Astronomy

Make Your Own $2 Artificial Star For Telescope Collimation

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An Artificial Star is a point source of light. It is used to simulate a real star indoors, so you can collimate your telescope's optics indoors and/or during daylight.

Commercial artificial stars, such as this Hubble Optics one, cost $25 or more, and their main feature is a small plate that has precision holes of 50 micron up to 250 microns.

You can make your own artificial star, which is very close in function to the commercial ones.

You can watch this short 4 minute video on how I did it, and read on for detailed instructions.

OnStep ESP32 Smart Hand Controller SHC

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A month ago, Dave Schwartz completed a design for a Smart Hand Controller (SHC) for the OnStep open source telescope controller.

After completing the hardware, I ported the firmware for it, from the Teensy 3.x to the lower cost ESP32.

Here is a video that I did demonstrating the features.

PCB

Here is an image of the SHC PCB, V1.03.

OnStep Telescope Controller STM32 PCB and ESP32 SHC Kits

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A while back, I completed a port of the open source OnStep Telescope Controller firmware to the STM32 Blue Pill ARM Cortex M3 32-bit MCU. Later, Dave Schwartz and myself designed a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) that makes building a controller a far easier task than before.

Here is a video of the completed PCB.

OnStep Telescope Controller on Low Cost STM32

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Over the winter, I worked with Howard Dutton, the author of OnStep Telescope Controller, to make it work with the low cost STM32 ARM Cortex M3 microcontrollers. This involved writing a hardware abstraction layer (HAL), so adding different architectures in the future would not be too hard, as it was.

Presentation: Forgotten History: Al-Sufi's Book of Fixed Stars

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On Friday 27th of January, 2018, I gave a presentation at the KW RASC on Al-Sufi's Book Of Fixed Stars.

The book is the first illustrated pictorial star atlas, and was very influential for centuries after it was authored. It spread widely from central Asia, throughout the Middle East, and to Europe. It was translated into many languages.

Here is the presentation slides, and audio recording:

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