Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Does anyone use Astrel Cameras in a Remote setting?

  • Please log in to reply
31 replies to this topic

#1 dhaval

dhaval

    Vendor

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1672
  • Joined: 21 Jul 2008
  • Loc: Round Rock, TX

Posted 17 July 2019 - 08:27 PM

Hello all,

Astrel cameras have been around for a while, but I am not sure if I have seen or heard of anyone using them in a remote observatory. One potential drawback that I see (I haven't used these cameras, so I am not sure if this truly would be an issue) - they don't seem to have ASCOM drivers yet. I wonder how one would go about using an automation software like SGP/ACP/Prism/etc. with a camera that does not have ASCOM drivers? It does have a self contained computer and INDI drivers and all, but I am not sure if all that works seamlessly in a remote setting?

 

Anyone has any experience with such a system?

 

CS!



#2 rockstarbill

rockstarbill

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6084
  • Joined: 16 Jul 2013
  • Loc: Snohomish, WA

Posted 17 July 2019 - 08:39 PM

I have not used them, but I see you have a wanted ad up for a 16200 chip. I would call OPT and talk to them about the Moravian Mark II 16200. Great price, excellent specs. Joel (buckeyestargazer) uses one, so he would be a good person to chat with.

 

I would avoid cameras with minimized support in terms of drivers. As imaging tastes and software change, you may find yourself limited and shackled to something in the future. 


  • dhaval likes this

#3 Alekai

Alekai

    Astrel Instruments

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 28
  • Joined: 06 Dec 2018

Posted 22 July 2019 - 09:14 AM

Hello all,

Astrel cameras have been around for a while, but I am not sure if I have seen or heard of anyone using them in a remote observatory. One potential drawback that I see (I haven't used these cameras, so I am not sure if this truly would be an issue) - they don't seem to have ASCOM drivers yet. I wonder how one would go about using an automation software like SGP/ACP/Prism/etc. with a camera that does not have ASCOM drivers? It does have a self contained computer and INDI drivers and all, but I am not sure if all that works seamlessly in a remote setting?

 

Anyone has any experience with such a system?

 

CS!

Hi Dhaval,

the ASCOM drivers for the AST16200B are available now, we're just updating the website download page. You can connect to the camera through LAN or wifi, depending on your observatory setup. But the camera could in principle control by itself without external PC all your devices, from autoguiders to focusers, mounts, flatboxes and even domes (for this reason the ASCOM driver is not on the top of the list of our customer's requests). Moreover, you have external I/O lines that you could use for custom equipment. If you need any more info, please send me a private message.

Regards,

 

Andrea


Edited by Alekai, 22 July 2019 - 09:16 AM.

  • ArkabPriorSol and dhaval like this

#4 Alekai

Alekai

    Astrel Instruments

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 28
  • Joined: 06 Dec 2018

Posted 22 July 2019 - 09:29 AM

Hello all,

Astrel cameras have been around for a while, but I am not sure if I have seen or heard of anyone using them in a remote observatory. One potential drawback that I see (I haven't used these cameras, so I am not sure if this truly would be an issue) - they don't seem to have ASCOM drivers yet. I wonder how one would go about using an automation software like SGP/ACP/Prism/etc. with a camera that does not have ASCOM drivers? It does have a self contained computer and INDI drivers and all, but I am not sure if all that works seamlessly in a remote setting?

 

Anyone has any experience with such a system?

 

CS!

Hi again Dhaval,

I noticed you have 36mm Astrodon filters: thanks to the internal 7 positions filterwheel, you could use them on the AST16200 with only minimal corner vignetting, so you don't need to buy 2" filters

Regards,

 

Andrea


  • dhaval likes this

#5 rms40

rms40

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 613
  • Joined: 15 Apr 2016
  • Loc: NW of Harper, TX

Posted 31 July 2019 - 12:31 PM

Dhaval, I will post about my AST16200B when I get it. I won't be remote but I do try and automate as much as possible.

