Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Advice on Eq Mount for Beginner in AP

  • Please log in to reply
26 replies to this topic

#1 acassis

acassis

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 10
  • Joined: 27 Mar 2020

Posted 28 March 2020 - 02:01 AM

I am starting to venture back into AP, just a bit.  All I've ever done is rigid mount AP to this point, wide field.  I build a manual barn door tracker but I boght a 180mm lens that i hope to use for some AP on an EQ mount.  

So for the time being, I plan on using mY Nikon DSLR and my 35mm and 180mm prime lenses for AP.  Although I plan ondoing on MW shots, I could still use a rigid tripod mount.  I hope to get into it as inexpensively as possible to see how it goes before i jump down that rabbit hole.  

I am considering various star trackers vs entry level EQ mounts.  Considering I am not planning on very long focal length imaging, which is suggested?  I plan on imaging in my backyard, which is near the Phoenix area.  

Considering the star trackers do not come with tripods, how much would one really save considering the EQ mounts come with tripods to hand this load (which would be able 3 lbs for body and 180mm lens)

Ive been looking at the SkyGuider Pro, Star Adventurer, Sky Watcher eqm 35q, ioptron smarteq, celestron advanced vx, Meade LX85.....open to an afforable options.

Ive been checking the classifieds for some time, but considering the shipping and PP fees, i havent really seen any good deals either.

 

Thanks!



#2 sg6

sg6

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 7,664
  • Joined: 14 Feb 2010
  • Loc: Norfolk, UK.

Posted 28 March 2020 - 03:02 AM

I have the opinion that you may as well get an equitorial mount/head. Just on the basis that eventually that is what you will need so why divert funds at an item you will eventually put to one side. However it is rarely that simple.

 

The situation seems to be:

"I have 1500 for a good mount, so will spend 500 on a starguider type mount and leave only 1000."

 

Small Eq mounts are not overly inexpensive, neither are most small. My EQ5 head is a fair lump. The EQ35's I have seen are small but are both new and seem not to have the market presence. So do not come up for sale used. I have not seen a small simple Eq mount, small being the key, but people add stuff so likely not viable to make.

 

With the above you have to decide where to start. For all I question the Starguider (types) then an Equatorial I can see that the route has options. To me: Get a Starguider type unit, later get a good one off purchase equitorial. Then keep both.

 

So against my preference I think these days that purchase of a Star Guider type mount, obtain images to play/practise with and learn on, then determine a good Eq mount for future use appears the way to go.

 

If you keep the Starg Guider thing then you have a small unit for vacations and hopefully a quick set up.

 

If you purchased one then be aware that they are RA driven only - not a great problem - but the idea that they can be guided is questionable, there is no Dec motor for guiding. So guiding is not realistic.

 

I suppose the other question is how much smaller are they?

Have you looked at the WO site as they at times do packages.


  • ks__observer likes this

#3 BQ Octantis

BQ Octantis

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,362
  • Joined: 29 Apr 2017
  • Loc: Red Centre, Oz

Posted 28 March 2020 - 03:25 AM

Not sure why the EQ1 never comes up as an option. It's quite simple, very portable, and extremely affordable. I own the slightly beefier EQ2; while camping last September, I captured this view of the Milky Way core transiting zenith at 8mm atop it with 60 second subs—after 1 hour 24 minutes of RA tracking, I had 4.7 pixels of RA offset and 2.3 pixels of DEC offset (5.23 pixels RMS) with zero field rotation:

 

post-273658-0-40663400-1582807973.jpg

Capture details / 1800x1200 version

 

The Orion Adventures in Astrophotography EQ1 bundle is only US$189. I highly recommend the 2.1 lb counterweight; at $45, I think it's overpriced, but compared to the prices of the options you listed, you'd still have enough leftover for another lens!

 

BQ

 

P.S. Depending on how handy you are (are you comfortable with a soldering iron?), you can hack the controller to add RA guiding…

 

https://www.cloudyni...fied/?p=8826771


Edited by BQ Octantis, 28 March 2020 - 04:45 AM.

  • boyd, Far-Out, Complexmystery and 2 others like this

#4 robbieg147

robbieg147

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 139
  • Joined: 23 Mar 2020
  • Loc: Canterbury, England

Posted 28 March 2020 - 04:45 AM

Hi i would only buy a SkyGuider type unit if your main priority was to be really portable.

 

I have a Celestron AVX which is regarded as being portable, but as said before still quite a lump! I use mine with a 700mm scope with no problems and am very pleased with it. I was amazed at the choice of mounts and scope's which were out their when I started looking around!

 

If you won't go longer than 180mm you will be able to get nice images out of most units, but for a little extra outlay a budget EQ mount will future proof you to some extent, though at some point if you get serious you will need to upgrade. 

 

Check the lenses that you plan to buy for your camera, some very well regarded ones are not great for astrophotography, some suffer terrible from coma even stopped down.



#5 RJF-Astro

RJF-Astro

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 408
  • Joined: 13 Aug 2018
  • Loc: Zeist, Netherlands

Posted 28 March 2020 - 05:45 AM

How much light pollution do you have in your backyard? Gradients can be a big issue with widefield in a light polluted area. I did some 135mm imaging recently from my backyard, but the gradients are really troublesome. I would rather use 300mm or more. Widefield is much easier from a dark site.

The thing is: I think it is important to get rewarding results to keep going with this hobby. Images with small DSOs and lots of gradients are usually not very rewarding.

#6 OhmEye

OhmEye

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 592
  • Joined: 15 Sep 2019
  • Loc: Western NY Southern Tier

Posted 28 March 2020 - 06:00 AM

I have zero experience with this myself, but it's worth being aware of as an alternative to a single-axis star tracker for a DSLR:

 

https://explorescien...ts/es-iexos-100



#7 Huangdi

Huangdi

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • Posts: 361
  • Joined: 24 Jul 2019

Posted 28 March 2020 - 06:02 AM

Usually nobody sticks with wide angle milky way shots. So I tell you this:

Either get an iExos100 for 399€, which will even let you put on scopes up to 80mm but not much more, or you go all the way for an eq6 at around 800 used or 1300 new.

Anytving in between is not worth it in my opinion.
  • TXDigiSLR likes this

#8 terry59

terry59

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 9,524
  • Joined: 18 Jul 2011
  • Loc: Colorado, USA

Posted 28 March 2020 - 06:18 AM

A SW HEQ5 or the Orion Sirius (same mount) has a very good reputation and is what I used for several years. You can use it with the hand controller and, when you are ready, you can use EQMOD with computer control instead. I would recommend moving to EQMOD as soon as possible for the ability to set mount safety limits and protect your gear

 

As long as you stay within some weight (~20 lbs total imaging package weight) and moment arm guidelines it should last indefinitely. I know there are other capable small mounts out there, I just have no experience with them

 

Good luck...


Edited by terry59, 28 March 2020 - 06:22 AM.

  • Prima Luna, Madratter and rml63 like this

#9 Madratter

Madratter

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 12,290
  • Joined: 14 Jan 2013

Posted 28 March 2020 - 08:25 AM

If you are going to ever go beyond using a camera lens, then I strongly recommend getting a EQ5 at the minimum.

 

I personally don't think the AVX is a good choice for astrophotography (it is good for visual work) because of its lack of a roller bearing in the DEC axis and its propensity to backlash and stiction in the DEC axis.

 

I would also recommend finding a mentor or a small group of mentors and following their advice rather than just taking the latest advice from the latest who knows who on cloudy nights. The problem isn't that you'll get wrong advice (although that is certainly possible). The problem is that you are likely to get advice that whipsaws you.

 

Terry is one of the people around here who I think does know what he is talking about. He is one of the small group of people that I decided to listen to when I started out 7 years ago. There are of course others around here.


  • ram812 likes this

#10 acassis

acassis

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 10
  • Joined: 27 Mar 2020

Posted 01 April 2020 - 12:33 PM

I was able to find a new Star Adventurer AStro pkg for under $200, so i went that direction. I plan to primairly use my Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 to shoot with my crop sensor Nikon.

I am curisou about autoguiding since it has that feature.  

When would autoguiding be needed?  and if so any suggestions?  I would think the added weight on the mount would have to be minimized but balanced to give adequate results.  I have only shot from a rigid tripod to this point so AP with a polar aligned RA motor is new to me.\



#11 OhmEye

OhmEye

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 592
  • Joined: 15 Sep 2019
  • Loc: Western NY Southern Tier

Posted 01 April 2020 - 01:23 PM

In my opinion autoguiding a single-axis tracker isn't worth the effort and extra weight. With 180mm you probably don't need it anyway. That said, there is benefit to dithering, if that works with ST4 guiding (I've never tried.) I've heard that unguided dithering is possible, but I don't know if it makes sense with RA only or if ST4 is even possible for it.


Edited by OhmEye, 01 April 2020 - 01:28 PM.


#12 MikiSJ

MikiSJ

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 676
  • Joined: 24 Feb 2006
  • Loc: San Jose, CA

Posted 01 April 2020 - 01:38 PM

Not sure why the EQ1 never comes up as an option. It's quite simple, very portable, and extremely affordable. I own the slightly beefier EQ2; while camping last September, I captured this view of the Milky Way core transiting zenith at 8mm atop it with 60 second subs—after 1 hour 24 minutes of RA tracking, I had 4.7 pixels of RA offset and 2.3 pixels of DEC offset (5.23 pixels RMS) with zero field rotation:

 

post-273658-0-40663400-1582807973.jpg

Capture details / 1800x1200 version

That is one of the best images of the Milky Way I have ever see - congratulations on a wonderful image.



#13 BQ Octantis

BQ Octantis

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,362
  • Joined: 29 Apr 2017
  • Loc: Red Centre, Oz

Posted 02 April 2020 - 12:58 AM

That is one of the best images of the Milky Way I have ever see - congratulations on a wonderful image.

Thanks, Miki!

 

When I first saw the core in 2017, it was at zenith from a Bortle 0 site (if there were such a thing) after the moon had set. It was a very spiritual experience, and I've been obsessed with trying to capture it ever since. I felt I finally did it justice on this trip (from a Bortle 1 site in 2019). And I captured it atop nothing more than my humble azimuth-motorized EQ2 mount. In return, as the camera snapped away in the darkness, I got to see my wedding band glowing against my light-absorptive hand—lit by nothing more than light of the cosmos…

 

BQ



#14 RJF-Astro

RJF-Astro

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 408
  • Joined: 13 Aug 2018
  • Loc: Zeist, Netherlands

Posted 02 April 2020 - 01:32 AM

In my opinion autoguiding a single-axis tracker isn't worth the effort and extra weight. With 180mm you probably don't need it anyway. That said, there is benefit to dithering, if that works with ST4 guiding (I've never tried.) I've heard that unguided dithering is possible, but I don't know if it makes sense with RA only or if ST4 is even possible for it.

Is it your experience or just opinion? Because I have guided the RA-axis on my SA and have found it to make a big difference. I am talking about 340mm, but the difference is there.

 

You need to spend time on a good polar alignment to prevent too much declination drift. Although a little will have the same effect as dithering on one axis. 

 

As for dithering: this is certainly possible with st-4. You do need software which tells PHD2 to dither, such as BYEOS or APT.



#15 BQ Octantis

BQ Octantis

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,362
  • Joined: 29 Apr 2017
  • Loc: Red Centre, Oz

Posted 02 April 2020 - 01:53 AM

I was able to find a new Star Adventurer AStro pkg for under $200, so i went that direction. I plan to primairly use my Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 to shoot with my crop sensor Nikon.

I am curisou about autoguiding since it has that feature.  

When would autoguiding be needed?  and if so any suggestions?  I would think the added weight on the mount would have to be minimized but balanced to give adequate results.  I have only shot from a rigid tripod to this point so AP with a polar aligned RA motor is new to me.\

RA periodic error is most pronounced at the celestial equator, so shooting targets there would precipitate the need. But whether or not you need to guide is a function of exposure—the longer the exposure, the more likely the need. I've had good luck with 30sec subs without guiding at 200mm, but it also comes down to the mount's periodic error. I characterized that error for my EQ2—it was sinusoidal with a 14 minute period and a 129 arcsec peak-to-peak error:

 

post-273658-0-87170200-1536466018.png

 

If you shoot a series of images of a target near the celestial equator and plot your image offset, it will answer the question for your setup. Note that the DEC drift equated to 2 pixels over 14 minutes for my 200mm lens.

 

BQ



#16 Huangdi

Huangdi

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • Posts: 361
  • Joined: 24 Jul 2019

Posted 02 April 2020 - 08:00 AM

Is it your experience or just opinion? Because I have guided the RA-axis on my SA and have found it to make a big difference. I am talking about 340mm, but the difference is there.

 

You need to spend time on a good polar alignment to prevent too much declination drift. Although a little will have the same effect as dithering on one axis. 

 

As for dithering: this is certainly possible with st-4. You do need software which tells PHD2 to dither, such as BYEOS or APT.

I agree, both RA-only guiding and dithering help a tremendous amount even on a star tracker. Your stars will be tighter and the max exposure should increase by quite a bit. I used to be able to guide 2 min subs with a 10-15% toss rate and 5 min subs with a 40-50% toss rate. 5 min subs are overkill anyway though for such a small tracker, and two minutes is enough for most cameras to perform nicely.



#17 ram812

ram812

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 746
  • Joined: 10 Dec 2014
  • Loc: Grants Pass, Oregon

Posted 03 April 2020 - 12:13 AM

 All I can say is: "Be careful". You could actually get hooked, lined and sinkered! Make sure 'cause with all the stuff I bought before I got hooked, I could have invested in a really stout mount right off the bat, and if you don't already know this, mounts are the heart (IMHO) of this hobby. Period. I have no regrets, though. It IS a learning experiencegrin.gif! Costly, but it sure beats pounding the old noggin on the ground trying to figure how to make a sub par mount take a good pic. My $.02. Ralph



#18 Kendahl

Kendahl

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,595
  • Joined: 02 Feb 2013
  • Loc: Pinedale, Arizona

Posted 03 April 2020 - 02:36 AM

The problem with camera trackers is that's all they are. You can put a camera and lens on a bigger mount able to carry a telescope. It doesn't work to put a telescope on a camera tracker. The more sophisticated trackers, that have polar alignment scopes and can guide in right ascension, aren't cheap.

 

Minimum recommendation is the HEQ5 which is the same as Orion's Sirius. It's been around for a long time and has a solid reputation. Its principal limitation is its rated load capacity of 30 pounds. By the time you discount by 30% to 50%, since it's for photography rather than visual observing, and add in the weight of the camera and autoguider, there's not much capacity left for the telescope. iOptron also has a 30 pound mount.

 

The EQ6 (Orion Atlas) is a bigger, stronger version of the HEQ5. Other mounts in the same price range are Celestron's CGEM II and iOptron's CEM40 and GEM45.

 

Orion, Celestron and iOptron have mounts with even higher load capacity.

 

Buying more mount than you need makes tracking easier. Buying less mount than you need makes it impossible.



#19 RJF-Astro

RJF-Astro

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 408
  • Joined: 13 Aug 2018
  • Loc: Zeist, Netherlands

Posted 04 April 2020 - 06:21 AM

The Star Adventurer has a polar scope and RA-guiding. Are there many cheaper trackers? Anyways OP already has one. It will handle a small telescope. My estimate is up to 350mm with guiding and up to 200mm without guiding.

#20 lemonade

lemonade

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 45
  • Joined: 04 Aug 2019

Posted 04 April 2020 - 11:38 PM

I have an iOptron skyguider pro. Similar mount to the star adventurer. 3 minutes at 300mm with a crop sensor dslr is possible without guiding and by using drift alignment for an iteration or two. I suspect you could get away with more focal length and shorter exposures provided the mount is not overloaded in terms of weight. With guiding, probably even better. The limiting factor there I think is the lack of a dec motor making precise polar alignment more important even WITH guiding.



#21 RJF-Astro

RJF-Astro

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 408
  • Joined: 13 Aug 2018
  • Loc: Zeist, Netherlands

Posted 05 April 2020 - 01:07 AM

Well that, and the periodic error can be serious. Maybe there is some sample variation on PE, which can explain different experiences.

#22 lemonade

lemonade

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 45
  • Joined: 04 Aug 2019

Posted 05 April 2020 - 01:30 AM

That's very likely. I might just have a lucky unit.



#23 jewelsdean

jewelsdean

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 19
  • Joined: 16 Mar 2020
  • Loc: Utah USA

Posted 11 April 2020 - 07:34 PM

FWIW, and since you mentioned it in your initial post, I bought a Meade LX85 mount, I have mounted both an Altair StarWave ED Triplet 80mm, Astromania 60mm guidescope and an evo 9.25 SCT on it without issues, for the latter, I did have to buy an extra 10 lb weight.  It seems to track nicely and is a very solid and a heavy sturdy mount.  I've only had it out 9 or 10 nights but am well pleased with it so far.  The only issue I had is during a session the audiostar hand control would become unresponsive.  I was startled at first thinking that I was going to have to go through the process of a lengthy return and hassle but I found that my power supply at a little less than half charge, was insufficient to keep the hand control responsive so now I keep it fully charged before a session.  I am a beginner so I may not be too picky about the equipment I have (not knowing any difference) but to me this seems like a quality mount with lots of flexibility (now I'm not stuck on an Alt/Az mount with my Evolution SCT), and the price is right for someone like me who does not want to sell their left kidney for equipment.  I've used it for some simple and bright targets for Astrophotograpy (no dimmer than about 8 Mag)  Some of these photos of galaxies I did not even use an autoguider and it kept the stars clear without trails for up to 5 minute exposures.  Granted I am still gaining experience with the camera that I have, and hope to improve on many of these images as I get a few extra items such as a good narrow band filter and such.  Also, I would recommend the polar alignment scope.  Once all the dials are aligned and adjusted for polaris being exactly above the NCP, it is a breeze to accurately polar align my scope depending on the time and date.  I do like Celestron and do miss the ability to control my mount via CPWI but Meade does have a wireless AP I just can't bring myself to buy it just yet.  In comparison to the Advanced VX mount I think the Meade Lx85 beats it hands down in terms of durability.  Everything on the Meade is metal and the only plastic on the entire unit is the housing for the circuitry.  I don't own the Advanced VX but it looks very "plastic" to me.  Anyway just my two cents...   Cheers


Edited by jewelsdean, 11 April 2020 - 07:50 PM.


#24 chanrobi

chanrobi

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 20
  • Joined: 02 Sep 2019

Posted 15 May 2020 - 09:34 PM

I have the opinion that you may as well get an equitorial mount/head. Just on the basis that eventually that is what you will need so why divert funds at an item you will eventually put to one side. However it is rarely that simple.

 

The situation seems to be:

"I have 1500 for a good mount, so will spend 500 on a starguider type mount and leave only 1000."

 

Small Eq mounts are not overly inexpensive, neither are most small. My EQ5 head is a fair lump. The EQ35's I have seen are small but are both new and seem not to have the market presence. So do not come up for sale used. I have not seen a small simple Eq mount, small being the key, but people add stuff so likely not viable to make.

 

With the above you have to decide where to start. For all I question the Starguider (types) then an Equatorial I can see that the route has options. To me: Get a Starguider type unit, later get a good one off purchase equitorial. Then keep both.

 

So against my preference I think these days that purchase of a Star Guider type mount, obtain images to play/practise with and learn on, then determine a good Eq mount for future use appears the way to go.

 

If you keep the Starg Guider thing then you have a small unit for vacations and hopefully a quick set up.

 

If you purchased one then be aware that they are RA driven only - not a great problem - but the idea that they can be guided is questionable, there is no Dec motor for guiding. So guiding is not realistic.

 

I suppose the other question is how much smaller are they?

Have you looked at the WO site as they at times do packages.

 

The EQ35 is discontinued now... i'm pretty much in the same boat as the OP. I'm looking to upgarde from a Skytracker (original)... originally was considering the iexos 100, as I think eventually I want to get to guiding ...



#25 Huangdi

Huangdi

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • Posts: 361
  • Joined: 24 Jul 2019

Posted 16 May 2020 - 05:22 AM

The EQ35 is discontinued now... i'm pretty much in the same boat as the OP. I'm looking to upgarde from a Skytracker (original)... originally was considering the iexos 100, as I think eventually I want to get to guiding ...


If you limit your scope up to an ED80, the iExos100 will perform at a cheap price. If you plan on putting more than 6 ish kilos on it, just get an EQ6.


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics