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 ---»   Meade LX200 7'' Maksutov
Mfg:   Meade
Model:   LX200 7'' / 178mm  (2003)
Specs:   FL 2670mm / F15
  Click for the LX200 Classic Manual
  Click for the LX200 Classic Schematics

   I received this scope 23Aug03, just in time to view Mars at its closest approach. Never having owned or even looked thru a scope prior to this I really didn't know what to look for in a scope.   One things for sure I wanted the most bang for my buck.  After some reading the Maksutov-Cassegrain design was the clear choice, and for the quality/price Meade was the Mfg..   Realizing that I have only scratched the surface of the Amateur Astronomy subject in the past year (now almost 11yrs), I can still confidentially say..  I made a good choice.  The only issue I had with this scope ( which is relatively common ) is the image shift and the focusing, both of these issues were cured with the 150$ William Optics 2'' Crayford focuser..

   Used this scope many times during 2003, and only a hand full of times between 2004-2006, work schedules, a move across country and weather conditions conspired against me.. Sept 2006 I SetUp planning to image Jupiter and quantify my PE.. All was well until I powered up the mount.. the Dreaded 'Stuck at the [ Meade |||| ] sign!'  Bad News, Very Bad News, from everything I could find online about this problem, it pointed to a issue with the Main Control Board.. All attempts to repair it failed (Dwnld link for the schematics above).. Found a used LX200 Mount on AstroMart for 450$, received, dis-assm, replaced the board and I was back up and running again..

   Nov 2006 I was finally able to gather what I believe to be a reasonably accurate PE data on my mount.. During my tests the wind started picking up and is evident in the graph.. but as you can see the max peak to peak error was approx 11.63asec (peak-to-peak) / RMS 2.71asec Before and 3.94asec / RMS 1.05asec After LX200 PEC Learning/Training (see fig 01) ..It could be that I was very lucky and my mount just happened to be balanced well at the time/declination etc.. or I could just be very lucky and have gotten a choice mass-produced mount.. I happened to think a little of both, nevertheless with these numbers I believed there was still hope for DSO imaging with this particular system..

   Aug 2009, Scope had been Stowed in the stock Meade Box for the last 3yrs, again work and weather  conditions.. I thought about selling it ((cringe)).. then I thought I haven't done any Real DSO imaging yet, every opportunity I had was wasted with half-measures trying to use the wrong tools for the job i.e. Canon 10D, not sensitive enough and Way too much Light Pollution here.. After some research I found that the SBIG ST-4000XCM with the A08 was the way to go.. Ran across a couple of good deals on AstroMart Sept 2009 and bought them..

  Oct 2009, I was finally able to take my first Long Exposure Image (see NGC1977 & M42), not half bad all things considered, in fact some of my subs were 900sec..

  Nov 2010, Theta Orionis (The Trapezium), See'ing 2-3/5, Temp 23°-32°F, Humidity 90%, 178mm Mak, ST4000XCM & AO8, @0.88as/px..




 ---»   Losmandy HGM-200
Mfg:   Losmandy
Model:   HGM-200
Specs:   German Equatorial / 150lb Capacity / 9'' Dec & RA Gears

  Oct-Nov 2009, it had become obvious that I had reached the capacity limit of the LX200, so a Mount upgrade was a must if a better refractor was in the future and with ambient temps <35°F or >80°F tracking accuracy suffered and the motors labored particularly at the lower temps.  The Meade 178mm Mak OTA with the stock internal counter balance weight is approx 24lbs, the Pronto with Rails & Rings approx 11lbs, the SBIG ST4K w/AO-8 approx 4lbs.. An upgraded refractor, another camera, guide scope etc.. etc.. the total weight starts pushing 50-60lbs, wanting to keep my instrument weight no greater than approx 75% mount capacity I'd be looking for a mount in the 80-90lb capacity category.. Quality mounts in this category or with this capacity rating are VERY expensive, but with a little luck and good timing they can be had for reasonable prices on the used market.. after shopping and drooling for about a year I ran across a deal on AstroMart (Jan 2011) from a gentleman in Rhode Island on a Losmandy HGM-200..

  May 2011, Arranged the time off from work to head up to Rhode Island (BTW connecting flight from NJ to RI, I sat across the isle on a small commuter plane from Sen. J. Kerry.. NO.. I held my tongue, even after he threw a fit when the flight attendant told him to put his phone away at lift off, but that's another story haha..) I couldn't find 'any' pictures on the internet that did this mount justice, for its Mechanical Beauty nor for its Sheer Mass!  As I walked up to it in his garage he pulled the cover off it and I was floored, there was no way I'd trust shipping this mount short of a private courier, call me crazy but this mount was in like new condition and is going to stay that way (Equatorial Head, 16'' Saddle approx 90lbs), Drove it down to VA., Dis-Assm'd, Packaged with loving care and sent to Oak Ridge, TN via my brother-in-law, Jul 2011 drove up from D/FW to pick it up..

  Sept 2011, Finally, all the mounting accessories, a new Refractor (FSQ85ED), work & weather (70ea days >100°F temps) I was able to begin my GEM Learning curve, not quite as daunting as I thought, two setups and I've got it down.. (Found out NGC-Max & TheSky only just co-exist, later confirmed when I stumbled upon it in the manual.. One of these days I'll read the manual  first ..maybe)  ..of course more time and practice will help improve polar alignment and pointing, but for the second outing not bad, approx 90min from tear-down, to move, to setup & align..

  Oct 2011, a Dark-Site West of St. Jo, Tx finally able to take a long exposure image, Guiding with the StarShoot-AutoGuider in the Mak (0.62as/px) and the ST4000/AO8 combo in the FSQ (3.38as/px) I attempted the Rosette Nebula for the first time and with just 52min total useable subs I'm more than happy with the results.. Packed it up, grabbed some sleep then headed to Ft. Davis, Tx to pick up what turned out to be an Absolutely Like New! FS-128F.  My second opportunity at the dark-site I revisited the Triangulum Galaxy for a comparison to my '09 image, wind gusting 18-20mph, and again lacking subs, totaling only 60min the image IMO really shows the quality of the FS128F and just how Rock Solid the HGM200 is.. Sea-Trials & Testing almost complete, Patience and More Subs are next..  Also while there I captured M34 for evaluation of the Optics Collimation & Field Curvature, see below for results..

    NGC884 & 869 / Losmandy HGM-200 / FSQ-85ED / ST-4000XCM / 1ea 240sec Unguided, Unprocessed / HGM & FSQ 1st-Light..!



 ---»   Takahashi NJP Temma2 ser#06002
Mfg:   Takahashi
Model:   NJP
Specs:   Temma2 (24Vdc)
  Click for the Takahashi NJP Manual
  Click for the Takahashi Temma2 Manual

    The NJP mount offers a high capacity (70lb load) platform for a variety of photo and visual uses requiring the use of two instruments. The PD-8XY motor drive has a built-in connection for an auto guider and a 10x sidereal high speed mode allows electric centering of an object in the field, rather than using the less accurate manual override. The NJP also uses a side loading plate to insure that as the mount is elevated and depressed for proper polar alignment, it moves in a straight line. No other manufacturer includes this unique, useful feature in their mount. 

   150x Temma "Go To" version now available. All "Go To" mounts are provided with RS232C cable, ST-4 or ST-7 cable shaft encoders and first quality electric motors. The mount can operate in Temma mode and in the normal mode using the hand control. (Takahashi)






 ---»   SBIG  STL-6303E
Mfg:   SBIG
Model:   STL-6303E  (May2009) ser# 09053744
Specs:   Kodak KAF-6303E
  Click for the STL Op Manual
  Click for the KAF-6303E DataSheet

    Imagine a perfect mosaic of four ST-8XE images stitched together with no overlap. That is the field of view and resolution of the KAF-6303E CCD. With four times the field of view and four times the number of pixels, the 6.3 megapixel Research 6303XE is essentially like having four ST-8XE cameras imaging at once. The 9 micron pixels are small enough that the large field of view can be exploited with relatively modest telescopes of less than 100 inches focal length. High QE, blue sensitive, full frame, high dynamic range, low noise, and optional anti-blooming protection make this one of the most sought after detectors for professional use.(SBIG)

  The sensor incorporates true two-phase CCD technology, simplifying the support circuits required to drive the sensor as well as reducing dark current without compromising charge capacity. The sensor also utilizes the TRUESENSE Transparent Gate Electrode to improve sensitivity compared to the use of a standard front side illuminated polysilicon electrode. (Kodak)

