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Equipment review - a beginners setup

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#1 PenumbraX

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 09:25 PM

Long time lurker, first time poster. I've decided to get into AP after having an 10" LX200 Classic (for visual use) for years and am in need of some advice about the equipment that I'm thinking about purchasing. I would like to see if there are any potential drawbacks to the following setup:

Mount: Orion Atlas EQ-G
OTA: AT65EDQ
CCD: SBIG STF-8300M with OAG
Autoguider: Orion SSAG

I've figured that I can start with this and then add a filter wheel and filters later once I get some experience.

As far as computer software goes I was thinking of using PHD, Nebulosity, and that software that others have used for the Atlas (the name is totally escaping me). I do have Photoshop so that's covered.

Anything else that is missing? Or other suggestions?

Thank you and Clear Skies.

Brian

#2 oo_void

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 02:07 AM

I'd recommend against an OAG and go with a mini-guide scope, especially at such a low focal length. Otherwise, looks like a good, wide-field, starting platform. As for anything you can add? This is a hobby begging to have money thrown at it.

Just a thought. You might want to consider going with a smaller format camera like one of the Atik's 314's instead of the APS-C size 8300. It'll give you better scale at the 480mm of the AT65EDQ and filters will be a heck of a lot cheaper at 1.25" instead of 2" when you make that next step.

#3 terry59

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 07:17 AM

You will need some kind of filter to get started with, either a luminance type or Ha depending on your preferred quarry. If you choose Ha, look at the Orion or Baader.

#4 PenumbraX

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 02:46 PM

Thank guys!

I did neglect to mention that I'm planning to image nebula an the like to start with. I had seriously considered the Atik 314L+, I liked the sensitivity, but I like the FOV better with the 8300M using CCDCalc.

I thought I've seen setups with the AT65EDQ that use an OAG, but I could be mistaken.

For filters I'd probably lean toward a luminance filter.

#5 Phil Sherman

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 01:39 PM

If you have a DSLR, I'd consider using it as a first camera until you learn a bit about image processing, then get your astro camera. T adapters for DSLRs are inexpensive and your DSLR can make great astro images using RAW recording mode.

Phil

#6 shams42

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 11:29 AM

The 314L+ won't give "better scale" than the ST-8300 as the ST-8300 has smaller pixels. Using the AT65EDQ, the ST-8300 will sample at 2.65"/pixel and the 314L+ at 3.16"/pixel.

#7 orlyandico

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 12:44 PM

AFAIK the 8300 chips can use 1.25" filters. Or maybe it's just the QSI cameras..

one advantage of the smaller chip cameras is you can use crazy stuff like the Optec Nexgen 0.5 reducer (which would heavily vignette an 8300) and get f/5 out of an SCT.

#8 neptun2

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 01:41 PM

I don't know why some people are against OAG. I use one (the TS 9mm off-axis guider) and like it very much. This is the most accurate way to guide because the 2 cameras see the same thing and flexure is not a problem. The refractors with their long back focus are especially suitable for OAG usage. This is also valid for the chip size. If the scope can illuminate big chip why not go with it? I don't see any disadvantages.

#9 Fogboundturtle

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 01:43 PM

I don't know why some people are against OAG. I use one (the TS 9mm off-axis guider) and like it very much. This is the most accurate way to guide because the 2 cameras see the same thing and flexure is not a problem. The refractors with their long back focus are especially suitable for OAG usage. This is also valid for the chip size. If the scope can illuminate big chip why not go with it? I don't see any disadvantages.


It also reduce dramatically the weight as I don't have to have a guiding scope piggybacking on my mount.

#10 shams42

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 02:15 PM

If you want OAG, you need to budget for a very sensitive guide camera such as the Lodestar. I have found the cheaper SSAG to lack the required sensitivity for OAG.

If you are using an external guidescope, the SSAG is fine, saving a little money. But it's money you will quickly spend instead on a guide scope and mounting solution.

OAG (or self-guiding or on-axis guiding) is THE solution for differential flexure. With a sensitive guide camera, there's no reason not to use it if you can. You will have no trouble finding guide stars.

#11 PenumbraX

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 03:24 PM

I'd love a Lodestar, but its nearly twice as expensive than the SSAG with 50mm guidescope. Have others had issues with the SSAG + 50mm guidescope and differential flexure in my particular setup (or something similar)?

What would be a recommended OAG + camera setup (other than the Lodestar) that would be around, say $600 (could be more I suppose)? What have others had success with?

#12 vpcirc

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 03:37 PM

If you're going with the Orion, do not get the combo planetary imager, just the straight SSAG. The Atlas mount has been somewhat prone with problems. It's going to limit your ability to take long exposures. I personally believe 60% of the money spent should be in the mount. I learned the hard way and wanted to put everything into as much aperture as possible and bought a low end mount. I became frustrated very quickly. With a small refractor OAG is unnecessary and a waste of resources. Since you're new, I would suggest looking at used cameras on the classified sites to start. You'll save a lot of $$$. Spending more money on the camera than the mount is not a good choice. Without a stable platform that tracks accurately not much else matters.

#13 neptun2

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 05:15 PM

I highly recommend for example used meade dsi 2 camera as autoguider. I use such and it is as sensitive as lodestar. Unfortunately i bought mine several years ago and can't remember what was the price second hand.

#14 NorthBoundTrain

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 02:00 AM

The Atlas mount has been somewhat prone with problems. It's going to limit your ability to take long exposures.


First off, I respect your opinion and though I do agree the mount is the foundation on which imaging can become either a joy or a nightmare & is easily the single most important part of any imaging rig. I do not see how an Atlas is going to "limit your ability to take long exposures". Especially with a guiding setup, it is easy to reach into the 15-25min range. With all things this comes with practice ie. learning how to correctly PA, drift align, balance etc..

Just my :penny: :penny: based on personal experience as well as others.

#15 Fogboundturtle

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 02:14 AM

Don't let the CN people spend all your money. That's my advice

#16 mmalik

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 04:55 AM

My suggestions for OAG/Piggy guiding:

OAG:
ST-i Mono...

Piggy Options:
1. ST-i Guiding Kit... + ST-i Mono...
OR...
2. This... or this... from Orion (go for 80mm guide scope if your setup allows)

Read some relevant discussions here..., here... and here.....

If you go for DSLR imaging, a DSLR idea here....

As others have suggested, single most critical piece of the puzzle is the mount; spend most time/effort selecting the right mount for imaging; a discussion here.... Hope this helps. Thx


On a side note, some image processing instructions here....

#17 shams42

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 11:41 AM

Have others had issues with the SSAG + 50mm guidescope and differential flexure in my particular setup (or something similar)?


I think your proposed setup is the best one for guiding with an external guidescope. Though nothing is as good as OAG, your flexure will probably be minimal depending on how your mount the 50mm scope.

Now if you were going to image with a mirror scope, especially a Schmidt-Cassegrain, I would not advise an external guidescope.

#18 andysea

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 10:40 PM

My suggestion is to get hight quality equipment. This way you will only spend once. I've gone through that same process.

#19 hytham

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 03:08 AM

Spend it on the mount!

If I could go back I would have an EM-400 Temma II or a Paramount MX (on sale for $8000).

#20 PenumbraX

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 11:57 PM

Thanks all for your input! You have given me something to ponder over. Looking forward to this new challenge. I've always wanted to do something like this.

#21 andysea

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 12:51 AM

Spend it on the mount!

If I could go back I would have an EM-400 Temma II or a Paramount MX (on sale for $8000).


Oh yeah! you can't go wrong with a good mount:)






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