Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

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Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

Post by Bob Yoesle »

I am fortunate enough to have obtained early 2000's era Tucson Coronado filters that have excellent performance. This is not only due to their etalon plate uniformity and gap spacing, etc., but also a central wavelength that is pretty close to being on-band with just a little tilt needed to get exactly on-band.

In my limited experience with etalons, I have found most external air-spaced etalons manufactured these days to have high CWL's. This causes a decrease in performance by requiring excess tilt that creates "banding" - a variation in contrast across the full disc view or image of the Sun when tilted on-band. Coronado's implementation of RV tuning attempts to correct the high CWL with mechanical pressure tuning. Unfortunately pressure is applied to the center spacer only, and results in a non-uniform etalon gap and a widened band-pass when the center of the etalon is brought on-band. This makes (in my opinion) these etalons unsuitable for primary etalon use, although somewhat useful for secondary etalon double stacking.

I recently obtained a pre-owned LS35 "grab and go" telescope to balance out my collection, and it offered pretty-not-bad performance superior to the PST's I have viewed through. And like most of Lunt's etalons, there are only peripheral spacer "feet."

Mike & LS35 crop.jpg
Mike & LS35 crop.jpg (561.78 KiB) Viewed 653 times
Fellow amateur astronomer Mike McKeag checks out the LS35.

But there is a tell-tail amount of banding contrast non-uniformity with this tilt-tuned only front etalon, and the H alpha spectrum tube showed a somewhat enlarged off-band high central interference ring. Knowing the theory behind mechanical pressure tuning, I decided to try a little experiment.

If I could apply a small amount of mechanical pressure uniformly to the periphery of the etalon, I could theoretically lower the CWL for less tilt, or even get the etalon exactly on-band as is done with the PST tuning. The issue would be how to implement this scheme with uniform pressure, and using readily available materials with little or no modification of the etalon.

The first thing would be to do some measurements to see what was possible:

LS35 mod measurements.jpg
LS35 mod measurements.jpg (159.27 KiB) Viewed 653 times

As seen above, this showed I had about 5 mm worth of movement available between the etalon cover and the etalon tilt-tune base and internal etalon "pot" when fully seated, which could be used to apply pressure by turning the etalon cover on its internal threads. It also showed when fully screwed down the etalon cover had about 6 mm of clearance between the ERF cell and the etalon face. So it seemed I would have sufficient room to "play with."

Next was deciding how to apply uniform pressure, and I struck upon the idea to use a very thin needle trust bearing with even thinner thrust races that would total only 4 mm thick when combined, which also had the appropriate inside and outside diameters, and leaving plenty of room for a thin (~ 2 mm) rubber gasket to apply uniform pressure to the etalon periphery. This would therefore translate rotational movement in to a uniform axial movement and pressure without any torque applied to the rubber gasket or etalon face.

Cleaning out the excessive silicone used to secure the ERF cell retaining ring, etc., left a nice flat surface to place the first bearing race on. When the Etalon cover was screwed on, it came to within about 1 mm on being fully seated when the etalon surface was reached. Since the cover threads are fine, there is a good deal of fine adjustment possible in the pressure applied, and I discovered I could get the etalon completely on band with room to spare:

LS35 mod components.jpg
LS35 mod components.jpg (172.24 KiB) Viewed 653 times
LS35 mod needle thrust bearing.jpg
LS35 mod needle thrust bearing.jpg (159.55 KiB) Viewed 653 times
LS35 mod rubber pressure pad.jpg
LS35 mod rubber pressure pad.jpg (146.19 KiB) Viewed 653 times

Etalon with no pressure:

LS35 mod no pressure.jpg
LS35 mod no pressure.jpg (94.98 KiB) Viewed 653 times

Etalon cover at point of contact with rubber gasket - note that about 1 mm of axial movement (compression) is possible:

LS35 mod adjust clearance.jpg
LS35 mod adjust clearance.jpg (151.89 KiB) Viewed 653 times

Etalon with less than one full etalon cover turn of pressure to come on-band:

LS35 mod pressure on-band.jpg
LS35 mod pressure on-band.jpg (89.31 KiB) Viewed 653 times

This means the ideal situation of needing little to no tilt, which optimizes etalon performance and hopefully results in little if any banding. I will post my visual impression when I can next observe. Given the apparent success, and the wide availability of various thrust bearing sizes, it should be possible to apply a similar strategy to larger etalons without much complexity if room allows, or if relatively easy etalon cover / ERF spacings modifications can be made.

Cheers!

Bob
Last edited by Bob Yoesle on Fri Sep 03, 2021 2:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

Post by marktownley »

This is very cunning Bob! Impressive!

A method that could be applied to other external etalons...

Looking forward to reading more the results you get from this method.


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Re: Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

Post by torsinadoc »

Dang that's impressive!


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Re: Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

Post by MalVeauX »

Excellent work Bob, I recently used these same materials on a Twilight 2 mount to smooth out the axis and those steel roller bearings are great. It makes a lot of sense to have a cylinder that holds the etalon with spacers and something to thread down, on the roller, to apply pressure this way. Much better than tilt and much better than Solarmax methods (which are horrible, all of them except very very few rare good ones, as you mentioned, are tuned way off and require tons of pressure and tilt and none of it is uniform, they're awful).

I wonder if a pretty specific 3D printed housing could make this work. I also wonder if a large PVC cap with threads could be used for the threaded part, and that a 3D printed unit could be placed inside that PVC cap to hold the etalon exactly. This would be possible I think, and very inexpensive. And then much easier to put onto any donor OTA with a nicer focuser and stuff.

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Re: Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

Post by Bob Yoesle »

Those are all eminently doable Marty - especially if the existing housings or etalon cover don't have the needed dimensions (width/depth) for a particular thrust bearing. The essential issue is the application of uniform pressure without stressing the etalon rotationally (risk of de-contacting?) and introducing additional etalon gap non-uniformity.

I had a chance to get out this morning, even though transparency was not the greatest. To make the test even more rigid, I used an Andover 1.7 A 10 mm filter added ahead of the BG38 filter which fit perfectly into the BG38's threaded cell, and it is kept secured by the 1.25 inch nose piece. I added a 1.25 inch Baader 7 nm Ha filter to the B600 nosepiece to act as an insurance sub-diameter "ERF" to protect the Andover filter.

LS35 Andover - Baader.jpg
LS35 Andover - Baader.jpg (158.69 KiB) Viewed 597 times
LS35 Baader extension.jpg
LS35 Baader extension.jpg (158.05 KiB) Viewed 597 times

Assuming the etalon has a FWHM of 0.75 A, the Andover DS reduces this to 0.65, but more importantly reduces the parasitic continuum form the profile "tails." In this case the double limb from the photosphere was eliminated. Additionally, a reduced FWHM is more revealing of any contrast non-uniformity, and in this case the disc non-uniformity - even with the reduced band-pass, was eliminated! Probably the best $15 I've spent in a long time ;-)


LS35 double stack Andover.jpg
LS35 double stack Andover.jpg (24.09 KiB) Viewed 597 times
LS35 Sun test.jpg
LS35 Sun test.jpg (158.15 KiB) Viewed 597 times

So while this is no hi-res imaging system, it's a great low-power grab and go scope! My next task will be to cut a nicer rubber gasket (:-), and replace the B600 rotating helical focuser with a non-rotating model so that some imaging can be more easily performed. Etalon tuning is a snap - not tilting, and just a ~ 1/4 turn of the etalon cover gets you nicely on-band.


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Re: Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

Post by MalVeauX »

Fantastic! Love the simple setup.

I really wish there was a fairly straight forward way to re-do Solarmax etalons to improve their pressure tuning; the center pin thing kills them. They're so bad.

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Re: Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

Post by christian viladrich »

A DIY pressure tuner. Excellent Bob !


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Re: Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

Post by thesmiths »

Is there typically room for improvement with a PST etalon tuning? My sense is the fairly crude tuning mechanism gives a combination of pressure and tilt tuning that leads to the often unpredictable results.


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Re: Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

Post by Carbon60 »

This is great information, Bob. As a user of Lunt 35s this is particularly relevant.

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Re: Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

Post by AndiesHandyHandies »

thesmiths wrote: Mon Sep 06, 2021 4:00 pm Is there typically room for improvement with a PST etalon tuning? My sense is the fairly crude tuning mechanism gives a combination of pressure and tilt tuning that leads to the often unpredictable results.
In a recent thread it seems clear to me that the PST is tuned by pressure on the foam ring compressing the three spacers between the thick etalon glass plates.

