Perfect Azimuth Base for IOptron SkyTracker
Posted 23 February 2013 - 05:42 PM
Posted 24 February 2013 - 06:26 AM
Posted 24 February 2013 - 08:00 AM
Posted 24 February 2013 - 01:51 PM
The ball head is a Manfrotto 498RC2. I am also playing with Manfrotto 460MG head. I like how I can loosen one axis at a time with the 460MG. The 460MG clears the SkyTracker with the polar scope attached. Would be better with a small 1/4 inch thread pan head on the top of it. My camera, 400mm lens and mount head are just under 6 pounds so it is with load limits of the SkyTracker.
I had a blast light night just playing with the Sky Tracker and Canon 6D. I was controlling it via wifi using an iPad. Made focusing and framing very easy. I had the mount and camera plugged into a 35 amp-hour 12 volt battery so I didn't care about battery life on the camera. I have a lot of trees on my property. I would pick up and move the mount, camera and battery in one trip. Only takes about a minute to polar align via the SkyTracker alignment scope. It would make it easy to find a clear view for the part of the sky I wanted to shoot. I had to stick to the 400mm f/5.6 lens because of the bright moon. I can't wait until next weekend to take some wider field shots before the moon rise.
Posted 24 February 2013 - 04:17 PM
Posted 24 February 2013 - 08:56 PM
Posted 24 February 2013 - 11:24 PM
Posted 24 February 2013 - 11:39 PM
Posted 25 February 2013 - 11:21 AM
I added a Rigel Quick Finder to the Canon 6D for easy camera pointing.
Thanks for the info on what you're doing with the Sky Tracker. I picked one up at WSP this year and think they're great. As you noted, the one drawback was the azimuth adjustment, so I was interested to see your low-cost solution. Nice!
Regarding the Rigel finder, how did you adapt it to fit the hot shoe on the camera? That would be a very welcome addition to the setup as well. Guessing where the camera is pointing just doesn't cut it.
I also like the looks of the Manfrotto 460MG head. That's sweet! At present I was just planning on using a 50mm f/1.4 lense, but the mount can obviously hold more than that.
Posted 25 February 2013 - 01:07 PM
X2 on asking about adapting a hot shoe to hold a finder. Adorama sells a shoe to 1/4-20 adapter, to which a ScopeStuff #RDPQ - Orion/Synta Type Finder Mounting Shoe might be mountable (don't know haven't tried it yet).
Nice pictures, I'm jealous. Last night was also the first clear night with my new Ioptron Smart EQ Pro - but I wasn't able to sort out how the thing worked to get to sample shots. Maybe simpler would have been the better solution.
Posted 25 February 2013 - 01:43 PM
I had a hot shoe adapter and screwed to the Rigel base to it. I had a Rigel Quick Finder laying around since I mostly use Telrads. It was about a 5 minute modification. I pointed the camera to the moon using live view and centered the moon in the frame. I then adjusted the knobs on the Quick Finder to match.
I just went on Amazon and searched for Canon hot shoe adapter. The HDE version is $2.25 + $2.99 shipped. It has a 1/4-20 bolt at the top that could be secured to the Rigel base with a nut and lock washer.
My only complaint regarding the Sky Tracker are the two lock knobs holding the 3/8 inch post adapter to the Sky Tracker. They can come a little loose and the camera can slip and rotate downward. Only happens if I don't crank them down hard. Only an issue with a heavy 6 pound camera and lens load. I would have preferred hex set screws. I may look at Lowes and see if I can find some set screws that match the knob threads.
Posted 26 February 2013 - 11:28 PM
Posted 26 February 2013 - 11:55 PM
I have an AT65EDQ scope with a 420 mm focal length that I use on my AP900GTO. I bought the Sky Tracker to image mostly at shorter focal lengths. However it is nice to know that the mount can track well unguided with my longest lens. The complete rig is small enough that I can bring it along for nights that are mostly going focused on observing. I can also fit it in on long car camping trips in the dark southwest.
Posted 26 March 2013 - 10:37 AM
I agree that the small screws could be replaced with something that you could get a small wrench or screwdriver on to, to lock the mount down, especially with a heavier load. I've just been using a Nikon 60mm f/2.8 but am thinking about the Nikon 180mm f/2.8 prime that has been around a while and seems to be used by a number of astrophotographers for its excellent ED glass and light weight.
For an alternative to a finder, I got one of the "advanced" red dot finders which came with a mounting apparatus including a hot shoe mount. It is pretty light weight and lets me frame the shot pretty easily, sitting atop my D90.
I found it at gadget dot brando dot com, a Tactical Four Reticle Sight.
Posted 27 March 2013 - 07:18 PM
Think I could make the switch?
Posted 27 March 2013 - 08:23 PM