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Lightweight Astrophoto Travel Rig recommendations

astrophotography equipment mount
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#1 pcos

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Posted 25 August 2020 - 04:13 PM

Hi Folks,

 

I am very active in astrophotography and I am currently running two rigs at the same time.  One is a William Optics FLT 132mm F/7 and the other is an AP130mm Starfire F/8.35 - both are on Ioptron CEM60/Tri-peir setups. I am running two ZWO camera, one an OSC ASI294MC-Pro and the other is a mono rig - ASI1600MM-Pro with 8 Slot filter wheel. 

 

I am going to be away from home later on this year and I am looking for a very lightweight rig that would be small and suitable for car travel situations. 

 

I mostly shoot DSO and would prefer dedicated astronomy camera along with tracking ability.  

 

I've looked around and it seems that either mounts are still too heavy/costly or are too simple (limited or no guiding). 

 

Given the market today - has any one put together a travel portable setup that they are really happy with?

 

Thanks in advance for your help!

 

PCos. 

 

 



#2 Hesiod

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Posted 25 August 2020 - 04:32 PM

Just how small and light are willing to go?
And, above anything else, at which focal/sampling want to shot?
I am extremely pleased by the Vixen FL55ss, and built a very compact setup around it, but maybe it is too small for your purpose

#3 Jerry Lodriguss

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Posted 25 August 2020 - 05:42 PM

Yea, you're going to have to define exactly what you mean by "travel portable setup".

 

Like, "it has to fit in a backpack so I can hike 50 kilometers into remote areas to shoot starscapes with a wide-angle lens."

 

Or, "It has to fit in checked airline luggage because I want to go to Chile and shoot all the southern delights with a 1,000mm scope."

 

You have to give us a LOT more specific info on exactly what you want to do.

 

Jerry


Edited by Jerry Lodriguss, 25 August 2020 - 05:43 PM.


#4 mmalik

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Posted 25 August 2020 - 05:54 PM

I've looked around and it seems that either mounts are still too heavy/costly or are too simple (limited or no guiding). 

 

Given the market today - has any one put together a travel portable setup that they are really happy with?

You do NOT want to guide a portable/compact setup; here... is one that's travel friendly/backpack-able, compact, doesn't need guiding, and has been well tested. Regards


Edited by mmalik, 25 August 2020 - 05:55 PM.

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#5 pcos

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Posted 25 August 2020 - 06:43 PM

Just how small and light are willing to go?
 

Thats a good question.  My one of my current rigs would fill the back of my CRV - so I am looking at something more compact.  My two scopes are longer on focal length so I am interested in somewhere in the 400-600mm range so I can 1)get wider fields of view, 2) more robust guiding in a small rig, 3) small and light and more easily portable.  Something that would fit into one suit case plus a tripod would be ideal.

 

so I am interested in 1) smaller refractor,  2) GEM mount that is compact and lightweight 3) maybe something like ASIAIR to replace the computer for sequencing and guiding 4) probably a cooled OSC CMOS dedicated astronomy camera. 

 

Having said all of that, I am open to any setup that will work for car travel and provide me the opportunity to get quality images while away from home. 

 

I'm really looking for someone that has done this and can recommend a combination that works well for them. 

 

The Vixen yoou mentioned is a little shorter than I was thinking but it might be just right for travel!  Thanks!

 

PCos

 

Thanks!



#6 pcos

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Posted 25 August 2020 - 06:47 PM

Yea, you're going to have to define exactly what you mean by "travel portable setup".

 

Like, "it has to fit in a backpack so I can hike 50 kilometers into remote areas to shoot starscapes with a wide-angle lens."

 

Or, "It has to fit in checked airline luggage because I want to go to Chile and shoot all the southern delights with a 1,000mm scope."

 

You have to give us a LOT more specific info on exactly what you want to do.

 

Jerry

Jerry - you are making a fair comment.  For me, this would be suitable for car travel and setup at remote AirBnBs.  So in my other note I was thinking something that would fit into a suitcase (even a big one) and then a folded tripod of some kind.  So no hiking into backwoods, and no airplane travel.  I can think of a lot of scopes that fit this well, but the mounts seem either too heavy to too small/simplsitic so I am not sure what is  good combo platter here...

 

Thanks,

PCos



#7 pcos

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Posted 25 August 2020 - 06:52 PM

You do NOT want to guide a portable/compact setup; here... is one that's travel friendly/backpack-able, compact, doesn't need guiding, and has been well tested. Regards

Thanks for your note.  This would be on the small side of things but I have run across people who have been happy with this arrangement.  In my mind I was looking for something that needed guiding since that is what I am used to, but I ill have to consider something like this as well. 

 

Thanks again,

PCos



#8 vidrazor

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Posted 25 August 2020 - 07:41 PM

How 'bout an iOptron CEM25P? It has a 27 lb payload capacity and weighs almost a third of your present mount.



#9 pcos

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Posted 25 August 2020 - 07:54 PM

How 'bout an iOptron CEM25P? It has a 27 lb payload capacity and weighs almost a third of your present mount.

That might work - I certainly have been getting good results with the CEM60.  For some reason I thought that the smaller Ioptrons were still pretty heavy.  But a 1/3 weight reduction would be workable.

 

A small scope, a small guide scope, maybe and ASIAIR using tablet to access. 

 

Does anybody have first hand experience with similar combo?

 

Thanks,

PCos



#10 SteveInNZ

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Posted 25 August 2020 - 08:12 PM

My one suitcase plus carry-on, international travel setup is a CEM25EC on a surveyor tripod with an Epsilon 130 (5" imaging Newt) and DSLR.

It's been from New Zealand to the US and back a couple of times, as well as around the US in planes, trains, buses, RV's, etc.

I am very happy with it.

The limiting factor is power. That setup allows me to image unguided for at least a night from an airline friendly battery.

If you don't have to worry about power, you can use a cooled camera, laptop, guide camera, etc and just a standard CEM25.

 

Steve.


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#11 Hesiod

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Posted 25 August 2020 - 09:04 PM

Look at Avalon M0, could be the mount you are searching for.
I also would drop the OSC camera for a nice full frame DSLR (less power required and the large sensor is good gor widefield); if get the lacerta mgen3 can both control the camera and guide w/o PC and with very little power.
As for the tube there are many options, but I would choose it after the camera

#12 chanrobi

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Posted 25 August 2020 - 10:00 PM

Hi Folks,

 

I am very active in astrophotography and I am currently running two rigs at the same time.  One is a William Optics FLT 132mm F/7 and the other is an AP130mm Starfire F/8.35 - both are on Ioptron CEM60/Tri-peir setups. I am running two ZWO camera, one an OSC ASI294MC-Pro and the other is a mono rig - ASI1600MM-Pro with 8 Slot filter wheel. 

 

I am going to be away from home later on this year and I am looking for a very lightweight rig that would be small and suitable for car travel situations. 

 

I mostly shoot DSO and would prefer dedicated astronomy camera along with tracking ability.  

 

I've looked around and it seems that either mounts are still too heavy/costly or are too simple (limited or no guiding). 

 

Given the market today - has any one put together a travel portable setup that they are really happy with?

 

Thanks in advance for your help!

 

PCos. 

Have you looked at the Fornax mount? pretty much industry leading in terms of focal length and maximum exposures you can get unguided.

If this fits the bill, all the more better before HAVING to guide...
 



#13 Jerry Lodriguss

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Posted 25 August 2020 - 10:32 PM

You mean like this?

 

j_travel_setup.jpg

 

AT65EDQ 420mm f/6.5 quadruplet flat field astrograph

CEM25P german equatorial mount

Nikon D5300 DSLR camera

QHY 5L-II-M CMOS Monochrome Guide Camera

100mm FL f/2.8 Lens for guiding

LiPo battery

 

You should be able to run it off a NUC or an ASIAIR.

 

Jerry

 


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#14 Jerry Lodriguss

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Posted 25 August 2020 - 10:38 PM

Have you looked at the Fornax mount? pretty much industry leading in terms of focal length and maximum exposures you can get unguided.

If this fits the bill, all the more better before HAVING to guide...
 

If you don't guide, you can't dither.

 

Professional astrophotographers have a saying: "Dither or Die."

 

Stacking a bunch of perfectly tracked frames is going to re-enforce fixed pattern noise.

 

Jerry


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#15 mmalik

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Posted 25 August 2020 - 10:49 PM

That's big for travel; following... is quite small/light weight...

 

 

Note: I dither without guiding; all I do is shut mount off every so often (after 20-30 min runs) for few (~10-20) seconds

Attached Thumbnails

  • DSC05547+.jpg

Edited by mmalik, 26 August 2020 - 03:16 AM.


#16 dayglow

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Posted 25 August 2020 - 11:28 PM

My lightweight and compact setup:

========================

CEM25 with tripod

AT72 or AT80EDT refractor

QHY 30mm f/4.3 guide scope

D5300A for imaging

QHY5L-II M guide camera

Laptop (14 inch)

Dew heater (some times)

Red Dot finder (sometimes)

Battery (sometimes)

 

Now its evolving with D5300 being replaced with ASI2600.  Sometimes just camera lenses instead of telescope with a smaller counter-weight replacing the normal one needed to balance a telescope.



