Archive for May, 2008

Hypertune complete….?!

Posted in astronomy, Photo, photography, Uncategorized with tags , on May 21, 2008 by Andrew

The teardownWell,I performed the hypertune on my scope this weekend and it proved….well…interesting to say the least.I arrived at Michael’s house and home of “Mount Washington Valley Astronomy,a few hours later than I said I would be.Heh,I fell asleep at my home ūüėõ .As the evening meal was being prepared (Michael proved himself as being one heck of a good cook),we watched the Hypertune DVD trying to digest as much understanding as to the inner¬†workings of the LXD75 mount as possible.

TIME 9PM:No sooner had the DVD ended,that we headed out to the workshop and proceeded to dismantle our LXD75 mounts.Almost from the beginning,I knew that we were in for a struggle.Not being very mechanically inclined,I¬†was the one doing the struggling and in the back of my mind figured that I would have parts left over after the hypertune!.Both mounts proved to be quite tough to disassemble and it¬†wasn’t long into the tear down that we realised that our mounts were in fact quite different compared to what we were expecting in relation to the DVD.After a couple hours of carefully dis assembly,we decided to start fresh the next morning.

After breakfast on Sunday morning,we began the task of cleaning the nasty factory grease¬†off of the gears,spacers,bearings and¬†all the¬†other places that¬†this sticky grease resided.The next step in the hypertune process was the time consuming sanding and polishing of the gears.This proved to be¬† very satisfying¬†and interesting to see,as the gears go from a dull finish¬†to¬† almost a mirror finish.Soon however,my lack of mechanical ability began to show it’s head.Instead of¬†keeping the spacers and the other¬†partstogether for each drive separate.I just willy nilly placed all of the parts together in the cleaning tray,not giving any thought to any possible problems that this would create.To give a idea of what I am talking about,each drive has¬†a¬†minimum of¬†5 spacers of various sizes.These spacers have to be assembled in the order that they were removed!!! ūüė¶ .Not including the other small threaded pieces!.To add insult to injury,the set screws for these mounts proved to be trouble as some were nearly impossible to remove.Now began the assembly of the freshly polished and greased mount and¬†the increase of my frustration.As tough as the tear down was,it didn’tcompare to the problems that I had putting it back together.Good thing I didn’t have to put humpty dumpty back together again.I would have gotten frustrated and turned him into breakfast!!.During my battle of trying to remember which spacer went where and in what order,Michael in the mean time¬†was calmly and efficiently putting his LXD75¬†mount back¬†together without a hitch.My scope however,had suddenly turned into a stubborn mule and it seemed to fight me every step of the way to completion.The biggest battle was inserting¬†some copper shims that keeps the DEC housing from binding up against the rest of the mount.Without the shims the scope would be able to move on it’s DEC axis.Finally,after creating more shims from thin washers,we were able to tightly bolt the 2 housings together without binding.The next thing was adjusting the worm gears and installing the motors….no problems!!.

The time had finally come to test the mount for smoothness.I placed the mount on the tripod and fired the scope up.The RA gear moved¬† much better than before and this gave me a boost in spirit.The DEC motor seemed to work¬†a bit smoother but,sounded much louder than before.While testing the motors,I forgot to do one important thing.I forgot to add the counter weights and without thinking,I had¬†slewed the scope to a point where¬†gravity took over and the OTA flopped over and made contact with a tripod leg.It seemingly¬†didn’t hit very hard (or so I had thought at the time)¬†as Michael and I had tried to¬†stop it before it made contact.With that said,I decided it was time to head for home and said my thanks and goodbye.I awoke very early¬†yesterday morning and felt unsure of the resulting hypertuneand sound of the DEC motor so,I removed the motor and tweaked the worm gear again.This time the gear sounded much improved and ran even smoother than before.All happiness fire¬†that I had at that point was quickly¬†extinguished when I looked down the long axis of the OTA and saw a dent near the primary mirror.OMG,the OTA did hit and had apparently hit hard as the dent is about 3″long and about 1/32-1/8th deep.Fearing the worst,I quickly inserted a laser collimator to see how badly the mirror was out of whack and wouldn’t you know it….the batteries were dead.So,I drilled a hole into the supplied eye piece cover and checked the mirror that way.It didn’t look too bad but,I wanted to be sure it wasn’t messed up so I went to Radio shack for new batteries.I inserted the new cells into the laser and checked.Yay!.The laser light was dead center and the OTA just looks… well… used!.

