I took these items along with my 17.5" Dob to a club observing site about 40 miles west of Washington, DC, to tease out some faint fuzzies. The Milky Way was easily visible despite moonlight and some sloppy suburban lighting as close as 10 miles to the east. My first target was the Helix Nebula, which was easy with the filter at 76x. The Veil Nebula stood out sharply, along with the Dumbbell and the Ring.

The computer, with Stellarium installed, makes my old paper charts obsolete for finding things by star-hopping. I can zoom in to any desired image scale with no eyestrain. One thing the flat screen display does not do well is make a really black sky, so I made a full screen red filter from a sheet of Wratten 25 from a supplier of theater lighting supplies. This makes an excellent night vision display. The computer was good for about three hours until its battery ran down. For longer sessions I could have used its AC power supply with the inverter in my portable battery pack.

The advances in consumer IT electronics continue to blow my mind. When I built the telescope 30 years ago, the smarts in this new computer would have required a truckload of prohibitively expensive equipment, including a cathode ray tube monitor. Now it is in an easy-to-carry package that cost less than the telescope, which is a low-tech, low-budget instrument in the Dobsonian tradition.