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#1 Les Wilson

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Posted 01 December 2020 - 07:41 PM

Good Evening All,

 

Long time lurker and occasional poster, have learned much from this forum.  Anyway, was a RI2 user for EAA and decided it was time to move up to a dedicated Astro CMOS camera.  That said, I did a lot of research and decided to go with the ZWO ASI533MC-Pro.  It arrived last Friday and as with any new astronomy purchase, the clouds have been unrelenting since then. 

 

Even though I did the research on the what the jump to a dedicated astro camera requires, I am starting to see that there is a very serious learning curve ahead of me.  Before going further, following is a list of my basic gear:

 

Celestron 8SE on Alt/Az mount that came with it

Starsense Autoalign

Motorized Focuser (Celestron)

Celestron f6.3 Reducer/Corrector

Celestron Wifi dongle

Celestron Aux Port Splitter

Dual 12V Deep-Cycle Batteries, Cables, Thousand Oaks Dew Heater Controller and DIY resistor ladder heaters, etc 

 

When I used the RI2, the learning curve was reasonable but ungainly as to the necessary adjustments and compromises per image that were required.  I will not miss this aspect of the RI2 but overall, it was/is a good introduction to EAA.

 

Now, I have a couple of questions as to the upcoming first-light with the ZWO camera.  First, there is no way that the camera is going to clear the mount once the 105mm+ back distance I see mentioned is reached.  I have seen forum member Donstim indicate the use of a diagonal in another thread along with the possible negatives that come with its use.  For me though, the question I have is how does the diagonal fit into the back distance?  Is the distance to include in the calcuation to the mirror center, the bottom of the mirror, etc?

 

Next, given I have installed a heater on my GSO diagonal, do I need to take it off to avoid introduction of unwanted thermals in the image train that might be picked up by the camera sensor?

  

Finally, digging into the SharpCap "Quick" as well as "Official" manuals, I am sensing that this is a significant learning process.  If anyone has a plan on the immersion (the right word?) into the abyss of SC, I am all ears!  I will be running the software on a new Asus ROG Zephrus G-14 laptop (AMD Ryzen 9 4000, 16 gig ram, 1 TB SSD, Nvidia GeForce 2060) and am certain it can run the program.  But what about the other software that I use for mount control, Stellarium, ASCOM platform, etc?  Do others use a separate PC or tablet to run all but Sharpcap and related imaging software?  I also have a MS Surface Pro 7 and am thinking that it might be where I put the mount control programs and use it in tablet form.  Thoughts, ideas?

 

I am sure that once I get into this new phase of EAA I will have more questions but I will start with these.  Thanks in advance for you guidance and suggestions.  By the way, with winter approaching, my ultimate goal is remote (inside the warm house) use of the new camera just in case it will have any bearing on your help. 

 

Waiting For Clear Skies,

Les

 

 

 

 

 



#2 garyhawkins

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Posted 01 December 2020 - 11:49 PM

Hi Les,

 

Check out this video from Carl Smith on using Sharpcap -  This is a great place to start. 

 

You'll need a diagonal for higher elevations, or set slew limits.  The diagonal adds to the length of the optical path - this link should help to understand how much - https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/274841-williams-optics-binoviewer/page/2/

 

I use CWPI (mount control), SharpCap, Cartes du Ciel (Star Map) and ASCOM drivers (glue for comms between packages).  I also use a 533MC. I run everything from a laptop, via USB hub to mount, camera. etc. Your laptop spec should be more than adequate.  I have a C8 SCT on an AVX EQ mount.

 

I also do livestream videos, my channel is in my signature.

 

You'll get lots of advice if you get stuck.  

 

CS Gary



#3 Forward Scatter

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Posted 02 December 2020 - 12:34 AM

And you will absolutely love your 533!

#4 alphatripleplus

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Posted 02 December 2020 - 08:32 AM

On the topic of a separate PC for different software, all my astronomical software runs happily on one machine - Cartes du Ciel, SharpCap, ASILive, PHD2, CCDCiel and ASTAP. (I sometimes will use Stellarium instead of CdC, but I tend to prefer the latter).



#5 SanjeevJoshi

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Posted 02 December 2020 - 09:44 AM

Congrats.  Seeing your first EAA target is so much fun, reminds you of the first time you saw Saturn thru an eyepiece.

 

A few suggestions from another beginner.

 

1.  For EAA you can very easily avoid all the Starsense and dot finder stuff and save time.   I use SharpCap Pro with ASTAP or Astrotortila and CPWI to do this.  Simple, approximate North,  approximate level.   Zero star / quick align with CPWI.  Go to from CPWI, let it land where ever it does.  One click in SharpCap to platesolve in a few seconds, correct / align the mount, sync and center in camera’s field of view.  Done.   

 

2.  WiFi isn’t buying you much in this situation.  Connecting your laptop via handset is 100% reliable

 

3.   A mount side mini computer with Windows Remote Desktop is simply awesome.   You can use WiFi between the mount computer and your viewing computer (mine is in the family room or kitchen counter)

 

4.   Some type of a focusing mask - I use a Bahtinov (actually I have a TriBahtinov)

 

over time you may find the following things useful as I did.  An EQ Mount (AVX), some type of tool to select and plan targets (for FoV and position in sky) etc.  but you have plenty to get going!

 

Thanks to folks like Gary and others for all the videos and tips.



#6 selfo

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Posted 02 December 2020 - 10:06 AM

Hi Les:

Congrats on your recent acquisition you will have fun with this for some time to come.

 

 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with using a diagonal lots of us including myself use one with our Alt Az setups and in fact it the only way to image close to Zenith. 

 

 

Regarding the backfocus I am using a 2” diagonal attached to a 063 FR.  My 533 camera has 55mm of spacers attached.  I haven’t calculated the total backfocus but it works quite well for me.  With the FR you will get some vignetting but its not bad and can be mitigated with flats but that’s a whole another story… lol.gif

 

 

My only concern with your setup is that between the Camera, Focal reducer, diagonal and autofocuser you are putting a lot of weight on the back of your OTA.  Your 8SE mount will be really challenged with this and you may have some tracking issues.  At the very least push the OTA as far forward as you can.  Hopefully it will work out and you won’t have to fiddle with adding additional counterweights. 

 

 

 

Good luck and check in with the forum with you progress.


Edited by selfo, 02 December 2020 - 10:08 AM.


#7 astrohamp

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Posted 02 December 2020 - 01:04 PM

If winter viewing is in the works my feeling is that you will be needing a robust computer at the mount. Some say no moving parts at all i.e., no fan and certainly no spin disk hard drive.  The fan in my NUC pc probably doesn't even turn on during cold.  If need be the pc could be put in a cooler with a heat source just to keep moisture accumulation down.

Wireless link can be worked out inside first then deployed for use and is a game changer for me both in-field and at home.  I do bring my OTA/cameras and hand controller inside at observing end.  Tripod, mount, NUC, wireless router, power supplies (or battery box), stay out under 365 cover.  This necessitates a tweak in polar alignment each setup time that SharpCap (Pro) makes straight forward using the main imaging camera at 990mm f6.5 focal length.

I've found the need to temporarily boost camera gain quite high (350-400) so as to get a short exposure (2-4s) for PA, plate solving, and visual on screen for framing.  Note that SharpCap ignores any histogram stretch, using the raw frame for polar alignment, plate solving, and live stacking computations.  This is why sometimes plate solving fails for me with low star count at my normal gain settings so increase it or exposure time.  The 'brain' calculators for camera settings are a good starting point taking little time to perform. 

Most any night with stars is good to train up on SharpCap and other software tools.  So much out there to see, so little time.  Enjoy.

 



#8 roelb

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Posted 03 December 2020 - 08:39 PM

Using a diagonal will work. Imaging train: SCT > f/6.3 > Visual Back > DIAGONAL > ASI533MC-Pro.

This will result in a focal reduction ~ 0.57.

Using a 1.25" Visual Back and Diagonal will result in slight vignetting.

So using flats or reducing the capture area can ameliorate that.

No diagonal heater necessary (avoid heating).

Use a mini computer with WiFi at the scope and Windows Remote Desktop.

Most such mini computers suffice running all necessary programs (eg. CPWI - Stellarium - ASTAP - SharpCap)

Connect the focuser to the Auxiliary Port and the USB to the mini PC (no need to connect the HC USB to the mini PC).

You have Starsense so you can do the auto alignment using Celestron CPWI software.

The only thing that you must do at the scope is the very first initial focusing using a Bathinov mask.

Note the focuser position which you can use later from within SharpCap.

In my signature you will find a link to a cord wrap free setup (to have an idea what's involved).

Good luck with the 533 which is a nice camera.



#9 Rickster

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 12:01 AM

Just curious.  What are the 533 binning options?  Will it do 4x4?



#10 roelb

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 08:15 PM

Just curious.  What are the 533 binning options?  Will it do 4x4?

BIN 2x 3x 4x


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#11 Les Wilson

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Posted 06 December 2020 - 06:55 PM

Hi Everyone,

 

First my apologies for appearing to have disappeared after my post.  Family matters came up as well as the "Tis The Season" that wives seem to take pleasure in adding to the length of our holiday "to do" list.   The sacrifices we have to make to maintain marital harmony lol.gif

 

Next, I am still digesting the replies of the great people here on the forum.  I have made copious notes and have been viewing the suggested you-tube videos which have been excellent.  Only problem is that once you view one, there are another 5-7 listed on the right that I want to see.  My bookmarks are growing exponentially!   But, I do have a much better understanding of the spacing/order of the items, etc to support the ASI533.  Also, looking ahead, I am leaning toward the 1 cable from the scope to the computer located inside.  The NUC or similar at the scope seems to be the best way to do this.  After reading the woes of some trying to get the camera and scope control feeds thru lengthened USB cables and the seemingly 50/50% chance of it working, I would rather go with the sure thing (never been a gambler).  I saw mention of CAT5 or 6 as to a possible hard-wiring of the scope pc to the in-the-house pc.  Does anyone have thoughts or comments about the methodology?  Because the dark sky site I frequent has minimal cell phone connectivity much less wifi, using a hardwire connection would appear the way to go.  I also understand the possibility of using a travel router and the possibilities it offers but that will be another item to power at the dark sky site. 

 

Finally, with the RI2, a long BNC cable was no problem.  With the technology of the ASI533, mount, and computer, the BNC connections have been relegated to the storage drawer.  Anyone need some 50' lengths of top-quality class BNC cable and assorted male to male, male to female BNC connectors, adapters, etc? grin.gif

 

Again, my sincere thanks and appreciation go out to all that responded to the thread.  I am hoping that the week ahead will offer up some time and decent skies to get out and do a first light with the camera.  If not, most likely it will not be until after the Christmas holiday that the time will be available.  I suspect that I am not alone given the holidays arrive and our hobby takes a back seat to the wonderful times that the season has to offer as well as putting to an end a very crazy year like no other in memory.

 

Take Care All & Be Safe,

Les



#12 SanjeevJoshi

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Posted 07 December 2020 - 02:33 AM

Les any reason not to use your home WiFi or a small WiFi router between mount computer and home computer?  Granted my experience is not a lot but it’s been flawless for me.  I love the convenience of sitting down with my home laptop at the kitchen counter or family room or the porch - whatever.  No wires to tether the experience.


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#13 GaryShaw

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Posted 07 December 2020 - 09:42 AM

FYI....the travel router is powered by the 5v usb connection at the Nuc. It’s power needs are insignificant.  It’s a tried and true approach that works at home, works at Dark Sites and doesn’t involve yet another cable. You can even add hi-gain antennas if you’re indoor location becomes too far from the Nuc. Mine worked ‘out of the box’ from my second floor Study to my front porch....diagonally about 75’ through the house.

Good Luck.

Gary


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#14 Les Wilson

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Posted 19 December 2020 - 08:24 PM

Hi All,

 

After extensive research on getting the scope control, camera, etc from the source to a warm location (house) during the winter months, it's now decision time as to the method.

 

At first I was leaning to the powered/active USB3 route given the distance will be 30'-50' depending on the location of the scope in the backyard.  The more I read, it seems that this method has some pitfalls that depend on various pieces of the hardware puzzle working correctly.  I want to avoid having to troubleshoot this aspect of my EAA setup given that my desired end-result is enjoyment of the hobby without becoming a electronics nerd.

 

That said, I started looking at the PC at the scope using RDP to the PC in the house.  I have looked at the NUC, the Beelink product line, and other offerings from the Chinese sources.  Tonight I was googling and came across the Mini PC that appears at this link:  https://www.newegg.c.../1VK-001E-3VC38

 

The above Mini PC seems to have all the bells and whistles and then some.  After researching the unit, the only thing that is concerning is the low temperature operating limit of 41F.  If I went with this unit, I would locate it in an enclosure and limit outside air in to the extent necessary to allow the fan to do it's job cooling the CPU.

 

I would like to ask that those that have a better grasp of the PC at the scope methodology give me your opinion of the item.  Again, I am not going to be doing AP, just EAA and want to be sure that it will do the job of running the software that's necessary to make the enjoyment of my new camera possible.

 

As always, thanks in advance for any and all input.

 

Les



#15 GaryShaw

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Posted 19 December 2020 - 11:45 PM

Last winter I used the Intel Nuc outside both in MA and WY. In both locations I just placed the Nuc and wifi gear inside a soft laptop cover. All was fine. This year I plan to put all the outside gear in a simple foam cooler cut with a slot for the wires that go out to the mount, filter wheel, focuser and cameras.

 

I’m thinking the cooler has a bit more air that the Nuc will warm slightly and have for circulation. The small slot for the wires will allow a little leakage to ensure the Nuc gets adequate cooling after it warms up. I’ll probably put in a Bluetooth temp sensor to be able to monitor the inside temp until I get familiar with how warm it gets or doesn’t get inside the cooler. I probably won’t subject the gear, or me! to temps much below 10F.

Gary




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