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Looking for Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Users

astrophotography equipment
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#1 Jim Waters

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 01:36 AM

I am considering getting this for when I go backpacking.  The P.E. (periodic error) is supposed to be lower than iOptron and some others.  I haven’t used or even seen this tracker up close and I would like to get this forum's feedback before I make a purchase.  I am sure others would like this information too.

 

What are the Good and Bad points about this tracker?  Would you make the same purchase again?  Also, can I get somebody to post an image of the P.E?  This can be done by setting up the tracker pointed ~45 degrees away from Polaris and taking a ~15 minute sub of the stars trailing.  This would have to be at a low ISO and/or large F-Stop using a 200mm or larger lens.  The ‘wiggle’ in the star trails will give us some idea of the P.E.

 

Many thanks!



#2 Erlend L

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 03:55 AM

I bought one at Atrofest UK this weekend and tested it on tuesday night. I used a 30mm lens and I could take 6min exposures without any trailing. So it works, but I will have to test it with my F400 refractor before I can really comment on the accuracy.

 

It's beautifully engineered, except for the polar scope illuminator which is more like a Kinder Surprise toy. (But, it works.)

 

It is as small as it looks, and extremely portable. The star adventurer itself not bigger than camera lens, and I guess you could keep it in a camera bag with the rest of the equipment. I have the optional wedge, counterweigth etc, but I only used a camera tripod and the equatorial head on tuesday. To me, the portability and value for money is almost too good to be true, even if it should turn out that I can only use it for wide field work.

 

Another guy found a periodic error of 23":

 

http://www.cloudynig...er-first-light/



#3 Erlend L

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 02:05 PM

StarAdv.JPG   I took 40 x 30s exposures, and by manipulating the calculated offsets from the stacking program. I was able to estimate a periodic error of 30"-40" on my unit. More if the spikes are realistic, but keep in mind that the offsets are less than a pixel, and the tripod was very flimsy and lightweight. Nevertheless the curve looks very mych like something one would expect from a worm drive.

    


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#4 erictheastrojunkie

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 04:27 PM

I use a Star Adventurer, I used to also own an iOptron Skytracker, but I sold it since I basically stopped using it after I got the SA and my Sirius mounts. I mostly now use the SA for my wide angle nightscape stuff and shots up to 135mm (using my Samyang 135mm f2 lens). I have used the SA and its ST4 guide port to do long focal length shots with my 150-600mm Tamron and one-axis guiding, best I was able to do were 4 minute exposures at 400mm with that setup, guide error was around 2-3" RMS if I remember correctly. 

 

The pros are that it's small and lightweight so it can be setup, even with the counterweight, and then broken down and packed up. I can setup/take down the whole thing in about 15 minutes now. It has a good polar scope with decent optics and a nice reticule that makes polar aligning pretty easy. If you get the astro package you also get the Dec bracket which has a gap that allows you to mount your equipment and still use the polar scope, the photo package just includes an adapter which mounts over the polar scope and blocks it. It has several guide speeds to choose from, including solar, lunar, and up to 12x sidereal and it has fine tune controls for both the RA and Dec axis which helps with framing your object of interest. Obviously the ST4 port is an advantage for doing some limited one-axis guiding if you want, I had no problems setting up the mount to do it. Everything is well made and solid, you'll get the best results with a decent tripod (with, say, a 20+ pound payload capacity).

 

The cons are that the polar alignment instructions (and the manual in general) are all but useless and the first thing you should do when you get it is throw the polar scope illuminator in the trash, it is completely useless. The RA clutch can be a little finicky to learn how to loosen and tighten, if you get too aggressive with it (over-tightening and then trying to loosen after you've got everything mounted up) you will definitely screw up your polar alignment. You have to buy the wedge separately and you'll definitely want that and the azimuth adjust range isn't very large. 

 

Overall for ~$400 for everything (including the wedge and counterweight setup) I don't think it can be beat in terms of the lightweight portable tracking mounts. Here are some shots I've taken with it and various focal length lenses:

 

30376297502_cb5113cf44_c.jpgAlone Atop Lone Rock by Eric, on Flickr

 

31112260186_be1e1179a2_c.jpgPleiades Dust by Eric, on Flickr

 

31026815513_0670a13d39_c.jpgOrion Mosaic by Eric, on Flickr

 

31179112233_b68a62ccaa_c.jpgHorsehead and Flame Nebula by Eric, on Flickr


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#5 Jim Waters

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Posted 18 February 2017 - 03:08 PM

All - thanks for your inputs and images.  This is on my To-Buy list.



#6 astrohound24

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Posted 18 February 2017 - 03:49 PM

Stunning images. I think I am leaning heavily towards the Star Adventurer. Most focal length I will use is 200mm so I think it will serve my needs just right.

#7 astrohound24

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Posted 19 February 2017 - 12:27 AM

Eric I checked out your Flickr page. Man you might have some of the best images I have ever seen. It's unreal.

#8 Stephanh

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Posted 19 February 2017 - 09:59 AM

+1 with what erictheastrojunkie has said except for the polar illuminator.    It is a bit fragile but very useful if you get yourself this adaptor.

With this adapter in place,  the illuminator stays in place all the time and you can check your alignment at will thru the night.   The SA is a light tracker, so moving your camera around to frame your object will throw your alignment off a little bit.  Once you are satisfied with your framing, you can check your PA with this little adapter very easily and adjust if necessary.     I just can't believe that Sky-Watcher has not made that 50 cents adapter available for the SA.  It is a lost chance for them to show good customer support.

 

As Eric said, you do not need to tighten the RA clutch like crazy.  Just enough so that it grabs well.   I think there has been some issue with the SA with users over-tightening the clutch. 

I use the SA very successfully with a 300mm lens  for 3 minutes subs, 100% keepers.

Make sure to use a good tripod.


Edited by Stephanh, 19 February 2017 - 10:05 AM.


#9 Raginar

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Posted 19 February 2017 - 12:07 PM

I am considering getting this for when I go backpacking.  The P.E. (periodic error) is supposed to be lower than iOptron and some others.  I haven’t used or even seen this tracker up close and I would like to get this forum's feedback before I make a purchase.  I am sure others would like this information too.

 

What are the Good and Bad points about this tracker?  Would you make the same purchase again?  Also, can I get somebody to post an image of the P.E?  This can be done by setting up the tracker pointed ~45 degrees away from Polaris and taking a ~15 minute sub of the stars trailing.  This would have to be at a low ISO and/or large F-Stop using a 200mm or larger lens.  The ‘wiggle’ in the star trails will give us some idea of the P.E.

 

Many thanks!

Good, weight capacity.  I could use a 300mm f/2.8 Nikon lens with my D800 and not guide.  I did have to use additional weights (I took an ankle weight and wrapped it around the original weight).  Bad?  Polar scope can't be used with their mount thingie installed so there is a chance that you'll bump the mount and it'll require you to redo your alignment.  

 

I wish I'd kept it.  It was pretty useful and it 'just works'.  The PE doesn't really matter; the end result does.  Feel free to go over to my AB for some images if you want to see what it can do.  I would say the sweet spot was a 200mm f/2.8 lens.



#10 sgtusmc

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 01:44 PM

I really like mine and wold purchase it again. One key I have found is to use a very sturdy tripod, especially if you are approaching the weight limit.  Those cheap, inexpensive tripods aren't stable enough and the legs flex under the weight or the whole tripod will flex.  All of that throws off the alignment and will give you terrible subs.


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#11 ManicSponge

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 02:33 PM

I just got out with mine for the first time last week. Impressed so far, though I have only managed 30s subs, due to light pollution. Keep an eye on the altitude adjustment, as even with the lock tightened as far as I am comfortable cranking on it, some slop is still present. I am going to apply some six-pack engineering to the problem, before my next outing, but "The fix" hasn't popped into my head yet.

I see you have a Polemaster, and I have used it once on the Star Adventurer, which seems to work well. The pictures show the easy fix I came up with for mounting it to the Dec bar. A .50c T nut from the hardware store, and $4.99 for an epoxy stick. I unscrewed the mounting base from the Polemaster, and roughed up the inner surface with 80 grit sandpaper. I installed the T nut on the Dec stud, and filed it down until it was short enough to use with the mounting ring, without bottoming out. I laid the base on glass, with wax paper under it, centered the T nut by eye, and packed the epoxy stick in around it. Some squishing and fiddling got it nicely centered. When it cured, I just filed it flush, and it seems to work fine. The picture of the entire thing set up is just a test, as the Dec balance is not good with the Rokinon 135. Luckily, I can shift the mounting bar over one hole, and hopefully improve the situation, next time out. Hope this helps.

Regards, Kyle

 

Pole1.jpg



#12 ManicSponge

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 02:34 PM

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Attached Thumbnails

  • Pole2.jpg
  • Star3.jpg


#13 onefatguyseti

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 04:23 PM

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Is that a Orion starshoot autoguider? I didn't realize you could use an autoguider on the Star Adventurer.



#14 premk19

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 04:46 PM

 

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Is that a Orion starshoot autoguider? I didn't realize you could use an autoguider on the Star Adventurer.

 

Yes it can be guided in RA. Very handy to have especially imaging at ~200mm. Here's mine with a 30mm guide scope:

 

o0SP6lA.jpg

 

I can carry the whole thing in one hand and walk around. Also breaks down very small for packing in a backpack (except the tripod of course).


Edited by premk19, 20 February 2017 - 04:49 PM.

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#15 onefatguyseti

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 05:27 PM

 

 

More

Is that a Orion starshoot autoguider? I didn't realize you could use an autoguider on the Star Adventurer.

 

Yes it can be guided in RA. Very handy to have especially imaging at ~200mm. Here's mine with a 30mm guide scope:

 

 

 

I can carry the whole thing in one hand and walk around. Also breaks down very small for packing in a backpack (except the tripod of course).

 

I actually own a Star adventurer apparently im blind. I have only used it a few times so that might explain why i never noticed



#16 onefatguyseti

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 05:30 PM

All - thanks for your inputs and images.  This is on my To-Buy list.

I have been thinking about selling mine. If decide to I will let you know first. On a minor note, Hallowed are the ori.



#17 Jim Waters

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 07:02 PM

Lift Off - Why are you selling the Star Adventurer?  What's included?

 

"Hallowed are the Ori."  ;)



#18 ManicSponge

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 08:20 PM

 

 

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Is that a Orion starshoot autoguider? I didn't realize you could use an autoguider on the Star Adventurer.

 

Yes it can be guided in RA. Very handy to have especially imaging at ~200mm. Here's mine with a 30mm guide scope:

 

o0SP6lA.jpg

 

I can carry the whole thing in one hand and walk around. Also breaks down very small for packing in a backpack (except the tripod of course).

 

Now that is a professional looking setup! I plan on buying, or building the fine focus adjuster next. Nice looking rig!

Regards, Kyle


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#19 astrohound24

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 08:52 PM

What all would I need to rig up an auto guider. I see some kind of ADM bracket there possibly and love the green holder there.

#20 premk19

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 09:41 PM

What all would I need to rig up an auto guider. I see some kind of ADM bracket there possibly and love the green holder there.

You could mount it side by side like Eric's in post#12

 

For my setup I attached my guidecope (orion/qhy 30mm mini guidescope) to the underside of a vixen dovetail bar on which my camera is mounted. 

 

ADM camera mount: http://www.admaccess...l-camera-mount/

Guidescope clamp: http://www.teleskop-...ting-Clamp.html

Vixen adapter for the above guidescope clamp: http://www.admaccess...vetail-adapter/

Saddle for the star adventurer dec bracket: http://www.teleskop-...gth--80-mm.html



#21 premk19

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 09:43 PM

 

 

 

More

Is that a Orion starshoot autoguider? I didn't realize you could use an autoguider on the Star Adventurer.

 

Yes it can be guided in RA. Very handy to have especially imaging at ~200mm. Here's mine with a 30mm guide scope:

 

 

 

I can carry the whole thing in one hand and walk around. Also breaks down very small for packing in a backpack (except the tripod of course).

 

Now that is a professional looking setup! I plan on buying, or building the fine focus adjuster next. Nice looking rig!

Regards, Kyle

 

Thanks, Kyle! Haven't had a chance to test the rig yet. Fellow PNW resident  :bawling:



#22 onefatguyseti

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 11:31 PM

Lift Off - Why are you selling the Star Adventurer?  What's included?

 

"Hallowed are the Ori."  ;)

It would be the wedge, Star Adventurer, and a heavy duty ball mount.



#23 astrohound24

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 02:46 AM

Thanks for info guys. Great thread. Thinking about picking up Star Adventurer. Love hearing about it.

#24 lil_eddie

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 07:50 AM

What weight limit tripod are you all using with your SA, about to buy an SA but want to get the right tripod without spending $100 more than I need to.



#25 erictheastrojunkie

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 10:54 AM

20 pounds minimum, I use the manfrotto MT055XPRO3


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