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What Is Your Best And Worst Purchases For Astrophotography?

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#51 rockstarbill

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 07:22 PM

I wonder if this is a QC thing.  I have had two of the original releases of this OAG and both were perfect.  I like the size, weight, backfocus, etc... Of all the budget OAG's (and I've owned the TS and the Orion Thin) the ZWO is the best IMO.  The newer updates look like they lock the prism stalk down a bit better though.  My favorite OAG though is the integrated QSI.  I have the kiss focuser for it, but without clear skies it's been in the box for about 4 months.  lol... 

Certainly could have just gotten a bad apple. From a budget OAG perspective I really like the QHY OAG. 

 

The integrated OAG on QSI cameras is exceptional. 



#52 nimitz69

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 07:37 PM

I really wish your newt experience had not been with that Orion.... as now you seem to hate newts. Its like saying that refractors suck because you used an ST80. Now, I can see where you are coming from in this thread, but I think your newt issues were compounded by your scope also being a lemon. No offence intended Dave.

My best purchases: ONTC Newt, QSI 6120 and CEM60.

My worst: ASI 1600, WO 71, Star Adventurer.

What was wrong with the WO 71?


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#53 johnsoda

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 07:44 PM

My best purchase was getting that C14 mounted on an AVX after struggling for years trying to do AP with a small refractor on a premium mount. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just trying to see if anyone’s head explodes. 


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#54 ChrisWhite

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 07:47 PM

What was wrong with the WO 71?

Iron Cross shaped stars.



#55 droe

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 07:48 PM

My best purchase was getting that C14 mounted on an AVX after struggling for years trying to do AP with a small refractor on a premium mount. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just trying to see if anyone’s head explodes. 

Would it not be easier to mount an AVX on a C14?


Edited by droe, 24 January 2019 - 07:52 PM.

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#56 johnsoda

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 07:56 PM

Seriously, SharpCap with its PA tool is right up there. Polemaster is good too.  Turned polar alignment from an ordeal to a snap. Next would probably be getting that tree cut down in my backyard, which was a sort of purchase.  It’s made setting up much simpler than in the days when I had to work around it. 


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#57 nimitz69

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 08:02 PM

What was wrong with the WO 71?

Since I bought a WO GT81 as my first imaging scope you had me a little worried ..... I don’t have that issue luckily ....



#58 Gary Imm

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 08:10 PM

Yeah I had the same experience with the cheaper reducer. The 35 reducer is awesome though. If you can swing it, you'll enjoy it.

Yes, Bill.  You may remember, I bought the cheaper reducer from you on Astromart!  Wish I had this thread to read before I bought it!!


Edited by Gary Imm, 24 January 2019 - 08:24 PM.


#59 Mark326

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 08:10 PM

Not a contender for best equipment, or most experienced.

 

Best Purchase - PixInsight: even in short time using I’ve seen a very positive effect on my images.

 

Worst purchase: I have so little equipment, I use what I have and just work through the less than desirable equipment issues.  


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#60 rockstarbill

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 08:15 PM

Yes, Bill.  You may remember, I bought the cheaper reducer from you on Astromart!

Did you? I have sold so many items on there in the past I forget who bought what. For the used price most folks sell it for, its not too bad. It does leave some to be desired though. It is better than similar reducers from Stellarvue though. I believe that is why Tak made the TOA-35. The price of that one is substantially higher of course. 

 

It is cheaper than the AP Quad TCC though, that reducer is $1520. Now before people freak out, it is a very well made reducer. Its basically a 3.5" refractor you are installing on your refractor. lol.gif


Edited by rockstarbill, 24 January 2019 - 08:23 PM.


#61 17.5Dob

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 08:31 PM

I really wish your newt experience had not been with that Orion.... as now you seem to hate newts.  No offense intended Dave.

My best purchases: ONTC Newt,
 

I have no objection to Newts, (I still have my "Big Dob" for visual), but if were to buy one again, it would be an ONTC 8" f5, not the Orion f4....(just like you chose an ONTC instead of an Orion........)

 

But there's several more posts beyond mine in this thread, regarding the "quality" of the thin metal tube, mass marketed f4 Newts from Orion, GSO,etc.

 


Edited by 17.5Dob, 24 January 2019 - 08:35 PM.


#62 rockstarbill

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 08:47 PM

I have no objection to Newts, (I still have my "Big Dob" for visual), but if were to buy one again, it would be an ONTC 8" f5, not the Orion f4....(just like you chose an ONTC instead of an Orion........)

 

But there's several more posts beyond mine in this thread, regarding the "quality" of the thin metal tube, mass marketed f4 Newts from Orion, GSO,etc.

 

The ONTC F4 with the Paracorr comes out to F4.5 after the Barlow effect of the corrector. Something to think about. grin.gif

 

I do like the ONTC, I just did not add it to my list because I have had very limited time to use it. Other scopes in the herd have been needy. 



#63 Hubbletrouble

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 09:20 PM

My best purchase was getting that C14 mounted on an AVX after struggling for years trying to do AP with a small refractor on a premium mount. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just trying to see if anyone’s head explodes. 

I just had to read this about 7 times........ whaaaaaat!?


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#64 dhaval

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 09:33 PM

Best: Both my A-P mounts, SV130T, Nitecrawler, SGP, PoleMaster, being in a remote observatory. 

Worst: USB hubs....regardless of what I buy (including StarTech), I just can't get these to work. I am thinking of going to a PC with multiple USB hubs and be done with it.

 

CS! 



#65 rockstarbill

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 09:35 PM

Figured I would put together an additional list, which I would call the "Indifferent" list of gear. 

 

Indifferent:

 

Sequence Generator Pro - While it has a bunch of good features in it (like the Framing and Mosaic Wizard) and is not that difficult to bootstrap yourself on, the focusing method used in SGP is not my favorite and leaves a lot to be desired. It has some UX problems with massive popups asking the user things that seem unnecessary, and making changes to some critical settings after the profile has already been loaded, results in this clunky experience where you have to reapply the profile to the sequence, to get settings to take effect as you want them. There are ways around this in the UI, but the whole sense of it being disconnected just frustrates me.

 

Stellarvue 80mm Triplet - The one I bought had to be sent back for collimation. The available reducer for the scope is likely the worst I have used, but the flattener lens for it works nicely. Its not a bad scope, but I would not call it a great scope either. Hopefully the new SVX line of Refractors from Stellarvue are better. After the collimation update, the scope does work well though. Mine is equipped with a nice 2.5" Feathertouch focuser, which works exceptionally well.

 

ASI 183MM Pro - Not a bad camera, not a killer camera. It sits in a cool space in-between on its own in their lineup, IMO. For its price, its pretty well equipped for a smaller sensor. Comes with CMOS headaches, but is a bit more forgiving than the ASI1600 is in some calibration cases. It has AR coating on the sensor glass, which is a huge plus. Nice high QE on the camera in the blues and greens. Its massive starburst glow really becomes a challenge to manage at very high gains, which ultimately limits its usefulness.  Its basically a CMOS version of a ICX834 camera (like the QSI6120) with even smaller pixels, and thus a much higher overall pixel count/MP. The ICX834 would take it to the woodshed though. All in all, not bad, not great.

 

Celestron 8" Edge HD - I really wanted to love this scope, and for visual I did love it. Imaging is a challenge in some cases with the 8" Edge, and the reducer lens for it is hit and miss in terms of being able to provide good stars across your image. Preparing the Edge 8" for auto focus is an interesting battle, although using the MoonLite add on focuser to the rear and locking down the mirrors, does provide protection against mirror flop and image shift. It also results in the scope being incredibly imbalanced toward the rear, moreso that it already is, which can be a challenge with some configurations.  Motorizing the in-place stock focuser eliminates the use of the mirror locks, and is a bad long term solution for using the Edge 8" as an imaging platform. If the Optec Secondary focuser system would be available for the 8" (the 11" and 14" are the only ones they sell a kit for) then this would likely be a much better imaging platform. All in all though, it is hard to hate the C8. Its an exceptionally good telescope for the price. The SCT's are also brain-dead easy to collimate, in comparison to other systems like Newts and RC's.

 

Celestron AVX - My copy of the mount was a good one, other than the gears needing to be replaced after owning it for a year. I still had to remesh them pretty frequently to get good performance for imaging, but the AVX I had was not a bad performer. I could get 5 minute guided images with it, that were acceptable, using very light loads in terms of scopes (AT65 mainly). I did try the FSQ106 on it, and I could get about 1-2 mins before it starting having issues. For the price, its not bad, IF you get a good one.

 

Celestron CGEM - Similar to my experience with the AVX, the CGEM I had did an okay job of imaging out of the box. Team Celestron and a dev named Derek rewrote the entire CGEM firmware though, and after that change was made and I installed the new motor code, the mount worked very well. Its weight and its imaging capacity were just not up to snuff, so I moved onto the A-P 1100 and thus the CGEM was retired and sold. I still think there is a case of "getting a good one" involved with the CGEM. This is also about the original CGEM and not the CGEM II, which I know nothing about in terms of its performance.

 

QHY Polemaster - While I know a lot of folks revere the Polemaster, in my experience it does a decent job of getting you close enough to image and guide with, it does not get you close enough to do things like record periodic error in PEMPro or building pointing and tracking models in things like APPM or T-Point. PEMPro always reports a good amount of remaining error that needs to be corrected, and I have never had a single Polemaster calibration result in "Excellent" ratings from T-Point in The SkyX Pro. I personally have relegated this to a "Rough Alignment" tool, and in that capacity it works very well. 


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#66 lynnelkriver

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 10:11 PM

Not a contender for best equipment, or most experienced.

 

Best Purchase - PixInsight: even in short time using I’ve seen a very positive effect on my images.

 

Worst purchase: I have so little equipment, I use what I have and just work through the less than desirable equipment issues.  

I have to agree with you Mark on Pixinsight.  I've just been using it for a couple of weeks and find myself going back and re-doing some older images and seeing some very nice improvements. Scott


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#67 17.5Dob

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 10:18 PM

Figured I would put together an additional list, which I would call the "Indifferent" list of gear. 


 

Celestron 8" Edge HD - I really wanted to love this scope, and for visual I did love it. Imaging is a challenge in some cases with the 8" Edge, and the reducer lens for it is hit and miss in terms of being able to provide good stars across your image. Preparing the Edge 8" for auto focus is an interesting battle, although using the MoonLite add on focuser to the rear and locking down the mirrors, does provide protection against mirror flop and image shift. It also results in the scope being incredibly imbalanced toward the rear, moreso that it already is, which can be a challenge with some configurations.  Motorizing the in-place stock focuser eliminates the use of the mirror locks, and is a bad long term solution for using the Edge 8" as an imaging platform. If the Optec Secondary focuser system would be available for the 8" (the 11" and 14" are the only ones they sell a kit for) then this would likely be a much better imaging platform. All in all though, it is hard to hate the C8. Its an exceptionally good telescope for the price. The SCT's are also brain-dead easy to collimate, in comparison to other systems like Newts and RC's.

 

"If" I ever move up to a long fl system, the 8" Edge is at the top of my short list, followed by the Vixen VC200L. Thanks for the review.


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#68 rockstarbill

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 10:19 PM

"If" I ever move up to a long fl system, the 8" Edge is at the top of my short list, followed by the Vixen VC200L. Thanks for the review.

You bet. The 11" Edge with the Optec Fast Focus system is a great config. That is what I would do. 



#69 Astrola72

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 10:33 PM

My equipment will never be worth more than my car. I started with a Hap Griffin modded 7D on a CG4. I've made modest improvements over the last 5 years, but it's all mass-produced off-the-shelf stuff. Some bought new, some used. But I haven't made a single purchase that I regretted.

 

Best purchases were probably

 

"The Astrophotography Sky Atlas" by Charles Bracken

Sequence Generator Pro

PixInsight

 

Joe

 

Edit: Actually, one regret: That I don't live in Tucson. The skies here suck.


Edited by Astrola72, 24 January 2019 - 10:40 PM.

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#70 Ken Sturrock

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 11:01 PM

My only poor imaging purchase that I made involved a 5" Stellarvue triplet. It was known as an SV-127 and it used two pieces of OK-4 glass in the LZOS objective. There were about ten of them made. The views through it were incredible, and it was quite fast for an un-reduced triplet. Unfortunately, it had a very narrow and steep light cone with a lot of field curvature. It required an expensive field flattener that was initially made in even smaller numbers than the OTA. When the next run of field flatteners was made, I was stationed over seas and wasn't paying attention. So, I never got to buy one and I couldn't find an off-the-shelf flattener that worked right on that instrument. Moreover, the tube was quite heavy and was hard to balance. Then, one night, while testing spacing on yet another flattener, I noticed that the coating on one of the objective lenses was sloughing off.

 

I sent the instrument back to Stellarvue (eight years after I bought it) and we realized that it was going to be tough to fix due to the way the objective cell was assembled and aligned. SV offered to try to fix it, but I really wasn't in love with the instrument for all the reasons mentioned. In the end, I no-cost warranty swapped the SV-127 for a 4" SVQ. While the SVQ isn't as large or as exotic, it has been a good telescope. I guess that it worked out.

 

Now, the "best" piece of gear that I ever bought was my Takahashi EM-200 Temma 2 mount. I bought it many years ago when it was the only goto mount in it's size/performance class. It is primitive, especially today, and lacks features (PEC, goto hand controller, park positions, safety stops, multi-star alignment) but when I was cutting my teeth that simplicity was a virtue. The polar alignment scope was good enough to get me there for my instruments and it soldiered on for about 15 years so if you amortize its price over that time it was pretty cheap. It carried numerous OTA and camera combinations and was a reliable friend.

 

During 2017, my beloved EM-200 developed an RA stagger and after a couple of (botched) repair attempts with the dealer, it became much worse. Eventually, my desire for a mount that tracked correctly and had modern features led me to buy a new mount - A Paramount MyT - which is wonderful. Of course, once I had that MyT running, I had nothing to lose with the Takahashi. I tore apart the EM-200 and meticulously cleaned and rebuilt it myself. Happily, it now runs as good as new and I'm thinking about some dark sky trips for it.

 

My other favorite piece of gear is my LOMO-based Stellarvue SV-80s. I originally bought this telescope as a visual instrument because I wanted something small with "perfect" color correction and a really nice focuser. In fact, after a run of sub-par (but cheaper) catadioptrics and a plastic f/5 achromat - I credit the SV-80s with saving astronomy for me. When I later got into imaging, the SV-80s became my first imaging OTA and I used it that way for several years. Eventually, time took its toll and the tube got to be pretty beat up. After 14 or 15 years, the little grub screws that held the focuser flange to the OTA started to loosen and wear. Moreover, the tube, which was designed for visual or AP, required that the focuser be racked almost all the way out for use with a camera (or to have an extension of some sort). Sure, it was still perfectly serviceable but, after seeing the incredible work by Mark Turner at Moonraker, I decided to ship it off and have Mark build a custom tube. This turned it into a proper looking astrograph. They'll be prying this one out of my cold dead hands.

 

I admit it. I'm sentimental, but I've also spent some time on things that just weren't going to work out. Sometimes it's due to flaws, but often it's just not the right tool for you and what you want to do. There's no crime in that. So, I guess my long-winded point is that if you find something that you like, hang on to it. On the other hand, don't shed any tears when it just doesn't work out.

 

Thanks for reading. flowerred.gif


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#71 james7ca

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 11:06 PM

One problem with any such list is that depending upon the particular user or sample of a product (variability) you are going to find products listed on both sides (under "Best" and "Worst").

 

Given that, I will just say this: Astro-Tech AT65EDQ

 

Beyond that, I guess given time spent in using a product and in terms of dollars spent I'd rate PixInsight as the "Best."

 

Almost everything else falls somewhere between great and awful, although I certainly like the versatility of my IMX178 and IMX183 cameras.

 

Oh, I guess I do have one "Worst" (in terms of being completely unusable as a guide scope, just from design and not an isolated defect, given its poor focuser and lousy optics): Antares VS60


Edited by james7ca, 24 January 2019 - 11:48 PM.

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#72 rockstarbill

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 11:08 PM

My equipment will never be worth more than my car.

Fully agree, and my equipment is also not worth more than my car.



#73 NorthField

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 11:14 PM

Fully agree, and my equipment is also not worth more than my car.


Mine is 😎

( my “car” is a ‘91 gmc farm truck )
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#74 Gene3

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 11:32 PM

Wow this is an excellent topic! Glad to comment

 

worst ever:

OOUK ODK10 - a total POS

 

Kind of ok:

Feathertouch focuser

QHY128c & QHY247C

 

Awesome combo:

MyT

FSQ106

Moonlite Nitecrawler

QHY16200a & QHY367C

looking forward to adding the SVX 152ST


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#75 rgsalinger

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 11:35 PM

Worst 

 

8" GSO RC OTA. It was cheap. I bought a fancy focuser and expensive rings for it as well. It worked exactly once. Then the collimation went off and I could never get it back. I even paid money to a professional to collimate it. Still no dice.

 

10" Meade F8 ACF. I had two of these, both with pinched optics. TWO. The first one Meade eventually said that they couldn't fix! The second one was, out of the box, just like the first one - triangular stars. Several people tried to collimate those two scopes and gave up. 

 

Best

 

My TV127is. It's now almost 8 years old and good as new. I recently motorized the focuser and had it reconditioned by TV - they took the "tilt" out of the focuser.  It's been all over the western united states and (except for the tilt) never had a problem with it.

 

My PlaneWave 12.5 CDK. I've had this for almost 3 years now and it's as good as new. It's had and survived two "incidents" over the three years. I love the full integration of the fans, heaters and focuser. The focusing software is so accurate that they should sell it as a product.

 

My CEM120EC2 is the best mount I've ever owned. I used it again last night and it still just chugs along at .3 arc seconds RMS guiding error in both axes. 

 

My two Charles Bracken Books - the DS Primer and the DS Astrophography Atlas.


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