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 Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool) 
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Post Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
MODS, if you feel this thread is inappropriate please delete :)



I thought this may be of interest to some folks who have an interest in astrophotography. One of the major problems people encounter with astrophotography is that the earth keeps spinning, with wide angle short exposures ( under 30 seconds) are OK but you have to crank the ISO way up. As you start getting a longer focal length the amount of time you have to expose before the stars star trailing drops drastically.

There are several methods to counteract this, Scotch mounts (aka Haig mount aka Barndoor mount) are the simplist form of correction, ive built a couple of these now and have learned enough about the designt to see where the flaws are.

Ive been working with a machinist to build a new one, i have a pretty ambitious goal for my tracking with the new design.

This project may work out wonderfully, it also may go down in a ball of flames. This is not a thread to sell this stuff, but more of a blog to show my experience in this project.

Design goals on this

1) Track accuratly at longer focal lengths (800mm for 1min with proper alignment)
2) To provide between 1.5 to 2 hours of tracking
3) Incorperate a fast easy method for polar alignment
4) An all inclusive box. No accessories needed, just put between your current tripod head and legs.
5) A simple visual reference to gauge how much time is left before the system must reset.
6) Hopefully be able to be incorperated into timelapse systems.
7) its gotta look cool too.


I am going to be honest, if this works and works well i plan to sell these, but first they must work properly, and then i will find a proper outlet for the sale of these, it will not be done through this site or any other forum board. This thread is meant to be educational and to document the progress so people can sort of follow along the proto typing process, testing, re-designing, etc. Maybe get some ideas if you would like to build your own. :)

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Wed Jun 29, 2011 7:04 am
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
Here is my most recent incarnation of a tracker. This one works pretty well, in less than a minute i can achieve polar alignment accurate enough to track a star at 200mm for over 3 minutes. That means i SHOULD be able to get a star at 800mm for 45 seconds.

Image

The only problem is the stability of this design prevents that from happening, there is an issue with the centering of the thread and lack of stabilization on the two halves that show the weakness of the design. As seen in the image below, any level of wobble or inaccuracy really show up.

Image

However, with this same tracker i can get some pretty good wide angle, i can track for hours with this design at 10-18mm and really get some nice shots.

Image

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Wed Jun 29, 2011 7:04 am
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
Over the last few days i have been recieving all the parts in the mail, so far i have the microcontrollers with upgraded processors, a myriad of various sensors, and some of the hardware. Still have not recieved the stepper motor, or the blank PCB's.

Once my current tracker opens too far i have to disengage the wheels and back it up by hand, this new design prevents that because the gears will be held and secured on bearings. So i have to uncorperate a way for the system to know when to stop. So i need to be able to detect when it is at the end of its cycle, thus the need for the sensors, I dont know which are best, so i have a few whisker switches, magnetic sensors, and a photon-break sensor.

Im going to have a lot of code i have to write out for this. I better brush up on my C++. lol.

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Wed Jun 29, 2011 7:05 am
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
So i met with my machinist yesterday, gave him the gears and such so he can start working on building the mounting plate for the gears and stepper motor. He showed me a few parts he has been working on, including an ingenious method of getting the curved rod to a very exact arc without damaging the threads.

Now we both have our work cut out for us, once he gets the measurements i need to get the sensors back from him so i can start wiring up/programming the microcontroller.

The entire system is going to be closed in a box, i dont want the electronics or gears and such exposed to the elements.

This causes a a new challange, in my previous design everything is there in the open, and to rewind it i disengage the gears and just spin the larger gear back up the rod then re-engage the gears. No problem.

In this design i wont be able to do that, so it will have to have a reset-rewind feature. The system will also have to know when it is fully opened, and fully closed. To do this i am trying a variety of methods, light sensors, magnetic sensors, whisker switches. So that is gonna take a bit of experimentation and playing with code, upon recieving the whisker switches and seeing thier size, i think they will probably be the best route.

Also i want to have a simple LED visual indicator, so you can just look at it and be able to have a rough idea of how much time you have left. Of course with LED's ill also have to have an LED Kill switch if you are taking this to an astronomy club.

