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Building my first AP Rig

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#1 BeeHive3419

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 08:42 PM

Hi all,

 

I'm currently planning on building my first AP rig. I already have a ZWO ASI294MC camera, so I'll like to pair a decent telescope. Also, I'll like to set it up in my backyard and operate it from inside my house as well as take it to dark sky locations. My buget is between $6000-$8000. Here is a list of the components that may work for this build. Please tell me what you think and if this list needs to be modified.

 

Scope: Stellarvue SVX080T-3SV Premier Apochromatic Triplet Refractor ~ $1995

 

Focuser: Moonlite CFL 2.5" crayford with high res stepper motor and mini V2 controller ~ $785

 

Mount: CEM60EC with the Tri-Pier ~ $4500

 

Guider: Stellarvue F50 50mm Guidescope ~ $150

             ZWO ASI174MM Mini Monochrome ~ $499

 

Last: QHY PoleMaster Electronic Polar Scope with mount adapter ~ $299



#2 pinnacle90

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 08:54 PM

Honestly looks like a very nice setup. My only suggestion is since you plan on using a guidescope, I'd atleast give SharpCap Pro a try for PA before I bought the PoleMaster. I had planned on the PM as well in the beginning until I gave SC a go. Much cheaper and it has worked great for me.


Edited by pinnacle90, 25 January 2020 - 08:54 PM.


#3 nofxrx

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 09:16 PM

That's a very nice setup.
Why the 174mm for guiding? I think the 178 or 290 would make better guide cameras for this wide field setup and 50mm guider, but i could be wrong. I went with the 120 mini for my wife field 50mm guider.
Also, why not get the iPolar since you will have iOptron mount..?

The mount should be plenty for many years and scope upgrades. So good on you for getting this in advance.
Good luck

#4 BeeHive3419

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 09:44 PM

nofxrx,

 

Yes, you are right. The 290 is a much better choice for this setup, and it's two hundred cheaper. Thanks for you input!!



#5 Stelios

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 09:47 PM

The SVX series scopes have wonderful focusers. Rather than getting a Moonlite, you should just get the Feathertouch or Optec autofocus for it, or, if you don't feel ashamed to save money, do as I did and buy the Rigelsys autofocus which works great with the default focuser.

 

You do NOT need the ASI174MM-mini, wonderful though it is, unless you will use an OAG. An OAG would be fine for this scope, but is by no means needed. Also the 174mm requires a large prism OAG to fully illuminate its sensor (it does work with a small prism though). For a guidescope, the ASI120MM-mini is more than fine.

 

You do NOT need the polar scope. You can do Sharpcap PA through the main camera if you use the reducer (assuming you get an OAG) or by using the polar scope.

 

You should get both the reducer *and* a flattener from Stellarvue, so you can use the scope at F/6 and F/4.8. You should also probably get their riser blocks and a Losmandy (D-type) dovetail.


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#6 BeeHive3419

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 09:57 PM

Honestly looks like a very nice setup. My only suggestion is since you plan on using a guidescope, I'd atleast give SharpCap Pro a try for PA before I bought the PoleMaster. I had planned on the PM as well in the beginning until I gave SC a go. Much cheaper and it has worked great for me.

 

 

That's a very nice setup.
Why the 174mm for guiding? I think the 178 or 290 would make better guide cameras for this wide field setup and 50mm guider, but i could be wrong. I went with the 120 mini for my wife field 50mm guider.
Also, why not get the iPolar since you will have iOptron mount..?

The mount should be plenty for many years and scope upgrades. So good on you for getting this in advance.
Good luck

I didn't do too much research on pole alignment devices. I will have to look into all three Polemaster, sharpcap and iPolar. I don't mind spending some cash on a device as long as I'm able to nail the polar alignment with reasonable effort. From the three above options, which would you choose keeping in mind accuracy and effort?



#7 Stelios

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 10:05 PM

I didn't do too much research on pole alignment devices. I will have to look into all three Polemaster, sharpcap and iPolar. I don't mind spending some cash on a device as long as I'm able to nail the polar alignment with reasonable effort. From the three above options, which would you choose keeping in mind accuracy and effort?

Sharpcap Pro is best. I have compared Polemaster (which I own) and Sharpcap and Sharpcap wins both in ease of use and in accuracy. The iPolar is simply iOptron's version of Polemaster. 

 

Sharpcap Pro costs $13/year. You would have to live a long time and pay very low interest rates to beat it. And if you have multiple mounts you don't need to lug PM to each one or pay for an iPolar for each one.



#8 mohitk

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 10:08 PM

Some more things to consider:

 

How to attach that guidescope to telescope - guide scope rings and rail.

How to attach the telescope to mount - I got riser blocks for my SV70T, and a Losmandy rail.

Software for planning/planetarium, polar alignment, image acquisition/session management, post processing, etc.

Hardware for the above software (laptop ? mini pc ? PrimaLucie Eagle ? ASI Air ? etc).

Is dew formation a problem ?

Power solution for when you are in the field.

Extra cables for when you are in the field.

A USB hub at the telescope to make wiring easier ?

A power distribution hub at the telescope to make wiring easier ?

Storage/transportation cases ?

The list goes on and on and on......! :-)



#9 bobzeq25

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 10:55 PM

Hi all,

 

I'm currently planning on building my first AP rig. I already have a ZWO ASI294MC camera, so I'll like to pair a decent telescope. Also, I'll like to set it up in my backyard and operate it from inside my house as well as take it to dark sky locations. My buget is between $6000-$8000. Here is a list of the components that may work for this build. Please tell me what you think and if this list needs to be modified.

 

Scope: Stellarvue SVX080T-3SV Premier Apochromatic Triplet Refractor ~ $1995

 

Focuser: Moonlite CFL 2.5" crayford with high res stepper motor and mini V2 controller ~ $785

 

Mount: CEM60EC with the Tri-Pier ~ $4500

 

Guider: Stellarvue F50 50mm Guidescope ~ $150

             ZWO ASI174MM Mini Monochrome ~ $499

 

Last: QHY PoleMaster Electronic Polar Scope with mount adapter ~ $299

Honestly, that's a great setup, as is.  Experienced imagers here will tweak it according to their personal taste, but it's fine as is.

 

That said, here's this experienced imagers tweaks.  <grin>

 

If you're going to guide (and you should) there's little advantage to the EC version.  Certainly not $2000 worth. 

 

I use a 174 to guide.  It's a nice luxury.   Many suitable guidestars in the most star poor regions.  You can also use it to take very nice images of the Moon.  Like this.

 

https://www.astrobin.com/328429/

 

If you ever get an off axis guider, it works well for that.  "Future-proof".

 

The Polemaster (or, significantly moreso, an iOptron iPolar) is silly easy.  At your budget, why not?  Any of these are "good enough" for any imaging, performance is not an issue.

 

The comment about mounting the guidescope very solidly is important.  This guy has everything you could possibly need.

 

https://www.admaccessories.com/

 

I've saved the best for last.  <smile>  This book will be extremely useful, my copy is well worn.

 

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


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#10 BeeHive3419

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 11:27 PM

The SVX series scopes have wonderful focusers. Rather than getting a Moonlite, you should just get the Feathertouch or Optec autofocus for it, or, if you don't feel ashamed to save money, do as I did and buy the Rigelsys autofocus which works great with the default focuser.

 

You do NOT need the ASI174MM-mini, wonderful though it is, unless you will use an OAG. An OAG would be fine for this scope, but is by no means needed. Also the 174mm requires a large prism OAG to fully illuminate its sensor (it does work with a small prism though). For a guidescope, the ASI120MM-mini is more than fine.

 

You do NOT need the polar scope. You can do Sharpcap PA through the main camera if you use the reducer (assuming you get an OAG) or by using the polar scope.

