Hitecastro are delighted to announce details of their newest focus controller, HitecDCFocus.
HitecDCFocus is specially designed and extensively tested to support both the 'Skywatcher' and 'JMI' focus motors. Sockets for both types of motors are standardised on the high quality CNC machined housing. Additionally there is included manual focus buttons so you can use your HitecDCFocus unit, even when its not connected to a PC.
Of course, it is when connected to a PC via USB2.0 that HitecDCFocus comes into its own. The specially written software provides very accurate control over your focus motor. The smallest of focus motion can be achieved by adjusting the parameters of the software to your needs.
The included dedicated software provides a vast amount of options to satisfy the most demanding of astronomers.
Everything from the speed of the focuser to the frequency the motor operates at can be controlled.
HiTec have developed a 'simulated' step mode which emulates a stepper based control in function. It should be clearly noted that all DC motors are NOT capable of repeated absolute positioning. Unlike stepper motors which can be commanded to move a fixed number of steps, DC motors can only be turned on and off for a period of time. This limits the use for autofocusing. We have however tested this with autofocus software and obtained very good results.
Where our DC focuser excels is in providing the finest hands off control over your focus procedure. The DC motor can either be slewed by pushing the buttons on the controller or via software control.
Depending on the settings you can either operate in continuous mode where the focuser will move until the button is released or our simulated step mode allows the focuser to be moved in equal steps for each push of the button. The amount the focuser moves for each step is fully controllable through the speed and steps parameters of the software. During development HiTec were amazed at just how small a movement could be achieved using the software. This far exceeds what can be done by hand focusing and makes the process of accurately focusing a CCD camera simple and painless (well as painless as your local seeing conditions will allow!!)
We think planetary imagers will be particularly interested in this focuser since anyone who has tried to focus on planets at high magnifications will know that even touching the telescope to focus at very high magnification cause impossible shaking of the image on screen. By reducing the speed of the focuser and adjusting the frequency of the motor to suit your setup you can acheive vibration free focusing even at the highest of f/d ratios.
But we havent forgotten about visual observers. Again focusing at high magnifiactions can be acheived even with the highest power eyepieces. The addition of slew buttons on the unit itself means that even if you don't wish to take a PC to your dark site, you can use HitecDCFocus. If you do bring a PC, the integrated night vision mode will help ensure your hard won dark adaptation is not compromised.
We are currently in the final stages of developing an ASCOM compliant driver to compliment the HitecDCFocus software bundle. This will allow HitecDCFocus to be used with any software which supports the ASCOM standard such as Maxim DL. CCD Soft, Focus Max etc.. (Please see our earlier stated caveat regarding autofocusing).
In short, HitecDCFocus is a quantum leap in functionality and useability from the standard motor hand controllers and when it comes to a comparison with manual 'hand' focusing, well there simply is none!! Once you've focused with our controller you will never want to touch your telescope focus wheel ever again!
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