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iOptron SkyTracker Pro Balancing

astrophotography
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#26 Cfreerksen

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 11:16 PM

I finally got tired of short exposures and star trails and bought a guider. But since I hate the thought of dragging a laptop outside, I'm using a Raspberry Pi with Astroberry and a small tablet for control. Easy 3 minute subs up to 400mm, all keepers.attachicon.gif 0_IMG_20191019_100059527_HDR.jpg

Okay, what did you build for the polar finder? I want one.

 

Chris



#27 Domer

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 11:20 PM

Me, too!



#28 Domer

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 11:27 PM

Also, what does the Rasberry Pi and software do, and how does it interact with your tracker?



#29 NGC 2419

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 11:46 PM

The polar finder is a Nikon DR-3 right angle viewfinder that I got on eBay for $25-30. (Best money spent on this rig by far.) I attached it with a couple PVC parts from Home Depot that only needed a little adjustment with the Dremel. (I actually got the idea from another thread on CN.)

The Raspberry Pi runs the Astroberry distribution. The only software I really use is PHD2 for polar alignment and guiding. If you're not familiar, it monitors a star in the guide camera and sends corrections to the mount.

I also wrote an intervalometer script that uses gphoto to take my exposures. I just input the exposure length and the number of shots and the Raspberry Pi does the rest.
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#30 Cfreerksen

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 10:56 AM

I finally got tired of short exposures and star trails and bought a guider. But since I hate the thought of dragging a laptop outside, I'm using a Raspberry Pi with Astroberry and a small tablet for control. Easy 3 minute subs up to 400mm, all keepers.attachicon.gif 0_IMG_20191019_100059527_HDR.jpg

Bought the ZWO mini guidescope last night. and a ST-4 cable. I already have the ASI120mm mini. Have you tried doing polar alignment with Sharcap with the ZWO mini scope?

 

If it works (should) polar alignment would be a breeze.

 

Chris



#31 NGC 2419

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 11:54 AM

Bought the ZWO mini guidescope last night. and a ST-4 cable. I already have the ASI120mm mini. Have you tried doing polar alignment with Sharcap with the ZWO mini scope?

 

If it works (should) polar alignment would be a breeze.

 

Chris

I use PHD2 for polar alignment because I don't like setting up the laptop but I did try Sharpcap once and it worked fine. I spent quite a bit of time aligning my polar scope to the polar axis of the mount, so my polar alignment is usually pretty darn close from the start. There are links to the PDFs for polar scope and reticle alignment in the "Skyguider Fun Topic" thread.

 

Cheers!


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#32 Domer

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Posted 04 December 2019 - 12:30 PM

I finally got tired of short exposures and star trails and bought a guider. But since I hate the thought of dragging a laptop outside, I'm using a Raspberry Pi with Astroberry and a small tablet for control. Easy 3 minute subs up to 400mm, all keepers.attachicon.gif 0_IMG_20191019_100059527_HDR.jpg

OK, I've decided I need to invest in something to auto-guide my rig.  I assume you have the Raspberry Pi 3, right?  The RPI 4 is out but it doesn't appear that most of the astro software tools have been ported to it yet - or if they have, I cannot find any evidence that people are using it.  Would it be better to stick with the RP3 for now?  Also, since the RPI 4 is more powerful, I'm concerned that it will consume more power than the RPI 3 and may be overkill for a simply auto-guiding function.

 

And what about the StellarMate (https://www.stellarmate.com)?  This seems like a turnkey solution and appears to be based on an RPI.  Does anyone use it and if so, what are the pros/cons over a build-your-own RPI?



#33 NGC 2419

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Posted 04 December 2019 - 05:50 PM

I'm using a model 3 because I had one laying around. Given a choice, I would probably still use the model 3 because of the lower power requirement.

Don't know about the StellarMate, but a $179 Raspberry Pi better have some pretty special software on it. My needs are fairly simple so Astroberry, which is free, does what I need.

Clear skies!

#34 Domer

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Posted 28 December 2019 - 07:02 PM

The Neewer Panaramic  tripod head is mounted on the counterweight axis just above the Vixen bar and can be unlocked and rotated. A ball head would work also but I got the Neewer with the setup so I used it. It will align to your specific desired object just like the GEM does. I considered a ball head but felt that I may be unbalancing the setup each time I moved it around. Food for thought...

I got that Neewer tripod head, but don't see how to unlock it after reading the (very poor English) manual.  How do you unlock it to rotate it manually?



#35 scadvice

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Posted 28 December 2019 - 07:53 PM

Best we could get out of my friends Sky guider pro was 60 sec at 360mm focal length.

 

It does really well at 60 seconds with WO Z61 and EOSrp. 90 seconds result in trails.

 

Chris

 

60 sec exposures:

Great shot it looks almost the same as the one I shot on 12/23 using the WO WhiteCat!

 

Ended up with only a hour and a quarter of lights. 20 images had satellites going through them and 3 rejected as over 2.3 FWHM. Got a reflection on Alnitak but who doesn't.

4.6 deg wide field

67 x 70
25 darks
25 Bias
25 Flats

T3i Canon Modified
WhiteCat51mm F4.9
iOptron Sky Pro unguided
Bortal 4-5

Attached Thumbnails

  • M42HH_2_lin_a_final_rd==.jpg

Edited by scadvice, 28 December 2019 - 08:15 PM.


#36 scadvice

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Posted 28 December 2019 - 08:12 PM

I got that Neewer tripod head, but don't see how to unlock it after reading the (very poor English) manual.  How do you unlock it to rotate it manually?

Domer, did you figure the Neewer head out? I had to play around with mine a little to get the friction just right and the center  Flat head 1/4 - 20 screw had loosened up a few times so I'm getting a longer screw that will stick out through the bottom so I can add a locking nut on the end to prevent that. However, now that I've gotten used to it I'm not prone to trying to move that axis without loosening the set knob. So the longer screw will just be for avoidance of the problem in the field if I happen to forget to. 



#37 Domer

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Posted 28 December 2019 - 09:17 PM

Domer, did you figure the Neewer head out? I had to play around with mine a little to get the friction just right and the center  Flat head 1/4 - 20 screw had loosened up a few times so I'm getting a longer screw that will stick out through the bottom so I can add a locking nut on the end to prevent that. However, now that I've gotten used to it I'm not prone to trying to move that axis without loosening the set knob. So the longer screw will just be for avoidance of the problem in the field if I happen to forget to. 

No,  I still cannot figure out how to free it up for manual rotation.  In fact, it has a few degrees of rotational play that will definitely be a problem for astrophotography.  I can't figure out how to free it up for manual rotation or how to lock it down nice and tight.

 

The other problem I just discovered is that it doesn't mount directly to the iOptron bracket.  The iOptron bracket has a 3/8" bolt while the Neewer needs a 1/4-20 bolt.  How did you mount yours?

 

I'm starting to think I need a different solution for this - a rotational mount that mates directly with the iOptron and has a standard 1/4-20 bolt to mate with the camera.  Any suggestions?



#38 Domer

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Posted 29 December 2019 - 11:20 AM

I think I see how to mount this to my tripod - just remove the 1/4-20 screw adapter, right?  

 

But I still can't see how to manually turn the head.  The manual says not to do that.

 

Also, the head has a lot of rotational play in it - far too much for astrophotography.  Check out this video:

 

https://photos.app.g...S25igrrgbtcWRY6

 

I'm thinking I'll have to return this product and go with something else.



#39 Cfreerksen

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Posted 29 December 2019 - 01:14 PM

I think I see how to mount this to my tripod - just remove the 1/4-20 screw adapter, right?  

 

But I still can't see how to manually turn the head.  The manual says not to do that.

 

Also, the head has a lot of rotational play in it - far too much for astrophotography.  Check out this video:

 

https://photos.app.g...S25igrrgbtcWRY6

 

I'm thinking I'll have to return this product and go with something else.

You ordered the wrong thing. That is a motorized base for doing time lapse panorama shots. You need something like this.

 

https://www.amazon.c...77643097&sr=8-2

 

or this

 

https://www.amazon.c...GW20NRNCZ7RMW8R

 

Chris


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#40 Domer

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Posted 29 December 2019 - 01:23 PM

You ordered the wrong thing. That is a motorized base for doing time lapse panorama shots. You need something like this.

 

https://www.amazon.c...77643097&sr=8-2

 

or this

 

https://www.amazon.c...GW20NRNCZ7RMW8R

 

Chris

Thanks, Chris.  I had already ordered the second one earlier this morning, so I'm glad to know I picked the right thing.  I'll send the other one back.


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#41 Cfreerksen

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Posted 29 December 2019 - 01:27 PM

Thanks, Chris.  I had already ordered the second one earlier this morning, so I'm glad to know I picked the right thing.  I'll send the other one back.

Nice, here is a pic of the latest configuration of the SkyGuider Pro. Just need some clear skies to put it to the test.

 

Chris

Attached Thumbnails

  • SGPmodified.jpg

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#42 Domer

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Posted 29 December 2019 - 01:33 PM

Nice, here is a pic of the latest configuration of the SkyGuider Pro. Just need some clear skies to put it to the test.

 

Chris

Nice rig - what is the devise you use to attach the ZWO guider? I need something like that as well.  I have a super powerful laser I bought when I was in Shanghai a few years ago that I was going to try to attach to my mount, but if there is something available that has a built-in laser along with a mount for the ZWO guide scope, that would be even better.



#43 Cfreerksen

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Posted 29 December 2019 - 02:07 PM

Nice rig - what is the devise you use to attach the ZWO guider? I need something like that as well.  I have a super powerful laser I bought when I was in Shanghai a few years ago that I was going to try to attach to my mount, but if there is something available that has a built-in laser along with a mount for the ZWO guide scope, that would be even better.

