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Equipment Discussions >> Mounts

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will1384
member


Reged: 02/22/13

Can't get properly aligned with VX mount
      #5809950 - 04/20/13 01:43 AM

I am having trouble getting my VX mount properly aligned, I am unable to even take a 30 second exposure without getting star trails, this is what I am doing.


(1) I move the tripod so that the Azimuth peg is pointing to North, I use a Map Compass.

(2) I use a bubble level on top of the tripod, to level the tripod.

(3) I place the mount on the tripod, and set my latitude.

(4) Put the Telescope on the mount, install the weight, install the telescope, and balance the telescope in both RA and DEC.

(5) I turn the mount on, and enter my GPS, date, and time.

(6) I do the two star aliment, add one or two calibration stars, as my view of the sky is very limited.

(7) I select and go to a star with the hand control.

(8) I then press the Align button, then select Polar Align, then select Align Mount, and follow the directions.

(7) I then turn off the mount, and return the mount to the default RA and DEC marks.

(8) I then turn it back on, do the two star aliment, add one or two calibration stars, then start taking pictures.

A few notes:

(1) I am using a 12.5mm Reticle Eyepiece
(2) I use a Telrad Finder
(3) My telescope is a Sky-Watcher Pro 80ED, Aperture 80mm, Focal Length 600mm,Focal Ratio 7.5.
(4) Camera is a Panasonic G3, Micro Four Thirds Sensor, with prime focus adapter.
(5) I use the camera's 10 Self-timer to trip the shutter.

What am I doing wrong ?


I have a Netbook, Bluetooth GPS dongle, guide scope with a somewhat sensitive camera, and the cables I need, but I would like to know what I am doing wrong before I try using the Netbook to control the VX mount.


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cn register 5
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/26/12

Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5810054 - 04/20/13 04:08 AM

There are two possibilities:
The polar align isn't good.
Periodic error.

If you do a new alignment after the polar align you can check the align error. A good ASPA should end up with an error of 10 arc minutes or less. Also gotos should be accurate, with that scope and EP I'd expect objects to end up fairly close to the centre of the EP. Periodic error will produce a more or less constant drift that's more in the Dec direction than the Ra direction.

The uncorrected periodic error on my AVX is about 33 arc sec peak to peak. Is that enough to give the trailing you are seeing? If this is the case the trailing will be in the Ra direction and eventually should reverse in direction. it's possible to reduce this by recording the error and applying this PEC.

I've always used guiding.

BTW nice report, it helps a lot with giving good feedback.

Chris


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Cliff Hipsher
Pooh-Bah
***

Reged: 12/31/08

Loc: North Chesterfield, VA
Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5810222 - 04/20/13 08:13 AM

Quote:

I am having trouble getting my VX mount properly aligned, I am unable to even take a 30 second exposure without getting star trails, this is what I am doing.


(1) I move the tripod so that the Azimuth peg is pointing to North, I use a Map Compass. You need to compensate for local magnetic declination. http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/geomag-web/#declination

(2) I use a bubble level on top of the tripod, to level the tripod. Some will say there is no need to level. I'm not one of them. Level the mount AFTER you have everything assembled.

(3) I place the mount on the tripod, and set my latitude.

(4) Put the Telescope on the mount, install the weight, install the telescope, and balance the telescope in both RA and DEC.

(5) I turn the mount on, and enter my GPS, date, and time.

(6) I do the two star aliment, add one or two calibration stars, as my view of the sky is very limited.

(7) I select and go to a star with the hand control.

(8) I then press the Align button, then select Polar Align, then select Align Mount, and follow the directions.

(7) I then turn off the mount, and return the mount to the default RA and DEC marks.

(8) I then turn it back on, do the two star aliment, add one or two calibration stars, then start taking pictures.

A few notes:

(1) I am using a 12.5mm Reticle Eyepiece
(2) I use a Telrad Finder
(3) My telescope is a Sky-Watcher Pro 80ED, Aperture 80mm, Focal Length 600mm,Focal Ratio 7.5.
(4) Camera is a Panasonic G3, Micro Four Thirds Sensor, with prime focus adapter.
(5) I use the camera's 10 Self-timer to trip the shutter.

What am I doing wrong ? If your hand controller is not prompting you to make mechanical adjustments in ALT and AZ, then you are not doing a Polar Alignment. The purpose of a Polar Alignment is to align the RA axis to the North Celestial Pole. The most accurate method is called a Declination Drift Alignment

With that being said, your biggest mistake is putting the cart before the horse. Learning the ins and outs of being successful at imaging is not like baking a cake or assembling a kit of parts. You need to start slowly and methodically, taking things one step at a time, and to do that you need to forget about cameras and focus on learning how the mount works, how the software works, how to do a proper polar alignment, and so on. When you get to the point where you can set up, get aligned, and consistently GoTo and then accurately track an object, THEN you can start thinking about imaging.


I have a Netbook, Bluetooth GPS dongle, guide scope with a somewhat sensitive camera, and the cables I need, but I would like to know what I am doing wrong before I try using the Netbook to control the VX mount.




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pjensen
super member


Reged: 04/08/12

Loc: Highland Village, Tx
Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5810307 - 04/20/13 08:45 AM

Quote:


(6) I do the two star aliment, add one or two calibration stars, as my view of the sky is very limited.




My GoTo's were not accurate until I did the 2 alignment stars plus four calibration stars. When you do 4 calibration stars, the pointing model gets updated on the mount. You might try a factory reset to clean out the old values. When the mount is presenting a calibration star, you can press the scroll down key and find a star that you can see. You will need a star chart as there are dozens (of lesser known stars). You can press the menu key and it will toggle between W, E and blank (West, East and all) - this limits the stars presented.

Also be aware that each time you put the OTA on the mount, it needs to be at the exact same location on the saddle. Apparently the mount carries over some values from your prior setup - unless you do a reset.

Don't know if you can see polaris - but if you can, use a polar scope. It is so ridiculously simple and quick to do. On mine, it takes 90 seconds or less. I can not imagine why anyone would skip this as it is a great starting point (to mechanically align the mount - which needs to be done anyway).

My guess is the mount (software) requires the same mechanical setup each time (OTA position on the mount saddle, tripod aligned with the NCP, accurate time to a few seconds). If any of this varies, then the GoTo accuracy suffers.

Note I am using a CG5AT mount and I am assuming your handset uses the same software.






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MartinTreadgold
super member


Reged: 04/17/13

Loc: Netherlands
Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: pjensen]
      #5810510 - 04/20/13 10:13 AM

Things to check:-

Did you....

1) Connect the DEC port cable correctly?
2) is your 12V power supply fully charged? for example I lost alignment when the power was about to run out..
3) Secure the DEC and RA Locks?
4) Are the GPS co-ords correct?
5) enter all the calibration (calib) stars, and is the mount alignment successful?
6) read the manual?? could be something you missed..

I think this is probably something very simple.

You could try reflashing the firmware via the R232 cable, and/or factory reset the hand controller.

I just got my VX mount 3 weeks ago, and it took a while for me to understand how to use it properly. Just takes a bit of getting used to...

I'll be happy to answer more questions and compare notes with you


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Whichwayisnorth
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 07/04/11

Loc: Southern California
Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: MartinTreadgold]
      #5810758 - 04/20/13 12:13 PM

The only issue I have with what you are doing is that you are not doing the full 4 calibration before doing the all star polar alignment. It is very important that you do the full 2+4 before you do an ASPA as the ASPA needs to have that full calibration to be accurate.

Also as was mentioned already, you didn't say if you made the manual physical adjustments to your mount when it asked you to. Please verify that you are not using the hand controller to center the star during ASPA but are instead cranking on the knobs to center it.

2+4 then ASPA should get you very close. I've had 17 minutes of no drift after doing that.

Also one last thing which was already mentioned as well. Double check that your clutches are all the way tight.

I realize you have limited stars to choose from. If you don't have enough to do a 2+4 then you will need to use a polar scope to get it as close as you can.

Edited by Whichwayisnorth (04/20/13 12:24 PM)


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will1384
member


Reged: 02/22/13

Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5810942 - 04/20/13 01:39 PM

I have read threw the replies, there are a few things I need to bring up.


I can not see Polaris as trees block its view, and I can not see any more alignment stars as trees also block them.

The GPS is correct, as is the time, I am using my phone to get GPS and time, and no its not WIFI or AGPS, my phone has a real GPS chip inside.

I use a 12V 7Ah sealed lead acid battery that I charge after every use.

The magnetic declination were I live is 1-1/2+ degree.

The hand controller "is" prompting me to adjust the ALT and AZ controls on the mount during the Polar Align/Align Mount routine.

So what do I try next?


Here are the stars that I use, as I only have a narrow view to the west.

Capella
Procyon
Pollux
Castor
Betelgeuse - if I can see it
Regulus - if I can see it
Algieba - if I can see it

And a lot of times the hand controller tries to limit me to stars I cant see, and wont let me select the few I can.

I can cut down a few trees in my yard, but I can't cut the neighbors trees down, and the few trees in my yard that I can cut down wont help much.


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Whichwayisnorth
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 07/04/11

Loc: Southern California
Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5810976 - 04/20/13 02:01 PM

Then you'll have to go back to basics and manual drift align.

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pjensen
super member


Reged: 04/08/12

Loc: Highland Village, Tx
Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5811359 - 04/20/13 04:41 PM

Quote:


So what do I try next?





If it were me, I would try it in a better location - just verify that it could work correctly.

The visible stars you list are pretty close together. Add in that you can't see Polaris and you are done.

Looks like all you can do is the drift alignment - which takes a lot of time. Sorry.

By the way, have you done a reset?


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zawijava
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 10/06/07

Loc: Wells, Maine 04090
Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5811437 - 04/20/13 05:39 PM

Are you "unsyncing" from the star you are using for ASPA? After the ASPA is complete you should "unsync" that star before proceeding. -Tim

Quote:

I have read threw the replies, there are a few things I need to bring up.


I can not see Polaris as trees block its view, and I can not see any more alignment stars as trees also block them.

The GPS is correct, as is the time, I am using my phone to get GPS and time, and no its not WIFI or AGPS, my phone has a real GPS chip inside.

I use a 12V 7Ah sealed lead acid battery that I charge after every use.

The magnetic declination were I live is 1-1/2+ degree.

The hand controller "is" prompting me to adjust the ALT and AZ controls on the mount during the Polar Align/Align Mount routine.

So what do I try next?


Here are the stars that I use, as I only have a narrow view to the west.

Capella
Procyon
Pollux
Castor
Betelgeuse - if I can see it
Regulus - if I can see it
Algieba - if I can see it

And a lot of times the hand controller tries to limit me to stars I cant see, and wont let me select the few I can.

I can cut down a few trees in my yard, but I can't cut the neighbors trees down, and the few trees in my yard that I can cut down wont help much.




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Stew57
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 05/03/09

Loc: Silsbee Texas
Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: zawijava]
      #5811485 - 04/20/13 06:17 PM

The 4 in a 2 + 4 alignment is an average of the 4 calibration stars according to Celestron. They compensate for nonorthogonality and some flexure.

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will1384
member


Reged: 02/22/13

Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: zawijava]
      #5811674 - 04/20/13 08:10 PM

Quote:

Are you "unsyncing" from the star you are using for ASPA? After the ASPA is complete you should "unsync" that star before proceeding. -Tim




Nope, that's what I have been missing , OK, I will try that next, one thing that worries me is that the mount never gets the stars in or near the center of the eyepiece, I can see the stars in the 12.5mm Reticle Eyepiece after the two star aliment with one or two calibration stars, but even after the Polar Align / Align Mount the stars are always about halfway to the outer edge of the eyepiece, never near the center.

If that still does not work I may try Alignmaster on my netbook.

Thanks!


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will1384
member


Reged: 02/22/13

Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5814462 - 04/22/13 12:24 AM

This is what I did:

(1) Move the tripod so that the Azimuth peg is pointing to North, use a real Compass.

(2) Use a bubble level on top of the tripod, to level the tripod.

(3) Place the mount on the tripod, and set your latitude.

(4) Put the Telescope on the mount, install the weight, install the telescope and
balance the telescope in both RA and DEC.

(5) Turn the mount on, and enter your GPS, date, and time.

(6) Do the two star aliment, add as may calibration stars as you can, up to four.

-- I added two calibration stars this time --

(7) Get out of the aliment menu, and select and go to a star with the Hand Control.

(8) Press the Align button, then select Polar Align, then select Align Mount, and follow the directions.

(9) Undo the "Sync" that was done in step (8), by pressing the Align button and then select Undo Sync, and press Enter.

(10) Go to a star with the Hand Control, Press the Align button, and select Alignment Stars, replace each star.

-- I also replaced the two calibration stars --

And it did better, but even at a 30 second exposure I am still getting a small amount of star trails when I zoom the image to 1:1.

I was getting to cold so I skipped trying alignmaster.

Another thing I noticed is a lot of slop or looseness in the Latitude Adjustment.

Anything else to try?


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cn register 5
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/26/12

Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5814614 - 04/22/13 03:52 AM

How much, in arc seconds, is a small amount of drift in 30 seconds?

And in what direction is it relative to the Ra and Dec axes?

It could be periodic error, in which case it will be in the Ra direction, or it could be polar align error, in which case it will tend to be more in the dec direction. More likely it's a combination of both.

But without some information about what a small amount is no one can say.

Chris


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Jeff2011
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 01/01/13

Loc: Sugar Land, TX
Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5816337 - 04/22/13 08:48 PM

Will,

Have you tried this:
http://www.cloudynights.com/item.php?item_id=2838


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will1384
member


Reged: 02/22/13

Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5816589 - 04/22/13 11:48 PM

Quote:

How much, in arc seconds, is a small amount of drift in 30 seconds?

And in what direction is it relative to the Ra and Dec axes?

It could be periodic error, in which case it will be in the Ra direction, or it could be polar align error, in which case it will tend to be more in the dec direction. More likely it's a combination of both.

But without some information about what a small amount is no one can say.

Chris




The amount of star trail looked to be 2 stars in length, for a 30 second exposure, and it looked like some brighter stars had a comet like appearance with the tail in the same direction as the star trails.


Using two images taken one after the other, one star drifted from 2773,286 to 2773,292, in 100 seconds, image size is 4592x3448, star size was 35 pixels.

And in another set of images, the same star drifted from 2860,681 to 2818,575 in 125 seconds, image size is 4592x3448, star size was 35 pixels.

The trails seem to change as I take images, and then give few somewhat good images, then back to slowly changing directions like this :

(1) Very small trail pointing to the top right.
(2) Larger trails pointing to the top.
(3) Almost perfect, very small trail pointing to the right.
(4) Almost perfect, very small trail pointing to the right.
(5) Almost perfect, very small trail pointing to the right.
(6) Almost perfect, very small trail pointing to the right.
(7) Almost perfect, very small trail pointing to the right.
(8) Larger trails pointing to the left
(9) Almost perfect, very small trail pointing to the right.
(10) Very small trail pointing to the bottom right.
(11) Very small trails pointing to the top.
(12) Very small trails pointing to the top.


