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iOptron Skyguider - M81 & M82

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#1 Dave24137

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 03:48 PM

iOptron Skyguider Pro with a Nikon D500 at 200 MM f/4, 1250 ISO — 13 subs at 75 seconds, 3 subs at 135 seconds, 10 darks.

 

With limited magnification and high clouds I'm pretty happy with it.

 

Any suggestions are welcome, thank you.

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • DF_ 1.jpg

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#2 petert913

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 03:50 PM

I really need to get one of those small trackers.  The guiding accuracy looks quite sufficient to me. 



#3 17.5Dob

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 03:55 PM

Nice job waytogo.gif



#4 Dave24137

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 03:55 PM

I had an Astrotrac and the polar-alignment process was tedious; iOptron's Skyguider is much more reliable and enjoyable so far.

 

With more effort I'm confident I can achieve three, even four minutes at 200 MM unguided. But it's only my second time using it, so I'm playing it a little safer to build confidence.



#5 Dave24137

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 03:56 PM

Thanks, Dave.

 

And here it is, zoomed in:

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • DF_ 2.jpg

Edited by Dave24137, 22 April 2018 - 03:59 PM.

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#6 17.5Dob

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 04:32 PM

 

And here it is, zoomed in:

The tracking looks perfect at that scale. Looks like you have a good mount waytogo.gif



#7 Jim Waters

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 06:35 PM

Dave - this is a real nice image...  What SW did you use to process it?  I appreciate you posting this image.  I am considering getting the SkyGuider. 

 

Have you had any problems with it?  I saw an earlier post saying not to move or force the RA with the clutch engaged.  Are you using the hand controller?



#8 Dave24137

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Posted 23 April 2018 - 08:09 AM

HI, Jim

 

Thanks. I use Nebulosity, Photoshop, and Lightroom. Admittedly I'm a novice, so there's a lot to learn.

 

The Skyguider has really worked well. I travel frequently, and so a larger, more robust mount didn't make sense. I am pushing the weight-limit of the SGP, which can hold 11 pounds of gear, and another 8 pounds on the counterweight side. I also use a Manfrotto XPRO ballhead (22-pound payload) and it's a dream, along with two 3-pound counterweights.

 

The clutch is a tad annoying to unlock and lock, but it's acceptable. With a heavy payload, it's best not to over-tighten the clutch, because unlocking will affect polar-alignment.

 

For me, I like to polar-align, center the object in my camera, then polar-align again. If I go through the process once or twice more thereafter, I think I can push three-to-four-minute subs at 200 MM, at least.

 

With regard to the hand-controller, I opted not to get it. The SGP is such a small unit I don't really want to overwork the motor, though a partial GOTO capability sounds nice. Instead I use the Astromania finderscope ($30), which attaches securely in the hot-shoe of my DSLR. I found M81/M82 on the first try.

 

Moreover, going from object to object requires fresh polar-alignment each time, in my view. So using the hand-controller is kind of pointless, because you're not going to be slewing all over the sky like a typical GOTO mount. The SGP is better as a one- or two-object-per-night mount, at an incredible size for portability.


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#9 Jim Waters

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Posted 23 April 2018 - 09:06 PM

Dave - I am sold.  Thanks for posting.  I will place an order with OPT.



#10 Dave24137

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Posted 24 April 2018 - 06:24 AM

Nice to hear, Jim. Best of luck.

And keep us updated with your impressions.

 

I re-worked the image one last time.

Not sure if it's an improvement.

Attached Thumbnails

  • DF_ M80s5.jpg

Edited by Dave24137, 24 April 2018 - 06:58 AM.

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#11 Dave24137

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Posted 24 April 2018 - 06:33 AM

One other thing, Jim: There are two apps (at least) for polar alignment: PS Align Pro, and iOpton's own app. Unfortunately, the two don't agree (Polaris is positioned slightly differently). I had emailed iOptron about the discrepancy and received a muted response. After inquiring further, I heard nothing.

