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What was your game changer?

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#1 bosh60

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 11:39 AM

I am finally getting some images that I feel are worth printing and putting on the wall (mind you still LOTS of improving to do).  I thought it would be interesting to start a thread to hear what was a game changer for you? 

 

For me, I can list several things.

 

1) Purchased PixInsight and was finally patient enough to work through a book to learn the basics (Inside PixInsight 2nd Ed by Warren Keller).

2) Optolong L-Extreme filter for nebulae with my OSC (QHY168c)

3) Backyard roll-off roof observatory

4) Reading, reading, reading - lots in this forum

5) Running ethernet cable from the observatory to the house for remote control - resulting in a lot more imaging.  In addition using N.I.N.A to setup sequences and imaging all night unattended (while I sleep)

 

I think for me the biggest one is #5 (in conjunction with #1) - just doing a lot more imaging and learning from it. I still consider myself very much a beginner but at least I am now past the point of discouragement.  

 

So, what things were game changers for you? 

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#2 StephenW

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 11:45 AM

Backyard observatory + SGP.  Massively increased my imaging time (weather permitting :)) as they removed set-up and hand-holding obstacles.



#3 rgsalinger

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 11:53 AM

I would say that there have been many but these three stand out in my memory.

 

My first game changer was 8 years ago when I discovered plate solving and mount modelling. At last I could reliably and quickly find and frame things.

 

That was followed by understanding that more screen real estate was really helpful in monitoring my systems, troubleshooting problems and allowing me to do research on the internet when I saw an issue with an imaging run.

 

Finally and most recently, buying the Adam Block Pixinsight Fundamentals  videos have done it for me. If I don't remember something I put the video on one screen and Pixinsight on the other screen with my data and follow along. I love Warren's book and took the course and use his icons but the key was being able to go back and forth in close to real time. 


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#4 RJF-Astro

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 11:58 AM

Getting APT to do fully automated sessions. I think this easily doubled or tripled my imaging time, depending on the season. I cannot go to bed too late, my work and kids won't allow that. The only thing I miss is automated focusing, which is still in beta. Refocusing before I go to sleep solves it most of the time.

#5 bosh60

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 11:59 AM

My first game changer was 8 years ago when I discovered plate solving and mount modelling. At last I could reliably and quickly find and frame things.

 

 

Yes! I forgot to mention plate solving! 



#6 Salacious B Crumb

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 12:03 PM

Adam Block videos...

 

 

- Mikko


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#7 OhmEye

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 12:11 PM

  • First game changer for me: Platesolving and autocentering. Hours of just trying to find and frame targets that can't be seen without long exposures turned into "click and shoot"
  • Second game changer: Autofocus. After using APT happily for months I tried NINA and AF not only significantly shortened my workflow but also significantly increased the quality of my data.
  • Honorable mention: Building a dolly and adding a good cover. It used to take me all of 10-15 minutes to roll out and set up, now I leave the rig out for weeks at a time and rarely need to even PA. I can go from zero to sequence running in about 3 minutes.

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#8 bobzeq25

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 12:16 PM

CEM60 mount


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#9 epdreher

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 12:17 PM

My Mach1GTO.


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#10 limeyx

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 12:24 PM

For me

- Plate solving (I dont have GOTO),

- Pixinsight -- an awesome tool. I know good images can be made with Photoshop, GIMP etc. but not by me. Pixinsight transformed my processing

- Getting a Nikon D5300 which APT can control far better than my D300


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#11 Xyrus

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 12:43 PM

A six figure a year job to support my habit. lol.gif


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#12 Becomart

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 12:45 PM

Getting accurate polar alignment within 5 mins (thank you Polemaster)


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#13 Peregrinatum

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 12:50 PM

Pixinsight, auto focus, and learning the details behind calibration


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#14 dswtan

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 12:54 PM

Exactly the same as OhmEye #7, but I’d put the TeleGizmos 365 cover actually FIRST. Also, two semi-permanent rigs (and two covers) because of my tree situation. 
 