I am hoping to provide 1.5 hours of non stop tracking.

For the prototype i will probably be using an Arduino for getting the coding setup, then once that is working ill be converting it over to a Launchpad microcontroller with an upgraded processor. I have high hopes for these boards, but they are not nearly as user friendly, but i found a way i can program them the same was as an arduino. (an arduino is sort of overkill for this)

So the machinist is working on the Jaw, the top of the box, and the mounting plate, beneath, once those are made i start working out the electronics, then afterwards we design the rest of the enclosure.

The complexity is growing, 1 microcontroller, 1 driver, power board, PCB for solder connections, several switches for the jaw movement, start button, reset button, led graph, LED kill switch, stepper motor, and a lot of coding. good times.

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Fri Jul 01, 2011 8:01 am
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
Just got back from seeing my machinist, the mounting plate is looking good, after this will be the top plate and moving jaw, once i get those i get to work on the programming, soldering, etc, then back to the machinist for final construction.

There is a milled threaded insert in the larger gear to accept the curved rod, and that gear is going to be sandwiched between two plates with bearings on the top and bottom to ensure smooth precise movements. :)

Good times, with any luck in a few weeks the prototype will be running.

Image

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Sun Jul 03, 2011 4:40 pm
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
WOW. Awesome work. Keep it up. Thanks for sharing this.


Sat Jul 09, 2011 10:50 pm
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
Things are moving right along with Project Orion. Thats what im calling it for now, so far i havent come up with a cool name for it yet. lol

So I spend a good part of yesterday writing the code for this, So far i have the opening/close sequence along with the max-open and max-closed sensors along with the start and rewing buttons working. I still have to figure out the LED lighting sequences, i built a timer into the coding i need to apply to the LEDs to give a visual indicator of approcimatly how much time is left.

Right now im doing all the coding on an arduino microcontroller but i will probably be importing it to an upgraded Texas Instruments Launchpad as the Arduino is sort of overkill for this thing. Ill have to spend a fair amount of time debugging once i get it to the Launchpad, but ill cross that bridge when i get there, i have some resources that should cause the Launchpad to behave as an Arduino.

So i basically have the coding framework setup, i could plug this into the box and have it runs its basic functions, but i have a lot of spit and polish to apply, plus, im not gonna say what it is yet, but we have something special planned for the box. It will probably be an upgrade option. But i am excited as hell about it. :)

here it is so far, guts with no body. wires, buttons, relays, and circuit boards.

Image


AND here is the body. My machinist has been diligently working on the project, it is made of Plexiglass as well as Lexan. It feels burly as hell, i have NO doubt that this will move exactly as i am expecting.

This thing is bulletproof! ... LITERALLY. The Sides, top, and back will stop a .357

Image


He said he should have it pretty much done i assume by next week, there were some issues with the spacing of the gears and such. This is just the design prototype, once we have it running it is back to the drawing board to apply any tweaks or design changes.

im expecting it to give close to 2 hours of constant tracking, and i am pretty sure im gonna nail my accuracy goals.

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Wed Jul 13, 2011 6:21 am
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
Love the concept i.e. open source hardware projects, especially where the designer is willing to compensate non-geniuses like myself by eventually offering to assemble completed functioning units :) I already love/use my 'smatrig2' DSLR trigger device for the same reason (which I use for my own timelapse video projects). Keep the project updates coming!


Sun Jul 17, 2011 4:28 pm
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
Spent some time at my machinists place this weekend.

We went over the current design, discussed the altitude adjustment plate, and it looks like we are going to build our own laser system for a polar alignment aid. The original plan was to use a rifle laser scope like i have on my wooden tracker, but the price is just too much. After doing some research into the subject we are fairly confidant we can implement our own laser design and have it built into the box running off the same power source. Going to order a few sample laser diodes this weekend and play around with them, im aiming for 50mw.

