Welcome! Jack of all trades, master of none? You might find something of interest here!


Orion Thin Off-Axis Guider

Orion recently released a new Thin Off-Axis Guider (TOAG) designed with DSLR's in mind.  I had looked at others in the past but felt it was now time to give off-axis guiding a try.  Some of the things that drew me to this guider:


  • It is only 10.5 mm wide.  Requirement due to the limited back focus of my Orion 190mm Mak-Newt.
  • I have an Orion StarShoot AutoGuider and description states it was designed for this.  Hoping this would make it easier to use since they are both from the same company.
  • It has M48 threads as I wanted to try and adapt my Hotech Self-Centering Camera T-Adapter for the nose piece.
  • Side-to-side adjustment to aide in finding guide stars.

Unpacking the guider it looked good and I like the finish.  It comes with a number of attachments for use with different optical trains.  The step-down ring (M48 male to T-threads female), was already attached so I removed it. The ring adapter design makes it easier to attached the camera to the TOAG.  The Canon-camera compatible adapter is attached to the camera.  Then this is placed on the TOAG and held in place with thumb screws.  This avoids trying to twist the camera onto the adapter since the guider mount would be in the way.

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Orion 190mm Mak-Newt Moonlite focuser install

The Orion 190mm Mak-Newt is a great scope for imaging.  With the corrector plate on front it provides pinpoint stars very nearly to the corners of my Canon 60D DSLR.  Trouble is they are no longer being sold by Orion.  I purchased mine second hand and have used it successfully for a couple of years.  Recently I decided I wanted to upgrade the focuser so that I could do automated focusing using Sequence Generator Pro (SGP).  I selected the Moonlite 2" Model CR Newtonian Focuser (with 2" travel) for several reasons.  First they have a good reputation and I read nothing but good things about them.  Second the authors of SGP use them, (seems like some at Moonlite use SGP), so I knew there would be good software support.  Third Moonlite already has an adapter plate specifically for the Orion 190mm Mak-Newt.


First I removed the old focuser.  I was a little concerned with the dent on the lower left side.  It didn't seem to be an issue with the old focuser as my images showed little camera tilt (analyzed via CCDInspector 2).  The old focuser was attached through screws from the outside.  However, to install the Moonlite I needed to remove the corrector plate as the screws had to be installed from the inside.  First I put painters tape across the seem between the corrector plate and the tube.  I did this to help me align the corrector plate when I went to re-install it,(though collimation would still be necessary).  Then I put the cover back on to protect the outside of the corrector plate during the process.  Next remove the six screws on the tube portion.  Once these are out the corrector plate has to be worked out of the tube.  It is a tight fit so work around the entire edge instead of just just trying to work one side.  Once removed I put the plate in a plastic bag to limit dust, etc. while I installed the focuser.



Front end with the corrector plate removed.









The installation of the Moonlite was a snap.  I ordered it with the the motor and it came pre-assembled with the motor and adapter plate for the Orion 190mm.  The adapter comes with a 1/2" spacer which I didn't need so wasn't used.  If using this for visual work it may be beneficial but since I am doing mainly imaging I need the top of the focuser to be less than about 58mm.  Moonlite provided longer installation screws which are required for my version of OTA.  My version has nipples that the focuser screws screw into from the outside.  The longer screws go up through the holes in the nipples and then into the adapter plate on the focuser.  The screws are stainless steel and so I painted them black to hopefully cut down on reflecting stray light.  The adapter plate seems to be large enough that the dent around the focuser hole doesn't seem to be an issue.  Now to get it under some stars to test it out.


iEQ45 Lat Locking Screw Upgrade

I recently noticed that the washers on the Latitude Locking Screws where deformed.  It always seemed that these screws would not lock down tight enough.  It would appears that the bolt/washer is not wide enough to span the gap.  After removing the washer is it clear they are not doing their job.  Looking at the most recent iteration it looks like iOptron switched to a wider diameter bolt.  However, this doesn't help those of use who have the older mounts.  So while I could contact iOptron and try to purchase replacement bolts I felt a trip to my local Ace Hardware store was in order.









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iEQ45 - Hand controller differences 8406 & 8407

Since it's release by iOptron the iEQ45 has gone through a couple of notable revisions.  The first was a modification of the DEC clutch from four bolts to a lever.  This involved a redesign of the surface where the clutch grips the axis to lock.  This was done because under the old design when the bolts were released the weight of the OTA would cause the surfaces to bind and thus making it difficult to balance the OTA in the DEC axis.

The next major upgrade was changing the hand controller (HC) from #8406 to #8407.  Most notable was this also changed the motor controll boards and allows for upgraded the R.A. and DEC control boards individually.  This opens up the possibility of customizing the firmware for each axis, however at this point I haven't seen any evidence of this customization being implemented.

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