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"Budget" beginner AP rig - a whole diffurnt direction...

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#1 Vinito

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 06:40 PM

Well I've decided I was hitting too many speed bumps, one step forward, two steps back, etc. I surrender.

 

I had the cheapie Meade OTA and picked up the AZ-GTI to replace the DOA Meade drive. I was pretty happy with it for a day. Then on day two, the AZ-GTI decided to just spin the RA axis indefinitely when it got a command to move. It wasn't showing any feedback on the encoder. Well, that's it - it's going back.

I figured I am probably a bit atypical compared to the average customer because I deal with sensitive and precision equipment pretty much all day long every day, so I know how to treat a little device like this without hurting it. It oughtta be more durable than to act up after just powering it up on its second day of operation. Also, not a big deal but both axes were a bit tight, which I guess is pretty typical.

So that's a two-for-two QC problem in my case. I hope everybody else is doing much better with theirs.

 

Anyway, long story short, I decided to punt and just buy something decent and see how that goes. I was attracted to Astronomics just in general as a store, so ended up buying from them. Today I ordered a little Astrotech AT72EDII OTA because I figured the little Meade would just look plain stupid on the mount I also ordered, which is an Ioptron CEM25P. I know some of you guys will still not be happy that I didn't spend 5K on a massive GEM, but I still want portability and I've read several complimentary comments about the CEM25P on this forum and it does seem pretty decent. I did consider something larger, but I really just don't want to have to lug a heavy mount around - I won't get it out of the house. I figure the CEM25P will be as heavy as I want to go and not have the weight talk me out of taking it outside for a spin.

 

It's nasty weather here anyway for a while, so I guess the week or two for both pieces to arrive won't hurt too bad. I hope this is a good start.

Gimme a couple weeks and I'll report back some kinda first impressions post.

 

 at72ed2.jpg   io.jpg


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#2 petert913

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 06:47 PM

You will do fine.  That's a great, simple set up that should perform very well.   Sorry to hear of the initial hassles !!



#3 santafe retiree

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:10 PM

Congratulations!  I think those are excellent choices.

 

I have at AT65EDQ which is a predecessor of the AT72EDII.  I have never had any complaints about it. The optics are excellent and the fit and finish is likewise really great.  The focuser is not top of the line but hey who expected otherwise.  It is certainly adequate. .

 

I owned a CEM25P for a year.  I had an ES102 FCD100 mounted on it and it always gave good results.  The huge plus, as you [pointed out, is that it is incredibly portable for the punch that it packs.  I would have kept it if I had a scope that was suitable for it but once the ES102 went away the mount was history.  I would buy it again if the need arose.

 

Good luck and I have a strong suspicion that you will be very pleased with your choices once they arrive and the requisite accompanying bad weather blows through. 

 

Regards,

 

Tom



#4 Old Man

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:13 PM

 Yes, a great setup, but now I know who to blame for all the rain/snow and bad weather moving into Indiana lol.gif



#5 bobzeq25

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:39 PM

Well I've decided I was hitting too many speed bumps, one step forward, two steps back, etc. I surrender.

 

I had the cheapie Meade OTA and picked up the AZ-GTI to replace the DOA Meade drive. I was pretty happy with it for a day. Then on day two, the AZ-GTI decided to just spin the RA axis indefinitely when it got a command to move. It wasn't showing any feedback on the encoder. Well, that's it - it's going back.

I figured I am probably a bit atypical compared to the average customer because I deal with sensitive and precision equipment pretty much all day long every day, so I know how to treat a little device like this without hurting it. It oughtta be more durable than to act up after just powering it up on its second day of operation. Also, not a big deal but both axes were a bit tight, which I guess is pretty typical.

So that's a two-for-two QC problem in my case. I hope everybody else is doing much better with theirs.

 

Anyway, long story short, I decided to punt and just buy something decent and see how that goes. I was attracted to Astronomics just in general as a store, so ended up buying from them. Today I ordered a little Astrotech AT72EDII OTA because I figured the little Meade would just look plain stupid on the mount I also ordered, which is an Ioptron CEM25P. I know some of you guys will still not be happy that I didn't spend 5K on a massive GEM, but I still want portability and I've read several complimentary comments about the CEM25P on this forum and it does seem pretty decent. I did consider something larger, but I really just don't want to have to lug a heavy mount around - I won't get it out of the house. I figure the CEM25P will be as heavy as I want to go and not have the weight talk me out of taking it outside for a spin.

 

It's nasty weather here anyway for a while, so I guess the week or two for both pieces to arrive won't hurt too bad. I hope this is a good start.

Gimme a couple weeks and I'll report back some kinda first impressions post.

