Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Skyguider Pro fun topic, info, pics you name it

  • Please log in to reply
1392 replies to this topic

#76 dciobota

dciobota

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 3,735
  • Joined: 07 Aug 2007
  • Loc: No longer on this site in protest of poor site moderation

Posted 18 May 2018 - 02:01 PM

Thanks George, that option would work well at a fairly dark site.  Mine is pretty bad, last night I couldn't hardly spot even Deneb.  Since I was using a camera that works with APT though (asi1600mc), I found a decent way of doing it, although it's not the simplest way.

I have a stick pc and a travel router, which I can log into from my tablet.  Once I got APT up and running, as well as HNSKY (using their IP server), I took an image with the camera and platesolved it, then pressed Show to show it framed in HNSKY.  That told me where the camera was actually pointing.  Knowing your fov, move the camera, then platesolve again, until the object is centered.  It's not as bad as it sounds, especially at the lower focal lengths like 200mm and 135mm (which is what I used last night).  Longer focal lengths may be a bit trickier, since the movements are incrementally smaller.

 

I couldn't to that with the M5 though, since it's not supported.  But mirrored Canons should work well.  At a dark site, where you can actually triangulate using stars (or even see the objects) the finder should work well.

 

Chris, which tripod did you get?  Does it have a way of tying a bungee cord from the center?  If it does, and you're on fairly soft ground, tie a bungee to the center on one end, and one of those pet corkscrew things at the other end, and screw it into the ground.  That should put enough pressure on the legs to stop them from wiggling. 

 

Timm, the polar scope is indeed a very good design, apart from quality control issues in assembly.  And it should be very accurate once properly aligned.


  • KVK67 likes this

#77 leveye

leveye

    Aurora

  • ***--
  • Posts: 4,813
  • Joined: 06 Feb 2013
  • Loc: Metro Detroit Mi.

Posted 18 May 2018 - 02:14 PM

 

 

Chris, which tripod did you get?  Does it have a way of tying a bungee cord from the center?  If it does, and you're on fairly soft ground, tie a bungee to the center on one end, and one of those pet corkscrew things at the other end, and screw it into the ground.  That should put enough pressure on the legs to stop them from wiggling. 

 

It is the $89 dollar offering from them. Works on the Smart EQ and Pano as well..

 

http://www.ioptron.c...duct-p/3221.htm

 

The problem is the lower portion of the legs when extended even a little wobble way way too much. Even worse than when the Smart EQ first came out long ago. This tripod design is a bit different It's not an easy fix if you still want them to extend smooth. I even tried some felt to make up the empty space inside side to side and that did not work. Let me know if anyone out there has found a real good solution besides using another tripod or extra weight.


Edited by leveye, 18 May 2018 - 05:19 PM.


#78 dciobota

dciobota

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 3,735
  • Joined: 07 Aug 2007
  • Loc: No longer on this site in protest of poor site moderation

Posted 18 May 2018 - 04:53 PM

Ahh, I see that one is the 1.5".  I can't remember if the one I have for the smart eq pro is the 1.5 or 2 inch one.  Would adding a bunch of weight in the tray help at all?  I know it doesn't make it exactly portable anymore.  If you can drill a hole in the center of the tray and use a bungee with the corkscrew thingie (very technical word) to pull the tray down (without breaking it) it might stabilize the legs.  I'll have to check mine when I get home and see if I can offer more advice.



#79 leveye

leveye

    Aurora

  • ***--
  • Posts: 4,813
  • Joined: 06 Feb 2013
  • Loc: Metro Detroit Mi.

Posted 18 May 2018 - 05:15 PM

Ahh, I see that one is the 1.5".  I can't remember if the one I have for the smart eq pro is the 1.5 or 2 inch one.  Would adding a bunch of weight in the tray help at all?  I know it doesn't make it exactly portable anymore.  If you can drill a hole in the center of the tray and use a bungee with the corkscrew thingie (very technical word) to pull the tray down (without breaking it) it might stabilize the legs.  I'll have to check mine when I get home and see if I can offer more advice.

No adding weight is not an option for me. I have to be very mobile and like to change compositions and locations very quickly. The issue is at the joint of the legs. Even locked down they can easily be wiggled. The original tripod had the same issues but this one is built a bit differently.


Edited by leveye, 18 May 2018 - 05:15 PM.


#80 Aaron_tragle

Aaron_tragle

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 971
  • Joined: 23 Jul 2017
  • Loc: Richmond, Virginia

Posted 18 May 2018 - 08:37 PM

Awesome pics Aaron, great examples of what you can do with the mount.