   The standard cooling design utilizes a very efficient two-stage TE cooler for maximum performance with large format detectors. Each camera is also liquid assist ready so that additional cooling in warm climates may be achieved by circulating water if needed. We are currently testing a special magnetic levitating fan to eliminate even the smallest vibration. Typical performance tests show that cooling to -40 Degrees C below ambient will be achieved with this system using ambient temperature water. Greater cooling may be achieved with water cooled to just above the dew point. (SBIG)

   ...IC405 (Flaming Star), IC434 (Horse Head) & NGC2024 (The Flame) See'ing Conditions Very Poor 2/5, Just couldn't wait any longer, Takahashi-NJP & STL-6303E 1st-Light..! Astrodon 6nm Ha...




 ---»   SBIG  STL-4020M
Mfg:   SBIG
Model:   STL-4021M  (2005) ser# 05060437
Specs:   Kodak KAI-4021M
  Click for the STL Op Manual
  Click for the KAI-4021 DataSheet

    Designed around the KAI-4022M and KAI-4022CM (color) progressive scan interline CCD, this is the big brother to the popular ST-4000XCM. With 4 million pixels and twice the imaging area of the ST-2000XM, this camera packs a lot of punch for the price and is our entry level large format camera. The small pixel size and superb anti-blooming characteristics of Kodak's interline parts make this an ideal choice for wide field imaging through short fast refractors. The QE is very high in the blue and green compared to other interline parts from other manufacturers. Compared to Kodak's full frame sensors this CCD is less sensitive in the red and slightly higher in the blue/green. (SBIG)



 ---»   SBIG  ST-10XME
Mfg:   SBIG
Model:   ST-10XME  (2010) ser# 100402703
Specs:   Kodak KAF-3200ME
  Click for the ST-   Op Manual
  Click for the KAF-3200ME DataSheet

   The Model ST-10XE and ST-10XME are the latest large array, high resolution CCD cameras from SBIG. The body is identical to the ST-7XE, ST-8XE and ST-9XE models with some slight modifications to accommodate the larger detector. The ST-10XE contains an enhanced KAF-3200E imaging detector from Kodak. The ST-10XME contains an enhanced KAF-3200ME imaging detector from Kodak. The only difference between the CCDs is the addition of a micro lens layer over the pixels of the KAF-3200ME CCD for increased sensitivity. These 3.2 megapixel CCDs have a Full Frame Resolution of 2184 x 1472 pixels at 6.8 microns making them the ultimate cameras for wide field apochromatic refractors. The active imaging area is 17% greater than the ST-8E and the arrays contain approximately twice as many pixels. The imaging camera includes an electro-mechanical shutter, 16 bit analog to digital (A/D) converter, regulated temperature control with all of the electronics integrated into the CCD head. Communication to the PC is through the USB port at up to 425,000 pixels per second.

    The KODAK DIGITAL SCIENCE TM KAF-3200E Image Sensor is a high density, 3.2 million pixel, full-frame Blue Plus image sensor. It joins the family of Kodak Blue Plus sensors with improved quantum efficiency across the visible spectrum. Ultra-low dark current of less than 1e-/pixel/second at 0o C (typical) allows moderate cooling for applications involving extended exposures. With an improved liquid cooling design, the ST-10XE/XME cameras will reach approximately 45o C below ambient temperature for best performance even in hot climates. The KAF-3200ME is the same CCD as the KAF-3200E with the exception of the addition of micro lenses over the pixels. This has the effect of increasing the effective quantum efficiency of the CCD. There is a minor blooming effect similar to diffraction spikes that is sometimes seen when imaging with the micro lens version and short fast optical systems. For this reason we continue to offer both either types of CCD. (SBIG)

   ..ST10-XME currently installed with CFW-8A with Custom Scientific LRGB, Ha 4.5nm (1.25'' mounted), once I have a Full Set of Astrodon LRGB-Ha, SII & OIII I'll install a previously acquired CFW-10, since the introduction of the New Model Camera's over at SBIG the Used-Market is IMHO Fantastic, Excellent equipment out there for very reasonable (relatively speaking) prices.. Everybody wants the New Shiny Red Hardware..!




 ---»   SBIG  ST-4000XCM
Mfg:   SBIG
Model:   ST-4000XCM  (2007) ser# 40712085
Specs:   Kodak KAI-4020CM
  Click for the ST-4000XCM Op Manual
  Click for the KAI4020 DataSheet
  Click for the KAI-4021 DataSheet

    The ST-4000XCM uses a large 4.2 megapixel KAI-4020CM color CCD.  This sized CCD was previously available only in an STL camera body.  The KAI-4020CM CCD has 2048 x 2048 pixels at 7.4 microns square.  This is the same size CCD used in the STL-4020 camera.  The KAI-4020CM comes in a single class without column defects.  The KODAK DIGITAL SCIENCE KAI-4020CM is a high-performance multi-megapixel image sensor designed for a wide range of scientific, medical imaging, and machine vision applications. The 7.4 mm square pixels with MicroLenses provide high sensitivity.  The vertical overflow drain structure provides AntiBlooming protection, and enables electronic shuttering for precise exposure control to 0.001 seconds.  Other features include low read noise, low dark current, negligible lag and low smear.  This CCD uses a high gain output amplifier that reduces the read noise by almost half compared to previous versions.  Our preliminary tests of this CCD installed in prototype ST camera body exhibits a read noise of less than 8e- rms and a dark current of less than 0.1e- at 0 degrees C.  The KAI-4020CM CCD is a progressive scan detector with an active image area of 15.2 x 15.2 mm. (SBIG)

   The Stock ST Desiccant Plug was replaced with the Particle Wave Technologies SRP Desiccant Plug. The SRP holds 3g of molecular sieve which is approximately one gram more than SBIG plug, its CNC machined from solid stock of stainless steel. It is 0.5" longer than SBIG plug and when screwed in the camera - seats flush with the top of the fan housing. The cap is CNC machine solid stock of 6061 aluminum and is black anodized. It has a double O-ring layout to completely seal the desiccant inside from outside air. The cap is pressed onto the plug and can be removed and replaced without tools in the field in a matter of seconds.

   ..Aug 2010, Too windy to image, but was able to practice with a diff piece of ctrl sftwr.. Ambient Temp 92-94°F, Using a Rio+ 800 Submersible type Aquarium Pump to circ ice water through the camera, was able to maintain approx 5-5.5°F (-14.7 -15.0°C) Chip Temp with TEC PWR approx 72-76%, that's an approx 86-89°F Total ∆T..!  (UpDate) ..A note about 'Water Assist', I've seen guys using 3/8 tubing and Automotive Hose! in fact I bought a Yankee Robotics Trifid camera that came with a lil cooler and a Bilge Pump! (hahha) anyway, its all about Heat-Transfer.. using this Rio+ 800 Submersible Aquarium Pmp and 4mm OD (2.7mm ID) Nylon Tubing (McMaster Carr p/n 8365K22) Split! via Wye Connections, I get approx 2oz/min flow rate, Plenty to 'Assist' the TEC @-25°C (Ambient Temp 46°F, TEC PWR 50-55%) on both the STL-6303E & ST10XME Simultaneously and BTW that is with an approx 4' Head..




 ---»   SBIG  ST-2000XCM
Mfg:   SBIG
Model:   ST-2000XCM  (2004) ser# 20403604
Specs:   Kodak KAI-2020
  Click for the ST-xx Op Manual
  Click for the KAI2020 DataSheet

    These single shot color versions use KAI-2020CM color CCD. This is essentially the same CCD as the KAI-2020M used in the ST-2000XM monochrome camera with the exception of an RGB filter matrix over the pixel array. All the other features are the same as the monochrome versions of the camera.

   Like their monochrome counterparts, the ST-2000XCM and ST-2000XCMI cameras are the same, except that the ST-2000XCMI does not have the built-in TC-237H tracking CCD and some of the accessories that are included with the ST-2000XCM (see the comparison table below). In March of 2006 we added the Remote Guide Head Port to both the single sensor ST-2000XMI and dual sensor ST-2000XM cameras. Both versions use a high quality interline CCD from Kodak, the KODAK DIGITAL SCIENCE™ KAI-2020CM. The KAI-2020CM is a high-performance multi-megapixel image sensor designed for a wide range of scientific, medical imaging, and machine vision applications. The 7.4 mm square pixels with microlenses provide high sensitivity and the large full well capacity results in high dynamic range. The vertical overflow drain structure provides AntiBlooming protection, and enables electronic shuttering for precise exposure control to 0.001 seconds. Other features include low dark current, negligible lag and low smear. The KAI-2020CM CCD is a 2 megapixel progressive scan detector with an active image area of 1.92 million pixels. The active image area is 1600 x 1200 pixels. This array is 75% larger than the Sony CCD used in competitors' "one-shot color megapixel" cameras, nearly as large as an ST-8XME, and the ST-2000XM is a self-guiding camera, utilizing SBIG's patented dual sensor design. Although the imaging CCD is nearly the same size as the KAF-1602E used in the ST-8XME, due to the smaller pixel size it contains nearly half a million more pixels than the ST-8XME.

   The latest KAI-2020CM 2 megapixel CCD has all of the same improvements as the monochrome KAI-2020M: a high gain output amplifier that reduces the read noise by almost half compared to the previous CCD, 10X fewer bright points, and lower dark current. The ST-2000XCM also has the larger 657x495 pixel TC-237H built-in guiding CCD instead of the TC-211. This improvement was the same as the upgraded autoguider installed on the larger ST-8XE, ST-9XE and ST-10XE cameras. (SBIG)




 ---»   SBIG  Adaptive Optics - AO-7, AO-8 & AO-L
Mfg:   SBIG
Model:   AO-7, AO-8 & AO-L
  Click for the AO-7 Op Manual
  Click for the AO-8 Op Manual
  Click for the AO-L Op Manual
  Video - X / Y axis exercise, 1.0sec stepping


  SBIG has exploited the second guiding CCD detector in their self-guiding cameras to stabilize stellar images, enhancing resolution. These new AO systems use a tip-tilt transmissive element to correct for image wander due to low order local atmospheric effects and for correction of mount errors, wind vibration and other erratic motion of the optical system that is otherwise too fast for an autoguider or telescope drive corrector to respond to effectively.  By monitoring a guide star with the smaller tracking CCD that is built-in to SBIG cameras, or the Remote Guide Head, the AO makes fine corrections at approximately 10 times per second to hold the image fixed on the CCD during the exposure. (SBIG)

   The system is closed loop, which means that it checks the position of the guide star after every move and makes adjustments on the next move.  This results in a series of small, fast and very precise moves that continue over the course of a long exposure.  This is possible because the guide chip is located behind the AO device and can measure the results of each move it makes.  In the past, with the AO-7, this presented some difficulties when using narrow band filters because light from potential guide star candidates was attenuated by the narrow band filter to one degree or another resulting is guide stars that could be difficult to find or too dim to use.  However, the new AO design and new camera improvements eliminate this problem.  Because of their more compact design, the new AO systems lend themselves to the use of off-axis guiders that can place a pick-off mirror or diagonal in front of the filter wheel.  Also, all new USB cameras support a Remote Guide Head that essentially places the on-board guiding CCD anywhere in front of the filter wheel the user decides and this Remote Guider duplicates all the functions of the built-in tracking CCD, including the fast readout function required to control the AO.  This means that by using a custom off-axis guider, one can still have all of the benefit of the AO no matter what filter is being used, even filters that make starlight nearly invisible to the imaging CCD.  The image(s) below shows the AO-8 with such an off-axis accessory attached.  In this case it is an Astrodon MOAG which allows the Remote Guide Head to be used in front of the filter wheel. (SBIG)



 ---»   SBIG  Remote Guide Head (RGH)
Mfg:   SBIG
Model:   Remote Guide Head (RGH)
Specs:   TI-TC237H
  Click for the Remote Guide Head Manual


   The Remote Guide Head is an optional accessory for STL and newer ST series cameras that allows the convenience of self-guiding with the guider external to the camera and filter wheel if necessary. The same Remote Guide Head will work with any STL or ST model camera equipped with a Remote Guide Head port. The Remote Guide Head contains a cooled TC-237H guiding CCD with 657 x 495 pixels at 7.4 microns and uses a 16-bit A/D. This is the same guiding CCD that is built into STL and ST self-guiding cameras. It draws its power from the main camera and is controlled by the same software that controls the internal guider. When the Remote Guide head is attached to the camera, you can use your camera control software to select either the built-in (“internal”) tracking CCD or the Remote Head (“external”) CCD for self-guiding during long exposures. It has its own shutter for dark frames. (SBIG)




 ---»   Imaging Source  DMK / DFK series 21 /
Mfg:   Imaging Source
Model:   DMK-21AU04 (mono)  /  DFK-21AU04 (color)
Specs:   Sony ICX098BL
  Click for the Series 21 DataSheet


   The Imaging Source USB 2.0 monochrome industrial cameras are suited to many automation, quality assurance, security, surveillance and medical applications. Not only do the cameras offer an exceptional price / performance ratio, but they are also ideal for a variety of demanding tasks. The USB 2.0 CMOS industrial monochrome cameras utilize the latest Aptina CMOS technology, which dramatically reduces image noise levels, features an external trigger and offers a wide dynamic range. The USB 2.0 CCD monochrome cameras shipped with Sony CCD sensors offer a large variety of resolutions and speeds, and produce exceptional image quality. (Imaging Source)

   The Imaging Source USB 2.0 color industrial cameras are the perfect solution for applications that require high speed, high performance and outstanding image quality. The range includes high resolution cameras with robust and compact design. Equipped with sensors from Sony and Aptina, the cameras offer first-rate image quality and provide multiple options in terms of resolution and frame rate. The USB 2.0 CMOS color industrial cameras with the latest Aptina sensors are very low noise, even in low lighting conditions. These product characteristics ensure The Imaging Source USB 2.0 color cameras meet the requirements of the most demanding applications. (Imaging Source)


..the DMK (ICX098BL) coupled with the StellarVue F60M3 @F3.75 gives 71 x 61amin FOV @6.59as/px..



 ---»   Orion StarShoot Auto-Guider (SSAG)
Mfg:   Orion
Model:   SSAG #52064
Specs:   Micron MT9M001
   Click for the SSAg Manual
   Click for the MT9M001 DataSheet

   The StarShoot-AutoGuider is built around a 1280x1024 high-resolution, 1/2" format 1.3-megapixel CMOS monochrome chip, with 5.2µ x 5.2µ pixels for highly accurate guiding. That high accuracy due to the small pixel size means you can use the Orion StarShoot AutoGuider with smaller, less expensive guide scopes than what's possible with other guide cameras (such as the now-discontinued ST-4). The chip resides in a super-compact, anodized aluminum housing that measures just 2.5" wide by 2.35" long and weighs a mere 4.4 oz. It has a 1.25" nosepiece that can be removed to access a T-thread interface. On top of that, the StarShoot AutoGuider's short inward focus requirement of only 15mm from a typical 1.25" Plossl telescope eyepiece makes it compatible with virtually any telescope. The StarShoot AutoGuider's incredible ease of use will appeal to beginning and experienced astrophotographers alike. We've included highly acclaimed PHD Guiding software for the most intuitive and user-friendly autoguiding experience. The included PHD Guiding software requires no previous knowledge of autoguiding. It offers automatic calibration and guiding with literally a single mouse click. PHD Guiding has been ranked as the #1 guiding software in the 2007 "AstroPhoto Insight" magazine. The StarShoot AutoGuider is powered via your computer's high-speed USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 connection with the included 10' USB cable; no other power source is needed. A 6' RJ-12 cable is also included to connect the AutoGuider to the mount without the need for an additional RS-232 adapter. (Orion)


   ..the SSAG (MT9M001) coupled with the StellarVue F60M3 @F3.75 gives 102 x 81amin FOV @4.8as/px..



 ---»   Takahashi FS128F  
Mfg:   Takahashi
Model:   FS-128 F
Specs:   128mm Fluorite Doublet / 1040mmFL @F8.1
   Click for the Takahashi FS Series Manual

   The FS-128 and FS-128F are two versatile highly transportable 5" Apochromatic Refractors. With their multi-coated diffraction-limited optics, they produce the brightest possible images with outstanding contrast and color fidelity. Each has knife-edged baffles and the focuser painted inside with the same paint used on expensive 35mm cameras to eliminate internal light reflection. Their focal length of f/8.1 and f/5.9, with dedicated focal reducer, enable these instruments to be used as first rate wide field astrographs or lunar and planetary telescopes.

   The FS-128 uses a 2.7" focuser and the FS-128F uses a 4" focuser. This is definite advantage for the serious AstroPhotographer. A 35mm, medium format 6x7 vacuum holder, or 6x7 camera can be used to produce incredible astrophotos. The FS-128F opens new territory in astro-photography for 5" refractors. The dedicated reducer at f/5.9 produces a 63mm circle, while the dedicated flattener at f/9 produces an amazing 89mm circle on 6x7 film! (Takahashi)

   Fluorite has a very low dispersion, so lenses made from it exhibit less chromatic aberration than those made of ordinary glass. In telescopes, fluorite elements allow crisp images of astronomical objects even at high magnifications. Canon Inc. produces synthetic fluorite crystals that are used in their more expensive telephoto lenses. (Fluorite; WikiPedia)



 ---»   Takahashi FSQ85ED (BabyQ)
Mfg:   Takahashi
Model:   FSQ85ED
Specs:   85mm Dbl ED Flat-Field Quadruplet / 450mm @F5.6
  Click for the Takahashi FSQ85ED Manual

   Introducing the FSQ-85ED, this is the newest and smallest member of the FSQ Series of flat field astrographs. Designed from the ground up for digital imaging, the Baby "Q" is the go anywhere portable astrograph. Easily airline transportable at 12.68" [322mm] collapsed. The "Q" will fit under an airline seat or fit easily into an overhead compartment for ultimate portability. Take it to Chile to image the Magellanic Clouds or to a remote site here is the US. It weighs less than 9 lbs., so a smaller high quality mounting will support it.

   The optics are the same premium double ED Takahashi 4 element optical system as the FSQ-106ED and they produce the same flat-field color-free images. The image circle will allow medium format CCD or DSLR cameras to be used with the Baby "Q" to produce very high quality images of deep sky objects with a large field flat field.

   The FSQ-85ED also features a newly designed focuser with built-in fine focuser, made for imaging with medium format CCD cameras. This 72mm focuser had been designed to handle CCD and digital SLR cameras with great rigidity. Not only is the Baby "Q" a first rate astrograph, it has also been designed to be an excellent visual instrument. With over 200mm of back focus, it can accommodate any combination of diagonals or bino viewer. Color correction from the near UV to the near IR insures tight stellar images across the entire color range. (Takahashi)





 ---»   Televue Pronto
Mfg:   Televue
Model:   Pronto (2004)
Specs:   70mm  480mm/FL @ F6.8
    Click here for the Docs

  My first Refractor, very well made, like a tank! however field curvature and chromatic-aberration through the roof.. Below sample image is M39, Corners & Center Cropped 360x240.. Image, Lower Left of  M46, NGC2438 & M47 was taken with a Remote SetUp, Operated Wirelessly, the image above it is a screen cap showing that setup while taking that image...





 ---»   StellarVue F60M3 Guide Scope / Finder
Mfg:   StellarVue
Model:   F60M3
Specs:   60mm, 225mm/FL, @F3.75


   This is a straight through version of the F60M2. Now you can use a FinderScope in conjunction with auto guiders or mount a Nagler 22 to the telescope for stunning wide field views. This finder provides a straight through inverted image only. It will not work with a diagonal. The 2" helical focuser has a 1.25" adapter and our E3023R crosshair eyepiece that works with optional illuminators.

   The E3023R is the same eyepiece used on our finder scopes. It is a very sharp 23 mm focal length eyepiece with a 50 degree field of view. The cross hair is a Reticle that may be focused. This eyepiece accepts Reticle illuminators such as our EI002. (StellarVue)

..the StellarVue F60M3 @F3.75 coupled with the SSAG gives 102 x 81amin FOV @4.8as/px..




 ---»   Canon 15x50 IS
Mfg:   Canon
Model:   15 x 50 IS
    Click here for the BROCHURE
    Click here for the WEB-LINK


   The 15x50is All Weather binoculars with one-touch Image Stabilizer technology instantly compensates for binocular shake. Large diameter 50mm front objective lenses accommodate a wide range of activities from sports to astronomical observation. A multi-coated, Ultra-low Dispersion (UD) lens element in each objective section delivers outstanding image contrast, sharpness and color clarity. To accommodate eyeglass wearers, 15mm Long-Eye Relief provides greater viewing comfort, and the ergonomic design makes holding easily. An optical anti-fog eyepiece prevents condensation and fogging in foul weather.





 ---»   Gateway Profile 5.5
Mfg:   Gateway
Model:   Profile 5 & 5.5
Specs:   15'', 17'' & 19''

   These particular systems are in my opinion the perfect (120VAC) portable Astro-Computer.. Besides being relatively small and easily portable via Carrying Handle , they have 15'', 17'' & 19'' Screen Sizes, Integrated SATA or IDE HD Interface, Integrated Parallel (1ea), Serial (1ea), USB (6ea), IEEE-1394 Firewire (2ea, 4p & 6p) Ports, Integrated Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator UpGradeable (5.5 to ATI 370LE 64MB AGP), Integrated 10/100 NIC and VGA-In/Out Port, Integrated Mini-PCI for 802.11a/b/g Wireless, Integrated PCMCIA Type II Slot and Modem (some models), Floppy or Media-Card Reader and CDR/DVD-ROM, Integrated Sound w/ 5W Speakers, PS2 KyBd & Rodent, 100-240V 2600mA Input (Current varies on System Model) - 12VDC 15400mA Output PWR Brick, Very Easy to work on. I have several of these running Pentium 4HT CPU's @2.8GHz - 3.2GHz with External DVD+R/DL's and/or HD's.. have had  ZERO issues to date. Required drivers are readily available from several sources online.. Compatible KVM: IOgear - KVM mod# GCS614A, Quick (Hot-Keys), relatively inexpensive ≤70$.. Also an iPAD can be used as a Wireless KVM by running LogiTech's 'TouchMouse v1.0' sftwr, however its slow due to switching IP's.. Both the IOgear KVM and the TouchMouse work as described by the Mfgs..

   Negatives: Video Max Resolution @1280x1024, RAM Max @2.0GB, the Profile5 system running @3.4GHz cannot dump heat fast enough (indoors) without aux cooling, The Profile5.5 is better able to dump heat with the dual cooling fan design, however the CPU does av. >120°F,  Displays are not interchangeable, And Parts becoming more and more scarce..

   I usually run two of these systems.. 1 for controlling all the Astro Hardware, the other for Processing Images / Video and connecting online via either WiFi, AirCard or Tethered Cell Phone for internet radio or VoIP.. I've also operated remotely using PC-Anywhere.. These Systems also run very well on the Factory Floor, with Plenty of HorsePower and with the native Parallel, Serial & USB ports they interface with even ancient PLC's No Problem! ..if you can find one of these (typically <200$) 'Buy It' before they become extinct..




 ---»   Fujitsu LifeBook U810
Mfg:   Fujitsu
Model:   LifeBook U810 (2008)
    Click Here for the Specs

   Nice 'Ultra-Mobile' TabletPC, keeping the 'Ultra' in mind this system works just fine, carry it with me daily.. Have used it on flights listening to Audio-Book Mp3's, watching Movies, GPS, Remote IP Access, I ported a WindowsCE (WindowsMobile) application I developed for work to run on this device without any problems.. It also works well for focusing at the mount.. User UpGradeable 1.8'' HD, CF type I/II and SDHC compatible slots, integrated 802.11g and BlueTooth 2.0.. Removing Ms-Vista and Installing Ms-XPpro (Tablet Edition) was a lil time consuming having to force feed it some of the drivers but Well worth it and has run just fine since..



 ---»   Toshiba Tecra M4-S115TD
Mfg:   Toshiba
Model:   Tecra M4 (2005)
Specs:   S115TD 
    Click Here for the Specs

   Very nice TabletPC, All the Bells and Whistles available at the time.. The Tablet works as well if not better than any dedicated digitizing tablet I've used.. i.e. does not loose pen to screen calibration as it reaches the edges and it has 11.25'' x 8.5'' active area.. Clip-Board Replacement.. No.. its heavy and it runs Hot..!





 ---»   Canon 10D
Mfg:   Canon
Model:   10D
Specs:   22.7 x 15.1mm CMOS / 3072 x 2048 / 6.3MP
   Click for the Overview & Sample Images

   ..Under-Construction   ..Click the link for the Flash-Overview and sample dark frame images at various ISO Exposures



Click Images to Enlarge
GigaByte MA790FXT-UD5P / AMD Phenom II 965 / ATI 3870x2 / ATI HDTV 650 / Fatality X-Fi
Chevrolet - 2004 Avalanche 1500 Z71 5.3L-Vortec STVr  (Scope Transport Vehicle, RemoteSite)