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Old Nov 21, 2004, 1:49 PM   #1
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I found this offer in Belgium for a Meade etx70 with full options for Euro 169 (USD 220), looking around on the web i found that Meade has a US offer for less than USD 100 but without the options.

Options:
- 3 x barlow lens
- 3 eyepieces, MA-25mm, MA12-mm and MA4mm
- Erecting Prism
- tripod
- backpack

Standard specifications:
ETX-70AT Astro Telescope - Includes achromatic refractor optical tube assembly (D = 70mm, F = 350mm, f/5) with multi-layer optical coatings; internal flip-mirror system for either straight-through or 90° observing position; steel-reinforced ABS fork mount with electric slow-motion controls, setting circles, and locks on both axes; electronic control panel; 9-speed (2x sidereal through 4.5°/sec.) dual-axis motor drive system with #494 Autostar computer controller; sidereal-rate tracking; internal battery compartment accepting six (user-supplied) AA-size batteries; MA9mm (39X) and MA25mm (14X) multi-coated eyepieces; #882 Field Tripod; operating instructions.

Got a picture of it at http://users.telenet.be/kim1-6502/meade.jpg
More at http://www.meade.com

This telescope might be good enough for beginer astronome and for kids but even if it is'nt it could be used for panoramas when the telescope is replaced by a camera.
One can program up to 200 presets, that should be plenty for panoramas

My question:
What do you think of it and has anyone tryed this?

Erik
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Old Nov 21, 2004, 2:56 PM   #2
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Hi Erik, you may have better luck if you try posting this question in the Digiscoping Forum on this board.

Connecting cameraswith telescopes and spotting scopes is what that forum is all about.

Lots of peopletrying different combinations ofequipmentthere :-)
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Old Nov 21, 2004, 7:07 PM   #3
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You will almost certainly have to build some kind of rig to hold your camera on the telescope's tripod. Shouldn't be hard to do. Though it might be difficult to have it rotate anywhere near the nodal point.

I suspect you are thinking of using the motor drive to move the camera in a circle. I doubt you will be happy with that since those motors are meant to move very slowly to keep the scope alinged with the stars. A very slow motion - something like 15 degrees/hour. Look for something like "slew rate" in the specifications. Might well be faster to move from target to target.

Also, it might be difficult to make it move about a vertical axis easily. The programing to move the scope is two dimensional polar coordinates about an axis parallel to the earth's rotation axis. If you can point the "scope" axis straight up (as though you were at the North or South Pole) it might work though that is likely to produce the maximum parallax error.
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Old Nov 22, 2004, 2:13 AM   #4
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Making a rig to attach the camera should not be a majer problem altough i don't know how the telescope is fixed and how easely it can be removed (and reinstalled).
I use the panasonic DMC FZ10 and a x 0.42 wideangle adapter so the front of the lens will have to be at the center and the camera will be moved backward, i don't know how much room there is between the 2 upright pieces, the lens is 70 mm so i supose there is only about 100 mm and my camera needs 160 mm.

As for the slew rate the specs say that there are 9 speeds and the fastest is 4.5 degrees/second, that is 80 seconds for a full revolution. I need 2 rows of 5 pictures to make a sperical so that would make 2 x 80 seconds plus the time to make the 10 shots, let's say it would take 3 minutes in total.
The whole thing should be precise enough to make it possible to make such gigapixel panoramas without the wideangle lens and the camera zoomed in. Have a look at http://www.tpd.tno.nl/smartsite966.html .
Then there is the question of software and pc to handle all of this.

As for the programming, i don't know anything about polar coordinates but i understood that when one points the telescope manualy to a certain point, this point can be remembered. For the shots with the wide angle converter i only need to move 40 degrees up and 40 degrees down.
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Old Dec 9, 2004, 2:04 PM   #5
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Erik, new to this forum, but I was thinking about exactly the same thing today. After all, all you should have to do is preset your points, replace the camera and go from there.

Of course, some engineering and probably machine shop work lay in between. But, for the price, and also that a comparable telescope servo control with motors can be as much as $600/US, the Meade scope idea becomes intriguing indeed.

I have found some links to other sites which may serve as help and/or inspiration:

Mel Bartel's Computer Operated Telescopes Page
(good basic overview of the type of system you would need)
http://www.bbastrodesigns.com/cot/cot.html

RC Cam Servo Control
(another good overview, more geared towards building your own)
http://www.rc-cam.com/pancam.htm

My plan is to use a system of some design (TBD) that has a known stepping rate, and use in conjunction with Nikon Capture and my Nikon D100 digital. That way, when I visit our vacation spot next season in the Caribbean, I will then set up the system, and basically press a couple of buttons and gather shots for later stitching. And, while it all works auto-magically, drink beer...after all I plan to be on vacation!
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