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6/18/2011

Summer Observing Program and ATM Projects Dew Heaters and Observing Chair

Well, I've decided on one program besides the ARP Galaxies I want to work on (ARP's I'm doing with the 20 inch and I am going to post those sketches only on my Interstellar Sketching site where I catalog and post my sketches). Anyway, IF the weather ever improves and with the summer schedule I have which is not going to be conducive to observing except mainly on weekends (I am doing some more advance college work and I have a two week session where I go for 8 hours a day to remove two classes and have to be there by 7:30a.m. each day) so I want to go and view the major summer time planetary nebula as found over here at this link to Seasonal Best Planetary Nebula Summer. These aren't the only ones I am going after, there are more by constellation but I do think these are the ones I want to really focus on sketching unless another in a constellation just blows me away.

So not much to do. I'm still recovering from having been sick, and I have two new things I want to post about. First, my friend Mat is doing a monthly ATM project. It was today and we had an emergency family issue (the call came at 8:15a.m.) so that had to be dwelt with. So I did not make it but I have purchased the wood for a Denver Chair/Catsperch Chair combination. Why a new chair? I need a taller one with the XX14i. I like to sit when I sketch and the Starbound Chair makes that difficult. I want to work on my 8 inch mirror blank and get that project going

Finally its time to make some dew heaters for my Telrad, Finder, Eyepiece and perhaps the secondary. On the secondary, I have decided to go with the DewGuard because I can opt to run it off a 9 volt, a better use of the 9 volt than on the intelliscope, or run the cables and then hook them up to the controller. My controller will be a DewGuard, probably the BigBobDewBuster controller located here. If you have a SCT then your controller will run $20.00 more or $170.00 and you can find information on it here. I am going to use Ron Keating's plans located here to make my own set of heaters for my eyepieces, finderscope and my Telrad. For my Telrad I may break down and just spend the $26.00 and get this from Telescope Solutions. Makes sense then just something to keep the finder and the eyepieces warm and dew is gone.

I know, your saying, dew, in Utah? Well, the West Desert of Utah does have humidity and it can get up in the 70% to 99% range and that can ruin an evening of observing. So dew heaters are a plus and I intend to get them and use them for my 10 and my 14 inch scopes. The 20 in the observatory and in the field doesn't suffer to bad from this and I can use the same setup as the 14 (longer cables I assume) to keep the finderscope and the Telrad warm if needed.

To begin the controller will be either $150.00 if I don't want the thermostat that is built in or $170.00 if I do. I figured I've paid over $1400.00 in eyepieces over the last year, I might as well spend some on getting rid of dew. For sure I am getting the Kendrick Secondary Mirror heater and the Telrad Heater. Cost for that will be about $70.00 (actually less but I am trying to add for shipping also). The Telrad heater will be $26.00 and combine that with the controller it comes to $266.00. About the cost of one of my Pentax XW's (when I bought them they cost me $270.00) and well worth it. A power source that is recommended is found at Amazom.com and is called Pyramid PS15KX 10A 13.8-Volt Power Supply with Cigarette Lighter Adapter and costs $53.70. I have a power source that will work nicely already so this expense is saved for me, for now. I may pick one up and if I do the cost is now about $330.00. To make my Heater Strips will cost me about $15.00 and the time to make them.

So for basically $350.00 I can have my secondary, my Telrad, my eyepieces and my finder equip and ready to hold off any dew that comes up. What does that mean for me? Probably 2 to 3 hours more of observing and for me this summer and moving forward, that is a wonderful thing to capture more of. If I have to chunk this and do it in order, I will do the secondary and the Telrad first. Why? With a Telrad I can get to an area where I can then use my 27 Panoptic to search for an object and if the secondary is free from dew, viewing won't be an issue. Next will be the eyepiece heater strip because I know I have to keep them from dewing up. Last would be the finder scope. It is nice to have but not a necessity in my book. That means the controller. If your doing imaging imagine spending $350.00 but eliminating the fear of dew from your corrector plate and being able to image to the wee hours of the morning! All you have to do when done is put away the SCT or have a really good cover for it.

So if your interested and live in the Salt Lake Valley or Utah Valley area, once a month my friend Mat is doing ATM at his house and in June I would welcome the opportunity to work with you on creating some heater strips even if you can't get the dew controller yet. Kendrick makes one that runs about $80.00 I believe and that is an alternative. I may go with a Kendrick to save money, I have to call Ron and see what he says about his product. The Kendrick's don't have the built in thermostat though except for their new top of the line model. The site uses Canadian dollars and I believe that means the cost is barely more in U.S. dollars since I believe the U.S. dollar is worth 3 cents more than the Canadian dollar right now.

To make one's own heaters or to purchase? DewBuster doesn't make heaters, but per the above link, Ron shares how to make then, but at your own risk. Here is Kendrick's list of heaters. As a local SLAS member Erik said in a post, "
I have the Kendrick Heaters, but it seems shrink wrap and having your wife sew covers out of cordura with velcro closures and you could make
some fine dew heaters." I agree, but I'll do the sewing, or better yet, my daughter will as she is a master at sewing. So there, again interested in doing either this project or in making an observing chair or learning how to make a mirror then come on by!

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