New Kit

  • Nik 

I’ve been splurging some money on some new toys over the last couple of days. Not huge amounts but enough that I don’t want to total all the individual purchases just yet :-s

Firstly, I’ve decided to dabble with a bit of filtering for my horribly light polluted garden. To this end I’m buying a Altair Astro Premium 1.25in CLS-CCD Filter. I’m not expecting miracles at this price but I’m hoping it will let me have a play and see what can be achieved.

Secondly, I’m buying a Altair GPCAM 0.5x Reducer. Again bargain basement price and I just want to see what it can do. Given I have a relatively small CMOS sensor I’m assuming that distortions should be minimal so it may work out quite well.

Thirdly, I’ve finally taken the plunge and am going mobile. I’m buying a 17ah power tank. It’s one of the old lead acid ones rather than the new lithium ones so had a fair chunk of money knocked off a Tring Astronomy Centre as clearance.

That was it until Friday night’s observing run. Trouble with me is that around 2 or 3 am when APT is away doing its thing and there’s not much to do I have these ‘great’ ideas :-s

I got to thinking that it would be nice to have an auto focuser and surely it wouldn’t be that hard to build one bits and pieces lying around. Turns out I’m not the first to have this idea and it all looks doable. I’ll be using a Raspberry Pi Zero I happen to have lying about (thought I had a stepper motor and control board but that turned out to be a DC motor and board so probably no good).

So off I went today onto the internet to find the bits and pieces I need. I didn’t actually buy any of them (well except for a new SD card for the PI and an FTDI cable). Since I’m now going to bolt a computer to the side of my tube I figured I could use it to do temperature and humidity, not to mention GPS.

I also figured I’d write the control interface to the ASCOM driver first before I dove in a brought the bits that involve some degree of mechanical engineering to fit.