Amateur Telescope Making & other do it yourself projects

ATM & other do it yourself projects

Making a device to connect the fiber optic cable from the DIY Spectrometer to a telescope & adding in some way to guide it in use – Part 1, Attempt 1

I have labelled this post as:

“Making a device to connect the fiber-optic cable from the DIY Spectrometer to a telescope & adding in some way to guide it in use – Part 1, Attempt 1”

The reason for this is that I am sure there are going to be further parts…..and equally sure I will need many attempts to get each part to work – if I ever do!

Andy

The “DIY Spectrometer”:

Changing the fiber optic cable:

First up – the cable that came with the “DIY Spectrometer” was not long enough so I needed to purchase a longer one – one that will reach from a table to the telescope eyepiece – the old cable is 50cm the new one 200cm in length – just a cheap plastic fiber optic cable from ebay with SMC connectors (the DIY Spectrometer has SMC connector on it for the fiber optic cable).

Cable that came with the DIY Spectrometer:

New cable from ebay:

Guiding the spectrometer:

In order to guide the telescope during spectroscopic observations, I purchased a beam splitter – could not find one in UK so this one came from Italy. It is 1.25 inch fitting:

For guiding purposes, I have bought cheapo variable-illuminated eyepiece off ebay again (Chinese and emphasis on cheap – 12.5mm lens in it):

Connecting the fiber optic cable to the beam splitter:

I purchased a cheap Cheshire eyepiece from ebay (again!):

I used my drill press to drill out the hole in the top of the Cheshire eyepiece so it could accommodate a SMC-SMC connector:

Drilled out hole in Cheshire eyepiece:

Drilled out hole from inside of Cheshire eyepiece:

I tried to tap the hole to fit the SMC-SMC connector (from Ocean Optics, USA):

Tapping did not work too well and I ended up with slightly too big hole so SMC-SMC connector fitted inside without needing to screwed on.

However, a small piece of black electrical insulating tape wrapped around the bottom and some Gorilla glue later and it is a tight fit and I think it should work well.

The top plate of the Cheshire eyepiece (which I have drilled to accommodate the SMC-SMC connector) unscrews – removing it shows the SMC-SMC connector projecting through the plate and an area that I was able to fill with glue from my glue gun in order to further adhere the SMC-SMC connector to the plate.

 

The Cheshire eyepiece has cross hairs at the front, which help it to perform its function as a collimating device:

These cross hairs do not help with its use as part of a spectroscope. They simply obscure light from a star directed at the fiber optic cable. Therefore, I removed them:

The opening at the front of the Cheshire eyepiece simply lets light in and that was no use to me so further black tape to cover the hole was necessary. I also removed the rubbish eye ring from the top of the Cheshire eyepiece:

The following photo shows the whole lot put together, with fiber optic cable attached. It looks good but will it work? I will have to see!

 

Dark Star Dob

Oops! I’ve accidentally bought a 10″ Dark Star Dobsonian in need of much TLC for an incredibly good price. The owner was leaving the UK and glad to see it find a good home.

Google suggests that someone not far from RAG already has one of these scopes! Unlike the one in the PDF, this mirror appears to be glued onto a wooden triangle for the mirror cell – eek!

Mirror in need of TLC
Mirror in need of TLC
Dark Star 10" Dobsonian
Dark Star 10″ Dobsonian

Instruction manual for MayPole Electronic Smart Charger MP7423 6V/12V 4A included with Ed Mann’s ATM 75AH Astronomy Battery Pack with inverter

Click on the link below to download the instruction manual for the MayPole Electronic Smart Charger MP7423 6V/12V 4A included with Ed Mann’s ATM 75AH Astronomy Battery Pack with inverter. This charger is connected in parallel with the battery in the box to enable charging of the included 75AH lead-acid leisure battery.

Maypole Smart Charge MP7423 6V-12V 4A Instruction Manual July 2018 (PDF File)

Andy

Solargraph in operation…

Got a few Solargraphs loaded last light (Wednesday 20th June), just in time for today’s Summer Solstice.

Attached mine to it’s usual place on the back of the house (facing SSE), before heading off for an evening walk with two under my arm to deliver to Andy (he beat me to the blog entry – see below)!

Andy has one of the new style cans to try – donated by Ed who has a fine taste of coffee (Azeri / Lavazza – I also like this version). I did make the extra effort to drill a bigger hole in the can, then fix tin foil over it and then pin a fine hole through that. The only ‘issue’ with these cans is that I only get three sheets out of a big sheet of B&W photographic paper, whereas I get 6 when cutting for a standard baked bean can.

Good job as well that it was set up ready for this morning – today was pretty good and should have set a fine ‘upper limit’ on the paper for when we open the  can up and take a look after December 21st…

This morning, in action (around 8.15am) !

Damian

Solargraphs, from Summer>Winter 2017

Just started to refurbish last years units ready for the coming solstice… soon comes around, hey!

