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Vixen Super Polaris instruction manual

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#1 teagueqc

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Posted 23 January 2022 - 11:52 AM

Greetings! Way back in 1988 I bought an Astro Systems 8.5-inch Newtonian on a Vixen Super Polaris mount. I used it with no problems for about 15 years. Towards the end of that period, wishing to undertake double-star micrometry, I decided to fit motors to both axes to replace the manual slow motions. These worked fine. Then I made a terrible mistake. I splashed out a lot of money on a much more expensive and heavier mount, which I ended up never using (too much like hard work). Recently I decided to rescue the old SP mount, which has been languishing in a garden shed for nearly 20 years. Apart from some signs of superficial rust on exposed screws and so on, it turns out to be in surprisingly good nick. Both axes move smoothly. I've managed to get the RA motor working, although there's a horrible amount of backlash which in due course I'll have to try and correct. The declination motor is a different matter. When I switch it on, I can hear something happening inside the motor but nothing actually moves. There is no clutch ring on the dec axis, and my recollection is that I only ever had such a ring on the RA axis, so I don't think it's become detached and lost.

 

Anyway, the point of this post is to ask whether anyone has access to the old Vixen SP user's manual, including instructions for fitting and using the electric motors. I've found many sites on the internet purporting to provide access to this manual, but they all raise my suspicions. They require you to sign up before you can actually download the document and there's something about each of them that makes me suspect some kind of virus or scam. They are not on astronomical sites, for a start. Does anyone know how I can get hold of a high-quality (i.e. fully readable) and above all safe copy of the SP manual, please? Grateful for any pointers!

 

Best to all,

 

Tommy



#2 DreamWeaver

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Posted 23 January 2022 - 12:29 PM

Here’s a safe website.  It was started by a Classic’s member.  https://wiki.telesco...on_Brochure.pdf


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#3 Russell Smith

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Posted 23 January 2022 - 06:16 PM

Here are the instructions from celestron for installing the drives. 

Sorry for the poor quality. 

Russ 

 

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#4 TDunnavant

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Posted 24 January 2022 - 01:04 AM

Hi, if you have any interest in moving to a different controller, you might consider the EQStarPro VSP from Astro-gadgets, over in Ukraine.  You can find the web site here:  Based on some favorable reviews, I decided to invest in this package.  I recently received mine and I'm mid-way through the installation process.  I have the motors deployed.  I'm waiting on the arrival of my AC/DC transformer, so I can start using the equipment to make my rig move ;-) 

 

I believe that Astro-gadgets is a one-person operation.  The owner, Alex, provides exceptional service.

 

The product documentation is a bit lacking.  I'm currently working with Alex to update the English-language version of the user's manual.

 

Check out the product review, guidance videos, and installation document provided by Joey Troy. You can find his web site here:  You can find his YouTube channel, here:  https://www.youtube....JoeyTroyAstro.  He has posted a 7-video playlist on his experiences with his EQStarPro.



#5 geovermont

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Posted 24 January 2022 - 08:40 AM

Here’s a safe website.  It was started by a Classic’s member.  https://wiki.telesco...on_Brochure.pdf

This is great. A cleaner copy than the one I had already. Thanks!


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#6 teagueqc

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Posted 01 February 2022 - 04:59 PM

Thank you all very much. These are all incredibly helpful replies.

#7 geovermont

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Posted 21 February 2022 - 01:13 PM

Here are the instructions from celestron for installing the drives. 

Sorry for the poor quality. 

Russ 

I've installed an MD-5 single axis R.A. drive on an old Super Polaris that I've been rehabilitating. Now that I have it all together I see that something's missing: the pressure plate for the clutch. I can set it all up for the motor to drive the scope, but to disengage the gear I would need to loosen the knob and manually pull the drive gear out of engagement with the driven gear. Am I understanding correctly how this works? If so, can someone supply a clear image of this pressure plate? Perhaps I can improvise a fix using a spring or a spring washer? If not, I'll put out a call in the Classifieds.



