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Looking to purchase a CCD for my Celestron CPC800

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#1 hobbes

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Posted 16 February 2019 - 01:25 PM

I've been using a combination of my mobile phone (with mount holder), as well as my Canon 40D DSLR (with EP projection, as well as top mount) for a little while. The problem with my mobile phone is the quality isn't as superior, and with my DSLR, the set up takes much longer due to the EP mount and counterweight balance.

I've decided to pull the trigger on purchasing a CCD camera, and have been looking at the SBIG ST-I for a couple years. Even though my CPC 800 has it's own built in tracking system, the auto guide sounds like a decent convenience.

I've had some questions that I was hoping for the cloudy nights community could answer for me before I make this considerable purchase.

Would the SBIG ST-I be considered a decent upgrade, or are there newer or similar products on the market worth considering at this time?

I've been torn between monochrome and colour, I like the fact that monochrome can use filters to isolate data, but the convenience of colour would also be nice. Any thoughts on this subject?

I'm looking for convenience, and high quality imaging of deep space objects, with the flexibility of capturing great shots within our own solar system.

Any input, references, sources, would be greatly appreciated. I'm a bit overwhelmed with the product selection available, and would like to be confident in my purchase decision. I was hoping to listen to some of your personal experiences within this subject.


Edited by hobbes, 16 February 2019 - 01:30 PM.


#2 jfrech14

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Posted 16 February 2019 - 01:37 PM

There are cheaper alternatives to the ST-I/Lodestar that are nearly as good. Those cameras are great, but unnecessary. For a guide camera, you want monochrome. If you want to do fairly long exposure photography, you need a wedge or a derotator since you will get field rotation. 

If you want to guide and image, I recommend something like the QHY5 camera for guiding and whatever you find suitable for imaging. But, you then have to figure out how you want to set up the guiding. If all you want to do is image with your current setup, I would consider looking at electronically assisted astronomy. With large pixels and a sensitive camera, you can get reasonable deep sky images with short, unguided exposures.



#3 bill5wjw

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Posted 16 February 2019 - 02:22 PM

For guiding check out the 'starshoot autoguider' series of camera/small scope packages available from Orion, (telescope.com). Affordable and they work! As for imaging cameras, I'm biased: I support one-shot color cameras. In the 'old days' we used mono cameras and the necessary color filter wheels. (there are those that hold mono cameras and RGB filters close to heart, but they probably still prefer a manual transmission in their automobiles instead of the modern, efficient automatic, but anyway...The future is One-shot color. Embrace it.



#4 dlock

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Posted 16 February 2019 - 06:09 PM

I have the CPC800 and recently upgraded to a cooled Astro camera from a DSLR. The difference has been huge! 

 

You can start out simple and add complexity. I purchased an OSC - a ZWO ASI 294 MC Pro. I may eventually get a mono camera, but the time savings of a OSC are worth it for me at this point in my life. Guiding is great, but don’t underestimate what you can do with many shorter exposures, a higher gain, and low read noise camera. Your CPC on a wedge can guide well, but not great - there is a lot of backlash in the mount. You will probably never be getting 15-minute subs. With an ok polar alignment, I could take unguided subs of around 60 seconds with a focal reducer. I just started guiding, and am working out the bugs. I can guide at 2-minutes with no problems. You mention guiding and convienence. I don’t think there is anything convienent about guiding - it is an additional layer of complexity. 

 

One of the reasons that prompted my upgrade from a DSLR to a cooled Astro cam was using ZWO’s ASIAIR RaspberryPi controller. I hate the idea of lugging around a laptop. With the ASIAIR, I control everything through my phone or iPad. This was an enormous efficiency and quality of life improvement. I highly recommend it if you go the route of ZWO cameras (the latest version also supports Canon and Nikon DSLRs). If you want convienence, this is it. 

 

Good luck! 


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#5 hobbes

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 01:06 PM

Thanks for all your responses. I do have a wedge for my scope, and have dabbled with longer exposures. I feel the colour option would be a strong convenience to me, instead of using my filter wheel.

 

@dlock, I also appreciate your personal response regarding your CPC800 set up, and experiences with it. I was looking at the ZWO cameras earlier this week, but decided to have a greater look into th ZWO ASI 294 MC Pro, which you are using for your set up. It is initially higher than the budget I expected to spend, but the cooling, signal to noise ratio, and resolution look stunning. What sort of guider do you use with it? I had a brief look at the ASIAir controller, and was curious if that's what you use as a guider, and if it's as effective as a physical auto guider? Although I typically do short exposures, I'd like to have the flexibility of doing sharp exposures well over the 2 minute mark. Never using a guiding system before (other then the alignment options featured on the CPC800), I was curious if it would make a big difference to long term exposures while using the wedge, or if there is too much backlash in the mount to make a strong difference?

 

For slewing, I typically use SkySafari Pro on both my laptop and mobile devices. And for my DSL, I used the Canon EOS utility software to capture the photos. On colder days, I like to work my scope remotely, which includes slewing, and photos. Looks like it's compatible with SkySafari for slewing, and for live time viewing. Is the live view resolution similar to the final recording quality?


Edited by hobbes, 17 February 2019 - 01:45 PM.

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#6 hobbes

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 07:37 PM

I picked up the ASI 294MC Pro with the ASI Air today, very much looking forward to clears skies. A very decent mid-range astronomy camera with cooling, and great SNR reduction. Glad to put that DSLR away for a while.


Edited by hobbes, 19 February 2019 - 07:38 PM.


#7 bonorden

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Posted 20 February 2019 - 07:16 PM

I look forward to hearing how your ASIAIR works with your CPC.  I have the CPC11 and am very interested in the ASIAIR.  I don’t have a wedge though.



#8 dlock

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Posted 23 February 2019 - 01:56 PM

You made a great decision, I think! The ASI 294 was a bit more than I planned to spend, but it is a heck of a camera for the price. If you look around here on CloudyNights, you’ll see some discussion regarding the 294 and some odd noise patterns. The concencus seems to be to keep the exposures relatively short (sub 10 minutes), and be very careful with cooling for darks.

You will like the ASIAIR. There is a healthy ASIAIR group on Facebook with lots of support and ZWO input - I recommend it. I use SkySafari for slewing after connecting the ASIAIR to the telescope. I am using a ZWO ASI 120-s Mono camera for guiding with the ZWO 60mm guidescope. This setup is working fairly well. My problems appear to be due to the sticktion and backlash in the mount. If I had to do it over again, I may consider using an OAG setup.

As for live viewing on ASIAIR, I’m not sure what you mean. I can direct ASIAIR to take a single exposure. The image is displayed on your device’s screen. You can also tamale a sequence of images, and each image is shown on the screen. Is this what you mean?

I’ve set the actual field of view of the 294 in SkySafari. So, I see a box in SkySafari that is my FOV. With ASIAIR’s plate solving capabilities, framing a shot is incredibly easy.

Have fun!

#9 hobbes

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Posted 23 February 2019 - 02:52 PM

I will be more than happy to share my results and feedback bonorden. The camera should be arriving in a matter of days.

 

@dlock: I guess live view may have been a poor choice of words, but I was referring to getting good views on the ASIAir app 'remotely'. My plan is to control and view imaging from a warmer area (myself, not the telescope) during the Winter season so I can extend my viewing session. When I was using EOS utility with my Canon DSLR, it provided me with 'live viewing', but unfortunately, the results showed my less light from the images feeding into my laptop, then what the sensor was actually taking, making it hard to find stars via application/laptop. My hope is that I can see exactly what I'm looking at with the ASIAir app. You also mentioned you are using the 120 mono camera and 60mm guidescope. How do you find the accuracy using their guide scope version a polar align with the wedge, and using the Celestron GOTO feature?

 

I'll check out the facebook group for ASIAir, I'm sure there is plenty for me to catch up on. Thanks for sharing your experience.


Edited by hobbes, 23 February 2019 - 02:53 PM.



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