DIY Shutter Switch | Canon 50D

I’ve built a remote shutter switch for my Canon 50D to enable it to take exposures longer than 30 seconds, which is essential in astrophotography. Since the camera already has a battery grip, I just bypassed the battery grip’s shutter button and put an external switch. To make it removable, I used a wire that plugs into a socket hidden neatly in the battery compartment.

DIY remote shutter switch for Canon 50D

Related link: View all home-brewed DIY astronomy equipment

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

DIY Battery Adapter for DSLR

I’ve built a DIY battery adapter for a Canon 1100D using a 12V power connector, a power supply regulator, and housing of an old battery. The DIY adapter provides power to the DSLR from a DIY field battery for extended use during imaging sessions.

Battery Adapter for Canon 1100D

Related link: View all home-brewed DIY astronomy equipment

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

DIY Planetary Camera

By attaching a webcam or a dash cam to a telescope using a special type of adapter, it is possible to take up-close photos of planets.

Web Camera

Replace the webcam’s lens by a special type of adapter called a webcam-to-telescope adapter. Insert the webcam with an adapter into the eyepiece barrel of the telescope’s focuser.

Jupiter imaged with an SPC900NC web camera
SPC900NC webcam attaches to a telescope with webcam-to-telescope adapter

Dash Camera

Polaroid N302 for planetary imaging

Polaroid N302 dash camera repurposed for planetary imaging

I repurposed my old dash camera as a planetary camera. The lens was removed and replaced with a webcam-to-telescope adapter and then mounted on to a telescope.

Related link: View posts on camera modification projects

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

DIY DSLR Filter Modification

I have performed filter modifications on a number of DSLR cameras (Canon 450D, 700D, 1200D, 500D, 1000D, 1100D, Nikon D3100, and Fuji X-A1) for me and my colleagues. It involves the removal of the stock UV-IR filter, making the camera more sensitive to H-alpha wavelengths. This modification is helpful only when shooting targets with H-alpha emissions, as most DSLR camera’s standard (stock) filter blocks this part of the spectrum.

Take note of the shift in white balance (reddish hue), which is to be expected in this type of modification. Focus will be affected, your camera may no longer focus with compatible lenses unless you add a filter between the lens and the sensor, to address the shift in focus and to filter out UV-IR. If used with telescopes, you need a DSLR-to-telescope adapter and achieve focus using the telescope’s focuser.

Daytime images before and after the filter modification

Here are sample images taken with the cameras I have modified (posted with permission).

Horse head and Flame Nebula by Kennerton Agresor, 1.5 hours exposure, imaged with a modified Canon 700D, SVBONY 70ED, 0.8X reducer-flattener, tracked and guided with Sky-Watcher AZGTi and ASI120mm mini with ZWO 30mm f/4 guide camera
Rosette Nebula by Kennerton Agresor, 1.5 hours exposure, imaged with a modified Canon 700D, SVBONY 70ED, 0.8X reducer-flattener, tracked and guided with Sky-Watcher AZGTi and ASI120mm mini with ZWO 30mm f/4 guide camera
Orion Wide-Field by Luis Angelo Rafael imaged with a modified Canon 1200D and Samyang 135mm at f/4, tracked with EQ mount with a Celestron RA Drive
Orion Nebula by Pierre Paulo Sebastian imaged with a Canon 500D and a 3M-6A 500 mm lens, total 6.9 hours exposure
Trifid and Lagoon Nebula by Pierre Paulo Sebastian imaged with a Fuji X-A1 and a Tair 3s 300mm lens, 1.8 hours exposure
Orion Nebula by Anthony Guiller Urbano imaged with a modified Canon 450D and Sky-Watcher Equinox 100ED f/9, tracked with a Kenko NES mount, 1 hour exposure

If you are interested in this kind of camera modification (Philippines only), send an email to du1au@nightskyinfocus.com.

Related link: View all home-brewed DIY astronomy equipment

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

Pentax Binoculars

This is a Pentax 10 by 50 S-series waterproof binoculars for terrestrial and astronomical use. It features high quality multi-coated optics, waterproof build, multi-coated lens, internal focusing mechanism with focus lock, diopter adjustment to accommodate variations in focusing of the eyes, and equipped with socket for mounting with a tripod.

Pentax 10 by 50 binoculars

To view posts on DIY projects and astronomical equipment, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

Telescope Travel Cases

Here are some of the hard travel cases I use in moving my telescope and its accessories, especially when travelling to remote observing sites.

To view posts on DIY projects and astronomical equipment, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

Celestron Omni 2X Barlow Lenses

Barlow lenses are accessories used to increase the effective focal length of an optical system. Inserting a 2x Barlow results to doubling of the telescope’s focal length. For my telescope which has a focal length of 900 mm, inserting a 2x Barlow in series results to an effective focal length of 1800 mm. Inserting yet another 2x Barlow, results to an effective focal length of about 3600 mm (increasing the separation between the two Barlow lenses by not fully inserting the second Barlow yields a slight increase in the magnification of the image).

Stacked Barlows

The Barlow lenses shown here are the Celestron Omni 2x Barlow lenses which I use extensively in imaging planets. These Barlows feature dual-element multi-coated lenses which produce acceptable results, even when stacked. Note that stacking Barlows is a useful workaround if you already have the Barlows and need more magnification. A better alternative would be to use a single but more poweful 5x Barlow, rather than stacking less powerful 2x or 3x Barlows,or explore other methods such as eyepiece projection.

