DarkFrame services and tunes existing Equatorial and Alt-Az Mounts and Telescopes to a much higher level of performance. With our design and engineering capability, we have the ability to produce our own Astronomy products from the ground up, with components sourced locally in the UK.
Going back to our core values means we can also revisit our expertise in low-light and underwater imaging with new assets to create engineered solutions beyond image-processing. Applications would include Marine ROV, video-forensics and low-light CCD cameras.
Building your own range of Telescopes with this level of commitment and background brings something innovative to the UK Amateur Astronomy scene and drives change.
Literally, Watch this Space.
Through HantsAstro, which is the largest astronomy group in the South of England and with over 300 members, we have a real-world presence too. We are Astronomers, not just retailers. We like to meet and we like to help. Our business is just an extension of that ethos and commitment to support over the past 7 years to the Group.
Our advice is genuinely impartial as it's based around the experience of the broadest range of imaging equipment you can think of from the biggest groups in the UK. We have customers travelling over 150 miles to visit us from Sussex, Surrey and Kent and as far north as Oxfordshire and Wiltshire, as well as Dorset, Devon and Cornwall to the West!
About who we work with
We have a great relationship with all our chosen suppliers, and we act as an extension of their business. That means the highest level of knowledge, service and support. We are not box-shifters, and like to take our time with customers. We care about the products we sell, and provide feedback and reviews to improve them. This feedback helps to improve and help create better products because we are Astronomers, just like you.
All of our supplied equipment is covered by either a 1 or 2 year manufacturers warranty. We either refund, repair or replace if found faulty, it's as simple as that. The majority of our repairs where possible are done on site to save you time.
Because of our customer base worldwide, our Export Service means that we check all items and even update firmware. It's reassuring to know that it'll all work when it arrives to you, isn't it? We regularly ship to main EU countries, such as France, Spain and Germany. We also have customers in colder climates such as Sweden, Denmark and Norway, so often will re-lube the mounts so they can be used down to -20 Celsius without issue.
So who are we?
David Woods and Sharon Rose set up HantsAstro in 2008 and have been running it ever since to become the largest membership based astronomy group in the South East. We have proven that we are committed to providing a great astronomy experience, and now with the equipment we use too! Dave also teaches Astrophotography as well as being an active STEMNET Ambassador. Sharon's 30+ years experience in customer services, translates into a huge asset from being HantsAstro's Membership Secretary into DarkFrame's high-level customer service - Knowledge and Service demonstrably being our core values and this is reflected in our 99.7% Customer Satisfaction Rate.
Our returns rate on all mounts serviced, tuned or repaired is less than 2% since we started, perhaps the best in the astronomy industry.
You'll save more money in the long run starting with a better telescope and mount which is what we found after running the Group for a while. Many people start off with a cheap telescope (and sometimes truly nasty!) mount, which works OK, but we know they quickly wanted to upgrade leaving them with a scope/mount that often ended up in the loft!
Isn't it easier (and cheaper long term) to buy something that you won't outgrow in the first place, and is upgradeable? Well you can, and it will provide you an easier and more rewarding pastime from the start. With access to the latest and best equipment, we test all the stuff we offer, to provide the highest level of product knowledge, as well as pitching alongside competing brands, to offer a balanced and honest viewpoint. The Best Advice is always to be unbiased and objective, even on products we don't retail, as our astronomy group provides real-world experiences, not the 'expert' opinions you'll sometimes find on a forum...
That's why we are also now offering servicing and tuning of your mount, to protect your investment and help you get the best out of your setup, be it for observing or imaging.
Formed in 2008, DarkFrame Ltd was originally setup as an astro-imaging photo-agency specialist based around the experiences gained from involvement with HantsAstro. This has since evolved to become a engineering solution provider, from component development including servicing and mount tuning. We can take your existing EQ Mount, such as a Sky-Watcher HEQ5 or EQ6 and refurbish it to provide up to three time better peak-to-peak periodic error performance! We can also make mount quieter too, making they whole experience more of a pleasure!
Since August 2014, Dave started professionally tuning iOptron, Celestron and Sky-Watcher mounts and modifying telescopes, starting out with his own Celestron CG5-GT, and an Altair Astro 200mm ƒ4 Imaging Newtonian. From there he has acquired a broad range of CNC/CAD micro-engineering skills and experience in Tribology, the science of friction surfaces and lubrication. With fully equipped workshops, equipped with milling/drilling machines and ultra-precise lathes, DarkFrame can rapid prototype new components at will, as well as experiment with new engineering processes. This has led to the innovation and development of the new very high precision StellarDrive-SPX™ worm-gears and low friction components in 2017 utilised for a range of new StellarDrive™ mounts, turning DarkFrame into the largest mount tuner in Europe, and manufacturer exporting to over 35 countries across the globe.
Our internal project for 2018/19 is 'Quantification', by aligning ourselves to Sigma Six production methodology. Also with the development of our SIDAC Test rigs, we can further improve our mounts consistenacy and a roadmap to our ultimate tuning solution, StellarDrive+™, which is currently under development. We have also rebranded our standard tuning products to StellarTune™, to demonstrate that they have patentable StellarDrive™ FX or RX Axis bearing treatments, for improved balancing and tracking performance. These are included at no extra cost!
How to find Us
We are very easy to find in Clanfield, Hampshire, and just off the A3 just south of Butser Hill on the South Downs. Because we are not a retail shop (but have a home-based workshop in an refurbished stable block as registered business premises) and are located under Mag 20 dark skies, we can do more mount development than at an industrial unit. Mount drop-off and collection is available by appointment only.
Is our web-store secure?
All data submitted through our store is encrypted and is completely secure. Our Checkout is SSL enabled, well, as soon as you click 'checkout'! All payments are processed securely by third-party processors, such as PayPal and no billing details are ever stored or forwarded. You can be assured of your complete transaction security at all times. We also take cash/bank transfer.
We can also take secure credit card payments on site and at shows, courtesy of iZettle® AB
Thanks for visiting and we look forward to your call, e-mail or visit! :)
DarkFrame Limited (est. September 2008)
Co. Reg. 0676374 VAT Reg. No. GB 209 9868 55
11 Drift Road, Clanfield, Hampshire, UK PO8 0JJ