Next issue is the TI Launchpad as an Arduino replacement. These microcontrollers appear to be pretty versatile. But so far i have had a miserable time with the programming interface, not to mention the chips are too weak so i had to order upgraded processors. All in all they launchpad with upgraded processor is about 6 bucks, opposed to the $30 price tag of the Arduino, however they require a 3.3 v power supply, so i had to buy some voltage regulator boards which were another 6 bucks each. So im sort of leaning on the fence as to weather or not the extra work is worth saving $18.00. Im still playing with the Launchpad, so hopefully i can get it all to work out.

Last night my machinist sent me a message saying he has run into a problem with the top jaw and needs to order a new tool to get everything to work, may be 3-4 days before he gets that in.

The work this guy is doing is awesome. This is going to be a VERY stable design, the top and sides are 3/8th inch plexiglass. There are bearings mounted on top and bottom of the gear, as well as on the hinge, this thing should have very very accurate tracking as long as polar alignment is properly achieved.

Not to mention, this thing is going to look cool as hell too.

I have a few more goodies that i plan to implement on this, or possibly have as an upgrade option, but i need to do some research on a patent before i give out too much information.

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Mon Jul 18, 2011 6:35 am
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
Curious about a few things already:

1) It looks like your final solution will be superior to the AstroTrak in terms of cost, and that your goal is a complete 'turnkey' product. Do you expect to match/exceed stability/accuracy/etc. as well?

2) Is the purpose/use of the micro-controller just to drive the stepper motor at a specifically-tuned rotation speed (i.e. rather than using some 'fixed' gearhead DC motor and gearing system), or is there more functionality that you intend/require?

3) In your opinion, is the 'ease' of using your laser-based polar alignment system superior to, say, an 'electronic' solution involving digital angle measurers, magnetomers, GPS, etc.? Also, how much of a challenge will it be to insure that the axis of the laser is aligned with the platform and DSLR itself?

Still very impressed by the whole idea :)


Mon Jul 18, 2011 7:09 am
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
darethehair wrote:
Curious about a few things already:

1) It looks like your final solution will be superior to the AstroTrak in terms of cost, and that your goal is a complete 'turnkey' product. Do you expect to match/exceed stability/accuracy/etc. as well?

2) Is the purpose/use of the micro-controller just to drive the stepper motor at a specifically-tuned rotation speed (i.e. rather than using some 'fixed' gearhead DC motor and gearing system), or is there more functionality that you intend/require?

3) In your opinion, is the 'ease' of using your laser-based polar alignment system superior to, say, an 'electronic' solution involving digital angle measurers, magnetomers, GPS, etc.? Also, how much of a challenge will it be to insure that the axis of the laser is aligned with the platform and DSLR itself?

Still very impressed by the whole idea :)


1) Yes i want it to be a 100% all inclusive standalone system, all you will do is fit it between your current tripod legs and tripod head, no need for a second head, wedge, alignment scopes, or anything else. My wooden tracker is not nearly built to the tight tolerances and specs of this one and i can pretty much stop stars at 300mm for 2 minutes after polar alignment. However there is a slight wobble in my wooden tracker, mainly because of the drive mechanism and gear, so while it stops stars you see the effects of the wobble when zoomed in. My ultimate goal, is very ambitious, and that is to be able to focus on a star at 800mm for 1 minute with no visible signs of tracking error. I believe we can do this, we have several parts that we had to machine out and everything is to very very tight tolerances.

I purchased an astrotrac, unfortunately mine was defective and the leadscrew slipped while rewinding making it a real hassle, i returned it and was not able to find a ready made replacement, i thought long and hard about it and decided to focus back on my own design. i can say that the astrotrac is an awesome piece of gear, super lightweight, and very accurate.

