“Major construction” is complete!

What I consider “major construction” of the obs is now complete.  Still lots left to do, but it all falls in the category of “finish work” or ‘electrical/electronics”.

A roof was framed up w/ 2×3, 2×4, and 2×6 lumber

Rolling hardware was added (man was that thing a bitch to flip upside down!)

Corrugated PVC roofing was added, and she was ready to install!

(Sorry…no pictures of the circus that was me, Alex, and 3 friends lifting that SOB up onto the building!)

Ordered the drive mechanism from McMaster-Carr, and rigged up the controller box…(Details and more info, along with links to parts, code, etc, are in the video description of the video linked below)

A few days of tweaking, adjusting, and fiddling…and behold!

Finally, this weekend, got around to making the door, and hanging it.

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Lots has happened!

Been a while, and quite a bit has changed in the new obs.

Last weekend, the interior wall was framed in, despite my best efforts!  (Measure once, cut eleven times…)

This weekend, the living room became the scene of a massive cable-making party.

The goal was a centralized “control panel” which houses all the various control boxes and hardware for the focuser, GTOCP4, etc.  I wanted a neat installation, with correct length cables, some storage space, and finally a consistent power connection standard throughout.

The power connections for the entire rig were converted to Anderson Powerpoles.  First a set of 8 pairs was made up to provide a supply point.

Next, various boxes were measured and placed.

Busbars were made by drilling and tapping some scrap aluminium bar.

And everything got attached and plugged in.

After some furious (and frankly a bit nerve wracking) USB cable cutting and splicing, everything was sized correctly for the mount-born gear.

As of tonight, everything’s running on the planned/installed configuration, save for power being supplied by a bench power supply, since the batts aren’t in yet.

Next step is to cover the exterior walls, and then get the Crown batteries installed.  They’ll be charged with an AC charger initially, until the roof and solar gear get installed.

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First session on the new pier!


Finally had a clear night (UPS delivered 10 days of clouds along with the repaired mount last week) so took the chance to test the mount repairs, and get a first evening off the new pier.

Had to make the mounting plate first.  Ordered a 12×12 3/8″ thick piece of aluminum from Amazon, drilled the installation holes and then drilled and tapped a pattern for the AP tripod adapter.  Tossed a level in the center for a rough installation guide.

Everything’s still a bit of a mess…sort of slapped cables in wherever I could, with darkness rushing in on me now that the time has changed.  It all worked though!  Got ~80 more 300s L frames on LDN1262.

Mount performed flawlessly, back up to AP standards.  Ridiculously low RMS, and smooth as butter all night.  Very pleased with the fine folks at Astro-Physics.

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Walls, ladies and gentlemen!

Yep.  We got walls.  (And a dachshund who’s sure I’m building her a new dog house)

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Public Data Repository

Hey folks!

I’m beginning to make all my AP data available publicly, under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license.  It is located at http://tristarobservatory.space/PublicData/

The repository currently contains all 2017 DSO data.  More will be added as time allows.

Should you create your own take on the data, I’d love to see your version!


Creative Commons LicenseThis work by Gordon Boulton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://tristarobservatory.space/PublicData/.

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And then there was floor!

Well…subflooring, anyway. 🙂

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Handling SHO Magenta Stars in PixInsight

One of the most common complaints we hear when imaging narrow band targets is “How do I get rid of these bright pink/purple star halos in my SHO/Hubble palette image?”

In this video, I cover 3 simple methods to begin addressing this issue.

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Narrowband NGC 7822 – Modified SHO

NGC 7822

Acquired 2017-09-26 - 2017-10-14 from TriStar Observatory TinyObs

28 x 900" Hα, 27 x 900" NII, 70 x 900" OIII, 40 x 900" SII : 41h 15m Total Integration

Stellarvue SV80ST

Astro-Physics Mach-1 GTO

Atik 414EX

Astrodon 1.25" 3nm Ha, NII, OIII, SII filters

QHY5-L II Guidecam

Sequence Generator Pro


Figured I’d try to throw in some NII for a change since…well…I have the filter, why not use it? Overall, not really worth the effort imo. It does show some VERY minor differences from the Hα signal in darker areas, but not enough to justify the several extra hours of imaging time.

Feel like I’m getting a better handle on taking narrowband images where I envision them when I first see the data. Color management is still a huge issue for me, and likely always will be, but I’m getting a better feel for “what makes a thing look like i think it looks”, so that’s a start anyway.

Not at all confident about the lower corners of this one. Very difficult for me to tell what’s nebula, what’s LP/noise gradient, and what’s just my imagination. The reddish corners are a “best compromise” result between “wow, the rest of the image looks nice but the corners are horrendous” and “might as well be monochrome”.

This is probably the last image for a bit. The Mach 1 has picked up a rather horrendous (and well out of spec) bit of PE and aberrant behaviour in the RA axis, and is currently sitting at AP’s shop for some troubleshooting and attention. When it returns, I may or may not throw it back in TinyObs, depending upon the completion level of Obs 2.0

Acquisition Details

  • Date and conditions
    • Acquired 2017-09-26 – 2017-10-14 from TriStar Observatory TinyObs
    • Bortle class 6-7
    • 28 x 900″ Hα, 27 x 900″ NII, 70 x 900″ OIII, 40 x 900″ SII : 41h 15m Total Integration
    • Equipment
      • Stellarvue SV80ST
      • Astro-Physics Mach-1 GTO
      • Atik 414EX
      • Astrodon 1.25″ 3nm Ha, NII, OIII, SII filters
      • QHY5-L II Guidecam
    • Software
      • Sequence Generator Pro
      • PHD2

Processing Details

  • All processing in PixInsight
    • Calibration of all light frames w/ 50-frame Dark masters, 200 frame Bias master, 50 frame Flat masters per filter
    • SubframeSelector to weight frames, (100 * SNRWeight)/(FWHM+Eccentricity). Frames w/ high eccentricity or FWHM rejected.
    • StarAlignment to register all frames
    • LocalNormalization applied using highest weighted frame from each set as reference
    • DrizzleIntegration x 2 of each filter set
    • RGB Processing
      • Masters cropped equally
      • DynamicBackgroundExtraction applied to each master, subtraction mode
      • Synthetic Luminence created using PixelMath
        • .8 * Ha + OIII + SII (Rescaling on)
      • MMT Noise Reduction applied to all masters
      • Masters stretched using HistogramTransformation to equal black points.
      • RGB Combination using PixelMath
        • .5 * Ha + .5 * NII to create HaNII
        • SII:HaNII:OIII
      • SCNR to Remove Green, amount .8
      • PixelMath for Magenta Removal
        R : $T[0]
        G : iif(min($T[0],$T[2])>$T[1],min($T[0],$T[2]),$T[1])
        B : $T[2]
      • MorphologicalTransformation through star mask to reduce stars in color master, using X/+ method
    • Lum Processing
      • Deconvolution through brightness mask w/ stars removed, using DynamicPSF & StarMask local support, 30 iterations
      • UnsharpMask through same brightness mask, Sigma 2.0, amount .8
      • MMT for very light NR through inverted brightness mask, heavily stretched.
      • MorphologicalTransformation through star mask to shrink stars, using round pattern, amount .15
      • DarkStructureEnhance script, about .4
      • HistogramTransformation to stretch SynthLum
    • Final Processing
      • LRGBCombination to combine SynthLum w/ RGB
      • CurvesTransformation to boost saturation, adjust colors via Hue.
      • Final light SCNR, amount .2







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More progress on Obs 2.0

Floor framing got started today.  Had hoped to finish it today, but life conspired against me in the form of a dishwasher needing to be replaced.

Still, 1/3 or so was completed today. 🙂

Getting started on the floor framing.
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Obs 2.0 has a pier!

The pier for Obs 2.0 is poured. 🙂

There was digging.

Digging begins on the hole for the concrete pier.

And supervising

No work gets done around here without a supervisor.

And gravel

And concrete and rebar

Rebar went in at 6 and 12", alternating directions each layer.

SO much concrete

A half a freaking ton of concrete, one bag at a time!

Final stage was to build a "stub" for the pier, to hold the pier's rebar and tie the pier to the footer.

But alas there was a footer, awaiting a pier form.

The pier form began with some studs for a mounting board

At the side of the pier there will be a wooden plate, for mounting control boxes, power panels, etc.

And some conduit was added

Another 1/4 ton of concrete was mixed (We learned from last time!)

And poured

Mounting plate bolts were set

24 hours later, the form came off!


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