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

Autoguiding PHD and Sharpcap issues

  • Please log in to reply
8 replies to this topic

#1 C&Hobbs

C&Hobbs

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 45
  • Joined: 16 Jul 2019

Posted 15 August 2019 - 06:51 PM

Hello all,

 

It seems I am way over my head here; and am in desperate need of some help. (very much an embellishment as life could offer so much worse) I invested in some autoguiding equipment and have encountered some issues. I am very new to astrophotography but decided to use autoguiding to take some of my pictures to the next level; through research it seemed fairly easy! waytogo.gif Famous last words. 

 

Anyways I currently have a very modest Z61 scope on a very modest skyguider pro. (DSLR as well) I invested in a ASI120mm-s guide camera in a small 50mm guide scope. I plan to utilize Sharpcap for polar alignment and PHD for guiding. 

 

I first installed the ASI camera (drivers) on my laptop as directed in the manual. Connected the camera to the guidescope after removing the lens as directed. Connected the laptop to the camera via the USB cable and the ST4 cable to the Skyguider Pro. Easy enough...

 

Last night I did a rough polar alignment then opened Sharpcap. In sharpcap I selected my camera from the camera menu. Set the exposure to 2sec gain to around 75. Went to tools>polar align but couldn't platesolve due to the application not being able to recognize enough stars. I thought I could focus the guidescope through the image in Sharpcap but that wasn't the case. With my main thought being my issue might be the focus on the guidescope  I opened PHD and tried to focus through this application. No luck... Screen completely black even after experimenting with the PHD settings and guidescope focus. 

 

I went back to the proverbial drawing board and tried doing some more research. It was advocated by some people to focus the guidescope during the day. Sounds reasonable. Took out the equipment today, plugged in all the cords etc. and opened sharpcap. I turned down the exposure obviously and the gain. All I am getting is a completely black or grey or white screen; depending on the parameters. FPS is showing at around 28.5; no image. 

 

I am at a loss on how to proceed as I am unable to obtain an image through my guidescope/camera. 

 

Any suggestions would be very much appreciated. 

 

*Just to add:

In sharpcap with exposure at the lowest .064ms and the gain at 54. In the day light, my image preview section shows white/dark grey horizontal bars the gradually fade to the right. 


Edited by C&Hobbs, 15 August 2019 - 07:04 PM.


#2 jerahian

jerahian

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 708
  • Joined: 02 Aug 2018
  • Loc: Maine

Posted 15 August 2019 - 07:13 PM

First step would be to assess if the camera is OK.  I would recommend you remove the ASI120MM-S from the guide scope and screw the wide-angle CCTV lens back on.  Fire up ASICAP or SharpCap and see if you can see and focus on anything in your immediate vicinity.  Use the same cable as you have been.

 

If you can't, replace cable and try again.  If still can't, then possibly an issue with the camera.

 

However, If you can see clearly through the camera, then let's assess how you are connected to the guid scope.  Make sure you do not have the nose piece on and the camera is screwed directly into the back of the 50mm guide scope.  If you're not sure, a picture would be good.

 

If you still cannot get focus with the guide cam/scope, then on these forums, the Elf often suggests a neat trick that may come in handy here.  Remove the guide cam again, point your mount to the moon or a bright object, and place a white sheet of paper behind the guide scope.  Move the paper slowly away from the guide scope until you see the moon fairly clearly on the paper.  This is the focal plane and where the camera sensor should be to be in focus.  Depending on which 50mm guide scope you have, you may need an spacer/extension, but I would be surprised if it does.

 

Once you have that under control, you can switch back to see if SharpCap shows you anything more clearly.  Please note, ASI cameras have both native and ASCOM drivers.  Try one or the other to see if the behaviour is any different.  I believe SharpCap will automatically display the camera with the native driver (which is the one you should use if you can).

 

So, first thing first, get an image or starfield to show up.  Then, we can move to the actual guiding setup...

 

GL&CS,

-Ara


  • C&Hobbs likes this

#3 C&Hobbs

C&Hobbs

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 45
  • Joined: 16 Jul 2019

Posted 15 August 2019 - 07:52 PM

Thank you for the quick response. 

 

 

 First step would be to assess if the camera is OK.  I would recommend you remove the ASI120MM-S from the guide scope and screw the wide-angle CCTV lens back on.  Fire up ASICAP or SharpCap and see if you can see and focus on anything in your immediate vicinity.  Use the same cable as you have been.

This has worked in both applications, so it seems as though the camera is working. I get a clear picture. 

 

 

 However, If you can see clearly through the camera, then let's assess how you are connected to the guid scope.  Make sure you do not have the nose piece on and the camera is screwed directly into the back of the 50mm guide scope.  If you're not sure, a picture would be good.

So the manual suggests taking off the lens then adding the 1.25‚ÄĚnose-piece. I tried that in addition, to your suggestion and screwing in the camera directly into the guide scope which is the Astromania 50mm.[ https://www.amazon.c...r/dp/B0156ICXMI] In sharpcap or ASICAP I get a mostly solid grey/black/white screen depending on the adjustments in the program. Now obviously this won't focus on the immediate landscape around me like the wide field lens, however; I am not able to obtain any image blurry or not through the guidescope. So we have established that the camera is working correctly; so is the USB cord. 

 

Could it be an issue with the scope?- Probably more an issue with the user. I agree with the extention. I have seen many people use this exact equipment without such equipment, and it seems to work perfectly fine. 

 

 

 So, first thing first, get an image or starfield to show up.  Then, we can move to the actual guiding setup...

I think, through extensive research, that I know what to do after this step. It is just being able to obtain an image to work with. 



#4 jerahian

jerahian

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 708
  • Joined: 02 Aug 2018
  • Loc: Maine

Posted 15 August 2019 - 08:19 PM

Could it be an issue with the scope?- Probably more an issue with the user. I agree with the extention. I have seen many people use this exact equipment without such equipment, and it seems to work perfectly fine. 

Hmm, it would be highly unlikely if it were the scope.  I mean, you can look through it, and if you can see the other side, you should be able to see something.

 

I have the 60mm Astromania with an ASI120MM-S, so almost the same setup and I don't use an extension.  My guide scope focuser is out pretty far to get focus, so maybe check if yours is out far as well (maybe 80% of travel)?  I do remember it was a headache, with new equipment, to find the proper spacing for focus.  If I was way off, the screen would show a dirty white/grey.  I really think the issue here is just focus...

 

One last thing and I have to ask:  You did remove the scope cap right?

 

AJ


  • C&Hobbs likes this

#5 C&Hobbs

C&Hobbs

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 45
  • Joined: 16 Jul 2019

Posted 15 August 2019 - 08:31 PM

 

 Hmm, it would be highly unlikely if it were the scope.  I mean, you can look through it, and if you can see the other side, you should be able to see something.

Hahaha, yes I can. That is why it was assumed to be the focus. 

 

 

 One last thing and I have to ask:  You did remove the scope cap right?

lol.gif I almost included that in the first post. I checked several times. Each time disregarding the last in the fantastical hopes that the cap somehow reattached itself and it was that easy of a fix. 

 

Well, I do appreciate your input. At least now I know that the camera and cords are working properly (brilliant idea for the test; don't know why I didn't think of that) and it almost has to be the focus; which I guess was assumed all along. I just don't understand why I can't obtain any image, even a remotely blurry one by adjusting the focus. I tried last night in the dark (probably not the best idea) but remembered to compensate (waiting to adjust the focus) for the long exposure and also tried during the day. Still was not able to get any kind of image. 

 

Thank you so much for the assistance. I guess I will just have to keep fiddling with the focus... confused1.gif 



#6 Gipht

Gipht

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1998
  • Joined: 12 Nov 2016
  • Loc: Prescott Valley, AZ.

Posted 15 August 2019 - 09:20 PM

Just a  check to be sure you are getting a signal from the camera is to shine a light into the guide scope.  The screen  should light up, but not be in focus.  If you tried to get focus during the day  and got a completely white screen, that seems to mean your camera is working. 

 

On one of my two guide scopes,  a spacer had to be removed from the guide scope to achieve focus. The camera was too far out.

 

If you try the camera using PHD, be sure Sharpcap is turned off.  My version of Sharpcap will sometimes not relinquish control of the USB port if it remains on.


  • C&Hobbs likes this

#7 moonrider

moonrider

    Mariner 2

  • *****
  • Posts: 236
  • Joined: 16 Nov 2013
  • Loc: Murphy, NC

Posted 15 August 2019 - 09:21 PM

Sounds like a focus issue. I have experienced the same problem using my 50 mm guide scop and my 60mm. I also use the ZWO 120mm camera. Since you are sure the camera is working? And you are definitely getting a image? Set up the scope on a table outside at night with your scope pointing straight up towards the sky. I do this with my laptop alongside using either Sharpcap or any other capture program and use "Frame and focus" to get your focus dialed in. I had an issue with not enough back focus with both scopes(had black and grey images till focus correctly.


  • C&Hobbs likes this

#8 C&Hobbs

C&Hobbs

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 45
  • Joined: 16 Jul 2019

Posted 15 August 2019 - 10:06 PM

Yes this is somewhat frustrating. Tried again tonight, still no luck. No stars at all, only solid colors. You would think I could just barely move the focus of the scope...wait...then observe the changes in capture. Just try little by little until you see stars but that has not panned out for me. Maybe I do need an extension? Or maybe I need to remove something? That is the only thing I can think of; can't really judge as I can't obtain any images. 

 

 

 Sharpcap or any other capture program and use "Frame and focus" to get your focus dialed in

I was unable to find this option. Could you provide the path to this?

 

Thanks for taking the time to read my post.

 

Much appreciated. flowerred.gif 



#9 Stelios

Stelios

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 7965
  • Joined: 04 Oct 2003
  • Loc: West Hills, CA

Posted 15 August 2019 - 10:23 PM

For focusing, the Moon is your friend. You should be able to achieve perfect focus at night. You almost certainly need more in-focus.


  • moonrider 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