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Author Topic: Feathertouch FocusBoss & Handy Stepper Motor  (Read 5069 times)

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Offline chris.bailey

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Feathertouch FocusBoss & Handy Stepper Motor
« on: 13:28:02, 09 March, 2016 »
Feathertouch Focusers are eye wateringly expensive so it seems sensible to make use of them on multiple setups if possible. Mine gets used on the RC and the FLT110. The latter gets used for deep sky and solar. All very well but Feathertouch don't make it easy to fit motor focus to them and especially not when they are used in multiple configurations. Add in that motor focus is a bit of a pain for solar work and the complications begin to mount.

Even more eye wateringly expensive, come the Feathertouch branded but Optec manufactured range of Handy Stepper Motors and FocusBoss/FocusLynx controllers. The stepper motors clamp directly onto the dual focus housing and the motor itself can be engaged or released simply by rotating it. This disengages a gear from the splines inside a replacement fine focus knob. Manual focus is therefore easily accessed. The focus controller is capable of running two motor units and comes with Serial, USB (via an FTDI USB-Serial Cable) or Network control. Wi-Fi is an optional extra (and not a cheap one either). Every component is well engineered with no plastic in sight and beautifully finished (at the price it darned well should be).

Software comes with plug ins for SkyX and Ascom drivers for interfacing with everything else. The focuser is recognised by FocusMax natively so for my setup of SkyX/FocusMax, setup was straightforward. The controller has its own web server so via IP, the focuser(s) could be controlled via iPod/iPad apps should you have a need for such a thing.

In operation the Handy Stepper and Feathertouch Focuser is smooth and eerily quiet. At 1000 steps per mm of travel it also promises to be very accurate. Testing by repeated in and out movements returning to the same spot shows no slippage with minimal backlash. Despite the small step size the full travel on my 3" long draw travel focuser of 65mm takes about 20 seconds. I was planning on putting the FLT in the observatory last weekend but the weather has put paid to those plans so testing under the stars may well have to wait a few weeks.

Chris
LX200|ZS70|FSQ85|FLT110|Altair DF250RC|EQ6 Pro(Rowan Belt Mod)|ParamountMX
ATIK383L+/EFW2/OAG|Lodestar|Baader 36mm LRGBHaSIIOIII
Starlight Express SXVRH16/ONAG/FW|Lodestar X2|Baader 2" Filters
Starlight Express SXVRH814/ONAG/FW|LodestarX2|Baader 2" Filters
Lunt LS60PTBF1200|DMK41|Quark Chromo
Samyang 135mm f1.8

Offline tomhow

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Re: Feathertouch FocusBoss & Handy Stepper Motor
« Reply #1 on: 19:07:45, 09 March, 2016 »
Couldn't you get coloured cable ties to match the network patch lead???
Tak Sky 90, Atik 490, Homemade Mount, OAG, Lodestar

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Offline chris.bailey

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Re: Feathertouch FocusBoss & Handy Stepper Motor
« Reply #2 on: 19:49:10, 09 March, 2016 »
Couldn't you get coloured cable ties to match the network patch lead???

Be sure it will have a red patch cable and black ties by the time it makes it into the obsy too match everything else. My OCD would not allow otherwise.

Chris
LX200|ZS70|FSQ85|FLT110|Altair DF250RC|EQ6 Pro(Rowan Belt Mod)|ParamountMX
ATIK383L+/EFW2/OAG|Lodestar|Baader 36mm LRGBHaSIIOIII
Starlight Express SXVRH16/ONAG/FW|Lodestar X2|Baader 2" Filters
Starlight Express SXVRH814/ONAG/FW|LodestarX2|Baader 2" Filters
Lunt LS60PTBF1200|DMK41|Quark Chromo
Samyang 135mm f1.8

Offline Roger B

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Re: Feathertouch FocusBoss & Handy Stepper Motor
« Reply #3 on: 19:57:03, 09 March, 2016 »
Looks Good Chris,

We spoke about this last year, but the price put me off, 

Rog
Scopes - TS65q, W/O 110 Triplet
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Offline ChrisLX200

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Re: Feathertouch FocusBoss & Handy Stepper Motor
« Reply #4 on: 22:31:21, 09 March, 2016 »
I just finished motorising my 3" FeatherTouch (which is a replacement for a POS Baader SteelTrack Crayford focuser on my ODK12). You're right about it being difficult to attach a motor to a StarLight FeatherTouch - there are no flat surfaces anywhere to use as a datum surface! On PaulB's 2" FT focuser I made a connector which connected directly to the housing of the focusing spindle, on mine I used a recently aquired 3D printer to make a simple bracket that attaches to the focuser using the two screws normally used for the finderscope.

The electronics I put together myself from an Arduino UNO + L293D driver shield, the software is based on Rob Brown's Electronic Focuser project ( https://sourceforge.net/projects/arduinoascomfocuserpro2diy/?source=navbar ). The controller will run 2 motors, and Rob's ASCOM driver will run two focusers independantly. I'm using a NEMA14 19:1 geared stepper which has more than enough torque to lift my big Moravian G4-16000 kit (which is more than can be said for the SteelTrack which could not even lift the much lighter Atik490EX kit reliably). I'm just boxing the controler up nicely in a printed case right now and hope to be back in the imaging game soon (the failure of the SteelTrack left me a little jaded...)

This is the kit:



and lifting the Atik490 plus 2 x 1kg spools of printer filament is no problem at all...



ChrisH

edit: I meant to mention - the electronics cost just £10, the motor is the expensive bit @ £30...

edit 2: finished printing a prototype box, I just need delivery of some stereo jack sockets to connect the temperature probe (instead of hard-wiring as it is now...)

Chris Heapy - current: 10-Micron GM2000HPS-II U/P, G11/Gemini, TV NP127is, Altair 8" RC, TV Genesis SDF, TV Pronto, SW Equinox 80ED, 10" LX200, 12" f/5.4 Newt, Vixen 90mm.
Atik 490EX, Atik EFW, Baader LRGB filters, Astrodon 3nM NB filters, Lodestar, QHY5L-II all-sky, Canon 70D and 350D
Whirley Obs., MPC Code Z89

Offline chris.bailey

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Re: Feathertouch FocusBoss & Handy Stepper Motor
« Reply #5 on: 07:54:41, 10 March, 2016 »
Nicely done Chris. Those 19:1 Nema steppers sure do have some grunt and plenty of micro step options. they are quite heavy though to be hanging a long way off to one side.

(You can make the Rob Brown kits a lot smaller with a Nano and 8825 stepper driver sub board)

Chris
LX200|ZS70|FSQ85|FLT110|Altair DF250RC|EQ6 Pro(Rowan Belt Mod)|ParamountMX
ATIK383L+/EFW2/OAG|Lodestar|Baader 36mm LRGBHaSIIOIII
Starlight Express SXVRH16/ONAG/FW|Lodestar X2|Baader 2" Filters
Starlight Express SXVRH814/ONAG/FW|LodestarX2|Baader 2" Filters
Lunt LS60PTBF1200|DMK41|Quark Chromo
Samyang 135mm f1.8

Offline ChrisLX200

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Re: Feathertouch FocusBoss & Handy Stepper Motor
« Reply #6 on: 08:56:49, 10 March, 2016 »
Nicely done Chris. Those 19:1 Nema steppers sure do have some grunt and plenty of micro step options. they are quite heavy though to be hanging a long way off to one side.

(You can make the Rob Brown kits a lot smaller with a Nano and 8825 stepper driver sub board)

Chris


Yes they're heavier than your standard motor but in this situation not a problem - and I chose this motor in preference to the recommended NEMA 17 motor simply because they are that much smaller and lighter:



I do have some 8825 pololu boards coming my way (on a very slow boat from China it seems...), and I already have a bunch of NANOs to play with. The weight saving is not great though, and with the ODK12's size/weight it won't make any significant difference. The 19:1 NEMA 14 motor I'm using (sorry, I said 11 before but meant 14!) offers 3,800 steps/rev in full-step mode which is enough resoltion to work with, it can half-step @ double the resolution but with a consequential loss of torque and no accuracy benefit so I'll stay with full-stepping.

I also made up Rob's full option version with manual buttons and LCD screen but only for interest's sake, with remote operation the fancy control box isn't needed. It does all work with SGPro which is the important thing for me!

ChrisH
Chris Heapy - current: 10-Micron GM2000HPS-II U/P, G11/Gemini, TV NP127is, Altair 8" RC, TV Genesis SDF, TV Pronto, SW Equinox 80ED, 10" LX200, 12" f/5.4 Newt, Vixen 90mm.
Atik 490EX, Atik EFW, Baader LRGB filters, Astrodon 3nM NB filters, Lodestar, QHY5L-II all-sky, Canon 70D and 350D
Whirley Obs., MPC Code Z89

Offline chris.bailey

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Re: Feathertouch FocusBoss & Handy Stepper Motor
« Reply #7 on: 09:21:53, 10 March, 2016 »
I also made up Rob's full option version with manual buttons and LCD screen but only for interest's sake

Ditto. I even found a Bisque red project box for it!
LX200|ZS70|FSQ85|FLT110|Altair DF250RC|EQ6 Pro(Rowan Belt Mod)|ParamountMX
ATIK383L+/EFW2/OAG|Lodestar|Baader 36mm LRGBHaSIIOIII
Starlight Express SXVRH16/ONAG/FW|Lodestar X2|Baader 2" Filters
Starlight Express SXVRH814/ONAG/FW|LodestarX2|Baader 2" Filters
Lunt LS60PTBF1200|DMK41|Quark Chromo
Samyang 135mm f1.8

Offline ChrisLX200

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Re: Feathertouch FocusBoss & Handy Stepper Motor
« Reply #8 on: 09:37:16, 10 March, 2016 »
LOL yeah, that looks a really nice build! ;-) Is that for your RC?

ChrisH
Chris Heapy - current: 10-Micron GM2000HPS-II U/P, G11/Gemini, TV NP127is, Altair 8" RC, TV Genesis SDF, TV Pronto, SW Equinox 80ED, 10" LX200, 12" f/5.4 Newt, Vixen 90mm.
Atik 490EX, Atik EFW, Baader LRGB filters, Astrodon 3nM NB filters, Lodestar, QHY5L-II all-sky, Canon 70D and 350D
Whirley Obs., MPC Code Z89

Offline chris.bailey

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Re: Feathertouch FocusBoss & Handy Stepper Motor
« Reply #9 on: 11:10:01, 10 March, 2016 »
Chris

It was on the RC and worked really well. The Feathertouch has replaced it. It will go on the FSQ when that eventually comes out of the obsy. I have a BIG sky model for it that has seen me through the winter and I dont want to move it until the last glimmers of hope fade away for finishing a few WIP projects this year.

Chris
LX200|ZS70|FSQ85|FLT110|Altair DF250RC|EQ6 Pro(Rowan Belt Mod)|ParamountMX
ATIK383L+/EFW2/OAG|Lodestar|Baader 36mm LRGBHaSIIOIII
Starlight Express SXVRH16/ONAG/FW|Lodestar X2|Baader 2" Filters
Starlight Express SXVRH814/ONAG/FW|LodestarX2|Baader 2" Filters
Lunt LS60PTBF1200|DMK41|Quark Chromo
Samyang 135mm f1.8

Offline peterr

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Re: Feathertouch FocusBoss & Handy Stepper Motor
« Reply #10 on: 12:57:59, 10 March, 2016 »
ChrisH - I couldn't get on with the L293D driver so went with the 8825 which I found much better but also have a bunch of spares.  If you don't want to wait for the slow boat from China send me a PM with your address and i will send you one in the post, i've got 3 unopened one's sitting on my desk.

Peter
Sky-Watcher Explorer 190nm, AZ-EQ6, Lodestar X2, Atik 460EX, SX FW, SX OAG, Baader 1.25" LRGB + HaSIIOIII, Canon EOS 500D Unmodified, Orion ST80

Offline ChrisLX200

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Re: Feathertouch FocusBoss & Handy Stepper Motor
« Reply #11 on: 17:53:57, 10 March, 2016 »
ChrisH - I couldn't get on with the L293D driver so went with the 8825 which I found much better but also have a bunch of spares.  If you don't want to wait for the slow boat from China send me a PM with your address and i will send you one in the post, i've got 3 unopened one's sitting on my desk.

Peter

The 293D seems to be working within expectations here, a couple of weird things happening but basically can't fault the hardware. The 8825 is definitely a newer and better driver so will give that a go when I get the parts. I also have a few 298 driver boards I haven't even tried yet. Experimenting is fun but I really need this focuser working ASAP and it certainly does that with the 293D, anything else I'm prepared to wait for ;-) Thanks for the offer Peter but my stuff should hopefully arrive in the next couple of days - I've been waiting 3weeks already!

ChrisH
Chris Heapy - current: 10-Micron GM2000HPS-II U/P, G11/Gemini, TV NP127is, Altair 8" RC, TV Genesis SDF, TV Pronto, SW Equinox 80ED, 10" LX200, 12" f/5.4 Newt, Vixen 90mm.
Atik 490EX, Atik EFW, Baader LRGB filters, Astrodon 3nM NB filters, Lodestar, QHY5L-II all-sky, Canon 70D and 350D
Whirley Obs., MPC Code Z89

Offline peterr

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Re: Feathertouch FocusBoss & Handy Stepper Motor
« Reply #12 on: 18:21:36, 10 March, 2016 »
I went with the Nema 17 and it's a high torque version (didn't known much about steppers when I brought it), however can't remember the exact reason the L293D didn't work right but it was something to do with the voltage requirements and I had to feed to the 12V direct to the 8825 and control the voltage with the pentomiter.  The L293D needed 4 wires including supply from the Arduino.

Sky-Watcher Explorer 190nm, AZ-EQ6, Lodestar X2, Atik 460EX, SX FW, SX OAG, Baader 1.25" LRGB + HaSIIOIII, Canon EOS 500D Unmodified, Orion ST80

Offline ChrisLX200

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Re: Feathertouch FocusBoss & Handy Stepper Motor
« Reply #13 on: 18:59:42, 10 March, 2016 »
Those NEMA 17s are something like overkill for this job, I admit I bought a few myself - and they're no problem if mounted on a separate bracket and using a toothed belt, but hanging one off the end of the focus spindle is probably not a good idea (I tried it and didn't like the look of it!). The 17 motors offer more power than you really need for this job and they do run off 12V, I think because of that I discovered both motor and driver chip got very hot indeed if the coils were left powered up, however the NEMA 14 I'm using runs off 5V and stays cool even with the coils left energised. I'm still waiting for some braided cable sleeving to tidy the up the 4 wire feed to the motor.

ChrisH
Chris Heapy - current: 10-Micron GM2000HPS-II U/P, G11/Gemini, TV NP127is, Altair 8" RC, TV Genesis SDF, TV Pronto, SW Equinox 80ED, 10" LX200, 12" f/5.4 Newt, Vixen 90mm.
Atik 490EX, Atik EFW, Baader LRGB filters, Astrodon 3nM NB filters, Lodestar, QHY5L-II all-sky, Canon 70D and 350D
Whirley Obs., MPC Code Z89

Offline peterr

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Re: Feathertouch FocusBoss & Handy Stepper Motor
« Reply #14 on: 19:41:39, 10 March, 2016 »
and they're no problem if mounted on a separate bracket and using a toothed belt

You mean like this? ;-).  Bracket is not yet finished.
Sky-Watcher Explorer 190nm, AZ-EQ6, Lodestar X2, Atik 460EX, SX FW, SX OAG, Baader 1.25" LRGB + HaSIIOIII, Canon EOS 500D Unmodified, Orion ST80

 

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