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Plea for help Guiding Star Adventurer

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#1 andrex66

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Posted 29 January 2018 - 01:33 PM

Hello everybody,
I recently purchased a Star Adventurer Astro Photo Set (SA) along with a Mini 50mm Guide Scope and a QHY5L-II Mono Camera to try some basic guided astrophotography.
I'm currently trying to use PHD2 to guide but I'm having issues related to my lack of experience,so I would need some advices...

 

The load:

Canon 1100d
Tamron 70-300 f/4-5.6
L-Bracket + 1 kg counterweight
TS 50mm Guide scope + QHY cam

 

The software:

 

PHD2 V.2.6.4

QHY Drivers 160304

 

The issues:

1) when guiding (or trying to) the arrow buttons on the SA blink very fast,like 3 times per second. Some SA users reports blinking lights when guiding,but I would be interested to know the correct blinking rate,since 3 per second could be related to some problem.
The manual refers a Motor Error Status either for overload, low battery level or mount blocked by some external force
The total load should be less than maximum, SA is powered via an external power supply (5v)

 

2) I try to balance as best as I can the weight on the SA, a little east or west heavy depending on where I would start imaging,then I lock the RA clutch a little to avoid rotation prior to start imaging. Should be the RA axis completely free to move when the motor is running? Could the locking of the clutch be the cause of the flashing buttons? I just gently rotate the clutch a bit to prevent rotation,not forcing it.

 

 

The outcome:

 

180 seconds at 300mm,all stars are trailing

PHD2 graph shows corrections sent to the mount,but I don't really know if the SA is receiving the pulses

 

 

List of dumb questions:

 

1) In the PHD2 connect equipment wizard,where you create a profile for your setup, I entered the focal length of the guide scope (162mm) and the pixel size of the camera (3.75 µm).
What I need to enter as the mount guide speed? 0.5x or  1x sidereal?

 

2) Should I install ASCOM drivers for the QHY?
In PHD2 I have chosen QHY (ASCOM isn't present as a choice) from the camera drop down menu.
From the QHY manual "Note: 12-bit mode do not support hardware guide port" as Louise from another forum found out. Could the camera be operating in 12 bit mode and so disabling the ST4 port?
The camera properties are greyed out when using non ASCOM drivers,so I can't tell if it's working in 8 or 12 bit mode.

 

3) Probably the dumbest of all questions: is there a way to surely tell if PHD2 is driving my SA at all?

 

Apologies for the noobness but I would like to rule out all the problems related to inexperience,it's frustrating when you get one decent night once in a while and you waste most of the time fighting with equipment.

 

If I can provide more informations or some point is not clear just ask!

 

It would be nice to have a separate thread dedicated to the Star Adventurer to quickly find hints and suggestions!

 

I hope all of the above makes sense,not english native tongue2.gif

Thank you all and clear skyes
Andrea



#2 trurl

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Posted 29 January 2018 - 01:39 PM

Don't know about this specific equipment, but you mention external 5V power without mentioning Amps. Are you sure you are supplying sufficient amperage?



#3 baron555

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Posted 29 January 2018 - 03:04 PM


 

 


 

 

List of dumb questions:

 

1) In the PHD2 connect equipment wizard,where you create a profile for your setup, I entered the focal length of the guide scope (162mm) and the pixel size of the camera (3.75 µm).
What I need to enter as the mount guide speed? 0.5x or  1x sidereal?

Usually the default for most mounts is guide speed at 0.5x.  You'll have to determine that from the mount electronics or the handset.

 

 

2) Should I install ASCOM drivers for the QHY?
In PHD2 I have chosen QHY (ASCOM isn't present as a choice) from the camera drop down menu.
From the QHY manual "Note: 12-bit mode do not support hardware guide port" as Louise from another forum found out. Could the camera be operating in 12 bit mode and so disabling the ST4 port?
The camera properties are greyed out when using non ASCOM drivers,so I can't tell if it's working in 8 or 12 bit mode.

That would be best so that the mount will know where it is pointing and you only have to calibrate PHD once.  If you use ST4, then you have to calibrate at each target.

 

3) Probably the dumbest of all questions: is there a way to surely tell if PHD2 is driving my SA at all?

Go into PHD, then under Tools and Manual Guide, there is a screen handpad.  Try to slew the mount from that.  Place two pieces of tape with marks between to determine if it is moving.

