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Posts Made By: Ron Masters

May 21, 2009 05:59 PM Forum: Equipment Talk

Inexpensive Dual Speed Focuser Mod

Posted By Ron Masters

I was not satisfied with my Vixen 102mm Fluorite single speed focuser. Although this mechanism has an excellent teflon tension adjustment that provides fine tuning of the feel of the mechanism, it is severely limited by the rack and pinion single speed design. This fine fluorite lens has such a sharp snap-to focus that merely a tenth of a turn on the focus knob takes it from too far out to too far in. I found that for $300-$500 I can completely replace the focuser assembly, or for a little over $200 I can buy a new attachment from Vixen that provides dual speed on the existing mechanism. I may still go for one of these nice items, but being a tinkerer, I wondered if I could make my own at a much lower cost. Well, instead, for now, I bought a $13 differential used in hobby cars. I chose one that has steel internal parts. I opened up the differential and removed all but the ring gear, drive shaft gear with shaft, and bearings. Reassembled back into the casing, I then locked down the center hole of the ring gear onto the shaft of my focus mechanism using the screw that normally holds the stock knob in place. Add a single bracket to attach the gear mechanism housing to the underside of the focuser assembly (there's an extra threaded hole down there), and a simple knob to the drive shaft and voila - a 3:1, smooth drive reduction for less than $20 and an hour of time or so. I particularly like the change in angle provided by the differential that puts the fine focus knob right where I want it to be. Coarse focus is still achieved by the stock knob on the left.

November 15, 2007 06:20 PM Forum: Telescope Making

Build your own motor drive?

Posted By Ron Masters

Check my photos under equipment in the customer gallery. For about $10 in hardware store parts plus a $4 motor I was able to build a drive that tracks for 2 hours accurately enough for unguided high-resolution astro-photography for up to several minutes per exposure. It takes about 5 seconds to reset the drive and a couple minutes for it to settle in for really good tracking when it is reset. I used a 1 rph AC synchronous motor that winds a tow line to pull the scope along the RA axis - no gears except for the ones in the 1rph motor itself. Although I built it on a cg5 mount, it could be done with any equatorial mount. The motor is driven by a 12 volt gel battery hooked up to an inverter to convert the 12vdc to 110vac. My next step is to work on the inverter to allow for frequency adjustment that will allow for changing the speed of the motor so that drive speed corrections can be made if desired.