the HEQ5 was sometimes guiding more than 14kg of stuff on top with 4 counterweights!

 

At some point I decided to upgrade to EQ6pro, and I'm regretting it. It doesn't do well in RA, but is a very random problem that seems also depending on sky position. I've tried many things, maybe it's something I can't figure out but someone else can see. I do astrophotography since many years, but more pair of eyes are always better than just one.

 

You'll see the setup from attached pictures, it's free to rotate, no cables pulling/tense (I checked at night many times in addition to free rotation during the day), it's perfectly balanced in DEC and RA, and it has a total load of about 14/15kg (perfectly fine for a EQ6r).

 

I use PHD2 (pulseguide), both normal or dev with multistar, but I tried as well using The Sthe sky with relativeky X via ST4 direct, same problem happens. The problem is that RA guides always twice as bad as DEC. I tried taking PEC with Autopec in EQMOD several times, but it seems to not make it better, if anything seems worse maybe. PECprep said my PE was about 10/11 arcsec, so not too bad for an EQ6r from what I read.

 

The real problem remains: WEIRD peaks, and a general jumpy guide/graph, that make stars almost always slightly oval.

 

As you can see I check alignment with a Polemaster, and one night after the other it's basically almost perfect (Pole star almost central to the cross at the centre of the circle).

 

I'm in a Bortle 4/5 sky with good seeing, use a Lodestar X2 with 225mm guide scope, I used this setup for many years and never had a problem with my HEQ5. 

 

The spikes seem worst when pointing near celestial equator, but also pointing elsewhere the stars are very slightly elongated.

 

I've done many other tests, but I'll start attaching some pics of my setup, and then a first test I did in a position of the sky more up (Bootes), and then something more down the celestial equator. For both I'll attach screenshot of PHDlog analyser and a 1:1 crop of the resulting pic with that precise guide.

 

I'm desperate, as it's not easy to get a replacement as these fly out as soon as they're sold. So if I can I'd rather solve it myself...but I don't know anymore I think I tried everything, and this is a some sort of substantial problem more than an optimisation needed.

 

 

Some pics of my setup:

 

https://imgur.com/sS0vC4O

https://imgur.com/QyKWuJH

https://imgur.com/v76JigV

 

And this is image/test number 1:

 

https://imgur.com/GDYanKG (guide)

https://imgur.com/5rdEGDk (image crop 1:1)

https://imgur.com/y4WPU1r (sky position)

 

And finally this is image/test number 2:

 

https://imgur.com/HCoDrUM (guide...note those spikes!)

https://imgur.com/smfBmD0 (image crop 1:1)

https://imgur.com/OFZAWDH (sky position)

 

 

 



#2 Mert

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Posted 16 June 2021 - 01:22 PM

Maybe just a dirty worm on RA? :shrug: just thinking
Sometimes new mounts have manufacturing debris on these important components.
Hope to find it

Edited by Mert, 16 June 2021 - 01:23 PM.


#3 corpusjonsey

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Posted 16 June 2021 - 01:27 PM

Make sure it is not being underpowered?



#4 RonaldNC

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Posted 16 June 2021 - 01:50 PM

Rofus,

 

I have similar issues with mine... but not as pronounced.  What has solved it for me is I turn off PEC on the mount and use PHD2's Predictive PEC Algorithm for guiding.  It takes about 8 minutes for it to complete the worm gear cycle, but mine settles down pretty well after that.  I was also a little disappointed, but my last mount had huge backlash... so better, but not perfect.

 

Ron



#5 Mert

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Posted 16 June 2021 - 03:18 PM

You can always try to readjust meshing and things like that.

It's also fun to do that shrug.gif

Also the bearings holding the worms might be loose?

I changed the gears inside my EQ6 for precision made gears

together with the idle gear now running on a bearing.

Every little thing helps but it won't be as good as those high

quality mounts that cost $$$$$$$

Nowadays with PHD2 multistar and predictive pec algoritm

normally I'm seeing guiding around 0,6 - 0,8" depending on seeing

and balancing/setting up my equipment but have had sessions with

continuously guiding around 0,5"


Edited by Mert, 16 June 2021 - 03:21 PM.

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#6 JamesTX

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Posted 16 June 2021 - 04:38 PM

My first eq6r (delivered Nov 2019) had severe RA spikes.  It would guide fine with my 8" Edge.. in the .5s and then a massive RA spike would hit.  It was enough to create double stars in my images.

 

I tried different power sources, played with PEC, all kinds of stuff.  Finally.. I reached out to skywatcher.  They wanted to see examples of the problem in my images.  Showed them some double star shots.  They requested I send it in.  Got it back in 4 weeks.. the thing came back super lubed.  Ra was very smooth.. very sensitive when balancing.  I suspect they took down, cleaned/regreased and send it back.  Unfortunately the RA spikes were still there so Sky watcher replaced it.

 

Replacement has been working extremely well.  I did end up buying a 2nd eq6r and now run two rigs at the same time.  2nd one is working well so far too. 

 

 

I recommend calling skywatcher.. give them a chance to fix or replace it.


Edited by JamesTX, 16 June 2021 - 04:39 PM.


#7 rofus

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Posted 17 June 2021 - 04:06 AM

Hello everyone...first of all, THANKS for your replies.

 

@Mert some dirt in the worm was my first thought...but I thought, if that's so why it doesn't happen with same intensity and every time no matter where is in the sky?

 

@corpusjonsey I use a 12v 7a that should be more than enough for power? But I might have somewhere a 10a that I can try!

 

@ronaldnc I never tried PPEC of PHD2 (I have my mount/EQMOD pec disabled). I don't think it can solve my problem, but something else I can try!

 

@Mert adjusting the mesh with the two small allen screws like I did with DEC I can try...but I would not know how to know what is right and wrong (so if I should tighten the bottom -loosen mesh- or top one -close mesh-). When I tried backlash of DEC there was no backlash in RA so it seems quite ok. I also checked the belts and they seem ok both in DEC and RA. Any indication? The weird thing is that I get from 0.4 to 0.8 like you, BUT those spikes are all that it needs to have oval or double stars in my subs.

 

@JamesTX yeah...I'm in the UK and thought about calling the shop I got it or the distributor. I doubt I could get a replacement in 4 weeks here, but is something to try indeed...I'll try writing to them as well!

 

 

So...next time skies are clear..I can try using a more muscular power 10a, and I'll try as well Predictive Pec as algo in PHD2...anything else I could do? I can adjust the mesh if someone did it and can give me some hint...but I'm not able to take it apart so I'll need to skip that step!



#8 michael8554

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Posted 17 June 2021 - 10:02 AM

From your PHD2 Log Viewer images:

 

First one, RA Aggression 0.3, RA takes many pulses to correct, poor RA guiding.

 

Also signs of a 4 minute Periodic Error, so definitely allow the mount's PEC if it improves the unguided PE - as would be seen by Before and After Guide Assistant runs of at least 4 minutes.

 

Second one, RA Aggression 0.7, RA takes fewer pulses to correct,  better RA guiding.

 

How are you setting Minimum Moves, I don't see a Guide Assistant run ?

 

! second exposures is often said to be too fast, resulting in  "Chasing the Seeing", which gives choppy RA guiding.

 

Your guide pixel scale of 7.61 arcsec/pixel could be considered to be at the top end of usable.

 

Add to that, focus is poor, HFD = 5 pixels.



#9 rofus

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Posted 17 June 2021 - 10:27 AM

From your PHD2 Log Viewer images:

 

First one, RA Aggression 0.3, RA takes many pulses to correct, poor RA guiding.

 

Also signs of a 4 minute Periodic Error, so definitely allow the mount's PEC if it improves the unguided PE - as would be seen by Before and After Guide Assistant runs of at least 4 minutes.

 

Second one, RA Aggression 0.7, RA takes fewer pulses to correct,  better RA guiding.

 

How are you setting Minimum Moves, I don't see a Guide Assistant run ?

 

! second exposures is often said to be too fast, resulting in  "Chasing the Seeing", which gives choppy RA guiding.

 

Your guide pixel scale of 7.61 arcsec/pixel could be considered to be at the top end of usable.

 

Add to that, focus is poor, HFD = 5 pixels.

Hi, thanks for your points!

 

So...before I reply, I just wanted to say: I do see there (or am I wrong?) some sort of 'hardware' problem at base, as those peaks should not be there, and can lead sometimes to double stars in my subs...so I mean gigantic movements that no matter what RA aggr I set, should not be there. Am I wrong?

 

Back to some of your points:

 

1) RA aggressiveness I tried many variations, that lead to different results in different contexts. So a low aggr is best when good guiding because, in case of problems, it doesn't overcorrect. A more aggressive RA is best in worst guiding conditions as it corrects sooner. With my HEQ5 and same setup on top, I was getting 0.8" and round stars with very light aggr, 0.3 on both DEC and RA.

 

2) PEC I tried already, I have the profiles in EQMOD and I also have it stored in the mount, so I can try enabling it either on mount OR from eqmod: it definitely makes the GA run better, but it seems to make absolutely no difference: choppy and/or big sudden spikes are still there. If anything, it seems slightly worse..but is really no big difference so is difficult to say...two periods of the worn are never the same...it all is a bit random, it only seems having a specific behaviour across different cycles based on sky position

 

3) Min Mov is set to 0.10 in both RA and DEC, as suggested/confirmed as well by GA (actually 0.12 in DEC was its suggestion but is good as it is)

 

4) 1 second exposure I agree with you, I tried having runs at up to 3s, no matter what it results in worst results instead of smoother ones (as it was instead for my HEQ5), that seems to confirm is a problem not of chasing the seeing but more into some hardware thing that creates those spikes?

 

5) My pixel scale I never thought was a problem, that 225 focal lenght with Lodestar X2 is considered a sort of standard? It always guided my HEQ5 perfectly even with loads well over its limit, so it should drive equally well a mount made to bear those loads. What other polarscope would you suggest? I have an ST80 I could use. But once again..it seems to me trying to solve a problem that seems to lie elsewhere, as just a few weeks ago that same setup (apart from the mount being an HEQ5) was working perfectly.

 

6) HFD 5 or 4.5 is the maximum I ever achieved, on average, while focusing, considering the seeing and pixel scale. When I talked with PHD guys they actually told me that this slightly defocused star, up to even higher HFD, is better for PHD to analyse the centroid of the star and be less influenced by seeing?

 

 

Let me know what you think...overall, my gut feeling is that the problem lies elsewhere in something hardware...



#10 Mert

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 01:30 AM

IMHO a minmov of 0,1 makes/forces correction of PHD2 nearly constantly.
Myself using 0.3 with good seeing and higher with worse
seeing.
Other then that it is a bit strange.

#11 rofus

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 03:58 AM

IMHO a minmov of 0,1 makes/forces correction of PHD2 nearly constantly.
Myself using 0.3 with good seeing and higher with worse
seeing.
Other then that it is a bit strange.

I understand what you mean, I can definitely try 0.3 or more…but is it me thinking this is not related to those spikes and erratic RA?

 

They’re not happening because of any guide impulse, if you see they just happen suddenly…whatever I put in PHD, those spikes would ruin the picture, doesn’t matter how slow or fast PHD reacts to them?

 

For years my HEQ5 worked nicely with 0.1 min mov BUT with a very low aggressivity…that meant it was guiding 14.5kg under 1 arcsec in most positions of the sky, as it was a continuous but very light correction.

 

For example TheSkyX uses hte same principle, is always correcting, and it usually has a better guiding result than PHD, but I tend to use PHD only because it gives me more control and a cable less to use.

 

Just to be clear..I don’t want to shut down any suggestion, so I’m adding all these to a list of things to try next time. But during GUIDING ASSISTANT I did in the past, those spikes were still happening: DEC drifting almost nothing as I’m aligned precisely with Polemaster, and RA being very choppy, with or without PEC enabled (that when enabled was clearly helping the PE).

 

 

 

Anyone knows how I could modify the meshing of the RA to try and address these issues, or if you think it would help at all?



#12 Mert

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 08:59 AM

Has it already been suggested to try a little imbalance such that the RA works against gravity? It might help things smoothen out.
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#13 rofus

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 09:16 AM

Has it already been suggested to try a little imbalance such that the RA works against gravity? It might help things smoothen out.

I think so, I do have a question about that: I don't want obviously to rebalance the scope every time, and obviously is going to move even within the same night to different targets depending on what I schedule.

 

So my question is: can it be unbalanced towards any side of RA (so either towards the scope or towards the weights)?



#14 Mert

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 10:24 AM

IMHO towards the scope, but that might change after a meridian flip!
I any case that could be a posible cause ( backlash between worm an wormwheel on the RA axis)

Edited by Mert, 18 June 2021 - 10:27 AM.


#15 rofus

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 10:31 AM

IMHO towards the scope, but that might change after a meridian flip!
I any case that could be a posible cause ( backlash between worm an wormwheel on the RA axis)

Yeah the problem is whatever I do in terms of unbalance then it changes, and my sessions are all automated during the night. Still something to try?

 

As for the meshing on RA, there are the two small set screws to do that, like teh ones on DEC. Did anyone worked with them on RA and has some suggestion of what I could try? I just think in RA it shouldn't matter really unless it's too tight and there's some biting...but the scope slews perfectly without problems.



#16 Mert

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Posted 20 June 2021 - 05:44 AM

If it has too much backlash and the weights do not force the mount against gravity, you might expect to have a "stuttering" ( do I say this correctly? :thinking: ) movement, causing these spikes maybe?
I have read that you adjust
backlash with 1 sheet of aluminum foil between the worm/Wheel.
Should be tight but not soo tight that the mount stalls when rotating. ( take into account for low temperatures)
I run "automated" using NINA and it takes some trial and error to find a sweet spot.
So before and after meridian flip things should be "alike"

Edited by Mert, 20 June 2021 - 05:47 AM.


#17 michael8554

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Posted 20 June 2021 - 06:17 AM

Looks like PHD2 is fighting and failing to correct inherent mount issues.

 

Your PE wasn't bad, but always worth using PEC to improve it.

 

6)   HFD 5 or 4.5 is the maximum I ever achieved, on average, while focusing, considering the seeing and pixel scale. When I talked with PHD guys they actually told me that this slightly defocused star, up to even higher HFD, is better for PHD to analyse the centroid of the star and be less influenced by seeing?

 

Which PHD guys were they? The PHD2 instructions, and advice on the PHD2 Help Forum, debunk this defocus myth, for all but the setups with really tiny guidestars


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#18 Mert

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Posted 20 June 2021 - 07:01 AM

For me, refocussing, took away that horrible failure of "mass loss" message.
Have to try again but think good focus will be better!
Especially if you use multi-star guiding!

Regards,
Mert

Edited by Mert, 20 June 2021 - 05:10 PM.


#19 rofus

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Posted 20 June 2021 - 08:14 AM

Looks like PHD2 is fighting and failing to correct inherent mount issues.

 

Your PE wasn't bad, but always worth using PEC to improve it.

 

6)   HFD 5 or 4.5 is the maximum I ever achieved, on average, while focusing, considering the seeing and pixel scale. When I talked with PHD guys they actually told me that this slightly defocused star, up to even higher HFD, is better for PHD to analyse the centroid of the star and be less influenced by seeing?

 

Which PHD guys were they? The PHD2 instructions, and advice on the PHD2 Help Forum, debunk this defocus myth, for all but the setups with really tiny guidestars

 

I can’t remember, but anyway I can’t get anything better than 4.5, the Lodestar does have pretty big pixels.

 

They key I think is what you said: for all the tests I have done, including two different guiding systems (ST4 and Pulseguide) and software (PHD2 and TheSkyX), with and without PEC, the problem to me seems what you said: it seems PHD2 (or whatever guiding) is actually fighting for inherent mount issues (considering the perfect balance I have and very accurate polar alignment with Polemaster and the solid pier base).

 

I think the main thing I can try doing next time is clear is running the mount for some time with Guiding Assistant, so disabled guide, with and without PEC, for some long time (at least two or three worn cycles) to check how it goes excluding any kind of guiding?

 

Anyone had this sort of problem and sorted adjusting the RA meshing?



#20 Sangon

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Posted 20 June 2021 - 05:10 PM

Hi rofus

My eq6r had a similar behavior. It wasn't a software thing. First, my mount RA and DEC axis didn't move freely enough. They were like a bit too thighted. Following the steps of MikeECha here I improved that:

https://www.cloudyni...-3#entry9588293

Apart from that, I had to slightly unbalance it towards the counterweights (like 2cm or so) and I have no problem pointing at any side of the meridian either.

I hope this helps
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#21 AhBok

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Posted 20 June 2021 - 06:49 PM

The power issue with the EQ6R Pro isn’t the capacity as much as the actual voltage under load. The stepper motors require a full 12V. This isn’t a problem for most, but some of the newer battery chemistries will drop below 12v after a short while (again, measured under load). I use a 5 amp regulated supply at 13.8 volts and this keeps my mount happy.

You mentioned your axes are perfectly balanced. I find best guiding for my EQ6R Pro requires East heavy bias in RA and a slight rear bias in DEC.

I’m sure you know this but EQMOD has a default guide speed of .1 which is way too low for this mount. It should be .5 or higher. I use .7 myself.


Edited by AhBok, 20 June 2021 - 06:51 PM.


#22 rofus

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Posted 21 June 2021 - 03:12 AM

The power issue with the EQ6R Pro isn’t the capacity as much as the actual voltage under load. The stepper motors require a full 12V. This isn’t a problem for most, but some of the newer battery chemistries will drop below 12v after a short while (again, measured under load). I use a 5 amp regulated supply at 13.8 volts and this keeps my mount happy.

You mentioned your axes are perfectly balanced. I find best guiding for my EQ6R Pro requires East heavy bias in RA and a slight rear bias in DEC.

I’m sure you know this but EQMOD has a default guide speed of .1 which is way too low for this mount. It should be .5 or higher. I use .7 myself.

Thanks for suggestions!

 

indeed the rate of mine is set to .9 for my heavy setup, my HEQ5 was as well on .9 and it was very happy with that.

 

As for power, I’m on a fixed setup nicely powered by mains 220v, and all power adapters on the mount are on a decoupled lead extension to filter out any spike on the line (it’s a new house with good power lines).

 

I still believe is something hardware…



#23 rofus

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Posted 21 June 2021 - 03:17 AM

Hi rofus

My eq6r had a similar behavior. It wasn't a software thing. First, my mount RA and DEC axis didn't move freely enough. They were like a bit too thighted. Following the steps of MikeECha here I improved that:

https://www.cloudyni...-3#entry9588293

Apart from that, I had to slightly unbalance it towards the counterweights (like 2cm or so) and I have no problem pointing at any side of the meridian either.

I hope this helps

Ah!

 

this is interesting…so first of all thanks for suggestion in terms of how to unbalance, I’ll try that!

 

As for the axis, that is INTERESTING. Now…when balancing my mount, I wondered sometimes why with clutches disengaged the axis were not moving more. They are not stiff, if I move them with my hand they move, BUT for example when balancing I need to unbalance a good bit to make the axis rotate by themselves.

 

Is that what you mean by stiff? In the linked post there’s a missing image for a tool needed to adjust the RA without unscrewing the polarscope…do you know what it is? What did you do precisely?



#24 Sangon

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Posted 21 June 2021 - 08:25 AM

Ah!

this is interesting…so first of all thanks for suggestion in terms of how to unbalance, I’ll try that!

As for the axis, that is INTERESTING. Now…when balancing my mount, I wondered sometimes why with clutches disengaged the axis were not moving more. They are not stiff, if I move them with my hand they move, BUT for example when balancing I need to unbalance a good bit to make the axis rotate by themselves.

Is that what you mean by stiff? In the linked post there’s a missing image for a tool needed to adjust the RA without unscrewing the polarscope…do you know what it is? What did you do precisely?


Yes, that was what I mean: at the beginning, even without scope or weights, the RA and DEC axis didn't rotate smooth enough (they rotate if you push it, but as soon as you stop applying any force its movement stops as well...) Ideally after giving a small push to the RA axis for example, it should keep rotale freely a little bit by itself. I think your heq5 will show the right behavior to give you some point of reference. The tool I used was an "angle grinder spanner" (you can find it in hardware stores).

https://www.google.c...96BAgBEFw&dct=1

As MikeECha commented:
"The retaining nut for the DEC bearing is that round piece where the cw shaft comes out of. Loosen the thres small set screws arond that piece and loosen it by hand just a little at a time while ratationg the DEC untill it rotates freely. Then start tightening back up untill you find the sweet spot where the nut is as tight as you can get it while the DEC still rotates freely. I did this having my dec as vertical as i could so gravity rearrenge all the rolling elements evenly as you rotate the axis. "

What I did for RA was similar: to remove the polar scope's cap and its index circle. I think then you will see a black piece with two holes and then it is a matter of loosing it a bit to get the RA axis move freely. Actually I removed the polar scope itself because I didnt had the right tool at that moment. Then, when I bought the one I mentioned, I realized that it could have been done probably without removing it, because you can reach both holes with that wrench leaving the polar scope between both arms of the wrench.


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