Yeah some sort of way to point is needed at the longer focal lengths, I'm still searching for a way myself.  An rdf is probably good enough at dark sites if you know the sky well enough.  I haven't had much exposure to dark sites to learn the skies, and impossible in my back yard.  I tried using my android phone and the Skeye app as a push to system, with limited results.

 

Actually, I believe those are peak to peak values.  For the smarteq pro they list 40-60 arcsec which is acually higher than what I measured.  The eq5 and cg5 also match my past experience, about 30 arcsec peak to peak.

The cem25p is double the weight and price, not in the same category at all.  Definitely not a mount you'd put in a carry on bag along with the scope.  My whole kit including two cameras and assorted lenses fit in a backpack.  If i take out one camera and all but one lens I can fit the at65edq instead.  That includes two weights as well.  I don't believe that's possible with the cem25p.

 

PS:  I forgot to mention this also includes guider, stick pc, travel router and 9 inch tablet for remote access to guiding.  And one rechargeable li-ion battery to power everything but the mount, which has a built in battery.

Try plate solving. it worked for me pretty well and you get used to the small adjustments needed.



#81 dciobota

dciobota

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 3,735
  • Joined: 07 Aug 2007
  • Loc: No longer on this site in protest of poor site moderation

Posted 18 May 2018 - 09:52 PM

Say Chris, I checked my smarteq pro tripod and yep, I believe it's the same one you have, 1.5" legs.  And yep, when you use the extensions the tripod becomes pretty "flexible".  It is indeed a combination of the plastic joints and the plastic tray thingie (the thing that ties the legs together).

 

So, if you absolutely have to extend the legs, the first thing I would try is use three equal length pieces of chain or something similar to tie the legs together where they extend, joining in the middle.  Then, if you do have soft ground to anchor, use a the bungee cord and pet corckscrew to add tension to the chains and hopefully make the tripod rigid enough.  Not sure how well it would work tbh.

 

I've always used mine without the legs extended, and it does a fair job, although you do have to contort yourself a good bit to look through the polar scope and such.

 

Aaron, thanks for the tip my man, yup, tried the platesolving last night and it worked pretty well I think.  I do want to point out that only works if you can somehow download the pics from the camera to the pc.  One of my cameras I can't do that.

 

As a side note, and I don't want to divert this thread too much, I'm having a heck of a time platesolving images from the asi290mm using the 30m guidescope (132mm fl).  I have no issues platesolving if I use the asi1600 with my 135mm lens.  Totally baffled why, I've downloaded all the correct star catalogs, I'm pretty sure.  I may post in another thread about this.


  • leveye and tkottary like this

#82 lucutes

lucutes

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 510
  • Joined: 17 Oct 2016
  • Loc: Western Canada

Posted 26 May 2018 - 02:44 PM

I love this setup.  The iOptron Tripod wiggle is something I have noticed recently.  I tried installing the tray to see if it gives it more stability but it was about the same. The other thing I have been curious about since I own both SkyGuider Pro and SkyTracker Pro is that the polar scope has to be rotated a certain way to achieve illumination of the alignment reticle. All of this rotating and adjusting produces a lot of wiggle and kicks off my alignment a bit. 

I broke down and bought the $100 red dot finder for my Z61 because I was having a hell of a time trying aligning the scope on a target using a ASI071MC-Pro. The reason why I love this setup though is that it is highly portable and I hit the road multiple times a month taking me all over North America. The Z61 and SkyGuider Pro has a lot of potential I just have to work the bugs out.
 

Attached Thumbnails

  • WOZ61.jpg
  • Screen Shot 2018-05-26 at 1.35.33 PM.jpg

  • timmbottoni, Sheridan, John O'Grady and 5 others like this

#83 dciobota

dciobota

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 3,735
  • Joined: 07 Aug 2007
  • Loc: No longer on this site in protest of poor site moderation

Posted 26 May 2018 - 05:33 PM

Very nice pic and congrats!  And also, you are so very lucky to be able to visit dark sites so often.

 

Since you're using a camera that requires a pc, follow my info in post #76.  APT is free, and so is HNSKY and AllSkyPlateSolver.  Maybe you use StarGazer Pro, which I believe also uses a plate solver (not sure if it works as well as ASPS, which is a blind solver, needs no info from the mount).

 

So you can shoot using APT, solve, then show the solved result in HNSKY.  Takes a little bit of practice to learn which way to move the mount towards the target, but not that hard.  Then when you're done you can either use APT to image with (I use it with my asi1600 camera) or close it and use your favorite app.