#8 jkmccarthy

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Posted 21 February 2022 - 03:34 PM

I've installed an MD-5 single axis R.A. drive on an old Super Polaris that I've been rehabilitating. Now that I have it all together I see that something's missing: the pressure plate for the clutch. I can set it all up for the motor to drive the scope, but to disengage the gear I would need to loosen the knob and manually pull the drive gear out of engagement with the driven gear. Am I understanding correctly how this works? If so, can someone supply a clear image of this pressure plate? Perhaps I can improvise a fix using a spring or a spring washer? If not, I'll put out a call in the Classifieds.

Do you have the "clutch" device (in the PDF manual [see link in post #2 above], the clutch is pictured 3rd from the left in the bottom row of the figure at the top of page 17, and diagrammed assembled and unassembled in the figure at the top-left of page 18 ... copied + inserted below) installed on the mount's worm-screw shaft ?

 

If yes, then disengaging the motor (allowing manual slo-motion using a knob or flex cable installed on the outboard side of the clutch, and/or on the worm-screw shaft's extension on the opposite side of the mount) should only require loosening the thumbscrew [labelled "Setscrew" in the diagram] on the clutch device, which should allow the worm-screw shaft to be turned while the gear that's part of the clutch unit remains engaged with the gear on the motor shaft.

 

Vixen-SP-drive-clutch.jpg

 

The "pressure plate" action that clamps the clutch gear to the clutch shaft happens when the thumbscrew of the clutch pushes down on the tapered (cone-shaped) section of the central 'gear shaft' that runs through the center of the clutch (see again the figure at the top-left of page 18, reproduced above).  Because of the taper of that cone-shaped section, tightening the thumbscrew will force the clutch ring (that contains the thumbscrew) to the left in the figure, effectively clamping the sides of the clutch gear so it can't spin independently of the clutch 'gear shaft'.   In this condition, the clock drive motor turns the worm screw on the mount.  Loosening the thumbscrew on the clutch releases the leftward clamping pressure force of the clutch ring (from the thumbscrew pushing down against the taper), and in this condition (without this pressure) the clutch gear and the clutch 'gear shaft' can rotate independently of one another (i.e., the clutch gear can remain relatively stationary [its gear teeth still engaged with the teeth on the gear attached to the motor] while the 'gear shaft' through the center of the clutch is rotated manually by a knob or flex cable for slo-motion pointing adjustments).

 

Does the verbiage above help explain how things are supposed to work ?   Hopefully so, and in that case hopefully you can figure out what in your setup is not working as it should.  Let us know if anything might still be unclear -- copious verbiage is not always beneficial !  <sorry -- brevity is not my strong suit, unfortunately ...>

 

Cheers,

 

       -- Jim

 

EDIT / P.S.   If you don't have the little clutch assembly, and only mating spur gears on the motor shaft and on the worm-screw shaft on the mount, then [obviously] you can still loosen the paddle-shaped level on the mount that clamps the R.A. worm gear to the mount's R.A. axis (allowing you to slew in R.A. by hand), but then after re-tightening the clamping lever on the mount, for any further slo-motion fine-tuning of your scope's pointing in R.A., [without a clutch unit on the worm-screw shaft] you would need to have a hand-held motor drive / guide controller that can allow you to run the R.A. motor at a faster-than-siderial speed (e.g., 4x, 8x, 16x etc) using East / West pushbottons on the hand controller.   So the little clutch assembly is not a must-have [if you have a hand-controller that will run the R.A. motor West or East at a faster rate, to center your object in the eyepiece], but the little clutch device is convenient since it allows use of the manual slo-motion knob or flex cable.


Edited by jkmccarthy, 21 February 2022 - 04:03 PM.

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#9 geovermont

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Posted 21 February 2022 - 06:21 PM

Jim, thanks for the detailed reply. The photos below show what I have. My setup is, I think, a simpler one. Starting from the inside there is a brass washer that keys onto the flat portion of the shaft, then a brass spur gear, then another washer that keys onto the flat, then the aluminum knob. As I look at the photos (the scope is in the telescope shed up the hill), I think I see how this works: The gear has no direct keying to the shaft, but the flanking washers do. If the aluminum knob is tightened, the washers will serve to lock the gear to the shaft by friction. When loosened, the shaft and the gear can move independently. Thus, I can use the slow motion control with no stress on the motor drive.

 

Can someone check me on my thinking here? You see, I've never owned a scope with a motor drive--new territory to me. All previous scopes have been powered (as John Dobson would say) by eggs and yogurt.

 

Note that I did not photograph the inner washer, but it's identical to the outer one that is shown in the photo of the outer parts.

 

And Jim, your detail is fantastic--it got me thinking and provides a great description of that type of clutch.

 

SP_RA_Gears.jpg

SP_RA_OuterParts.jpg


Edited by geovermont, 21 February 2022 - 06:23 PM.

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#10 jkmccarthy

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Posted 21 February 2022 - 09:04 PM

Great !   I concur that with the parts you have, tightening or loosening the threaded aluminum knob will engage or disengage the motor-driven-gear in the clutch from the worm-screw-shaft on the mount.  They keyed washers in your clutch cleverly prevent the aluminum knob from being rotated (i.e., changing tightness or looseness on its own) by the operation of the motor or manual slo-motion during operation.

 

Looks like you're all set to go !

 

Clear skies,

 

       -- Jim


Edited by jkmccarthy, 21 February 2022 - 09:59 PM.


#11 geovermont

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Posted 22 February 2022 - 08:25 AM

I should have seen this right away, but sometimes it helps to talk these things out! Now I'm just waiting for a clear night....



#12 geovermont

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Posted 22 February 2022 - 10:30 AM

I wonder: Is the clutch arragement on Jim's mount older or newer than the one on my mount?


Edited by geovermont, 22 February 2022 - 10:38 AM.


#13 jkmccarthy

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Posted 22 February 2022 - 11:05 AM

I wonder: Is the clutch arragement on Jim's mount older or newer than the one on my mount?

From an older CN discussion here ( https://www.cloudyni...utch-questions/ ... which I didn't discover until late last night), it seems the design with the collar like you have is the older design, and the newer design (which is Vixen part # 3828 -- now discontinued) is the one with the thumbscrew and cone-shape tapered section on the shaft inside.

 

Regards,

 

      -- Jim

 

EDIT / P.S.  If you look back at the diagram I included in post #8 above, which appears in the Vixen SP manual, you'll see the gear is flat on both sides.  For the Vixen GP, apparently a minor design change was made to add a boss on one side of the gear ... see the exploded view diagram here:   http://www.company7....rives.html#3828   (The older CN thread above does mention this difference in post #5)


Edited by jkmccarthy, 22 February 2022 - 11:12 AM.

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#14 geovermont

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Posted 22 February 2022 - 12:36 PM

Thanks. That's quite helpful. In the end, the main thing is that this older design works! I suppose I should be careful to keep grease and oil off the faces to avoid slipping. If that happens, cleaning will be the first step.


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#15 apfever

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Posted 22 February 2022 - 07:53 PM

These are old photos but I still have this mount. There are two versions of the Vixen (Celestron) Super Polaris drives. Each version has a different saddle casting on the mount for DEC. I don't know if the two versions can swap to the other saddle but I don't think so. This is the early type I prefer. There is a dovetail bracket that bolts to the mount saddle. The entire drive assembly with clutch, motor, slo-mo, and housing has a dovetail that slips into the bracket on the saddle. Back off the 4 set screws (arrow on 1 of 4) and the whole drive comes off the mount. This also lets you set the mesh.   

 

The second picture red arrow is pointing to the clutch tension knob. The clutch/gear housing cover is on the right of the knob.

 

Third picture. The cover unbolted and the tension knob unscrewed from the shaft (lower shaft)

 

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#16 geovermont

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Posted 22 February 2022 - 07:58 PM

These are old photos but I still have this mount. There are two versions of the Vixen (Celestron) Super Polaris drives. Each version has a different saddle casting on the mount for DEC. I don't know if the two versions can swap to the other saddle but I don't think so. This is the early type I prefer. There is a dovetail bracket that bolts to the mount saddle. The entire drive assembly with clutch, motor, slo-mo, and housing has a dovetail that slips into the bracket on the saddle. Back off the 4 set screws (arrow on 1 of 4) and the whole drive comes off the mount. This also lets you set the mesh.   

 

The second picture red arrow is pointing to the clutch tension knob. The clutch/gear housing cover is on the right of the knob.

 

Third picture. The cover unbolted and the tension knob unscrewed from the shaft (lower shaft)

Yes, I think that's mine exactly. It's from the mid- to late-1980s, right? I have absolutely no documentation with mine.
 



#17 apfever

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Posted 22 February 2022 - 08:09 PM

Side view and angle view for first two photos.  The top gear is hard set on the motor shaft with a set screw. 

 

The bottom gear is the clutch. Sorry this goes from Right to Left. Starting on the right is a clutch plate set screwed to the worm shaft, then the ring gear, then the front plate, and the knob that squeezes the gear between the two plates. 

 

Take off the knob and you can see the top plate which is the washer with that flat spot. The flat spot is what keeps the two plates rotating together on each side of the ring gear. 

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#18 apfever

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Posted 22 February 2022 - 08:30 PM

Hang on I might have documentation. 

 

Pic one.  The flat spot washer off. I may be wrong about the lower clutch plate held to the worm by a set screw. This might have been one solid machined assembly with the shaft. I'm not sure now. 

 

Second pic.  I did all this because the tension knob was taken off by a previous owner and the flat spot washer had slipped off the shelf. The ring gear had then worked out and kinked on the assembly. Nothing was hurt. I probably had some serious jam going on the vintage amp.

 

These are the books I have. The Celestron manual is large, maybe 60 to 80 pages. 

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Edited by apfever, 22 February 2022 - 08:33 PM.

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#19 jkmccarthy

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Posted 23 February 2022 - 12:24 AM

These are old photos but I still have this mount. There are two versions of the Vixen (Celestron) Super Polaris drives. Each version has a different saddle casting on the mount for DEC. I don't know if the two versions can swap to the other saddle but I don't think so. This is the early type I prefer. [...]

Likewise I do not know if the saddles on the Early and Later versions of the Vixen Super Polaris Mount can be interchanged (...but personally I suspect the answer is yes).

 

Below I'm sharing pairs of Yahoo! Japan Auction photos (taken by seller isomamo3 -- who I'm sure you'll agree takes very artful photos!) of the Declination Assemblies of both an Early and a Later SP Declination Assembly I found today listed for sale on Zen-Market.  (Since I would like to motorize the [Early-style] Declination axis of the SP mount carrying my Super-Polaris 90M, I happily took advantage of the Buy-Out option to nab isomamo3's Later-style SP Declination Assembly [2nd photo below] for less than the what sellers in the CN or Amart Classifieds have historically been asking for just the [extremely rare] Early-style motor bracket alone : - ).

 

 Early-SP-Decl-Assy_0.jpg _Early

 

Later-SP-Decl-Assy_0.jpg _Later

 

-- Jim



#20 jkmccarthy

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Posted 23 February 2022 - 12:25 AM

A second pair of photos:

 

Early-SP-Decl-Assy_1.jpg _Early

 

Later-SP-Decl-Assy_1.jpg _Later

 

-- Jim



#21 jkmccarthy

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Posted 23 February 2022 - 12:27 AM

Third and final pair of photos:

 

Early-SP-Decl-Assy_2.jpg _Early

 

Later-SP-Decl-Assy_2.jpg _Later

 

Cheers,

 

      -- Jim

 


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#22 geovermont

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Posted 23 February 2022 - 08:27 AM

Hang on I might have documentation. 

