Last weekend I tried Ekos.
My little observatory is about 250 meters from the closest shelter. Vantage is great, but spending the whole night there is a bit too chilling, especially in winter. The goal is to be able to setup the scope in the evening and let it go for a night unattended.
Saturday night was full moon, as in 100% full. Perfect night to shoot some DSO, not having any narrow band filters. I was not patient enough to remove all the funky color casts from Andromeda. But overall the image is much better than I hoped Actual imaging was done unattended. So my bottom line impression from Ekos is very positive.
One problem was Ekos guiding. I used PHD2 before. They recommend pulse guiding via the mount, so I did. And I did the same with Ekos without giving it much thought. Perhaps, ST-4 would be better. What is generally recommended? So, via the mount, it often failed on calibration when doing "DEC reverse". Like could not move enough after some iterations. I guess, it can be backlash. What are the knobs out there to play around?
When it calibrated, the guiding itself was quite poor, comparing to what I usually had before. I do not make any conclusions just yet, because there was some wind and likely my polar alignment was bad (in 3 hours the frame rotated ~3°).
Last but not least. How to make Ekos cloud resistant? I mean, when guiding fails, because of a cloud or a bump or too big tracking error, the frame may drift away quite far. Eventually the guider picks up some new star and continues happily. PHD2 does that too; a couple of times I collected like 3 hours of good data of boring star field instead of a beautiful nebula I foresaw this problem and googled out a workaround. Schedule an infinitely repeated job of just a few images. Even if it drifts away once, soon it will re-align again. Is there a more elegant and easy to setup method? I am not even sure what is the right thing for Ekos to do in such case. Perhaps, the guider should remember all the stars from the guide camera, and then after re-locking verify that the star patterns match, otherwise fail.
- Celestron EdgeHD 8" on AVX, .7x reducer
- Lodestar X2 Autoguider through Celestron OAG
- Unmodified Nikon D7500
- Laptop with Ekos on Linux (KStars 3.4.1)