 

But of course, at a dark site a red dot finder can work just as well.  Since I rarely visit one of those, I get easily confused with so many stars lol.

 

Keep up the good work, and would love to see more of your work using the mount.



#84 lucutes

lucutes

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 510
  • Joined: 17 Oct 2016
  • Loc: Western Canada

Posted 29 May 2018 - 12:40 PM

 

 

Dark sites are abundant, but so are Bears!

 

I am using Mac so my options are limited. I am trialing Astro Pixel Processor, and considering Pixinsight. AstroImager and Sam's new ASICAP is my capture software.

I honestly could not centre up my target to save my life. Even at only 360mm of Focal Length. Spend money on Red dot finder...



#85 Dave24137

Dave24137

    Explorer 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 80
  • Joined: 29 Mar 2018

Posted 08 June 2018 - 01:40 PM

This is my (new) heaviest setup with the SGP (meant only on ideal nights and in my locality, not for travel):

 

Z61 (2018)

WO Flattener

Nikon D500

DSLR red-dot finderscope

Polemaster (not shown, using the CEM25 adapter)

and a wireless intervalometer

 

...on a Desmond ball-head (locked in a fixed position, except for DEC movement). This ball-head is half the price of the Manfrotto PRO, holds more weight, and it's built like a tank. My main reason for using this rather than iOptron's included attachment plate is to achieve DEC balance (I do use the attachment plate on the bottom of the ball-head, but only to install and remove the ball-head easily). For the base, I'm using the Manfrotto 410 head, which holds it all solidly.

 

Since acquiring the Z61 two weeks ago, I've had nothing but clouds and rain. [I also acquired a ZWO for autoguiding (screwed-in to the end of the counterweight rod).]

 

This setup falls within the listed weight-limit; and though the "rule" seems to be nothing heavier than half that limit, I'm achieving a perfect and smooth balance with two 3-pound counterweights, which also falls within the listed limit (and I reversed the DEC mount, to provide more leverage on the counterweight side). In the past I used a 70-200 MM lens with teleconverter, and that was heavier than the Z61; so I'm confident the SGP can handle it.

 

(Admittedly, the Polemaster may be overkill, but I'll be using it on larger mounts in the future. So why not. And I prefer to eliminate alignment errors inherent to "eye-balling" Polaris' position with the app, on top of eliminating the annoyance of craning to stare through the polar-scope.)

 

Hopefully it clears this weekend and I can share my results! Any target suggestions?

 

Thanks.

Attached Thumbnails

  • DF_9323.jpg

Edited by Dave24137, 08 June 2018 - 01:47 PM.

  • timmbottoni, Sheridan, rml63 and 5 others like this

#86 lucutes

lucutes

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 510
  • Joined: 17 Oct 2016
  • Loc: Western Canada

Posted 10 June 2018 - 05:22 PM

Does it balance?
I could barely balance mine with just the shoe adapter and the Z61/NikonD750.



#87 Dave24137

Dave24137

    Explorer 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 80
  • Joined: 29 Mar 2018

Posted 10 June 2018 - 07:46 PM

It does.

 

Using two 3-pound weights, and by reversing the DEC mount (with the longer end holding the counterweight-rod), I can rotate with one finger and it will hold its resting position.


Edited by Dave24137, 10 June 2018 - 07:46 PM.

  • lucutes and KVK67 like this

#88 cloudywest

cloudywest

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 238
  • Joined: 15 Jun 2013

Posted 12 June 2018 - 06:31 AM



This is my (new) heaviest setup with the SGP (meant only on ideal nights and in my locality, not for travel):

 

Z61 (2018)

WO Flattener

Nikon D500

DSLR red-dot finderscope

Polemaster (not shown, using the CEM25 adapter)

and a wireless intervalometer

 

...on a Desmond ball-head (locked in a fixed position, except for DEC movement). This ball-head is half the price of the Manfrotto PRO, holds more weight, and it's built like a tank. My main reason for using this rather than iOptron's included attachment plate is to achieve DEC balance (I do use the attachment plate on the bottom of the ball-head, but only to install and remove the ball-head easily). For the base, I'm using the Manfrotto 410 head, which holds it all solidly.

 

Since acquiring the Z61 two weeks ago, I've had nothing but clouds and rain. [I also acquired a ZWO for autoguiding (screwed-in to the end of the counterweight rod).]

 

This setup falls within the listed weight-limit; and though the "rule" seems to be nothing heavier than half that limit, I'm achieving a perfect and smooth balance with two 3-pound counterweights, which also falls within the listed limit (and I reversed the DEC mount, to provide more leverage on the counterweight side). In the past I used a 70-200 MM lens with teleconverter, and that was heavier than the Z61; so I'm confident the SGP can handle it.

