Equipment

Our equipment posts cover the making, modification and use of observatories, telescopes and equipment. Select the posts for more information on the topics.

Crayford Manor House Astronomical Society Dartford awarded National Archives; Archives Revealed Scoping Grant

Some very good news announced yesterday 21st July 2022 – The National Archives; Archives Revealed Scoping Grant has been awarded to CMHASD to assess the value and future of our Hewitt Camera Archive Collection!
 
 
 
Crayford Manor House Astronomical Society Dartford (CMHASD) are the authorised custodians of the Hewitt Camera Archive Collection, containing over 11,000 wide-field sky glass/plastic satellite and astronomical photographic plates. This unique collection covers a historic period of 30 years from 1965 and relates to both the Northern and Southern hemispheres (the UK and Australia). 

This Archives Revealed scoping grant is the first stage for funding the restoration, conservation, safeguarding, cataloguing, digitisation, and public sharing of this unique collection before deterioration and loss occurs. The Hewitt Camera Archive Collection is an insightful, historical and scientific resource into the UK’s part in the early days of space exploration. CMHASD is committed to sharing this valuable astronomical research archive with current and future generations as a physical and digital resource for all.

Quote from CMHASD President John Archer: “CMHASD is thrilled and grateful to The National Archives, The Pilgrim Trust, and the Wolfson Foundation for the award of this Archives Revealed scoping grant for our Hewitt Camera Archive Collection. This grant will enable our small charitable society to fund expert opinion and guidance to assess the digitisation, cataloguing, and planning towards making this unique UK space history and astronomical photographic collection safe and publicly available to the world. So…watch this space!”
 
 
The Society would like to thank Gary Hunt and team for your efforts securing the scoping grant.  Fantastic news & well done!
 
Gary wrote ‘This is exciting news but this is only the first step on what may be a long journey? Further substantial funding will be required to undertake the completion our objectives derived from the outcomes of the forthcoming Archives Revealed scoping report. The scoping report will determine the value (in terms of scientific, cultural and historical context) of the CMHASD Hewitt Camera Archive Collection and will also make recommendations on how to maximise exploitation and preservation of the collection. 

We are grateful for this opportunity to move the current situation on and provide future access of the Hewitt Camera Archive Collection to the world before it further degrades or suffers calamity!

We are always grateful for offers of help or ideas for achieving our objective of fulfilling our solemn commitment to keeping the Hewitt Camera Archive Collection safe and allowing full exploitation by the astronomical, scientific, historical community… and lets not forget yourself!’

 

Making a Hi-Res Solar Telescope

Simon modified a cheap, old and unused telescope with significant chromatic aberration into a super high resolution Solar telescope, his video below explains how he did it. 

Simon-Dawes-Sunspot-3-10th-July-2022-WhatsApp-Image-2022-07-10-at-10.19.04-AM

Image taken with Simon’s hi-res Solar Telescope.

Making a Solar Filter for my Skywatcher 190MN

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY. Please click here for solar observing safely.

My Skywatcher 190MN telescope has a very wide field of view I can easily fit the full Moon or Sun on the chip, so I thought I’d get myself some Baader solar Safety Film and make myself a solar filter – the video below shows how i made it and shows some early results. Check-out our solar section for more images.

Mesu e200 Mount Unboxing and Assembly

I recently bought a Mesu e200 (also know as the Mesu MKII) mount. This mount uses friction rather than gears so doesn’t have any backlash, it is incredibly accurate and can handle a load of 100Kg (that’s 18 stone! or over 200lb!)

Check-out the video for the full unboxing and assembly – the video isn’t a review but you will get an idea of the quality from this video. Whilst the mount is expensive, it is far more economical than equivalent mounts, other owners have sold their Paramount’s  in order to fund buying more of these – they really are good.

 

EQ6 Belt Drive Mod

EQ6-belt-mod0

The EQ6 Belt mod replaces the brass gears with a timing belt to reduce errors and remove backlash.

The EQ6 has standard brass gears on the stepper motor and worm gear, with a ‘transfer’ gear to translate the stepper motion to the worm gear.

These gears introduce errors and backlash, the belt drive mod is designed to replace these gears with a timing belt

EQ6-belt-mod1

The old and new parts

Replacement of the gears for a belt drive is straightforward but will take a day to do properly. Instructions are provided with the kit from Rowan Astronomy and another useful resource is the hyper-tune instructions from astro-baby.com

There are a couple of tricky steps

  1. Removing the adapter at the bottom of the polar scope shaft – you will need a steal belt, oil filter wrench (from Halfords)
  2. Removing the worm gear caps and the worm gear retaining ring, these can be removed using pointed pose plyers, but you risk damaging the caps if you slip, a better approach is to use the specially designed tool (available from Rowan Astronomy)
  3. The bolts holding the mount together are steel bolts with M6 threads tapped into the aluminium body – it is very easy to strip the threads be vary careful – if you do strip them you can repair them easily with a Helicoil thread repair kit.

EQ6-belt-mod2

Some of the tricky steps

EQ6-belt-mod3

Threading the belts through the guides can also be tricky, locking tweezers help a lot!

Fitting the belts is easier if you have locking tweezers, but it can be done with your fingers – if you are nimble – there is not much room to manoeuvre inside the mount.

EQ6-belt-mod4

The disassembly required to fit the belt mod.

EQ6 Hyper Tune

The EQ6 hyper tune is a procedure to strip down and rebuild your mount to improve performance, the exact details are best followed from astro-baby.com so I won’t copy them here. The tune-up includes replacing the plastic shims and replacing them with PTFE ones...

EQ6 Locking Power Mod

The EQ6 is known for its power connector coming out or momentarily disconnecting, which is not something you want happening in the middle of an imaging session. I’d previously replaced all my power connectors to a type with a locking collar and decided to mod my...

Super Smooth EQ6 Altitude Adjustment Mod

The EQ6 is difficult to polar align in Altitude, especially when fully loaded, the Knobs Mod can help, but only so far because the design of the altitude adjustment is flawed. Modern Astronomy  make a ‘rail mod’ this corrects the design and makes...

Super Smooth EQ6 Azimuth Adjustment

The Eq6 is fixed to the pier/tripod using a central bolt, but this generates significant friction between the tripod/pier and EQ6 which can make polar alignment along the azimuth axis difficult, you need the central bolt to be tight to ensure no movement but loose to...

SkyWatcher EQ6 Knobs Mod

The polar adjustment knobs on the EQ6 are not very good, upgrading these parts will make your telescope mount much easier to use and therefore will result in better polar alignment leading to better images.  The problems: The Azimuth adjustment knobs are too...

All Sky Cam Project

At a recent society night Keith described how he has built an all-sky camera, mainly from parts he had laying around, the camera is capable of producing a live view of the sky, time laps video summary of the night, can upload the images to a website for public viewing...

Building Dobsonian Mounts

Members Steve and Dave with some technical support from Keith have built another two Dobsonian telescopes for the society using donated Newtonian tubes, one is a 200mm F5 Skywatcher the other a 300mm F5.3 Orion Optics. The design is the same as the previous Dobsonian...

A DSLR Cooler

A DSLR, ideally one that has been modded to remove the filters is an accessible way to begin imaging, and I have successfully imaged using a ‘full spectrum mod’ Canon 600D for many years. Unfortunately these cameras are not cooled and the sensor...

Making Dew Heater Bands and Controller

Introduction: Dew heaters warm the optics of a telescope to prevent dew forming. Commercial control units and heater elements are available, however with a couple of hours, a soldering iron and a few tools, the control units and heaters can easily be constructed at...

Frankenscope

The Frankenscope I needed a portable telescope to take to places such as Kelling Heath. My main telescope is stuck in its observatory. It needs to allow me to do imaging as well as visual observations. The solution was to be build Frankenscope! What do you...

Large Telescopes

The Society and its members possess a notable range of astronomical equipment, much of it home made. A number of the these instruments have been constructed by John Wall who is internationally known as a telescope maker and is the inventor of the ‘Crayford...

Variable Barlow

Variable Barlow Adapter for a Webcam Changing the distance of an eyepiece or other sensor such as a webcam or DSLR changes the effective power (magnification) Andy Barber has made such a set-up for planetary imaging with a Phillips Toucam. The effective focal length...

DIY Finderscope

ATM Finderscope A finderscope is an essential accessory for your telescope, if you don’t have one, or your finderscope uses an objective less than 50mm in diameter you might consider making one, this is a satisfying accessory to make and doesn’t require any real skill...

A Battery-free Electric Focuser

A Battery Free Electric Focuser Building an electric control for your focuser can help you achieve focus easier & quicker. With an electric control focuser, there is no need to touch the telescope and so you don’t induce telescope wobble, which in turn,...

Time Delay Integration a.k.a Drift Scanning

What is Drift Scanning? If you try to take an image on an un-driven mount the stars will trail as the Earth rotates. Now imagine a star on a CCD, it will move from pixel to pixel producing a line rather than a point source. Now if we could move the image on the CCD at...

Crayford Eyepiece Mount (Crayford Focuser)

Introduction Designed and donated to the world by telescope maker and former member John Wall. The design has two principle features:- Restriction of movement of the eyepiece focusing tube to one degree of motion – which is linear – and a secondary motion...

Dismantling the 24 inch Telescope built by John Wall

When the Manor house closed in December 2011 we lost our 50 year old observatory so we had to find a new home for our 24″ telescope built by John Wall 🙁 York Astronomical Society agreed to rehouse the telescope. Below are a selection of photos showing what...

Multiple Papers on the APT

Here we describe the construction and scientific output of the Automatic Photometric Telescope, built in the mid 1980’s the APT became the most productive variable star observation platform in the UK – possibly the world. The APT (Automatic Photometric...