Copyright © 2013 by Dave Trewren · All Rights reserved · E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
A requirement for remote focus
The entire SharpSky project was born from a practical and real need for remote and automated focusing. Correct and accurate focusing is a critical and essential aspect of Astro Photography. No matter how good your optics, mount or camera poor focus is going to ruin any data captured. Personally I was always troubled by the nagging doubt that my attempt at manual scope side focus was less than accurate. Having looked at equipment available I decided to design and build my own unit from the ground up. This was designed around a PIC microcontroller and prototyping card. I made the electronic design and software available for others to use.
Prototype/development card based kit
The initial design attracted far more interest than I had anticipated and there were many requests for a kit of parts. So still based around a prototyping/development card I put together a limited number of kits with pre-programmed microprocessors, parts and an enclosure.
PCB based kit
It soon became apparent that assembling the prototype/development card based kit was too prone to error and exact built details were difficult to convey. So the next step was to produce a kit based around a Printed Circuit Board (PCB). In order to reduce costs to a minimum the PCBs and almost all the components for the kit were sourced directly from China. The popularity of the kit took me by surprise and to date kits have been assembled by Astro Photographers globally.
During the summer 2012 I decided to take the project one step further and design a commercial version of the focuser. In addition to the focuser controller the SharpSky Pro design also includes a four channel digital dew heater controller. The motor has also been increased in size providing enough power for the most taxing of payloads. The SharpSky Pro controller has remained compatible with MoonLite & Robo motors as well as being backward compatible with motors constructed and fitted by imagers that built the PCB based SharpSky kit.
I very much hope everyone likes the look of the new design and the combination of features.