The night started young. Starting a little after six, I was at the site around 8pm. All the fishermen and picnickers were leaving and by ten it was just me and another imager socially distancing, happily collecting photons on a big refractor (The one you keep asking me to buy).
Though I had practiced at home, its another matter to actually setup at side and polar align. For a first time polar alignment with iPolar, I first found it very very frustrating. I spend over 20 minutes, and the **** crosshair kept moving away from the circle.
And then I realized what I was doing. I was setting one axis, lets say altitude, and then tightning it.
I figured out the trick. First loosen both altitude and azimuth. Get your cross-hair centered and then tighten stuff up. I guess next time it will be easier.
I am glad I did this way. And guess what the only thing with which I did not struggle at all with was "Guiding". I was able to successfully guide for the first time ever
It started like this, and then magically within half a minute settled down to the second. Picture. I don't really know what all that means for EKOS internal guider, but I guess no up down means good?
But I am getting ahead of myself. The biggest problem is "Where am I". And normally for 600mm, its very easy to figure out. But I had a trick up my sleeve. Plate solving. Yay.
Struggle number one. To plate solve you should be able to see stars. Our of focus telescopes, do not see any stars. And to focus reliably you have to point to a bright star. But how do you point to a bright star if you can't find it. You get the drift right. And guess what, my scope was on the other end of the focus limit. After lots of turns and doing a binary search algorithm with my fingers, I was finally able to focus reasonably.
And then came the next shocker. The **** thing would not plate solve. It would keeps saying error, error error... I tried fixing all things I did not need to fix (exposure, focus) and wasted an hour I guess on this.
And then I realized what was happening.
You know I the mount was asking me something else, but I was saying something else. I was worried about the where, but the question was when?
You see, Raspberry Pi running stellarmate OS needs something called DS3231, which is a real time clock. Otherwise it will lie to the mount on the when, and turn itself into a time machine.
So every time I reconnected, I had to painfully set the time, and finally plate solve was happening. It was also 3am, and morning was approaching. And then I started imaging, and the application started randomly crashing. Something sony no like Stellarmate kind of stuff. I finally found a trick. "NATIVE" mode for images, and don't do too many previews and focus aid things
But i guess an entire night of setup taught me a few valuable things
- SCTs are hard for beginners and intermediate imagers, but you should get one
- Raspberry Pi systems are painful. But they are amazing too once you figure it out. Eg https://www.amazon.c...t/dp/B01M105UFC will make a lot of my problems go away. Get a R-Pi 4 + Stellarmate OS instead of going with solutions people love because you will get locked to a vendor
- GEM45 is a very spectacular mount. But does make a TaK Tak Tak Tak periodic sound, which I need to ask iOptron about. And when the guiding is struggling to get it in line, you can literally hear the whirring.
- Don't give up, even if you have a Newtonian.