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THE LAST IMAGE ON THIS PAGE SHOWS THE MOST CURRENT EQUIPMENT ARRANGEMENT AS OF THE DATE THIS PAGE WAS PRODUCED.  AS YOU'LL SEE ON THE NEXT PAGE, THE SYSTEM WILL BE SIGNIFICANLY MODIFIED.   THE IMAGE TRAIN NOTED ON THIS PAGE INCLUDES THE RCOS PIR, FIELD FLATTENER AND SBIG AO-7 WITH AN RCOS MODIFIED AP-X.67 FLR (EQUIPMENT ARRANGEMENT AS OF 4/02/05).  THIS WILL BE LATER MODIFIED WITH THE REMOVAL OF THE A0-7, ADDITION OF THE VAN SLYKES MEGAPORT AND UPGRADING OF THE CCD CAMERAS.
















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View From Sothwest Rooftop

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The observatory is now fully functional and is. in reality, more than I'd hoped.  The RC-16/Paramount ME  remains the work-horse for deep sky astro-imaging.  With the APx.67 FLR the sampling is 0.57 arc-sec/pixel with a FOV of 14 x 20.8 arc-min (with the ST10-XME).  Although slightly oversampling, this arrangement should be ideal for deep sky imaging, especially for faint galaxies (even at 2x2 binning the sampling is 1.14 arc-sec/pixel, and therefore still close to ideal for our New England Skys.  I expect to be binning 1x1 for light and H-alpha images and 2x2 for RGB. 
 
 
 
 
 
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Icron Ranger and Edgeport

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This gives you a better view of the Icron Ranger and Edgeport.  As will be seen in the last image of this page the final arrangemnet uses a new (no writing on it) Icron Ranger and an Edgeport 4 (seen here is the Edgeport 8, which as more ports than is needed).  Also visable is the RoboFocus used to focus the Tak 106 FSQ (FocusMax is the amazing freeware program which is used to focus both telescopes). 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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RCOS 16" Truss Ritchey-Chretien Reflector

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Of note, there is a laptop visable to the left.  Although the observatory is completely robotic, there are times when I want to control telescope functions while working in the observatory.  For example, while checking systems after the electrical fire ("use a voltmeter !!").  Using desktop remote this computer (which is hard wired via my LinkSys router to my office computer) to "control" the office computer.  Although this initially seemed intimidating, it has a major advantage.  I can control everything in the observatory WITHOUT plugging or unplugging a single wire (John Smith had to run this one by me several times before I realized how important this would be).  Remember, everything is routed (hard wired) to my Office Computer, not the Observatory Computer.  In a similar way the entire observatory can be run over the internet. 
 
 
 
 
 
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Loaded up

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A great deal of equipment is packed onto this telescope. On the left the Icron ranger and Edgeport are nicely seen.  The icron ranger essentially takes the USB signal from my remote Office Computer and converts it into a proprietary signal, which travels about 150 feet to the observatory.  The Icron Ranger on the observatory end (the smaller white box to the left, also known as the REX Icron Ranger) then converts the signal back into a usable USB signal.  The USB ports run to the cameras, the Paramount ME and one runs to the "Edgeport 4".  This device converts the USB signal into a standard serial port signal (required for some of the devices, such as the RoboFocus and SBIG STV).  Whats amazing is that with this set-up, NOT ONE cable is hanging from the telescope (they ALL run throught the Paramount ME).
 
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Power Supplies

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This view shows the opposite side of the RC-16, where the power supply for the ST-10XME can be seen.  Also visable is a power strip for attaching the various powered items.  The  bottom 5 are Red (positive) and top 5 are Black (negative).  There's a metal bridge that connects all the + together and a separate one to connect all the - wires (standard Radio Shack).  After having an electrical fire I'm pretty sensitive about knowing what's what and what its' polarity should be (ie, use a digital voltmeter).  Starting from the bottom the lines are as follow: 1)  + Power input, 2)  + to the TCC, 3)  + to the STL-11000, 4)  + to the St-10XME and 5) + to the RoboFocus).  The 5 wires above are the mirror image Black (-) wires.  The Icron Ranger receives its' power throught the mount's "Auxillary 2" power line (uses 15 volts) and the Paramount ME's power goes directly to the mount from the AC power supply at the base of the telescope (via its AC to DC converter).  The power supply to the RC-16 components is a simple Radio Shack 15 Amp converter. 
 
 
 
 
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Why I Built This Observatory

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After returning from a week at Myrtle Beach I was greeted with 3-4 foot of snow and a layer of ice (blizzard followed by an ice storm in March of 2005).  This image was taken after half of it had already melted, and a path was cut with a tractor-snowblower. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Both Cameras Functional

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This view demonstrates that both the SBIG ST-10XME and the SBIG STL-11000 can be powered up and "ready to go" (without my having to go down to the observatory).  With my set-up the ST10 runs using the "USB2" line (found under the "setting" tab in CCDSoft) and the STL-11000 uses the "USB" line (once selected either camera can be used).  This allows me to use the Tak 106 FSQ for wide FOV imaging or the ST-10WME/RC-16 for higher resolution images. Also note that the power supply for the ST-10XME (which does not have an internal voltage regulator) has been wisely added to the telescope (you guessed it, coutesy of John Smith). 
 
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Power Supply, Different View

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Just another view of the last image.  And yes, I also see the blurring on the left side of the image.  There was a smudge on the lense of the camera.  This wasn't noticed untill after these images were loaded up, and I'm too lazy to re-shoot these images and re-load them (it's a lot of work !!!).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Final Version....(For Today)...

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This image, as previously promiced, shows the equipment set-up as currently in place (April of 2005).  The differences from the previous images are not obvious but are important.  They include the following: 1) The first is the addition of the RCOS field flattener.  The Ritchey-Chretien design is famous for being "coma free" (ie, nearly round stars even at the edges of the visual field).  However the design does cause some degree of astigmatism, which is corrected my the field flattener.  There is a great write-up on this by Russell Croman, which can be found on the RCOS website (currently at  http://www.rcopticalsystems.com/fieldflattener.html ). 2)  The addition of an RCOS PIR (Precision Instrument Rotator).  Without this centering guide stars is very difficult.  3) The addition of an SBIG AO-7 (which I believe will be very useful in our 'less than steady' New England skies (which often has the jet stream directly overhead). 4)  The addition of an RCOS modified APx.67 FLR (which moves my image scale from 0.38 arc-sec/pixel to a more realistic .77 arc-sec/pixel). To optimize the distance of the FLR to the camera, RC Optical will modify AO-7 diagonal, as I had done (the rational for this is detailed on the RCOS website at ( http://www.rcopticalsystems.com/ap67xmod.html ). 
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