 

(Admittedly, the Polemaster may be overkill, but I'll be using it on larger mounts in the future. So why not. And I prefer to eliminate alignment errors inherent to "eye-balling" Polaris' position with the app, on top of eliminating the annoyance of craning to stare through the polar-scope.)

 

Hopefully it clears this weekend and I can share my results! Any target suggestions?

 

Thanks.

Remove the ball head and use the stock dovetail saddle should gain better stability and less torque moment.



#89 Dave24137

Dave24137

    Explorer 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 80
  • Joined: 29 Mar 2018

Posted 12 June 2018 - 09:04 AM

Thanks, cloudywest.

 

I still prefer the ball-head, which is smoother (rather than metal on metal) and also locks without shifting the target [using iOptron's attachment (with the two screws) slightly shifts the frame and requires extra tweaking, plus I'd rather not have the telescope/camera affixed with loosened screws. Using the ball-head, everything remains locked to the mount].

 

In terms of stability, I'd have to reverse the DEC mount to attain better leverage with the counterweights as well as for height clearance, which to an extent is simply an inverse of my listed setup. So for me, the current arrangement works.



#90 Roscoe Primrose

Roscoe Primrose

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 22
  • Joined: 19 Jun 2018
  • Loc: Northern VA, Bortle 4

Posted 20 June 2018 - 02:32 PM

My SGP should be here Friday.  Looking forward to taking some images with my D750/300mm f/4.5 MF lens, but it looks like it'll be at least until Tuesday night before I get clear skies.  I'd like to have all the kinks worked out before I go on vacation next month, 9 nights in northern Wisconsin (Bortle 4) and 5 nights at my Dad's in Montana.  Dad's is in Bortle 3, and at 7800', but the full moon is only two days before I get there, but I'll have to make do...

 

Roscoe


  • andrewweeks likes this

#91 Dave24137

Dave24137

    Explorer 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 80
  • Joined: 29 Mar 2018

Posted 20 June 2018 - 06:38 PM

Best of luck, Roscoe. Just make sure you have some way to find an object (e.g., a red-dot finder), because at 300 MM it can be tough to center.

 

I posted this elsewhere, but the other night I shot M51 on the SGP, with two-minute exposures at the equivalent of 540 MM.

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • DF_ M51z61c.jpg

  • Sheridan, dciobota, Brian K. and 4 others like this

#92 lucutes

lucutes

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 510
  • Joined: 17 Oct 2016
  • Loc: Western Canada

Posted 25 June 2018 - 08:38 AM

 

I tried your two 3lb weights theory and it works great.  Very balanced.  How long were your subs before you noticed trailing?

 

Cheers


  • Dave24137 likes this

#93 Dave24137

Dave24137

    Explorer 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 80
  • Joined: 29 Mar 2018

Posted 27 June 2018 - 08:05 AM

Great to hear.

 

And with better balance the SGP should handle the additional weight just fine.

 

I'm slowly increasing the length of my subs and building a consistent choreography regarding setup and software. Thus far I've achieved three-minute subs, unguided. Polemaster for alignment has been excellent and I'm sure I can push further.

 

Last week I got this single three-minute shot (totally RAW, unedited, ISO 1600) and then a mass of clouds came in as I started imaging. So, this one shot was the only result that night, haha.

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • DF_ M51z61raw.jpg

  • andrewweeks likes this

#94 dciobota

dciobota

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 3,735
  • Joined: 07 Aug 2007
  • Loc: No longer on this site in protest of poor site moderation

Posted 28 June 2018 - 12:10 PM

That's really good Dave, especially at that focal length.  So, what are the steps in your software and setup?

 

I end up guiding, since it is more convenient, and I can also use the guidescope setup to polar align using Sharpcap.  Dual use.

 

Btw, not to divert the thread, but does anyone have a link to a short dovetail like the one that comes with the SGP?  Orion has one sorta similar, but not sure how to fit an 1/4 screw through it.  I have one that works very well, but I have no idea where I bought it from.  I just need another one to semi-permanently mount to a camera adaptor..



#95 Dave24137

Dave24137

    Explorer 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 80
  • Joined: 29 Mar 2018

Posted 28 June 2018 - 04:52 PM

Thanks, Daniel. That night was actually the first time I captured a three-minute sub (I remain at the beginning of taking astrophotography more seriously).

 

With the hardware set up (which I listed in a previous post in this thread), I first polar-align the SGP using PS Align Pro on iPhone: this supplies a close-enough initial alignment. 

 

Then:

 

- Center the target in the telescope via the red-dot laser, to establish what will be the starting position;

- Loosely attain focus on a star, nothing crazy;

- Re-balance the DEC dovetail if necessary (typically this isn't necessary, because the Z61 has a printed scale: so I know roughly where focus will be);

- Fine-tune the counterweights;

 

Then I place the Z61 exactly perpendicular to the ground, to establish a Park position for Polemaster --- and complete that process.

 

Thereafter it's a matter of slowly rotating back to the object, which will be just out of view in light of tweaking the mount for alignment: but importantly, the object will be proximate, thanks to that earlier rough alignment. Moreover, moving the target back into position doesn't affect balance on either axis, which is helpful. 

 

With the SGP now running, I fine-tune focus. Then some practice subs to see how long I can confidently expose. (Also, what's nice about Polemaster is that I can leave the laptop on until imaging fully: this way I can monitor my alignment in real-time, to see how well it corresponds to the practice subs.)

 

That’s  really it.

 

I have a 50 MM finderscope and a ZWO camera for autoguiding, which I will mount to the opposite end of the counterweight rod with a small ballhead (thus eliminating the need for one of the two counterweights), but I want to push the SGP unguided for the next several sessions and see how good I can get it.

 

If I can eventually get four- or five-minute subs unguided, I'll be content. And then I'll introduce autoguiding and see what happens thereon.

 

For me, this process has been very efficient, and with practice I think the data will improve, of which more is always needed.


Edited by Dave24137, 28 June 2018 - 07:39 PM.

  • dciobota and DevilJack like this

#96 ericthemantis

ericthemantis

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • Posts: 325
  • Joined: 09 May 2016
  • Loc: Phoenix, AZ

Posted 07 July 2018 - 09:22 PM

Just bought one this weekend, it just looks so slick! I was planning on putting it on my EQ-3 tripod, but looking at the recommended ioptron tripod now, I dont think the SGP base will actually fit on it (has a nub sticking up for the az adjustment on the eq-3 mount).

I think I can get it to work with a ball head mount I got for my camera, but looks like I gotta buy a new tripod to use the base.

What tripods are you all using? Is the ioptron recommended one decent?

#97 SHFT

SHFT

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 97
  • Joined: 18 Apr 2018
  • Loc: Belgium

Posted 08 July 2018 - 03:47 AM

I have this one:

http://www.ioptron.c...duct-p/3501.htm

It's super sturdy but it is too low to comfortably polar align. I discovered afterwards there is a taller version of the same tripod so that would be the better option.
  • ericthemantis likes this

#98 Dave24137

Dave24137

    Explorer 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 80
  • Joined: 29 Mar 2018

Posted 09 July 2018 - 09:40 AM

I use my photography tripod, a Benro 3 series CF (rated for 31 pounds), with a 410 Manfrotto head (pushing the limit but it works fine):

- https://www.benrousa...nro-tad37c.aspx

- https://www.manfrott...ergonomic-knobs


Edited by Dave24137, 09 July 2018 - 09:41 AM.

  • ericthemantis likes this

#99 dciobota

dciobota

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 3,735
  • Joined: 07 Aug 2007
  • Loc: No longer on this site in protest of poor site moderation

Posted 09 July 2018 - 03:24 PM

I have a smarteqpro with that 1.5" iOptron tripod also.  It's ok, it does have a good bit of flex though when extended, due to the plastic couplings in the extensions.

 

For my field setup I've used an old Induro photo tripod for years, similar to this Sirui one:

https://www.amazon.c...BMW4923R2GX573Y

 

But if that one ever gives out on me, I'm considering upgrading to this one:

https://www.amazon.c...d=AVK2FQXQF9PPN

 

It's actually very similar to the one that Dave listed.



#100 dciobota

dciobota

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 3,735
  • Joined: 07 Aug 2007
  • Loc: No longer on this site in protest of poor site moderation

Posted 09 July 2018 - 03:31 PM

Btw, just another shot with the help of SGP.  It was a comical night of technical issues, none of them related to the SGP which performed beautifully.

 

M16 and surrounds, shot with the asi1600mc-c (uncooled that night) and 135mm f2 lens.  Details in the info section of that page.

https://photos.app.g...ZVXMhmZYgMrCQaA

 

The SGP is perfect for working at that focal length.  


Edited by dciobota, 09 July 2018 - 03:32 PM.

  • Dave24137 likes this


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics