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Seeking impressions of Moonlite Nitecrawler with FSQ-106 Combo

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#1 ArkabPriorSol

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Posted 22 October 2020 - 04:29 PM

I've recently added the QHY600M to my imaging rig for use with the FSQ-106N. This combo of fast scope with big sensor and tiny pixels seems to be extremely sensitive to good focus and image train tilt. I have a Gerd CTU which I've tried tweaking the tilt to perfect my corners, but I'm still not entirely satisfied. What's worse is I think my focuser (stock Takahashi) might be slipping a bit, and not I'm obtaining as fine focus as I did with my previous smaller camera. 

 

Does anyone have experience upgrading their stock Takahashi focuser with motofocus to a Moonlite Nitecrawler? What are your impressions? Was fine focus improved and more consistent? Did the Nitecrawler help eliminate tilt and make your stars better shaped? 

 

The high cost of the Nitecrawler is a hard pill to swallow, but if it significantly improves my focus (sharp and consistently), and also helps eliminate tilt then I think it maybe worth that high cost. What are your opinions?

 

Thanks + Clear Skies,

Will


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#2 cytan299

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Posted 22 October 2020 - 05:45 PM

Hi Will,

 

I just bought a NiteCrawler (NC) for my FSQ106 (no "N", predates the "N" version :) ) and should be delivered by next week. I decided to buy the NC because the stock focuser was binding due to the weight of my camera (STF8300 + FW8300 + OAG) and my "robofocus" style focuser (made by SharpSky Pro) just couldn't overcome the binding. Also, I can't reproduce the step count to get back to the same position because of binding. Tuning the focuser didn't help me at all. And like you, I was leery of spending so much money but I had exhausted all the tuning etc. before biting the bullet to buy the NC.

 

FYI, the shape of my stars was never a problem for me with the stock focuser (checked with ASTAP). But Moonlite does sell a tilt correction device for the NC if you need one:

 

https://www.tolgaast...e-adjuster.html

 

cytan


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#3 Jeff2011

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Posted 22 October 2020 - 05:51 PM

The cost is high but worth it.  I just got mine last month. I was concerned it was difficult to get the stock focuser off but it came off without to much force.  I still have a little tilt in the camera itself but it is consistent now.  Before the tilt changed based on where the scope was pointed.  The auto rotator is a bit of a luxury but is awesome.  I have only been able to do one imaging session with it but it was not to difficult to setup and use.  I currently use SGP for image capture.


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#4 ArkabPriorSol

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Posted 22 October 2020 - 05:52 PM

Hi Will,

I just bought a NiteCrawler (NC) for my FSQ106 (no "N", predates the "N" version :) ) and should be delivered by next week. I decided to buy the NC because the stock focuser was binding due to the weight of my camera (STF8300 + FW8300 + OAG) and my "robofocus" style focuser (made by SharpSky Pro) just couldn't overcome the binding. Also, I can't reproduce the step count to get back to the same position because of binding. Tuning the focuser didn't help me at all. And like you, I was leery of spending so much money but I had exhausted all the tuning etc. before biting the bullet to buy the NC.


Thanks Cytan! I actually have the exact same robofocus unit, the SharpSky Pro. It worked well for my last camera, but I don't know if it's binding or slipping but my V curves are no where near as good as they used to be. I do have a Gerd Neumann CTU I can use, but I'm hoping the NC will eliminate any tilt without needing a CTU.

#5 cytan299

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Posted 22 October 2020 - 05:58 PM

The easiest trick to see whether you are binding is to use masking tape to stick a 6" bbq skewer to the focuser knob. Then when you tell SharpSky (SS) to move the focuser, you can see how reproducible the focuser motion is by watching the skewer. For me, I can see from the skewer motion that it is easy to move the camera outward because of the gravity assist. But when I tell SS to move the focuser inward, I can immediately see that the skewer is not moving the same and sometimes the focuser doesn't move all. 

 

Unfortunately, tuning the focuser, didn't help the situation at all.

 

cytan


Edited by cytan299, 22 October 2020 - 06:00 PM.


#6 cytan299

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Posted 22 October 2020 - 06:03 PM

Thanks Cytan! I actually have the exact same robofocus unit, the SharpSky Pro. It worked well for my last camera, but I don't know if it's binding or slipping but my V curves are no where near as good as they used to be. I do have a Gerd Neumann CTU I can use, but I'm hoping the NC will eliminate any tilt without needing a CTU.

IMO, having a NC is not a fix for the problem if the tilt didn't come from the stock focuser. If the tilt comes from the focuser, then I'd imagine that the NC will fix it.

 

cytan



#7 ArkabPriorSol

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Posted 22 October 2020 - 06:11 PM

For me, I can see from the skewer motion that it is easy to move the camera outward because of the gravity assist. But when I tell SS to move the focuser inward, I can immediately see that the skewer is not moving the same and sometimes the focuser doesn't move all.

cytan


This is essentially what I'm experiencing. The left side of my V curve looks almost perfect, but the right side looks much flattener and sometimes wobbly. I assume this is because the left side has gravity assisting it's motion.

Thanks for the insights!

#8 Bloated Star

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Posted 22 October 2020 - 06:19 PM

I have had the WR35 Nitecrawler on my FSQ-106EDXIII for a few years now. It made a huge difference in reliable focusing. By the way, Moonlite makes a device to correct tilt issues.
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#9 sydney

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Posted 23 October 2020 - 04:03 AM

I use an Optec TCF focuser on my FSQ106ED as well as my Meade 12 and C14 Edge.  For its job of focusing, it is reliable, repeatable, and robust.  


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#10 lucam

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Posted 23 October 2020 - 07:00 AM

I have also been using the Moonlite Nitecrawler WR35 for about a year with my FSQ106 and it's a fantastic focuser/rotator. I used the stock focuser successfully until I switched from light CMOS and CCD cameras (ASI1600, Atik 383L+ and the likes) to a heavier camera and filter wheel with a larger sensor (FLI ML16200). The sideload on the focuser created tilt problems and I decided to take the plunge and switch to the Nitecrawler. I also installed the Moonlite Sidewinder tilt-adjustment attachment but have never needed to use it. 

 

As sydney said, there are certainly less expensive focuser replacement options than the Nitecrawler that will work with the FSQ. However, the convenience of a precision rotator together with the stout platform of the Nitecrawler focuser made it compelling to me. 


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#11 ArkabPriorSol

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Posted 23 October 2020 - 09:25 AM

Thanks for the feedback everyone! I've gone ahead and placed an order for the WR35. I must say, Ron at Moonlite offers absolutely top notch service. He graciously answered all my questions, responding to emails in only a matter of hours. I'm happy to spend my money on bespoke equipment made by a fellow amateur astronomer :) 


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#12 csauer52

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Posted 23 October 2020 - 05:44 PM

You won't be disappointed. I use the WR35 on my TOA130 with a very heavy imaging train - TAK FF, SBIG CFW, SBIG-6303e. I'm probably pushing close to 8lbs and the NC handles it effortlessly. It's' also fully integrated with TSX which allows me to precisely return to my previous nights location in the sky when constantly tearing down/setting up between sessions. The rotator is simply superb when it comes to conducting a plate solve and then aligning the position angle in TSX with the rotator. Simply rotate the field of view indicator in TSX and the NC puts you right on target every single time.

 

I would never image without one going forward.

 

In fact, I just picked up a used FSQ106ED III from OPT and I already contacted Ron for the adapters to attach the WR35 to that scope as well. 

 

Best of luck, you're going to love it.


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#13 cytan299

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Posted 31 October 2020 - 12:37 PM

Hi guys,

   I received by NiteCrawler WR35 (NC) on Monday and tested it out last night (Friday). It took exactly 3 weeks from when the order was taken to when I received it. Moonlite shipped the previous Friday via USPS priority and it took 3 days for delivery.

 

  I had prep'd my FSQ106 + losmandy plates + other accessories (motorized Bahtinov mask, dew heaters & guide scope) to receive the NC during the 3 week wait. The install of the NC went well *except* for this:

 

   I had originally ordered the WR35 Tak adapter because I wanted to use my Tak accessories to connect my camera to the NC with them. But doing so made it longer than the available backfocus. So I had to order the WR35 STL adapter on Monday night which Moonlite shipped out straightaway on Tuesday via USPS priority. I received it just in time on Friday afternoon to test my rig on Friday night. Here's my rig after assembly on my Mach1GTO:

 

IMG_1745.jpeg

 

It is clear that the NC is very well made. It's not as heavy has I had feared. For comparison, the weight of my setup before with the Tak focuser + Sharpsky Pro etc. was 27 lbs and it is 28 lbs with the NC. Not too bad at all. The only extremely minor complaint that I have with the NC was whoever packed the NC had greasy fingers which left some grease marks. But that was easily removed with a little bit of Dawn.

 

Finally, unlike experiencing the new equipment curse of having cloud full nights as far as the weather predictions can see,  Friday night around here was clear. And with the near full Moon, it was perfect for doing NC tests and to refocus all my cameras. Once I did that, I did a focus position vs temperature measurement.  I did this because it is well known that the FSQ106 is notorious for requiring refocusing every 1/2 degC and I wanted to have my imaging software (APT) do temperature compensation so as to reduce the need to do it manually.

 

 

cytan


Edited by cytan299, 31 October 2020 - 12:38 PM.

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#14 ArkabPriorSol

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Posted 31 October 2020 - 04:02 PM

Hi guys,

   I received by NiteCrawler WR35 (NC) on Monday and tested it out last night (Friday). It took exactly 3 weeks from when the order was taken to when I received it. Moonlite shipped the previous Friday via USPS priority and it took 3 days for delivery.

 

  I had prep'd my FSQ106 + losmandy plates + other accessories (motorized Bahtinov mask, dew heaters & guide scope) to receive the NC during the 3 week wait. The install of the NC went well *except* for this:

 

   I had originally ordered the WR35 Tak adapter because I wanted to use my Tak accessories to connect my camera to the NC with them. But doing so made it longer than the available backfocus. So I had to order the WR35 STL adapter on Monday night which Moonlite shipped out straightaway on Tuesday via USPS priority. I received it just in time on Friday afternoon to test my rig on Friday night. Here's my rig after assembly on my Mach1GTO:

 

attachicon.gifIMG_1745.jpeg

 

It is clear that the NC is very well made. It's not as heavy has I had feared. For comparison, the weight of my setup before with the Tak focuser + Sharpsky Pro etc. was 27 lbs and it is 28 lbs with the NC. Not too bad at all. The only extremely minor complaint that I have with the NC was whoever packed the NC had greasy fingers which left some grease marks. But that was easily removed with a little bit of Dawn.

 

Finally, unlike experiencing the new equipment curse of having cloud full nights as far as the weather predictions can see,  Friday night around here was clear. And with the near full Moon, it was perfect for doing NC tests and to refocus all my cameras. Once I did that, I did a focus position vs temperature measurement.  I did this because it is well known that the FSQ106 is notorious for requiring refocusing every 1/2 degC and I wanted to have my imaging software (APT) do temperature compensation so as to reduce the need to do it manually.

 

 

cytan

Congrats on the new gear! I'm hoping mine arrive in a couple weeks from now. 

 

How's your focusing been with the NC so far? Sharper? Reliable?



#15 cytan299

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Posted 31 October 2020 - 04:47 PM

Congrats on the new gear! I'm hoping mine arrive in a couple weeks from now. 

 

How's your focusing been with the NC so far? Sharper? Reliable?

Yes, no more slippage or binding. I've always had sharp stars even with the SharpSky Pro, but because of the binding, I just couldn't get temperature compensation going. I focus using a motorized Bahtinov mask that I built: https://github.com/c.../flip_mask_lamp (I removed the Electroluminescent panel because it was unnecessary) to do focusing remotely by hand every time but that was really getting annoying. And also because of the binding, asking SharpSky to move the focuser sometimes did not move the Tak focuser at all. This required me banging on the remote controls multiple times smile.gif Now, the Moonlite just moves and I can see the Bahtinov spikes respond every time.

 

I monitor both the ambient temperature and star size using DeepSkyStacker Live to determine when to focus. It's always about 0.5 to 1 degC that focusing needed to be done. So, I think with temperature compensation and Moonlite, my imaging sessions will be more automated.

 

And here's what I took last night for the NC test: https://www.cloudyni...ons/?p=10624839

 

cytan


Edited by cytan299, 31 October 2020 - 07:22 PM.



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