Hope to have some ready for purchase at the next RAG (month end) meeting….

Now I don’t have a scanner (via work!), I popped in to see Andy last evening to get the outstanding ones scanned and so sorted.

Good fun to try different process techniques (I use Photoshop, but as Andy showed earlier using GIMP (free), it’s very much ‘Science – meets – Art’ !

 

So Andy’s – 2 versions…

 

My father in laws (from Barton Under Needwood)…

 

and lastly my sister’s (also from Barton Under Needwood – she has just moved, so her next will be a different view)…

 

Damian

Various Astro, Space and Sci-Fi related pieces of interest… oh, and Neil Armstrong!

Not posted recently, so here are a selection of pics I’ve been collecting that I thought would make an interesting contribution…

So to start, an update on my Lego Saturn V Christmas present. Andy has been helping ad-hoc as well!

Completing the second stage…

Very cleverly designed…

Once finished it should stand a metre tall! There is a ‘link’ back to the Saturn V / moon, later on…

Next, a picture of our magnolia in full bloom… “Stellata” (meaning star), taken at 6.55pm on Wednesday 18th April…

Later on, a beautiful crescent moon and the ‘Evening Star’, Venus – Julie and I were out for an evening walk. Taken on an iPhone 6 at 8.38pm.

Then another, a tad later at two minutes past 9… nearly home…

Next is a picture of the moon taken through a 13mm Ethos eyepiece attached to my TEC140-ED APO refractor – just hand held with the iPhone held up to the eyepiece. This was from Friday 20th April, whilst waiting for Andy to turn up (his observing report can be found somewhere on here!)

Oh, and a picture of me setting up the gear (didn’t know Jules was hanging out of the bedroom window taking this…), I think I’m in the throws of setting up a WiFi connection from the Nexus device (that reads the mount’s encoders) to the iPad Air 2 (that runs Sky Safari Pro 5).

Here is a process of a friend’s Solargraph we made for them ready for the summer 2017 Solstice – it stayed in place ’til the winter Solstice and they passed it back for processing in early April…

Raw scan (that Andy kindly did for me).

And the processed version! We’re not sure what the bright squiggly line is!

Next we jump to the RAG meeting from Friday 27th April – featuring guest speaker Paul Money (part 2 talk about the Voyager probes and their journey to the gas giants and beyond)… captured in ‘full flow’!

Next a picture from another evening walk, a lovely sunset with the three spires of Lichfield Cathedral and St. Mary’s Church (in the town centre)… Monday 30th April at 8.18pm.

Julie is a French and German teacher… she told me on this walk that tonight was “Walpurgis Nacht”, the night when animals can talk, see the link below:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walpurgis_Night

On the 1st May, in the old calendar, it was also the start of summer… you wouldn’t know it though with the weather this last week… we’ve even had to put the central heating back on in the evenings!

…and another from Wednesday at 9.02pm… the Cathedral from Stowe Pool.

…and later still, at 9.30, Venus shining brightly…

Now some of you may be aware that my post was made redundant at MandM back in February. Well I’m now back in full time work as the photographer at Richard Winterton Auctioneers (Richard is on telly quite a bit if the name rings a bell), based in Fradley. So far I’ve photographed medals, coins, furniture, art, ‘military’, toys, silverware and jewellery.

But we’ve also had some other interesting ‘lots’ come in which are being prepared for future sales…

How about this…

A full sized Dalek and yes you can sit inside and move him along!!! He needs a bit of TLC. This is a little Photoshop work I’ve done on him for our social media feeds (the Andromeda Galaxy background is my own from some years ago!)

We also have going under the hammer this retro playsuit based on the original ‘TV Serial’.. I wonder if some of our older members remember wanting or even having this ! 😀

Lastly, on a far more serious note… take a look at this letter which came in to be valued and put up for sale!

Note the early NASA logo, date (only a few days since getting back from the moon) and of course the signature!

Hope you enjoyed this rather varied blog entry!

Damian

 

 

 

 

Solar Array

Today allowed me to finally get my Solar array set up. After several attempts at balancing and positioning all the components and making modifications I was able to set up all 3 scopes in a balanced configuration.

Then using the Kendrick Solar finder on the central scope (Evostar 120) and setting the tracking to solar rate I then adjusted the alignment of the ST 102 and the PST, so that all 3 scopes showed full disk of sun in centre of field of view.

The idea is that:

the central scope will give white light images of the sun using a Herschel wedge with an ND3 filter.

the smaller ST102 refractor will give CaK images using a Herschel wedge without any filter and imaged with DMK41 mono ccd camera with Baader Calcium K filter fitted.

the PST will give H alpha images.

