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Author Topic: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit  (Read 41040 times)

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Offline dtrewren

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SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
« on: 13:37:46, 28 March, 2012 »
Hello fellow imagers,

I have been really pleased with the support and feedback received for my focuser project.  Due to the interest and also the increasing cost of the PIC development platform I decided to design a PCB based project kit.  At the moment I have enough boards and bits for fourteen kits of bits.  This is a complete kit including all the electronics, software & enclosures.  The only things not included are the power supply & the bracket to mount the motor enclosure to the scope.

I won't go into lots of detail in this post as I have generated a website and also a PDF document showing how to build the kit and providing tips & suggestions (PDF linked on the website).  There is also information on the cost of the kits on the site.

A fair number of guys have expressed an interest in building the PCB based kit, I'll be in touch very soon to see if there is still interest.  Was hoping to have wrapped everything up this week but due to the clear weather have been out imaging every night ..... soooo tired  :ugly:

So enough waffle here is the website link : http://www.dt-space.co.uk/SharpSky_Kit/

Would really appreciate feedback so I can improve things should they be misleading or just wrong.

More clear skies !

Cheers,


             Dave
HEQ5 Pro
Skywatcher 80ED & 120ED
Skywatcher 80 short guidescopes
Altair Astro 8" f/4 Newt
Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED widefield
Lunt60 PT + DS + DMK41
QHY9M + FW (LRGB & NB)
QHY10 OSC
Focuser & Dew control : SharpSky Pro
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Offline wasyoungonce

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Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
« Reply #1 on: 00:03:26, 29 March, 2012 »
Hi Dave

Well done, fantastic! :urock:

Mark me for qty 2 controller kits...however...if you have a large inrush of orders then I'd be happy to make my own.......if I can get a replacement PIC I killed! :'(

The layout of your updated page is excellent and concise.  I suspect there may be people who cannot build the PCBs you will be asked..."can you build one for me"?  I guess you have thought of this.

The pin config drawings of the plugs (on pdf)...aka the mini dins and PCB led connectors...are a little confusing, especially the LEDs, ie: which pin is "1".  Do you have the LED pin numbers silk screened on the PCB?  Maybe use pictures of the mini DIN connectors or LED pins from an actual PCB to show orientation.

Oh and I think your price is too conservative considering the time and effort you have put into this.  I'll probably be hated by others for this opinion but as you ....I know the real costs of development to finalisation of these things.

I have to ask...do all English "Walk away, have a cup of tea" when of the precipice of glory?

Well done, now have a rest!

Brendan


Offline dtrewren

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Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
« Reply #2 on: 00:34:59, 29 March, 2012 »
Hi Brendan,

No rest for the wicked !

Thanks for the feedback, much appreciated I will have a look at the points you raised and clarify.

I have thought that maybe people might not want to build up the boards, but the fun is giving it a go.  I think with a little patience and maybe a spot of practice anyone can build a simple board - I was thinking of doing a little soldering video.  I'm not a soldering expert but can solder .... we have a lady at work who's job it is to fix PCB's, proper PCB's - like ten layer boards and tracks soooo small .... that girl can solder !!!!

A few people of said I should charge more for the project.  Maybe, but I was kind of hoping that if it was low price people might just have a crack at it just for fun and then find out that it wasn't all that hard after all.  Once you get into the land of microcontrollers any project becomes more straight forward, software costs nothing but time.

Walking away and having a cup of tea is the cornerstone of engineering ..... :)

The replacement PIC, is that the 40pin part ?  If you have a problem getting one down under I can post one ?

In the shed imaging at the moment, getting a bit tired after four nights in a row ......

Clear skies,

               Dave
HEQ5 Pro
Skywatcher 80ED & 120ED
Skywatcher 80 short guidescopes
Altair Astro 8" f/4 Newt
Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED widefield
Lunt60 PT + DS + DMK41
QHY9M + FW (LRGB & NB)
QHY10 OSC
Focuser & Dew control : SharpSky Pro
Starshoot autoguider

Offline wasyoungonce

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Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
« Reply #3 on: 00:53:42, 29 March, 2012 »
Yes the programmed up PIC18F4450. 

Just noted you listed a different PIC in the kit...although it's listed by Microchip as a revision.

I can get PICs here.......I have still to buy a programmer...maybe I need to get off my slovenly rear end and do so....can you suggest one?  PiCkit3 from fleabay? 

There are varying degrees of skills in the broad community and this can mean some very non-technical people.  That said, most Amateur Astronomy guys (and girls) will have some degree of tenacity.