 

You may have seen another post I made. My interest started when I wanted an APS-C size mono camera. The 16200 sensor seems to be the only option that is close. I will be using 36mm Astrodons in the EFW. It was the only 16200 camera that seemed to offer a 36mm option with the built-in EFW.

 

I also like the Flat Box Controller. Makes sense for flats with a moving shutter camera.

 

Randall



#6 dhaval

dhaval

    Vendor

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1672
  • Joined: 21 Jul 2008
  • Loc: Round Rock, TX

Posted 31 July 2019 - 01:05 PM

Randall,

Not sure if you saw my post, but I am testing AST16200B in a remote setting. I am looking forward to that.

 

CS! 



#7 rms40

rms40

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 613
  • Joined: 15 Apr 2016
  • Loc: NW of Harper, TX

Posted 31 July 2019 - 04:54 PM

Dhaval,

 

I knew you had a remote setup. Do you already have the camera? I would like to get more info from you sometime about your automation software.

 

My setup could be remote but I don't use it that way. I automate all of the focus, image capture, filter wheel and guiding. I don't have enough confidence in parking properly and closing my ror when I am not there. Too much risk of whacking the scope in a ror observatory. I will try and get everything else automated.

 

The other reason I don't use my scope remotely is because of dust control. I always keep my scope covered when it is parked. Do you have a way to cover your scope(s)? Flip Flat or something?

 

Andrea,

 

I looked on the Astrel site but don't see any downloads for the AST16200B. Are you saying that the camera can be used as an Ascom camera and Ascom EFW that is controlled by a WIndows PC? That would make it simple to use for Windows users but seems like it would remove the benefits of the Linux system in the camera. If it could be controlled both ways (Ascom with WIndows or Indi and Linux), it would be very flexible.

 

Randall


Edited by rms40, 31 July 2019 - 04:59 PM.


#8 dhaval

dhaval

    Vendor

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1672
  • Joined: 21 Jul 2008
  • Loc: Round Rock, TX

Posted 31 July 2019 - 04:59 PM

Dhaval,

 

I knew you had a remote setup. Do you already have the camera?

 

My setup could be remote but I don't use it that way. I automate all of the focus, image capture, filter wheel and guiding. I don't have enough confidence in parking properly and closing my ror when I am not there. Too much risk of whacking the scope in a ror observatory. I will try and get everything else automated.

 

The other reason I don't use my scope remotely is because of dust control. I always keep my scope covered when it is parked. Do you have a way to cover your scope(s)? Flip Flat or something?

 

 

 

Randall

Randall,

I don't yet have the camera, should be here in a couple weeks. 

 

You have a MyT don't you? MyT should be super easy to operate in a remote setting - once you have everything figured out in terms of parking and limits, I wouldn't be worried at all about getting stuck with that mount. 

 

CS! 



#9 rms40

rms40

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 613
  • Joined: 15 Apr 2016
  • Loc: NW of Harper, TX

Posted 31 July 2019 - 05:09 PM

That is true with a GEM like the MYT. I got a Planewave L-350 a few months ago with a CDK14 on it. It is an equatorial fork mount. I really like it. The mount can move when powered off or if it loses power. That is where my concern is. Many people do use the Planewave "L" mounts remotely. Just not me right now.

 

I will use the AST16200B with my MYT and FSQ-106 later. That is in a Skypod. No way to automate the Skypod dome.

 

Randall


  • dhaval likes this

#10 rms40

rms40

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 613
  • Joined: 15 Apr 2016
  • Loc: NW of Harper, TX

Posted 05 August 2019 - 10:30 AM

My AST16200B was finally delivered. I wasn't here when it arrived Saturday. It was on my porch when I got here Sunday. It was shipped DHL and then transferred to USPS in the USA. I expected to have to sign for it. It was delivered without signature (small rural post office). You probably want to follow the package online so you know when it arrives. It would be a real shame if it got stolen.