Today I was only using set up visually , to align scopes, so I used filtered Herschel wedge in the Evostar 120, a baader Solar film on front of ST 102 and the PST was used as normal. There were no sunspots visible and in H alpha a noticeable prominence at 4/5 o-clock position as registered by Roger this morning, no other prominences visible, nor was there much surface detail. No CaK detail as was not using camera, the sun was very variable , but there were enough bright spells this afternoon between 2 and 4pm to allow the alignment of all three scopes.

The mount was constructed with a piece of 10mm thick Aluminium bar 10cm wide and 35 cm long attached to upper side of lower vixen bar via two M6 bolts.

Two vixen bars were then attached to upper surface of Aluminium bar via M6 bolts, two sets of ADM mounting rings of suitable size were then clamped onto these vixen bars.

(ADM rings and vixen bars from First Light Optics.)

By adjusting screws in Rings I was able to align both scopes to get full disk in centre field of view, to remove scopes the top adjusting screw only in each ring is taken out, so when  scopes placed back in , tightening this screw only should put them back in aligned position, all bar a slight tweak.

To ensure the system was balanced about the axis running along the length of the Evostar, extra masses were added under the PST, these were attached via an M10 bolt with head removed and centre tapped with M6 thread, then attached to vixen bar with M6 screw head bolt through Vixen bar and M10 bolt to hold masses in place., this can be seen on photo below with scopes removed from rings.

By experiment on table top , approx. 1.5Kg was required on PST side to balance rig, brought 4 small masses from Astro Buy & sell, and drilled out centres to fit bolt. All we want now are some clear skies and sunspots!!

Thanks to Lee for advice on design and initial drilling and tapping of holes / threads.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOMO Biolam Microscope restoration.

As you’ll have gathered, Andy got me an old LOMO Biolam microscope for Christmas. Included in the sale were an assortment of extras ‘upgrades’ (all in their own wooden boxes) to the original base unit (most I don’t think have ever been used), including a binocular head with a pair of x7 and x10 eyepieces.

Being 41 years old, it needed some TLC – the main issue being the infamous ‘Russian Tank Grease’ originally used!

You can tell it’s age as the serial number contains it’s year of manufacture – just like Takahashi do, so the ’77’ is 1977.

This instrument is still a ‘LOMO’ version, later, it was also made and marketed under the Zenith brand (we used their cameras at art college!)

Over time, this grease has solidified (think your bonfire toffee apples), so most things that were supposed to move were either very stiff or just plain stuck.

Not being very ‘DIY’, I’ve spent the last few weeks tentatively stripping it down and soaking various parts in white spirit and WD40.

 

Andy came round just after Christmas and we had ‘first light’ – this image is of a Lilly Ovary, iPhone 6 held up to the 10x eyepiece in the Binocular attachment (adds 1.5x mag) and a 20x objective (so 300x)

It was pretty tricky to achieve focus as the main (coarse focuser) was lumpy and the fine focus unit inoperable….

The microscope (thankfully) turned out to be pretty easy to take apart.

Below, the main/coarse focus unit (after spending a week in a bath of white spirit). Brushed clean with my old tooth brush and re-greased with a modern silicon alternative.

 

Image below – bottom of the ‘stage base’ – the bit where you place your slide (‘rotating stage’ also stuck!) This shows the silver-grey fine focuser mounted on the side.

Most of the microscope is cast metal and brass. The only plastic part was this strip of gearing for the condenser (the unit that focuses the light source onto the slide/specimen). The two screws though caught me out – the top being countersunk and the lower a pan-head!

The brass is ‘pre-polished’….

Below images (x2) – back of same ‘stage’ part….

…..and with gearing removed….

The biggest issue was the fine focuser. The actual unit is self contained, like the inside of a watch and ‘runs- dry’ – so no grease. Whilst it worked on it’s own, I could not get the fine focus to work once everything was reassembled…

The large metal pin (above) sits in that circular recess shown below in the middle of that brass piece. Inside the main cavity sits the fine focuser which mates to the fine focus gearing/knob just seen in the shadow right at the back.

It turned out that the brass part (with circular recess) is supposed to freely move up and down with a turn of the fine focuser…

….the movement dampened by a large spring that sits inside this circular recess on the other side (top). The spring is held in place under tension by the serial number ‘date’ cover shown earlier.

 

Once we had worked out how this works Andy………. hit it…… (carefully) with a hammer….(!!!) after judisious use of WD40. That freed the brass dovetail allowing cleaning, polishing and re-greasing…

41 years of grease (finally) removed !

Amazing what a bit of Brass can do!

Once all back together everything finally worked!

 

Andy headed off and I finished polishing up the chrome objective head and attaching the X/Y upgrade to the stage.

Later in the evening I popped over to Andy’s to try the microscope out. I still have the condenser upgrade to sort (Russian tank grease again) and then sort an LED / Halogen illuminator to replace the 15w bulb version (itself an upgrade over the supplied mirror).

 

Andy’s calibration slide – each line is 0.01mm apart.

 

The moon….?

 

ET’s hand !

 

Damian