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Four years since the last newsletter a lot has happened!

There has been a very big software project using an AVR32 for a Biomedical Electrical Safety Analyser which has occupied most of the day job. The introduction of an extra member of staff from our local University on a placement scheme has helped, but we are still very busy. This works very well for us and we have given exceptional training to those that have passed through, so they have had no difficulty in getting jobs. Our benefit is a flow of new ideas and methods so we are getting up to date.

At the International Astronomy Show (May 2013 in Warickshire) see us on our STAND NUMBER 3. We shall have some new products and demonstrations of our extensive lines of drive systems and controllers. You will see ASTROMOUNT on our stand with our products on it. We have had a hand in this design to make a British mount with a high payload capability and sturdy enough to not wobble around like jelly. For more information about the International Astronomy Show, tickets and parking, see their website.

A new product this year is our PULSE ANALYSER (PA2) for autoguing help. It is proving an exceptionally useful tool in keeping your camera and telescope drive system working together properly. It can also cut the time required to do drift alignment, just by watching how the lamps sequence. we have an independant review by David Jackson (ex-RGO) which you can read here. Ask for it at your preferred astronomy retailer or buy it direct from us.

The AWR FRGEN unit has been revamped and now outputs controlled pulses up to 36KHz on two independant channels (RA and DEC) for controlling third party stepper drive modules. We have despatched several systems to work with COMPUMOTOR OEM750 Drive Units and another one for Applied Motions ST5-S Controllers. These are both programmable microstepping high performance units capable of 5 amps per phase, without the heat generation of the AWR solution. They work very well, and so interface with our Intelligent Handset to provide all the advanced features and computer connectivity (via AWR ASCOM driver) that you expect these days.

Our DEW HEATER CONTROLLER has been selling very well. There are plenty of controllers on the market but the main feature of this one is the ability to look after the power supply, which is invariably a lead-acid battery. These do not like being discharged and the Heating Strip function is energy demanding and it is very easy to flatten the battery quickly. This model is a mid-market price but performs excellently. We are looking to expand this range with a lower cost one and a more expensive one with two separately controllable channels. All of these will have the same measurement capability to look after Lead-Acid batteries.

Telescope mount refurbishment has seen greater numbers for conversions of Fullerscope MK IV. This is a good sturdy mount and now it has GOTO capability for less than 1000, including servicing of the worm brackets. I am surprised how many different versions of the brackets and bearing methods they used, very few have been identical, but we have dealt with them all.

Alter D6 servicing - this is a beast of a telescope but it can suffer from some major defects. The crown wheels in the worm and wheel sets are machined discs screwed onto hubs. We have had one in recently where the DEC crown wheel was not concentric, out of true by 0.45mm max to min readings. This means that if you set the backlash on the tightest part, it is very loose around the other side. We produced a jig with Vee-blocks and a Dial gauge to measure around the wheel and we have managed to get the error to around 0.07mm max to min readings. This has improved its backlash performance immensely.

We also added extra supports for the declination motor table to stop the backlash moving once it has been adjusted. You can see this in the picture. The older versions of this mount had a different design for the DEC housing which included a mechanical stop which we have just replicated. A bit fiddly but you cannot see the joins!

SPARE PARTS - if you require spare parts or difficult to find items gives a call / send an email and we will get back with a price. We have access to most electronic and mechanical components, tools and test equipment. We also do bespoke leads and can source hard to find connectors.


In CCD photography with autoguiders used to increase the apparant resolution you stack photos with your autoguider on. But the autoguider tends to correct the drive to keep it within 0.2 pixels of the camera. What you really need to do is take a group of exposures, then move the telescope 5 arc seconds or so, then take another group of exposures. The image has landed on a different group of pixels and the autoguider profile will be slightly different This is essentially an 'optical dithering technique' for digital cameras. Try it! The SEEKER is suitable for all scopes with an autoguider input.


We are currently shipping V1.790 software for the handset. There has been a major effort to complete the ALT-AZ version mount driving in equatorial mode. This threw up several inconsistencies and has resulted in software improvements for the normal system components as well. The full set of changes can be read about in our Version History.

Shortly there will be a new Intelligent Handset box with a newly engineered processor circuit. This will use an ARM-7 processor. The code base is the same as we are using now and it will be backwards compatible with existing drive systems. There are big benefits to upgrading - the firmware can be loaded through a serial connection to a PC, there is plenty of code space to add all the extra features I want to put in, it runs much faster with greater precision due to its up to date development environment and library pack.