eFinder

IMG 5264

Astrophotographers have long been using digital finders to ensure their main telescopes are centred on the target of choice. Relatively low cost yet high performing cameras, telescopes and processors have been integrated into the overall imaging process, greatly improving the experience. What could this technology do for visual observers?

The development followed a tortuous path while various solutions were tried. This can be read here.

The ‘final’ system is a result of testing the options and getting feedback from others brave enough to build their own copies. The gallery shows images of the various parts.

Functionality

  • Refine Goto’s. The drive typically gets within 10 arc mins of the target. The errors are down to initial Nexus DSC alignment and the stability and orthogonality of the scope mount.
    The eFinder can automatically finish the goto by sending the scope drive commands to close out any error.
  • Make initial two star alignments easier. Instead of aligning on Named Stars in the Nexus catalogue, you can just point the scope at a convenient part of the sky and the eFinder will determine the position very accurately and send the result to the Nexus DSC as a pseudo alignment ‘star’.
  • 'Local Sync’ is easy. The eFinder quickly resolves true RA & Dec of where it is pointing and sends that to the Nexus DSC as a local sync point. Also makes building an MPoint model very easy.
  • The eFinder can display a simple red LED text display on a hand box, or a full GUI on a connected PC or tablet. This includes the image that has been captured and solved. This image can have the eyepiece field of view and orientation superimposed, along with say ngc objects annotated. very handy to help identify what is in the main scope eyepiece.


IMG 4678

The systems comprises,

IMG 5248IMG 4969 (1)
  • ASI120MM-S camera, chosen for its low price, good performance and availability of drivers compatible with Python coding.
  • 50mm f/1.8 cctv lens, affordable, mounts directly to the camera, fast and more than adequate image quality.




  • Raspberry Pi 4B 4GB. Loaded with standard 32bit Raspian OS.
  • A local build of Astrometry.net on the Raspberry Pi. Well proven code and fast if set up right. Many features whihc made the eFinder powerful and user friendly.




  • USB conected hand box with a Raspberry Pi Pico board, OLED display and 5-way navigation switch. Full control of the eFinder and easily mounted near the eyepiece.







  • Optional GUI display on a connected PC or tablet. provides many features, including image display.
Screenshot 2022-08-13 at 11.03.57


The eFinder needs a Nexus DSC (standard or Pro) to interface into the telescope drive (either ScopeDog or ServoCat)

  • The Nexus DSC firmware has been updated to provide a bespoke interface. Copies of the firmware are available from AstroDevices or myself.
  • The eFinder has been tested with both ScopeDog & ServoCat drive systems. It should work with other goto AltAz drives connected to the Nexus DSC.


If anyone want to build their own copy - please contact me




© AstroKeith 2022