CV calculated that the force will give a 0.5A worth of compression in the spacers.

Any tilting is likely to break the molecular bond holding the plates on to the spacers. No reports of that spontaneously happening.

Non-uniformity in the foam ring or un-even re-bound could result in the sweet spot moving about a bit.

Cheers. Andrew.


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Re: Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

Post by thesmiths »

Having taken apart the PST, it seems to me that it would be impossible for the foam ring to compress exactly uniformly (which would lead to some tilting).


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Re: Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

Post by AndiesHandyHandies »

thesmiths wrote: Thu Sep 09, 2021 8:39 pm Having taken apart the PST, it seems to me that it would be impossible for the foam ring to compress exactly uniformly (which would lead to some tilting).
I suppose the small amount of tilt would be accomodated by the molecular attraction force.

Cheers. Andrew.


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Re: Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

Post by Carbon60 »

Parts purchased and installed. Just waiting to give it a trial run when the Sun returns :)

Bob, I bonded each large washer to black felt and then cut away the excess around the outer and inner perimeters when the glue set to provide soft surfaces to mate with the etalon glass cover plate and around the red filter.

Fingers crossed and hope it works.

I’ll post some images.

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Re: Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

Post by Bob Yoesle »

Hi Stu,

Very interested to see your implementation and results - thanks for trying this out ;)


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Re: Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

Post by rsfoto »

Hi Bob,

Interesting but I really did not understand what you are doing with the etalon ?

Is it correct for me to say that you press togeter the two glasses and reduce the gap between them ?

I think the is a way to create a good pressure spring with a 3D printer. The question is to design one for a space of ~ 5mm ...

BTW I just did get a 3D printer :lol:

Rainer


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Re: Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

Post by Bob Yoesle »

There are three general ways to alter the CWL (central wavelength) of an etalon; tilting blue-shifts the etalon, changing the etalon gap spacing increases or decreases the CWL, and changing the refractive index of the etalon gap does the same thing (air pressure tuning). The key with changing the gap spacing is that it must be uniformly changed so that all parts of the etalon have the same CWL.


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Re: Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

Post by marktownley »

Bought the parts I need to do this with my Lunt50 etalon, only £14 inc delivery. I will report back how I get on...

https://simplybearings.co.uk/shop/p9636 ... _info.html


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Re: Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

Post by Carbon60 »

Bob Yoesle wrote: Sat Sep 11, 2021 2:42 am Hi Stu,

Very interested to see your implementation and results - thanks for trying this out ;)
Hi Bob,

Here's my first result. The conditions were not ideal with scudding clouds and quite a bit of haze, but after a bit of tweaking/tuning by compression I got both etalons on band with no tilt at all. Usually I have to tilt the front etalon to get on band.

Image20210914_Ha_Compression Tuning_Test by Stuart Green, on Flickr

This was imaged using a 2.5x PM. When I removed this and tried to image a wider field of view I did actually struggle and ended up with some out of tune regions, but I think a lot of that could be down to my scope design. Usually I always remain with a sweet-spot using the 2.5x or 5x PMs and for this the solution works perfectly well. The limb in this DS configuration is nice and solid.

I'm looking forward to further optimising when the conditions allow, but this is in my view an excellent start.

Thanks for sharing your design concept, Bob.

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Re: Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

Post by Bob Yoesle »

That's a pretty nice hi-res image Stu! A lot depends on the native contrast uniformity of the etalon itself, and if the methodology really can produce near-equal compression forces on the etalon. So it's an experiment... but your results also look promising. I'm contemplating of how to do something similar along these lines with larger etalons, perhaps using Teflon ring bearing surfaces instead of roller needle bearings, etc.

BTW - I understand for another potential modder with an LS50 that the tilted ERF retaining ring stuck up too far to use the first baring race. I suggested removing the ERF retaining ring and using a soft silicone to secure the ERF in its cell so as not to present an uneven surface for the bearing race to seat against, or making a thinner retaining ring to accomplish the same thing.


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Re: Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

Post by marktownley »

Very promising Stu!

Yes Bob, tilted retaining ring will be removed and silicone (or probably blu tak with me! :lol: ) used in place. It might leave the 5mm thickness of the bearing and 2 washers a little shy but that's not a problem and easy enough to make a packing gasket to bring up to desired thickness.


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Re: Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

Post by Bastelhannes »

Next was deciding how to apply uniform pressure, and I struck upon the idea to use a very thin needle trust bearing with even thinner thrust races that would total only 4 mm thick when combined, which also had the appropriate inside and outside diameters, and leaving plenty of room for a thin (~ 2 mm) rubber gasket to apply uniform pressure to the etalon periphery.
Bob,

I am struggling for a few days with my mind. Why are you using the needle bearing? Is it really necessary or would the washers/ trust races be sufficient? The pressure should be uniform over the area of the ring...

Sorry for asking this dumb question...

Bastelhannes


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Re: Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

Post by rsfoto »

MalVeauX wrote: Fri Sep 03, 2021 6:45 pm
I wonder if a pretty specific 3D printed housing could make this work. I also wonder if a large PVC cap with threads could be used for the threaded part, and that a 3D printed unit could be placed inside that PVC cap to hold the etalon exactly. This would be possible I think, and very inexpensive. And then much easier to put onto any donor OTA with a nicer focuser and stuff.

Hi Marty,

While it is still cloudy at my place i am having fun with 3D printing. Yes that could be possible, BUT, yes a big BUT, the temperature inside the housing ¿ how high is it ?

Printing in ABS or Nylon could be possible but not with the normal PLA, starts to get thermoplastic at 50°C, or maybe PETG ... Make a search in Internet to get an idea of the temperature stability of this materials ...

Perhaps a resin printer would be better ¿? What I have seen Resin printing is a bit messy :mrgreen:

Have seen a lot of videos in the last weeks and since Saturday I am printing pieces in order to learn how this new ¿? technology behaves. Got a printer for a volume of W235 x L235 x H250 mm ~ 9.25" x 9.25" x 9.84". Lots of fun :o


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Re: Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

Post by Bob Yoesle »

Why are you using the needle bearing? Is it really necessary or would the washers/ trust races be sufficient? The pressure should be uniform over the area of the ring...
Hi Bastelhannes,

My experiences and thought processes led me to believe that without a lubricant (and the resultant possible contamination of the optical parts) thrust races alone would have considerably more friction when used alone to apply pressure than with the needle roller bearings. As I noted, rotational torque applied to the rubber gasket and underlying etalon face was something I wanted to minimize as much as possible, hence the roller bearing cage is perfect for the application - and was quite inexpensive. Additionally, the additional 2 mm of thickness they offer are in this case beneficial, and the whole assemblage was cheap and required no real tooling, etc. other than to cut a piece of rubber sheet into a compression ring with scissors.

Of course you could possibly use multiple metal washers with some kind of lubrication, or other materials (ultra high molecular weight plastics such as Teflon, polyimide, PEEK, PPS, Nylon, Acetal and Polyester are also known for their good sliding friction properties) for thrust bearings, if constrained to do so. Indeed, this may be a solution I try for larger etalons. But these will require custom fabrication, and before going down that path I wanted a proof-of-concept demonstration with optimal mechanical performance and minimal time and material costs.


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Re: Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

Post by Bastelhannes »

Hi Bob,

Thank your for the explanation. I totally forgot tightening a screw means a rotation vector on the layer below.

Did anyone play with piezo actors so far? Yes, they are a lot more expensive...


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Re: Small Etalon Improvement For Only $15 USD (13 Euros)

Post by Bastelhannes »

Hi Marty,
Printing in ABS or Nylon could be possible but not with the normal PLA, starts to get thermoplastic at 50°C, or maybe PETG ... Make a search in Internet to get an idea of the temperature stability of this materials ...

Perhaps a resin printer would be better ¿? What I have seen Resin printing is a bit messy :mrgreen:

Have seen a lot of videos in the last weeks and since Saturday I am printing pieces in order to learn how this new ¿? technology behaves. Got a printer for a volume of W235 x L235 x H250 mm ~ 9.25" x 9.25" x 9.84". Lots of fun :o
I am working with high temp PLA. This is printed like normal PLA, after the print placed in your oven (including the support structures) and heat it at 80°C for 15 minutes. After cooling sown the crystal structure in the PLA has changed and the PLA now handels 140°C.

Unfortunately my oven is too random keeping the correct temperature. I am looking for a special oven...

Also I have got good results using PETG with infused carbon fibres...


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