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Upgrading mount... iOptron CEM120

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#26 Real14

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 04:36 PM

hello to everybody, I'm new in this forum. I'm interested in buying a CEM120 (without encoders) as the price is very much lower. my question is the following: considering that I would use PHD2 to guide the mount, will I notice differences from an EC or EC2 version?

does the encoder version follow the stars better also with the PHD2?

 

thank you in advance for your comments

Hi Andrea,

 

Is that your correct name ?

 

Well we have to ask here what is the purpose of the encoders on a mount. 10micron uses them, AstroPhysics uses them, Paramount uses them and so there must be something behind it ..

 

I own two CEM 120EC2 and yes for me it was worth to spend US 3,000.00 per mount for encoders on RA and DEC axis.

 

The encoder of the RA axis kills as good as possible the Periodic error. My mounts came with a graph measured in the lab and both had a residual periodic error of around 0.145" arc seconds and looking at my guide graphs, yes it is so.

 

According to what iOptron told me in writing the DEC axis encoders do compensate the refraction over time. The EC2 has a built in barometer and temperture sensor. The chip is a Bosch BMP 180 on a GY-68 break out board as used for Arduino.

 

Why did I buy CEM 120EC2 ? Very simple. For the price of a mount with encoders from iOptron I would have only got a NON encoder mount from other high priced mount brands. I said to myself. For US $ 6,998.00 I get 115 lbs ~  52kg carrying capacity (counterweights not included). Shoudl the encoder not work I will ask iOptron how to disable them and I have a CEM 120 plain vanilla flavor. So far I have not had the necessity to ask iOptron how to disable the encoders waytogo.gif

 

Just that easy it was for me to decide to buy the EC2 versions and spend US $ 13,996.00 instead of perhaps the double or three times that amount for my two mounts.

 

A lot of CEM 120EC users are very pleased with the performance with or without guiding.

 

As a sun imager I have done time lapses over more then 2 hours and it is amazing how low the drift is in RA. Let me calculate it on one of my Time Lapse videos and I come back. The reason for drift I assume if refraction. 2 hours are 30° and in 30° you have quite a big refraction change.

 

So, summa summarum the encoders for are worth it.

 

In the first sentence I wrote ... in my guide graphs. yes, I do guide in order to kill the Polar Alignment error wihch makes itself visible as drift in RA or DEC or both together. My guiding cadence is 5 seconds and that has given me a nice balance between encoder work and correcting work.

 

I always say encoders make guiding more comfortable. For me it has never been easier to get 100% subexposures with round stars on all images.

 

regards Rainer


Edited by Real14, 14 January 2019 - 04:37 PM.


#27 brinke

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 04:40 PM

thank you for your reply



#28 Real14

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 04:45 PM

thank you for your reply

 

You are welcome and your terrestrial photography is stunning. Congratulations or Herzlichen Glückwunsch waytogo.gif

 

You are a master using wide angle lens bow.gif Your Norway photography is a delight to look at 


Edited by Real14, 14 January 2019 - 04:46 PM.


#29 brinke

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 04:49 PM

You are welcome and your terrestrial photography is stunning. Congratulations or Herzlichen Glückwunsch waytogo.gif

 

You are a master using wide angle lens bow.gif Your Norway photography is a delight to look at 

Thank you very much :)



#30 Real14

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 05:45 PM

Hi Andrea,

 

This post might be interesting for you

 

https://www.cloudyni...-way/?p=8966024

 

Now I checked the first and the last image of the 140 miin time lapse on the Sun.

 

My RA axis drifted in Sun tracking mode by 83 pixels which taking into consideration my ijmage scale were 83" arc seconds and it drifted in DEC 19 pixels equals to 19" arcseconds.

 

I searched for an atmospheric refraction calculator and this one came up http://the-mostly.ru...calculator.html

 

I started imaging the Sun at around 41° altitude and ended at about 6° altitude calculating the starting refraction and the end refraction and substracting the starting refraction from the end refraction there is a difference of 7.841' arc minutes which are 431" arcseconds and the mount drifted in RA 83" arc seconds. As you can see the encoders did some job but as usual you will always have a accumulating error over the time.

 

Before having this two mounts this was more or less a unresolved rproblem as I needed to guie on the Sun for which I did make myself a sun guider but still so the jumps of the Sun guider were too big to get accepatable Time lapse videos. Now I am very satisfied with this results. I make every 30 seconds one short Avi with 25 or 50 frames. Then I pass them through AviStack to make a good image (Lucky Imaging) and compose the video in Adobe Premiere Elements. 

 

Here you can see the time lapse video over 140min in 19 seconds http://rainerehlert....0190110_mp4.mp4

 

Rainer


Edited by Real14, 14 January 2019 - 05:46 PM.

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#31 HxPI

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 11:09 PM

Hi Andrea,

 

This post might be interesting for you

 

https://www.cloudyni...-way/?p=8966024

 

Now I checked the first and the last image of the 140 miin time lapse on the Sun.

 

My RA axis drifted in Sun tracking mode by 83 pixels which taking into consideration my ijmage scale were 83" arc seconds and it drifted in DEC 19 pixels equals to 19" arcseconds.

 

I searched for an atmospheric refraction calculator and this one came up http://the-mostly.ru...calculator.html

 

I started imaging the Sun at around 41° altitude and ended at about 6° altitude calculating the starting refraction and the end refraction and substracting the starting refraction from the end refraction there is a difference of 7.841' arc minutes which are 431" arcseconds and the mount drifted in RA 83" arc seconds. As you can see the encoders did some job but as usual you will always have a accumulating error over the time.

 

Before having this two mounts this was more or less a unresolved rproblem as I needed to guie on the Sun for which I did make myself a sun guider but still so the jumps of the Sun guider were too big to get accepatable Time lapse videos. Now I am very satisfied with this results. I make every 30 seconds one short Avi with 25 or 50 frames. Then I pass them through AviStack to make a good image (Lucky Imaging) and compose the video in Adobe Premiere Elements. 

 

Here you can see the time lapse video over 140min in 19 seconds http://rainerehlert....0190110_mp4.mp4

 

Rainer

The CEM120EC2 looks like a really nice mount! This is excellent info pertaining to drift and refraction that will add to my understanding of my CEM60EC.

 

Also, I love doing solar timelapses as well. What alignment software do you use? I have the SG Hinode but haven’t really seen it gives its best performance yet. It should work well once I get my mount’s tracking sorted out.

 

Thanks for sharing.

 

Ciao,

Mel


Edited by HxPI, 14 January 2019 - 11:13 PM.


#32 Real14

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Posted 16 January 2019 - 07:20 PM

The CEM120EC2 looks like a really nice mount! This is excellent info pertaining to drift and refraction that will add to my understanding of my CEM60EC.

 

Also, I love doing solar timelapses as well. What alignment software do you use? I have the SG Hinode but haven’t really seen it gives its best performance yet. It should work well once I get my mount’s tracking sorted out.

 

Thanks for sharing.

 

Ciao,

Mel

Hi Mel,

 

Sorry I am late two days. I have a permanent setup and aligned using SharpCap which reported me an alignment result at around 5" to 7" arc seconds and then I do not touch it anymore. I check it from time to time.

 

Rainer

 

IMG_3840_060_ICE.jpg


Edited by Real14, 16 January 2019 - 07:39 PM.

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#33 brinke

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Posted 17 January 2019 - 04:50 PM

I just decided to buy the CEM120EC, it’s on his way to my house! I will post my experience!


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#34 Michael Harris

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Posted 17 January 2019 - 05:39 PM

Looking forward to seeing how it goes - I have heard lots of nice things about this mount.



#35 rgsalinger

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Posted 18 January 2019 - 10:18 AM

You'll like it. You're not paying for pointless precision like a hand set that will work in Antarctica or counterweights that are made of stainless steel. I have the EC2.

Rgrds-Ross


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#36 psandelle

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Posted 18 January 2019 - 11:30 AM

You'll like it. You're not paying for pointless precision like a hand set that will work in Antarctica or counterweights that are made of stainless steel. I have the EC2.

Rgrds-Ross

Ross - but the martini-maker add-on is a MUST! grin.gif

 

Paul


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#37 DuncanM

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Posted 18 January 2019 - 02:55 PM

You'll like it. You're not paying for pointless precision like a hand set that will work in Antarctica or counterweights that are made of stainless steel. I have the EC2.

Rgrds-Ross

To be fair, the ioptron HC has a built in heater, so it should work in Antarctica... wink.gif


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#38 gotak

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Posted 19 January 2019 - 08:18 AM

To be fair, the ioptron HC has a built in heater, so it should work in Antarctica... wink.gif


It does work ok down to -25C for me. But i doubt the heaters doing much at that point. It gets colder still further up north.
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#39 DuncanM

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Posted 21 January 2019 - 12:36 AM

So...I bit the bullet and ordered a CEM120 to replace my CGE PRO. I should have it the week after next.


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#40 Michaeljhogan

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Posted 21 January 2019 - 04:05 PM

So...I bit the bullet and ordered a CEM120 to replace my CGE PRO. I should have it the week after next.

 

Just like me i sold my Cge Pro it was a great mount but CEM120 is in another league its also 18lbs lighter not light but very light for it size

and range and payload Cge Pro hurt your hand and was sometime very dangerous tracking PE saddle no more welts or hands from

adjusting the saddle or polar alignment and the big boys know it no one likes to pay three times the price of a mount that has the same

payload PE and tracking and internal wiring as yours so they put out fake news about Ioptron not fixing your mount if it breaks

 

PS im talking about the CEM120 not its more intelligent brother the EC



#41 brinke

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 02:05 AM

Ok, here I come with my first impressions on my brand new CEM120EC in one simple word: WOW!

It is crazy good and can follow the target for 10 minutes exposure at a focal length of the C11 reduced to 6,5f without any guiding assistance and a payload close to 20kg. Nothing to say about cable management which is simply great!

One only question I have for those who has same version. What are your setting in PHD2? I’m trying to use PHD2 as usual for auto-guiding but I can get only worst results then without guiding. I’m currently using a 80/400 guiding scope with a Barlow 2x (total 800mm focal length) connected to a zwo asi camera 2,9m pixel; the main camera is a Moravian g3 16200 with 6m pixel. I trying different settings in PHD2 but none improved the performances.



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#42 BobT

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 08:18 AM

@brinke,

 

I'm with you, I haven't found any PHD2 settings that improved the tracking of my CEM120EC.  I had "reasonable" results with both X and Y set to aggression = 50, hysteresis = 10, min move = 0.20 but I'm using a different setup (2000 mm, OAG, Lodestar II) so your setting would most likely be different.

 

I have recently switched to the Innovation Foresight SkyGuide3 software and am really pleased with how it works with my CEM120EC.  SkyGuide is a full-frame guider (as opposed to a single-star) and really smooths out the bumps in seeing conditions.  It is only in the beta phase right now but a trial copy is available from their website.  The documentation is a bit sparse, and there is a learning curve involved, but Dr. Baudat and crew are constantly improving both the software and docs.  Really great folks to work with.

 

Regards,

 

BobT


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#43 HxPI

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 10:38 AM

@brinke,

 

I'm with you, I haven't found any PHD2 settings that improved the tracking of my CEM120EC.  I had "reasonable" results with both X and Y set to aggression = 50, hysteresis = 10, min move = 0.20 but I'm using a different setup (2000 mm, OAG, Lodestar II) so your setting would most likely be different.

 

I have recently switched to the Innovation Foresight SkyGuide3 software and am really pleased with how it works with my CEM120EC.  SkyGuide is a full-frame guider (as opposed to a single-star) and really smooths out the bumps in seeing conditions.  It is only in the beta phase right now but a trial copy is available from their website.  The documentation is a bit sparse, and there is a learning curve involved, but Dr. Baudat and crew are constantly improving both the software and docs.  Really great folks to work with.

 

Regards,

 

BobT

 

I’m having difficulty calibrating guiding in the SkyGuard software. It keeps failing saying the camera moved less than 5 pixels, even though I can clearly see it moving very well across the screen and producing a well defined L pattern. I think there is a setting affecting the scale of the image causing it to think it is moving less. I’ve read the manual but find it difficult to resolve this particular issue. I’m using an ES127CF, CEM60EC, ONAG-XM, ASI1600MMC for imaging port and ASI174MM for guide port. Can you share your InSight on the Innovation ForeSight ONAG guiding calibration process and possibly settings to check. Thanks.

 

Ciao,

Mel


Edited by HxPI, 25 January 2019 - 10:49 AM.


#44 rgsalinger

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 10:48 AM

It's hard to imagine that you will get really good unguided (or long exposure guided) results using a guide scope and an 11" SCT. I know that I couldn't back in the day. I would strongly recommend an OAG to eliminate flexure and an auxillary focuser so that you can lock down that mirror as well when imaging. The PAE has to be really really small to go unguided at that focal length and any mirror movement or other flexure issues will kill the guiding. All that the encoder does is to kill the imprecision in the RA worm, nothing else. Every other guiding error will still show up.

 

I doubt that there are any settings that will "improve" the system very much. I played around when I first got my EC2 and then just gave up. I use 3 second guiding corrections with aggression set to 50 percent in both axes. I haven't changed those in months. When I run under automation, I let the guiding go as long as 5 second intervals but never any shorter than 3 seconds. This is under good seeing conditions. 

 

I have no view on full frame guiding. With my mount the results are so even, night after night, that just using pretty much any old star gives me the same .3 arc seconds of RMS error in both axes. That's so good that improvement is pointless.

 

Rgrds-Ross



#45 DuncanM

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 01:42 PM

I'm hoping that a very good PEC curve via PemPro will allow for unguided imaging on my CEM120...I will let everyone know if it works.



#46 Corsica

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 11:07 PM

I’m having difficulty calibrating guiding in the SkyGuard software. It keeps failing saying the camera moved less than 5 pixels, even though I can clearly see it moving very well across the screen and producing a well defined L pattern. I think there is a setting affecting the scale of the image causing it to think it is moving less. I’ve read the manual but find it difficult to resolve this particular issue. I’m using an ES127CF, CEM60EC, ONAG-XM, ASI1600MMC for imaging port and ASI174MM for guide port. Can you share your InSight on the Innovation ForeSight ONAG guiding calibration process and possibly settings to check. Thanks.

 

Ciao,

Mel

I would suggest to download our latest version this may help you. We have changed the calibration a bit to automatically match the tracking window with the pixel size and calibration motion time.

 

Be sure that you have the right parameters set, such as scope FL, pixel size.

The default calibration motion for both axes is 3 seconds, that should work for most setup.

You current trail license key will work with any new release of the software.
 

Here is the procedure to install a new version:

 

1)

 

Download the new version from our SKSS download page.

 

2)

 

Uninstall the current version using the standard Windows uninstall tool.

 

3)

 

Install the new version.

 

4)

 

When prompt for the license provide your current one.

 

5)

 

When prompt for the workspace folder provide the same one than before to reuse your current settings.

 

7)

 

Open the instruments tab and check that all the parameters are correct.

If you have a white cross over a read dot next to a mandatory field this is most likely because it is a new field, added since your current version, just fill it with the right value and save the workspace again.

 

Should you still face some difficulties let me know, feel free to contact me by email at gaston@innovationsforesight.com, we'll work with you to resole any issues you may have.

 

When you start with SKG I would suggest to use as single star, or just few, (do not clip the signal) for the calibration and use several seconds of guider exposure (say 5 or more) with an aggressiveness value at, or below 30% (0.3) for both axes.

Then when you fill comfortable you can enjoy guiding without the need to look for a guide star explicitly anymore.

 

Also be sure that you have the latest version (at least 6.4) of the ASCOM platform (if you use ASCOM) and the latest version of the drivers.

A problem I have seen few times is that an old version of the ASCOM platform has been left behind (not uninstalled) when a new one was installed.

If you have more than one ASCOM platform on your system you may face some issues.

 

Below some general information/comments:

 

SkyGuide/SkyGuard 32 bits version supports Maxim-DL but as a consequence is limited to guider images/frames up to 1 Mpixel.

This is a direct result and legacy of Maxim-DL which is a 32 bits application, this limitation applies even when used without Maxim-DL on ASCOM only configuration.
We'll release an ASCOM only 64 bits application shortly which will not have such limitation anymore.

If you face the 1 Mpixel limit you have 3 solutions:

 

-1-

 

Bin the guider, like 2x2 or 4x4.

Beside this is usually a good idea when guiding (at least with focal lengths > 500mm, most guider featuring small pixel size), its improves SNR without any significant reduction on the auto-guiding resolution.
Our full frame technology has a 1/10 of a pixel calculation accuracy.

 

-2-

 

You can crop the guider frame (see guider exposure setting).

 

-3-

 

You can use the Block Compression option in the advanced tab of guider acquisition section.

Block compression splits the guider full frame in sub-frames of same size, for instance if you set the block compression factor at 2 (the default value being 1) you will have 4 sub-frames, and then they are added (summed)  together to create one single smaller frame (1/4 of the full frame in my example).
This concatenated sub-frame is used for guiding and focusing.
Our full frame technology and related algorithms process the all guider image/frame, here the concatenated sub-frame, it does not make any assumption about the nature nor shape of the pattern inside the guider frame.
As a result the block compression allows you do decrease the size of the frame to be processed down to 1 M-pixel, without removing any information, unlike cropping may.

For instance if you have a 16 M-pixel image from your guider and you do not want to bin more than 2x2, you could then use the block compression with a factor 2 to reach the 1 M-pixel limit.
However I still suggest to bin 4x4 when doable. The software supports binning above and beyond most guider driver capabilities, if you elect to do so (say bin 6x6, as an example), it will automatically split the binning process between a hardware binning and a software binning.

 

Binning and/or copping leads to a higher guider image transfer rate than block compression does, since the image from the guider is physically smaller to begin with.

 

Also if you guider camera pixel relative to your scope FL and local seeing lead to few pixel per star FWHM you may get a small star warning message.

In this case I would suggest to disable the median filter (advanced tab in the acquisition section), set it to zero, and use the dark frame subtraction instead (a new feature).
To take a dark frame use the last (most right) button of the button bar of the acquisition section (upper left of the GUI).
Than active the simple dark in the advanced tab, the same than for the median filter.

 

Again feel free to contact me at any time.
Comments, feedback and suggestion are very welcome.

 

Clear skies!


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#47 HxPI

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Posted 26 January 2019 - 09:48 AM

I would suggest to download our latest version this may help you. We have changed the calibration a bit to automatically match the tracking window with the pixel size and calibration motion time.

 

Be sure that you have the right parameters set, such as scope FL, pixel size.

The default calibration motion for both axes is 3 seconds, that should work for most setup.

You current trail license key will work with any new release of the software.
 

Here is the procedure to install a new version:

 

1)

 

Download the new version from our SKSS download page.

 

2)

 

Uninstall the current version using the standard Windows uninstall tool.

 

3)

 

Install the new version.

 

4)

 

When prompt for the license provide your current one.

 

5)

 

When prompt for the workspace folder provide the same one than before to reuse your current settings.

 

7)

 

Open the instruments tab and check that all the parameters are correct.

If you have a white cross over a read dot next to a mandatory field this is most likely because it is a new field, added since your current version, just fill it with the right value and save the workspace again.

 

Should you still face some difficulties let me know, feel free to contact me by email at gaston@innovationsforesight.com, we'll work with you to resole any issues you may have.

 

When you start with SKG I would suggest to use as single star, or just few, (do not clip the signal) for the calibration and use several seconds of guider exposure (say 5 or more) with an aggressiveness value at, or below 30% (0.3) for both axes.

Then when you fill comfortable you can enjoy guiding without the need to look for a guide star explicitly anymore.

 

Also be sure that you have the latest version (at least 6.4) of the ASCOM platform (if you use ASCOM) and the latest version of the drivers.

A problem I have seen few times is that an old version of the ASCOM platform has been left behind (not uninstalled) when a new one was installed.

If you have more than one ASCOM platform on your system you may face some issues.

 

Below some general information/comments:

 

SkyGuide/SkyGuard 32 bits version supports Maxim-DL but as a consequence is limited to guider images/frames up to 1 Mpixel.

This is a direct result and legacy of Maxim-DL which is a 32 bits application, this limitation applies even when used without Maxim-DL on ASCOM only configuration.
We'll release an ASCOM only 64 bits application shortly which will not have such limitation anymore.

If you face the 1 Mpixel limit you have 3 solutions:

 

-1-

 

Bin the guider, like 2x2 or 4x4.

Beside this is usually a good idea when guiding (at least with focal lengths > 500mm, most guider featuring small pixel size), its improves SNR without any significant reduction on the auto-guiding resolution.
Our full frame technology has a 1/10 of a pixel calculation accuracy.

 

-2-

 

You can crop the guider frame (see guider exposure setting).

 

-3-

 

You can use the Block Compression option in the advanced tab of guider acquisition section.

Block compression splits the guider full frame in sub-frames of same size, for instance if you set the block compression factor at 2 (the default value being 1) you will have 4 sub-frames, and then they are added (summed)  together to create one single smaller frame (1/4 of the full frame in my example).
This concatenated sub-frame is used for guiding and focusing.
Our full frame technology and related algorithms process the all guider image/frame, here the concatenated sub-frame, it does not make any assumption about the nature nor shape of the pattern inside the guider frame.
As a result the block compression allows you do decrease the size of the frame to be processed down to 1 M-pixel, without removing any information, unlike cropping may.

For instance if you have a 16 M-pixel image from your guider and you do not want to bin more than 2x2, you could then use the block compression with a factor 2 to reach the 1 M-pixel limit.
However I still suggest to bin 4x4 when doable. The software supports binning above and beyond most guider driver capabilities, if you elect to do so (say bin 6x6, as an example), it will automatically split the binning process between a hardware binning and a software binning.

 

Binning and/or copping leads to a higher guider image transfer rate than block compression does, since the image from the guider is physically smaller to begin with.

 

Also if you guider camera pixel relative to your scope FL and local seeing lead to few pixel per star FWHM you may get a small star warning message.

In this case I would suggest to disable the median filter (advanced tab in the acquisition section), set it to zero, and use the dark frame subtraction instead (a new feature).
To take a dark frame use the last (most right) button of the button bar of the acquisition section (upper left of the GUI).
Than active the simple dark in the advanced tab, the same than for the median filter.

 

Again feel free to contact me at any time.
Comments, feedback and suggestion are very welcome.

 

Clear skies!

Thank you. I sent you a PM with some additional questions.



#48 Corsica

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Posted 26 January 2019 - 10:45 AM

Thank you. I sent you a PM with some additional questions.

Your welcome, any time.



#49 rrice

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  • Loc: Santa Fe, NM

Posted 27 January 2019 - 08:29 AM

Just had our first night out with the newley arrived CEM120EC...Replaced the CGEMPRO. It was a dark, clear night and the anticipation was high!

    After pushing the On button, for the first time, the HC started out with weird messages about main board disconnects, faults etc...but after numerous reboots it seemed to change its mind.

    Everything seems to be coming up to speed.  

 The GPS did it’s job, the times and other data corrected, the zero position confirmed, proceeded to a three star alignment, which was a rather nice experience.

    After selecting the onboard WiFi, it connected with the IPAD running SKYSAFARI 6 pro, mount control was fine.

    Balance was better than any other mount we have had in the 10 year old observatory. Heck, with 42 lbs of equipment, buttery smooth.

    Still working on getting the HC serial to usb cable connecting the mount thru the HC serial cable, then to the ASIAIR to  wirelessly connect to SkySafari 6 pro, repeated connection failure there. Perhaps some confusion with on board WiFi, which was disconnected.

    Now for the BIG issue!

     After aligning  on three stars, did a go-to to M42. Decided to be crazy and do a 300 sec exp. on m42. After slewing and centering, started the exposure, and after a few seconds there was a clicking noise every 2 seconds, on the RA. Waited, looked at the exposure, there were long star trails. This 2 second clicking was repeated after turning the RA encoder to on. The star trails were horible, the 2 second  repeating clicking noise is still there.

    When that issue is figured out, WOW, 5 STAR Rating. 

    Any ideas?



#50 rrice

rrice

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  • Joined: 19 Feb 2006
  • Loc: Santa Fe, NM

Posted 27 January 2019 - 09:01 AM

Oops, left out the part about completing a Polemaster alignment. We repeated that process three times before continuing.




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