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We've all done things to our equipment to make it better,make our lives easier or repair on the fly. Here's a place to post some of these ideas and probably help someone else out.

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Here is some wire management on my CGEM. I never liked the HC cable hanging w/all the stress on the plug so I put some sticky velcro on to make the wire pickup the stress. The power cable is the same idea and it also just gets it out of the way when you're slewing the mount. Marc

A cheap and simple way to keep your SSAG from hitting the ground. Stickyback Velcro 101 uses. Marc

I never thought to much of the "plastic" HC holder that came w/my CG5 or CGEM so I went w/this. A $3 pot holder that I put a grommet in w/a $1 snap link attached to a O-ring on the mount head shaft (you need to undo the head shaft to get the O-ring on, if you would rather not do that you can just use a wire tie). In the winter I use a chem heat pack to keep it warm and not lose the display lighting. In the summer I switch over to a mesh bag instead of the pot holder. Marc

Not a "cheap" handle, but secure. I got this idea from raking on CN (told him I credit him if I passed it along). The blocks are about $25/per and the handle $3 (Hm Dp). Figuring that when I carry this scope w/camera I got about a $1000 in my hands, $60 is good insurance. Marc

I usually don't take my dark frames during imaging time. If I'm going to be out at 2am I want photons of something other than my lens cover, so I usually shoot them during the day/cloudy nts. This is my dark box, lined w/sticky felt. The painters tape does a nice job of sealing any possible light leaks (and it comes off nice, no residue). You can't see it, but I also have the red monitor lt on the cam. doubled taped. Also make sure you have the viewfinder cover on. Marc
How do you control the temp so that your dks are done at the same temp as your lights?
Mark, not much control, more weather forecast planning. One caveat(s) refrigerator/air cond/furnace. The refer is good for getting your 40'F darks ie iso1600 1mn,2mn,...6mn,7mn etc. Stable seasonal household temps can give you a few more sets. Most of my darks are from watching the temp forecasts and shoot the darks when the temp is where I need it. A week or so ago it was going to be about 10'F all day so I set up my box on the screen porch and shot darks (figure shooting 20exps.@ 9mn,8mn,......5mn,4mn,etc, it takes awhile that's why I don't shoot them at night). Then these are stored in my dark library ready to be used when needed (got that library backed up in a couple places, lot of work to lose).
On another note, my darks are in iso1600 (I only shoot 1600) of 10'F increments. I always apply the lower temp dark to a sub--say I take subs @36'F I'll use the 30'F dark master. I'd rather clone tool a few hot/cold pixels than have black dots all over the pic from a dark frame subtracting noise where there wasn't any. I saw that you use DSS, you may know this, but others may not; if you are getting "black dots/holes" in your pics because of calibration problems between the lights and darks try using the multiplication factor on the dark master. I have had pretty good luck w/it (.5 or.75). I do end up having to clone tool a few hot/cold pixs, but that's better than the alternative. Marc
Meade offered this tripod with the LXD55. The powered LED legs is a great idea. We've all, at least I know I have, nearly ruined a night of imaging by bumping a leg in the dark. The alignment goes awry and hours of potential work is put quickly to a halt. It's no fun and one ends up feeling like a fool for having done it. I decided to enlist some level of insurance and get the LED legs powered up and flashing.

I won this setup in an auction on EBay. The description included information about numerous power points on not only the legs, but the pier base/tripod shoulder itself. It also mentioned the powered LED legs and that each one needed 3V to run. When the mount arrived I took a look at the power ports ad began to work on an idea to get the LEDs working.

It was pretty simple. The guy had included a 12V car power adapter (black tip type 'M' at Radioshack, I think) which I knew I wouldn't be using by going remote. I clipped the end off of it and grabbed a 3V #2032 Watch battery and tested each of the LEDs to ensure they worked. They all lit up. My next search of my stacks of boxes filled with adapters, cables, and connectors yielded 2 more plugs of the same size and a spare 4.5V AC adapter. Having 3 plugs total, I configured them to run all the LEDs simultaneously. The 4.5V adapter produces 1.5V at each leg instead of the 3V each of them can handle, but it works. Just slightly dimmer. They flash in random sequence and are unobtrusive when outside, even when set up on snow.

Eventually, I will make use of the ports on the base of the pier extension by adding active dew control. I plan on making my own strips and purchasing a controller to run every thing. I'll post an entry detailing the process of building them based upon the information found at this link: DIY Dew Heater.

-mb

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