The Panasonic G3 pixel size is 3.75 microns, and the focal length of the Telescope is 600mm, so I divide 3.75 by 600 and get 0.00625, then multiply by 206.3 to get 1.289375, is that correct ?


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will1384
member


Reged: 02/22/13

Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: Jeff2011]
      #5816627 - 04/23/13 12:12 AM

Not yet, but I have been thinking about something like that, problem is that my adjustment knobs seem over sensitive, just the slightest turn of the larger Latitude Adjustment knob moves the star halfway across eyepiece, and when I try to set the smaller Latitude Adjustment knob it it just becomes a fight between larger and smaller Latitude Adjustment knobs,

I am going to try Alignmaster first, then move the scope to were I can see Polaris, as I found a small little hole in the tree cover that I can see Polaris, and I have a polar scope on order, problem is, the area has an even more limited view of the sky.

I get it figured out someday LOL


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Cliff Hipsher
Pooh-Bah
***

Reged: 12/31/08

Loc: North Chesterfield, VA
Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5817029 - 04/23/13 09:02 AM

Quote:

Not yet, but I have been thinking about something like that, problem is that my adjustment knobs seem over sensitive, just the slightest turn of the larger Latitude Adjustment knob moves the star halfway across eyepiece, and when I try to set the smaller Latitude Adjustment knob it it just becomes a fight between larger and smaller Latitude Adjustment knobs,

I am going to try Alignmaster first, then move the scope to were I can see Polaris, as I found a small little hole in the tree cover that I can see Polaris, and I have a polar scope on order, problem is, the area has an even more limited view of the sky.

I get it figured out someday LOL




The answer is real simple: Find a different place to do your observing.

I know it a PITA, but at this point you are sweeping against the tide. Your current location is not conducive to being successful, and to be brutally honest, trying to get your gear setup and actually use it where you are is a waste of your time.


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Jeff2011
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 01/01/13

Loc: Sugar Land, TX
Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5817078 - 04/23/13 09:49 AM

Quote:

problem is that my adjustment knobs seem over sensitive, just the slightest turn of the larger Latitude Adjustment knob moves the star halfway across eyepiece, and when I try to set the smaller Latitude Adjustment knob it it just becomes a fight between larger and smaller Latitude Adjustment knobs




I don't have that problem with my mount. I just loosen the knob on the front and adjust with the big knob on the back. And then slightly tighten the knob on the front when done. Regardless of whether you do a star drift or an ASPA, you will need to adjust these knobs.

I found the DSLR star drift to be fairly straight forward. The key is in finding the stars to do the drift on. I use sky safari to locate a star in the south near the intersection of the meridian and the celestial equator. Then I find a star in the east as low as possible and on the celestial equator. Sky Safari has grid lines that I can turn on to make finding these stars easy.

At 430mm focal length, I have been able to get up to 2 minutes without trailing. I recently took 9 shots of the leo triplet at 1.5 min but only 4 had round stars. That is only a 44% success rate. As another CN member pointed out to me, this is a low end mount, so you can't expect unguided shots to be repeatable.

Good luck in getting your mount going. I think you should be able to get some shots at 30 seconds without trailing.


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will1384
member


Reged: 02/22/13

Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: Cliff Hipsher]
      #5817507 - 04/23/13 01:35 PM

Quote:


The answer is real simple: Find a different place to do your observing.

I know it a PITA, but at this point you are sweeping against the tide. Your current location is not conducive to being successful, and to be brutally honest, trying to get your gear setup and actually use it where you are is a waste of your time.




Were I live there is no were else to setup my telescope, none of my neighbours know me, nor do they have a yard with a good view, trees everywhere, there is one park about 30 minute drive away, but it closes at night, and another park that is farther away, that does stay open all night, but I am likely to get my stuff stolen, I just have to tough if out and use what I have.

BTW I live out in the woods about 30 mile drive from the nearest city.

Later on I plan to build a workshop out of steel cargo containers, and I think I will just stack them to get the height and view I need for the telescope, the cargo containers are 8 foot tall, and different lengths, I am thinking about getting five of them, four of them would be the larger 20 or 40 foot long ones, and the fifth would be a small one sitting on top, the way I need to stack them for stability it would give me 24 foot in hight, and if remove a few problem trees and put the structure in the right spot it would give me a good view of the sky with a small observatory on top of the small cargo container, I was going to build a workshop anyway, just in a different place.

Another idea was using using a larger metal building for a workshop, and having the the construction company add a well supported 16 foot square platform on the roof, but that might cost more than the steel cargo containers.

The problem with this plan is that I need to save up money to build the workshop, and that could take a few years, I still want to find a way to use my telescope in that time.


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pjensen
super member


Reged: 04/08/12

Loc: Highland Village, Tx
Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5817934 - 04/23/13 04:36 PM

Quote:

Quote:


The answer is real simple: Find a different place to do your observing.

I know it a PITA, but at this point you are sweeping against the tide. Your current location is not conducive to being successful, and to be brutally honest, trying to get your gear setup and actually use it where you are is a waste of your time.




Were I live there is no were else to setup my telescope, none of my neighbours know me, nor do they have a yard with a good view, trees everywhere,




Can you cut down some trees - or at least trim them? Go to Home Depot and get this tree branch pruner. Get after it!

How bad do you want to use that scope?


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will1384
member


Reged: 02/22/13

Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: pjensen]
      #5818545 - 04/23/13 07:59 PM

I am going to have to get a 25 foot long, or longer, Pole Saw with aluminum poles as the fibreglass poles break and are wobbly, I am also getting a 8000lb Winch and some extra line, so I can run a line up near the top of some of the leaning trees, and winch them in the direction I want them to fall, the Winch will be attached to ether a large truck, or another tree, and my dad would operate the Winch when I use the chainsaw, I use a slingshot and a weight attached to some fishing line, shoot that up into the tree, then attach some light rope to the fishing line, pull the light rope up with the fishing line, then use the light rope to pull up something heaver, I have done this before without the use of a Winch, with just rope and someone pulling, but some of the trees could fall on stuff so I would rather use a powerful Winch.

Even with cutting the few trees I can, its not going to give me much more, I am still going to have to gain a little height to help view over the neighbours trees.


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cn register 5
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/26/12

Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5819099 - 04/24/13 03:16 AM

I don't think that any amount of tree felling will help.

From your description much of what you are seeing is periodic error, not polar aligning error. It's side by side and I assume that's in the Ra direction. The amount seems to be fairly small, less than an arc minute, and goes in both directions. Polar alignment error does not do this.

No amount of heroics with trees and polar aligning will prevent this. Training the PEC and applying it will. So will guiding.

If you really want to get - or check - the polar alignment do a drift align. If you can see enough stars to align you can see enough to drift align. ASPA will at least give you a good enough start position to help with drift aligning.

Chris


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mpgxsvcd
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/21/11

Loc: Raleigh, North Carolina
Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5819638 - 04/24/13 12:08 PM

Quote:

I am having trouble getting my VX mount properly aligned, I am unable to even take a 30 second exposure without getting star trails, this is what I am doing.




I have a very similar setup to yours. However, I can see Polaris from my backyard and I use the Panasonic GH3 instead of the G3.

First off, Donít use the eyepiece to align. Use the excellent manual focus crop mode of the G3 to accurately align the stars. That way you never have to switch from an eyepiece to a camera. Any change you do will require you to refocus and will affect your alignment.

You should be able to do at least 2 minutes at that focal length before the periodic error shows up if your polar alignment is good. I suspect that your Polar Alignment is not right. The All-star alignment works well but you really need to be able to see a star that is in the right place. If you try it with a star that is in the wrong place it will not work at all.

Basically you really need to find somewhere to observe that doesnít have so many trees. I would take a little light pollution over a lot of trees any day.

Here is a remote that works much better for triggering the Panasonic cameras than the built-in timer does. Make sure this one is compatible with the G3 first though. It works on my GF1, GH2, and GH3 but I don't know if the G3 was different or not.

http://www.amazon.com/RainbowImaging-Panasonic-DMC-FZ50K-DMC-FZ30S-DMC-FZ30K/...


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will1384
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: mpgxsvcd]
      #5821148 - 04/25/13 12:32 AM

I tried using my camera as a Reticle tonight, the Panasonic G3 will output live video out, but only threw RCA plugs, so I used an old Kworld KW-USB2800D USB video capture dongle and a program called SharpCap, what I would do is press the rear gray dial for manual focus zoom, and the way my camera is setup pressing the rear gray dial will zoom into the exact center of the image, and then I centered the Reticle cross hairs in SharpCap by using the four yellow arrows displayed in the video coming from the Panasonic G3 as a guide for placing the Reticle cross hairs.

This worked well, but there was still a slight amount of star trail, but it was so cold I could not stay out very long, so I only did a two star aliment with two calibration stars, then Polar Align, and Undo Sync, and took about four images, all 60 second exposures, and they were so close to perfect.

I did get the polar scope in, but have not used it yet, and I did have some problems aligning during the day as one of the tiny screws fell out and got lost, but I found an easier way to align without using the screws, by using rubber O-Rings, Link: Permanent Polar scope Reticle Centring

With this setup the way it is now would an autoguider fix the alignment problem, or am I going to have to keep refining my aliment?


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EFT
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5821843 - 04/25/13 11:30 AM

Honestly, trying to do unguided astrophotography with mounts at this level is simply an exercise in frustration. Do yourself a favor and start guiding. You can align the mount forever, but the error of the gears in this level of mount will always result in stars that are not round.

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mpgxsvcd
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: EFT]
      #5821863 - 04/25/13 11:39 AM

Quote:

Honestly, trying to do unguided astrophotography with mounts at this level is simply an exercise in frustration. Do yourself a favor and start guiding. You can align the mount forever, but the error of the gears in this level of mount will always result in stars that are not round.




I have to reluctantly agree with statement. I have been able to get acceptable results without guiding and a similar mount and camera. However, it requires so much precision in setting everything up that the average person would give up long before they get even the mediocre results I am getting.

I have decided to switch to guiding. However, I am going to guide with my spare micro four thirds camera and a telephoto lens. I really donít want to add much more cost or weight to my setup so I am going to try to make it work with what I have already.

I will probably end up buying a proper guiding setup. However, I want to give this a go first.


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mpgxsvcd
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5821871 - 04/25/13 11:42 AM

Quote:

I tried using my camera as a Reticle tonight, the Panasonic G3 will output live video out, but only threw RCA plugs, so I used an old Kworld KW-USB2800D USB video capture dongle and a program called SharpCap, what I would do is press the rear gray dial for manual focus zoom, and the way my camera is setup pressing the rear gray dial will zoom into the exact center of the image, and then I centered the Reticle cross hairs in SharpCap by using the four yellow arrows displayed in the video coming from the Panasonic G3 as a guide for placing the Reticle cross hairs.

This worked well, but there was still a slight amount of star trail, but it was so cold I could not stay out very long, so I only did a two star aliment with two calibration stars, then Polar Align, and Undo Sync, and took about four images, all 60 second exposures, and they were so close to perfect.

I did get the polar scope in, but have not used it yet, and I did have some problems aligning during the day as one of the tiny screws fell out and got lost, but I found an easier way to align without using the screws, by using rubber O-Rings, Link: Permanent Polar scope Reticle Centring

With this setup the way it is now would an autoguider fix the alignment problem, or am I going to have to keep refining my aliment?




You should not try to output the video from the camera for this. Just use the LCD screen on the back of the camera. It is really good for this type of thing. Actually besides cables for guiding you shouldn't need any cables with a Micro Four Thirds camera. Basically everything you do in a program like Backyard EOS for alliging and focusing is done in camera with Micro Four Thirds.

Try it. You will like it.


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Cliff Hipsher
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: EFT]
      #5821888 - 04/25/13 11:51 AM

Quote:

Honestly, trying to do unguided astrophotography with mounts at this level is simply an exercise in frustration. Do yourself a favor and start guiding. You can align the mount forever, but the error of the gears in this level of mount will always result in stars that are not round.




I must be special then. I imaged M42 with an unguided Meade LXD75 carrying a 2080 SCT/DSI Color and got round stars....


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EFT
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: Cliff Hipsher]
      #5821965 - 04/25/13 12:33 PM

Quote:

I must be special then. I imaged M42 with an unguided Meade LXD75 carrying a 2080 SCT/DSI Color and got round stars....




Perhaps you are, or are just very lucky. Most of us are not. In addition, you may have had stars that looked round but were not (i.e., the PE resulted in the star moving in a complete circle during imaging). Nothing is impossible in this hobby, but the outliers of running a overly heavy scope on a marginal mount are the exception and not the rule. Most people do not have the skill or patience to be in the exception category, but if that is your bag, then go for it. In the mean time, most mere mortals can guide for good results.


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Kraus
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5822048 - 04/25/13 12:58 PM


Star trails occur when the telescope's polar axis is not parallel to the Earth's rotational axis.

Two-star alignment does not correct for the difference. Star drift alignment does.


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mpgxsvcd
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: Kraus]
      #5822247 - 04/25/13 01:53 PM

Quote:


Star trails occur when the telescope's polar axis is not parallel to the Earth's rotational axis.

Two-star alignment does not correct for the difference. Star drift alignment does.




You should have said "Star trails occur when the telescope's polar axis is not parallel to the Earth's rotational axis or when the Periodic Error is significant enough, or when the wind blows too hard, or.....etc". There are many many factors to causing star trails. You can eliminate some of them fairly easily but eliminating most or all of them without guiding is VERY difficult.

You can get fairly round stars with a good polar alignment and short exposures at shorter focal lengths. You will never truly get round stars without guiding though. Even a drift alignment won't get rid of periodic error.

All of that being said. You can get decent results without guiding. It just takes a lot more work than most people are willing to do.

Edited by mpgxsvcd (04/25/13 01:54 PM)


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EFT
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: mpgxsvcd]
      #5822463 - 04/25/13 03:58 PM

Quote:

You can get decent results without guiding. It just takes a lot more work than most people are willing to do.





They way I look at it, most people who come looking for help are looking to get results, not a bunch more work to get those results. That's why I recommend guiding. It's not an absolute requirement, but it gets most people to the end result they are looking for a lot faster.


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R L Harris
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: EFT]
      #5822535 - 04/25/13 04:32 PM

EFT he guy that wants to sledge hammer square peg into
the round hole because he doesn't want to buy a round
peg!!!!!!LOL


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mpgxsvcd
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: EFT]
      #5822575 - 04/25/13 04:50 PM

Quote:

Quote:

You can get decent results without guiding. It just takes a lot more work than most people are willing to do.





They way I look at it, most people who come looking for help are looking to get results, not a bunch more work to get those results. That's why I recommend guiding. It's not an absolute requirement, but it gets most people to the end result they are looking for a lot faster.




I agree.


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Cliff Hipsher
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: mpgxsvcd]
      #5823786 - 04/26/13 08:41 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

You can get decent results without guiding. It just takes a lot more work than most people are willing to do.





They way I look at it, most people who come looking for help are looking to get results, not a bunch more work to get those results. That's why I recommend guiding. It's not an absolute requirement, but it gets most people to the end result they are looking for a lot faster.




I agree.




And the most cost effective way to "solve" the original problem is to move the scope to a location that has a better view of the sky and do a drift alignment. As I said earlier, doing anything else is a waste of time and possibly money.

But, its your gear, your time, and your money....


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Madratter
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: Cliff Hipsher]
      #5824320 - 04/26/13 12:41 PM

I have the CG-5 and so maybe this mount is better. But at least on the CG-5, periodic error is going to kill round stars even at this focal length with exposures of more than 1 minute, even with dead accurate alignment.

I highly suggest doing drift alignment. I find is much better than the Polar Align option on the handset. The polar alignment option IS great for visual if you are going to come back without taking the equipment down as it will help make sure those initial stars for an alignment are in your finders field of view. But I have found it unacceptable for photography without guiding.

I highly suggest guiding unless you are willing to stack lots and lots and lots of frames, deal with the space that takes up, and deal with the read noise from short exposures.


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mpgxsvcd
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: Madratter]
      #5824340 - 04/26/13 12:54 PM

Quote:

I have the CG-5 and so maybe this mount is better. But at least on the CG-5, periodic error is going to kill round stars even at this focal length with exposures of more than 1 minute, even with dead accurate alignment.

I highly suggest doing drift alignment. I find is much better than the Polar Align option on the handset. The polar alignment option IS great for visual if you are going to come back without taking the equipment down as it will help make sure those initial stars for an alignment are in your finders field of view. But I have found it unacceptable for photography without guiding.

I highly suggest guiding unless you are willing to stack lots and lots and lots of frames, deal with the space that takes up, and deal with the read noise from short exposures.




If Periodic error kills the image at 1 minute doesn't it also kill the drift alignment at 1 minute? Something doesn't add up there.


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Madratter
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: mpgxsvcd]
      #5824379 - 04/26/13 01:06 PM

Quote:

Quote:

I have the CG-5 and so maybe this mount is better. But at least on the CG-5, periodic error is going to kill round stars even at this focal length with exposures of more than 1 minute, even with dead accurate alignment.

I highly suggest doing drift alignment. I find is much better than the Polar Align option on the handset. The polar alignment option IS great for visual if you are going to come back without taking the equipment down as it will help make sure those initial stars for an alignment are in your finders field of view. But I have found it unacceptable for photography without guiding.

I highly suggest guiding unless you are willing to stack lots and lots and lots of frames, deal with the space that takes up, and deal with the read noise from short exposures.




If Periodic error kills the image at 1 minute doesn't it also kill the drift alignment at 1 minute? Something doesn't add up there.




Yes it does. Which is why with this class mount, you are stuck with either short subs or guiding. I guide.

But even if you do guide, a more accurate alignment is a good thing.


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will1384
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5824546 - 04/26/13 02:27 PM

I have still got the Polar scope to try, and AlignMaster, then I guess I will try auto guiding, I will try the Panasonic G3 live video out as a auto guiding camera, and I also have a 50mm guide scope, a Firefly MV Mono camera, and Celestron NexImage 5, to try as a guide camera, if all that fails I will try drift alignment.

When I get good weather I will try again.


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mpgxsvcd
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5824574 - 04/26/13 02:43 PM

Quote:

I have still got the Polar scope to try, and AlignMaster, then I guess I will try auto guiding, I will try the Panasonic G3 live video out as a auto guiding camera, and I also have a 50mm guide scope, a Firefly MV Mono camera, and Celestron NexImage 5, to try as a guide camera, if all that fails I will try drift alignment.

When I get good weather I will try again.




After doing some testing last night I don't think the G3 will output the live view over HDMI. It appears that the GF and G series of cameras will only output the play back mode over HDMI or RCA. The GH series will output the live view only over HDMI but some things like the crop mode and ETC will not work with live view output.

The GH3 will output everything over HDMI.

I also came to the conclusion that the Orion Mini guider package is the best option. I just bought that and will let you know how it works out.


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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5824832 - 04/26/13 04:40 PM

I thought I remember you saying you could not see Polaris due to the trees, correct? If so, a polar scope will not be of any use.

Quote:

I have still got the Polar scope to try, and AlignMaster, then I guess I will try auto guiding, I will try the Panasonic G3 live video out as a auto guiding camera, and I also have a 50mm guide scope, a Firefly MV Mono camera, and Celestron NexImage 5, to try as a guide camera, if all that fails I will try drift alignment.

When I get good weather I will try again.




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bretm
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: mpgxsvcd]
      #5824962 - 04/26/13 05:39 PM






If Periodic error kills the image at 1 minute doesn't it also kill the drift alignment at 1 minute? Something doesn't add up there.




Periodic error is an RA axis phenomena, while drift alignment watches motion in the DEC axis.

Bret


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will1384
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: mpgxsvcd]
      #5825172 - 04/26/13 07:24 PM

Quote:

Quote:

I have still got the Polar scope to try, and AlignMaster, then I guess I will try auto guiding, I will try the Panasonic G3 live video out as a auto guiding camera, and I also have a 50mm guide scope, a Firefly MV Mono camera, and Celestron NexImage 5, to try as a guide camera, if all that fails I will try drift alignment.

When I get good weather I will try again.




After doing some testing last night I don't think the G3 will output the live view over HDMI. It appears that the GF and G series of cameras will only output the play back mode over HDMI or RCA. The GH series will output the live view only over HDMI but some things like the crop mode and ETC will not work with live view output.

The GH3 will output everything over HDMI.

I also came to the conclusion that the Orion Mini guider package is the best option. I just bought that and will let you know how it works out.




Its a little bit of a hidden feature, but yes the Panasonic G3 will output live video, manual focus zoom and everything, but only on the RCA plugs, you just have to hold down Q-Menu/Trash button on the camera to enable or disable it, however the manual focus zoom only zooms in about 3 times, its not enough to tell if the star is exactly centered on the cameraís screen, thatís why I was using the netbook with SharpCap, and the on screen recital, plus its a little easier to see the larger netbook screen.


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will1384
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: zawijava]
      #5825196 - 04/26/13 07:34 PM

Quote:

I thought I remember you saying you could not see Polaris due to the trees, correct? If so, a polar scope will not be of any use.




Sometime last week I had found a small spot between two trees, that I can see Polaris, but that area has a worse view of the sky, but if I setup my telescope there, and the alignment works when using the Polar scope, I know what my problem is, it will help me narrow down the problem.


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cn register 5
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5826537 - 04/27/13 03:22 PM

Can someone please give a logical, rational explanation of how getting a good polar alignment will eliminate periodic error?

Chris


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Footbag
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5826611 - 04/27/13 04:00 PM

Quote:

Can someone please give a logical, rational explanation of how getting a good polar alignment will eliminate periodic error?

Chris




Periodic error is a measure of the bumpiness of the worm gear on the RA axis.

I see this as being unrelated to polar alignment which is a measure of how close to the polar axis the RA is aligned.

If you have a mount with a pointing model, like the Celestron, the mount will make up for polar alignment error by tracking in DEC. Typically, DEC tracking won't be as precise as RA, so that will add error, but I'm not sure if that technically would be periodic error.

If you use guiding, polar alignment error will show up as field rotation around the guide star. Unguided, it will show up as drift in dec.


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EFT
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5826646 - 04/27/13 04:18 PM

Quote:

Can someone please give a logical, rational explanation of how getting a good polar alignment will eliminate periodic error?

Chris




Very simply, it won't. Two completely different problems. One is mechanical, the other is alignment.


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Madratter
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5826650 - 04/27/13 04:20 PM

Quote:

Can someone please give a logical, rational explanation of how getting a good polar alignment will eliminate periodic error?

Chris




It won't. Who has suggested it would?

On the other hand, a proper polar alignment will certainly help getting good short subs, and will also help if he starts guiding. The best guiding is guiding as little as possible. This is especially true if the mount is being guided one axis at a time, which is often the case.

Edited by Madratter (04/27/13 09:19 PM)


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Stew57
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: Madratter]
      #5826849 - 04/27/13 06:06 PM

You can use a log from phd in pecprep to see how much pe you have. PecPrep can correct for drift due to polar misalignment. I had a cgem with such bad pe a 20sec shot was star trailed at 800mm. I had one cgem that could do 2 min at the same fl with minimal star trails.

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cn register 5
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: Stew57]
      #5827791 - 04/28/13 06:32 AM

This guy described a tracking problem that's clearly predominantly periodic error - movement backwards and forwards rather than continual movement - yet everybody ignores this and goes on about polar alignment.

I'd start by recording the periodic error and applying it to the mount. It may be possible to use the imaging scope and camera to do this.

Chris


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DaveJ
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: Footbag]
      #5827881 - 04/28/13 08:35 AM

Quote:

If you have a mount with a pointing model, like the Celestron, the mount will make up for polar alignment error by tracking in DEC. Typically, DEC tracking won't be as precise as RA, so that will add error, but I'm not sure if that technically would be periodic error.




Celestron GEMs most definitely do NOT track in DEC to make up for poor polar alignment. If DEC motions are necessary, only guiding will perform that function.


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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: DaveJ]
      #5827938 - 04/28/13 09:16 AM

Quote:

Quote:

If you have a mount with a pointing model, like the Celestron, the mount will make up for polar alignment error by tracking in DEC. Typically, DEC tracking won't be as precise as RA, so that will add error, but I'm not sure if that technically would be periodic error.




Celestron GEMs most definitely do NOT track in DEC to make up for poor polar alignment. If DEC motions are necessary, only guiding will perform that function.




There are mounts that will apply model-derived dec corrections when tracking, but the list is very short. Bisque mounts can, and I think some of the new direct drive mounts can. AP may have recently added this capability. Vixen offered it in their Sky Sensor 2000 system. No Meade, no Celestron, no Losmandy...


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Footbag
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: DaveJ]
      #5828160 - 04/28/13 11:40 AM

Quote:

Quote:

If you have a mount with a pointing model, like the Celestron, the mount will make up for polar alignment error by tracking in DEC. Typically, DEC tracking won't be as precise as RA, so that will add error, but I'm not sure if that technically would be periodic error.




Celestron GEMs most definitely do NOT track in DEC to make up for poor polar alignment. If DEC motions are necessary, only guiding will perform that function.




I stand corrected. I guess they only use that for pointing.


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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: Footbag]
      #5828182 - 04/28/13 11:54 AM

Quote:

Can someone please give a logical, rational explanation of how getting a good polar alignment will eliminate periodic error?

Chris




Periodic Error is caused by imperfections in the drive gear trains, specifically between the worm gear and the worm ring.

The accuracy of your polar alignment HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH, AND DOES NOT AFFECT PERIODIC ERROR. Also, each mount has its own specific amount/amplitude and frequency of Periodic Error.

To put it in different terms, Periodic Error is like having tires that are flat spotted. Polar Alignment is like have the front end aligned. You can still drive straight, but the ride is bumpy.

In this scenario, PEC (Periodic Error Correction) would be like having an intelligent active suspension system in your car. It figures out where the flat spots are and adjusts the vehicle suspension to give you a smooth ride.


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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5829897 - 04/29/13 10:51 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

I have still got the Polar scope to try, and AlignMaster, then I guess I will try auto guiding, I will try the Panasonic G3 live video out as a auto guiding camera, and I also have a 50mm guide scope, a Firefly MV Mono camera, and Celestron NexImage 5, to try as a guide camera, if all that fails I will try drift alignment.

When I get good weather I will try again.




After doing some testing last night I don't think the G3 will output the live view over HDMI. It appears that the GF and G series of cameras will only output the play back mode over HDMI or RCA. The GH series will output the live view only over HDMI but some things like the crop mode and ETC will not work with live view output.

The GH3 will output everything over HDMI.

I also came to the conclusion that the Orion Mini guider package is the best option. I just bought that and will let you know how it works out.




Its a little bit of a hidden feature, but yes the Panasonic G3 will output live video, manual focus zoom and everything, but only on the RCA plugs, you just have to hold down Q-Menu/Trash button on the camera to enable or disable it, however the manual focus zoom only zooms in about 3 times, its not enough to tell if the star is exactly centered on the cameraís screen, thatís why I was using the netbook with SharpCap, and the on screen recital, plus its a little easier to see the larger netbook screen.




Cool. Thanks for that tip. You learn something new everyday.


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Kraus
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: mpgxsvcd]
      #5830081 - 04/29/13 12:36 PM


In conclusion, all of the above responses is why I gave up astrophotography. What a headache.


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mpgxsvcd
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: Kraus]
      #5830391 - 04/29/13 02:39 PM

Quote:


In conclusion, all of the above responses is why I gave up astrophotography. What a headache.




All it would take is one simple video demonstration that shows you exactly what to do and what not to do. I am surprised no one has done that yet?


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Footbag
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: Kraus]
      #5834658 - 05/01/13 03:28 PM

Quote:


In conclusion, all of the above responses is why I gave up astrophotography. What a headache.




You have to enjoy the headache, otherwise you won't succeed.


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WesC
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: Kraus]
      #5834831 - 05/01/13 05:15 PM

Quote:


In conclusion, all of the above responses is why I gave up astrophotography. What a headache.




Yeah and why I am reluctant to jump in. From what I can see, its has a lot to do with how much money you spend. The better quality the mount and software, the less trouble you'll have. The people who enjoy it the most and take the best images are the ones with the most money and time to throw at it.


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WesC
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: WesC]
      #5834844 - 05/01/13 05:22 PM

Also... I think people fall too easily for the, as I would term it, patently misleading advertising of the big scope makers. You just can't really do good AP with a $700 mount. Even my $1,500 CGEM isn't really up to it with my C11HD on its back. I still have people telling me its a "perfect" AP platform, and I just shake my head. When I see the hell people have gone through I know that I will need at LEAST an AP1200 or equivalent to to any serious AP at the level I would aspire to. I'm just not ready to invest that kind of money.

Look what NASA had to spend and go through to get the amazing images we've all seen from the Hubble! And then those same scope marketers start using THOSE images to sell low end $1,500 "AP-ready" telescope rigs to unsuspecting enthusiasts, making them think they're going to be able to get that result. For shame.


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bunyon
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: WesC]
      #5834853 - 05/01/13 05:27 PM

I guess it depends what you aspire to, Wes. I have a $700 mount (and have had cheaper ones) and have been very happy with it. If you require taking images that you could sell for top dollar, no, you can't do it. But there are plenty of people taking excellent images with a CGEM.

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rmollise
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: WesC]
      #5834871 - 05/01/13 05:38 PM

Not really. As more than a few worthies have found to their dismay, throwing money at it DOES NOT guarantee success in astrophotography. It may make it easier, but only a little easier; especially in the beginning.

Whether or not you will like astrophotography or not depends a lot on your mindset and how hard you are willing to work. You may find, as many of us have, that while your picture of M57 ain't gonna compete with Bob Gendler's work, the fact that it is YOURS makes all the difference. Also, with the equipment available today, you can actually get very nice results with a VX or a CG5 or an Atlas or a CGEM. Most of us are not after the "18 hours through 8 different filters" type of shots that require the top of the line gear, anyway.


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rmollise
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5834880 - 05/01/13 05:41 PM

Quote:

Can someone please give a logical, rational explanation of how getting a good polar alignment will eliminate periodic error?