I'll be home later today and will email you on payments etc, if that's ok, ....after a cuppa of course! ;)

Brendan

Offline dtrewren

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Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
« Reply #4 on: 01:19:18, 29 March, 2012 »
Hi Brendan,

Yes the micro in the kit is the 18F2550.  This is simply the 28pin variant of the 18F4550.  The 28 pin part, not surprisingly, has less IO ports and I think the SPI bus is missing but other than that it's the same part.  I switched parts to make the PCB more compact.

I have the PICKIT3 programmer which I found excellent.  Mine is a clone from China and was about £18 I seem to remember - very nice little programmer !

As you say I recon most Astrophotographers by the nature of the hobby are capable of building virtually anything.  My little focuser kit should prove a walk in the park  :D

Just the blue flats to go ...... must sleeeeep

             Dave
HEQ5 Pro
Skywatcher 80ED & 120ED
Skywatcher 80 short guidescopes
Altair Astro 8" f/4 Newt
Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED widefield
Lunt60 PT + DS + DMK41
QHY9M + FW (LRGB & NB)
QHY10 OSC
Focuser & Dew control : SharpSky Pro
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Offline JohnP

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Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
« Reply #5 on: 10:27:29, 10 April, 2012 »
Hi All,

Thought I'd let you all know that I purchased one of Dave's kits & had the opportunity to put it together over the Easter weekend. The kit arrived & was very nicely packaged - all the individual components are bagged with labels on so even if you don't know resistor colour codes etc. you can't really go wrong. Connectors/ cables are nice quality & I was very impressed with PCB - Nicely designed & laid out & again lots of labels so you can't really go wrong when you are building it. The instructions provided (which are downloaded from Dave's website) make it easy to put together. Only points of caution are that some of the solder points are close together so you have to be careful in places with your soldering iron not to bridge pads but again instructions make you aware of this. It took me say 1 hr to put board together going at a very slow pace & checking/ rechecking joints etc as I went. Mounting the motor in the box housing & encoder in manual control box together with associated cables took another hour or so. Board powered up no problem & 'heart beat' LED immediately started flashing. Quick check with manual control box & hooking up to USB & using USB client software (ASCOM compatible) showed everything worked as expected :-) All I need to do now is mount PCB in box (I guess 1/2 hr max) & then mount motor to scope.

All in all very impressed with kit for the price. Enjoyable to make. I'd say has taken me 3 hours in total. Don't think you could go far wrong if you need an electronic focus unit for the price. Also temperature probe is nice addition.

Great job Dave & thks for your email support.

John.

Offline dtrewren

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Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
« Reply #6 on: 11:36:10, 10 April, 2012 »
Hi John,

Excellent, a job well done !

Thank you for the feedback on the kit and build experience.  I'll be very interested to hear how you get on with remote focus - assuming you have not remote focused before.  Personally, I found remote focusing made imaging a whole lot more enjoyable.  Prior to fitting SharpSky to my scopes I always had a nagging doubt in my mind as to whether I had really nailed the focus knowing if focus was out my data was not going to be much use.  Once fitted I could spend time getting initial focus spot on and then easily re-check with each filter change - and do it in the warm :)

Again, good work - look forward to hearing of 'first light' !

Clear skies,

             Dave
HEQ5 Pro
Skywatcher 80ED & 120ED
Skywatcher 80 short guidescopes
Altair Astro 8" f/4 Newt
Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED widefield
Lunt60 PT + DS + DMK41
QHY9M + FW (LRGB & NB)
QHY10 OSC
Focuser & Dew control : SharpSky Pro
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Offline Bazzaar

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Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
« Reply #7 on: 13:27:07, 10 April, 2012 »
I'd also like to report a successful build of this excellent kit.
What a sense of satisfaction to see that motor whirr round!  :D
Now to fit it to the scope, hmm, gaffer tape and Meccano?

Barry
Tal 200k, SW 200P, iOptron iEQ45 pro, HEQ5 pro, QHY5III174m, QHY5L II mono, Samsung SBC 2001, SharpSky focuser, Zwo ADC,  Celestron 15x70 bins,

Offline dtrewren

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Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
« Reply #8 on: 22:32:49, 14 April, 2012 »
Hi Barry et al,

Back from holiday at Peppa Pig land ...... I need to get back to work for a rest !

Excellent, very pleased you got everything up and running. Hope you get everything connected to the scope ok.  I found/used a short strip of 2mm aluminium sheet worked really well sourced from that well known auction site.  Drilled to fit the existing focuser mounting points under the scope.  I found it easier to make the bracket, mount the motor housing and then align the motor to mate with the focuser spindle.  Any small misalignment with the focuser drive spindle is soaked up by the beam coupler.

Cheers & clear skies,

                Dave
HEQ5 Pro
Skywatcher 80ED & 120ED
Skywatcher 80 short guidescopes
Altair Astro 8" f/4 Newt
Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED widefield
Lunt60 PT + DS + DMK41
QHY9M + FW (LRGB & NB)
QHY10 OSC
Focuser & Dew control : SharpSky Pro
Starshoot autoguider

Offline lobo59

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Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
« Reply #9 on: 16:47:29, 16 April, 2012 »
Hello All,

I too built this kit and want to say thanks again to Dave for designing it and putting it all together. When I opened up the box I was very impressed with the packaging and realized that Dave put a ton of work into it. I also dabble in Amatuer Radio and have put together many similar types of kits and this one was the best I've seen as far as parts supplied (quality) and organization.

The kit went together easily, using Dave's instructions and worked at first power up. It took me about two hours to put it all together, including the enclosure. Next step is to mount it to the scope. I plan on using the same bracket that I made from my first generation SharpSky project.

Thanks again Dave for the kit and especially your support of the project!

Larry


Offline dtrewren

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Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
« Reply #10 on: 06:36:34, 18 April, 2012 »
Hi Larry,

That's great news :)

Thanks for the positive feedback, very much appreciated !

Cheers & clear skies,

               Dave
HEQ5 Pro
Skywatcher 80ED & 120ED
Skywatcher 80 short guidescopes
Altair Astro 8" f/4 Newt
Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED widefield
Lunt60 PT + DS + DMK41
QHY9M + FW (LRGB & NB)
QHY10 OSC
Focuser & Dew control : SharpSky Pro
Starshoot autoguider

Offline dtrewren

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Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
« Reply #11 on: 06:38:25, 18 April, 2012 »
Morning guys,

Quick note : I have added some detail in the SharpSky documentation just to clarify the driver installation procedure and environment requirements.

Clear skies,

              Dave
HEQ5 Pro
Skywatcher 80ED & 120ED
Skywatcher 80 short guidescopes
Altair Astro 8" f/4 Newt
Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED widefield
Lunt60 PT + DS + DMK41
QHY9M + FW (LRGB & NB)
QHY10 OSC
Focuser & Dew control : SharpSky Pro
Starshoot autoguider

Offline wasyoungonce

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Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
« Reply #12 on: 02:42:55, 27 April, 2012 »
Hi Dave.

I can report that I have built qty 2 kits and they work just like brought one's.   Nice work on getting all this to fit into the case size!  Especially considering that you routed the PCB tracks for the temp sensor to go thru the DB9 and the 3pin DIN and also same with the DB9 motor tracks to their own header!  This is an excellent idea, well done indeed. :thumbup:

I have your Sharpky system running my ML stepper as smooth as can be.  :big_clap:

Still have some cleaning up to do.  I need to spray conformal coat the PCB base's and finalise the cases but over all a very nice package indeed!  Finally I can get my focuser running and who knows...maybe take an image of 2. ;)

Brendan


Offline dtrewren

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Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
« Reply #13 on: 14:36:25, 30 April, 2012 »
Fantastic good job Brendan !

I have also mounted my temperature sensor on the motor housing enclosure ... seemed like a good place to put the sensor near the actual focuser mechanism but still in free air.

Also very nice that all runs well with your ML stepper, thanks for the information on the ML wiring.

I am also waiting for some clear weather, it's been a bit rough up this end of the planet.

Be very interested to hear future developments and see some images :)

Cheers & clear skies,

             Dave
HEQ5 Pro
Skywatcher 80ED & 120ED
Skywatcher 80 short guidescopes
Altair Astro 8" f/4 Newt
Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED widefield
Lunt60 PT + DS + DMK41
QHY9M + FW (LRGB & NB)
QHY10 OSC
Focuser & Dew control : SharpSky Pro
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Offline dtrewren

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Re: SharpSky ASCOM focuser - PCB based kit
« Reply #14 on: 14:41:41, 30 April, 2012 »
On another note.

For everyone who has built a SharpSky kit I am just about to send out the long lost motor enclosure covers !  Apologies for the excessive delay, had a bit of a nightmare sourcing a simple cover.  I will get them out in the post this week.

Also a few guys are waiting for temperature sensors ..... they finally arrived from China.  The Chinese supplier was so upset at the delay in delivery he's sent me a couple of complimentary sensors in compensation - now that's good customer relations  !

Cheers & clear skies,

           Dave
HEQ5 Pro
Skywatcher 80ED & 120ED
Skywatcher 80 short guidescopes
Altair Astro 8" f/4 Newt
Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED widefield
Lunt60 PT + DS + DMK41
QHY9M + FW (LRGB & NB)
QHY10 OSC
Focuser & Dew control : SharpSky Pro
Starshoot autoguider

 

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