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What Is Your Best And Worst Purchases For Astrophotography?

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#76 rockstarbill

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 11:38 PM

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. 

 

That is great to hear. I am curious though Ross, do you image with the CEM120EC2 in your back yard or at a remote observatory? 



#77 rgsalinger

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 11:49 PM

The CEM120EC2 is in an observatory at my club's dark sky site. It's about 80 miles from my house and it is not automated. I share it with a 25" custom RC scope that the real astronomers let me use some nights if I'm very nice to them. When they are using the 25" I can use the CEM120 via the internet as well as whenever I go out myself.

 

I have another excellent mount - an MX+ - at a "real" remote observatory as well. That's where I have my PW 12.5. The CEM120EC2 has an AP155 on it at this point.

 

Rgrds-Ross 


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#78 rockstarbill

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 11:54 PM

The CEM120EC2 is in an observatory at my club's dark sky site. It's about 80 miles from my house and it is not automated. I share it with a 25" custom RC scope that the real astronomers let me use some nights if I'm very nice to them. When they are using the 25" I can use the CEM120 via the internet as well as whenever I go out myself.

 

I have another excellent mount - an MX+ - at a "real" remote observatory as well. That's where I have my PW 12.5. The CEM120EC2 has an AP155 on it at this point.

 

Rgrds-Ross 

So to this threads point... the Paramounts are EXCELLENT mounts. The MX+ Ross talked about is a really pretty rig with a bunch of neat features on it. It even has red lights on it that illuminate the knobs for alignment adjustment. SB thinks of all kinds of things when they build gear.

 

I am jealous of the AP155, Ross. I am going to go drown in envy now.  lol.gif flowerred.gif


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#79 17.5Dob

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 01:11 AM

My equipment will never be worth more than my car.

+1

My entire AP rig is 1/4 of what I could get from my 2001 GMC Sonoma 4 cylinder mini truck.



#80 AstroGabe

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 01:30 AM

Here are my best and worst.  I decided to choose each within a category of the gear I've used.  I know that's entirely not fair since some gear within a category is perfectly good for its purpose like EQ-G for a great mount on a budget, etc.

 

Worst:

- Scope: My Orion Eon80mm ED, which I used as an imaging scope many years ago.  Had stars blue-bloated like crazy every time.  I like it for visual, but wasn't working for me w/ imaging.

- Camera: ASI120M(M/C).  I still have the MM for an all sky camera project.  These cameras are notorious for dropped/chopped frames.  If there are issues with it, I sometimes have to disconnect/reconnect.  Very frustrating, but cheap and when it works, it's fun.

- Mount:  Astro-tech Voyager - flimsy and couldn't take a moderately sized 4" scope without showing me how to do the Twist.  Coming in second was the DSV-3, which was a fine mount, but it was very annoying having to rebalance every time you change eyepieces.  Rebalancing would often result in losing your place on the sky.

 

 

Double-edged sword (selective categories):

- Scope: AT65EDQ - nice optics, horrible focuser.  Sold it within a few months.  It was a great price point though for the optics.

- Mount: Orion EQ-G (old version) - Alt bolt was annoyingly stiff - a real pain to polar align.  The power plug had no captive mechanism.  You breathe on the cord, and the power plug would come out.  Still, for the money, it was a pretty good mount.

 

Best:

- Alt-Az Mount:  DM-6.  Rock solid and easy to adjust. Add the Nexus DSC, and it's a perfect match for visual.

- EQ Mount: AP1100 - love this mount. Rock solid.  Awesome performance.  I just recently got it, and am still probably in the honeymoon phase, but I'm sure I will still be there in about 20 years

- Scope:  For imaging, my TMB130SS.  For visual, my TMB 105/650 - a recent pickup.  Near perfect star test.  

- Solar: Lunt 80mm DS pressure tuned.  The contrast from this thing is incredible.  A real jump up from the 60mm single stack I owned.

- Camera: For data quality: QSI690 - very clean.  For fun: QHY16200A - the larger sensor is awesome compared to what I've been used to: ICX814 and KAF8300.

 

But, honestly, overall the best equipment I bought in my 10 years as an imager is the scopebuggy.  I roll my scope out of the garage and polar-align with the RAPAS (also awesome) and within 5 min, and I'm back in the house setting up my session.  More time with the family, more time imaging.  Win-win!

 

Gabe


Edited by AstroGabe, 25 January 2019 - 01:33 AM.

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#81 astronate

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 10:18 AM

My best purchases have all involved that most precious of commodities - time.

 

- JMI Wheely Bar.  I roll the fully assembled rig out of the garage and can be polar aligned and imaging in 20-30 minutes

- SGP.  Allows me to spend time with the family and sleep while imaging

 

No terrible purchases yet. Just some compromises based on budget.  You get what you pay for and sometimes that is just fine.

 

Great thread.  Might end up being my shopping list for the future...

 

-Nathan



#82 Jon Rista

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 03:58 PM

BEST:

 

Mount: Astro-Physics Mach 1 GTO

Why: The mount truly fades into the background when it's high end. I never think about it anymore...it does it's job, does it wonderfully well, and I can focus on all the other aspects of imaging.

 

Adapter: Geoptik EF Adapter

Why: The Geoptik adapter uses a locking ring to compress against the lens mount. This eliminates tilt, which is a huge issue with other kinds of lens adapters.

 

Software: PixInsight

Why: It does a ton of stuff, does it all extremely well, and gives me ultimate control over my final results. It's object oriented design works well with how I work and think, so it was a low effort to get going with it. I purchased PI before the 45 day trial ended. I use it exclusively for all processing (SSO and DSO) these days.

 

WORST:

 

Scope: Astro-Tech 8" RC (GSO type)

Why: For me, collimating the RC was far too much of a pain. It did not hold collimation well, and I constantly had to recollimate it. Two hyperbolic mirrors != fun.

 

Adapter: Almost any normal EF adapter

Why: So far, no standard-design EF adapter seems to get the tension clip design right. The clips in a normal Canon DSLR are very high tension and clamp the lens securely onto the camera. EF adapters for astro cameras all seem to use extremely weak clips, so weak that even a small 50mm lens will still have tilt.

 

 

I've had a variety of other gear. Most of it has been pretty good. I wouldn't say most is stellar, nor particularly bad...but, all of it works, most of it fades into the background once assembled and configured properly.


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#83 Gene3

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Posted 26 January 2019 - 07:17 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! 

I hear you regarding a USB hub that works. I took advice from Tolga and got the Ultimate Power Box (UPB) from Pegasus Astro. Its awesome, and makes cable management simple. Well worth the investment.

 

Gene


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#84 Kevin Ross

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Posted 26 January 2019 - 07:44 PM

I like my 8in Orion f3.9 Newt.

I have Moonlight focuser which helps.

I also like mine. I also have a Moonlite focuser, which helps. :) And the TSO GPU coma corrector. Much better than the Baader MPCC that I started with.


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#85 Astrola72

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Posted 26 January 2019 - 07:46 PM

...

 

WORST:

 

...

Adapter: Almost any normal EF adapter

Why: So far, no standard-design EF adapter seems to get the tension clip design right. The clips in a normal Canon DSLR are very high tension and clamp the lens securely onto the camera. EF adapters for astro cameras all seem to use extremely weak clips, so weak that even a small 50mm lens will still have tilt.

 

 

Truth! Why is this? I have a drawer full of these things. I've owned lots of canon lenses and they always fit tight. Why on earth can't anyone produce an EF adapter that fits like that?

 

Joe



#86 Ballyhoo

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 01:48 AM

Worst:  Meade LXD75

Best:  Building my RoR obsy.

Worst:

 

I just want to vent here. My LXd75 was my first mount but I could never get it to work -- Never. The GOTO was freakishly off and tracking was abominable. I thought there was some skill set I was not doing and that is possible that I was not polar aligning it. The manual did not say that PA was required.  Still I thought maybe it was me. When I got an AVX and within 5 minutes in the field it was goto accurate and tracking great. I knew that the LXD75 was an abomination. 

 

Best:

AVX (for the money, I know I got lucky where Stelios was not)

IEQ45 PRop so far. Wow, $780 for NIB was a hole in one.

Nagler 31 -- oh not for AP but its great and atleast I can get my alignment with it.



#87 rockstarbill

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 02:07 AM

The manual did not say that PA was required. 

News Flash: Its required for all mounts.


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#88 freestar8n

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 02:24 AM

My best is something fairly simple but incredibly important, long lasting, and empowering:  Telegizmos 365 cover.

 

It is the opposite of planned obsolescence because it just lasts and lasts in a wide range of hot and cold conditions.  If I didn't have a good way to leave my equipment set up and not get too hot or moist - I would only be able to image very rarely.

 

Worst is an expensive flat panel that uses pulse-width modulation for dimming.  That means it won't work for short exposure flats.  They should say up front how the dimming works.

 

As for 1600 - I have an Atik 8300 in storage because I much prefer my ASI-1600, which happens to be an early model.

 

Frank


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#89 schmeah

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 07:22 AM

Best(s): 

 

1) Avalon Mount: Allows me to sleep with confidence.

2) Optec TCF-SI: Temperature compensation only focusing is a real joy.

3) Polemaster: Saves me well over an hour each setup. Drift aligning was a chore. I image far more than I did before PM.

4) APT. Eliminated all the frustrations I had with SGP.

 

Worst

 

1) Any light pollution filter. Just could never get them to produce the advertised results.

 

Derek


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#90 terry59

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 07:55 AM

Worst purchase: An AT72ED when I first started due to false advertising of the scope by the vendor and more lies when I wanted to return it because it sucked

 

dislike.gif



#91 johnsoda

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 08:09 AM

Have to say that my best “purchase” cost me nothing, which is reading Cloudy Nights. I guess I have donated a relatively trivial amount, but it’s nothing compared to what I’ve received in learning. 


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#92 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 02:54 PM

Best purchase overall was just getting the initial telescope and mount (Celestron 8" f/5 Newtonian and AVX mount).  Actually, going back a little farther, the best purchase was the $40 my wife and I spent on a Bushnell 3 inch toy Newtonian at a neighborhood garage sale about 20 years ago that ended up in the storage closet for about 20 years.  This was followed in late 2016 with attending a class in backyard astronomy taught by Don Machholz at the local community college.  Brought the Bushnell to class and discovered we simply weren't using it right.  Upgraded in 2017 to the Celestron I have now.  I wouldn't be in this hobby without these, and would be missing out on so much that is just beyond our ability to see in the night sky without it.

 

But to the topic of things to buy, I have to say that by far the most useful thing has also been the lowest cost:  a Telrad finder.  I was so frustrated trying to aim the massive and blunt Newtonian at a sky I didn't know, with the supplied finder scope showing me such a narrow view of stuff, that I could never be sure that what I was seeing in the finder had any correlation to what the telescope was actually pointing at.  The Telrad made this oh so easy, and for so little money.  A "must buy".

 

Worst purchase (so far :) ) has probably been the Skyris 236C imaging camera.  I bought it before joining CN, and before learning that Planetary and DSO photography are two very different things.  None of the ad copy from the equipment makers (Celestron, et al) explained this, so I ended up with a planetary camera and tried using it for both planetary and DSO imaging.  The planetary images were ok, but I quickly got drawn to wanting to do DSO before understanding how to make really good planetary images.  I actually did get a few interesting DSO images (M13, M57), but the sensor is just too limited (e.g. 10 seconds max exposure) for doing DSO AP.  So, my bad, I guess; a somewhat costly learning experience.  I did use the camera for autoguiding for a while, but it's not all that good there either (contrary to their ad copy), and the camera overall has been a continual struggle to find compatible software drivers.  Replaced it with an ASI174mm Mini, and everything is working much better.  I still have the Skyris camera, just in case I want to try planetary AP for real, but it mostly represents a wasted purchase, done without an understanding of what I was doing.



#93 overnight

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 03:13 PM

Best: can't decide, a lot of my stuff work really well and have gotten really nice results, even with a few hitches.

CEM60 is amazing, though I might be overinflating based on my experiences with the AVX. Upgrading to mono with a 1600 has been a huge improvement, and pretty much no problems there. The 290 is an amazing planetary camera, and works for guiding as well.

 

Worst: AVX, that thing has caused too much trouble and gave pretty poor results. QC with those types of synta mounts are very variant, and I didn't get lucky.


Edited by overnight, 02 February 2019 - 03:18 PM.


#94 RedLionNJ

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 03:34 PM

Roll-off-roof observatory and all that leads to (can be observing within minutes, permanent polar alignment, extremely good mount, all equipment handy, shelter from the winds, etc. etc.).


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#95 Jon Rista

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 03:35 PM

Truth! Why is this? I have a drawer full of these things. I've owned lots of canon lenses and they always fit tight. Why on earth can't anyone produce an EF adapter that fits like that?

 

Joe

Oh, I cannot really say for sure. 

 

The designs do not seem to really match the mount design on my Canon DSLRs. The DSLR mount is more complex, and the tension clips are made of FAR stronger metal that has a much higher tension, it seems. But there is more to it than that, the mount is just more complex (not talking about EOS aspect, not electronics, just the mechanical design of the EF mount), and very, very tight (but not so tight that you cannot easily connect and detach lenses). 

 

I think it is just that most of these EF adapters are just wicked cheap, and only partially conform to the EF mount standard. Actually, one of the things I did when I was exploring EF adapters was pick up some basic EF extension tube kits. The kits were really cheap...and they had the same simpler, cheap mount and tension clip design that the AP EF adapters do...


Edited by Jon Rista, 02 February 2019 - 03:36 PM.


#96 Ballyhoo

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 04:02 PM

News Flash: Its required for all mounts.

why do you always have to be sarcastic?  If someone is brand new to astronomy and buys a mount, reads a manual and follows the instructions it should work. 


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#97 APshooter

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 04:09 PM

Best: Toss up between my Astro physics 130 mm Starfire and the Paramount MYT.

Worst: The Qhy5Lii guide camera. I've had it for 5 years and after trying it on six different computers I still can't connect to anything with it. I haven't imaged a single sub with it.

#98 jgraham

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 05:40 PM

"... the LXD75 was an abomination."

 

Aw, that breaks my heart. The LXD75 was my first 'real' imaging mount (naïve me). Some of them did take a bit of Tender Loving Care to get them to work well (loose set screws were a common problem) and I did have to tune mine to get them to work their best, but I liked them so much that I bought two! They were my workhorse mounts for many years and live on as lightweight visual and EAA mounts.

 

The twins...

 

Twin SN6s.jpg

 

The New Twins...

 

Twin SN6s EQ-G-1j.jpg

 

It has been neat reading this thread!

 


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#99 Ballyhoo

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 07:05 PM

"... the LXD75 was an abomination."

 

Aw, that breaks my heart. The LXD75 was my first 'real' imaging mount (naïve me). Some of them did take a bit of Tender Loving Care to get them to work well (loose set screws were a common problem) and I did have to tune mine to get them to work their best, but I liked them so much that I bought two! They were my workhorse mounts for many years and live on as lightweight visual and EAA mounts.

 

The twins...

 

attachicon.gif Twin SN6s.jpg

 

The New Twins...

 

attachicon.gif Twin SN6s EQ-G-1j.jpg

 

It has been neat reading this thread!

 

 

Well perhaps I could limit that statement to "my experience with the LXD75 was an abomination." It was rally a disaster for me as my first mount.  Me and my friend who has yrs more experience on that mount once read that manual and followed the steps and just could not get the mount to goto an object accurately. It was just a very disappointing state of affairs. And again, when I bought the AVX, within the first minutes of me setting it up it worked as advertised. And that is what I have to compare it to. Perhaps I bought a defective one. Or, perhaps I just never got a good PA on it.  But PA should effect tracking and not goto so much. I always pointed the mount at Polaris. Maybe not enough to get great tracking but that should have been sufficient to get a reasonable goto. the Goto was unreasonable, like off by 10 degrees on avg.  I am guessing I just got a bad apple. To be fair when I had it I was not so experienced.  But then I got the AVX and it worked fine right away. 


Edited by Ballyhoo, 02 February 2019 - 07:05 PM.


#100 jgraham

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 08:12 PM

I'm glad that the AVX is working out for you. Some LXD75s clearly had problems that could usually be fixed with a bit of disassembly and repair, but that's just not an option for many (and should never be required for a new mount). Enjoy your AVX!


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