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New AP Driver

After googling the web and posting messages to the ECU and Mathis Users Yahoo Groups, I finally found a reference to a new ASCOM AP driver written by Ray Gralak.  It is AP V2 (v4.99.58) and has been out since July 2009 (v4.99.9).

I don't know why this isn't posted to or why it wasn't supplied with the Mathis-supplied PulseGuide CD which had ASCOM and the old AP v4.1.25 driver on it.  Very frustrating.

Telescope Connection Problems

Last night (2010-03-18) I noticed that the telescope position cursor would jump to random locations across the planetarium sky display (ECU).  Since the dome is slaved to the telescope position, the dome would try to keep up with the randomly reported positions.  Through all this, the telescope was tracking and was not slewing. The same issue repeated tonight ans it appears after a few hours of use.  I am suspecting that threre must be an issue with the AP driver (V4.1.25) by Ajai Sehgal.

Polar Altitude Adjustment, AutoFocus, DSI Off-axis Guiding, Imaging Test

I began the night by adjusting the polar axis altitude by drift aligning on a star near the eastern horizon.  There were a few back and forth initerations before I figured out which way to turn the altitude screw on the polar base.

After a little head-scratching, I figured out how to configure FocusMax (FM) with RoboFocus (RF) on the Van Slyke (VSI) OMG5.  The initial First Light Wizard attempts in FM ended quickly in failure.

Final Orthogonality Adjustment and Polar Drift Align

Made up two DB-9 to RJ-11 modular connectors to connect to 2nd RS-232 port on A-P control box.  Will use it to connect with PulseGuide.

Completed the orthogonality adjustment tonight.  About 1 minute of arc in error.

Completed polar alignment using drift align.

Chasing Orthogonality

Made up two brackets with adjustment screws.  The brackets are mounted in existing holes which bolt the plates to the rings. Now I have a fail-safe way to move the OTA assembly in the dovetail plates.

Spent a few hours (til 2 am) trying to achieve orthogonality, but forgot to correct for half of the error when sighting Polaris.  This resulted in "chasing" and over and undercorrecting for the error.

Near Disaster!

When attempting orthogonality adjustment, the OTA slipped in the dovetail plates causing the imaging train to crash into the fork hub.  There is minor cosmetic damage to the hub and the Meade 5000 diagonal which is at the end of the imaging train.  The impact also displaced the set screws in various components of the VSI SuperStack.  These can be easily reset.

I'll have to think about some sort of fine, push-pull adjustment screws to move, and prevent, the OTA from slipping in the dovetails.

First Visitors

Our neighbours, Debbie and Les, came over at about 9 PM for a look at and through the telescope.  After a brief explanation of the control room, dome, telescope, etc., I showed them M42, Saturn and Mars.  The seeing was bad so the views were not good.  In turns out that Les is a kindred spirit; loves space and wish he could have been an astronaut in NASA.

First Light!

It's clear now, so I get to have "First Light" with the new telescope and mount, as well as check the orthogonality of the forks (adjustments will be required).

12:02 AM First light - Regulus, Algieba, NGC 3227-3226 with 31 and 17 mm Naglers - SPECTACULAR!

2:50 AM: Slewed to Arcturus, sync'd, initiated GTO M3. Very close w/o polar alignment with 17 mm Nagler.  The globular looks GREAT with this scope!

3:13 AM: Telescope shut down and domed closed.

Mount and OTA Move to the Observatory

Moving the mount and OTA to the observatory was a milestone, so tonight I provided a detailed account.

6 PM: I disassembled the OTA and mount in my office.  It took about 45 minutes.  Broke for supper.

OTA Ring Mods, Fork Spacing, Testing Mount Park Modes

The pier wasn't ready today, but I went to Durmach machine shop to discuss shortening the OTA ring plates from 18" to 12" and replicating the mounting holes in one end. The staff at Durmach in general and Dave in particular are real nice.  Should be about $50.  I hope to get it to them Wednesday.


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