 

My AST16200B has the 7 position 36mm filter wheel. This is an all-in-one style camera. It is a bit bigger around than I expected but really it is about the size of the filter wheel in width. Several accessories were also in the case that it comes in. The main one being the vacuum pump to evacuate the sensor chamber. There are also screws and washers for the filters, a CAT cable, power cable for 12v in and gaskets for the filters. I purchased the Flat Box Controller and it was also in the case.

 

I won't have a chance to test this for a week or two. I hope to have pictures of the camera and some test images before long.

 

Randall



#11 rms40

rms40

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 613
  • Joined: 15 Apr 2016
  • Loc: NW of Harper, TX

Posted 07 August 2019 - 05:56 PM

Dhaval, one thing that is different about the design is that an EFW filter position is used as the shutter from what I understand. I believe that you put a cover in one position for the shutter. I haven't been able to look at this yet (camera is at my remote site and I am not).

 

If you get your AST16200B and are able to try the shutter, let me know how well this works.

 

Randall

 

FYI - here is a link to a review of the AST8300b. It is similar and also uses the EFW as a shutter. https://www.theastro...a-review/1/2018


Edited by rms40, 07 August 2019 - 06:00 PM.

  • dhaval likes this

#12 dhaval

dhaval

    Vendor

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1672
  • Joined: 21 Jul 2008
  • Loc: Round Rock, TX

Posted 07 August 2019 - 07:57 PM

Dhaval, one thing that is different about the design is that an EFW filter position is used as the shutter from what I understand. I believe that you put a cover in one position for the shutter. I haven't been able to look at this yet (camera is at my remote site and I am not).

 

If you get your AST16200B and are able to try the shutter, let me know how well this works.

 

Randall

 

FYI - here is a link to a review of the AST8300b. It is similar and also uses the EFW as a shutter. https://www.theastro...a-review/1/2018

 

Wouldn't that render the camera difficult in a remote setting, unless you collect all the darks at home or something (essentially, similar to CMOS cameras with electronic shutter)? I thought Astrel came with Mechanical shutter. That is what it says on the website.

 

CS! 


Edited by dhaval, 07 August 2019 - 07:57 PM.


#13 rms40

rms40

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 613
  • Joined: 15 Apr 2016
  • Loc: NW of Harper, TX

Posted 07 August 2019 - 08:14 PM

I am not sure about how this works. It seems like you could take darks like normal if the EFW is set for the "closed shutter" position. Then the sensor would be covered the entire time while taking darks. It is something to check out.

 

For flats, it could be a problem if you don't get the flatbox controller. I got it. It turns the flat panel off and on instead of moving the shutter into position. 

 

Randall



#14 dhaval

dhaval

    Vendor

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1672
  • Joined: 21 Jul 2008
  • Loc: Round Rock, TX

Posted 07 August 2019 - 08:28 PM

I am not sure about how this works. It seems like you could take darks like normal if the EFW is set for the "closed shutter" position. Then the sensor would be covered the entire time while taking darks. It is something to check out.

 

For flats, it could be a problem if you don't get the flatbox controller. I got it. It turns the flat panel off and on instead of moving the shutter into position. 

 

Randall

I spoke to Andrea about the Flatbox controller. He said that it really just provides power to a flatbox. Given that I will be using a SnapCap, it is powered via USB and I can plug that in the USB hub. I can turn it on and off using an ASCOM driver and change the intensity of light with that. So, I don't intend to get. Although, what I don't understand is, how does the "shutter" work in that respect. If this shutter is part of the FW, I assume I will identify the filter for which I need my flats, set to that filter, the FW will go to that filter and I can take flats. I am not sure how the "shutter" plays a role in that? Unless, the FW somehow is used to let the light in, again, I just can't comprehend that.

 

Maybe I will send a note to Andrea before sending the monies.

 

CS! 



#15 rms40

rms40

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 613
  • Joined: 15 Apr 2016
  • Loc: NW of Harper, TX

Posted 07 August 2019 - 08:36 PM

What I think is that the EFW has a closed position that acts as the shutter. One issue may be the speed for it to close if it has to go past several positions - not for darks but maybe for flats and lights. You should check into this more since you are remote.

 

It is a good deal for a 16200 sensor camera. It was the only one that would work without lots of vignetting with my 36mm filters. That is why I got it. I like the fact that the filters are so close and this is also what allows the EFW to act as the shutter from what I understand. It may not work for you. Andrea will know.

 

Randall


Edited by rms40, 07 August 2019 - 08:43 PM.


#16 Alekai

Alekai

    Astrel Instruments

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 28
  • Joined: 06 Dec 2018

Posted 08 August 2019 - 04:18 AM

Hi Randall and Dhaval

 

Dhaval, one thing that is different about the design is that an EFW filter position is used as the shutter from what I understand. I believe that you put a cover in one position for the shutter. I haven't been able to look at this yet (camera is at my remote site and I am not).

 

If you get your AST16200B and are able to try the shutter, let me know how well this works.

 

Randall

 

FYI - here is a link to a review of the AST8300b. It is similar and also uses the EFW as a shutter. https://www.theastro...a-review/1/2018

 

Wouldn't that render the camera difficult in a remote setting, unless you collect all the darks at home or something (essentially, similar to CMOS cameras with electronic shutter)? I thought Astrel came with Mechanical shutter. That is what it says on the website.

 

CS! 

 

Your cameras have the 7 position internal filter wheel which is different from the 4 and 5 positions ones. While the latter have one position acting as shutter (so they're actually 5 and 6 positions wheel where one of the positions is closed), the 7 positions doesn't have an eight position acting as a shutter but has a separate shutter moving with the wheel. It uses the same motor as the wheel, so it is opened and closed using wheel movements. So no problem for darks in remote settings, while for flats, as with any mechanical shutter, the flatbox controller (which switches on and off the flatbox light instead of opening and closing the shutter) allows very short exposures without problems of gradients due to uneven shutter movements.

Dhaval, for flip flat USB driven, I saw that several are supported by INDI, for example Alnitak, so Ekos should use this driver for flats. Anyway, I could extend the flat app on the camera to use an INDI flip flat, so you'll use it like a normal flatbox controller.

Bye,

 

Andrea   



#17 rms40

rms40

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 613
  • Joined: 15 Apr 2016
  • Loc: NW of Harper, TX

Posted 08 August 2019 - 06:38 AM

Andrea, Thanks for the explanation. The separate shutter makes sense.  Do you have a drawing of the EFW and shutter? The "shutter moving with the wheel" is different than what I have seen before.

 

Dhaval, Looks like I was wrong about how the 7 position EFW/camera works. It does have a shutter. I will know more when I can get out to my dark site.

 

Randall


Edited by rms40, 08 August 2019 - 06:46 AM.

  • dhaval likes this

#18 dhaval

dhaval

    Vendor

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1672
  • Joined: 21 Jul 2008
  • Loc: Round Rock, TX

Posted 08 August 2019 - 01:42 PM

Andrea, Thanks for the explanation. The separate shutter makes sense.  Do you have a drawing of the EFW and shutter? The "shutter moving with the wheel" is different than what I have seen before.

 

Dhaval, Looks like I was wrong about how the 7 position EFW/camera works. It does have a shutter. I will know more when I can get out to my dark site.

 

Randall

I ordered the camera this morning after an email from Andrea. Yes, the shutter thing is interesting, but seems to me like it should work without any concerns especially if you have a flip-flat like mechanism. 

 

CS! 



#19 rms40

rms40

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 613
  • Joined: 15 Apr 2016
  • Loc: NW of Harper, TX

Posted 09 August 2019 - 06:48 AM

Dhaval, glad Andrea could clear this up.  I hope to get to my dark site this weekend. Work is in the way.

 

The camera looks well built. I will be opening it up to put my Astrodon 36mm filters in soon. I will get some pictures when I do this.

 

BTW, I ordered some filter wheel masks from ZWO that also shipped DHL. They came through Cincinnati like the Astrel camera. They cleared customs without a problem. You should watch your shipment in case it gets pulled for customs inspection like my AST16200B. That can delay things and they may not let you know for several days. It is best to contact DHL if you don't see the "Clearance processing complete" entry right away (within 24 hrs) when it gets to the USA.

 

Randall


Edited by rms40, 09 August 2019 - 07:05 AM.

  • dhaval likes this

#20 dhaval

dhaval

    Vendor

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1672
  • Joined: 21 Jul 2008
  • Loc: Round Rock, TX

Posted 09 August 2019 - 07:49 AM

Randall,

There are a couple of things that I have learnt regarding these cameras over the past couple of days - including FW masks. What are they? Do they help to ensure the filters are well placed in the FW given that they are unmounted?

 

The second thing is this whole vacuum thing. Initially, I had asked Andrea to fill the camera with argon, which would hold for 12-18 months (according to Astrel). Andrea mentioned that they could fill up the chamber with argon, however, if I open up the camera to install filters, the argon gas would escape and I will have to re-fill that again. Apparently, that is not a big deal given that they send everything that is required to fill the chamber with argon except the gas of course. The other option that they gave me was to send them my filters so that they would install the filters and then the gas (alternatively, I could have bought new filters from them as well). Now, I am not mechanically inclined, however, given that I am going to run some tests, I am going to use the vacuum pump for a bit and then also test filling out argon gas by myself.

 

I appreciate the heads up on DHL, I will keep an eye out for that. 

 

BTW, you should also make a video out of this exercise. I think it will be fun.

 

CS! 



#21 rms40

rms40

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 613
  • Joined: 15 Apr 2016
  • Loc: NW of Harper, TX

Posted 09 August 2019 - 08:55 AM

Dhaval, I have attached a picture of the masks. This isn't my picture. I found it on a post on CN that is also about filter masks. I would have given credit to the poster but I can't seem to find the post again.

 

I need these masks for some Astrodon filters that I chipped the edges on. I want to keep any reflected light from the chipped area from affecting exposures. These are for 36mm filters that I will use on a ASI1600mm that is only 4/3 size. There will still be plenty of clear area for this size sensor. Others have used these with filters that have problems at the edge from weird light gradients/reflections not related to chipping. I won't use these with the AST16200B. I need all of the filter surface available.I have another good set that doesn't have any chips.

 

My filters got chipped when I tried to force them into an older QHY wheel by screwing them down when they wouldn't drop in. Bad idea. Don't force filters. They should drop in the holes.

 

Randall

Attached Thumbnails

  • zwo filter masks.jpg

Edited by rms40, 09 August 2019 - 09:18 AM.

  • dhaval likes this

#22 rms40

rms40

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 613
  • Joined: 15 Apr 2016
  • Loc: NW of Harper, TX

Posted 10 August 2019 - 08:54 AM

About the vacuum pump....that is a similar technique that is used on A/C systems for cooling. When a vacuum is pulled, it lowers the boiling point of water. Water will vaporize and be evacuated to the outside air. We do the same thing on home and automobile A/C systems to dry them out before filling with freon or other gases for cooling. This seems like a really good way to ensure that the sensor chamber has no water vapor inside.

 

From what I have read, most AP cameras that get filled with inert gases like Argon (nitrogen would work fine as well and is cheap) eventually leak causing water condensation issues. It seems like the vacuum alone from the hand operated pump should be enough to keep water out of the sensor chamber. What remains to be seen is how long the vacuum will hold. The person that reviewed the AST8300B said it lasted for weeks. Looks like it is easy to check and redo as necessary.

 

For your remote setup, I think filling the chamber with argon or nitrogen is a good idea. I would pull the vacuum, then connect the argon tank, and let the evacuated chamber draw the argon in.  If you get the outside and inside pressure in equilibrium, the gas should stay put for a long time. And, you can refill easily when necessary. I would be careful to not to put too much pressure inside the chamber. A little positive pressure might be ok. Too much might reduce the seal effectiveness. That is something that Andrea will be able to help with.