#17 polslinux

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 01:46 AM

My lightweight and compact setup:

========================

iOptron Skyguider Pro

Berlebach Tripod 312 astro when driving to (or small walk to) $place / normal photo tripod when hiking to $place

Nikon D5500a

Tamron 150-600 G2

Intervalometer

Batteries

 

Weight with Berlebach: 11.27 kg

Weight with normal tripod: 9.17 kg



#18 mmalik

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 02:27 AM

My lightweight and compact setup:

========================

 

My lightweight and compact setup:

========================

No pics, they don't exist smile.gif


Edited by mmalik, 26 August 2020 - 02:27 AM.


#19 deepanshu29

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 02:40 AM

This is my travel setup. Both Air and Car. I can't image from the apartment complex I live in. Mount, imaging scope (now FSQ106), imaging camera, NUC all fits in Pelican Air 1615 Case (scope in hand carry for air travel). Tripod (Gitzo 5), half pier and counter weight is in Manfrotto tripod bag. Battery is 50Ah LiFePO4 in Nanuk case. 

 

My Photon Hunter
My rig

 

 

FSQ shrinks to small enough size to fit in hand carry for air travel. I take 2x 6Ah batteries for air travel. 


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#20 Hesiod

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 02:45 AM

In my opinion the setup OP is planning is too large to make unguided imaging a true gain, as in the whole picture the impact of the guiding rig will be minimal.
Manual dithering could be done but IMHO it is a chore as big as manual guide

#21 pcos

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 09:45 AM

My one suitcase plus carry-on, international travel setup is a CEM25EC on a surveyor tripod with an Epsilon 130 (5" imaging Newt) and DSLR.

It's been from New Zealand to the US and back a couple of times, as well as around the US in planes, trains, buses, RV's, etc.

I am very happy with it.

The limiting factor is power. That setup allows me to image unguided for at least a night from an airline friendly battery.

If you don't have to worry about power, you can use a cooled camera, laptop, guide camera, etc and just a standard CEM25.

 

Steve.

Steve, thanks for your note.   The CEM25 on a Surveyor tripod is sounding very interesting to me.  I am not worried about power, I am assuming I have access to house current on an extension cord. This does open the door for me  a bit.  I as thinking ASIAIR as it does most standard functions, is very small and I could control it with a tablet....

 

PCos



#22 pcos

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 09:47 AM

Look at Avalon M0, could be the mount you are searching for.
I also would drop the OSC camera for a nice full frame DSLR (less power required and the large sensor is good gor widefield); if get the lacerta mgen3 can both control the camera and guide w/o PC and with very little power.
As for the tube there are many options, but I would choose it after the camera

I was not aware of Avalon before - so that's for putting them on my radar!

 

PCos



#23 pcos

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 09:48 AM

Have you looked at the Fornax mount? pretty much industry leading in terms of focal length and maximum exposures you can get unguided.

If this fits the bill, all the more better before HAVING to guide...
 

Fornax is another outfit that was not on my Radar - thanks for the heads-up!

 

PCos



#24 pcos

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 09:51 AM

You mean like this?

 

attachicon.gifj_travel_setup.jpg

 

AT65EDQ 420mm f/6.5 quadruplet flat field astrograph

CEM25P german equatorial mount

Nikon D5300 DSLR camera

QHY 5L-II-M CMOS Monochrome Guide Camera

100mm FL f/2.8 Lens for guiding

LiPo battery

 

You should be able to run it off a NUC or an ASIAIR.

 

Jerry

Jerry - what a great setup!  This looks like the kind of thing I had in mind. Are you using the standard Ioptron light triopod?  Have you been happy with this setup?

 

Thanks,
PCos



#25 pcos

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Posted 26 August 2020 - 09:54 AM

My lightweight and compact setup:

========================

CEM25 with tripod

AT72 or AT80EDT refractor

QHY 30mm f/4.3 guide scope

D5300A for imaging

QHY5L-II M guide camera

Laptop (14 inch)

Dew heater (some times)

Red Dot finder (sometimes)

Battery (sometimes)

 

Now its evolving with D5300 being replaced with ASI2600.  Sometimes just camera lenses instead of telescope with a smaller counter-weight replacing the normal one needed to balance a telescope.

Looks like a nice configuration!  Any idea what the total weight of this setup is?

 

PCos




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