You know come to think of it I remember back when the ST-4 first came out. I had moved to N. Calif. for a year specifically to do astrophotography from my sisters dark sky house in the hills above Healdsburg. One particular weekend I was joined by two guys from the local club who both had Meade 8" LX somethings .. (which I'm pretty didn't have servo or stepper motors) and their brandnew shiny SBIG ST-4's. I had the same rig thats in the pics above less the overhaul/chrome/paint lol. So we decide we are all going to shoot M42, we all had Hypered Kodak 400 something we got from one of the local club guys who had a hyper rig. Anyway we all started our exposures roughly at the same time, my plan was to go for 45min (their's I don't remember)
So about 10min into the exposure my two companions come over to my spot with cold beers in their hands while their ST-4's are supposedly guiding their scopes .. and start egging me on and teasing me with bad jokes about my manual guiding while my eye is glued to my illuminated reticle sticking out of my Lumicon 2" easy guider with an Olympus OM-1 stuck on it .. drive corrector paddle in hand. At about the 15min mark while they are still standing there smirking we all hear a beep beep beep beep beep coming from their spot .. and one of the guys blurts out "OH SH*%!" and runs over to his rig, and literally less than a minute later me and the other guy here another beep beep beep beep beep .. but this time its his rig beeping lol.
Anyway this happened several times during the course of the night forcing both guys to have to restart their exposures multiple times as of course that beeping meant their autoguiders had lost track. By about midnight I was through with a couple succesful exposures, had put everything away, and went back in the house to go to sleep while they were still out there mucking about lol. I don't know if they ever even captured anything that night as I never talked to them again as I decided to move back down here to So.Cal. literally a couple days latter.
So thats my only experience with the SBIG ST-4 or auto guiding of any kind .. seeing those guys fail at it When I got back to So.Cal. I went back to work making Schaefer mounts and refurbished my own during that time. Little did I know that N. Cal. photo session with the ST-4 guys would be my last ever. When I got back down here It was actually Tony Hallas who talked me out of astrophotography after our 45min conversation regarding taking the next step in astro imaging .. which at the time was going to a gas filled Pentax medium format camera and my own hypering rig .. it just seemed too much of a hassle and expense, and I wasn't happy with the grain in 35mm anymore, then Astro-Track Engineering filed chapter 11, I lost my job, and interest in astronomy all together.
So now I'm 57, retired, and have a lot of time. I have a built up Jeep Cherokee XJ which my rig easily fits in for transporting to the dark skies of the upper Mojave Desert about 2 hours away. I have one of those Kendick Observatory tents that has only ever been setup once ready to be deployed into action again, and a wife who is interested in going along and helping out (she likes looking at the night sky and enjoys looking at my old film astrophotos) When I showed her whats being done today with digital imaging she said "lets go for it!" My first wife back in the old days just made fun of us lol.
So I think all I need is autoguiding capability since my neck is not young anymore. I have a Sony a7rII full frame dslr that I pre-ordered right before they came out .. which is still new in the box unused .. and the firmware was never upgraded. I've read about the star eating of these cameras, but ran across this photo of M31 done by a guy with my exact camera, a Takahashi 106f, and a Sky-Watcher eq6r mount. I would be thrilled if I could get a similar quality M31 .. so I'm thinking of just trying this camera to see what I can come up with before seliing it at a big loss and buying something else.
So on the ST-4, was it just those guys lack of competance that was causing all those errors? If I could find one on the used market, and somebody who could wire it into my drive corrector paddle (which does have all four axis buttons), would it be a reliable tool once I got the hang of it? Would I need to get a seperate guide scope for it .. or could I use my old Lumicon off axis guider?
My other idea was just get a Sky-Watcher EQ6r Pro Mount and a little Apo refractor like a Tak, or even the cheaper eSpirit .. but I already have this ultra stable smooth as silk mount with an Ed Buyers worm gear, the best drive corrector and paddle you could get at the end of the 90's, a true 1/20 wave mirror, and broken down into pieces is not that bad to move around. So what would you recommend my next step be in this new quest?
Edited by cloudswimmer, 10 November 2018 - 01:50 PM.