Had first light with the mount, scope, camera and ASIAir tonight. The skies were clear tonight and judging from the weather forecast, it was my only chance that I would have for the next week or longer. I jumped in with both feet testing the mount, scope, camera and ASIAir all at one time as a complete noob with each. I set up on my deck, did a rough align with Polaris and fired everything up.
The first thing I did was to connect my iPad to the ASIAir and make sure everything was connected and had the correct parameters entered. I had previously set all of that up in my game room, but wanted to double check it all. Once I was sure everything was connected, I proceeded to focus the guide camera and the main camera. Each was easy enough to accomplish using the preview for each camera. One thing that helped was using the hand controller for the ZWO EAF focuser, it made getting the rough focus much quicker than jabbing my finger on my iPad screen. Once rough focus was close, I used the built in Bhatinov mask on the ZS73 lens cap. This is the first time I have used a Bahtinov mask and it did make things a bit easier.
After that was done, I moved on to the ASIAir polar alignment routine. Without getting into the nitty gritty of it, I did find the altitude and azimuth adjustments on the mount a bit sensitive, so I struggled a bit with that and finally settled on a fair alignment. I am sure as time goes by I will improve and get better alignment. Once that was all done I reset the mount to the zero position and did a plate solve, which successfully detected the mount position. After that, I used the ASIAir to chose M31 as a target and sent it on its way. The mount slewed to the target, did a plate solve, made a small adjustment and there was M31 right in the middle of my screen. I went over to the guiding screen, allowed the ASIAir to choose a guide start and started guiding. The graph indicated that I was staying within +/- 2 seconds, so I was happy.
At this point, I was one happy camper, but I decided to shoot some quick images, so I set up a short sequence of 20 lights at 30 seconds each, no darks or flats this time around. I let it run and watched each frame show up on my iPad screen using auto-stretch to enhance the view. Honestly, I was as excited as a kid on Christmas morning. After the sequence was done, I shut everything down and packed it all up, and called it a night. I am completely unfamiliar with post processing workflows, so no images to post here yet. I have much to learn on that front.
All things considered, I am very happy with the setup. I was very rushed tonight, so there were many things that I did not do. The back focus on the camera needs to be adjusted, I could have balanced things better than I did, I even forgot to put the IR cut filter in, so my stars were a bit bloated, but I have time to get that all sorted out. The rig accomplishes what I wanted, lighter weight, easier setup and tear down, and a stepping stone into a dedicated deep sky photo setup. I have the OTA, ASIAir and Pocket Powerbox all mounted to the dovetail, so I can carry the mount out, then attach the scope and connect a few cables and I am ready to go. I still have the stick computer setup to test, but I want to spend more time with the ASIAir to get familiar with that.
I am done rambling for now, but I have one quick snapshot I took with my phone before I packed everything up for the night.