Honorable mention to AstroPixelProcessor for helping with PixInsight frustrations. 


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#15 Ballyhoo

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 01:19 PM

game changer for me was very recently when other members suggested decreasing my guide scope image scale and also by going east heavy on my mount. Suddenly, all my subs were keepers.


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#16 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 03:01 PM

I think the biggest game changer was realizing that Celestron has no clue what Deep Sky imaging is all about, and finding and focusing on Cloudy Nights as my primary information source. 

 

Buying a used DSLR to swap out their Skyris 236C camera was probably the biggest step change.  Getting rid of the "Finder" scope, using a Telrad instead.  Adding autoguiding.  Plate Solving.  All a result of finding the right wagon to hitch my inquiries to.  That was the game changer.



#17 imtl

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 03:09 PM

Getting a telescope...



#18 colinrm

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 03:18 PM

I've had a few:

 

Going from a dob on an equatorial platform to a true equatorial mount.  Now I can image for as long as I want instead of limited to 80 minutes.

 

DSLR to a cooled astronomy camera.  The noise difference is insane.  And the data is truly raw.

 

APT to NINA.  Automation is amazing, I can finally sleep.

 

And next, I am working on installing my Nexdome so I can image much more readily.  No more trudging out 250 pounds of equipment, polar aligning, collimating, framing, flats, etc., every night.


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#19 Madratter

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 03:25 PM

My game changer was actually in place before I started imaging: an observatory. That is my most important piece of equipment. It isn't my most expensive. It is certainly not the fanciest. But what it enables is huge.

 

It allows me to image far more than I would otherwise. And at least for me, practice and repetition learning to do it does matter.


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#20 limeyx

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 03:50 PM

My game changer was actually in place before I started imaging: an observatory. That is my most important piece of equipment. It isn't my most expensive. It is certainly not the fanciest. But what it enables is huge.

 

It allows me to image far more than I would otherwise. And at least for me, practice and repetition learning to do it does matter.

Good one! Unless I renovate the attic and put a dome in the roof I dont think I can really have such a thing ... this pains me



#21 JMW

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 03:59 PM

Concrete pier in backyard while leaving scope and mount setup under cover. This took care of polar alignment

 

Upgraded covered pier with deck and roll away observatory shed for more protection for no fuss AP900GTO mount.

 

ASIAir Pro with small footprint of electronics at mount with plate solves for easy target centering and control using iPad Pro inside home. No more needing heating pad to keep laptop from freezing. 


Edited by JMW, 23 September 2020 - 05:37 PM.

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#22 dan_hm

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 04:48 PM

Avalon mount. I used to throw out dozens of frames with my CGEM and now I rarely throw out any, and almost never for tracking errors. If there is a tracking error, it's something I did wrong.


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#23 nimitz69

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 05:33 PM

My backyard observatory ... I’m ready to image within 15 mins of opening my roof

#24 jewelsdean

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 05:43 PM

Yes so many, definitely agree with plate-solving.  A few of mine are:

  • Doing plate-solving offline through ASTAP.  Offline being the key for me in terms of performance. 
  • Using a Remote Indi Server via Kstars/Ekos to control the scope using a Raspberry Pi running astroberry.  Rasberry pi is just acting as an indi server controlling all my hardware.  No VNC session on a pi based OS with limited ui real estate for all of the windows I have open in any given imaging session.  Also gave me the ability to setup imaging sessions that would platesolve targets, execute an auto focus and start taking photos without any interaction on my part whatsoever.
  • Switching to an OAG helped me expand my ability to shoot through other telescopes that I had that were not very well suited to using guide scopes for a variety of reasons.

Edited by jewelsdean, 23 September 2020 - 05:50 PM.

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#25 Stelios

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 06:51 PM

Hardware-related:

 

Going nuts and buying a Mach1GTO.

Mono camera.

OAG. 

Autofocus. 

Dedicated flat panel.

 

Software related:

 

Sharpcap Pro (for PA).

SGP

Pixinsight 


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