Chris




It won't. What it (a decent polar alignment, which, depending on your focal length and exposure length does not necessarily have to be a drift alignment) will do is lessen/eliminate drift in declination and field rotation, making it easier to guide and stack the resulting images.


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rmollise
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: WesC]
      #5834886 - 05/01/13 05:43 PM

Quote:

Also... I think people fall too easily for the, as I would term it, patently misleading advertising of the big scope makers. You just can't really do good AP with a $700 mount.




Not at all. What matters most is still the man or woman behind the camera. You might not be able to duplicate the work of the top of the top, but you most assuredly can do good astrophotography with these mounts and similar--IF YOU WANT TO.


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cn register 5
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: WesC]
      #5834924 - 05/01/13 06:06 PM

I disagree about not being able to do astrophotography with a $700 mount, or at least with an AVX, because I am doing it. I find it quite straightforward to set up.

The trick is to choose your battles. Don't try long unguided exposures, or long focal length.

Use a fairly short focal length refractor - an 80mm ED for example - and a second scope or finder guider for guiding. Narrow band helps if you have light pollution.

Don't go for huge exposure lengths to start with, I use 5 minutes for NB, 2 minutes for RGB. Don't be afraid to bin the images to get the pixel size and sensitivity up.

Don't worry about highly precise polar alignment, ASPA is good enough. Guiding takes care of the Dec drift and field rotation will be small and if there's some over the duration of all the exposures then the stacking program can remove it.

Have some fun. Get some images of your own. Learn processing. Don't start with impossible expectations. You aren't going to get an APOD quality image on your first night.

The most important things here are to keep the focal length and exposure duration down - and the fun of course.

Chris

PS What are these advertising sites that are using Hubble images? I've had a bit of a look and don't see this. Many sites have the images credited to people, some with details of what equipment was used. Do you have links to them?
C


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bunyon
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5834961 - 05/01/13 06:23 PM

" You aren't going to get an APOD quality image on your first night."


In fact, you very well, probably, may never get an APOD quality image.


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Footbag
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: bunyon]
      #5835074 - 05/01/13 07:29 PM

You can do great astrophotography with a $700 mount. It's all about matching the mounts capabilities with the focal length. That is why I always suggest beginners go widefield to begin with. Camera lenses are great and cheap! The biggest misconception, and one I fell for, is that you need long FL to get good images. My best images were taken with my 66mm refractor.

I think processing is probably one of the major factors not typically brought up. Someone with processing skills can make OK data look good. That's not the case with a beginner who is typically dealing with OK data. They must ride the learning curve and eventually, their images begin to improve as they work their techniques.

That, in and of itself, is a huge learning curve to be brought upon a beginner. Now, if you give an AVX or similar mount to a pro, I'd bet they would get great images out of it.


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will1384
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5835347 - 05/01/13 10:27 PM

Quote:

I have still got the Polar scope to try, and AlignMaster, then I guess I will try auto guiding, I will try the Panasonic G3 live video out as a auto guiding camera, and I also have a 50mm guide scope, a Firefly MV Mono camera, and Celestron NexImage 5, to try as a guide camera, if all that fails I will try drift alignment.

When I get good weather I will try again.




The Panasonic G3 live video out worked as a guiding camera except that when you take a picture it changes the image displayed, to say its taking the image, and then you lose the lock on the star, but I have two other older long zoom pocket cameras that both have video out, so I may try one of them piggy back on the telescope as a guide camera/scope.

I tried a Firefly MV Mono camera and a 50mm guide scope, it was only able to see bright stars, the camera sensitivity with the 50mm guide scope is about the same as your naked eye, it was the first time using PHD, it was cloudy, and I may not have had the best focus on the guide scope, so my 60 second exposure was no better than my last attempt, but this time the star trails were left and right, with a slight bulge in the center,
stars looked to be hamburger patties, LOL.

I am thinking about getting the Orion StarShoot AutoGuider, is there anything better for around $300?


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Cliff Hipsher
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: WesC]
      #5835809 - 05/02/13 08:42 AM

Quote:

Also... I think people fall too easily for the, as I would term it, patently misleading advertising of the big scope makers. You just can't really do good AP with a $700 mount. Even my $1,500 CGEM isn't really up to it with my C11HD on its back. I still have people telling me its a "perfect" AP platform, and I just shake my head. When I see the hell people have gone through I know that I will need at LEAST an AP1200 or equivalent to to any serious AP at the level I would aspire to. I'm just not ready to invest that kind of money.

Look what NASA had to spend and go through to get the amazing images we've all seen from the Hubble! And then those same scope marketers start using THOSE images to sell low end $1,500 "AP-ready" telescope rigs to unsuspecting enthusiasts, making them think they're going to be able to get that result. For shame.




I disagree. Admittedly there is some truth stretching in the advertising, but on the other hand, "caveat emptor" still applies.

It is a shame that most rookies are mislead into believing you can just plop a mount down, add a camera, sit back and have a cold one, and before you know it you have something to brag about.

What is really sad is that when those individuals seek assistance, those who respond tend to look down their noses and berate the new kid's equipment.

I got the same grief when I started racing sports cars back in the '90s. I showed up at a Driver Ed event with a 1986 Porsche 951 Turbo, and all of the 911 jockys were in stitches laughing. That all ended when I started spankin' 'em in the corners.

The deal was, I didn't have tons of cash, so I did my own work, and I knew what my car could and could not do. Instead of bemoaning the fact that a newer 911 would out run me (I top ended at 165..), I gloated over the fact that I could out brake and out corner 'em, and its a real treat to out brake some smug rich kid and watch him have an OTE (Off Track Excursion) and wind up in the gravel...

The same goes with this hobby. Sure, you're gonna have to spend some money, but you don't have to buy brand new. I'm running a used Meade 2080 SCT that came off of a 1989 LX5. That whole rig cost me a whopping $350.00, and it was turn key. I used that rig to learn the sky and learn what my optics could do. I saved my pennies and bought a used LXD75 and a dove tail bar. Now I'm up to around $800.00. Some more learning and some tweaking. Now I can punch a button and the mount does the rest. Next was a planetary camera, and another $100.00. Got some decent pictures, but found out I needed a flip mirror. Found one used for $40.00. Works like a charm. Pictures got better, so I figured I'd try DSOs, but I need a CCD.... Snagged a Meade DSI Color for $100.00, and its magic....

So yeah, you have to spend some time and invest some cash, but you don't need to do it all at once, and you don't have to buy new, and you don't have to have the latest and greatest to be successful either...


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will1384
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5859123 - 05/14/13 03:30 AM

Quote:

I tried a Firefly MV Mono camera and a 50mm guide scope, it was only able to see bright stars, the camera sensitivity with the 50mm guide scope is about the same as your naked eye, it was the first time using PHD, it was cloudy, and I may not have had the best focus on the guide scope, so my 60 second exposure was no better than my last attempt, but this time the star trails were left and right, with a slight bulge in the center,
stars looked to be hamburger patties, LOL.

I am thinking about getting the Orion StarShoot AutoGuider, is there anything better for around $300?




I had thought about getting a Samsung SDC-435 or SCB-2000 security camera and use a Dazzle DVC100 video capture device, and a 50mm or larger lens, for use with PHD, but the cost would have been around $175 and I thought about saving up to get something like the QHY5L II Mono, but then I found a used Orion StarShoot AutoGuider cheap, so now it's just a wait on shipping.

I am also going to try something like this to help setup the tripod.

Re: Using compass to polar align


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gmartin02
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: WesC]
      #5859677 - 05/14/13 11:40 AM Attachment (11 downloads)

Quote:

You just can't really do good AP with a $700 mount.