 

You should get both the reducer *and* a flattener from Stellarvue, so you can use the scope at F/6 and F/4.8. You should also probably get their riser blocks and a Losmandy (D-type) dovetail.

I just look into the Optec focuser. It looks like I'll have to purchase the motor(#19778) and the controller(#19690) package at around $625. It will save about $160 compared to the moonlite as well as it's lighter in weight. Does it performance equal or exceed the moonlite?

 

I agree that the ASI120MM-mini will work just fine on this rig.

 

I'll drop the polemaster from the list and use the Sharpcap software.

 

I didn't put it on the list, but the SVX080T-3SV come with a flattener. The resolution is 1.99"/pixel on my current camera using just the flattener. If I use the reducer/flattener, the resolution wouldn't be as desirable.



#11 BeeHive3419

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Posted 26 January 2020 - 12:09 AM

Some more things to consider:

 

How to attach that guidescope to telescope - guide scope rings and rail.

How to attach the telescope to mount - I got riser blocks for my SV70T, and a Losmandy rail.

Software for planning/planetarium, polar alignment, image acquisition/session management, post processing, etc.

Hardware for the above software (laptop ? mini pc ? PrimaLucie Eagle ? ASI Air ? etc).

Is dew formation a problem ?

Power solution for when you are in the field.

Extra cables for when you are in the field.

A USB hub at the telescope to make wiring easier ?

A power distribution hub at the telescope to make wiring easier ?

Storage/transportation cases ?

The list goes on and on and on......! :-)

I plan on getting the 13" long Losmandy-Style Dovetail Rail and R76LV Guidescope rings for the guide scope.

 

The scope comes with risers and a Losmandy-sized mounting rail. It's a beautiful scope! Check it out:

https://www.stellarv...plet-refractor/

 

You brought up so much more as things to consider. I did purchase a microsoft surface pro 

for this rig. I'm not sure how I'm going to use it on this rig yet. Maybe use it with the ASI air or a mini pc. What do you suggest?

 

I do have a cheap deep cycle battery and a cheap inverter that will need to be upgraded at some point. I did get a smart charger for the battery though. NOCO Genius G4 6V/12V 4.4 Amp 4-Bank Battery Charger and Maintainer

 

I haven't focused on the smaller components and software yet. I'm thinking to gather the large items first which will narrow down my exact needs for cable, software, and such. 


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#12 BeeHive3419

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Posted 26 January 2020 - 12:26 AM

Honestly, that's a great setup, as is.  Experienced imagers here will tweak it according to their personal taste, but it's fine as is.

 

That said, here's this experienced imagers tweaks.  <grin>

 

If you're going to guide (and you should) there's little advantage to the EC version.  Certainly not $2000 worth. 

 

I use a 174 to guide.  It's a nice luxury.   Many suitable guidestars in the most star poor regions.  You can also use it to take very nice images of the Moon.  Like this.

 

https://www.astrobin.com/328429/

 

If you ever get an off axis guider, it works well for that.  "Future-proof".

 

The Polemaster (or, significantly moreso, an iOptron iPolar) is silly easy.  At your budget, why not?  Any of these are "good enough" for any imaging, performance is not an issue.

 

The comment about mounting the guidescope very solidly is important.  This guy has everything you could possibly need.

 

https://www.admaccessories.com/

 

I've saved the best for last.  <smile>  This book will be extremely useful, my copy is well worn.

 

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

Do you think it will be best to get the CEM60 without the EC given I use the guide scope? That will save a huge chuck of cash, and I can apply that somewhere else. If I do go with the CEM60, should I pair it with the 2" tripod or the Tri-pier?

 

Maybe I can drop the CEM60/CEM60EC altogether and get a different mount for around $4000. At the $4000 price point, what other mount should I consider?



#13 mohitk

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Posted 26 January 2020 - 12:28 AM

Replies below in bold:

 

I plan on getting the 13" long Losmandy-Style Dovetail Rail and R76LV Guidescope rings for the guide scope.

