Thursday, May 19, 2016

Changing Camera Control Software

Switching from Maxim to The Sky X (TSX) Camera Add-On via CCDAutopilot

I've recently been frustrated with some inconsistent controls for Maxim when driven by CCDAutopilot.  Specifically, it would fail when trying to focus due to hot pixels and there were reconnection problems when the camera was not available by USB during startup or resume.  It works mostly reliably, but still, I've not been terribly happy with the guiding results and the poor way that it work hang at annoying times.

I decided to give TSX another shot since I had the plugin for it.  I've been using it for all-sky platesolves and this has been pretty fast and reliable.  I wanted to take advantage of the additional focus controls that were available in TSX.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Practicing for GSSP 2016

I've been working hard in the back yard, tuning the system to prepare for the summer season. 

Last summer, I'd settled on the use of CCDAP5 to control the QSI camera and mount, mostly because of the use of skyflats.  I was able to get several sessions of data from the backyard, which I never processed due to one thing or another.  Once I upgraded the hardware of the laptop that I was using to something a little more recent, the capability of CCDAP5 became much more apparent.  However, the true test had to wait until spring.

Over the rainy season, I worked on some ideas about how to improve the backyard astrophotography experience.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mercury Transit at RingCentral

Since the marine layer was pretty thick this morning, I brought my solar kit to work.  The sun peeked through some clouds.  Then it got clear in the last hour before the end.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Home Made Spacer

Over the winter, I ruminated and fiddled with some different ideas during the El Nino rainy season.
One idea that I finally implemented was a spacer at the top of the DEC axis on the Losmandy G11 mount.

Note the non-anodized block of aluminum.  This is a 4 inch wide, 6 inch long, 1 inch thick block of 6061 aluminum to add a bit of clearance space on the top of the DEC axis.  The goal was to provide a little extra collision room around the motors on the default limits.

My worries about being able to drill the metal plate accurately enough to pass the bolts through it turned out to not be a problem once I drilled pilot holes after measuring carefully.  Since the holes have no need to be threaded, the precision needed was low.

It's worked very well so far.  Meridian flips have been easy and there is no opportunity for motor collisions.

Another benefit is that I can consider drilling and tapping more holes on this block for cable management.