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NOW AVAILABLE! Our New Explore Scientific iEXOS 100 PMC-Eight $399

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#726 kalski44

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Posted 30 August 2020 - 06:13 PM

Hi Guys
I am a new iExos-100 user. I wonder if exposure times which I am able to reached are normal... With 400mm photo lens everything more than 20s is with star trails. I bought this mount as a step forward in comparison to my sky watcher star adventurer mini tracker. Unfortunately at this moment I am really dissapointed. Exposure times on that much more advaned mount are almost the same as with small (way overloaded) tracker. I hope it jus me and I have to learn how to work with this mount, nevertheless polar alignment should be quite fine (i bought also polar scope), 3 stars alignment I have made according tutorial from youtube and at this moment, I don' t know where can be an issue. That's why as a first step I would like to ask: from your experience, what exposure times (without star trails) should I have with this mount and 400mm lens? BTW.... i noticed that in 'Tr" mode i can have a bit longer exposition than in "P" mode (only few seconds more, but still).

#727 chrisbourque

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Posted 30 August 2020 - 07:45 PM

Hi kalski

 

I am fairly new to the system as well (about 1 year in), and am still learning . However, like you, I have found that exposure time was a little lower than I thought it was going to be when I purchased it. There is definite skill involved and you will get better as you practice. With that said, I am lucky if I get 50 to 60 second exposures. And that is following what I would consider to be a fairly accurate polar alignment using the drift method, and a high powered cross-hair eyepiece. The focal length I am using is around the same as your camera lens, I think I'm between 350 and 400 mm, somewhere in that ballpark. As well, just so you know, I believe you should always be using track mode (Tr) and not point mode (P) when you're doing astrophotography. I think this is because point mode actually moves on both axes at times. Whereas track mode is just moving in right ascension.

 

I am sure you will get more in depth advice from some of the experts. But that has been my experience as a fellow new comer.


Edited by chrisbourque, 30 August 2020 - 07:48 PM.


#728 SETIsteve

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Posted 30 August 2020 - 10:01 PM

Use Sharpcap and auto guiding? $300 more changes the game if you aren’t already using it. Let the small scope lock on to a star in the field of view and PHD2 sends commands to mount to keep scope perfectly aligned. Had less than 1 second error most of night last night, never above 2. Sharpcap is the key though for me, getting that polar alignment with plate solving. First night out last night and was getting 2 minute pics easy, all stars round.

Explore Stars app is also more for visual from what I’ve heard/been told, not taking long exposures. Reason I went straight to Stellarium and auto guiding myself. Need something more capable making those minute constant adjustments that can only be done with visual/computer guiding.

One more is making sure your mount is perfectly level. The one the iexos comes with is pretty light and basic. And the bubble level on mine is laughably off, which I’ve heard is an issue, so use a phone app or actual stand alone level to confirm. My bubble is all the way to the back of edge even when perfect 0°. Think about it, polar alignment is everything and if mount isn’t perfectly level sky rotation won’t be perfectly matched because alignment isn’t true.

I’m only a night in to actually taking pics with the mount, but that’s the knowledge I’ve gleaned in reading and research the last 2 months since I dove in head first. Please listen to all other advice that’s not mine too, just in case haha.

If you do go for sharpcap etc. get the extra $100 alt/azadjuster if not already there. It is definitely a necessary piece of kit.

Hi Guys
I am a new iExos-100 user. I wonder if exposure times which I am able to reached are normal... With 400mm photo lens everything more than 20s is with star trails. I bought this mount as a step forward in comparison to my sky watcher star adventurer mini tracker. Unfortunately at this moment I am really dissapointed. Exposure times on that much more advaned mount are almost the same as with small (way overloaded) tracker. I hope it jus me and I have to learn how to work with this mount, nevertheless polar alignment should be quite fine (i bought also polar scope), 3 stars alignment I have made according tutorial from youtube and at this moment, I don' t know where can be an issue. That's why as a first step I would like to ask: from your experience, what exposure times (without star trails) should I have with this mount and 400mm lens? BTW.... i noticed that in 'Tr" mode i can have a bit longer exposition than in "P" mode (only few seconds more, but still).


