Saturday, 22 December 2012

Tasco 1603EF focus motor on SkyWatcher SK1309EQ2 telescope

Since I was having trouble with astrophotography focussing my telescope via the webcam, I decided to try out a motorised focus control - sometimes misleading called an automatic focuser. I found the Tasco 1603EF for about £20 all in on eBay, which seemed worth a try with my SkyWatcher Explorer 130M, also known as the SK1309EQ2. I was expecting a little tinkering might be needed but fitting it was extremely straightforward. SkyWatcher do sell their own focus motor at about £50, but it was unclear if this would fit my telescope.

Tasco 1603EF focus motor on SkyWatcher SK1309EQ2 telescopeTasco 160EF manual focus clutch button

As you can see I've left the right manual focus wheel exposed (since I am right handed), which can be used with the small clutch button on the side of the motor housing.

The only tricky bit was lifting up the silver cover disk of the focus wheel (a Jeweller's screwdriver worked although the cover got a little bent out of shape), in order that the motor's U-shaped attachment can drive it by pushing against the spokes.

SK1309EQ2 focus wheel without silver coverHow the focus motor bracket is attached

If you want to see inside the casing, have a look at this forum thread with photos showing the same focus motor modified to attach to another telescope.

I'm looking forward to trying this out, once the rain stops and we get some clear skies ;)

Update 23 December

There was a little slack the attachment - I think the Tasco scopes must have a smaller gap between their wheel spokes. This meant a short delay switching directions, which was a little frustrating. Putting a bit of blu-tack in the focus wheel where the motor's U-arm is inserted seems to have solved that, at least in the short term.

After my first night out with the new focuser, and I'm very pleased with it. I got to practise with Jupiter and then briefly the moon before the clouds returned. Watching the webcam live on a laptop while fine tuning the focus with the motor worked really well - next I'll be wanting to extend the little remote's wire which is only about 1m, or even look at computer control. Some focus motors are actually designed with that in mind, this one isn't.

1 comment:

  1. Got one too from Telescope Warehouse, speedy delivery too, and works like a charm on my Vixen...