 

Apologies for the noobness but I would like to rule out all the problems related to inexperience,it's frustrating when you get one decent night once in a while and you waste most of the time fighting with equipment.

 

If I can provide more informations or some point is not clear just ask!

 

It would be nice to have a separate thread dedicated to the Star Adventurer to quickly find hints and suggestions!

Google it to see other forums responses.



#4 dfisherows

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Posted 29 January 2018 - 05:38 PM

Call SkyWatcherUSA and ask tech support.  I use an SA and currently working on the SAM, but have never guided with them.  I can tell you your mount won't slew because it's not a goto as you probably know.  Your 300mm lens is IMO too much lens.  I wouldn't go above 200mm.  I use a Samyang 135mm.

 

Not sure if this will help with any questions you have, but it will give you an idea.

 

http://daveshorizon....adventurer.html



#5 andrex66

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Posted 31 January 2018 - 09:22 AM

Thank you all for your answers!

 

Trurl, I tried various power sources,ranging from 800ma to 3400ma,AA batteries and a power bank,led always blink. I now suppose that's the way it has to be

 

Baron555,yesterday evening I installed ASCOM platform + ASCOM drivers for the QHY. As dfisherows pointed out, the SA can't be pulse guided,it can be driven only via ST4 port. I will check if QHY ASCOM drivers on ST4 port makes any difference,I read that someone used this combination without issues.

 

dfisherows: Looks like the SA has been successfully  paired with a canon 400 L and some small refractors,so it should be doable. Obviously I need to sort out the guiding problem first undecided.gif

 

Thank you again,

Andrea



#6 joshman

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Posted 06 April 2018 - 10:24 PM

Hey, just checking in to see if you've had any further success with this? I'm pretty much in exactly the same boat regarding setup and guiding issues, I'm using a Sony a7RII and Canon 300mm f/4L and trying to guide is absolutely doing my head in. My Guide cam is the same as yours - QHY5L-II-M and I'm using the QHY mini-guide scope (FL=130mm).

 

I'm using PHD2, and always have trailing and the RA seems to oscillate around the RA pretty aggressively. I'm waiting for some clearer and warmer nights (Canadian Rockies can be pretty brutal) to run a few more tests, but I'm starting to think that 300mm may in fact be a little too much for this mount.



#7 axle01

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Posted 08 April 2018 - 09:02 PM

This place will help.

 

https://www.facebook...StarAdventurer/

 

Al



#8 Woodbridge_Dave

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Posted 10 April 2018 - 08:16 PM

A 300mm lens plus 50mm guider puts you WAY over the limit.  I don’t care what rating SW gives this, the max lens is 200mm and your guider should be a 6x30 finder.  8x50 is way too much.

 

With really good polar alignment (which takes practice) and really good balance, I did autoguiding tests at 200mm focal length.  I was able to get 16 minute subs with round stars.  At 18 minutes, the stars showed some trailing with pixel peeping.

 

At 300mm I couldn’t even get 5 min subs.  This mount was not made for serious focal length.


Edited by Woodbridge_Dave, 10 April 2018 - 08:19 PM.


#9 rmollise

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Posted 11 April 2018 - 06:10 PM

Hello everybody,
I recently purchased a Star Adventurer Astro Photo Set (SA) along with a Mini 50mm Guide Scope and a QHY5L-II Mono Camera to try some basic guided astrophotography.
I'm currently trying to use PHD2 to guide but I'm having issues related to my lack of experience,so I would need some advices...

 

The load:

Canon 1100d
Tamron 70-300 f/4-5.6
L-Bracket + 1 kg counterweight
TS 50mm Guide scope + QHY cam

 

The software:

 

PHD2 V.2.6.4

QHY Drivers 160304

 

The issues:

1) when guiding (or trying to) the arrow buttons on the SA blink very fast,like 3 times per second. Some SA users reports blinking lights when guiding,but I would be interested to know the correct blinking rate,since 3 per second could be related to some problem.
The manual refers a Motor Error Status either for overload, low battery level or mount blocked by some external force
The total load should be less than maximum, SA is powered via an external power supply (5v)

 

2) I try to balance as best as I can the weight on the SA, a little east or west heavy depending on where I would start imaging,then I lock the RA clutch a little to avoid rotation prior to start imaging. Should be the RA axis completely free to move when the motor is running? Could the locking of the clutch be the cause of the flashing buttons? I just gently rotate the clutch a bit to prevent rotation,not forcing it.

 

 

The outcome:

 

180 seconds at 300mm,all stars are trailing

PHD2 graph shows corrections sent to the mount,but I don't really know if the SA is receiving the pulses

 

 

List of dumb questions:

 

1) In the PHD2 connect equipment wizard,where you create a profile for your setup, I entered the focal length of the guide scope (162mm) and the pixel size of the camera (3.75 µm).
What I need to enter as the mount guide speed? 0.5x or  1x sidereal?

 

2) Should I install ASCOM drivers for the QHY?
In PHD2 I have chosen QHY (ASCOM isn't present as a choice) from the camera drop down menu.
From the QHY manual "Note: 12-bit mode do not support hardware guide port" as Louise from another forum found out. Could the camera be operating in 12 bit mode and so disabling the ST4 port?
The camera properties are greyed out when using non ASCOM drivers,so I can't tell if it's working in 8 or 12 bit mode.

 

3) Probably the dumbest of all questions: is there a way to surely tell if PHD2 is driving my SA at all?

 

Apologies for the noobness but I would like to rule out all the problems related to inexperience,it's frustrating when you get one decent night once in a while and you waste most of the time fighting with equipment.

 

If I can provide more informations or some point is not clear just ask!

 

It would be nice to have a separate thread dedicated to the Star Adventurer to quickly find hints and suggestions!

 

I hope all of the above makes sense,not english native tongue2.gif

Thank you all and clear skyes
Andrea

 

1. What do you have the mount set to guide at? Most can be set for .5x sidereal, 1x sidereal, etc. .5x is what's usually called for.

 

2. Does the QHY deliver images to the program? If so, you don't need ASCOM. If not, you must install the ASCOM platform and the driver for your camera.

 

3. Pushing the manual buttons in PHD will tell you in a hurry as you look at the guiding graph.

 

But otherwise? At 300mm max, I very much question the need for autoguiding. If you have trailed stars, look to polar alignment and balance to solve the problem. 


Edited by rmollise, 11 April 2018 - 06:10 PM.


#10 joshman

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Posted 14 April 2018 - 02:38 PM

A 300mm lens plus 50mm guider puts you WAY over the limit.  I don’t care what rating SW gives this, the max lens is 200mm and your guider should be a 6x30 finder.  8x50 is way too much.

 

With really good polar alignment (which takes practice) and really good balance, I did autoguiding tests at 200mm focal length.  I was able to get 16 minute subs with round stars.  At 18 minutes, the stars showed some trailing with pixel peeping.

 

At 300mm I couldn’t even get 5 min subs.  This mount was not made for serious focal length.

Hey this is fantastic to know! I really need to borrow a 200mm and 135mm Lens so I can test my setup and see if I can get comparable results and work out where my 5-10min Exposure sweet spot is.

 

I've still got a few tests to run before I can fully rule out using my 300mm lens for lengthy exposures. Namely, getting my rig pointed at the DSO I want to image and using my guidecam as a polar-alignment tool only, rotate out 90deg, then starting my sharpcap alignment. that way when I rotate my setup back for alignment, I'm pointed at my imaging subject, and can let the SA run without guiding.



#11 ah.clem

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Posted 07 August 2018 - 06:40 PM

Hey this is fantastic to know! I really need to borrow a 200mm and 135mm Lens so I can test my setup and see if I can get comparable results and work out where my 5-10min Exposure sweet spot is.

 

I've still got a few tests to run before I can fully rule out using my 300mm lens for lengthy exposures. Namely, getting my rig pointed at the DSO I want to image and using my guidecam as a polar-alignment tool only, rotate out 90deg, then starting my sharpcap alignment. that way when I rotate my setup back for alignment, I'm pointed at my imaging subject, and can let the SA run without guiding.

No offense to Woodbridge_Dave, but some of these European fellows are producing the most beautiful images I have ever seen using a SA and 300-500mm lenses/OTAs.  It's a great thread full of wonderful images and information on how they were acquired; 16 pages so far. Link here: https://stargazerslo...enturer/?page=1 - some are getting 10 minute lights using guiding, but most are just stacking from big lenses.  It has inspired me to try mounting my ST-80 and DSLR to my SA and giving it a go. I know the ST-80 has challenges, but you work with what you have. I am also going to be using my Minolta 70-300mm with my DSLR on the SA and shooting at 300mm.




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