Going off topic, but I felt compelled to respond to this.

That is a pretty general statement. It would probably be pretty challenging to impossible to get really good long exposures out of a cg-5 with a long focal length telescope like a Schmidt Cassegrain. On the other hand, imaging with a short focal length telescope almost takes the mount out of the equation with guided images as long as the mount is set up correctly.

There are so many other things besides the mount that need to be mastered using any mount before you can produce really good images (guiding camera, flexure, imaging camera, incorrect exposure times, processing techniques, etc, etc, etc.)

I know, because I am a newb astrophotographer. I have been imaging for about 18 months, fist with unguided images on a CG-5, then with guided images on a CGEM. (The CGEM was also having problems with Dec guiding until the latest beta firmware upgrades which solves the problem).

Looking back on images from when I first started imaging, I can't believe how much better my images are now than when I first started 18 months ago, due to improving on all aspects of AP setup, imaging, and processing. I still have a LONG, LONG way to go to get images that rival some of the others that I have seen, but the mount is not what needs to be improved at this point - it' everything else. As long as you can get round unbloated stars on the images (which is certainly possible with a CG-5 or CGEM, again depending on the scope f/l and the rest of the setup), it is all of the other things that prevent really good images.

Here is my very first newb guided image on the CG-5, taken with a Takahahashi FS-60CB & Canon DSLR camera about 3 months ago. These were with 2 minute sub exposures (combined with 30 second sub exposures), although with this f/l I can get 5 minute subs on the CG-5 with perfectly round stars.


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gmartin02
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: WesC]
      #5859731 - 05/14/13 12:06 PM Attachment (12 downloads)

Quote:

Even my $1,500 CGEM isn't really up to it with my C11HD on its back. I still have people telling me its a "perfect" AP platform, and I just shake my head. When I see the hell people have gone through I know that I will need at LEAST an AP1200 or equivalent to to any serious AP at the level I would aspire to. I'm just not ready to invest that kind of money.




I would agree that a CGEM with a C11 is not a "perfect" imaging platform, but shooting with a telescope with that long a f/l on ANY mount and expecting good images falls into the category of advanced imaging. I wouldn't recommend that anyone try this without at least a couple of years experience imaging with shorter length telescopes first (unless they are into masochism).

To have any hope tho image with a C11 (on any mount) I think would require a focal reducer and an OAG with a very sensitive guiding camera (like SX Lodestar).

I have had success recently on the CGEM (with the beta Dec guiding firmware fix).

Here is another newb image, this one from the CGEM with a AT8RC & AP CCDT67 focal reducer (1089mm f/l), 4 minute subs (combined with 45 second subs for the center of the image). This was the very first time I used the focal reducer, taken about a week ago.

Perhaps this isn't a very good image, but the mount is not degrading the image (perfectly round unbloated stars) - it is the rest of my inexperience that is keeping this from being a better image (although I continue to learn & get a little bit better for each new imaging session).


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gmartin02
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: gmartin02]
      #5859747 - 05/14/13 12:11 PM

Back to the topic - the OP has a Sky-Watcher Pro 80ED on the VX. Based on my experience with the CG-5, the VX should be able to get very good images with that telescope, as long as the mount (and every thing else) is set up and used correctly.

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will1384
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5862570 - 05/15/13 04:29 PM

Quote:

Quote:

I tried a Firefly MV Mono camera and a 50mm guide scope, it was only able to see bright stars, the camera sensitivity with the 50mm guide scope is about the same as your naked eye, it was the first time using PHD, it was cloudy, and I may not have had the best focus on the guide scope, so my 60 second exposure was no better than my last attempt, but this time the star trails were left and right, with a slight bulge in the center,
stars looked to be hamburger patties, LOL.

I am thinking about getting the Orion StarShoot AutoGuider, is there anything better for around $300?




I had thought about getting a Samsung SDC-435 or SCB-2000 security camera and use a Dazzle DVC100 video capture device, and a 50mm or larger lens, for use with PHD, but the cost would have been around $175 and I thought about saving up to get something like the QHY5L II Mono, but then I found a used Orion StarShoot AutoGuider cheap, so now it's just a wait on shipping.

I am also going to try something like this to help setup the tripod.

Re: Using compass to polar align




I tried again, this time using a correctly centred poler scope, and using a military surplus compass, along with using a modified 16-in x 24-in Aluminum Square bolted to the top Celestron VX tripod during the levelling and pointing of the tripod, I used the Firefly MV Mono camera and a 50mm guide scope for autoguiding, and I had some trouble finding stars with the the Firefly MV Mono camera, as it only seems be able to see brighter stars, but was able to get "one" 60 second exposure, that had round stars .

I had taken eight images that night, only one was good, what I did was take an image, stop the guiding, move the scope, then lock on to a new star, and start the guiding again, the first image was good, but then the stars started to elongate and I even had a few images that every star was a double star.

Are there any PHD settings that need to be changed for the Celestron VX mount, and what about when I get the Orion StarShoot AutoGuider.

Here are some images:


A modified 16-in x 24-in Aluminum Square with the shorter side cut off, bolted to the top of the Celestron VX tripod.



A zoom of the good image.



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Footbag
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5862594 - 05/15/13 04:52 PM

I think I may see your problem. You don't have the spreader on your tripod.

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bunyon
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: Footbag]
      #5862619 - 05/15/13 05:08 PM

The spreader will help stabilize things. The "double star" phenomenon is probably from a periodic error. You should check to see if the trailing and doubling is in RA or Dec (East/West or North/South). If RA, it's periodic error. If Dec, it's polar alignment error.

Level isn't that big a deal as long as everything is stable. If you get the polar axis aligned with the pole, a little off level won't hurt (during tracking, you only turn around the polar axis).


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will1384
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: Footbag]
      #5862679 - 05/15/13 05:25 PM

Quote:

I think I may see your problem. You don't have the spreader on your tripod.




Its just like that during levelling and pointing the tripod, I donít install the spreader until I put the VX head on the tripod.


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Brian Risley
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5870346 - 05/18/13 09:59 PM

The spreader will usually change level when tightened fully!
Brian


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will1384
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: Brian Risley]
      #5876341 - 05/21/13 04:59 PM

I got the Orion StarShoot AutoGuider in, and used it with my my 50mm guidescope, used PHD with default settings, out of about 15 images only about 4 were usable, they were 60 second exposures, the tripod was level, pointed north, I used a polarscope, and did the all star alignment.

Some of the images were double stars, but showing one of the two stars smaller than the other, it looked like the telescope shifted during the exposure.

And at least one time PHD seemed to lose control of the telescope allowing the star to drift about an inch across my screen.

And when I look at the 15 or so images I see that the stars are moving one image to the next.

Is it the settings in PHD, or my mount?


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will1384
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Re: Can't get properly aligned with VX mount new [Re: will1384]
      #5911818 - 06/09/13 07:03 PM Attachment (7 downloads)

I got it to work, one thing that helped is this:

Ultra-fast method of EQ polar alignment.

I put the the PVC pipe in the ground were I had been setting up every night, and then I left the VX tripod and head assembled, I just put in a storage shed when not in use.

All I have to do is carry the VX tripod and head out to the PVC pipes, mount the telescope, then do the two star alignment, add two calibration stars, pick a star to do the polar alignment, unsync, then PHD does the rest, the first night I got 40, 60 second exposures, only one was bad, I moved a cable, I think, the next night I did 74, 60 second exposures, all were perfect, it also helps that I now use an intervalometer.

All I need to do now is learn how to use Deep Sky Stacker and Photoshop to process the images.

Here is an image of my settings, I am sure they can be refined, but I am afraid to change them, I am thinking, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it.", but am willing to try any suggestions.


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