Edited by SETIsteve, 31 August 2020 - 12:22 AM.


#729 SETIsteve

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Posted 31 August 2020 - 12:00 AM

And tonight got all set up, aligned, went to take a picture, and cats must’ve pulled on the intervalometer cord haha. Such is life. Was just gonna be more practice since the moon is so bright and right overhead anyway. Amazon says I’ll be back to it Tuesday.

#730 kalski44

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Posted 31 August 2020 - 05:47 AM

Use Sharpcap and auto guiding? $300 more changes the game if you aren’t already using it. Let the small scope lock on to a star in the field of view and PHD2 sends commands to mount to keep scope perfectly aligned. Had less than 1 second error most of night last night, never above 2. Sharpcap is the key though for me, getting that polar alignment with plate solving. First night out last night and was getting 2 minute pics easy, all stars round.

Explore Stars app is also more for visual from what I’ve heard/been told, not taking long exposures. Reason I went straight to Stellarium and auto guiding myself. Need something more capable making those minute constant adjustments that can only be done with visual/computer guiding.

One more is making sure your mount is perfectly level. The one the iexos comes with is pretty light and basic. And the bubble level on mine is laughably off, which I’ve heard is an issue, so use a phone app or actual stand alone level to confirm. My bubble is all the way to the back of edge even when perfect 0°. Think about it, polar alignment is everything and if mount isn’t perfectly level sky rotation won’t be perfectly matched because alignment isn’t true.

I’m only a night in to actually taking pics with the mount, but that’s the knowledge I’ve gleaned in reading and research the last 2 months since I dove in head first. Please listen to all other advice that’s not mine too, just in case haha.

If you do go for sharpcap etc. get the extra $100 alt/azadjuster if not already there. It is definitely a necessary piece of kit.
 

Thank you for your advices. Apparently I will have to buy guiding camera and guiding scope... That's how budget astrophotography setup is stopping to be so budget wink.gif.

 

It is a bit pity that I will reduce my mobility, due to additionam laptop which I will need to manage polar alignment and autoguaiding.

 

Regarding azimuth adjuster, I didn't mention about that, but I already have it. and I use spirit level tool (I hope it is a good name in english wink.gif ) instead of built in bubble.

 

Standard tripod, which I recived with mount is really poor quality. I had ioptron tipod for my star adventurer tracker, and despite the same diameter of the legs it is incomparable more stable.

https://www.ioptron....duct-p/3221.htm

 

With small iexos tripod head modification I replace legs of that tripod by those from ioprton and it is much, much more stable, with the same tripod weight and size  (the main difference are more solid plastic leg fixations and diameter of the legs extender which is bigger in ioptron tripod)


Edited by kalski44, 31 August 2020 - 05:48 AM.


#731 PatrickVt

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Posted 31 August 2020 - 06:24 AM

There seems to be this misconception that once you purchase a mount and telescope, that the costs, especially the painful costs, are behind you.  If your hobby is only observing, you can indeed get by with just a telescope kit with a decent mount for quite a while (people rarely do, but they could).  If involved in astrophotography, you can easily spend a few hundred dollars every month just purchasing adapters, filters, extension tubes, spacer rings, screws and bolts of different threads and sizes, cables of various sizes, USB hubs, mount plates, more screws, cameras (different cameras for different purposes and for different telescopes), guide scopes, rings, more dovetails and mounting plates, more screws...  

 

Then, you switch gears and decide to photograph a completely different target and you are back to looking at telescopes, bigger mounts, and different guide scopes.

 

I have spent far more money on all the associated stuff than I have spent on any other one item (telescope or mount) and there is no end in sight.  Just like every hobby I am involved in, astrophotography requires some money each and every week or month. 

 

"Budget" or "low cost" only relates to the cost of admission.  

 

Patrick


Edited by PatrickVt, 31 August 2020 - 12:55 PM.

