Back in 1999 Optecdesigned and introduced the first all-digital motorized telescope focuser. Featuring a closed-loop design with external hand control box and built-in temperature compensation, that very first TCF Temperature Compensating Focuser continues to operate every clear night at the Optec Observatory. Utilizing a best-fit linear model to correct for temperature induced focal shifts, the TCF performs superbly without requiring a re-focus of the telescope for weeks at a time.
Since that time the TCF Focuser Series has grown to include larger focusers, focusers with integrated electronics, and new more durable controllers such as the FocusLynx which expands the serial protocols to include USB, Ethernet, and wireless WiFi capablity. Optec engineers continue the innovation with linear encoder versions for sub-micron positional accuracy. Throughout all this growth, Optec has continually acheived the overarching goal of robust mechanical design with intelligent electronics for remote observatory operations.
Optec engineers have developed a completely new concept for combining telescope focus and camera rotation functions into a single robust, yet compact package. Rather than simply adding a rotator onto the end of a focuser drawtube, Gemini was designed from inception with a rotating drawtube providing superior strength and rigidity for heavy camera payloads. Featuring four lead-screws and four linear bearings, Gemini can easily handle 10kg (22 lb.) payload packages without flexure. Full 360-degree rotation is a built-in function of the Gemini with a full 1/2" of linear travel. At the center of travel, Gemini measures a mere 2.45" in thickness.
To maintain a flat, rigid base for heavy camera packages, Gemini's shell consists of two parallel plates machined from MIC-6 tool plate providing flatness within 0.001" (25 microns). Seven precise stand-off spacers maintain the 2.2" separation of these plates. The rotating drawtube is moved linearly with 1/2" of total travel using a premium timing belt driven by a high torque stepper motor. The entire package is accented with a beautiful carbon fiber wrap. Dual RJ45 connectors provide connection to the Gemini Control hub. The independent rotating drawtube is supported by a custom X-cage bearing system supported by large, 6mm chrome ball bearings.
Pyxis rotators come in three different styles:
The Pyxis 2" Rotator is the original in Optec's line of rotators. The Pyxis was designed specifically to work with SBIG's ST line of CCD cameras, but its ability to de-rotate objects is powerful with any camera. The Pyxis has a holding torque strong enough to support and rotate ST cameras without any slip whatsoever. The Pyxis is completely computer-controlled, requiring the provided computer software and a serial connection to a computer to operate properly.
The Pyxis 3" Rotator is a larger and more powerful counterpart to the Pyxis 2", designed to hold large instrument packages without any flex or wobble. With a resolution of 0.01875 degrees per step, rotation of the central tube or derotation of long-exposure Alt-Az images will pose no problem to this instrument. Like its smaller cousin, the Pyxis 3" requires computer software to function, so be aware that proper cabling is a necessity.
The Pyxis LE Rotator is by far the most versatile of the Pyxis rotators. Based on a design created by Ted Agos of Acorn Hollow Observatory, the Pyxis LE is very lightweight and is the thinnest rotator on the market! These attributes are extremely valuable for instrument packages requiring low back-focus or including smaller, highly-balanced cameras.
Alnitak Astrosystems' Flip-Flat is designed as a combination dust cover and flat field calibration lamp. Utilizing a remotely controlled motorized arm and electroluminescent lamp, the Flip-Flat provides convenience and precision calibrations for refractors up to 6-inch (155mm) diameter OTA's.
The Flat-Man XL is a research-grade, observatory-class flat-field calibration panel for the most demanding applications. With sizes ranging from 18" x 18" to 47" x 47", Optec manufactures an XL Flat-Fielding lamp system to suite nearly any observatory and OTA size.
Only 1" deep, the Flat-Man XL lamp panel mounts directly to the observatory wall perpendicular to the telescope park position. The Alnitak Astrosystems command-line program is fully integrated into ACP, CCD Autopilot, Maxim D/L using scriptable command line interface for automated operations.
For several decades amateur astronomers have been providing valuable scientific data in collaboration with professional astronomers using Optec's SSP Single-Channel Stellar Photometers. The technology is proven to be capable of millimag accuracies with amateur level telescopes and mounts. An SSP photometer will allow you to contribute collaborative astronomical data to the greater scientific community through groups such as the AAVSO, IOTA, ALPO and others.