Equipment

06/22/14

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Hardware:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is my imaging set-up, a TMB 175mm f8 APO refractor, with an Apogee U16M camera using the AI-FW50-7S filter wheel.  I bought this fine refractor off Astromart in February 2009, and I am the third owner.    This TMB scope has seen very little use looks to be brand new.  The tube for this scope is not the standard TMB/APM model.  Markus Ludas had the tube built for an Aries Fluorite Lens that was never finished, so in September 2004 he installed a very nice 97.4 Strehl TMB lens, and this scope was born.  I like the creme color and the look of this tube better the either the CNC of LW tube of the current APM 175 f8 models.  The image train includes a APM Field Flattener that seems to do an effective job of producing pinpoint stars all the way to the corners of that big Kodak 16803 chip.

The FRC-300 that I had been using was an excellent scope, but I came to realize that I really was a "refractor guy" at heart.  At 1400 mm focal length and the large chip of the U16M, this set-up provides a wonderful field of view.     The guide scope sitting on top of the "Big Gun" is a Takahashi FS-78, yet another wonderful Takahashi scope, and a great guidescope.   I've used a Borg Mini45ED and a Takahashi FS-60 as guidescopes in previous configurations, but I like the additional focal length offered by the FS-78. 

The guiding camera duties are handled by a Starfish guider from Fishcamp Engineering.   The Starfish  was a new product that began shipping in January of 2007, and I think mine was one of the first production units sold.  It seems to be very sensitive and with a 1.3 megapixel CMOS chip and 5.2 micron pixels, it provide a large 33 x 42 arcminute field of view and an image scale of  1.96 arcseconds per pixel with the FS-78.   The Starfish is very well made (excellent fit and finish) has done everything I've asked of it so far, even helping to touch up the collimation of the FRC.  It is just a bit of icing on the cake that the beautiful red finish matches the Paramount so well - this little camera is a keeper.

The imaging camera will be focused by an excellent Starlight Feathertouch 3.5" focuser using a Robofocus.  All the custom adapters needed to attach the The camera to the focuser/corrector, while maintaining the proper backspacing distance, were made by Ashley Stevens at PreciseParts.

Other pieces of hardware in the observatory include the nicest equipment I have found in the war against dew - the DewBuster controller coupled with Dew-Not heater strips.   I highly recommend the DewBuster!  It is simply the most controllable, most effective dew controller system I've used to date, and the Dew-Not strips are  without a doubt the best available.

Software:

Software is an ever changing suite of applications, as I look for the right mix of automation and control.  This is what I'm currently using:

 

MaxImDL/CCD v5 Diffraction Limited 
FocusMax Brady & Weber
CCDStack CCDWare
CCD Inspector CCDWare
SkyTools 3 CapellaSoft
ACP4 DC-3 Dreams
PinPoint DC-3 Dreams
CCDAutoPilot4 Professional CCDWare
TheSky 6
T-Point
ProTrac
Polar Align Max
CCDSoft
Photoshop CS3 Adobe
PEMPro  

 

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This site was last updated 05/18/09