It's a Vixen style rail from my Edge8 SCT scope. I upgraded to D series(wider) rails for the SCT. The Dec mount on the SGP I got was a Vixen width clamp (some are Arca-Swiss) so I used the old V rail. The ZWO miniguide scope just has a foot mount and all I did was drill a hole in the V rail and screwed it down. The laser is just mounted to the V rail with a mount that came with the laser for a SCT. I drilled a couple more holes and threaded them and attached it to the rail also. The laser helps with finding targets. You can just look up and move it around to see where you are pointing. I just turn the camera on in live view and adjust the laser so it disappears in the middle of the camera screen. The scope has a focal length of 360mm so it's kinda difficult to point at the target when you only have 5 degrees FOV.

 

Guide scope url  https://astronomy-im...minguider-scope

 

Chris


Edited by Cfreerksen, 29 December 2019 - 02:09 PM.


#44 Cfreerksen

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Posted 29 December 2019 - 02:13 PM

You really only need the guider if you have a long focal length scope or slow lenses. The SGP tracks well enough for 60 second exposures at 360mm f6. at 90 seconds I get trailing stars. With a camera lens at f2 or so and like 150mm I would expect you could get 2 minutes plus. Plenty of exposure for dimmer targets.

 

Chris



#45 Domer

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Posted 29 December 2019 - 02:16 PM

It's a Vixen style rail from my Edge8 SCT scope. I upgraded to D series(wider) rails for the SCT. The Dec mount on the SGP I got was a Vixen width clamp (some are Arca-Swiss) so I used the old V rail. The ZWO miniguide scope just has a foot mount and all I did was drill a hole in the V rail and screwed it down. The laser is just mounted to the V rail with a mount that came with the laser for a SCT. I drilled a couple more holes and threaded them and attached it to the rail also. The laser helps with finding targets. You can just look up and move it around to see where you are pointing. I just turn the camera on in live view and adjust the laser so it disappears in the middle of the camera screen. The scope has a focal length of 360mm so it's kinda difficult to point at the target when you only have 5 degrees FOV.

 

Guide scope url  https://astronomy-im...minguider-scope

 

Chris

Thanks again.  I have the ZWO mini-scope and 30mm camera and am trying to decide whether to mount it under the camera lens as you have done or on the hot shoe.  I'll have to play around and see what works best.

 

I suppose I'll just get some spring clamps and mount those to my Vixen rail, then snap in my laser pointer.

 

I didn't realize that configuring a rig required so many custom modifications, but I guess that's part of the fun...



#46 scadvice

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Posted 29 December 2019 - 03:01 PM

Mine it turns out is the WLPREOE.  When I bought the used SkyTracker they listed it as a Neewer. That was why I posted that link. For some reason the link defaulted to the electric one and placed the manual one as a second option. My Bad.

 

I suggest getting this one the second one that Chris mentioned. Ahh...I see you did so what I wrote below will be helpful.

 

https://www.amazon.c...77643097&sr=8-2

 

The WLPREOE works well once I got use to using it. Here are few things that I did.

 

I bought 1/4 -20 x 1.00 Flat head screw and a fender washer. (Note I will replacing the 1/4 - 20 x 1.00 with a 1.5 long screw so I can add a locking nut to the farside) The clamp knob will hit the platform face if mounted directly to the surface so I added the fender washer between the surfaces to raise up the knob up just a little.

 

Also you will want to flip the T counterweight arm and mount bracket so that the long arm is your mounting surface for the scope or the long knob will bump into the SkyTrackers body when you rotate the head (DEC)

 

Pic's below:

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Edited by scadvice, 29 December 2019 - 03:44 PM.

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#47 scadvice

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Posted 29 December 2019 - 03:08 PM

You really only need the guider if you have a long focal length scope or slow lenses. The SGP tracks well enough for 60 second exposures at 360mm f6. at 90 seconds I get trailing stars. With a camera lens at f2 or so and like 150mm I would expect you could get 2 minutes plus. Plenty of exposure for dimmer targets.

 

Chris

I have a PoleMaster that I use on my big rig. I made an adapter so I can move it over to this little set-up. So far I've been able to track at 90 sec.. Next time out I'll try to remember to do some 2 min test. 

 

Just to be clear I'm imaging at a max of 250mm with the camera 28 to 135 and a WhiteCat51mm f4.9  (250mm).


Edited by scadvice, 29 December 2019 - 03:14 PM.


#48 chanrobi

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Posted 23 April 2020 - 04:14 PM

Maybe I'm missing the problem your talking about but I seem to get the best balance using a little longer Vixen rail so I can slid the camera and lens to the fore and aft balance point. I use a pencil to find the balance then mount it and RA balance. 

What tripod is that? 

It looks super beefy!!



#49 scadvice

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Posted 23 April 2020 - 06:02 PM

What tripod is that? 

It looks super beefy!!

I found it years back at a garage or 2nd hand store. I don't recall which. It's a Davis and Sanford Co. Floating Head tripod and it is very beefy. They still make tripods but I couldn't find this one on their web page.

 

Steve




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