In an attempt to motivate myself, I'm listing some of the many plans I have for equipment modifications. Not that anybody will be interested until they're done, but I might get suitably embarrassed at how long it takes to do them! (Any words of encouragement are most welcome!)

I've listed them in no particular order, although a casual glance will show that a lot of them are related. This is one of the hold-ups at the moment - a decision on one will influence several others. I've got to get it right!

This page was created on 1998/12/04. I'll note when these projects are done (or dropped!) or others added.

So much to do, so little time...

Upgrade imaging telescope

Replace the current 20-cm f/4·5 imaging telescope with 30-cm f/5. The current telescope coupled with my Cookbook 245 CCD doesn't quite provide enough resolution. A longer focal length telescope is therefore needed.

But it has to be light enough to fit on the same mounting as the 20-cm and so it needs to be a truss-tube.

Initial status
Mostly still in the planning stage. I know what I want to achieve and have a few ideas to play with, but no detailed plans yet.

The primary mirror has been made, however.

A top end has been made (left over from another project), although it might need to be "beefed-up" a bit to make sure that it doesn't flex.

STATUS 1999/05/25 - COMPLETE!!!

Autoguider interface for imaging mount drive

I've recently upgraded the imaging mounting to have worm and wheel drives on both axes, driven by stepping motors. It lacks an autoguider interface.

I also need to have another go at lining up the worms on this mount. Does anybody know a foolproof way to line up these gears to remove any play (backlash) in them but still allow them to move freely?

Initial status
Planning stage still, but linked to next project (which is linked to the next project...).

STATUS 1999/07/02 - COMPLETE

Build an autoguider

I'm fed up with manually guiding. My aim is to get the imaging telescope going on an object then leave it alone to take the data while I get on with some visual observing with one of my other telescopes.

I have lots of plans, but which one to choose! The best idea is to put a second CCD chip in with the first one and autoguide through the same optics as the imager, but that would require completely rebuilding the existing CCD housing. The attraction is that I can then do away with the guidescope and so save weight (which increases stability).

An alternative is second Cookbook to be used exclusively as an autoguider. Due to various reasons, I do have a second TC-245 chip which could be used, but I also have managed to acquire the body of an ST-4 (no CCD or Peltier cooler, and the electronics are a bit suspect). The TC-245 won't fit without modifications which negates the point of using it in the first place. But I have also bought a second-hand flip-mirror arrangement and the thought of merging the two seems appealing.

STATUS - no change
Now that I have an ST-8, it has an in-built guider chip. So I can guide with it, or use the Cookbook as an autoguider if I need a separate guider for the ST-8. I still use the Cookbook as a stand-alone system, but I can generally get away with no guider for the use I make of it now. (Problem solved - do nothing and wait for affluence to catch up!)

Autoguider interface for Cookbook CCD

Rather obvious need here!

STATUS 2000/03/25 - COMPLETE
Finally put the bits together.

Shutter for Cookbook CCD

Can't take lunar and planetary images without a good shutter.

Initial status.
I've been given a solenoid that looks suitable, it's just a matter of fitting it and wiring it up. But as the Cookbook control software doesn't support a shutter, there is the little matter of making up something that will work.

STATUS 1999/04/10

Temperature regulation for Cookbook CCD

The Cookbook CCD is quite stable thanks to a large bucket of water, but during an observing session it does slowly drift. At the moment I monitor the temperature and adjust the Peltier voltage via a vernier knob on the pot. It works, but is an annoyance.

Initial status.
I've actually had a couple of goes at this, but was not happy with them. Third time lucky?

STATUS - no change

Re-build existing 31-cm telescope mount

The existing mount was knocked together in a weekend. It works, but is very heavy and could be done better.

My plan is actually to build a mounting that would be suitable for a much larger telescope (perhaps 25-inch f/5) but keep the 31-cm on it for the moment (until I can afford the big mirror!). It would be designed to be computer controlled using Mel Bartel's control system (at least for the moment - but that's another project).

I've got the steppers, and I've built the electronics to control them. Detailed plans of the mounting are needed before the next stage can begin, however.

Looping back to an earlier project, I may test the computer control on my imaging equatorial which already has the requisite steppers and gearing.


Large dome

While I'm at it, I still have plans for a large dome to house the above 25-inch telescope. It needs to be at least 5-metres in diameter and I want a room underneath it as a workshop/storage area. Need to devise a plan to get the money necessary to go beyond my dreams...

STATUS - COMPLETE! The dome is as complete as it needs to be - but there'll always be something more that I want to do to it. You can read about the construction here.

Page last updated 2006/01/12
Steven Lee