H-alpha Imaging On The Cheap

This post is incomplete, but I hoped to begin sharing my tools and experience so others could hopefully benifit.

I’ve been stunned by some Hydrogen-Alpha (Ha) astrophotos.  Particularly when they’re combined with visible light photos (HaRGB and some other ways) the depth is stunning!

Unfortunately my astrophotography budget has been spent for the forseeable future.  This is my attempt to capture those photos using the following equipment:

  • Canon 1200D (T5) DSLR
  • 80mm Refractor Telescope and its infrastructure
  • Optolong 7nm Ha 2″ filter

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Writing An ASCOM Local Server Driver

If you build an astronomy device and want to control it with some awesome PC software, then you need to write an ASCOM (AStronomy Common Object Model) driver.  There are great resources available for writing a single ASCOM driver for your DIY astronomy equipment.  Check out the video on the ASCOM website for a guide on writing a single-device driver!  But say, for instance, you have two devices (a Telescope and a Focuser) and would like to control them with one microcontroller.  Or say you want to control your telescope with Astrophotography Toolkit AND PHD2 at the same time.  Then you need to write a Driver Server!

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Guided Telescope Mount & Accessories (Tracker V3) #DIY

Astrophotography is a bit of a money pit.  I recently delved into it with my 80-200 f/2.8L and a home-built tracking mount.  It was so much fun that I decided to buy a telescope!  So my entire budget went into an 80mm APO.

The problem was that a telescope alone is useless for star pics – some quality infrastructure is needed.  This post is about my attempt to affordably build the following components:

  • High-precision Tracking Mount with an ASCOM-compliant driver
  • Guide camera and scope to help the tracking
  • Portable Power supply
  • Telescope Focusing motor with an ASCOM-compliant driver

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TRACKER V2.2

PREAMBLE:

The V2.1 update produced a working mount, but it unfortunately was not very user friendly.  I made a few modifications to improve the setup and aiming time, as well as its ability to disassemble and stow in a modest-sized wood box for storage and transport.

V2.2 (codename: HoLi) is the mount’s final design, as I’m very happy with it and have moved on to building the V3.0.  See the photo of Orion’s Nebula below taken using this mount, I’ve been happy with its performance using lenses as long as 300mm.

2017-03-18 Orion Nebula 001Codename: HoLi

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3D Printed Solar Film Holder

Preamble:

At the last minute, I purchased a sheet of Baader Planetarium solar film for the eclipse on Monday.  With little time to spare, the film was taped to a cardboard box and slid over my telescope.  Prayers were made that the wind wouldn’t blow the film off of the scope, and the next day I decided to build a proper holder for the expensive film – $100 CAD for an 8″ x 11″ sheet!

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