 

Randall


Edited by rms40, 10 August 2019 - 09:11 AM.


#23 rms40

rms40

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 613
  • Joined: 15 Apr 2016
  • Loc: NW of Harper, TX

Posted 10 August 2019 - 09:17 AM

I have a lot of interest in remote setups. This is surely much more complicated than what most of us amateurs do. I will make a post about this. I am curious about what can go wrong and how you handle power interruptions and reboot PCs and other equipment.

 

Randall



#24 Alekai

Alekai

    Astrel Instruments

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 28
  • Joined: 06 Dec 2018

Posted 12 August 2019 - 01:55 AM

Dhaval, I have attached a picture of the masks. This isn't my picture. I found it on a post on CN that is also about filter masks. I would have given credit to the poster but I can't seem to find the post again.

 

I need these masks for some Astrodon filters that I chipped the edges on. I want to keep any reflected light from the chipped area from affecting exposures. These are for 36mm filters that I will use on a ASI1600mm that is only 4/3 size. There will still be plenty of clear area for this size sensor. Others have used these with filters that have problems at the edge from weird light gradients/reflections not related to chipping. I won't use these with the AST16200B. I need all of the filter surface available.I have another good set that doesn't have any chips.

 

My filters got chipped when I tried to force them into an older QHY wheel by screwing them down when they wouldn't drop in. Bad idea. Don't force filters. They should drop in the holes.

 

Randall

your cameras with 7 position fw comes with a filter mask already included, sorry not to mention this Randall. Of course use it only if needed as it makes the vignetting a little worse. A filter mask is often needed to overcome border defects of the filters, even if I think the best way is to paint the uncoated borders with black paint: it covers just where needed.

Bye,

 

Andrea


Edited by Alekai, 12 August 2019 - 01:57 AM.


#25 Alekai

Alekai

    Astrel Instruments

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 28
  • Joined: 06 Dec 2018

Posted 12 August 2019 - 02:10 AM

About the vacuum pump....that is a similar technique that is used on A/C systems for cooling. When a vacuum is pulled, it lowers the boiling point of water. Water will vaporize and be evacuated to the outside air. We do the same thing on home and automobile A/C systems to dry them out before filling with freon or other gases for cooling. This seems like a really good way to ensure that the sensor chamber has no water vapor inside.

 

From what I have read, most AP cameras that get filled with inert gases like Argon (nitrogen would work fine as well and is cheap) eventually leak causing water condensation issues. It seems like the vacuum alone from the hand operated pump should be enough to keep water out of the sensor chamber. What remains to be seen is how long the vacuum will hold. The person that reviewed the AST8300B said it lasted for weeks. Looks like it is easy to check and redo as necessary.

 

For your remote setup, I think filling the chamber with argon or nitrogen is a good idea. I would pull the vacuum, then connect the argon tank, and let the evacuated chamber draw the argon in.  If you get the outside and inside pressure in equilibrium, the gas should stay put for a long time. And, you can refill easily when necessary. I would be careful to not to put too much pressure inside the chamber. A little positive pressure might be ok. Too much might reduce the seal effectiveness. That is something that Andrea will be able to help with.

 

Randall

 

yes, vacuum alone is more than ok for avoiding water condensation. Many factors are involved in how long it could last, so every camera has its story: we guarantee 3 days mostly because we don't want to have the customers wait for a longer test, but at least 1 week should be the minimum and we have many cameras holding vacuum for several months.

As for filling with gas, you first make the vacuum with the pump, then fill with gas until the pump gauge says the pressure is at equilibrium (somebody puts a very small positive pressure in the chamber). In professional applications we do 3-4 times this vacuum-gas cycle in order to be sure to have purged all the air from the chamber: it takes a little more gas but it's more reliable.

Bye,

 

Andrea


  • dhaval likes this


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics