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Could this work for EAA

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#51 Stargazer3236

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Posted 26 April 2021 - 08:43 PM

I would like to add that although the kids will want to see the "real live" view through an eyepiece, it's the skies that will determine what you will really see.  Looking at the planets through the eyepiece may be rewarding and you will see a lot of detail on Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. However, on the deepsky objects, through an eyepiece all you will see is a faint smudge. If light pollution gets worse and it probably will, using your camera will be a most rewarding accomplishment for the kids and yourself. The camera will collect the photons of the deepsky object you want to see and the stacking of SharpCap will provide much more detail than your naked eye can see. I switch from eyepiece viewing to camera viewing over 5 years ago. I do not own any expensive eyepieces, just a few wide fields from SvBony in case I want to do some planetary viewing, but I have only used them once. I use my cameras 99.9% of the time.

 

I set up my telescope, a Celestron Nexstar C8, on top of an iOptron ZEQ25 mount, a Meade 6.3 focal reducer corrector, a ZWO EFW (electronic filter wheel) with narrowband filters and then my ASI294MC non-cooled camera. I run the cables from the camera and EFW to a USB 3.0 4 port hub and then run a single USB 3.0 cable to my laptop. I should also add that I use an ASI290MM mini camera as an E-Finder (electronic finder) that shows where my telescope is pointing too. Takes the hassle out of always getting up to look into the finderscope. This camera is also connected to the USB hub. With just one cable, I run it to my laptop, usually inside my SUV where I can capture EAA images in the comfort of heat or AC and listen to SiriusXM or watch TV on my smart phone.

 

I set up SharpCap 3.2 Pro to handle my stacking. I run Sky Safari 6 Plus on my tablet to help me find objects to view and on my laptop, I have various catalogs in PDF to find specific objects like planetary nebula, galaxies and globular clusters.

 

I usually start off the night by focusing with a bahtinov mask, and then when switching filters from nebula to galaxies, I can re-focus using my Motofocus attached to the focuser and run that cable in to the car. I have everything I need to do my EAA observing runs and I do not have to leave the comfort of my car. I usually just stack for 5-8 minutes to get the most detail I can, running exposures from 4 seconds to about 30 seconds, depending on the brightness of the object I want to see. With my 294MC camera, I typically run at about 400-450 gain and 2x2 bin.


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#52 Bill05

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Posted 18 June 2021 - 10:04 PM

It has been a while since I posted. I had ordered the Sirius mount with the 8" f/4.9 reflector telescope.  After 2 and a half months of waiting the scope, it was not coming in. The wife and I looked into other alternatives and ended up changing our order and we now have a system that arrived yesterday. 

We ended up ordering the Atlas II mount and the 8" f/3.9 reflector. we also have the ASI 294 MC Pro cooled camera. We were a little surprised at how massive the setup is, but we like it.  now for the hands on learning to commence. Due to my work hours It will be my weekend before it sees the dark, hoping for no clouds.  I am still learning a lot from the diversity of  posts on this Forum.  .

I will post a pic soon and also let people know when I try my first attempt at EAA.

 

Bill


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#53 GoFish

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Posted 19 June 2021 - 08:52 AM

Congrats on the new gear!

 

For EAA you will benefit from a means of controlling the mount from a computer or tablet. Options I’ve used are EQMOD (runs on Windows) and the standalone ASIAir Pro controller. 
 

The AAP is infinitely simpler to get set up and running, and includes platesolving and live stacking capability in an integrated tablet or smartphone app.  IMO, since you’ve chosen a ZWO camera already, AAP is the no brainer choice if another $300-ish can be found in the budget. 
 

EQMOD + SharpCap + Stellarium or Cartes du Ciel will work nicely from a laptop, too, but takes some fiddling to get working. 
 

Also, collimation is pretty important at f/4. 



#54 Bill05

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Posted 20 June 2021 - 10:22 AM

I am taking it slow, learning the mount and scope basics first. I am getting used to putting it together, balancing, collimation, polar alignment and use of the hand controller.

Once I am comfortable with the scope, I will add the computer, and cameras.

I also contacted the local astronomy club to see if someone can assist in making sure I am doing everything correctly, or give advice if needed. I also keep reading the different forums as questions come to mind.

My little experience was with small scopes, aim, find something to observe, and try to keep it centered,


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#55 GoFish

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Posted 20 June 2021 - 01:13 PM

I think your approach is fine.
 

But I caution to not become (overly) frustrated by the challenges caused by eyepiece positions for visual observing on your EQ-mounted Newt. I found star alignment (for the SynScan GoTo system) to be a real PITA as the result of the inconvenient eyepiece positions. And DIY rotating rings are an imperfect solution because they can introduce pointing errors that the alignment process can’t calibrate out. 
 

So why not become frustrated?  Because eyepiece position becomes irrelevant for EAA. And because star alignment becomes unnecessary, having been replaced by far more accurate platesolving. And because polar alignment is vastly improved by putting the camera to work for you. 
 

In many ways EAA is a lot simpler than visual observing with this type of system. If visual makes you frustrated, just know that there is an easier way lol.gif



#56 alphatripleplus

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Posted 20 June 2021 - 02:23 PM

 

In many ways EAA is a lot simpler than visual observing with this type of system. If visual makes you frustrated, just know that there is an easier way lol.gif

 Good points. With SharpCap, polar alignment is easy (if you have a GEM), and platesolving makes locating and centring targets much easier.... as long as it works reliably for you.



#57 Bill05

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Posted 20 June 2021 - 10:30 PM

Eyepiece locations is one of the things I read about and remember and it is just a minor inconvenience.  I just read about reducing the brightness of the polar scope, this will help a lot. The wife is also learning with me so she would be able to set the system up. Today is day three with many more to come, we like the challenge so far.


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#58 Bill05

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Posted 21 June 2021 - 10:27 AM

On the Atlas II mount, the polar scope reticle is not straight. It has the railroad track circle/clock.  Do I need to make adjustments to the reticle, or do I angle the mount till it is straight then complete the alignment?  I still need to check to see if it is calibrated, I think I should get the first part figured out prior to calibration.



#59 GoFish

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Posted 21 June 2021 - 09:14 PM

For visual, I think putting Polaris anywhere inside the reticle circle is probably plenty close. 
 

For camera use, whether EAA or traditional AP, the PA scope is only a starting point. You’ll refine the PA using your camera and PA software. So no reason to be super meticulous with the PA scope.
 

What I do to roughly polar align my Atlas is look up the hour angle with an app, then just eyeball it.  I put Polaris on the circle at about where I think the looked-up hour angle lies. Then I use either SharpCap or AAP to dial it in using the main camera or the guide camera. 

 

So my input would be “yes” to collimating the PA scope, but don’t worry too much about getting the reticle “straight.”  A lot of trouble for a small benefit IMO. 



#60 Bill05

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Posted 21 June 2021 - 10:50 PM

I found a few other posts asking the same question, once I used the correct wording, Your statement sounds like what a few others said. I decided I would try this out before I started taking things apart, and messing with it and being unsure about the mount. I know I will work on the mount, but hopefully not for quite a while. Thanks for confirming what I was guessing at.



#61 alphatripleplus

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Posted 22 June 2021 - 07:19 AM

If you do decide to try SharpCap for polar alignment, you'll find it is very fast and accurate. I rarely use a polar scope, which in my experience is not nearly as accurate as SharpCap for PA.



#62 Bill05

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Posted 27 June 2021 - 10:55 AM

I am still working on getting everything to work together.  The target I used to align the finder scope with the scope is an Ham radio tower and antenna over 1 mile away. I also used it to get the camera in focus and get an image in sharpcap pro. This is the first time to get the ASI294 to focus and try to get an image. Here is a screenshot of the results. I was unable to view the images, the computer said the were not 16 bit files.

 

 



#63 Bill05

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Posted 27 June 2021 - 10:57 AM

I did not get the screenshot posted correctly.  I have to go to work and will retry tonight.



#64 alphatripleplus

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Posted 27 June 2021 - 12:03 PM

I am still working on getting everything to work together.  The target I used to align the finder scope with the scope is an Ham radio tower and antenna over 1 mile away. I also used it to get the camera in focus and get an image in sharpcap pro. This is the first time to get the ASI294 to focus and try to get an image. Here is a screenshot of the results. I was unable to view the images, the computer said the were not 16 bit files.

If you are using SharpCap for controlling the camera, it has different options for saving image files. Under File->Settings, the General Tab has a place to specify your preferred still image format, e.g jpg, tiff or png. Choose a file format that your image viewing program can handle.



#65 Bill05

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Posted 28 June 2021 - 10:50 AM

I was reading so many posts, directions and watching so many videos, I failed to realize I could save to any format.  I needed to step back and think about our goal.  The wife is happy we can almost observe thru the camera, and be able to get involved again, with very little saving of the images. Waiting for my weekend and weather to attempt the next step for her.



#66 Bill05

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Posted 29 June 2021 - 10:53 AM

I have an ASI120mm that I was using to test with. If I decide to use it for auto guiding, where should I connect it? The ZWO booklets show connecting it to the ASI294, The mount has an autoguide port, or I can  connect it to the computer.

I am trying to find other post here, but apparently I am not using the correct words.



#67 barbarosa

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Posted 29 June 2021 - 11:35 AM

A lot of us use PHD2 for guiding. It works well and is easy to setup and use. There are good instructions. You have options.

 

I run mount control software on a PC along with Stellarium to select/slew to targets. The mount connects to the computer via a serial to USB adapter, This creates a com port for the mount. PHD2, the mount control app and Stellarium all use that connection.

 

I prefer an adapter with the FTDI chipset over the Prolific but both should work.

 

You may wish to try the development version. It has multi star guiding and seems to produce better results than the single star standard version. Instructions including camera and mount setup are here. https://openphdguiding.org/man-dev/. The guider connection options are the same as for the standard version.



#68 Bill05

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Posted 29 June 2021 - 12:58 PM

The atlas II has the USB port to computer, So no need for the adapter. I agree with the FTDI chipset, I use it for my Ham radio connections.

If I read correctly, I use the ST-4 cable to the mount. The directions look good. I normally stay away from the development versions but it sounds good. Not sure if it is necessary to use but I want to become familiar with and with out different options.

At the beginning of this endeavor, The atlas was recommended. We are very happy with the Atlas II so far. With work and the weather I have had very little opportunity to use it for any length of time at night. but I get practice setting it up. Once the missing handle arrives the wife wants to start learning the setup, instead of just watching.

 

Thank you



#69 alphatripleplus

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Posted 29 June 2021 - 01:09 PM

 

If I read correctly, I use the ST-4 cable to the mount. 

No, you don't need to use a ST-4 cable connection to the mount - if in PHD2 for the Mount connection, you choose an ASCOM  compatible driver for your mount. Choosing an ASCOM driver connection for the mount (vs a ST-4 connection) will make calibration set-up easier, as the mount will share pointing information with PHD2 directly. If you want further info on guiding, you'll probably find more help in the Mounts Forum, as it is a more common discussion topic there rather than in EAA, where a lot of people do not guide. I always try to use an ASCOM driver connection when I can for the mount when I've used PHD2.

 

My suggestion for EAA is to try and get everything else going first, and then look at whether you want to add guiding. 


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#70 mikenoname

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Posted 29 June 2021 - 06:09 PM

My suggestion for EAA is to try and get everything else going first, and then look at whether you want to add guiding. 

Abso-freakin-lutely.



#71 GoFish

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Posted 30 June 2021 - 08:34 PM

Ditto on ASCOM, PHD2, no-ST4, and waiting a bit on autoguiding. 
 

When the time comes, though, you can connect your guide cam to a USB port on the 294. It has a built-in USB2 hub.



#72 Bill05

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Posted 02 July 2021 - 06:48 AM

I was just trying to figure out cables and cable management. At this time I am still getting the camera settings right in sharpcap pro, I could not get the camera settings correct, so I changed to an eyepiece to find a few things to observe.  Back to sharpcap tomorrow.



#73 dcweaver

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Posted 02 July 2021 - 12:05 PM

A good way to play with camera settings is to point the scope at Polaris.  You can easily locate it with a finder, and once you are pointed at it, it doesn't move much.  By pointing at this star, you have some confidence that there is something bright in the field of view that stays put.  If the finder is aligned well to the main tube, putting it in the center of the crosshairs should always put it on the big 294 sensor with your setup.

   

Once you are on Polaris, start by getting it focused.  Start with an eyepiece then swap to the camera.  You will have to re-focus when you change to the camera and it may take quite a bit of adjustment.  This is the most common reason I can't see something on the sensor.  I forget to re-focus when I change reducer spacing or to/from an eyepiece.  Polaris is a double star so don't be surprised when you see it's little companion.  Your camera is not broken.

   

For Polaris, one second of exposure at high gain (~350) is a good place to start.  When you are convinced you are on it, you may need to reduce the exposure, and dial in the focus with a Bahtinov mask.  That simple tool is a tremendous help, and it's easy to use.  Don't fool with histogram setting at this point, other than making sure they are set to default settings (no stretching).

   

When all of that is done, look for a globular cluster and get pointed at that.  They are brighter and easier to see than galaxies or faint nebula.  Perhaps up the exposure to 4 seconds or so.  When you are on one, slide the histogram mid level around to get a feel for how it helps bring out the image.  SharpCap has a great help menu on how to use it.

   

Take it in small steps to minimize the complications.  Start with bright things (easy), and work to dimmer things (hard).  It's very difficult to get a feel for the camera settings if you don't have the intended target on the sensor and are distracted fighting with that.

   

Have fun and stay out of the heat!  I hear it's been a scorcher up there!



#74 dave85374

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Posted 02 July 2021 - 07:01 PM

Going to a camera from an eyepiece I found that I had to turn the focuser 20+ times clockwise to get something that was small enough to put on the Bahtinov mask.  After that you will definitely be smiling.  Camera's are a lot more fun than eyepieces and the views are GREAT.


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#75 Bill05

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Posted 03 July 2021 - 06:56 AM

I think I clicked on the wrong box, the controls looked different when I couldn't get things to work I got frustrated.  Decided to go to visual so I could verify the The scope was slewing where i wanted it to.  I figured it was better to know the basics was working and not mess around while frustrated. At least I mellowed out and enjoyed the rest of the evening, knowing I could do something right.  getting in a hurry so the wife can enjoy the views.


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