2nd September 2017 - blind ring added and the trimmed down mirror clips replaced to hold the blind ring in place. Fully recollimated - just waiting now for a clear night to test it again. The purpose of the 'blind ring' is to prevent flare from the bevelled edges of the mirror causing unwanted light scatter.

1st September 2017 - a small gap in the clouds last night allowed the chance to see if removing the mirror clips had worked - it has ! I am still going to fit a blind ring around the edge of the mirror to reduce the amount of flare around the very bright stars. A huge improvement though! This is one x 120 second sub.

21st August 2017 - Thanks to great support from my pals on 'Star Gazers Lounge' the plan was to remove the primary mirror cell and remove the clips that hold the mirror in then glue it in place with Sikaflex and do away with the clips all together or create a mask from card to hide the clips. RESULT ! When I removed the clips I found that under the clips the mirror had already been glued in place. Whilst it was in pieces I took the opportunity to blacken the edges of the mirror and any shiny surfaces in the mirror cell. Just need to put it back together again now then recollimate the whole thing from scratch - then wait for a clear night to test it again.

20th August 2017 - First Light ! Disappointment :-( the image shown here is crop of a single frame of 300 second duration of the Veil Nebula (Witches Broom) and three shadows at 120ยบ apart can be seen on all the brighter stars : almost like a lighthouse effect. Looks like its the clips that hold the primary mirror in place affecting the very edge of the image - these ultra fast reflectors don't take any prisoners !! Hmmmm - thinking cap on !! The good news is that the focuser works beautifully and the collimation is not far off perfect !

28th July 2017 - Cooling fan fitted to the primary mirror holder to help cool the big lump of Pyrex down and extract the warm air from the telescope tube to prevent faults in the images due to air currents inside the telescope.

24th July 2017 - Progress made - the original focuser wasn't as good as advertised so a new Moonlite focuser was fitted - then the Atik EFW2 filter wheel then the Atik 460EX mono CCD camera - spacing adjusted and ready for action!

28th June 2017 So what do you do when your new scope arrives? Take it to bits of course! The inside of the tube needs to be 'flocked' - application of a very, very black velvet to absorb any stray light or reflections in the scope - it improves the contrast and generally enhances the images. Not an easy task lining the inside of a long tube with strips of sticky backed fabric and not getting any creases, air bubbles or overlaps!! Its worth it though - see the photo on the left- I think you can tell which half has been completed! Photo on the right - finished and blacker than a coal hole!

10th June 2017 New baby on the way.......

Explore Scientific 208mm f3.9 Carbon Hex astrograph. (Below)

The new MkII hexagonal focuser is a rack and pinion design and it is claimed - zero slop !! We will see !!!

In due course it will be fitted with stepper motor focusing before hanging the Atik 460EX mono camera and Atik EFW2 filter wheel off it.

29th May 2017 All back together again (above) - if fairness I didnt need to replace any of the bearings they were all a world better than the ones in my HEQ5. Just degreased, thorough clean out, re-greased with Superlube (fully synthetic grease with added PTFE) and carefully reassembled adjusting the end floats, pre loads and especially the worm to crown clearances. It now slews much more smoothly and quietly and there is zero backlash in RA and DEC.

24th May 2017 The Skywatcher AZ-EQ6-GT has landed !! First thing I do with a new mount is take it to bits and put all the bearings in the bin! Then replace them with top quality bearings from SKF or FAG. Everything is degreased to remove all the back sticky gunk that passes as grease at the Skywatcher factory. Reassembly (whilst I can remember where all the bits go) involves high quality Teflon grease and endless patience to get the end floats and preloads spot on and most importantly getting the gear mesh adjustment as tight as possible without binding under load - this is the key to good guiding. The difference this procedure makes is incredible and well worth the time and a few pounds for new bearings.

8th May 2017 This making your own scope mallarkey isn't as easy at it looks !!! See above images !!! I cant achieve focus, but on the upside its very light - doesnt need any counterweights and it cost less than a fiver!! It's a mockup made from ends of rope reels and garden canes to see if a scope I am thinking of buying will fit on my new mount in my micro obsy. I have slewed it in every conceivable direction and it gets to within 25mm of one of the walls [eeek !!]

The Orion Sirius mount shown in the images below was sold in April 2017 to make way for a Skywatcher AZ-EQ6-GT which has a much higher load carrying capacity. Photos to follow when it arrives.

Below - This is my Skywatcher brand ED80 mounted on an Orion Sirius mount (known as the HEQ5 in the UK) - the small scope is the finderscope converted to a guide scope. Focuser - Moonlite with stepper motor focusser. Filter wheel - Atik EFW2. Camera - Atik 460EX mono.

Above right and both below - This my alternative guidescope a Skywatcher ST80 - longer focal length than the finderscope but heavier!

Above left - Moonlite focusser and stepper motor - SW reducer/flattener - filter wheel - camera Above right - altitude and azimuth bolts for polar alignment

Securely mounted - no flexure here !!