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Recommend A Photo Astro Tracker

astrophotography mount
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#1 gkarris

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 04:53 PM

Please recommend a small portable Astro Tracker (must drive to darker skies).

 

Will be mounting a small refractor (with a small mirrorless Sony) or maybe just a dslr (Canon T3i) with a long zoom...

 

Budget at most $400...

 

Can put the tracker on a very sturdy Bogen Tripod...

 

Want to learn it inside during the cold so it is ready for Spring!

 

How is the new Orion one?

 

https://www.telescop...60/p/132184.uts

 

Thanks...



#2 17.5Dob

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 09:46 PM

No small "tracker" will be able to handle a refractor, at best, they struggle to get reliable images beyond 200mm  fl.... The problem is not the weight, but the design of the gearing. The little mounts are designed around the acceptable error in tracking a 100-135mm lens, push the focal length beyond that and things get ugly, quickly.

In your price range, these are your best options

https://www.bhphotov...mera_mount.html

https://www.bhphotov...r_pro_pack.html
 


Edited by 17.5Dob, 16 November 2019 - 09:46 PM.


#3 SambaChoro

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Posted 16 November 2019 - 10:26 PM

I second the recommendations above. I got this image of M31 with the Ioptron Skyguider Pro. Just make sure you don't go over half the stated manufacturer's load capacity for the tracker and, as stated above, do not use a long focal length scope. The redcat has a 250mm FL.

 

https://www.cloudyni...51#entry9705741

 

 

Leo



#4 gkarris

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 10:06 PM

I second the recommendations above. I got this image of M31 with the Ioptron Skyguider Pro. Just make sure you don't go over half the stated manufacturer's load capacity for the tracker and, as stated above, do not use a long focal length scope. The redcat has a 250mm FL.

 

https://www.cloudyni...51#entry9705741

 

 

Leo

Thanks for the recommendations.

 

A bit confused, this person used a 400mm lens with his setup:

 

https://youtu.be/W6VJ83Cw4hE


Edited by gkarris, 17 November 2019 - 10:07 PM.


#5 clemley

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 10:42 PM

I’ve used my William Optics Z61 with a DSLR or a mirrorless camera on my Star Adventurer many times, and it handles the load easily. In fact, I think it would handle something larger if you wanted to push it.  After reading and watching everything I could find on the various models, I concluded that the Star Adventurer and the Skyguider Pro are virtually interchangeable, with each having one or two strengths and weaknesses that basically make the ultimate choice a toss-up.  I went with the Star Adventurer because when I bought my scope, it was the one I found in stock.  Before that, I had a SkyTracker Pro. It worked great with camera lenses, but the scope was too much for it notwithstanding the advertised weight limit.   

 

Peter Zelinka does a lot of tutorials and videos on star trackers, which I found helpful in deciding what to buy and in learning to use the ones I bought.   He also does auto guiding with his, which I never got around to trying. FWIW, this year he’s using a WO SpaceCat, but in the past he’s used camera lenses up to 600mm.  He sells some courses, one of which I bought, but the videos that he offers for free are more than enough for most people. Here’s a link to Zelinka’s comparison of various models, and if you look around on his website - or better yet, find him on YouTube - I think he’ll give you some good info. Good luck!  https://www.peterzel...er-should-i-get


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#6 SambaChoro

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 05:04 AM

Thanks for the recommendations.

 

A bit confused, this person used a 400mm lens with his setup:

 

https://youtu.be/W6VJ83Cw4hE

I could be wrong then. Logic would say a long FL in such small trackers would be no good, but I think then my logic is flawed. I guess it would be ok as long as you keep the weight down. The rule of thumb for astrophotography is to load half the manufacturer's stated load capacity for a given mount. The Skyguider Pro has a stated load capacity of 11 lbs, so don't go over 5.5 lbs. I barely make it. 

It won't hurt to have it guided though if you take long exposures of several minutes.

This is my setup. I replaced the red dot finder with a smaller one and the large counterweight at the bottom of the shaft with smaller counterweights used for video stabilizing. I have many of those and I stack them. I attach them to the bottom of the shaft using a 1/4 20 to 3/8 adapter.

 

https://www.bhphotov...nce_weight.html

 

Leo

 

Ps: Peter Zelinka's is a good source of info. But I believe he did guide his mount when he was using his long FL Tamron lenses when shooting long exposures. He did mention in one of his videos that it does make a difference.

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#7 RJF-Astro

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 11:00 AM

I use a 72ED scope at 340mm on my Star Adventurer, with an APS-sensor. I tried unguided but did not like the results. Guided is a lot better, with around 80% of the subs being a keeper. I only do manual polar alignment and have not found time yet to start using Sharpcap. A better polar alignment helps, although the periodic error can be quite big.

Unguided with my 135mm lens is a different story, with +80% keepers as well.

#8 Hesiod

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 02:05 PM

With small tracker speed is your best friend.

I have one of these (a Polarie), and in the last months have used it mostly with a tiny refractor at 300 or 230mm (usually at 230mm because the reducer ensure a large advantage in term of speed, ca 1 stop, meaning I can halve the integration time, and because, since use an aps-c sized sensor, feel that at 300mm the field starts lacking somewhat in width).

With a good alignement to the pole should be able to attain 120 to 180" subs, and keep most of them: in my experience this is adequate for most targets from fairly dark sites to avoid overexposition (it could be too much from light polluted sites, but in this case could keep shooting at 120" with the help of a LP filter).

I do not know what you mean by "learning indoor", as the only thing you could learn indoor is how to process your data: to align to the pole and to aim the tracker is something you can learn only under a (possibly dark) starry sky.

The good is that both the alignement to the pole and the framing are rather fast procedures, and once done you can simply go back to a warm place until the next morninglol.gif (if am not stargzing, I set the alarm after a few hours to check, and eventually replace, the camera's battery)

 

gallery_215679_10936_7211280.jpg

 

gallery_215679_8115_1458202.jpg


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#9 gkarris

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Posted 21 November 2019 - 02:18 PM

With small tracker speed is your best friend.

I have one of these (a Polarie), and in the last months have used it mostly with a tiny refractor at 300 or 230mm (usually at 230mm because the reducer ensure a large advantage in term of speed, ca 1 stop, meaning I can halve the integration time, and because, since use an aps-c sized sensor, feel that at 300mm the field starts lacking somewhat in width).

With a good alignement to the pole should be able to attain 120 to 180" subs, and keep most of them: in my experience this is adequate for most targets from fairly dark sites to avoid overexposition (it could be too much from light polluted sites, but in this case could keep shooting at 120" with the help of a LP filter).

I do not know what you mean by "learning indoor", as the only thing you could learn indoor is how to process your data: to align to the pole and to aim the tracker is something you can learn only under a (possibly dark) starry sky.

The good is that both the alignement to the pole and the framing are rather fast procedures, and once done you can simply go back to a warm place until the next morninglol.gif (if am not stargzing, I set the alarm after a few hours to check, and eventually replace, the camera's battery)

 

Thanks. I just plan on learning basic indoor type stuff like setup, hooking the camera up to a laptop an getting the software to work properly...

 

Beutiful setups everyone!



#10 Hesiod

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Posted 22 November 2019 - 02:37 PM

Why the PC?
The best fact about such setups (dslr+star tracker)is that work wonderfully without laptops/etc...
If plan to use a pc and the guide, I would rather suggest to purchase a light equatorial mount
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#11 gkarris

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Posted 23 November 2019 - 11:51 AM

Why the PC?
The best fact about such setups (dslr+star tracker)is that work wonderfully without laptops/etc...
If plan to use a pc and the guide, I would rather suggest to purchase a light equatorial mount

 

I was thinking maybe hooking up a PC with SharpCap for some EAA.

 

Would this setup work?

 

thanks...



#12 Hesiod

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 10:39 AM

I suppose so, but believe also that in such case a standard mount would be a more cost-effective option (trackers are rather poor choices under this regard)

#13 fewayne

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 11:00 AM

I was able to get some reasonable 120s frames off a borrowed original iOptron SkyTracker with a slow 500mm mirror lens and a DSLR. But I can't say that I recommend that, exactly. Threw away a ton of frames. Frustration with that setup is what drove me to get a CEM25P instead of, say, a SkyGuider.

#14 vidrazor

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Posted 26 November 2019 - 07:54 AM

Unguided, I can get 25 second subs using an AT60ED scope on a M4/3 body (720mm equivalent) mounted on my SkyGuider Pro.

I bought the SGP over the SkyWatcher because it appears you can't re-align to Polaris if need be once you're fully rigged up with the SkyWatcher, although if anyone knows otherwise feel free to chime in.

I usually set up, do a rough polar alignment, mount the gear, balance RA and DEC, aim at the target, re-balance (it's usually off after finding your target), fine tune polar alignment, re-align to target, re-check balance, re-check polar alignment, aim back to target, and fire away. I don't know a better way to track with the existing unguided setup. I feel this gives me the best possible setup.

#15 RJF-Astro

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Posted 26 November 2019 - 04:24 PM

The polar scope of the Star Adventurer remains unobstructed after rigging up, so re-aligning is possible at any time.


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