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4/25/2016

Levono 100s Laptop, Red Shielding to make Sky Tools 3 work in the Field




     I wanted to share something I am using in the field right now so I don't have to print off Sky Charts from Sky Tools 3.  I want to express that I really appreciate Sky Tools 3 and it is my primary tool for planning, observing and finding, and recording my observations and my sketches in one location.  To help with this I purchased a Lenovo  IdeaPad 100s 11.6" Laptop for use in the field. It has a small amount of memory on it, only 32gb and only 2 gb of RAM (I would have preferred 4 gb instead).  However, it has Windows 10 installed and I am easily able to load and use Sky Tools 3 on it with no problem.  The battery has a life of between 8 to 10 hours, but I have a recharging unit for either the car, or a portable one that will recharge it for use on multiple nights in the field.  Here is what it looks like on my wife's piano bench. 





Now in terms of dark adaptation, I purchased from ScopeStuff a clear red acrylic sheet of plastic and some rubylith film to go over the plastic to make it darker. Below you can see Sky Tools 3 in Virgo up and running. To the left is the clear red acrylic plastic that attach with two long and secure rubber bands without damaging the screen of the laptop.





The image below now shows Sky Tools 3 in its Red Mode and you can see the black rubber bands better.  The red acrylic clear plastic shows up better here also. 



Below I have attached the red acrylic plastic with the rubber bands. You can see them at the top of the screen and near the bottom.  The laptop will not close all the way, but it will close enough to put the laptop into a sleep mode to conserve battery life if that is needed.  I have not dimmed the lights here, but in the field I can dim the laptop and dim Sky Tools 3 to where I can still see the screen and the finder charts that Sky Tools 3 generates, but not enough light to bother me or anyone else.  


I have used it in the field twice now, and am VERY pleased with the results. I don't have to print off star charts. Sky Tools 3 allows me to access charts on the screen and the laptop weighs only 2.2 pounds, which is distributed evenly and makes it very light. I have carried it to the focuser a couple of times on some harder objects and it works that way. Usually I have my observing table near by and I place it there, facing away from the telescope and I can simply remember my star hop from the screen to the focuser/dob.  

I tremendously enjoy also the fact that I can enter in my observation right after doing it on Sky Tools 3, and be done with it! No more multiple systems, no more binders filled of finder charts. I have my finder chart right there as long as I keep the battery charged, which I can do.  So overall, I am extremely happy with this set up and thought I would share it with you. 

Oh, why not Sky Safari? I have tried Sky Safari at the telescope/dob using my phone or my iPad and I don't like the amount of light it puts out even at low levels. Also, the battery tends to drain far more quickly than the lap top in colder temperatures.  So that is why I have opted for this. I hope some find this useful.  If your interested, post a comment and I'll share the battery backup and power charger I got for this. 

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