 

I have those exact same things on my SV70T. Great!

 

The scope comes with risers and a Losmandy-sized mounting rail. It's a beautiful scope! Check it out:

https://www.stellarv...plet-refractor/

 

Sweet! You will really enjoy this scope!

 

You brought up so much more as things to consider. I did purchase a microsoft surface pro 

for this rig. I'm not sure how I'm going to use it on this rig yet. Maybe use it with the ASI air or a mini pc. What do you suggest?

 

I have a laptop myself, so someone with a surface pro can probably give you a better answer with their personal experiences. I just bought a cheap laptop from the Dell auction site - for acquisition, it doesn't have to be top of the line. I did get Window 10 Pro. But you might also want to think about what you want to use for processing your data, because for that something bigger/badder will definitely help (in terms of CPU and RAM).

 

I do have a cheap deep cycle battery and a cheap inverter that will need to be upgraded at some point. I did get a smart charger for the battery though. NOCO Genius G4 6V/12V 4.4 Amp 4-Bank Battery Charger and Maintainer

 

When you are out and about in the field, you will have to figure out how much power you are going to utilize. Add up all the requirements for each of your components per hour, and make sure you have power for enough hours you anticipate running your rig for that entire weekend. There are tons of discussions on this aspect alone on these forums.

 

I haven't focused on the smaller components and software yet. I'm thinking to gather the large items first which will narrow down my exact needs for cable, software, and such. 

 

You are on the right track, and you have a lot of support here on the forums when you need it!



#14 SilverLitz

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Posted 26 January 2020 - 08:52 AM

Good choices, but from what I have heard the extra $$$$ for EC on the CEM60 is not worth it, just user a guidescope/cam.

 

For the scope, also consider the SW Esprit 100 ($2500, $2200 sale; with FF and extras).  The Esprit is gives 20mm more aperture, but uses it more for speed than FL, 550mm and f/5.5 native.  You can add a 0.75x FR/FF (TSAPORED075 or Riccardi) for 413mm and f/4.13.

 

Your scope and mount decisions are very close to mine, my decision came down to either CEM60 or G11, and with a NEAF Demo special, I went for the ES/Losmandy G11.  I was looking at ~80mm scopes right before I got hit by a car, and the scope on the top of the list was the SVX080T-3SV (or what they called it before name changes), but after 3mos of hospitals/rehab, SV raised the price $300 and replaced the FR/FF with a FF.  I re-accessed and got an opportunity for the Esprit 100 for a little more, and later got the TSAPORED075  FR/FF.

 

You will be fine either way. 



#15 nimitz69

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Posted 26 January 2020 - 09:07 AM

Don’t buy a pole master.  Get SharpCap Pro ($15/yr subscription) and use the guidescope & camera you already have to do PA via SharpCap & save yourself $300.  The SV has a nice forcuser so so you don’t need to speed $800 upgrading it either.



#16 bobzeq25

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Posted 26 January 2020 - 10:43 AM

Do you think it will be best to get the CEM60 without the EC given I use the guide scope? That will save a huge chuck of cash, and I can apply that somewhere else. If I do go with the CEM60, should I pair it with the 2" tripod or the Tri-pier?

 

Maybe I can drop the CEM60/CEM60EC altogether and get a different mount for around $4000. At the $4000 price point, what other mount should I consider?

That's what I did (got the non-EC), after some thought.  I have the 2" tripod and the (discontinued) 54" portable pier.  The portable pier (comparable to the tri-pier) is significantly better.  I only use the 2" tripod fully collapsed.  Bottom line - get the Tri-Pier.

 

There are surprisingly few mounts between $3000 and $5000+.  The obvious one is the Losmandy G11.   A nice mount that people like, there are variants.  For me, it was not a choice, the old man with the bum leg needed the light weight of the CEM-60.  I'm really not sure how much better the G11 is, it has its proponents here.  As does the CEM60 <smile>.   You wouldn't go wrong with either one, personal choice.



#17 ChrisWhite

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Posted 26 January 2020 - 01:30 PM

As mentioned, but worth mentioning again. 

 

-Get the optec motor mod for the SV focuser.  It's as good as the moonlite.  Actually the step resolution is even smaller IIRC.  It's a great little unit. 

 

-If you plan to guide, just stick with the standard CEM60.  There is a monster thread in "mounts" where issues with the CEM60-EC have been discussed ad nauseam.  It looks like there is hope that iOptron has fixed the issues with guiding the encoder mount, but I certainly wouldn't trust it just yet.  The CEM60 is a great mount and guides very well.  I guide mine at 2350mm FL at total RMS between 0.4"/px and 0.6"/px.  There really are not too many mount choices in the $4k range.  I dont think you get much more in this price range than the CEM60.  Next step up would be a MyT. 

 

-I would definitely get the TriPier.  It's a very nice stable setup.  I have one under a CEM60 and another under a Mach1. 



#18 BeeHive3419

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Posted 26 January 2020 - 11:14 PM

Thanks for all your input. This is where I'm at this point with your help with my build. 

 

Scope: Stellarvue SVX080T-3SV Premier Apochromatic Triplet Refractor ~ $1995

 

Focuser: optec motor mod for the SV focuser ~ $625

 

Mount: CEM60 with the Tri-Pier ~ $2800

 

Guider: Stellarvue F50 50mm Guidescope ~ $150

             ASI120MM Mini Monochrome ~ $149

 

Pole alignment software: SharpCap ~ $13/year

 

With the savings of around $2500 maybe I should look at a better scope. ;) 



#19 bobzeq25

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Posted 27 January 2020 - 01:27 AM

Thanks for all your input. This is where I'm at this point with your help with my build. 

 

Scope: Stellarvue SVX080T-3SV Premier Apochromatic Triplet Refractor ~ $1995

 

Focuser: optec motor mod for the SV focuser ~ $625

 

Mount: CEM60 with the Tri-Pier ~ $2800

 

Guider: Stellarvue F50 50mm Guidescope ~ $150

             ASI120MM Mini Monochrome ~ $149

 

Pole alignment software: SharpCap ~ $13/year

 

With the savings of around $2500 maybe I should look at a better scope. wink.gif

I assume the emoji means you're kidding?  If not, one piece of advice.  For learning AP of DSOs, a bigger scope is not better.

 

You have a fine setup for learning with.  It quite likely will be a more complicated thing to learn than you now think.   Here's my favorite saying about that.

 

"Dustin Johnson's clubs will not put you on the PGA tour."  <grin>


Edited by bobzeq25, 27 January 2020 - 01:28 AM.


#20 ChrisWhite

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Posted 27 January 2020 - 06:12 AM

Thanks for all your input. This is where I'm at this point with your help with my build. 

 

Scope: Stellarvue SVX080T-3SV Premier Apochromatic Triplet Refractor ~ $1995

 

Focuser: optec motor mod for the SV focuser ~ $625

 

Mount: CEM60 with the Tri-Pier ~ $2800

 

Guider: Stellarvue F50 50mm Guidescope ~ $150

             ASI120MM Mini Monochrome ~ $149

 

Pole alignment software: SharpCap ~ $13/year

 

With the savings of around $2500 maybe I should look at a better scope. wink.gif

Since it's your money we are spending, stick with the 290 over the 120.  Inevitably, when you upgrade to an off axis guider, the 290 is a much better choice for guidecamera. 



#21 dhaval

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Posted 27 January 2020 - 10:08 AM

Hmmmm....I think you've been swayed in to getting a new iOptron CEM60 - and it does sound like a very good mount by all accounts (I haven't used it, so won't comment on it) - but if you were ready to spend that kind of money and with the savings that you're getting from using SharpCap and a cheaper guide camera - have you considered getting a used Mach1 or a MyT? That may very well become your only mount..just saying.

 

CS!


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