2) The first tracker i made was based largely on a design on Gary Seroniks website. It used a voltage regulator circuit and a 4rpm dc motor to drive gears with a 4:1 ratio to open the device at a proper speed. It was fussy and needed constant calibration, going from say a 50 1.8 lens to my 70-200 2.8 VR slowed it down so i would have to constantly re calibrate. Also as the batteries depleted i had to make adjustments as well. I went with a standalone driver for a stepper, then eventually to an Arduino micro controller, and the arduino really works the best. The consistency is 100%. The arduino also allows me to add in programs, such as a LED visual reference system so you can take it camping and set it up 50 feet away and with a single glance you will know within +/- 5 minutes how much time before it needs to be reset, it also gives me the ability to hit a button and have it rewind, and be smart enough to understand when it reaches its max open and max closed positions. ALSO, when i finish with the patent process there is a feature set i plan to make available as an upgrade (it requires more parts and programming). However i don't want to let the cat out of the bag on that one just yet.

3) The LASER. Yes, i love the laser. I first got the idea of using a laser when i borrowed a buddys laser pointer for a photography project. I was shocked at how easily you can see the beam in the sky. So when i was designing my wooden tracker i figured i would buy a laser pointer and lay it on the hinge and sure enough it worked, but i discovered it was not centered. So i got a rifle laser sight so i could ensure it was properly centered then mounted it in line with the hinge. In about 15 seconds using my geared head i can achieve polar alignment good enough to shoot at 300mm for several minutes once i figured out where true celestial north is. This wouldnt probably cut it for a scope with an equivalent focal length of 2000mm+, but for the purpose of this device it should work fine.

We are devising a way to center the laser within the box so it is protected and permanently mounted in perfect alignment. Polar alignment is a very simple concept that has been made overly confusing for no reason. So far for me the laser method works wonderfully and very fast. In fact one night i was working on getting the opening speed locked in, it was cloudy to the north and i patiently waited for about 15-20 minutes, i finally got a break in the clouds that lasted less than 30 seconds, and was aligned in half that time.
You just gotta make sure you check your local laws and never ever shine the laser in the direction of an airport.

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Mon Jul 18, 2011 10:00 am
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
Just got back from my machinists, we finally got it moving. we are already planning some heavy redesigns as we identify some problem areas. The newer body should be a bit smaller and less bulky.

The good news is that the jaw moves nice and smoothly. There are a few tweaks to put on this body, and i have a couple laser diodes coming in the mail to try out.

im hoping to have this prototype fully functional for a camping trip im taking in august.

Image

Image

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Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:39 am
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
I love the workbench table saw...

Keep it going mister, love seeing your work!

BDU

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Sat Jul 23, 2011 4:43 pm
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
Update 8/8/2011

Photos of the Prototype.


Image

Image


So, we have been pretty busy working on this project, the last few days i have managed to do some testing, the results are mixed. They are good, but i want much better.

We pretty much abondoned the first design, decided to keep it simple and test out how well we could re-create the tracket i currently have to see how the mechanics affect the accuracy. His CNC is capable of accuracy up to 1/1000th of an inch.

So everything is aligned dead on. We went with the same build and design as my last one.

There seems to be an issue with the threaded gear traveling up the curved rod, as the large gear spins around it has a slight off axis wobble, impossible to see at slow speeds but once you speed it up can sort of see the effect, the end result is the top plate opens as if it is being ratcheted up, so the movemet is not 100% constant.

We tried to alleviate this wobble by swapping out the threaded aluminum nut out of the large hear and replacing it with a plastic one made of acetal, which REALLY made a large difference.

The good news is i am able to track 300mm for 4 minutes (240 seconds) however, the wobble is causing a problem.

here is an example of its tracking, along with an image of untracked. The pill shape of the stars is not caused by inaccuracy of tracking, the stars stay lmost exactly in the same place in frame, the issue is the uneven speed, overall it has very even progress, as in each minute the speed behaves the same way, speeding up slowing down.

Image

After some efforts in tuning it, i got the stars as small as can be, the tracking speed seems to be right, as you can see the stars have reached a barbell shape, and i just realized the image below says 30mm, that is incorrect, it is 300mm.

The barbell shape is because the ratcheting effect is moving the stars in the FOV, the little balls on the end are formed because the star spends more time on either end than in between.

Image

Shortly after this was shot i fried my easydriver, it was a mistake on my end, cost me 15 bucks. I packed it in for the night.

Last night i went back out to do some wider field, with my 24-70 for 6 minutes. Once again if you zoom in you can still see the ratcheting effect

and it appears i got some dirt on my sensor. :( well, maybe it is on the back of the lens. i dunno, ill have to get it cleaned.

The image below is 70mm, 6 minutes of exposure.

Image

and here is the same 70mm 6minute of exposure with tracking shut off so you can see the on/off difference


Image

And i also ran a 24mm 6 minute expossure as well.

Image

SO

Where are we at with this project? We have a tracker that will work almost indefinatly at lower speeds, but due to the nature of the design will not work for our purposes.

We have 2 other tracker designs we are working one, one with a worm drive on the bottom plate that pushes an arm forward lifting the top, but i think that one is about to get kicked off the island.

The other design is a much more direct drive system with gears, it will not have any tangent error and does not required the curved rod with its compressed/expanded teeth. It will probably also be much smaller too.


As for this design, i still think we can do better, going to the acetal threaded nut inside the large gear helped because it can sort of wear-in. The aluminum would not. However, is this good or bad? i dont want a nut that will strip itself clean in a few hours worth of tracking, my feas may be unbased though. We will probably try a few more variations on this as well to see if we can work out the bugs.


The tracking is superb considering i spend less than 20 seconds on the polar alignment, i can track 300mm for 4 minutes, we just have to get rid of that ratcheting effect. Just working out the bugs. If this thing was not ratcheting i think we would be hitting the goal of 800mm for 1 minute with ease, in fact, probably do 800mm for much longer than 1 min.


As long as you learn from the unsuccessful prototype, there is no such thing as failure.


Dont get me wrong though, this design is FAR FAR more accurate than my wooden tracker, it just does not cut the mustard after 100mm.

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Mon Aug 08, 2011 7:01 am
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
I saw this looking for scotch mounts. I think the curved rod is probably the simplest way to get accurate tracking, but probably only for wide field. Looks great though. I can't wait to see where this goes.


Sun Aug 14, 2011 5:01 pm
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
after a bunch of testing the curved rod is pretty flawed,. it compresses the teeth on one end and expands them on the other causing a ratcheting effect. for wiidefield (maybe 70mm and under) they are fantastic. Any deeper of a focal length and it starts to suffer.

i met with my machinist last night, we went over the designs for a new plan what we are feeling very good about, it is radically different and i dont think i have seen it done before. it should allow for up to 12 hours of steady tracking, and should not suffer from the dreaded ratchet effect, i suspect we should be well into the build this week once we get the gearing requirements down. :)

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Mon Aug 15, 2011 7:34 am
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
Not sure how feasible it would be but have you thought about using a rack and pinion, cutting the rack after the base material has been set to the desired curve?

Following your project with interest.

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Mon Aug 15, 2011 10:51 am
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
MikeA wrote:
Not sure how feasible it would be but have you thought about using a rack and pinion, cutting the rack after the base material has been set to the desired curve?

Following your project with interest.


We though the idea over, a couple of others, but the simplicity of the new design really intrigued us. its sort of hard to explain how it works, but it uses some major gear reduction on a sort of bobblehead. its a neat design that we have not seen used before, mainly because with the level of precision needed would be difficult without a CAD and a cnc mill.

ill keep posting updates, in the meantime im always open to ideas and suggestions. ;)

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Mon Aug 15, 2011 1:56 pm
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
Yes, I am still an enthusiastic viewer of this particular thread :)

Taking into account that I have poor engineering skills, I nevertheless have been pondering alternate designs for a portable-but-accurate camera 'clock drive', that is not the 'barn door' design. Am I correct in thinking that a tripod 'ball head', attached to the end of a suitably-powerful shaft of a clock (or, in this case, your Arduino-based geared clock drive) would work for this purpose? In other words, the point is to attach a camera to a slowly-moving and powerful axis pointed at the NCP -- so the trick is to make the axis strong enough to hold a camera, and the rotation accurate enough to follow the sky rotation. Am I full of beans?


Mon Aug 15, 2011 2:49 pm
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
Yeah in a nutshell, you just have to achieve about a 1440:1 gear ratio. Which is pretty much what we are doing. But rather than a ball head on a rotating shaft it will be on a small hinged mount.

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Mon Aug 15, 2011 6:35 pm
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
I thought about the same thing. Just apply the drive to the hinge joint, but yeah, it would need a major gear reduction. If the tracker ran through 180 degrees in 12 hours, that's 1 RPD (revolution per day)!! I'm curious to see the solution in action.


Fri Aug 19, 2011 7:32 pm
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
So after a 2 week hiatus from Project Orion to develop the foundation of Project Chronos. I must admid, Project Chronos is looking fantastic.I will be hosting a thread about project chornos in the future, but not just yet.

Project Orion is back on track, I am waiting to get the new motor and controller so we can play around with the new drive system.

About the drive system, this is not anything i have seen done before.. It is a pretty unique and we need to protect the design untill we determine if it will work well enough that we need to patent it. So the prototype will be using opaque plexiglass instead of clear. The GOOD news, is this new system should enable dusk to dawn tracking, we no longer need limit switches, we can cut down on a lot of hardware. If the prototype goes well we will be manufacturing almost all of our own gears, arms, circuit board, etc, Cutting down on all of this means we can hit an even lower price point, one of my main goals is to make this as affordable as possible. Im aiming for the $300-350 mark for an all inclusive system in a small 5x4x4 inch box.

so my apologies about the lack of details, i will share as much as possible including performance photos and maybe even photos of the unit, just not the driving mechanism. The last thing we want is somebody seeing the design, patenting it themselves, then try to jack the price up to 600-700 and sell it for themselves.

the parts should start arriving in the next few days, this friday i have another meeting with my partner, hopefully to get the details pounded out and start the construction process.

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Wed Aug 24, 2011 6:44 am
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
Jack Ripper wrote:
So after a 2 week hiatus from Project Orion to develop the foundation of Project Chronos. I must admid, Project Chronos is looking fantastic.I will be hosting a thread about project chornos in the future, but not just yet.


What is 'Project Chronos'? Is there another thread for it?

Quote:
Project Orion is back on track, I am waiting to get the new motor and controller so we can play around with the new drive system.


Good to know! I realize that it is only a guess, but do you have any idea when complete product would be available for sale? I wouldn't think 2011, but sometime in 2012?


Wed Aug 24, 2011 6:50 am
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
Interested in seeing the results. The gearbox is the hard part. Putting something together with that kind of gear reduction isn't super hard, but making it durable, reliable, accurate and compact is. Hope it works out. That price range seems like a good sweet spot. Lots of cheap stuff below that price and lots of nice stuff way above that. Hard to find something to accurately track for just a few hundred bucks off the shelf. I know, I've worn out the internet looking.


Wed Aug 24, 2011 10:23 am
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
So have I, and you are right. There are NOT a lot of offerings.

You have the Astrotrac which looks to be an awesome performer. The price is a bit steep for what it does though, not to mention you have to buy the polar alignment scope and either their wedge, or a geared head so you can get it aligned. It gets pricey.

on the cheap end there is a small Orion EQ mount, but i have never heard anybody using one. apparently the build quality is shoddy too, but it is what, 100 bucks? ive never seen any results posted from using one.

for high level accuracy you can piggyback off a self guiding scope, but you have to pay out the big bucks and they are not very portable. you can get them to a location, but you wont hike 10 miles with one.

you also have a few other smaller systebs, but the prices get to be rediculous very quick.


I had an Astrotrac, awesome build, it felt very precise. but it wouldn't rewind properly, faulty unit, it happens, i dont think any less of the device they created and i would defiantly recommend Astrotrac to anyone. But i returned it and they had no more in stock, that's when i decided to return to my barndoor project, and eventually started Project Orion.

The performance level of the Astrotrac really is what im trying to beat. My partner has a very nice CNC mill in his garage so we can get very very tight tolerances. Im good at coming up with designs, he is good at bringing those designs to the real world, then im good at figuring out how to control and automate them. we can work in almost any material and build almost anything we need.

apparently he found something new, he has been texting me, apparently he has an idea about something. I really like working with the guy, motor is always moving.

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Wed Aug 24, 2011 10:45 am
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
Exactly. The Orion EQ-1 is universally panned for anything by short duration, wide field stuff. Shoddy construction. poor gearing, etc, etc. To get motorized tracking in a decent tripod and EQ mount you are looking at minimum $800. You just wouldn't think it would be that hard to build a simple tracking device. Small market I suppose.


Thu Aug 25, 2011 10:49 am
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
flyfishnevada wrote:
To get motorized tracking in a decent tripod and EQ mount you are looking at minimum $800. You just wouldn't think it would be that hard to build a simple tracking device.


i agree 100%, we plan to change that. New goal is to get it around the 300-350 mark

its amazing how hard it is to get something to move that slowly.

it should have a 180 degree rotation so it should track for 12 hours, of course, it probably wont be accurate that long. My goal of 800mm for 1 minute still stands. With the last tracker design i got 4 minute exposures at 300mm and managed to effectively stop the stars, except for that ratcheting movement screwed it up, but if you look past that i managed polar alignment in 15-20 seconds flat, and the ratcheting movement, the speed was dead on. That is equal to 600mm at 2 min, and 1200mm at 1 mm.

of course, that does not pan out well in reality, it may equal 1200mm for 1 minute as far as the tracking speed sits, however getting it stable enough to reach 1200mm for 1 min without introducing any other artifacts is another matter.

im feeling good though.

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Thu Aug 25, 2011 11:17 am
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
darethehair wrote:

What is 'Project Chronos'? Is there another thread for it?

Good to know! I realize that it is only a guess, but do you have any idea when complete product would be available for sale? I wouldn't think 2011, but sometime in 2012?


Sorry for the delay,

i went ahead and made a thread for project chronos, ill link it in my sig soon. It is a timelapse rail, i have no intention of selling these, but i do plan to document the build process, provide a list of parts and vendors, wiring diagrams, schematics, and all the code, and even access to my machinist in case you would like to order copies of the brackets he made me for probably $50.

The purpose is to make a lightweight highly portable timelapse system, something pretty much anybody can make, and to make it as inexpencive as possible. It is shorter than the DP or Kessler systems, the final control system will probably not be as advanced as the kessler or dynamic perception systems, but should still be very effective. I dont think it will be a threat to the other timelapse systems, while it looks similar, it has a series of benefits that the other systems do not have, and shortcomings the others do not have. It is a different system with a different goal, aimed at absolute portability and flexability.

I have a few tricks up my sleeve, some things i have not seen done before that i plan to make available as well, i have my work cut out for me. This is the thread i started today, forgive the shoddy pics, ill probably try to get better images in the next few days. This is the project in its infancy.

viewtopic.php?f=24&t=5292

If everything goes super smoothly, maybe in a few months. Hopefully ASAP.

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Thu Aug 25, 2011 11:43 am
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
What happened to Project Orion?

Project Chronos looks awesome though :)


Sat Oct 01, 2011 6:44 am
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
Are you (Ripper) an engineer or something? How do you know how to build all this stuff? I feel like I could send you a mango and a magnifying glass and you'd whip up a telescope somehow. I wish I was better with build/design. I could build you a house, but building electronics is way beyond me.

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Sat Oct 01, 2011 7:39 am
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
lol, i wish i could build a house.

no im not an engineer, i work in telecommunications on VoIP networks, while it is a technical career, ir really doesent give me any extra knowledge for this kind of stuff. ive just always been good with figuring things out and like to "DIY"

Project Orion is still on track, however since we plan to sell these and hopefully as cheap as possible, we need to manufacture our own gears, which will knock the build cost down about 75 -80 bucks, which means we can sell these cheaper.

we are currently building a vacuum chamber for the casing and molding process, it just takes a little time to gather all the parts we need. Once we have that part done we will get back on building the prototype, with any luck it shouldnt be too long. I am really itching to get out there and do some astrophotography again.

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Sat Oct 01, 2011 8:12 am
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
i thought of a somewhat simpler design. pardon the lack of adobe illistrator on my laptop.

following your wobble problem with bending your bolt at a 15 degree angle, wouldn't it be easier to forget about angling the bolt properly and worry about the speed at what the thing opened?

with that in mind i thought up this:

Image

it encompasses the same "barndoor" hinge system but instead of using stationary locations where the arched bolt contacts the wood, why not grant them the ability to swivel back and forth to compensate for lack of an arch in the bolt? i watched a trade-show video on youtube of how the astrotrac works and their lack of an arched bolt seems to be where they have their accuracy, that as well as a consistent speed.

now instead of worrying about wobble/speed (not sure if speed was a problem) all you have to worry about (after making sure the joints are smooth) is speed and thread/gear teeth count.

unless of course you've found a way of arching the bolts.

just my 2 cents.

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Thu Oct 06, 2011 11:36 am
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
ive seen a similar design before, and it works better than having a straight rod pushing straight up, however, it still has problems with tangent error over time and the opening of the door continuously slows, so you have to compensate by ramping the speed of the motor. :(

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Thu Oct 06, 2011 1:34 pm
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
Jack Ripper wrote:
ive seen a similar design before, and it works better than having a straight rod pushing straight up, however, it still has problems with tangent error over time and the opening of the door continuously slows, so you have to compensate by ramping the speed of the motor. :(


i was thinking of how those compasses work.

Image

how does the astrotrac work so well then? does it ramp the motor near the end? does having the bolt parts at the end of the platform change anything?

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Thu Oct 06, 2011 4:14 pm
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
the astrotrac is aware of how far open it is, and knows precicely how fast to ramp its speed to keep the constant 15 degrees per hour rotation on the axis.

its a clever bit of programming, but i think the design kyle and i have developed is going to be much more robust and wont be limited to 2 hours of tracking.

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Thu Oct 06, 2011 5:17 pm
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
Great job on this project - much simpler to build than a astrotrac

Have you seen this hardware ? looks even simpler than barn door - maybe just a matter of getting the right gearing

http://www.flickr.com/photos/saitoy/4000141396


Tue Nov 29, 2011 7:14 pm
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
WOW!!!! That is slick!

What language is that? Not Japanese... is it? It is 89,000 something. Lol

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Tue Nov 29, 2011 8:06 pm
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
Wow was my thought when i saw it also - so simple compared to the astro

I believe it's Japanese

Here's a link to the site using google translate - from what i can tell they're using a worm gear 150 tooth and a stepper

It's still a little hard to read but better than my Japanes which is zero

89000 yen is about $1100 US - a bit pricey for what you get

http://translate.google.ca/translate?hl=en&sl=ja&u=http://www.toast-tech.com/pro/index.html&ei=TQPWTs_lLsTj0QH5g-naAQ&sa=X&oi=translate&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCMQ7gEwAA&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dhttp://www.toast-tech.com/pro/index.html%26hl%3Den%26biw%3D1126%26bih%3D457%26prmd%3Dimvns


Wed Nov 30, 2011 2:29 am
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
thats getting a lot closer to the new design were looking at developing. but yeah, that is a LOT of money. lol.

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Wed Nov 30, 2011 11:55 am
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Post Re: Project Orion (Astrophotography Tool)
markus wrote:
Great job on this project - much simpler to build than a astrotrac

Have you seen this hardware ? looks even simpler than barn door - maybe just a matter of getting the right gearing

http://www.flickr.com/photos/saitoy/4000141396


Neat! Now that I know of the existance of that thing, I saw this posting, which provides good images of it:

http://www.astronomyforum.net/astronomy-digital-cameras-forum/108454-toast-pro-looks-very-cool.html

Even if I could justify the cost, it looks like it is NOT sold outside Japan :(

"Sales to foreign ships will not. We sell commodities only in Japan."


Wed Nov 30, 2011 12:54 pm
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