SpaceCat Automation Build, Part 2

Continuing from Part 1 of the SpaceCat automation build. 

It took a few days, but I managed to get all the new Deep Sky Dad hardware installed and tested. For the most part, everything seems to work.

I went through a lot of trial-and-error to figure out the best way to mount the AF3 Autofocuser. I found that when using the riser block with the motor mounted under the scope, there was very little clearance between the dew shield and motor housing.

I had to adjust the positions of the AF3 Autofocuser motor, the motor pinion, and the focuser ring to prevent the dew shield from crashing into the motor housing when the focuser is fully retracted.

In the end, I found the side mounting option to be a much better fit. With a longer drive belt, I was able to offset the motor further from the OTA, and angle it away from the dew shield if needed as well. The side mounting option also makes it easier to adjust the belt tension.

Since data and power ports are located on the right side of the AF3 Autofocuser, the motor needed to be mounted on the right side of the scope. With the motor mounted on the right, the OTA mounting ring needed to be reversed with the clasp on the left side so that the OTA could be removed without colliding with the motor housing. The dovetail handle needed to be reversed as well.

For the FR1 Field Rotator to have enough bottom clearance with the dovetail bar, the Vixen dovetail still needs to be used with the side mounting option. The Vixen dovetail can then be mounted to the Losmandy dovetail plate using two 1/4-20 inch socket-head cap screws for additional clearance and added stability.

With the AF3 Autofocuser installed in the side mounting position, I was able to reinstall the FR1 Field Rotator, and install the FP1 Flap Panel as well. Both rotated 90-degrees to the side opposite of the AF3 Autofocuser. This arrangement allows the guide scope to be mounted on the handle without the flap panel blocking the light path, and leaves more room for the guide camera to be installed without the field rotator motor getting in the way.

I ran through some quick tests to evaluate the Deep Sky Dad hardware. Everything powered up and seemed to function properly. Although I wasn't able to set a minimum position limit for the AF3 Autofocuser, despite being able to set a maximum position limit. Was also disappointed to find that the FP1 Flap Panel is unevenly illuminated. It's most noticeable at low brightness settings. I still need to capture flats to see how this affects calibration frames.

Each piece of Deep Sky Dad gear was individually tested using a direct connection to laptop USB, and powered by 12V10A DC using a GoLabs R300 299WH LiFePO4 portable powerstation.

Continues in Part 3 of the SpaceCat automation build.