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Guiding with SBIG ST-i

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#1 MidniteCowboy

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 07:24 PM

Hello.  Has anyone used the SBIG ST-i as a guider?



#2 Ken Sturrock

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 07:29 PM

Yes.



#3 MikiSJ

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 08:12 PM

But the individual desires to remain anonymous!



#4 MidniteCowboy

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 08:38 PM

Yes.

Great.  It worked well did it?  I'm thinking of trying it in an OAG.  I see there is now a kit with a dedicated guide scope etc.  Have you tried that?  TIA for any info.



#5 cytan299

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 09:46 PM

I use the ST-i + OAG8300 on my STF8300. The ST-i works fine.

 

cytan


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#6 Ken Sturrock

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 10:02 PM

Yes, it worked well. I liked it. Having said that, I wouldn't necessarily recommend one today if buying new.

  1. Compared to more modern "eyepiece style" guiders, it had a bit lower efficiency and more noise. Fortunately, the mechanical shutter allows you to take dark frames on the fly to calibrate the camera (assuming the software supports it). At 7.4 microns, the pixels are a little large for some applications but they're fine for most OAG uses. Personally, I wouldn't use the guider scope kit thing.
  2. The ST-i is no longer made. Moreover, the reliability of the ST-i doesn't seem to be as good as some other guide cameras (without moving parts). Mine did stop working one night at the beginning of a week of projected perfect weather. While I suspect that SBIG can still service an ST-i, I'm not sure about the future. No other guide camera I have owned has failed.
  3. The ST-i is made from thin aluminum sheet rolled into a cylinder and secured with a seam. They are not perfectly round and may not fit into guide camera holders made for other cameras. For example, Gary Jarrett, maker of the KISS focuser, reserves focusers with looser tolerances for ST-i users and tighter tolerances for Starlight Xpress camera users. Unfortunately, after I sold my ST-i, the buyer inserted it into an OAG tube holder and the camera became stuck and was broken in an attempt to re-position it.
  4. SBIG seems to be slowly stepping away from their older camera designs. For example, drivers for some platforms have been abandoned. Make sure that the camera is supported by the software that you want to use. For example, I eventually stopped using my ST-i because the camera was no longer convenient to use with SkyX on Macintosh and never reliable on SkyX for Linux/Raspberry Pi.

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#7 MidniteCowboy

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 10:45 PM

 

Yes, it worked well. I liked it. Having said that, I wouldn't necessarily recommend one today if buying new.

  1. Compared to more modern "eyepiece style" guiders, it had a bit lower efficiency and more noise. Fortunately, the mechanical shutter allows you to take dark frames on the fly to calibrate the camera (assuming the software supports it). At 7.4 microns, the pixels are a little large for some applications but they're fine for most OAG uses. Personally, I wouldn't use the guider scope kit thing.
  2. The ST-i is no longer made. Moreover, the reliability of the ST-i doesn't seem to be as good as some other guide cameras (without moving parts). Mine did stop working one night at the beginning of a week of projected perfect weather. While I suspect that SBIG can still service an ST-i, I'm not sure about the future. No other guide camera I have owned has failed.
  3. The ST-i is made from thin aluminum sheet rolled into a cylinder and secured with a seam. They are not perfectly round and may not fit into guide camera holders made for other cameras. For example, Gary Jarrett, maker of the KISS focuser, reserves focusers with looser tolerances for ST-i users and tighter tolerances for Starlight Xpress camera users. Unfortunately, after I sold my ST-i, the buyer inserted it into an OAG tube holder and the camera became stuck and was broken in an attempt to re-position it.
  4. SBIG seems to be slowly stepping away from their older camera designs. For example, drivers for some platforms have been abandoned. Make sure that the camera is supported by the software that you want to use. For example, I eventually stopped using my ST-i because the camera was no longer convenient to use with SkyX on Macintosh and not at all reliable on SkyX for Linux/Raspberry Pi.

 

Thanks much for all this info.  I actually have had an ST-i for several years but never got a chance to use it. Thinking of buying a used Orion guider with scope.  Tired of spending money though so thought I could uses something I already have.



#8 Ken Sturrock

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 11:15 PM

If you own it already, I'd certainly try it. May be fine. I'd suggest that you calculate (or use an FOV site) to calculate the image scale. Somewhere between three and four AS/pixel, I get too many stars that turn square due to under-sampling. It the star is under-sampled then the software can't calculate a centroid and you'll get poor guiding performance. On the other hand, so long as you pick big fat (but not saturated) guide stars that look roundish then you'll be fine.


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#9 MidniteCowboy

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 04:32 PM

If you own it already, I'd certainly try it. May be fine. I'd suggest that you calculate (or use an FOV site) to calculate the image scale. Somewhere between three and four AS/pixel, I get too many stars that turn square due to under-sampling. It the star is under-sampled then the software can't calculate a centroid and you'll get poor guiding performance. On the other hand, so long as you pick big fat (but not saturated) guide stars that look roundish then you'll be fine.

Thanks for more info. Do you or did you use sbig's CCDOPS to guide with the st-i?



#10 MidniteCowboy

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 05:52 PM

I use the ST-i + OAG8300 on my STF8300. The ST-i works fine.

 

cytan

Thanks.  nice camera.  So do you use the sbig ccdops or another software to guide?



#11 cytan299

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 06:32 PM

Thanks.  nice camera.  So do you use the sbig ccdops or another software to guide?

No, I don't use CCDOPS or maxim DL. I use PHD2 and APT. PHD2 works fine with ST-i.

 

IMO, ST-i's are really for OAGs. Its pixels are too large (7.4 um) for use with a guide scope. 

 

cytan



#12 Ken Sturrock

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 11:28 PM

Thanks for more info. Do you or did you use sbig's CCDOPS to guide with the st-i?

I used CCDOps for a few months when I first started imaging but it didn't take long for me to move on. I now use The SkyX Professional. Like I said though, Macintoshes don't seem to play well with the ST-i drivers anymore (kind of on life support since about 2014) so I changed cameras.



#13 MidniteCowboy

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Posted 08 August 2020 - 02:48 PM

Thanks all for feedback.  I think I will experiment with the ST-i using ccdops now.  It's also supposed to be a planetary camera and I see two big ones out there at night.

Will move to Phd or something when the money tree blossoms again.



#14 Ken Sturrock

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Posted 08 August 2020 - 04:45 PM

I actually always thought of the ST-i as a guider that could double for planetary, but I guess it depends on your perspective. Give it a shot. Like cytan mentioned, the pixels are pretty big but that's just the ticket for larger instruments. Also, the frame rate is slower than more modern imagers but it's a solid device.


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#15 MidniteCowboy

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Posted 08 August 2020 - 07:00 PM

I actually always thought of the ST-i as a guider that could double for planetary, but I guess it depends on your perspective. Give it a shot. Like cytan mentioned, the pixels are pretty big but that's just the ticket for larger instruments. Also, the frame rate is slower than more modern images but it's a solid device.

Yes, it is a compromise maybe for either of it's intended uses.  It was not expensive.




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