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#1 Steve Saturn

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 07:57 PM

I recently "discovered" that MaxIm DL comes with Pinpoint LE for plate solving. I know, call me slow. I'm discovering "new" functions in MaxIm DL each time I use it. After trying out the plate solve function and finding that it seemed to work great, it left me wondering if I can use it to simplify and/or speed up my star alignment with my G11/Gemini mount. Does anyone know of a way to use plate solving to simplify the alignment process? Since I have to set up my mount each time I image, it would be really slick if there were a way to put Pinpoint LE to work for me.

Also, if anyone has any tips on using PinpPoint LE to autocenter an object in Maxim DL, I'd really like to hear from you. My first attempts were unsuccesful. My plate solve worked fine, but I think that I messed up the calibration step somehow. Thanks!

Steve

#2 malachykidd

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 08:25 PM

There is a piece of software called PolarAlignMax that uses plate solving with MaxIm DL (or TheSky Pro and CCDSoft v5) to perform polar alignment. Unfortunately, the most recent release (that I am aware of) directs you toward the J2000 NCP coordinates-- that is, where the NCP was in the year 2000-- rather than JNow. There are some ways to correct for this, but it would probably be best to stick with drift aligning rather than mess with it, or use PAM for rough alignment and then drift into precision.

#3 Mike Clemens

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 08:37 PM

Dunno but welcome to plate solving : ) Your GOTO are going to take on a new degree of accuracy. After doing plate solves, go into the Maxim telescope interface and sync to the plate solve. Following nearby GOTOs will place the targets directly under the crosshairs.

#4 Steve Saturn

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 09:13 PM

Thanks for the replies Justin and Mike.

Justin, I have been looking into PolarAlignMax, and I'm planning to give it a try. I've read about the J2000 issue and found some info here regarding the correction factors. I've used FocusMax (by the same authors) with great results, so I'm hoping that PoleAlignMax will be as helpful.

Mike, sorry if this is a dumb question, but here goes. If I understand correctly, I would use my mount and perform my normal alignment. Then I would use Maxim DL/Pinpoint LE to do a plate solve. I would then synch the scope using MaxIm at that point and then use MaxIm for all scope control (not my mount's hand controller). Am I on the right track? Thanks.

Steve

#5 Paul Romero

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Posted 14 November 2010 - 11:50 PM

Steve,

Sorry this is off topic ...but re: automaging...

I have had good luck with CCD Commander and MaximDL/Pinpoint LE. If the scope is a few degrees off, the plate solve function in this program automatically centers the target by moving the mount the required distance. I am using a Gemini, too. CCDC has a 30 day trial.

For those using an auto focuser, Focusmax, a free Windows program, works with the above mentioned software to automatically find an appropriate focus star (i.e. ones in the 3rd or 4th magnitude, I believe), but unfortunately you have to buy the full featured Pinpoint to use that.

#6 Mike Clemens

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 12:06 AM

It usually works like this for me.

Pick a target, let's say M45.
GOTO M45

(Take 10 second picture)
The scope is near the target but not perfect.
<Plate solve the picture>

Sync the mount to the position of the plate solve.
(Maxim will present the option "Sync to - solved position")

GOTO M45 (again)
M45 is dead center perfect.

Also objects nearby to M45 will be perfect too, so when I slew to a focus star up to a couple degrees away, it is right on ready.

Does the G11 / Gemini modeling make every GOTO near perfect anyway? I have no experience with it, only AP, which does not do pointing modeling. (Coming soon with the AP Control Center though.)

Mike

#7 Steve Saturn

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 02:33 PM

Hi Paul,

I've been doing some reading about CCD Commander. Looks like a great program. I do use FocusMax and it would be great to be able to automate some of the setup that goes on before you actually start imaging. Unfortunately, I live in the suburbs of San Diego, and for each imaging trip I probably drive 75 to 100 miles to get to a nice dark sky site in the mountains or desert. Because I have to set up and tear down for each session, it just hasn't seemed worthwhile for me to try to automate anything beyond focusing and autocentering my target object (which is my current pursuit).

Steve

#8 Steve Saturn

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 02:44 PM

Thanks a million for the great summary Mike. That's exactly what I want to do. My Gemini/G11 is very good about getting a target on-chip after a simple 3 star alignment. Getting the object dead center though usually takes me 10 to 15 minutes after going through a few nudge and shoot iterations. I used to have an 8" Meade Classic LX200 that had a very handy feature called High Precision Pointing (HPP). It would ask you to center a bright star near your target and then it would center the target object very nicely. Sounds like plate solving is going to get me there :^)

The other feature that I can't wait to figure out is plate solve assisted autocentering of an object (click on the object in an image and tell the mount to center it). The last time I tried it my slew would take the object off-chip. I must have something set incorrectly or I'm not quite following the instructions properly somehow. Thanks again for your help.

Steve

#9 Mike Clemens

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 03:26 PM

> Getting the object dead center though usually takes
> me 10 to 15 minutes after going through a few nudge
> and shoot iterations

Been there, suffered that.
GOTO -> Take Pic -> Solve -> Sync -> GOTO Again
You'll spend maybe a minute maximum next time : )

PLUSSSS now... many times I don't want the object centered by the catalog RA/DEC. (Imagine you want to get NGC7331 and the Quintet in the same photograph.) I will still GOTO NGC7331, plate solve it, sync the mount. But then I grab the exact desired RA/DEC center from "Googly Sky", right between 7331 and the Quintet.

With the pointing perfection from doing the plate solve/sync, my desired framing is usually within one arcminute on the X/Y borders!

#10 Steve Saturn

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 04:19 PM

That's awesome Mike. Thanks!

Steve






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