Flat fields with Frosted White Perspex Sheet
Here is a nice simple idea I picked up at a star party. Simply order a transparent perspex sheet and use it to take your flat fields.
I bought an 3mm thick A3 sheet of Frosted White which cost less than £6 at the end of 2015 from ebay.
Dew Shield made from Yoga Mat
At first I used offcuts of Kydex (from my 18-inch dob project) as a dew shield for my Celestron. This worked OK but Kydex is too stiff. My wife suggested using yoga foam mats as a dew shield. Its cheap, lightweight and easy bent around the scope. Although this comes emblazoned with a logo, just cut it off with a utility knife, I had plenty to make a dew shield for a 9.25 inch and 5-inch OTA’s. I use black Velcro straps to tie it in place.
Modified Step Ladder
I use an off-the-shelf step ladder when observing near the zenith with the 18inch scope. It has two simple modifications to make observing more comfortable.
Firstly I found that some observing positions meant you were a little too high or too low, this meant I was on tip toes or slightly crouched, which after a short while is a little uncomfortable. To get around this I used some spare 18mm ply to fashion some intermediate steps.
Hand hold and rest
The other thing that is very awkward is that it can become a little precarious at the top of a ladder when its pitch black. I used an off-cut of aluminium pole as a hand hold. The top is covered in pipe insulation and wrapped in black duck tape, keeping the hands warmer. When the ladder is folded up for transportation the hand pole fastens to the side with some Velcro tape.
Backlit keyboard and mouse
When imaging I find it useful to see the keyboard and mouse, I recommend you use cheap gaming keyboard and mouse. For the keyboard I bought a cheap one from China through ebay. This cost less than £20 including delivery, and offers red keys, and you change the brightness through 3 levels. For the mouse I had a spare Microsoft mouse which has a red glow which works a treat! (although I cannot believe the prices of these now on amazon! You should be able to pickup an unbranded gaming mouse for less than £10).
Do you have any handy tips?
If so please let me know using the contact form.