Date   

Re: Case Foam CUTTING PATTERNS for AP Mounts

Eric Baumgartner
 

Hi, Terri:

 

I also use My Case Builder for custom-foam-lined cases for small mounts and small telescopes, and their online user interface is second to none. It’s a fun mental exercise to jockey equipment pieces around to maximize content and protection in a case of a given size.

 

My first-gen Mach1 is transported in a Pelican 1620 case. The case accommodates everything related to the mount except the counterweights. I carry the counterweights in a Bucket Boss Gatemouth canvas bag, with pieces of foam in between each weight to prevent them from banging around. Works well.

 

Eggcrate foam is open cell and much to squishy to afford much protection for heavy gear. Closed-cell foam, also known as Ethafoam, is the way go to.

 

Hope this helps,


Eric Baumgartner

Redding, CT USA

 

 

 

From: Astro-Physics GTO users group <main@ap-gto.groups.io> on behalf of Terri Zittritsch <theresamarie11@...>
Reply-To: Astro-Physics GTO users group <main@ap-gto.groups.io>
Date: Saturday, April 18, 2020 at 9:19 AM
To: Astro-Physics GTO users group <main@ap-gto.groups.io>
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Case Foam CUTTING PATTERNS for AP Mounts

 

I used mycasebuilder.com for my Mach1 case. Couldn't be happier. I designed it on their web based software. Works perfect and space is maximized for the size of the case. I took a picture of the profile of my mount and traced the outline using their software. Careful measuring is needed to check and verify the pattern but totally worth it.CheersDan


That's a beautiful job Dan!    Having a new Mach2, I'd like to have a case for it.     I purchased a pelican 1600 case, with the eggcrate foam, but the foam is so soft my guess is the whole thing will fall apart in no time, so I returned it.    

I like your process and may give it a go at some point.    

I personally wouldn't worry about the altitude setting needing to be different for everyone, and would prioritize setting the altitude so everything fit best first.   That is for a standard foam cutout pattern.   Resetting the altitude when I put it back on the tripod isn't that big a deal.   Since i'm portable, it needs to be reset when traveling anyway.    My biggest concern with the mach2, is where to put the counterweight bar, it is very substantial and will need some good padding to keep anything around it safe, or its own case.

Can I ask what everyone does with their weights?    Do you put them in their own boxes for traveling?

Terri


Re: Absolute Encoders and Running a Pointing Model

Christopher Erickson
 

Abs encoders can't compensate for OTA flexure, mirror-flop, etc., however a good pointing model might help a bit with those.

In a nutshell...

Guiding is like bacon. It makes everything better.


On Sat, Apr 18, 2020 at 7:07 PM Brian Valente <bvalente@...> wrote:
just out of curiosity with encoders, do you feel a need to guide?

On Sat, Apr 18, 2020 at 9:53 PM Tony Benjamin <tonybenjamin@...> wrote:
Thanks Christopher. I just installed them and they show a nice improvement in PHD2 :)



--
Brian 



Brian Valente


Re: Absolute Encoders and Running a Pointing Model

 

just out of curiosity with encoders, do you feel a need to guide?


On Sat, Apr 18, 2020 at 9:53 PM Tony Benjamin <tonybenjamin@...> wrote:
Thanks Christopher. I just installed them and they show a nice improvement in PHD2 :)



--
Brian 



Brian Valente


Re: Absolute Encoders and Running a Pointing Model

Tony Benjamin <tonybenjamin@...>
 

Thanks Christopher. I just installed them and they show a nice improvement in PHD2 :)


Re: Absolute Encoders and Running a Pointing Model

Christopher Erickson
 

ALWAYS leave the abs encoders on. NEVER turn them off.


-Christopher Erickson
Observatory engineer
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com
   

On Sat, Apr 18, 2020, 6:48 PM Tony Benjamin <tonybenjamin@...> wrote:
Do I leave the AE's on when creating a pointing model?


Absolute Encoders and Running a Pointing Model

Tony Benjamin <tonybenjamin@...>
 

Do I leave the AE's on when creating a pointing model?


Re: Keypad time loss

Mike Dodd
 

On 4/18/2020 8:45 PM, Steve salvo via groups.io wrote:
Good Evening from Cloudy Florida,

I have the newer version of the Keypad with the updated software. The
keypad seems to be losing time, not much, a couple of minutes within the
past few months. Causes?
The time base crystal probably isn't precisely on-frequency. Typically quartz clocks aren't specified to be more accurate than about one minute per month. If my math is correct, that's 0.002% accuracy.

Can you connect your mount to a computer that's synced to an Internet time server? That would synchronize the clock, so the next time you used the keypad, it would have an accurate time.

--- Mike


Keypad time loss

Steve Salvo
 

Good Evening  from Cloudy Florida,

I have the newer version of the Keypad with the updated software.  The keypad seems to be losing time, not much, a couple of minutes within the past few months.  Causes?

Thanks
Steve


Re: Case Foam CUTTING PATTERNS for AP Mounts

Terri Zittritsch
 

I used mycasebuilder.com for my Mach1 case. Couldn't be happier. I designed it on their web based software. Works perfect and space is maximized for the size of the case. I took a picture of the profile of my mount and traced the outline using their software. Careful measuring is needed to check and verify the pattern but totally worth it.CheersDan

That's a beautiful job Dan!    Having a new Mach2, I'd like to have a case for it.     I purchased a pelican 1600 case, with the eggcrate foam, but the foam is so soft my guess is the whole thing will fall apart in no time, so I returned it.    

I like your process and may give it a go at some point.    

I personally wouldn't worry about the altitude setting needing to be different for everyone, and would prioritize setting the altitude so everything fit best first.   That is for a standard foam cutout pattern.   Resetting the altitude when I put it back on the tripod isn't that big a deal.   Since i'm portable, it needs to be reset when traveling anyway.    My biggest concern with the mach2, is where to put the counterweight bar, it is very substantial and will need some good padding to keep anything around it safe, or its own case.

Can I ask what everyone does with their weights?    Do you put them in their own boxes for traveling?

Terri


Re: Mach2 Notification Question

Elenillor
 

Two weeks seems standard in my experience. 

Back in 1998 I got a hint (following thing on the old SAA usergroup) my time might be up on the AP130 list when I was scheduled for an overseas trip.  I sent an email to AP that I would accept if I was was notified while out of the country.  Turns out I was able to get the email notification while I was in England and made a call from there to accept and give a CC number down payment.  A similar thing happened on my Mach1 while traveling in Japan.  A couple of years ago I was off to Nepal for a three week trek and notifications were starting up for the Stowaway and Mak-Cass.  I sent a preemptive email about the Stowaway (declined as I got a Sky90 in 2006 and TEC AP110 a little later to scratch the small quality refractor itch).  I indicated I would accept the Mak-Cass if my name came up, however it did not.  Although I did get notified on the Mak-Cass a year after the trek and was asked to respond promply.  I accepted an hour or two after the email was sent and just love using the scope as it fits my observing stye preciely. 


Re: Mach2 Notification Question

David
 

Last time I was notified it was about a two week window, thats it.

David



On Apr 17, 2020, at 7:55 PM, Larry Phillips <llp41astro@...> wrote:

OK. But how many days would that be?  I will be off the grid for a while soon and it would be my luck that my notice came and expired while I was gone.
Larry


Re: Mach2 Notification Question

Larry Phillips
 

OK. But how many days would that be?  I will be off the grid for a while soon and it would be my luck that my notice came and expired while I was gone.
Larry


Re: Case Foam CUTTING PATTERNS for AP Mounts

dang.astro
 

I used mycasebuilder.com for my Mach1 case. Couldn't be happier. I designed it on their web based software. Works perfect and space is maximized for the size of the case. I took a picture of the profile of my mount and traced the outline using their software. Careful measuring is needed to check and verify the pattern but totally worth it.

Cheers
Dan




Re: Mach2 Notification Question

dvjbaja
 

A response by "X" date would be in the email or letter you receive. 

jg

On Fri, Apr 17, 2020 at 1:51 PM Larry Phillips <llp41astro@...> wrote:
When a person is notified that they are eligible to purchase a Mach2, how long do they have to reply?
Larry


Mach2 Notification Question

Larry Phillips
 

When a person is notified that they are eligible to purchase a Mach2, how long do they have to reply?
Larry


Re: Mach2 quick update

Dean Jacobsen
 

On Fri, Apr 10, 2020 at 08:24 AM, uncarollo2 <chris1011@...> wrote:
Hi Astronuts,
 
Just a quick update on the progress of Mach2 mounts. We are still working at AP to get mounts out the door. Although the factory itself is shut down for now, we have a number of employees working at home assembling parts and sub-assemblies for the mounts. Fortunately our suppliers are still able to ship parts such as motors, bearings, gears, fasteners, so we are in good shape there. I'm doing all the final assemblies and testing, which is coming right along. We should be able to ship more out in the coming week, so please be patient.
 
Meanwhile I am also testing the mounts under real sky conditions with a fairly big scope and camera so I can make some guidelines on the best way to do guided and unguided imaging. More on that later.
 
Roland Christen
Astro-Physics Inc.
These quick updates are greatly appreciated.  I'm sure that I'm not the only one who would appreciate a quick note as to how things are going whenever you have time.
 
--
Dean Jacobsen
http://astrophoto.net/wp/ 
Image Gallery - http://astrophoto.net/wp/image-gallery/
Astrobin - https://www.astrobin.com/users/deanjacobsen/ 


Re: RAPAS on Mach2

Mike Shade
 

Thanks...the old method of drifting is a major pain but seems to work well for me and my setup.  It seems to change ever so slightly over the year, likely metal heat cycling in the AZ summer heat.  The PW 17 is a workhorse, when I check polar alignment I also check collimation.  That seems to hold pretty well, haven't had to tweak in a bit.  I also have AP scopes as well, those are cycle off and on of my old 1200GTO.

 

Curious as to where you were thinking of looking for property...that might be a topic for off-list though.

 

Mike J. Shade

Mike J. Shade Photography:

mshadephotography.com

 

In War: Resolution

In Defeat: Defiance

In Victory: Magnanimity

In Peace: Goodwill

Sir Winston Churchill

Already, in the gathering dusk, a few of the stars are turning on their lights.

Vega, the brightest one, is now dropping towards the west.  Can it be half

a year since I watched her April rising in the east?  Low in the southwest

Antares blinks a sad farwell to fall...

Leslie Peltier, Starlight Nights

 

International Dark Sky Association: www.darksky.org

 

From: main@ap-gto.groups.io [mailto:main@ap-gto.groups.io] On Behalf Of Terri Zittritsch
Sent: Thursday, April 16, 2020 3:59 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] RAPAS on Mach2

 

On Thu, Apr 16, 2020 at 06:45 PM, Mike Shade wrote:

Using the traditional drift alignment method with an illuminated reticle eyepiece, I get round stars near the zenith with my first generation 1600GTO with a five minute unguided exposure, PEC on.  This is with a Planewave CDK 17, 2940mm fl, image scale .63"/pixel, permanent observatory setup.  Never had much use for or luck with software assisted polar alignment, although some people do.  Many years ago I had one of the red robotic mounts from "the other guys" and used their polar alignment program built into their pointing program.  Never seemed to give the same answers though.  The drift does take a bit though but as it is something I check about once a year, not that big of a deal.

Mike,
That is impressive!     This is what I want.. a once a year checkup on polar alignment!     The Planewave's are also something I've had my eye on!    We were planning to find a place with 10-20 acres this spring, and covid has put a damper on our moving for the time being.     Before the Planewave, I need an observatory!


Terri


Re: RAPAS on Mach2

Terri Zittritsch
 

On Thu, Apr 16, 2020 at 06:45 PM, Mike Shade wrote:
Using the traditional drift alignment method with an illuminated reticle eyepiece, I get round stars near the zenith with my first generation 1600GTO with a five minute unguided exposure, PEC on.  This is with a Planewave CDK 17, 2940mm fl, image scale .63"/pixel, permanent observatory setup.  Never had much use for or luck with software assisted polar alignment, although some people do.  Many years ago I had one of the red robotic mounts from "the other guys" and used their polar alignment program built into their pointing program.  Never seemed to give the same answers though.  The drift does take a bit though but as it is something I check about once a year, not that big of a deal.

Mike,
That is impressive!     This is what I want.. a once a year checkup on polar alignment!     The Planewave's are also something I've had my eye on!    We were planning to find a place with 10-20 acres this spring, and covid has put a damper on our moving for the time being.     Before the Planewave, I need an observatory!


Terri


Re: Case Foam CUTTING PATTERNS for AP Mounts

fl.lusen
 

Wow Joe, you have really given this a lot of thought.  For my money a bit overkill.  Me thinks the dimensions do not need to be as exacting as you depict them.  Case in point is the shipping box inserts from AP when you buy a new mount.  To do away with the cardboard box one could built a box using 1/2" or 3/8" cabinet grade plywood with a hinged top to the same dimensions as the original shipping box.  You could supplement with the pool noodles as you say.  I would be weary of any foam you got to first insure that there would not be any out gassing since most foam is treated with formaldehyde.

Just my thoughts.

Fred


-----Original Message-----
From: Joe Zeglinski <J.Zeglinski@...>
To: main <main@ap-gto.groups.io>
Sent: Thu, Apr 16, 2020 3:46 pm
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Case Foam CUTTING PATTERNS for AP Mounts

Hi Fred,
 
    Therein again, lies the problem – “ACCURATE & PRECISE Mount Outline Measurements”. 
 
    We don’t have any, of reasonably good accuracy, to throw money at someone making case foam to order from gun-case experts. I suppose the same goes for any other kind of delicate instrument case foam enclosure, such as Theodolites, etc.
 
    Even worse, if we had AP-provided accurate outlines with dimensions of our “specific” AP mount model, their case layout job would still not prove entirely satisfactory. Making a foam fit a regular rifle, pistol, or small canon, even a refractor, is fairly straight forward. But, we have the additional Rotational Dimension of the RA Fork/Base angle,  “rotated” from its upper saddle and angled in the Forks, differently for every individual’s local Latitude unless one unbolts the saddle, every time. The RA section will still be “oddly-placed”.
 
*******
    To solve that extra problem, I think it would make things easier, to purchase  such “foam-shaping services”, as you mention, if we could send them  an “official” outline with annotated dimensions  for our mount, especially the individually RA adjusted base configuration. That would result in a satisfactory foam insert, the first time, instead of multiple refits, lost scope time, costs, etc. for something so simple.
 
    Something I thought of subsequently, was to make an RA “rotatable foam disk BASE section”, inserted into a circular cut-out in the case foam, with its fixed DEC (and upper  RA Head and Saddle) section, which never changes shape. The small remaining piece, which does depend on Latitude, is the Forks with its Base and RA axle.
 
    If THAT pattern could be cut into a separate, circular foam disk, then the owner, or fabricator, could insert/rotate the foam disk so the Fork/Base fits the angle of the permanent, fixed cut-out of the rest of the RA & Saddle section. It would likely be a one-time fitting, but easily readjusted if a person moves to a new home, or other regular long term observatory site. Then, you wouldn’t need a new case foam insert – simply,  rotate the foam disk. Manufacturing the special fit foam,  would be easy, quick, and done in just one fitting.
 
    Then again, wouldn’t this be a great Service that could be done via Astro-Physics?
No need to inventory, “case products”, depend on telescope case makers to survive in business, or have long delay times, for every user request, and AP could hook-up with one or more such CASE “Gun-Foam” shapers, to pass our orders through, instead of everyone hunting (pun),for their own supplier, or hacking out their own case foam blocks – possibly repeated if the user eventually wears out or damages the foam, or gets tired of their particular scope “Luggage” (double-entendre pun).
 
    Or, as I originally suggested, at least AP could provide the GROUP,  a set of printable stitching diagrams to hack out, sculpt,  ( or case “foam-pluck”) our own foam inserts.
 
**** Did we get the Mount CASES all wrong, these many years ? *****
 
    Another approach, cases WITHOUT much foam, none of these actually sculpted,  inside them at all – Consider ... “AIR CUSHIONED CASES”.
 
    Foam line any Cube Case with flat foam squares,  then insert an air bag - possibly made of rugged beach mattress canvass material - and inflate it with a bicycle pump,  or car tire battery-operated “inflator”,  with the RA section sitting (approximately) in the middle of the air bag. If its shape is loose enough, its INSIDES will mostly CONFORM to the RA assembly (minus the Saddle’s D-Plate), The base and lid/top would be thicker normal foam squares, for vertical protection. For extra vertical confinement, the lid case foam could have a simple cut-out layer, loosely the shape of the saddle, to restrain the mount inside the semi-flexing (depending on inflation pressure)  air bag. Then the RA section can bounce around even in rough travel, but can never actually hit the sides of the (possibly additional),  foam lined hard case walls.
 
   Or, just Make your own Case Inner Tube – using a kid’s toy   Visit TOYS R’ US (see below)
 
    Fill it up (sufficiently) to conform to the RA section. sitting on the base foam cushion. Buy and stack two of these, if needed, and at least as a “partial spare tire backup” inside,  if one gets accidentally punctured. Make inflating & deflating easy and quicker – by attaching a regular bicycle pump hose to the air inlet(s), and lead it/them to  outside of the case wall, for easier access.
For example:

48" Gold Hologrpahic Glitter Pool Tube  - and/or -   Big Boss 4"X58" Pool Noodles

    and .....
 
48
 
    I suppose, an alternative Air Cushioned Travel vehicle, rather than a special-sized cubic air bag, would be to buy, “vey baggy” inflatable air seat cushions, to insert or prop up, against the case walls. Once they are “hard-inflated”, as above, they would provide the similar side protection, as a conformal inflatable bag with less cost and better availability. Any extra corner space can additionally be stuffed with vertically positioned  regular small foam “waist support” (e.g. porch swing) cushions,  or those cut from lengths of swimming pool toy “flexible but stiffer, Styrofoam - Pool Noodles”, as above,  (with its cushioning center air channel hole)”.
 
    A nice BONUS - when you are tired, packing up the mount case in the cold (winter) dark night  for the long trip home, trying (otherwise) to not damage a case’s foam outline as you might otherwise with a regular foam case: - 
... You still have your handy bicycle pump, or even far better - the cigarette lighter plug (from the car,  or telescope power pack),  DC-operated air pump, to quickly, “hard re-inflate” the case air cushion(s).
 
    Just a thought ... too much ?
Joe Z.


Re: RAPAS on Mach2

Terri Zittritsch
 

On Thu, Apr 16, 2020 at 05:25 PM, W Hilmo wrote:

No problem.  Likewise, I’m just trying to offer some suggestions.

Wade, I appreciate the calm dialog.    Thank you.

I tend to be overly verbose when I write, which probably overcomplicates things.  It probably wasn’t clear, but I’ve ever even used an eyepiece with my two main imaging scopes.  Everything that I’ve suggested is intended to be “imaging rig friendly” and fairly simple to do.

No worries.   

Regarding your previous attempts to image unguided, what kind of scope are you using?  I do most of my imaging with an EdgeHD 8, and I simply cannot do unguided imaging with it with any kind of regularity.  The issue is that the primary mirror just has too much movement, even with the focus clutches locked.  There is obvious star trailing after 3 minutes, and 5 minute subs are completely unusable to me.  I have to use an OAG.  An APPM model doesn’t really help a lot with this because the mirror movement seems to be non-repeatable.



I have numerous scopes, but most recently it's been a Stowaway and a TEC140.  The Stowaway was being used at only 492mm , with reducer/corrector while the Tec was being used at, I think plate solving thinks it's 1037mm.    I use the A-P corrector which seems to increase the focal length a little.   

I started AP with an SCT 'Franken-rig'  with lightweight wedge, fork, and a wild assortment of weights to balance the whole thing.  I ended up with OK images.   Once I bought an Atlas, I deforked the meade 8" and ended up with much rounder stars.   That lightweight wedge only had to be breathed on and it would wobble... a huge challenge. but I always got it to work.    With the Meade 8" on the Atlas, my primary exposure was 5 minutes, unless I was imaging something really bright, where I might reduce to 2 or 3 minutes, or really dim, and I'd go to 6 minutes.   I was able to do acceptable work there, although I can do much better now.   My SCT had no mirror lock, and it worked acceptably well.  My Meade didn't have any mirror shift either (I must have been lucky).    I have since re-forked it now, and use it for outreach a lot.. it gives amazing views in a small package.    In fact, usually better views than most of the clubs 10" reflectors, and one 12",  they bring to the events.    Before anyone poo-poos this, they aren't Lockwood mirror scopes, but at least one is done by a local mirror grinding pro, and my SCT gives them a run for their money.
I use a 400mm Orion guide scope and lode star with the TEC140.   With the Stowaway, I have a 240mm guidescope with AS290 (small pixels) for better guiding resolution, or so I think.





When you do an APPM run, how much of the time is spent waiting for the image to download?  I was using a CMOS camera with USB 3 downloads for a while, and it would download a 1x1 frame in just a couple of seconds.  My current camera is a CCD with USB 2, and it takes a *long* time to download a 1x1 frame.  To mitigate this, I do 5 second exposures with 2x2 binning whenever I plate solve (either inside of SGP or with APPM).  That speeds things up considerably.  I spend less than an hour to get 100-150 points.  I suspect that your DSLR can probably download a lower resolution as well.  The last time that I binned a DSLR was many years ago with a Canon 20D, and it lost the Bayer matrix information when binned 2x2, but that was no big deal for plate solving.


I do need to try binning, I do 1x1 today, and use an ASI1600 or an ASI071.   I stopped using DSLRs around 18 mo. or so ago.   So it does takes far too long.. much longer than USB3 would indicate it should.  Many people complain about this on SGPro, but they've not been able to fix it, or it's a driver issue and I've stopped following the discussion.     It is what it is at this point, and for AP it's not a huge deal.    I should try 2x2 binning, and even thought it's all software, maybe i'll result in smaller file transfer if the downsizing happens in the camera.  If it happens at the computer, not much to be gained.   CMOS sensors do not bin in the same sense that CCD sensors do.    Once the image is at the computer, the plate solve is quite fast and usually after the first solve, they all happen very fast.

My personal opinion that is unguided imaging is not something that interests me much.  It takes me about an hour to really dial in a new guider (what with focusing through my OAG and such), but once I’ve done that, it’s all automatic.  Since I always set up with the camera, OAG and guider at the same orientation, I don’t even need to recalibrate the guide software after setting up.


At this point just trying to see what the high performance of the mount gets me.   I know it's made much better than my Atlas's (I have an old and new pro belt drive), but so far I've not been able to get significant and consistently better performance.   My last time out, I was imaging M101 and my RMS was .64 arc sec and M101 is pretty high in the sky.    I acknowledge it could be all seeing too, so my wanting better performance could be a pipe dream.     It could be that living in Vermont I should have taken up a more reliable hobby, like quilting, rather than astrophotography given our lack of clear and stable skies.     But I am a gluten for punishment.   Most of my AP is done in the dead of winter, unshielded by walls or an observatory in frigid weather (certainly not a sissy... smile) and dealing with at least one gotcha a night that requires some amount of debug.  I guess if the Mach2 gets rid of the gotchas, it'll be an improvement.  

I am an EE semiconductor engineer myself, so I have a fondness for finely made mechanical things..   It is pretty!   



Terri



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