 

PS Align Pro has decent reviews and is a feature-rich app, so I trust it more; whereas iOptron's app has poorer reviews and seems slapped together. Just something to keep in mind.



#12 fishonkevin

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Posted 24 April 2018 - 09:45 AM

Dave, have tried guiding?  I'm curious as to the SGP when guided.



#13 Dave24137

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Posted 24 April 2018 - 12:55 PM

Not yet.

 

I have an Orion 50 MM finderscope with ZWO ASI120MC‑S camera ready to go, but I'm trying to see how well the SGP performs without autoguiding.

 

I'll certainly post when it happens, though, in the next few sessions.



#14 fishonkevin

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Posted 24 April 2018 - 03:41 PM

I am looking forward to that discussion.  I have the original SG, but also have not had a chance to guide it. 



#15 Hajfimannen

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Posted 04 May 2018 - 03:16 PM

Sorry, posted in the "wrong" Skyguider Pro thread. 

 


Edited by Hajfimannen, 04 May 2018 - 04:05 PM.


#16 entilza

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Posted 04 May 2018 - 03:43 PM

This is very nice!  Well done.. For a beginner these are big steps.

 

I am wondering if you had difficulty finding m81/m82  while framing.



#17 Dave24137

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 08:20 AM

Hi, Martin

 

Thanks for the support.

 

I found the pair on the first attempt, which surprised me. With a DSLR, I use this: https://smile.amazon...e?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

It's an Astromania red/green dot sight, and it works well. The bracket temporarily screws inside the hot-shoe and it's solid.



#18 jamesNewmanF125

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 10:56 PM

HI, Jim

 

Thanks. I use Nebulosity, Photoshop, and Lightroom. Admittedly I'm a novice, so there's a lot to learn.

 

The Skyguider has really worked well. I travel frequently, and so a larger, more robust mount didn't make sense. I am pushing the weight-limit of the SGP, which can hold 11 pounds of gear, and another 8 pounds on the counterweight side. I also use a Manfrotto XPRO ballhead (22-pound payload) and it's a dream, along with two 3-pound counterweights.

 

The clutch is a tad annoying to unlock and lock, but it's acceptable. With a heavy payload, it's best not to over-tighten the clutch, because unlocking will affect polar-alignment.

 

For me, I like to polar-align, center the object in my camera, then polar-align again. If I go through the process once or twice more thereafter, I think I can push three-to-four-minute subs at 200 MM, at least.

 

With regard to the hand-controller, I opted not to get it. The SGP is such a small unit I don't really want to overwork the motor, though a partial GOTO capability sounds nice. Instead I use the Astromania finderscope ($30), which attaches securely in the hot-shoe of my DSLR. I found M81/M82 on the first try.

 

Moreover, going from object to object requires fresh polar-alignment each time, in my view. So using the hand-controller is kind of pointless, because you're not going to be slewing all over the sky like a typical GOTO mount. The SGP is better as a one- or two-object-per-night mount, at an incredible size for portability.

 

I have the Pro version of this mount.  My feedback on it is the following:

The Bad -

  • The system it uses to tighten the ALT adjuster is really bad.  I find myself knocking it out of alignment just by tightening this.  I had the same issue with my iOptron Skytracker first gen.
  • Aiming it is a pain if you're using some reach on your lens/small scope
  • I would not use this at all for any type of remotely serious deep sky

 

The Good - 

  • For a little investment, you have a pretty decent portable eq mount
  • It works very nice with a 135mm (or below) lens (I actually just bought an ASI294MC to use with this)
  • This works very well for ultra-widefield shots.  If you're new, and looking to take the next step from just doing landscape astro, this is perfect for you.  Conversely, if you're a seasoned vet, and your current rig requires very little attention from you throughout the evening, this might be a cool toy to setup on the side and just grab lots of frames of interesting patches of sky (Sadr area, Rho Complex, entire area round Elephant's Trunk, etc)

 

I have to admit, mine gets very little usage, though this is now going to change whenever my ASI294 comes in.  I definitely plan on getting some usage out of it as a side-rig =)


Edited by jamesNewmanF125, 10 May 2018 - 10:57 PM.


#19 Jim Waters

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Posted 11 May 2018 - 02:28 AM

I have the Pro version of this mount.  My feedback on it is the following:

The Bad -

  • The system it uses to tighten the ALT adjuster is really bad.  I find myself knocking it out of alignment just by tightening this.  I had the same issue with my iOptron Skytracker first gen.

This can be fixed or greatly reduced.  There's too much side-to-side play in the ALT section.  Disassemble the ALT section and place a 'thin...' Mylar or Nylon washer in between the moving (upper) and stationary (lower) sections of the ALT section. You also don't have to apply a great deal of rotational pressure on the ALT locking level to secure the wedge.

 

I have done this on my other wedges.



#20 JohnPlenge

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Posted 13 May 2018 - 08:10 AM

Hi Dave,

 

I noticed that you have subs at two different exposure lengths listed and I'm curious, were they all combined into one stack for some reason I don't understand, or did you stack the different exposure lengths separately and combine them in Photoshop using a technique similar to the layer mask technique that Jerry Lodriguss describes in his "Photoshop For Astrophographers" book?

 

Thanks.

 

John



#21 Dave24137

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 08:24 AM

Hi, James

 

With regard to the "bad":

 

The system it uses to tighten the ALT adjuster is really bad.  I find myself knocking it out of alignment just by tightening this.  I had the same issue with my iOptron Skytracker first gen.

 

I use the Manfrotto 410 head as a base. It holds well and allows for refined movement, no locking required. Regarding the clutch, which people have issues with, after centering an object I then balance. Once balanced, it doesn't take a lot of pressure to lock the clutch. It's rather easy to release then, without messing up polar-alignment.

 

Aiming it is a pain if you're using some reach on your lens/small scope

 

I was using the Manfrotto PRO ballhead, which holds 22 pounds. Once secured it is solid, and makes it easier to get close to an object. However, I found it to be more and more annoying over time. So I got the "Manfrotto MHXPRO-3WG XPRO Geared Head", which is under 2 pounds and holds about 9 pounds. It's pushing the SGP to an extent, but with balance it's not a problem. The gears make centering an object a breeze.

 

I would not use this at all for any type of remotely serious deep sky

 

It takes time like anything else. I'm refining and refining and feel like I'm improving. I don't doubt that you can achieve better results.


Edited by Dave24137, 15 May 2018 - 10:38 AM.

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#22 Dave24137

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 08:25 AM

Hi, John

 

The latter! Thanks.



#23 fewayne

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 02:34 PM

Hi Dave,

 

First off -- nice!

 

Secondly: If I go pixel-peeping to absurd magnifications on your original image, the stars look almost like little arrowheads even in the center of the frame. I'm very intrigued by this, because I gave up on my Tamron mirror lens after I got similar results. But it occurs to me that I might have been using a SkyTracker or SkyGuider for those images, so maybe it was the mount after all. I notice that in your second image the stars seem to be rounder.

 

Are triangular stars something you've noticed? Did you select different subs for the second image, or do anything else that might heal that problem? I might try sticking the Tammie on my CEM25P and seeing if it's worth resurrecting.

 

(Yes, I know, everybody it's not a very good telescope. But it's the only 500mm I've got, or am likely to have.)



#24 Dave24137

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 10:46 AM

Thanks.

 

I had noticed that shape but I attributed it to my alignment. This was my second time using the mount, so it's hard to fault the equipment. In the second image, I was more selective with the subs, so those frames were excluded. Nevertheless I have a lot to learn.

 

A great violinist with a cheap violin will sound better than a mediocre violinist with a stradivarius. There's always better equipment out there: and so what. Maximize what you have, and then worry about upgrading. For most of us, we long to upgrade before actually improving technique. So don't fret. And there are many people, I'm sure, who'd love to have your 500!



#25 Jim Waters

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 02:40 PM

These star shapes are sometimes caused by vibrations or movement from the mount and/or tripod or camera shutter release.




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