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EwanV's Achievements



  1. Hi Len Don't worry - the final design will have everything in one box... well... two boxes if you count the one for the motor!! During the test phase, I tried out some different motor control boards before settling on the one in the picture, so the box it's in was purely to protect it whilst I made sure everything works (I'd already printed the Arduino box for another project so it was simpler to just use what I had). I'm getting some decent RJ45 female sockets and they will be incorporated into the design too. The final thing I am considering is whether to fit a heatsink to the motor and that will mean changing the box that's in too.
  2. Update!! The 4:1 ratio wasn't necessary. I've found that using a 2 step change in the focuser in NINA works just fine. Translation: Autofocusing works by the camera taking a picture, looking at the stars, moving the focuser a set amount and then taking another picture. It does this several times and by giving each of the pictures a score, it works out the best position to be in then moves that number of steps to get there. You can tell it how many pictures to take and how many steps in between each picture then it does everything for you. In my case, I've told it to take 2 half steps each time and 4 photos either side of the point it starts at, each of which is 4 seconds long. This means it takes a total of 8 pictures of 4 seconds each to get me to the point of best focus.
  3. IT WORKS!!!!! I finally got enough of a gap in the clouds to give the focuser a test run. I've decided that I'm going to change the motor from direct drive of the focuser to via a 4:1 gear and belt drive. This will give me 4x finer control over the focusing mechanism for more accurate results. The belt drive may add a bit of lag to the focuser, but the software for focusing takes care of that for me.
  4. To be honest, Mark, I didn't really think the 5V would have anywhere near the power needed and I was only using it because I had one to play with!! I'm pleased I designed the chasis and wrote the code to work with both motors!
  5. The 5v motor works, but I’m not happy with the level of torque the motor generates. Just in the test with one belt attached, the motor stalls occasionally despite the lack of a load on the system. The belt isn’t tight so that’s not a problem. looks like we’re switching to 12v whether we like it or not!! IMG_5960.MOV
  6. We have a new question to deal with: 5V or 12V for the stepper motor? Both have their advantages. Firstly, the 5V It and the Arduino can be powered via a USB powerbank It's cheap to buy and replace It has an internal gearbox meaning it does over 4000 steps to a single revolution It's disadvantages are: It's not very powerful It's not as accurate in its steps as a bigger motor Now the 12V Much more powerful than the 5V Better build quality Better reliability Accurate steps Disadvantages: Will need 12V power rather than 5, so either an Arduino Uno with its built in higher voltage port or a Nano and separate supply Either way, it's going to mean carrying a power brick rather than USB jobbie Vibrations can be an issue I've decided to test with the 5V first, as I happen to have that motor spare (why buy the bigger motor if I don't have to?) but my test code has been written for both. I've also re-designed the chasis to take both motors, whilst also switching to the 60:15 tooth gears from the 80:20 too (less plastic to print each gear). I've also picked up a 5 guage rod (about 5.3mm diameter) that's great for testing with. Finally, I've changed my mind about printing the drive belts as I can buy 10 for £5 and printing 6 or 7 was going to cost me £3.99 in materials.
  7. I can't believe I've had to wait so long for a clear evening!! Who's been buying astro gear and summoning the clouds? Come on; own up!! Tonight is looking to be the first night when I'm going to have the opportunity to test the remote focuser. I have full confidence in the device working, but I do wonder whether I should consider some kind of gearing to reduce the distance travelled with each step. The Nema 17 travels 1.8 degrees per step, meaning that it completes one revolution in 200 steps. I know I can 3D print some gears to give me a 4:1 reduction, so the equivalent of 800 steps per revolution of the focusing "knob", but I'll only do that if absolutely necessary as I don't want to add in anything that's going to have possible tension and lagging issues.
  8. Thanks Mark. It's coming along nicely. I've decided that for the "actual" build, I'm going to reduce the teeth on the gears to 60/15 instead of 80/20. It makes no difference to the ratios, but will make the device smaller. I thing 60/15 is probably the smallest I want to go, as I want a good tooth/belt contact on the smaller gear to help prevent slippage.
  9. Design for the gear chasis!! This is just a first run through so that I've got enough room around everything to get to the belts. I'm going to replace the 5mm threaded bar (in the pictures above) with a smooth bar that I'll grind down to give the grub screws in the gears something to hold on to and then each bar will be held in place top and bottom by a 5x11x5 bearing (size chosen because a pack of 10 is less than a fiver). The four gear towers will run one to the other and the final gear will, for the test, be the lone 80 tooth gear. In the end, the spot where the final gear is will be removed and the motor mounted instead. The final gear will run on a separate plate so that if something goes wrong with one of the belts/motors you don't have to dismantle everything to fix it - just take the chasis out of the device. This chasis for the 4 tower gears is 90mm on the short side.
  10. Gears are ready. I’m using a metal 20t gear as I happened to have some spare. I just need to order some bearings, print the belts, design the belt tensioner design the case…..
  11. The SkyWatcher Star Adventurer 2 Pro is £335 at the time of writing. I want to make a star tracker for a DSLR for under £35. "Why?" I hear you ask. "Because if it's made for astro, it's cheaper to make it yourself". I want my design to be something that you can buy the parts for, but I want as much of it as possible to be 3D printable too. There are already loads of designs for 3D printed star trackers - some designed to hold small scopes, tabletop ones, lightweight, etc. I decided to follow a completely new approach - belts and gears! Now for 3D printing, I decided to go for the GT2 tooth setting, but the important thing is the number of teeth on each gear. For simplicity in design (and so that people can take advantage of buying multipacks of gears if they're not 3D printing them) I decided to go for a ratio of 4:1. So the small gear has x teeth and the large gear has 4x teeth. I've gone for 20 and 80, because that's big enough that you can see any errors in the final object and small enough to not take ages to print. I made a pillar of the gears so that you have an 80t gear, then a hub with two holes for M4 grubs and the 20t gear on top. Each one takes 2 hours to print on my printer. People buying gears can go for whatever teeth they want, as long as they maintain the ratio. So how many gears? There are 86,164.0905 seconds in a sidereal day, so no matter what we need our last gear completing one revolution in that time (and only one revolution). This final gear has 80 teeth and is being driven by the 20t gear on one of our towers. That tower rotates 4x for every 1 of the final gear, so (86,164.0905/4) every 21,541.0226 seconds. Adding in more gear towers gives us: Final Gear - 86,164.0905 seconds Tower 1 - 21,541.0226 seconds Tower 2 - 5,385,25566 seconds Tower 3 - 1,346.31391 seconds Tower 4 - 336.578479 seconds. Attaching a 20t gear to the motor and using it to drive the 80t gear on tower 4 gives us (336.578479/4) 84.1446196 seconds for the motor to complete one revolution or 0.713058 revolutions per minute. You can specify the RPM of a stepper motor, so that's what we'll do. Please follow this thread and I'll be back with pictures, updates, file locations for printing everything and so on.
  12. A few photos to keep you updated. First image - the motor inside its (designed by me) 3D printed housing using the (designed by Robert Brown) 3D printed mounting plate Second image - The Arduino Uno in its box (3D design from Thingiverse) with wires leading to the exposed motor driver in a box designed by me. Third image - showing the wires connected to the Arduino - no soldering required as I used the Arduino Uno R3 Fourth image - Arduino end of the connectors to the motor driver board Fifth image - Motor driver board of the same connectors Sixth image - wires (same colour as on the actual motor) showing wiring connections leading from the motor board to the motor. The only bit of "cut and paste" is cutting a length off each of the wires coming off the motor to use as shown in the 6th photo. Using the Cat5E connectors I've selected don't need any soldering either!!
  13. One of the biggest problems with being a miser is allocating funds for research and development. I am, therefore, a big believer in lettings others do the expensive bit and I'll come along afterwards to see if I can cut corners and costs. The target for today is the MyFocuserPro2 project on Sourceforge. The idea of my build was to make a motorised focuser that could use ASCOM drivers to remotely and automatically focus my telescope so I could do away with focusing masks and make my rig truly controllable from my sofa (I'm finding the cold, long nights aren't doing me any favours now). Currently, the mount, camera, guider and such are all controlled by an old laptop which I can access using VNC or TeamViewer remotely. The focuser I was using (SkyWatcher DC Motor & Hitecastro DC Focus Controller) do not give you a fully automatic means of focusing, so I was still reliant on a bahtinov mask and getting up off my lazy backside to replace and remove the mask every time I wanted to check focus. There were two options: 1. Motorise the mask so it slides in and out of position on its own 2. Stop overthinking everything and steal someone elses work Option 2 it is then!! 1,000,001 Choices and no clear path The MyFocuserPro2 project has grown and grown, with different design options, configurations, depth of software and instruction manuals. Whilst this makes it a brilliant resource, it also means that navigating it and finding the bits you actually want and need can be tricky. I know virtually nothing about Arduino programming and have the soldering skills of your average 3 year old. This meant that what I really needed was a manual written by an idiot for an idiot and working to a budget of "Telling your wife (truthfully) exactly how much you spent". That manual didn't exist so I decided, like an idiot, I'd write one. Low cost and using spares Firstly, I decided to base my design around the MyFocuserPro2M - a version of the focuser that you can buy pre-made from the designer, Robert Brown, that he's also given instructions on so you can build your own. Robert's a clever chap and even this version of the focuser has multiple options. One design in particular had minimal soldering needed so I decided to work with that and see if I could improve on it. The cost of the parts once I'd worked my magic was less than £40 if you didn't go for things like a hand controller and even less if you opted not to have the temperature probe (something you can add in later if you want). I wanted to make sure that some parts were things you were likely to have kicking around the house anyway. I used standard Cat5E network cables for the connection between the motor and controller, as I know they'll handle 12v and you're likely to have some spares as you get given new ones every time you switch internet service providers and they send you a new modem/router. I made heatshrink wire covers optional, but Lidl often have kits you can pick up. For those that are confident with a soldering iron, you can switch between Arduino models and wire connection methods if you want. Oops!! I broke something!! One of the design amendments I wanted to make was to ensure that if one piece of the remote focuser broke, I could replace it without having to: a. dismantle the entire thing b. replace unbroken parts that were attached c. do more soldering than absolutely necessary Additionally, I have more than one telescope. The best solution would be to have a remote focuser attached to each scope so that if I want to swap from the 72mm refractor to the 203mm newt, I don't have to detach everything but who wants to spend £40 per telescope when they don't have to? The re-design means all you need to do is make the motor section for each telescope (about £16 plus some 3D printed parts). The actual controller remains in place so there's no unplugging of USB leads and that means that you don't have to reboot the software when switching to a different telescope. Testing, Testing, 1, 2...... Clouds At the time of writing this post and starting the thread, I'm in the testing phase of things. In other words, the Astronomy gods (they are real) have stepped in and I've had cloud cover since building the focuser. The manual is half written and I shall be passing it on to my trained monkey (my mate Steve - we're known as "The Idiot Twins" but we're not related) to try out, but I will put together a parts and price list in the next few days.
  14. https://www.the-observatory.org/events/astronomy-festival-2021 Smaller festival than usual going ahead. Sadly, I can't attend this year but I'm certainly looking forward to 2022!!
  15. Well done chaps!! Just seen this thread or I'd have commented sooner!
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