 

 attachicon.gifat72ed2.jpg  attachicon.gifio.jpg

The CEM25P and the 72 make a great combination for a starter setup.

 

One thing to watch out for.  The light weight will tempt you to move the setup around assembled.  That's contradictory to the manual.  The reason is, if you bang the scope or the counterweight shaft you risk sliding the spring loaded worm over the wheel.  It's happened to others.  That can damage the worm, and require a fairly costly replacement.  It's perfectly easy to assemble everything in place, and avoid the risk.

 

Bottom line.  Read the manual before operating the mount.  It's available here, while you're waiting for delivery.  <smile>

 

http://www.ioptron.c...EM25_Manual.pdf

 

With that setup, you'll find this book very helpful.  It's a step above what I recommended before.

 

https://www.amazon.c...d/dp/0999470906

 

More reading while waiting.  It's unlikely you'll "get" everything fully without actual experience, my copy is well worn from rereading.  It's still extremely worthwhile.  It has the best explanation of processing I've ever seen, and my bookshelf is extensive.  The examples use two specific programs, but he general material applies to all processing programs.



#6 scadvice

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:41 PM

Great little setup!  Have patience and take your time learning. I started with that mount and wish I had kept it for a grab and go. 

 

Don't try too hard to get images right away learn how to polar align and set up the first nights. Play with the mount and get use to it. I spent three nights learning to use PHD2 and never regretted the time spent. 

 

Look at BackyardEOS or if you want something a little more complicate Astrophotography Tool for running the camera.



#7 Vinito

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:43 PM

Well thanks for the quick positive reinforcements.

 

 

but now I know who to blame for all the rain/snow and bad weather moving into Indiana lol.gif

Well you can blame me for last week's weather maybe since that's when I got the other stuff. But seems like since that's being returned now it should turn unexpectedly clear, yeah?

I've only just now ordered the new items, so I wouldn't expect the weather to go South until it actually arrives. There must be some other new astro toys came somewhere else in your neighborhood. It won't be my fault for at least a week I think.

 

@bobzeq25 thanks for the tips and leads. I'll definitely read through that manual. I'm glad you mentioned the idea of moving the whole assembly around. I can see why that would be tempting. I guess it's just that much easier to carry if one does it a piece at a time. Good safety tip.


Edited by Vinito, 24 January 2020 - 07:49 PM.

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#8 17.5Dob

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 07:51 PM

Excellent choices. You should get a lot of enjoyment out of it. waytogo.gif


Edited by 17.5Dob, 25 January 2020 - 02:35 PM.


#9 OldManSky

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 10:54 PM

You have chosen well :)

I really enjoyed my CEM25P.  Got lots of great images with it, with a WO ZS61 and GT71.  I only moved up to the CEM60 because I was craving a bigger payload.

That's a nice scope, too.  Make sure you get the flattener now if it's available -- you will want it, and they tend to disappear quickly!



#10 johrich

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 11:11 PM

I have both the AT72EDII and the Ioptron CEM25P, I too was concerned with weight as I have an artificial knee and arthritis.  I do not regret my choices, I have had many pleasant nights with both imaging. Now you only have to make decisions about cameras, guide scopes and software!

 

Here is an example image

:  

https://www.astrobin...406924/?nc=user

 

 

Have fun!

 

johrich



#11 Vinito

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 01:34 AM

(@OldManSky) Yeah I was gonna go ahead and order the flattener just because, but they were indeed out of stock on it today. That's OK though. Since I'm so green at this, I'm gonna be really easy to please until I start to learn how stupid I am. I called them with a couple questions and they guy I talked to suggested I try things without the flatter anyway to see if I want one first, and that makes sense to me.

Pretty sure I'll want one eventually but I'm fine with imperfection for now. I'll just keep my ear to the ground for that and see if it shows up, either that or I'll eventually pull the trigger regardless and let the backorder process play out.

 

(@johrich) First off, great image (IMO). If I can pull off stuff half as good as that, I'll have a ton of fun with this.

So far I'm still lucky enough to be physically capable of wrestling with heavier stuff. I'm mostly leaning on staying lightweight just to minimize mental resistance to setting it up on the slightest whim. This being new, I haven't been deeply infected with the bug yet and I have several other things which tend to pull my attention. I did end up picking up a decent camera already (Canon T6i/750D) based on recommendations from folks on this forum, for which I am very grateful.

The software thing is likely to take a zigzag path. Free software is very tempting, and indeed some of it is very capable as well. For instance, Gimp seems to have progressed enough that it might handle these images now instead of Photoshop. Not long ago, it had crippling limitations. We'll see I guess. I have an extremely strong aversion to anything that has a recurring cost, so that limits some of my options a little. I'd guess that I'll bang my head against one or few software choices I make before I figure out I need to surrender to established, proven titles. But who knows, I might get lucky. So yeah, some decisions to figure out.

 

I think after I get into it more deeply, it will become more difficult not to get out and play with this stuff and I might add a rig which requires more dedication just to handle. That's likely over a year or so in the future. But it seems to me this stuff is plenty capable such that I can add facets a chunk at a time and do the works with this setup anyway, i.e. autoguiding, plate solving, getting into filters, all the processing, yada, yada.

From what I can tell so far, this setup is likely to be something that I can be pretty happy to work with for quite some time. My original equipment attempt (the Meade & AZ-GTI) had a somewhat similar goal, but I figured that equipment would only satisfy me for a much shorter time span.

 

(@bobzeq25) I have been looking over the mount's manual. I'm quite pleased to discover it has several features I wasn't aware of. Bonus! Once I get my returns on the way and refund completed, I'll have credits to use to order that Bracken book, so I'll be doing that.

 

Well I'm getting better at spending money. I wonder if I'll become half as good at capturing images!


Edited by Vinito, 25 January 2020 - 02:14 AM.


#12 Stelios

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 02:38 AM

You have made a great choice. As long as you stick with such a lightweight scope, the mount you chose is aces for portability and has a fairly decent reputation. It won't carry as much weight as the Sirius, but it doesn't weigh nearly as much either. 

 

You will need a field flattener and you probably should guide for best results. A 30mm guidescope should be perfect for the short F/L. Add a Bahtinov mask and you're set until the urge to auto-focus comes along :)



#13 Vinito

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 02:58 AM

@Stelios) Thanks. I get the idea you are quite knowledgeable and experienced with this stuff, so if I can get an okeedokee from you I think I must have accidented myself into a better direction. I've been mulling it over and I think I'll probably go ahead and place the order for the flattener no later than Monday so I can get on the backorder list. I was actually considering a different OTA from them which is not in stock, but not expected to show up for several months. Hopefully the flatteners will be in sooner.

Seems like most of the guidescopes I see people using are 50 or 60mm so I'm glad you suggested a 30mm. I don't know if I would have considered that. I'll check those out, but I'll probably put that off until after I've gained just a bit of experience setting up and using this basic stuff first before I go adding guiding to the mix.

The Bahtinov mask is a good idea. Seems like something a 3D printer could handle right? I might try it anyway. Even if it doesn't really turn out great, it's dead easy and dirt cheap to give it a whirl.



#14 Vinito

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 02:29 PM

OK. Only yesterday I was perfectly fine with the wait. But since it's now the idle weekend and I'm at home, I want it all now! Maybe that's a good thing and just a sign that this AP thing is making me feel young again. lol.gif


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#15 17.5Dob

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 02:41 PM

 Yeah I was gonna go ahead and order the flattener just because, but they were indeed out of stock on it today.
 

They are perpetually out of stock. They only get a few in at a time, and most are already reserved. I finally gave up ever seeing one "in stock" and ordered a Hotech 2"  Field Flattener ( non reducer) for my AT115. It works perfectly.

 

49441485708_fdf977c8d8_b.jpg


Edited by 17.5Dob, 25 January 2020 - 10:19 PM.


#16 Vinito

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 05:02 PM

By the way, I am also thinking I'd benefit from having some kid of decent light pollution filter. Please set me straight if I'm wrong about this. Also, I'm in no burning rush for this yet.

 

I will be trying different kinds of targets since it's all new. Things like large nebula but also Andromeda and the like. I'll even try some planetary and moon even though this setup won't likely give good results, because... why not? Anyway, I would for sure like to give nebula and galaxy a whirl. With that in mind, i.e. since I have relatively wide desires, I will wait until later before looking into narrow band filters but would still like to reduce light pollution a bit. My backyard is Bortle 6 to 5 and the big city is east and south of me (basically that full half of the horizon).

 

So my questions are:

1) based on the OTA and camera I have (AT72EDII and unmodified Canon T6i / 750D), is there a preferred filter mount type to suit this? Seems like the snap-in type that goes inside the camera is kinda neat, but it really doesn't matter that much since I won't be switching filters out all that often even later if I own more to choose from. Is there an ideal distance from the sensor where a filter should be placed? Basically I'm not sure what my mounting options are for this setup, and certainly don't know what would be preferred. 

2) are there any specific filters that stand out as being effective that I should look into? I've heard that the Baader Neodymium Moon and Skyglow Filter (with IR cut?) is pretty good, especially for the money. But I'm just basing that on one positive review on this forum, so for whatever that's worth. I'm guessing there are others that work well too, but I dunno either way.

 

Again, I'm going this way for now simply because I think I would benefit from some city light filtration. But I'm not looking at any specific type of sky targets yet so just wanting to see what you folks think might be good for just cutting some of the glow down rather than looking to make certain wavelengths "pop".

 

Thanks for any advice.



#17 17.5Dob

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 05:55 PM

By the way, I am also thinking I'd benefit from having some kid of decent light pollution filter. Please set me straight if I'm wrong about this. Also, I'm in no burning rush for this yet.

 

No filter...Bortle 7+/8-...You absolutely do not need a filter, and the wrong filter shooting the wrong target does far more harm, than help.

40465965153_a036e1f6f6_b.jpg

No filter, Bortle 5
49225744717_6fedc12668_c.jpg

49440669683_448cda4287_c.jpg


Edited by 17.5Dob, 25 January 2020 - 05:56 PM.


#18 Vinito

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 06:03 PM

Wow. That's awesome! I can't imagine that those were captured with a DSLR, but still...

OK then, one less thing to worry about.



#19 17.5Dob

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 06:35 PM

Wow. ..... I can't imagine that those were captured with a DSLR, but still...

 

Why not ??   dSLRs uses the EXACT same sensors as dedicated color astrocams..... Astro cam manufacturers ' use older model dSLR chips and then charge 4 to 8 times what the original camera cost, to throw in a TEC cooler to sell to a much smaller market. Anything you can do with a color astrocam, you can do with a dSLR.

Don't about filters, don't worry about the AT FF being out of stock (get the Hotech)

Worry about getting perfect Polar alignment, worry about getting BYE installed, worry about getting to learn a good AP dedicated post processing routine, then worry about getting an autoguider. Filters are the least worry.


Edited by 17.5Dob, 25 January 2020 - 06:47 PM.


#20 bobzeq25

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 06:44 PM

Why not ??   Dedicated color astrocams uses the EXACT same sensors as consumer cameras. They just charge 4 to 8 times what the original camera cost, to throw in a TEC cooler to sell to a much smaller market. Anything you can do with a color astrocam, you can do with a dSLR.

Reasonable thought, but not quite accurate.  Cooling is a significant advantage for astro, because of the horrible signal to noise ratio.  Anything that can help that is worthwhile, cooled cameras do that in at least two ways.


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#21 Vinito

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 07:08 PM

Actually the main reason I assumed that wasn't from a DSLR was that I meant an unmodified DSLR. Seems like it would be tough to capture all that data with the stock IR filter still in place.

Plus, you still haven't outright said that it wasn't from a high-dollar (though still unfiltered) cooled CCD, so I'm gonna assume you've spent that dime and are just shrewdly holding out on the confession. wink.gif



#22 17.5Dob

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 07:09 PM

Reasonable thought, but not quite accurate.  Cooling is a significant advantage for astro, because of the horrible signal to noise ratio. 

Just as you can shoot DSO's from a white zone with no LP filters, you can shoot with an uncooled dSLR...a dSLR can do anything a cooled OSC can do...


Exhibit A: Pleiades.... shot with a humble 65mm/f6.5 and a dSLR , 2.5 hrs total....very poorly processed

I believe you have something you can compare it to using a cooled color cam and a much better OTA....


Edited by 17.5Dob, 25 January 2020 - 07:59 PM.

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#23 17.5Dob

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 07:11 PM

Actually the main reason I assumed that wasn't from a DSLR was that I meant an unmodified DSLR. Seems like it would be tough to capture all that data with the stock IR filter still in place.

Plus, you still haven't outright said that it wasn't from a high-dollar (though still unfiltered) cooled CCD, so I'm gonna assume you've spent that dime and are just shrewdly holding out on the confession. wink.gif

LOL...check my sig line....Modded D5300...$550  total for the camera and mod....


Edited by 17.5Dob, 25 January 2020 - 07:51 PM.


#24 17.5Dob

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 07:55 PM

Reasonable thought, but not quite accurate.  Cooling is a significant advantage for astro, because of the horrible signal to noise ratio.  Anything that can help that is worthwhile, cooled cameras do that in at least two ways.

In 5 yrs since getting my D5330, I had one night last summer, when I wanted a cooled cam. It was on the record setting heatwave over Labor Day weekend when it was still 90F at midnight here in Colorado.

The heat totally ruined this 90 min shot.......wink.gif

49354148986_8eeef38247_b.jpg



#25 Vinito

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Posted 26 January 2020 - 03:55 AM

(@17.5Dob) Uugh. That's awful and terrible indeed ! bow.gif Might as well punt and make mud pies instead.

 

 Hey, I ordered your Hotech. You'd better be right or I'm gonna send it to your house and you'll have clouds for a month.




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