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New to EAA. Need help with setup. Alternative to RI2?

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#1 paulgo12

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Posted 25 March 2020 - 01:52 AM

Hello. I've been a strict visual observer for some time but I'm interested in dabbling with EAA since I have bad light pollution in my current place. I don't want to spend big bucks in case I find that EAA is not for me, so I would like to ask for your advice. 

I'm currently interested with Revolution Imager R2 and been reading a lot about it. I came across some people who recommend that buying a separate camera and a windows tablet would be a better choice. I do have a laptop BUT I don't like lugging it around due to size. A tablet seems appropriate for my needs.

Can anyone recommend a setup (camera, tablet)? Thing is, budget must be around the same as RI2, so about $300.

- Is RisingCam IMX224 any good? I'll be using mostly an ST-80 for portability (I also do a monthly outreach). I'll be using Sharpcap live stacking.

- How about this tablet/mini-pc?

Thanks!


Edited by paulgo12, 25 March 2020 - 02:58 AM.


#2 cmooney91

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Posted 25 March 2020 - 07:57 AM

I started with the RT224, it is a fanatic value.

 

You can order it with "option H" which will include a CS mount for a wider range of fast CCTV lenses. 

 

I started off using the camera with a 25mm f.l. f1.4 lens on a stationary tripod. Super fun and easy to learn.

 

That tablet looks a little iffy, there are some Z8350 4GB  win10 tablets in the $175-$225 range, that would probably be the minimum spec for comfortable live stacking  with the RT224.  A N4100 8GB tablet ($250-$300)would be more comfortable but it would stretch the combined budget 


Edited by cmooney91, 25 March 2020 - 07:57 AM.


#3 GaryShaw

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Posted 25 March 2020 - 08:06 AM

Hi Paul

Others here will offer all kinds of detailed suggestions on gear and how incredible EAA is as way to actually see things like the old days of dark skies...really, it’s totally true. I cannot imagine you not being thrilled to discover what it offers.

I’ll keep my advice simple and to the main points- at least as I see them after just over 1 year of EAA now.

 

1. EAA is all about observing- not imaging. Given what you mentioned in your post, you’re an observer not a photographer so EAA is the right direction for you. Even so, the images you’ll see on the screen will amaze you as you study the object. You may want to capture an image or two as an observation record.

 

2. I feel that I wasted my first 6 months struggling with the Revolution Imager-although others have done fine with it. I urge you to step past the RI2 and instead get a decent cmos camera right away. There are decent options in the 200-300 range but bear in mind that if you go too low in cost/quality, you risk missing the amazing potential for being blown away by the things you can see. You need decent gear.
 

3. See what others who have tried tablets have to say about them. From what I’ve read here, some are workable but those are not much less expensive than a decent i5 laptop which is far, far better for managing the software (Sharpcap 3.3 Pro mainly) and the data flow associated with large 6-12 megapixel images being stacked every 4-12 seconds. You’ll want (need?) usb 3 for most modern cameras by the way. But you should start by investing in the most important thing, a decent camera, and put up with your current laptop until you get your feet wet and know a bit about what you’re doing, how EAA works and what’s really important.
 

4. I can’t tell from your signature what you have for a mount but you’ll need only a decent goto AZ mount- no need to invest the cash and time in an EQ Mount. Sharpcap’s stacking will align the stars and stack them for you - bypassing minor tracking errors and field rotation higher up. 
 

Lastly, if you haven’t already discovered them, there are tons of topic posts in CN with an incredible amount of good guidance on getting started in EAA. Find them and read as many of them as you can to get a clear picture of where you’re heading. Post specific questions here on anything you’re not clear on and folks with bend over backwards to help you.

 

enjoy the journey!

