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My PreciseParts Page

PreciseParts produces custom precision parts, one of a kind or otherwise, in various metals of your choosing for astronomy and other applications. Ashley Stevens, the owner, lives in Florida and is a member of the Southern Cross Astronomical Society in Miami. My imaging cohorts and I have found his services to be outstanding for quality custom parts as our systems become more specialized and difficult to accessorize. Ashley can create an adapter that simplifies use of multiple components saving both time and money. I can't recommend his services highly enough and will state without equivocation that his business has been a significant boon to my efforts and I'm certain to many others as well. On this page you'll find a few examples of custom machining I've had Ashley perform to provide an idea of the specialized needs components.

Photo courtesy of PreciseParts
PreciseParts FSQ adapter
FSQ adapter in use The part above is a FSQ-106N to STL-11000 camera adapter Ashley machined. He also created a faceplate for the STL not indicated in the photo, but it's on the camera in the image to the left, where you can view the adapter in use. This adapter allowed me to use the STL on a early 2005 imaging trip to Chiefland, Florida. The adapter worked perfectly although the sky conditions weren't too cooperative. I shot multiple Hydrogen-alpha images during this session that turned out well when combined.
The following examples are typical of how the process works with PreciseParts:

From my conceptual sketch...
FRC field entry sketch
Machined FRC adapter To the PreciseParts finished adapter...

Since my sketch above was completed new information pursuant to the PDF adapters was identified. You'll note that the final version has a 'shoulder', which prevents the threading from being inserted too far into the PDF adapter pocket, which had caused damage to several focusers. This is just another example of PreciseParts customer service; Ashley learned of the problem and corrected it in the final machining.

Photo courtesy of PreciseParts
PreciseParts FRC adapter mounted To the completed application...

You can see the adapter put to work in this view - the red arrow leads the way. The 'shoulder' is visible mounted into the front face of the PDF focuser. Per the sketch and excellent PreciseParts workmanship, the space is exactly 16.52mm to the reducer plate and works splendidly.

This same adapter can also be used with the system at f7.8. To do this the reducer is removed and the flattener installed. Two Takahashi adapter rings are installed at the flattener and the PreciseParts adapter threads into the outside ring. This spaces the image train by another 20mm to achieve to optimum distance from the field flattener.
From this...

An example of a typical problem with setting up a new system - the Casady DoveEM saddle has normal length knobs that prevent proper tightening because they fall directly over the top of the FRC top plate fasteners in this modified arrangement.
Short knob problem
To the fix...

The solution... After several emails with Ashley conferring how best to address the issue in the most cost effective manner, these extensions were machined and the problem was resolved.

Photo courtesy of PreciseParts
PreciseParts corrective work
To becoming a part of the system...

The knobs are mounted into the dovetail with ample room to grip and tighten. There's a great deal of weight on this plate and it would be an expensive crash in the event of a failure.
Completed knob project
PDF anchor sketch This sketch indicates a design to add a different type of fastener to the PDF focusing unit. This would allow the attachment of the PDF to the STL camera without use of a tool and provide a way to turn the STL when mounted on an A-P refractor as these don't have a camera angle adjuster. This idea was emailed to Ashley for consideration and resolution.
At right is the final product machined by PreciseParts, a true work of precision and practicality...

Photo courtesy of PreciseParts
PDF anchors machined
The photo at right shows one pair of two anchors installed and mounted to the STL camera. Tools are no longer required and they can be adjusted easily. Every imager using a PDF should have a set of these; thanks Ashley... PreciseParts anchors applied
PreciseParts A-P adapters The photograph at left indicates a pair of PreciseParts adapters in use on George's Astro-Physics 180mm f9 refractor. The pair of adapters includes one adapter that screws into the 2.7" drawtube and threads into the PDF adapter pocket. The second adapter is on the backside of the PDF and mates the focuser with the A-P field flattener. After this the standard A-P parts are installed and the camera added. I have a pair made up to use with my 130mm refractors and flattener with the STL/PDF, which I have yet to photograph. This may not look like much of a revelation, but these adapters allow the Finger Lakes PDF focuser to be used with the A-P field flattener and a CCD camera. George and I have been waiting for quite some time for this capability. This represents a flat fielded image with precision focus capability and a large chip CCD field - this hobby is getting to be pretty cool...

I'd like to thank Ashley Stevens and PreciseParts for the great service, quality work and patience while these items are being conceptualized and brought to fruition. I believe Ashley has filled a necessary requirement for amateur astronomers and imagers in providing adapters and other custom machining of terrific quality that can be obtained without multiple weeks or months of waiting. If you need something specialized done I urge you to contact him, chances are whatever youíre seeking heís already designed and built.
My A-P to STL Set Up
George and I had Ashley machine PreciseParts adapters so we could employ our Finger Lakes Precision Digital Focusers (PDF) with the Astro-Physics 2.7 inch focuser and field flattener with the optical system. The images above this segment exhibit Georgeís set up and this section will detail what I had machined to make it work with my two 130mm A-P telescopes - one at f8.35 and one at f6. These photographs were taken in April 2007 but Iíve had the adapters for quite a while and never set up my A-P refractors with the STL-11000M camera until this time.

Iím certain that these adapters are available now that the PDF has been around for sometime. However, when we investigated these adapters the PDF was new and the demand for the plethora of optical systems that it could be used on had not yet caught up. Iíd been on a waiting list for the PDF and wished to get it into operation as quickly as possible both on the Tak FRC-300/FSQ and the Astro-Physics instruments.

The first adapter noted at right is to mate the PDF to the threading on the A-P 2.7 inch focuser. The PreciseParts adapter screws into the end of the focus tube on the telescope side and into the PDF pocket with shoulder that serves as a stop so the thread depth is correct.

PreciseParts adapter bewteen the focusers

PreciseParts A-P adapter to Field Flattener Next is the adapter that fits into the rear pocket of the PDF and accepts the Astro-Physics field flattener threading. This piece is installed and held in place by the four thumb screws Ashley made up as noted earlier in this article. On my system these work well and in the case of this particular set up, where the A-P telescope doesnít have a camera rotator, these can be loosened to allow everything behind the PDF to be turned to orientate the camera or square it up. A camera rotator would be nice, but this alleviates the condition.

PreciseParts adpter between flattener and camera

The image above indicates the adapter PreciseParts machined to go between the field flattener and the STL-11000M faceplate. The width of this adapter isnít critical or machined to a specific dimension. Itís threaded to mate the flattener to the camera attachment. The first photograph at the top of this page shows a similiar adapter from PreciseParts to use the STL with the FSQ-106N.

In order to get the STL camera mounted Ashley made a new plate with the proper threading to match the adapter. What happens is the four screws holding the stock plate from SBIG are removed and the PreciseParts mounting replaces it. This image shows this piece mounted and screwed in from a side elevation. The threading installs into the adapter for a solid connection to the optical train.

PreciseParts adapter on STL-11000M face

The finalized image train, View One Once the plate is secured to the camera the assembly is rotated onto the adapter and tightened up. As noted previously, the PDF screws can be loosened allowing everything to turn so the camera can be orientated as desired. My FSQ with the ST-402 can be viewed behind the EDFS set up as a guidescope.

The finalized image train, View Two

Another view of the image train minus the cables. The STL is in the position I would use to commence an imaging session.

April 2007

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