In the mean while,I contacted Richard of (where I bought the hypertune kit from) and presented the above problems to him.I had other issues with the hypertune¬†that I didn’t mention in this post¬†as well.He has offered to tweak and¬†finetune my mount at no charge except shipping to and from his shop.I must say,it is nice to see a company stand behind their product and I highly recommend Scopetrader to anyone that wants to tune up their gear!.I won’t be shipping the mount to him yet though.I want to give the scope a trial run first, to see if it will or won’t perform to what I am expecting.

I will keep everyone updated on the results so,wish me luck!!.




The hypertune kit and encoders have arrived!!

Posted in astronomy, Photo, Uncategorized on May 17, 2008 by Andrew

The hypertune kit for my Meade LXD75¬†arrived this¬†morning via priority snail mail and in the kit are numerous items that can be found at your local hardware store or contractor supply.I sort of expected this at the time of purchase but,felt it best to use the same materials as the professionals at Scope trader would!.One of the first things that I checked for were the complete list of everything that was to be included in the kit for the upgrade,including the separately packaged encoder wheels.I was a bit surprised if not abit¬†disturbed to find the fragile¬†encoder wheels placed inside a computer CD plastic jacket,free to rattle around.Their was no apparent damage which put my mind at ease.A couple items in the kit that can’t be found at a hardware store are;a 9 pin connector¬†cable for downloading the latest autostar¬†updates and a step by step how to DVD that begins with some good R&B music that caused me to¬†turned the surround sound up¬†on my home stereo for good measure ūüôā !.As¬†EDfrom Flintstone Stargazing¬†pointed out in a recent comment,the recording on the DVD isn’t a¬†“Hollywood production – but it‚Äôs got exactly what you need to know”.I watched the whole video and was a bit intimidated by the mechanical upgrade.I’m not much of a monkey wrench so,that part of the tune up will be have me on my toes.Luckily however,I will be assisted with the hypertune by Michael who will be giving his LXD75 a tuneup as well.The weather is suppose to be rather crappy this weekend¬†so,any thought of giving¬†both scopes a trial run will have to wait.I will be writing a post with pix¬†about the upgrade followed by a¬†vigorous test of the newly upgraded scope so,wish me luck!!!.¬†

It was a good night to observe

Posted in astronomy, astrophotography, Photo, photography, Space, Uncategorized on May 15, 2008 by Andrew

Hey hey hey,Mother nature finally gave me a break!.I actually had clear and calm skies for observing and I took full advantage of it.As most of you know,my observing luck has been anything but good for the past 6 months.It seemed that anytime we did have clear skies,it was either in conflict with my schedule or the clear skies were accompanied by brutal cold ,high winds or both at the same time.Most of all however,it was the record breaking snowfall!.Oh well,that is all water under the bridge now and their is no reason to dwell on the past!.

The only conflict I had the¬†night before last is a busted up shoulder that I¬†have.¬†I¬†am scheduled for a MRI on Friday to figure out what the problem¬†is.To cover their butts,the company I work for have¬†requested that I don’t come in to¬†until¬†I have the¬†MRI.¬†After flipping a coin and¬†asking myself “should I or shouldn’t I?”and knowing that I had the next day off,I pulled the trigger and decided to suck it up and¬†fight the pain!.My thinking was,unlike the constant heavy lifting that my job requires,¬†the only heavy lifting I would have to do is lugging the tripod down¬†one flight of stairs.I set the scope up at 9PM and was ready for observing by 9:45.While waiting for the scope to cool down,I checked the equipment for any potential problems.I also¬†made sure the Meade DSI and LPI were performing correctly with the laptop.I didn’t want to fix any¬†issues with¬†the software in the dark¬†like I did the last time out!.Luckily,both cameras and laptop¬†worked great!!.¬†My original plan was to observe for a few hours¬†before calling it a night.HAHAHAHAHA…how time flies when a big kid is¬†having fun!.The scope performed¬†flawlessly,the sky was clear¬†and the temps were almost perfect for observing/imaging.One of my first targets to image was the moon which I only got a few images because,by the time I got the scope set up,it was beginning to drift behind a building.After the moon had set behind the building,I slewed the scope to globular cluster¬†M13, which I haven’t seen since early last Fall and I had all but forgotten how big and bright it was…..I blame the pain meds!!.While I was imaging¬†M13 with the DSI,I had a visitor.I have had visitors before but,this was of the four legged variety.I’m sitting at my laptop looking at the live image of M13 on the monitor,when suddenly¬†a big raccoon came around the corner of my car ,which was only about 10 feet away!.We both locked eyes and for a split second it had turned into a staring contest.He quickly turned and bolted for the nearest tree line.I don’t know if it is human nature or if it is just me but,I felt the need to give chase?!,(Heh,before¬†you say it,I will save you the trouble and say it for you”Well,that was a shockingly¬†stupid thing to do!”).After chasing the poor fellow up a tree,I sat back down and resumed imaging and¬†managed to get some of the best shots of M13 that I have ever taken.Even if I did forget to take dark frames.Actually,I didn’t forget to take dark frames,I just forgot I had to create them again after uninstalling and reinstalling the software from the last time I tried to use the camera!.My next target was M82 a.k.a the Cigar galaxy.Because the galaxy is located directly over the middle of town,I had to use averted vision to see the faint thin line of the galaxy when looking through the eye piece.I connected the DSI and after a few tense minutes of fiddling with the camera settings and focus,it came into full view.All I can say is WOW!!!!.It showed a lot of detail including the knots of light and dust¬†located near the galaxies center.Once i get the quirks of the DSI down,I will be revisiting this object!.So,on to the next target which was M15.It appeared as the usual faint glow but,again exploded into view when looking at it on the monitor.Most of the stars were nice and sharp with the exception of the stars near the core.

Ok,so now it is getting really late…(or early depending on how you look at it) as Jupiter was slowly coming into view between some tree’s.I half heartedly slewed the scope towards the bright planet¬†in a attempt to get some quick images but,by the time I had the planet on the monitor,it had hidden behind the next set of tree’s.Not wanting to wait for it to reappear,I decided to pack up and go to bed instead.I was really tired but,before I went to bed,I wanted to download the images to my desktop Pc using a USB¬†flashcard.HAHAHAHAHA,no sooner did I get the images downloaded to the desktop and get the desktop shut down for the night I¬†got a¬†telephone call!.It was my work place calling me into work¬†after they told me not to come in!.Even though it was a bad morning¬†to work,it was a good night to observe!.

Note: I have a actual website in the making.Thanks to Michael over at Mount Washington Valley Astronomy for giving me the opportunity of being the owner of the¬†AbovethecloudsII website.The creation of this site is like I said”still under construction” and should be up and running in a few weeks…I hope?!.I will keep people up todate on it’s contsruction.In the mean time,hop on over to Michael’s site and tell him I said Hi!.What are you waiting for???. ūüôā

Below is the the first image of M13 I have taken this year.

LXD75 hypertune kit has been ordered

Posted in astronomy, Uncategorized on May 8, 2008 by Andrew

Hi everyone!.Yeah,I’m still here,I have just been busy lately.Am I the only one that gets buyers remorse for making a purchase no matter how¬†large or small the expence?.I seem to get that quite often?!.My most recent remorse overload came last week when I bought a DVD.Well,I out did myself today but,it was something that¬†needed to be done.I bought a hypertune kit and new encoder wheels for my scope.My scope has been working well but,not as well as I would like it too!.

With luck I will be able to increase my exposure times for awesome images…I hope!!.


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