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Category: Autoguider


Autoguiding requires a means for a computer to send guiding signals to a telescope’s mount. For most mounts, especially the entry-level ones, a separate device can be used to enable the computer ‘talk’ to the mount—an example of which is a USB Guide Port Interface or GPUSB.

GPUSB_ShoestringAstronomy

USB Guide Port Interface (GPUSB)

To learn more about this device and how it is used in astrophotography, click here.

For featured photos, click here.
For tutorials on how to get started with astrophotography, click here.
For DIY astronomy projects useful for astrophotography, click here.
To subscribe to this site, click here.

© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

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In 2011, I have acquired a 1990 model Kenko NES mount. The mount was sold to me for only 140 USD because it has some missing parts, particularly, the counterweight and the hand controller. The counterweight was easy to replace. Fabricating one only requires a visit to a machine shop. The hand controller that will drive the stepper, however, is far difficult to build.

My first version of a stepper controller uses a 555 timer chip and a 74LS194 shift register. The tracking rate is controlled by the 555 timer chip through a resistor and a capacitor, and by changing the values, the tracking rate also changes. The solution was to use a variable resistor to speed up and slow down the rotation of the stepper. Since the timing signals are controlled by analog components, the tracker suffers from tracking issues related to the tracking rate. It usually requires ‘tracking rate adjustment’ (to match the movement of the sky) at the start of an imaging session. While it has served me for four years and have used it to image some interesting targets, it is clear that an upgrade is needed.

Upon learning some basics about Arduino, I immediately saw the potential to use it as a stepper motor controller. I started looking at some excellent tutorials on the Internet and was able to build the simple stepper controller featured in this article.

arduino stepper

DIY Stepper Motor Controller

To learn more about the DIY Stepper Motor Controller, click here.

For featured photos, click here.
For tutorials on how to get started with astrophotography, click here.
For DIY astronomy projects useful for astrophotography, click here.
To subscribe to this site, click here.

© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

This is an update to my previously-built Logitech 4000 SC1 modification in 2011. Note that the modification was originally designed to work with Parallel ports. Since such ports are now obsolete, changes to the circuitry have been implemented to allow the modified camera to be connected to newer laptops via USB ports (by using a USB-to-Serial Port adapter).

DIY Guide Camera (Logitech 4000 SC 1 modification)-post

Modified Logitech 4000 web camera

It is strongly recommended that you read the article about the previous version of this camera (link provided above) along with the comments left by the readers as this will give you a brief background as to why this update is necessary. A lot of details in this article will not make sense if you are not familiar with the history of the project.

To proceed to the article, click here.

For featured photos, click here.
For tutorials on how to get started with astrophotography, click here.
For DIY astronomy projects useful for astrophotography, click here.
To subscribe to this site, click here.

© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

 

 

The parallel port is one of the easiest computer ports to interface with. It allows any computer to ‘talk’ with other devices like turning on and off a light bulb, or any other electrical appliance for that matter. Obsolete as it may seem, the parallel port is still used today to perform tasks such as controlling a telescope during autoguiding operation and controlling the precise timing of relays in a dedicated long-exposure camera used in astrophotography.

Serial-to-parallel_converter

A DIY serial-to-parallel port adapter essentially allows a camera or a telescope requiring a parallel port to utilize a computer’s serial port instead.

Most computers produced nowadays, however, are no longer equipped with parallel ports. To learn more on how to work around this problem, click here.

For featured photos, click here.
For tutorials on how to get started with astrophotography, click here.
For DIY astronomy projects useful for astrophotography, click here.
To subscribe to this site, click here.

© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

About a year ago (November 2011), I started constructing a home-built autoguider, a setup astrophotographers use in imaging galaxies, nebula, and many other deep-space stuff. The setup is no different from what is used by observatories world wide, except that this one was built entirely from scratch. Feel free to browse the details of the project here.

A home-built autoguider setup showing the key components: (1) imaging telescope, (2) imaging camera, (3) guidescope, (4) guide camera, (5) tracking mount, and (6) a computer.

This part of the DIY guide focuses on the actual guiding operation and the drift-alignment method for precise polar alignment. We begin by first assembling the telescope along with the guidescope. We also attach the imaging and the guiding cameras and connect all the necessary cables leading to and from the computer.

Screenshot during actual guiding operation

Read more.

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