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Nitecrawler owners, experiences please

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#1 ksouers

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Posted 19 October 2019 - 09:07 AM

A new scope is on the horizon. Maybe close, maybe a bit farther away. The exact OTA has not yet been determined but it will be 130mm aperture, ~900mm FL. Whichever OTA I decide, it will have some flavor of Moonlite focuser.

 

Mind you I'm leaning very heavily towards the SVX130/Nitecrawler combo, but I could just as easily put a Nitecrawler or CFL on any of the other options. I currently have a CF on my ED80 so installing a CFL on the new OTA would be very familiar territory. The SVX combo is easily do-able however my bank account, ever the perpetual cheapskate, is leaning towards more modest options. I just want to cover all the bases.

 

So I would like to hear from you Nitecrawler owners. Extra credit if you can compare the Nitecrawler with a CF/CFL.

 

Obviously the Nitecrawler will have a big advantage in framing, not just for mosaics but also single frames. Has the finer resolution in focus shown itself to be much of an improvement? How well does it play with SGP's (or NINA) focus routine?

 

Any problems automating PHD2 calibrations after a rotation? Any issues with using different rotations on different targets throughout the night (with proper PHD calibrations, of course)?

 

Can the Nitecrawler use the plate solve data to correct any small rotational changes in the imaging train? Can a reference frame be used to calibrate rotation; i.e. set a zero point or starting point, before an imaging session? I find that on long, multi night/week projects some small amount of rotation is invariably introduced into the system over time.

 

I appreciate any information shared. Thank you.

 

 

Kevin



#2 ChrisWhite

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Posted 19 October 2019 - 09:26 AM

I've had several of the moonlite crayford focusers over the years.  CR, CRL, CHL, CSL.  I currently have a CHL on my edge.  I love these focusers, but I recently upgraded to a litecrawler for my Newt. Man it is a beautiful piece of equipment. 

 

I havent fully automated it with rotation yet, so cant comment on that, but I see absolutely no reason why it would not play well with whatever capture program you use.  I think that one of the dev's of SGP is using a nightcrawler, so it's safe to assume that SGP will play well with it. 

 

The fit and finish of the litecrawler is very nice.  It is a heavy focuser, and the nightcrawler will be even more-so, so a heavy front element scope would be ideal for balance.  The 130 is probably a perfect size scope for it. 

 

I have definitely noticed that the resolution in the focuser is extremely fine compared to the motorized crayfords.  Its like 10x more fine it seems.  The rotator is also extremely high res.  I need some time to set it up so I can use it for auto-rotation in my sequences before I entrust it to go on it-s own.  With a newt I have more worries than you would with a refractor as cables can more easily get tangled and caught when rotating. 

 

If you have the budget...  I say jump on it!


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#3 GeneralT001

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Posted 19 October 2019 - 12:44 PM

I have both a Nitecrawler and a Litecrawler. Nothing but praise. Works flawlessly with SGP. The price is steep but the fit and finish are tops.


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#4 Peter in Reno

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Posted 19 October 2019 - 01:37 PM

Litecrawler? I don't see it at Moonlite web site. Is it in experimental stage? 

 

I have been waiting for Litecrawler without rotator for a while. How much does it costs? 

 

Peter 



#5 ChrisWhite

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Posted 19 October 2019 - 01:42 PM

Litecrawler is identical to nightcrawler but lower profile and less focus travel. There is a non motorized rotater version also, but not sure if it's ready.

#6 GeneralT001

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Posted 19 October 2019 - 01:43 PM

 https://www.cloudyni...-and-14-scopes/

 

I bought mine about 1 1/2 yrs ago for $2150


Edited by GeneralT001, 19 October 2019 - 01:46 PM.


#7 ksouers

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Posted 19 October 2019 - 05:28 PM

Thanks guys. Yep, I know Moonlite builds great stuff. It’s a work of art for sure.

Has anyone noticed if focus is any sharper with the Nitecrawler? My CF does a good job but sometimes focus seems a little soft. Don’t know if it’s the focuser, SGP or just my lousy skies.

I was hoping the higher resolution would mean an improvement in sharpness.


Kevin

#8 Monkeybird747

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Posted 19 October 2019 - 08:24 PM

I went from an HSM on my TEC140's stock feathertouch to the Nitecrawler. Very noticeable in a few areas. Focus was sharper, but more importantly it was more repeatable. .2667 microns per steps versus something like 4 microns for the moonlite stepper motor option. The HSM using the fine focus knob was 1.2 microns per step. The movement is very accurate. Combined with a good V-cuve in Voyager and it is a deadly accurate focus combo.

 

The drawtube, being worm gear driven and not rack and pinion, has zero sag, and zero backlash. Ron hangs a monster weight off the back and does a laser collocation/rotation test on them. I'm pretty sure you could winch your truck out of the mud with this thing, .5 inches at a time.

 

There is a checkbox in PHD2 for rotators. You can check this box and not have to recalibrate after rotation.

 

The focuser has a homing feature for rotation and focus. You can set rotation limits ASCOM. You really only need to rotate up to 90 degrees 135 degrees (thanks Chris) from zero to cover your framing options. You can set it to rotate in two different modes I think. One mode uses cardinal directions, i.e. 270 puts the focuser 90 degrees counterclockwise from level. 180 inverts the focuser.

 

I haven't used it with SGP, but know people who have used it successfully with the framing and mosaic wizard. The way I set it up is to set the rotation to zero, manually rotate the camera to roughly zero, and plate solve an image. Adjust the camera manually (without rotating the moonlite) until it is also zero (or close to it). Now the camera is at zero degree angle when the focuser is at zero degrees rotation. Then the sky position info from programs like Telescopius and Blackwater Skies should pretty much match what you would set in the nitecrawler for framing. If it tells you that the positon angle of your framing is -20 degrees, then rotate the moonlite to 20 degrees left of 360 (zero position) to a position 340. Or, you can just set "-20" in the moonlite software.  It's easier than it sounds.

 

I've yet to experience any rotational drift between imaging sessions. The only threat would be if you were to inadvertently tighten a spacer, or accidentally rotate the tube.

 

Focuser travel is tiny, so you need to get the spacing pretty close during setup. Not a good focuser for visual use because of this. This thing is heavy too.

 

Supposedly the non-rotating version was to be ready for testing this winter. Not sure of the status, but if you ask Ron he will probably tell you.


Edited by Monkeybird747, 19 October 2019 - 09:37 PM.

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#9 ChrisWhite

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Posted 19 October 2019 - 09:19 PM

 You can set rotation limits ASCOM. You really only need to rotate up to 90 degrees from zero to cover your framing options.

 

Everything you said is a good summary.  Not that it really makes much difference to this discussion, but you need 135 degrees to cover all your framing options.  I just set my litecrawler up with limits to allow this so I could cover the 45 degree options as well. 


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#10 Monkeybird747

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Posted 19 October 2019 - 09:36 PM

Everything you said is a good summary.  Not that it really makes much difference to this discussion, but you need 135 degrees to cover all your framing options.  I just set my litecrawler up with limits to allow this so I could cover the 45 degree options as well. 

You are correct sir! I had to draw a little wagon wheel circle to double check ;). Post corrected.



#11 gunny01

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 08:08 AM

AAAA++++ to the Nitecrawler I have on my tak 106.  The Nitecrawler has taken the really krappy tak focuser and turned the scope into a top notch instrument.  Kudos  to Ron on this wonderful focuser.

 

One important element that many leave out is customer service.  Ron is in the top two of vendors for me.  He can machine just about anything astro for your imaging platform and his attitude toward customers is great.  Doesn't charge an arm and a leg either.  A lot of other astro vendors could learn  about good customer service from him.


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#12 ChrisWhite

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 09:16 AM

AAAA++++ to the Nitecrawler I have on my tak 106.  The Nitecrawler has taken the really krappy tak focuser and turned the scope into a top notch instrument.  Kudos  to Ron on this wonderful focuser.

 

One important element that many leave out is customer service.  Ron is in the top two of vendors for me.  He can machine just about anything astro for your imaging platform and his attitude toward customers is great.  Doesn't charge an arm and a leg either.  A lot of other astro vendors could learn  about good customer service from him.

 

Not only that he responds to email within hours generally, day or night.  I have had probably well over a hundred email exchanges with Ron over the last several years.  His customer service is unmatched. 



#13 GeneralT001

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 10:23 AM

I also have nothing but praise for the way Ron, at Moonlite, handles his customers. Excellent customer service!



#14 rockstarbill

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 10:48 AM

Agreed. Ron's service is great.

#15 ksouers

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 02:56 PM

Thank you Chris and Monkeybird for the comprehensive replies. As previously stated I was already leaning heavily towards the Nitecrawler, I think you both pushed me over the edge (it really didn't take much of a push. I'm already solidly sold on Moonlite equipment.)

 

Thanks everyone for responding. You really confirmed that I won't be making a mistake with the Nitecrawler (not that I thought I would be).

 

 

Kevin



#16 tomb18

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Posted 03 June 2020 - 11:16 PM

Are there any guides anywhere as to how to st up the rotator? First do you set clockwise or counterclockwise rotation with the ascom driver?

Can you set the zero position?  I ask this since if your camera screws on you may have no choice where it ends up.

Thanks



#17 SimonIRE

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Posted 04 June 2020 - 01:31 AM

Hi,

 

I have a Nitecrawler for my Tak and the Litecrawler for my Edge. I am going to be ordering a second nitecrawler for my Esprit. The Litecrawler is made on request (I think) and as far as I know, isn't advertised. 

 

I recently emailed Ron to discuss ordering the second NC and mentioned that I must be the biggest fan - he said that once people bought one NC they often came back for a second (or third). 

 

I use Voyager but I have used SGP; the NC works flawlessly with both. It is rock steady and a beautiful piece of engineering. 

 

For AP, I suspect you can't do better. As with anything in this hobby - buy the best, once and avoid finding yourself going through months of "if only I had got the best first time around, I wouldn't have wasted money buying twice...."

 

Ron's customer support is awesome. I'd advise you to discuss with him exactly what you plan to do so he can make suggestions.


Edited by SimonIRE, 04 June 2020 - 01:32 AM.


#18 ChrisWhite

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Posted 04 June 2020 - 05:55 AM

Are there any guides anywhere as to how to st up the rotator? First do you set clockwise or counterclockwise rotation with the ascom driver?

Can you set the zero position?  I ask this since if your camera screws on you may have no choice where it ends up.

Thanks

As far as I know... there is not. 

 

It's my only gripe really about the NC/LC.  Setting up the range of travel is trial and error and a PIA.  I wish there was a way zero it out when the camera was in sky angle 0, and have a simple scale of 360 degrees. Set your limits and image.  Might be worth emailing Ron to see if that is a possibility.  It's already a possibility for the focuser travel.



#19 mark77

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Posted 04 June 2020 - 06:07 AM

I have 3 NiteCrawlers,  Ron does make a camera adapter that has a lock ring on it.  This will allow you to position the camera where you wont it rotationally and then move the locking ring to lock it in place.

 

If anyone is interested I have drivers for both the NiteCrawler and his other stepper motor drivers for Linux.  Both stand alone and Alpaca.  This will eventually be open source.

 

 

Mark


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#20 ChrisWhite

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Posted 04 June 2020 - 06:19 AM

I have 3 NiteCrawlers, Ron does make a camera adapter that has a lock ring on it. This will allow you to position the camera where you wont it rotationally and then move the locking ring to lock it in place.

If anyone is interested I have drivers for both the NiteCrawler and his other stepper motor drivers for Linux. Both stand alone and Alpaca. This will eventually be open source.


Mark


Mark, do you have a picture of the locking? I imagine it would extend the drawtube, which for us litecrawler + EDGE users would not work as we already have limited backspacing.

#21 mark77

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Posted 04 June 2020 - 06:26 AM

Chris

 

Go to the moonlite site http://focuser.com/

 

Click on PRODUCTS

 

Click on NiteCrawler

 

Click on NiteCrawler Adapters and Extenders

 

In the very first picture, the bottom left item.  It is probably the lowest profile of any adapters.

 

It is available for all 3 sizes of NiteCrawlers.


Edited by mark77, 04 June 2020 - 06:27 AM.


#22 johnsoda

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Posted 04 June 2020 - 11:14 AM

Can only agree with everything everyone else has written. First class piece of equipment, and Ron has just about the best service I’ve encountered. They ain’t cheap, but they’re well worth it. You can forget about backlash.

 

I’m a little worried it’s too small for my SV70T, though (see below). Just kidding, I bought it for my SVX130T, but just haven’t moved it over yet. 

 

0F9E4C20-F2A3-4BA3-9A81-6DD523FF4AE5.jpeg

 



#23 Monkeybird747

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Posted 08 June 2020 - 10:40 AM

As far as I know... there is not. 

 

It's my only gripe really about the NC/LC.  Setting up the range of travel is trial and error and a PIA.  I wish there was a way zero it out when the camera was in sky angle 0, and have a simple scale of 360 degrees. Set your limits and image.  Might be worth emailing Ron to see if that is a possibility.  It's already a possibility for the focuser travel.

You can do this via the native Nitecrawler control software. I just did this last night. I would home the rotator first.

 

Using the knobs or slew commands, I set my my camer 90 degrees counter clockwise when viewing from rear of scope in home position. This puts the filter wheel to the right, and guide camera to the left. This gives me a sky Position Angle of about 0 degrees. Then I plate solve and adjust the rotation of the Nitecrawler using the knobs or slew commands and platesolve until it reads exactly 0 degrees in the solves. Then go into the Nitecrawler software and enter 0 as the go to position, but instead of hitting GoTo, press the Set Positin button. It will zero the rotator to your current position.

I do this whole procedure through Voyager using the plate solve current position command. Then disconnect and connect to Nitecrawler software to set zero position.

 

now my rotator position and sky Position Angle match. This makes framing easy when using telescopios or blackwater skies, etc. the on screen angle from those sites is now the same as my rotator angle.




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