Gary 



#4 tgrlx200

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Posted 25 March 2020 - 01:43 PM

I currently have a ZWO224, which is the 1st camera I have used. I believe it is a great starter camera. One of the scopes I have is an ST80, which will work well with wide field views. You may need to use the ROI settings to get closeups of objects. I have not used the Rising Cam IMX224 but it is my understanding that they are very similar camera's. The ZWO224 is very easy to use with Sharpcap. My biggest learning curve has been with learning to adjust the histogram in Sharpcap. Once you figure that out it is a breeze. I have a mini computer with 4G of RAM and a 64G hard drive, which I believe is the minimum you can use. I have had my computer freeze up on occasion and have to reboot it. I think you will be amazed at how much more you can see. I did some observing sessions, where I invited friends over, and I would show them a number of objects with the eyepiece and then again with the camera. Everyone was always blown away with how much more detail is seen with the camera. Also I have been able to see a lot of objects that were not visible in the eyepiece when I hooked up the camera. I would check the classifieds to see if you can find a used camera. Also if need be, I would use the laptop until you can save up for a better tablet. That way you don't have more money than you can afford invested while you work the bugs out. smile.gif

Edited by tgrlx200, 25 March 2020 - 01:46 PM.


#5 paulgo12

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Posted 25 March 2020 - 10:59 PM

Thanks for the answers! Ok, so maybe I'll just forego the tablet route for now. I may just use the bulky laptop for now and focus on the camera. Are there anly less expensive alternative to ZWO224 like the RT224? There is also a RT224 version with USB 3. Will that work as an alternative? Here's the item. (Please note that buying a ZWO from the US will add more to cost of shipping vs. the RT224 which will ship free to my country)

 

Edit: I just found out that Aliexpress also carries ZWO asi224mc. I guess I'll save up for that one instead. I'll admit I'm a bit apprehensive with the RI2 that's why I asked about alternative IMX224 cameras. 

Thanks everyone!


Edited by paulgo12, 26 March 2020 - 12:13 AM.


#6 GaryShaw

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 08:18 AM

Paul

I don’t believe the RT cameras work with Sharpcap which seems to be the gold standard in this forum for stacking and EAA observing. I’m sure RT has their own software for this which may be fine. I know nothing about it and only very rarely see it mentioned here...not sure why. Check and see if the RT folks have a forum like this where you can get help and advice. If there’s not a vibrant RT user community forum, I’d suggest you stay with ZWO cameras or some brand that is natively supported by Sharpcap. 
Gary



#7 tgrlx200

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 02:21 PM

Not sure what you be observing but I believe the USB3 is only benifitial when you observe planets and unless you take video of the planets and stack them with Autostakkert or a similar program, I find planets look better in the eyep

#8 GaryShaw

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 02:54 PM

Many cameras only have usb3 receptors and include usb3 cable with the camera. Hi res 10-16 mb image files every 2+ sec exposure drives the need for he faster usb3 as I understand it.

#9 Gamewarden

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 05:32 PM

I have a zwo 224 camera for my Celestron 6SE. It works great and I use the USB 3 cable that comes with the camera and plug in a 30 foot USB 2 active cable to bring the images into the house where I use Sharpcap. Keep in mind you need accurate goto\'s with this camera because of its very small FOV .3 by.22 minutes. So I also have a .63 reducer but that is more money.



#10 paulgo12

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 07:17 PM

I have a GSO 1.25" .5 reducer, but I'm not sure if it will work with this setup. Anyway, I'll be using an ST80 mostly, and I think the problem will be the back focus? I need an extension tube, right?



#11 tgrlx200

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 11:28 PM

When I use my ST80 and my ZWO224, I need to pull my camera out around 1/4 inch to make it come to focus. I no longer use the stock focuser as I purchased a GSO 2 speed focusER for it. Never tried it with the stock focuser.
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#12 nic35

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 10:21 AM

fyi, the RT line of cameras do work with sharpcap, but only in ASCOM mode.  So, you lose some of the functionality that's in SC as compared to a ZWO camera which is supported "natively".

 

RT does have its "own" software RisingSky, which is rebranded Touptek' Toupsky. Similar to SC, but missing some of the bells and whistles.  Some folks prefer the  *Sky software, but I don't.  Personal preference.

 

IMO, the extra you pay to get the ZWO USB3.0 camera is worth it compared to the RT one.  If you are severely budget limited, the USB 2.0 camera is a decent starter camera.  You can always use it as a guide camera if you decide to upgrade.

 

 

 

j


Edited by nic35, 27 March 2020 - 10:27 AM.

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