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#732 SETIsteve

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Posted 31 August 2020 - 11:54 AM

Nobody rides for free! Like paying to get into Disneyland then having to pay for every ride. Some people like boats, like my dad. But boat stands for “break out another thousand.” Or as I joke with him ten thousand, so they need to change it to boatt. He’s retired, I’m not so I’ll stick to the hundreds of astronomy for now, easier on my account haha. Luckily I’ve grown up in his hobby so I’m well prepared for the consistency of wallet opening.

Edited by SETIsteve, 31 August 2020 - 11:55 AM.

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#733 SETIsteve

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Posted 31 August 2020 - 03:54 PM

Here’s what I did for the level issue, grabbed this one at Ace and attached. And confirmed with a full size level. Will work until I order the smaller button style from Amazon at least. Can see how off built in is. But for the cost of this amazing mount, how easy a fix is? Never will I complain. 

 
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Edited by SETIsteve, 31 August 2020 - 04:16 PM.

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#734 chrisbourque

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Posted 31 August 2020 - 05:12 PM

Here’s what I did for the level issue, grabbed this one at Ace and attached. And confirmed with a full size level. Will work until I order the smaller button style from Amazon at least. Can see how off built in is. But for the cost of this amazing mount, how easy a fix is? Never will I complain. 

 

Nice! Great idea. Was thinking about doing the same. However, How do you know which of the two is more accurate? Easy to be off when installing the larger one, as any slight misalignment will throw it off. How can you verify the new one is, in fact, more accurate?



#735 SETIsteve

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Posted 31 August 2020 - 11:56 PM

Like I said, confirmed with an actual level;) And iPhone.

My guess is maybe it didn’t get placed into the mount correctly or the metal of the mount has a slight angle there.

Can get 10 of the same built in one for like $7 on amazon, so will use those eventually.

Edited by SETIsteve, 31 August 2020 - 11:59 PM.


#736 chrisbourque

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Posted 01 September 2020 - 06:17 AM

Like I said, confirmed with an actual level;) And iPhone.
 

Woops! Missed that! Gotcha. Good call. 



#737 chrisbourque

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Posted 01 September 2020 - 06:31 AM

Here’s what I did for the level issue, grabbed this one at Ace and attached. And confirmed with a full size level. Will work until I order the smaller button style from Amazon at least. Can see how off built in is. But for the cost of this amazing mount, how easy a fix is? Never will I complain. 

To clarify, how did you manage to attach that bubble level to the mount? I can't quite see in the image you posted. Just a piece of tape, or glue?

Space is so limited on the mount (flat areas, anyway). I wasn't sure the best way to attach such an instrument.



#738 vidrazor

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Posted 01 September 2020 - 09:59 AM

Here’s what I did for the level issue, grabbed this one at Ace and attached. And confirmed with a full size level. Will work until I order the smaller button style from Amazon at least. Can see how off built in is. But for the cost of this amazing mount, how easy a fix is? Never will I complain.


It's amazing how many hoops one has to jump through to make this thing relatively functional.

#739 SETIsteve

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Posted 01 September 2020 - 01:51 PM

It was an extra $3 on a sub $500 mount. I could have paid hundreds more/double and been practically good to go out of the box. But I also don’t need that much for what I have. Don’t see the problem there, read reviews going in so knew, which I hope everyone buying does. Not to mention using my iPhone would have worked completely fine and easier to see in the dark. The built in one isn’t really necessary technically. Assume most double check with a second source anyway haha.

Edited by SETIsteve, 01 September 2020 - 01:54 PM.


#740 SETIsteve

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Posted 01 September 2020 - 03:00 PM

To clarify, how did you manage to attach that bubble level to the mount? I can't quite see in the image you posted. Just a piece of tape, or glue?
Space is so limited on the mount (flat areas, anyway). I wasn't sure the best way to attach such an instrument.

Just taped it there temporarily, but ended up moving it around accessory tray until I found a spot that matched the perfect level above and mounted it there. Then used iPhone to check different areas of mount to make sure it was good and all set. I’ll always use a backup to really make sure I’m at level so won’t rely on it to be the end pal be all, just a good starting point for wherever I end up for the evening.

Edited by SETIsteve, 01 September 2020 - 03:01 PM.