Jupiter imaged with a 4 inch telescope with two 2X stacked Barlows

Related link: View all home-brewed DIY astronomy equipment

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

DIY Guide Scope Rings

Guide scope rings or guide rings are mechanisms used for mounting guide scopes. A guide scope is a telescope used to monitor tracking accuracy while a main telescope takes a long-exposure photo. Errors in tracking are detected with a guide scope by monitoring a guide star. Corrections are made by the mount to keep the guide star centered, and thus, keeping the main imaging telescope pointed at a target for the whole duration of an exposure.

DIY guide scope rings

This DIY guide scope rings set is used with a 60 mm f/5 guide scope and a 114 mm f/8 imaging telescope.

Related link: View all home-brewed DIY astronomy equipment

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

DIY Smartphone-to-Telescope Adapter

Smartphones can be used to image the moon by holding it next to the eyepiece of a telescope. For smart phone cameras, a mid-power eyepiece such as a 25 mm eyepiece yields good results. This imaging method is called afocal imaging, in which a camera with its lens is mounted next to another image-forming optical system such as a telescope or a pair of binoculars. To hold the phone camera steady while taking a photo, a smart phone-to-telescope adapter may be used. The adapter below was built using a mobile phone holder attached onto the side of a 90 degree diagonal mirror (star diagonal).

Mobile phone holder attached to a star diagonal
Mobile phone holder used as a smart phone-to-telescope adapter


Another version of a smartphone-to-telescope may be built using inexpensive materials using a piece of plywood, hose clamp, screw, and rubber bands. Secure the hose clamp onto the plywood using screws. Use the hose clamp to hold the eyepiece in place. Use rubber bands to hold the smart phone camera and adjust as necessary.

Inexpensive home-brewed adapter made from plywood, hose clamp, and other materials
Low-cost smart phone-to-telescope adapter


Related link: Universal Camera Adapter

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

DIY Dew Heater

Dew heaters or heater pads are telescopes accessories used to prevent dew from forming on the telescope’s lens. During long imaging sessions, it is not uncommon for the main lens of refractors and SCTs to form dew. A heater is used to keep the objective lens at a temperature a few degrees C above the dew point to prevent the formation of dew.

Dew heater made from inexpensive nichrome wires

I used nichrome wires from a local electronics store to build several DIY heater pads for my telescope, which I find useful in keeping the lenses free from dew especially when imaging in remote observing sites.

To view posts on DIY projects and astronomical equipment, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

DIY Plate for Telescopes

I’ve built an aluminum plate for my equatorial mount to allow it to carry the main telescope and the guide scope for autoguiding purposes. In autoguiding, it is important to minimize flexing between the imaging telescope and the guide scope, thus, a plate with suitable thickness helps address this problem. This DIY plate measures 12 cm by 20 cm by 1 cm and made from a solid aluminum plate from a local metals supply shop. Holes have been drilled on the plate to allow attachment of various loads such as DSLR cameras and different telescopes.

Kenko NES mount with a DIY aluminum plate

To view posts on DIY projects and astronomical equipment, click here.

Related link: Sky-Watcher 100ED Refractor

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

Peltier-Cooled DSLR Project

During an exposure, the imaging sensor of a DSLR warms up, resulting to noisy images. By cooling down the sensor, it is possible to eliminate or somehow minimize this thermal noise.

Cooling the camera’s sensor using a Peltier module

I have made a number of attempts to accomplish this with a Canon 450D and a Peltier module, however, it appears it is very difficult to implement without running into problems such as condensation and frosting.

M42 imaged with a Peltier-cooled filter-modified Canon 450D. No dark frames were used in this image. Image processed in SIRIL. The DSLR’s stock filter was replaced with a Baader UV-IR blocking filter.

Related link: View all home-brewed DIY astronomy equipment

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

Kenko NES Mount

I use a 1990 Kenko NES equatorial mount with my refracting telescope. This mount features an RA motor drive with relatively accurate tracking, a polar scope for easy alignment with Polaris, altitude-azimuth adjustment knobs useful in performing precise polar alignment such as the declination drift alignment method, coarse and fine adjustment knobs, setting circles, and adjustable aluminum tripod. My mount has been modified to use a DIY controller to connect it with a laptop via USB and perform automated guiding needed in long-exposure photography of deep-sky objects.

To view sample images taken with the 1990 Kenko NES mount, click here.
To view posts on DIY projects and astronomical equipment, click here.

Related links:
Sky-Watcher 100ED Refractor
DIY Telescope Controller

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

Sky-Watcher Equinox 100 ED

The 2011 Sky-Watcher Equinox 100 ED 4 in f/9 refractor serves as one of my main telescope both for visual observation and astrophotography. The Optical Tube Assembly (OTA) features a 4-in f/9 extra-low dispersion (ED) apochromatic (APO) lens design. It has a 2-inch dual-speed Crayford focuser with a thumbscrew underneath for locking the draw tube. The telescope comes with aluminum-lined wooden carrying case. It is supplied with two eyepieces: 25 mm and 5 mm. Supplied also is a 90-degree 2-inch diagonal mirror and an 8 by 50 finder scope.

In 2021, the telescope has been modified and fitted with a DIY reducer, making the telescope faster (from f/9 to f/5.65, at 0.63x ) and also reducing the tube length by 20 cm.

To view images taken with this telescope, click here.

Related link: Vixen R114 Newtonian Reflector

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines