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Posts Made By: Roland Beard

November 16, 2004 05:20 PM Forum: CCD Imaging and Processing/Solar System

newbie needs simple image grab program

Posted By Roland Beard

My wife and I use a STELLA CAM EX as a teaching and observing tool but I have to do some image grabbing but want to keep it simple and intuitive and cheap. Is there something I can use that a member recommends? I have plenty of ability to get VHS or High 8 video of what I "see", but from there, I am a dummy. Any guidance would help.


November 16, 2004 05:33 PM Forum: Eyepieces

Inexpensive EP 26-30 for Binoviewer?

Posted By Roland Beard

We have groups looking through a Denk II binoviewer quite a bit and we need a fairly wide angle with low power set. At the same time, we don't want to break the bank or have lots of newbies handling an expensive set. Someone recommended Ganymede optics; another Antares W70s. Any one had good experience with something between 26mm and 30mm?

We did have one set of plossls but the distortion was noticeable and the pieces uncomfortable to the eyes -- you had to be exactly the right distance from the glass or you could not see worth a hoot.

I am glad for any good reports...

November 25, 2004 11:18 PM Forum: Binoviewers

Low cost EP report for Denk IIs

Posted By Roland Beard

I posted the report below after starting some discussions about finding inexpensive EPs that had good field of view for my binoviewer. I found two reports on some RINI EPs and I had a couple 14 mm Antares W70 EPs. I tested some combinations tonight, so if you are interested in low cost solutions, read on.



Weather: Clear, light breeze, temperature: 32 F
Sky conditions: poor due to bright moon near zenith
Scope: 12.5” F4.5 Dob with EQ platform; cold-soaked for 1 hour
Test: Denk II Binoviewers with low cost eyepieces--Rini 30mm, Meade SPL 26, Antares W70 14 m--to compare brightness, field of view, and ease of use
(also used single 22m Televue Panoptic for FOV comparison and contrast)
Objects: Saturn & moons, Orion’s Belt, Orion, & Moon (near full)
Observing time: 2330 EDT for 70 minutes

Summary: The Rini EPs were very good with respect to brightness and ease of use. I did not find any serious distortion for objects near the edge of the FOV. Their field of view (FOV) is about 50% better than the Meade 26mm SPLs and deliver better contrast and brightness. For more magnification, the 14mm Antares delivered very good brightness and were also easy to use. For the price ($65 including shipping), the Rini 30mm pair is our choice for lower cost EPs with decent performance that provide very good field of view. For more magnification, the 14 mm Antares W70s, which are also not expensive, also perform well.

One note: when I ordered the Rini EPs, I had sent a note saying that I was going to use them in a binoviewer. When they were sent, the ticket said the pair had been “matched”, which indicates to me that someone takes the time to make sure the pair truly is a matched set. I did not have to adjust the diopters on the Denk IIs to get good performance so whatever they did to check them apparently works.


I used the 22 mm 2”/1.25” Panoptic to adjust my TELRAD and check the condition of the optics before starting with the Denk II and OCS combination. I focused the 22mm on Saturn, where I could also see 2 moons very close to the planet but they were also very faint. If I was slightly out of focus, the moons would disappear. This made a good initial checkpoint for my binoviewer testing with the pairs of optics. I viewed Saturn with the Rini 30s and the Meade 26s. I could still focus and see the two faint moons quickly but the Rini 30s had about 1/3 larger FOV and the moons and local stars were brighter. The Rini 30s were comfortable to use and eye relief was good.

I went to Orion’s belt and found the same results. I also compared the double (Mintaka) using the Rini 30s, the Meade 26s, and the single 22 Panoptic. Again, the FOV, brightness, and ease of use of the Rini EPs was a noticeable improvement over the Meade 26mm. I did notice that differences in star color were more easily detectable with the 22 Panoptic than the Rini 30s with the binoviewer, but I presume this is due to ½ the amount of light going to each eye with the binoviewer setup.

In viewing Orion (M42) I used all three pairs of optics with the Denk IIs as well as the 22 mm Panoptic (single EP). In short, the 26s were OK, the 30s were much better, and the 22 Panoptic was a nice change but near as fun as using the Denk II binoviewer. I then looked at the structure of Orion and found that I was seeing as much structure with 30mm Rini pair as the 22 Panoptic single EP. I also compared the Rini 30s with a 2X Barlow and the Antares 14 mm pair without a Barlow. I found it easier to change the two EPs rather than pull the whole binoviewer to add a Barlow. Furthermore, I got better brightness and contrast with the pair of 14s.

The last object I looked at (for obvious reasons) was the moon. I am not really fond of looking at a full moon but I knew it would be a good FOV comparison. I like having an EP (single) or pair with the bino-viewers that permits me to see the whole moon in the FOV. This also means we can see (with the proper filters, of course) the whole sun in a FOV. The Rini 30s accomplish that task very well. The Meade SPL 26s cannot quite get the moon in the FOV and the detail is not as good.

August 23, 2005 06:51 PM Forum: Religion

Strict Creationism...young earth...good sources??

Posted By Roland Beard

I am looking for good web sites and any astronomy club/organizations that adhere to the Biblical viewpoint that the account of creation in Genesis is both historically accurate and means what it says.

Any suggestions?

I am familiar with ICR and Answers in Genesis. While both organizations are excellent, they do not have provision for interaction and simply do not have the time to promote local observing activities, which we encourage with adults and children.

Virginia, USA

August 28, 2009 09:50 AM Forum: Equipment Talk

f/5 to f/7 80mm Ref for overseas??

Posted By Roland Beard

My wife and I teach observational astronomy overseas. After a couple countries of experience, our current best choice for an inexpensive system for our recipients (which are usually disadvantaged groups overseas that have no money or power or internet) is an 80-mm refractor between f/5 and f/7 for many reasons (toughness, packaging, application to simple alt az mount, etc.). The best choice we can find that fits our technical and financial budget is the 80T Orion short tube refractor. Before I order, does anyone have a better idea or source we should check?

We teach the recipients either in the US or in their country then give them the refractor, maps, planispheres, and currciulum at no cost. We must minimize hardware, avoid battery driven things, and any complexity. Our mount is our own design for the same reason and we minimize hardware on that as well as use local materials to make it. We teach basic sketching as the method of recording observations made with the equipment.

We have to move on something within days, so if anyone has any other ideas, we will listen. You can check our site if you wish:

Thanks for reading

Roland Beard

September 10, 2009 04:29 PM Forum: Equipment Talk

Washers to increase friction on mounts??

Posted By Roland Beard

I am doing the last part of assembling a prototype mount that can be made in out-of-the-way places for small refractors (80 or less). The primary structure member is rough wood with some hardware and a single ring. I am relying on wood-to-wood surfaces for friction to hold placement and position in one axis and metal to wood to hold the second axis of movement. I have some nylon or plastic washers to keep wingnuts from turning off their bolts.

1. Are there any common substances I should try if I want to increase or decrease stiction that are commonly available in a small hardware store or home that would likely be found anywhere in the world? I have tried aluminum flashing and nylon or plastic.

2. Has anyone tried leather to adjust "stiction". If so, your findings regarding type, thickness, etc.?

3. If wingnuts tend to want to spin off with repeated movement about a bolt axis on a mount, what is a solution....other than a nut with a nylon insert?

Thanks for reading.

September 20, 2009 04:58 PM Forum: Astro Binoculars

Trico Sky Window - Adapter for Low El and Terrestr

Posted By Roland Beard

I have not posted here before and have no idea if anyone uses the Trico Sky Window or not. I do, and sketch binocular views with a Fuji 16x70 and an OB 8x56. However, my wife and I really enjoy moon rises/sets, low elevation views, and terrestrial stuff, so it drove me to make a simple adapter for the base of the Sky Window to handle things from about minus 15 degrees to positive 30 degrees. If anyone is interested, send me a PM or let me know here and I will post the picture series. If not...that's fine. My design is yours to use if you want it. It is open domain, works, and is cheap to make. The picture shows one view that is minus the binoculars. The black binocular attachment is the standard one that vendors sell to mount larger binoculars; I designed and made what marries it to the Sky Window column.

October 17, 2009 06:56 PM Forum: Reflectors

Small/fast reflector as a piggy-back?

Posted By Roland Beard

I would like to know if anyone has used and been satisfied with a small reflector (4.5-6 inches approximately) as a piggy-back scope on a larger scope? I tried an Orion 4.5 (advertised for imaging/light/fast) but it was poorly made, tube was weak, focuser was pretty bad...etc.) so I sent it back. Since then, I have noticed a few 6 inch available that may have been improved and come from several places. I use a 80mm piggyback refractor on a Dob, but continue to be tempted with using a 6 inch reflector as a nice balance and still get nice wide field. Of course, it has to be light but with better characteristics than my experiment with the one mentioned above.

This gets attractive also since one can cram an astrovideo or camera in the reflector or even use the little reflector as a stand alone. I do most of this with an 80 refractor but a reflector about 6 inch may give a little more aperture but still have wide field.

Any one tried this and care to comment on the experience if it was positive?

January 20, 2010 06:09 PM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

Observing in Uganda

Posted By Roland Beard

This could as easily be put on the 99mm or smaller refractor forum, but I thought someone else might enjoy it. The picture is from Nyamabuga, Uganda at a friend's home (the adult in the picture and the founder of a school, among other things). The little scope is one of the old Vernon Scopes that we took over as the primary telescope kit for the school teachers to use as they learn to observe, then teach the older children to observe. On this evening in late 2009 we had been teaching them some sketching and observing skills at our friend's home. The children that live in her house (nearly all orphans) were invited to look at some stars and the moon. Mercy was too little to reach the eyepiece, so the oldest child lifted her to the scope. It is one of many moments we will not forget.

February 23, 2010 04:05 PM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

Still so much to discover

Posted By Roland Beard

We are not new observers but not really old ones either. I suppose a little over a decade makes us novices. In any case, wandering over a small star atlas led me to pay attention to NGC 246. Neither my wife or I had ever observed it. So with a little help from astro-video tools on a modest scope I took a little less than an hour to enjoy discovering the nuances of it's shape and color. What a pleasure...and enough of one so we also included a little story and sketch on our site. Here is the sketch, and the video settings and telescope are on the sketch/observing form.