 

Pic one.  The flat spot washer off. I may be wrong about the lower clutch plate held to the worm by a set screw. This might have been one solid machined assembly with the shaft. I'm not sure now. 

 

Second pic.  I did all this because the tension knob was taken off by a previous owner and the flat spot washer had slipped off the shelf. The ring gear had then worked out and kinked on the assembly. Nothing was hurt. I probably had some serious jam going on the vintage amp.

 

These are the books I have. The Celestron manual is large, maybe 60 to 80 pages. 

Those are great photos. Mine is quite similar, but the gear is sandwiched between two identical "flat spot washers". Everything lines up and it works, so that works for me. I have an internet download of the Super Polaris brochure on the right in your photo, but I haven't seen the Celestron manual on the left. I'm feeling quite satisfied with the setup. Two things still left to improvise or acquire are a cover for the objective end of the polar alignment scope and an illuminator for it.
 


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#23 jkmccarthy

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Posted 23 February 2022 - 10:49 AM

[...] I'm feeling quite satisfied with the setup. Two things still left to improvise or acquire are a cover for the objective end of the polar alignment scope and an illuminator for it.

What I eventually found + ordered last year to cover the 1-3/8" diameter opening in the Vixen SP (also fits GP and the original Vixen Polaris) declination housing that the polar alignment scope peers through is these:

 

https://www.amazon.c...uct/B00MN6GHH4/
 

(Note that you receive quantity 4 with a single [under $6] purchase).  Inspiration for this came from a CN post somewhere here by Terra Nova, who said she found the right size kitchen counter hole plug at her local home improvement store ... in the midst of the pandemic, I went browsing on-line instead, but you can try Home Depot or Lowes etc. if you prefer !

 

Cheers,

 

        -- Jim


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#24 geovermont

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Posted 27 February 2022 - 07:40 PM

What I eventually found + ordered last year to cover the 1-3/8" diameter opening in the Vixen SP (also fits GP and the original Vixen Polaris) declination housing that the polar alignment scope peers through is these:

 

https://www.amazon.c...uct/B00MN6GHH4/
 

(Note that you receive quantity 4 with a single [under $6] purchase).  Inspiration for this came from a CN post somewhere here by Terra Nova, who said she found the right size kitchen counter hole plug at her local home improvement store ... in the midst of the pandemic, I went browsing on-line instead, but you can try Home Depot or Lowes etc. if you prefer !

 

Cheers,

 

        -- Jim

I picked up one of these covers at the local hardware store. With only a tiny bending of some of the tabs it makes a great fit over the polar axis opening. A great idea!
 


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#25 PaulEK

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Posted 04 August 2022 - 11:04 PM

Hi there,

 

I'm reviving this thread since I can tell that there are folks here who will have knowledge I can trust (there's a lot of hooey out there in the wilds of the internet.)

 

I have a Super Polaris much like the one near the top, with the clutch controlled by a thumbscrew, rather than the knurled barrel/knob. I haven't used it in about two years, but it always worked smoothly and perfectly in the past. but I took it out tonight, and the clutches on both axes are stuck: when I loosen the thumbscrews, the clutches stay engaged. I took the cover off of the RA motor (it actually has never stayed on without some kind of kludge [bungee, silicon sealer]; about the only complaint I have about the mount). I tried giving the mechanism a light tap with a hammer to loosen it, ad also tried prying it off (again, lightly) with a pair of pliers. No soap.

 

Should I try soap? Or maybe penetrating oil? I imagine some gunk has dried in between the clutch and the gear. But if others have had this same problem, Id' be grateful to hear how you might have solved it before I go messing about with it. I mean, I will go messing around with it no matter what, but I'd like some reassurance, if there's any to be had.




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