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#741 lpaelke

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Posted 02 September 2020 - 11:00 AM

My bubble level was also way off. So I pried it loose, and discovered that the hole for it was probably drilled with an ordinary drill. Hence the bottom of the hole is cone shaped. When the bubble level is put in there, it will most probably be anything but level.
That hole should really be machined, so that it gets a flat bottom. (Maybe it was in the original design, but someone in the factory took a shortcut?)



#742 vidrazor

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Posted 03 September 2020 - 01:01 AM

It is a bit pity that I will reduce my mobility, due to additionam laptop which I will need to manage polar alignment and autoguaiding.

 

If you don't mind building an Astroberry server (~$100) you can have the entire autoguiding rig self-contained and simply use a phone, tablet, or laptop to control the system via wifi. This way if you should lose wifi the system will continue to autoguide, because the computer and autoguiding software is hard-wired to the mount. So you don't have to use a laptop if you don't want to, you can use a tablet or phone, but regardless of which it'll need to have a 1080 res screen. You could also use the more expensive but easier-to-use MGEN3 as a self-contained system in the same manner if you don't want to build your own Astroberry server or deal with Linux. The MGEN3 or Astroberry rig will mount right on the iExos 100, no bulky wiring all over the place. Nice, neat, self-contained.


Edited by vidrazor, 03 September 2020 - 01:09 AM.


#743 SETIsteve

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Posted 03 September 2020 - 10:45 AM

That the same as the ASIair?

#744 vidrazor

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Posted 03 September 2020 - 10:56 PM

That the same as the ASIair?

The Astroberry essentially is, and I suspect the MGEN series are as well (based on the Astroberry), although they have a custom hardware and software interface. The ASIair only works with ASI cameras tho.


Edited by vidrazor, 03 September 2020 - 11:54 PM.


#745 pmodi

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Posted 13 October 2020 - 09:21 PM

Hello All,

 

I have been getting started in AP with my DSLR.  So far I have been doing landscape (Milky Way) on a tripod without tracking by using image stacking approach.  I would now like to start imaging closer DSO (M31 etc) using my DSLR and 18-300 mm lens.  I have seen YouTube videos showing how that can be done without tracking, but I don't want to go about processing 600-1000 images for single object.  I'm interested in acquiring a low entry point tracker specifically iExos-100.  Can the community help me with a few questions to help me narrow down my choice?

 

1) I see a lot of posts on challenges with polar alignment on this model.  Does a rough polar alignment followed by three star alignment a good way to get long exposures without investing in additional hardware at this time?

2) With the above mentioned alignment, what are some realistic exposure times on an APS-C DSLR and 300mm zoom?

3) The description says Open source software, but I'm unclear on exactly what portion of software is truly open source.  Is there an IDE and source code available to "tweak" the software?

4) Is it possible to do planetary photography with long exposures?

5) Is it possible to do time lapses?

6) Does Explore Scientific offer discounts for first time buyers?

 

Thank you,



#746 vidrazor

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Posted 14 October 2020 - 04:43 PM

If you're a beginner just getting into astrophography and you want an Explore Scientific model, get one of the models that come complete with the az mount and polar scope, even though eventually you'll be aligning electronically. Don't get this model, you want to shoot, not tinker.



#747 wanthalf

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Posted 15 October 2020 - 04:07 AM

I can only comment on point 3: currently, drivers for ASCOM (Windows only platform) are open-source. The driver for INDI platform is open-source too (it wasn't written by ES people, though!). I do not know much about ASCOM, but the INDI driver does not support all features it could, but it supports all which are truly necessary for serious astrophotography. It does not support integration with the INDI virtual alignment system.

The firmware of the device is NOT open-source, but its API is very well publicly documented into the (most dangerous) details, so that anyone is able to write his/her own driver or controller. The application ExploreStars is not open-source (yet) and ES is apparently working on its (complete?) redesign, as far as I know. If I understand it correctly, the ExploreStars application also uses some other version of the API, which is not documented...?



#748 ssa2294

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Posted 15 October 2020 - 08:15 AM

In response to your questions pmodi, I can really only best answer 4 of them. Someone else will be able to answer the OSS question a lot better than me:

 

1) I see a lot of posts on challenges with polar alignment on this model.  Does a rough polar alignment followed by three star alignment a good way to get long exposures without investing in additional hardware at this time?

 

"Rough" could be subjective, it would be more ideal to have a good to excellent polar alignment as a goal, then depending on your setup maybe do 2-3 star alignment. I actually don't do the star alignments that often, preferring to try to plate solve to center my target.

 

You may want to consider the ZWO ASI120 for guidecam and pair that with their 30mm guide scope. You can get dovetail bars that I have seen both guide scope mounted below dovetail, higher on top over the DSLR, as well as using attachment to mount in cameras hotshoe. 

 

 

2) With the above mentioned alignment, what are some realistic exposure times on an APS-C DSLR and 300mm zoom?

 

This is dependent on your aperture & camera. APS-C is cropped 1.5x so your 300mm is 450mm for your camera. Longer focal length = more need to have good polar alignment & guide. Only 18-300 I am aware of is from Nikon and you would be at F6.3 if fully zoomed. For that I would anticipate you would expect up to 3 minutes exposure depending also of course on the target. I have a HA modified Nikon d5600 and usually have 180s at ISO 800 for M 31 Andromeda

 

4) Is it possible to do planetary photography with long exposures?

 

I believe most planetary is done using video framing and not taking long exposures. 

 

5) Is it possible to do time lapses?

 

Yes, I have even used mine for time lapses. Even crazier, I wanted to compare 2 Sony cameras, so I mounted A7RIV, then had A6000 mounted on top of A7RIV. While I was taken tracked longer exposures I decided it would be funny to mount GoPro to top of A6000 to start timelapse. Yes, I had 3 cameras stocked on top of each other. If it wasnt so dark I would have taken a photo of this for laughs.

 

6) Does Explore Scientific offer discounts for first time buyers?

 

None that I am aware of, though both vendors and resellers have specials all year round. Prices do fluctuate often, just a matter of timing. My mount went on sale about 2-3 weeks after it was delivered, could have saved myself something like $50, but in the end that was a couple of good weeks learning my setup that would have been lost. No regrets at all.


Edited by ssa2294, 15 October 2020 - 08:16 AM.


#749 pmodi

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Posted 15 October 2020 - 07:29 PM

vidrazor, wanthalf, ssa2294,

 

Thank you for your help.



#750 DubbelDerp

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Posted 10 November 2020 - 01:07 PM

Well I put this little mount aside for a few months after struggling with it earlier this summer, but with cold weather coming up I figured I better put some time in with it. My whole reason for getting it was to get away from batteries during the winter, as my Skyguider Pro struggles enough in cold temperatures.

 

We had clear skies around the full moon, so I figured it wouldn't be too much of a waste in case things didn't work out, but it looks like I've actually been able to tame this little mount. And as a result, here's my first image produced entirely with the iEXOS-100 in all its downsized, ultra-compressed glory!

Annotation 2020-11-10 125610.jpg

 

This is the outcome of four nights testing. The first, I used ASCOM, Stellarium, PHD2, and BYEOS for image capture. I spent a good 30 minutes doing a traditional drift alignment in PHD2, then was able to slew to IC-1805 and start the sequence. I had slightly elongated stars, but reasonable for the first time being able to guide it. Second night started out well, except the laptop had a BSOD about 5 minutes after I went inside. Womp womp. My real goal was to be able to drive this thing through astroberry server so I wouldn't have to leave a laptop out in subzero temperatures overnight, so the third night I just bit the bullet and gave it a try.

 

I had spent some time over the summer fiddling with Ekos, and had everything configured ahead of time. But not having used it in the field, my expectations were pretty low. However, for the third night the iEXOS worked flawlessly with Ekos, and within minutes, I had dialed in my polar alignment and had slewed/platesolved right on target. Guiding and taking light frames a few minutes later. Same thing for the fourth night, I was taking light frames right on target within about 10 minutes.

 

I am pretty impressed how well the iEXOS worked within the system.  


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