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What software do i need for guiding.

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#1 hansj

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 06:35 PM

Hello,

 

i'm pretty new her so here is a short introduction. 67 years, married, no kids, retired, living in Stuttgart/Germany (i bet a couple of people here have been there while in the army) with all its light pollution etc.. There are a lot of stairs to climb up to get to the next street where the car is, so the gear has to be really lightweight to carry it when i want to go to darker places which are 20km away.

 

Now i wanna start into guided Deep Space Imaging.

I have a Skywatcher AZ-GTi mount with a wedge, a Skywatcher Startravel 80/400 refractor and a Canon EOS 200D (Rebel SL2 in USA). As a guider i'm probably going to purchase a Zwo Mini.

The Laptop (now, later on i want to go with a Mini PC) is a pretty new Lenovo with Win 10.

What (Open Source) software do i need?

As far as i understood it:

Controlling the DSLR - N.I.N.A

The mount - EQMod

The guider - PHD2

Image processing with Siril and Gimp

Is this correct?

I ask especially for that, because it is very time consuming and to start with the wrong setup worsens it.

Cuiv, The Lazy Geek makes really nice videos on Youtube, but while explaining he sometimes looses the point, which makes it, as a non english native speaker, often pretty hard. Oh additionally there was a lot of veryvery loud music in my life.

Help is appriciated


Edited by hansj, 23 February 2021 - 06:36 PM.


#2 rgsalinger

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 06:50 PM

If you are using a Windows PC, I'd advise using the ASCOM Platform as well. And, of course, generally you need to download and install the necessary device drivers.

Rgrds-Ross


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#3 GR-Amateur

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 06:53 PM

I believe that Astrophotography Tool for capturing is having an easier learning curve than N.I.N.A.

While guiding is in your immediate plans then go with pulse guiding (no phone chords lol) and eqmod, assess “Stellarium” or “cart de ciel” as well platesolving capability of your eventual capturing software.

Last but not least, figure out dithering setup (how and how much).

Keep notes :)
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#4 KTAZ

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 07:28 PM

Hello,

 

i'm pretty new her so here is a short introduction. 67 years, married, no kids, retired, living in Stuttgart/Germany (i bet a couple of people here have been there while in the army) with all its light pollution etc.. There are a lot of stairs to climb up to get to the next street where the car is, so the gear has to be really lightweight to carry it when i want to go to darker places which are 20km away.

 

Now i wanna start into guided Deep Space Imaging.

I have a Skywatcher AZ-GTi mount with a wedge, a Skywatcher Startravel 80/400 refractor and a Canon EOS 200D (Rebel SL2 in USA). As a guider i'm probably going to purchase a Zwo Mini.

The Laptop (now, later on i want to go with a Mini PC) is a pretty new Lenovo with Win 10.

What (Open Source) software do i need?

As far as i understood it:

Controlling the DSLR - N.I.N.A

The mount - EQMod

The guider - PHD2

Image processing with Siril and Gimp

Is this correct?

I ask especially for that, because it is very time consuming and to start with the wrong setup worsens it.

Cuiv, The Lazy Geek makes really nice videos on Youtube, but while explaining he sometimes looses the point, which makes it, as a non english native speaker, often pretty hard. Oh additionally there was a lot of veryvery loud music in my life.

Help is appriciated

All excellent choices. NINA is actively developed and getting better every day. I highly recommend it.

 

As mentioned earlier, Be sure to use ASCOM for EQMOD if a Windows PC

 

For a plate solver, ASTAP works extremely well and very fast with NINA.

 

I do recommend GIMP for some post processing, but I didn't like SIRIL for pre processing. I just ponied up the cash for PixInsight, however I have read lots of folks find Deep Sky Stacker + StarTools to be an easier learning curve.

 

I also prefer Stellarium over cart de ciel.


Edited by KTAZ, 23 February 2021 - 07:29 PM.


#5 fewayne

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 07:48 PM

I personally prefer SiriL to DSS for linear processing, especially the last couple releases, but that's just me.

 

If you are thinking about using a Raspberry Pi for your scope-side computer later, you may want to start now with KStars, Ekos, and INDI. Cloudmakers have a free download INDI server for Windows (works, but not a current product), so you can use the same software now on a laptop and on a mini later. In fact with INDI  you can run the drivers on the  mini and  keep using your laptop to connect to it.

 

Otherwise NINA is a fine choice.

 

I would seriously consider Astro Pixel Processor or even PixInsight if you are not absolutely wedded to open source, either of those packages will leave you with much less tweaking to do in The GIMP. APP is very easy to learn and use, PixInsight is exceedingly feature-rich and powerful.



#6 KTAZ

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 08:41 PM

All excellent choices. NINA is actively developed and getting better every day. I highly recommend it.

 

As mentioned earlier, Be sure to use ASCOM for EQMOD if a Windows PC

 

For a plate solver, ASTAP works extremely well and very fast with NINA.

 

I do recommend GIMP for some post processing, but I didn't like SIRIL for pre processing. I just ponied up the cash for PixInsight, however I have read lots of folks find Deep Sky Stacker + StarTools to be an easier learning curve.

 

I also prefer Stellarium over cart de ciel.

Oh, and SharpCap Pro ($10/year) is a Godsend for Polar Alignment.



#7 TrustyChords

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 09:25 PM

I just switched to using N.I.N.A. for consolidating everything: capturing + controlling mount (coming from using Backyard EOS and EQMOD controller). I planned to spend a few nights getting it working.

 

Turns out I was able to get it up and running in one night and I really enjoy it. It takes a minute to get used to the interface, but that's to be expected. Totally pleasantly surprised.


Edited by TrustyChords, 23 February 2021 - 09:25 PM.


#8 rgsalinger

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 11:11 PM

If you know Linux well then going the Pi route makes sense but it will really limit your hardware and software choices. So research the matter very carefully. If you don't know Linux well then honestly do you really want to learn a new OS while learning astro-photography? This is a hobby that yields great satisfaction if you avoid trying to learn too many things at once or making too many hardware changes. Why make the learning curve so much steeper? 

 

Spend some time on the Astroberry board and look at what people are posting. Then look at the NINA board. Having done that, I know what I would choose if I were starting up imaging. 

 

Buy a book - I recommend the Deep Sky Imaging Primer but it's in English which may be an issue for you over doing anything else first. 

 

Rgrds-Ross



#9 GR-Amateur

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Posted Yesterday, 04:25 AM

+10 Sharpcap a must for PA

#10 CoHPhasor

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Posted Yesterday, 04:53 AM

I think one of the things that gets nnew people into trouble, is assumptions.

I recently connected my mount to a PC for the 1st time a while back. It was a Celestron mount, so I was installing their CPWI software. everyone everywhere (including here) said I could just select the CPWI interface to guide in phd2.
It was not true and I couldnt figure out why. There is a step while installing CPWI that installs the CPWI-to-Ascom interface automatically IF HOU HAVE ASCOM INSTALLED ALREADY.

Many people who do this hobby setup their machines forever ago and dont remember all the dependencies/nuances they had to deal with to get things functioning.

In your case, installing NINA you will want:
-ASCOM installed already for windows, as well as the mount interface software.
-Probably .NET, IIRC I had to install 3.5 for one of the required softwares
-ASTAP or other platesolve software
-Sky Atlas database if doing the above
-Astrometry.net login/APi key if you want it to be your backup plate solver
-phd2 installed if using it for guiding (remember to pick the right cam for your profile if uou have say, 2 asi cams!!)
-Drivers for your cam(s)
-Change the default behavior for filenames... the default SUCKS.

#11 hansj

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Posted Yesterday, 05:19 AM

Hello,

 

many thanks for that feedback. You helped me a lot to get on the right path.

@rosalinger

ASCOM drivers seem to be a must have.

Win or Linux? I'm not quite a beginner with Linux but because (my wifes) laptop is at hand right now for practicing, i'm tending to a MiniPC, which also gives me more flexibility than a Raspberry. Other than a Laptop it can also be run with a 12V Powerbank (I have the 7Ah from Skywatcher). The plan is to control the Computer with my Smartphone/Pad and VNC client/server.

@GR-Amateur &KTAZ

Thats what i often read, Sharpcap seems to be a bargain for roughly 10 €/$ a year.

@feewayne

if the software gives me the result or is more handy for me, i'm ready to pay for it. But right now as a beginner i don't want to spent money for a programm, that doesn't fit to my kind of doing things (which is sometimes pretty weird for others wink.gif ).

Obviously there is a lot of great software to choose between.

 

But now i got to go, the dog is waiting.


Edited by hansj, Yesterday, 05:24 AM.


#12 cybermayberry

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Posted Yesterday, 12:06 PM

Cuiv is a great. He has a video on what you need to do with your mounts firmware to get it to run on a wedge, as well as how to setup NINA completely.

For stacking you can use DSS (deep sky stacker)  it's open source like SIRIL but easier to understand at first.

If weight is real factor you can also look at astro-berry (open source runs on a raspberry pie) or a ZWO ASIAir pro instead of a laptop. (granted I love NINA to much for that, but I have tested astro-berry and it does work)

I would agree with many other who have suggested paying for Sharpcap Pro, it's cheap and makes polar alignment so much easier and effective.

I have also found ASTAP works very well with NINA for plate solving. (no internet needed this may be very important to you in a remote site)

When you get lazy and don't want to drive there is always narrow-band imaging even from places like Stuttgart. Start saving for a L-Extreme filter. 

.



#13 rgsalinger

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Posted Yesterday, 12:44 PM

If you already have a laptop that you can use, I recommend that buy a really good powered hub as opposed to buying another computer with a different OS or an "appliance". Both of these restrict your future hardware and software choices. You really want to learn things once and not twice. 

 

The plate solver that you choose needs to interact smoothly with the imaging software. I used ANSVR because it works beautifully with my software stack. If you go the NINA route then look at what is recommended. 

 

As other have pointed out, there's lots of open source (free) programs you can buy but remember to contribute something if you end up standardizing on them. That encourages people to keep working on things as it defrays there expenses. 

 

Make sure that you install the ASCOM platform and any missing components that it identifies before doing anything else on the computer. Run the ASCOM diagnostics to make sure that everything is working. 

 

One thing is bothering me which is how EQASCOM fits into your current mount. Both of the SkyWatcher mounts that I've used required a special cable to eliminated the need to use the hand controller. Hopefully that is not true with your mount but you should do some research. 

 

Create a separate local admin account and install everything from that account but do NOT "install as admin". 


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#14 hansj

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Posted Yesterday, 04:14 PM

Cuiv is a great. He has a video on what you need to do with your mounts firmware to get it to run on a wedge, as well as how to setup NINA completely.

For stacking you can use DSS (deep sky stacker)  it's open source like SIRIL but easier to understand at first.

If weight is real factor you can also look at astro-berry (open source runs on a raspberry pie) or a ZWO ASIAir pro instead of a laptop. (granted I love NINA to much for that, but I have tested astro-berry and it does work)

I would agree with many other who have suggested paying for Sharpcap Pro, it's cheap and makes polar alignment so much easier and effective.

I have also found ASTAP works very well with NINA for plate solving. (no internet needed this may be very important to you in a remote site)

When you get lazy and don't want to drive there is always narrow-band imaging even from places like Stuttgart. Start saving for a L-Extreme filter. 

.

Cuivs videos are really usefull and one of my main sources.

Stacking is something for later, first i got to get the things working. bow.gif <- Prayer 

Weight is a main factor. Too many stairs to carry heavy stuff to the car. And because there are +/- 45km (~ 30 Miles) to the next 'dark' place, i got to drive.

If you zoom into Stuttgart, there will popup the suburb of 'Degerloch' and our flat is right at the first 'E'.

https://blue-marble....ightlights/2012

I wrote it before - Sharpcap for 10 €uros a year. For programms and also newspaper i use often (Guardian in Britain, Wikipedia etc.) i do donate money. 

ASTAP. Ok, i will remember

I wanna stay with the DSLR and as a guiding camera i eventually go with a Asi 224MC

Thanks!

 

If you already have a laptop that you can use, I recommend that buy a really good powered hub as opposed to buying another computer with a different OS or an "appliance". Both of these restrict your future hardware and software choices. You really want to learn things once and not twice. 

 

The plate solver that you choose needs to interact smoothly with the imaging software. I used ANSVR because it works beautifully with my software stack. If you go the NINA route then look at what is recommended. 

 

As other have pointed out, there's lots of open source (free) programs you can buy but remember to contribute something if you end up standardizing on them. That encourages people to keep working on things as it defrays there expenses. 

 

As a computer i'm looking for a MiniPC with at least 3 USB3 connectors. Why a MiniPc? It is much lighter than even my wifes laptop, i can use my Skywatcher powerbank and its 12V sockets and it is a full featured computer. VNC with the tablet or the smartphone will do it.

The Astroberry is <imho> to limited.

 

 

ake sure that you install the ASCOM platform and any missing components that it identifies before doing anything else on the computer. Run the ASCOM diagnostics to make sure that everything is working.

 

One thing is bothering me which is how EQASCOM fits into your current mount. Both of the SkyWatcher mounts that I've used required a special cable to eliminated the need to use the hand controller. Hopefully that is not true with your mount but you should do some research.

 

Create a separate local admin account and install everything from that account but do NOT "install as admin".

Thanks for this advice!

It seems to be important to install things in the right sequence

That means

Ascom first

For the other programs - is there an important priority?


Edited by hansj, Yesterday, 07:21 PM.


#15 CoHPhasor

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Posted Yesterday, 04:56 PM

Dont go with the asi 224mc for guiding.
 I have the 224 for planetary imaging, and for that it is EXCELLENT.
For guiding? No in every way.

  • Use a mono cam always - they have better sensitivity and guide stars can be DIM
  • Consider using the 'mini' version of cameras from ASI as they are easily drawn in and out of the holder to change focus

 

 I'm guiding on a monster, so I use a 174mm (probably overkill for many), but the sensor size difference... lol

 

The ASI290mm mini page compares it to the 224.
The 224 would be nice to have to double up on planetary, but guiding is a little hairy so I might not compromise that.
Others here may have experience with it.


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#16 JerryX

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Posted Yesterday, 04:58 PM

How about TheSkyX? I know it's not free, but is it worth the cost versus the free stuff?



#17 rgsalinger

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Posted Yesterday, 05:19 PM

Well, once you buy a Paramount, then the SKYX is, in fact free! However, if you want value I don't see that it's worth spending the money on it versus what you can get for free. It does have features that you won't see anywhere else, but the learning curve, if you don't have a free copy, is just too steep for me to recommend in this thread to someone who's starting out. 

Rgrds-Ross



#18 hansj

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Posted Yesterday, 07:20 PM

Hello,

 

@CoHPhasor

Usually i like stuff i can use for multiple activities, the DSLR for example.

But in this case your opinion makes a lot of sense. There are certain things you need the specialized tool.

Thanks for that advice.

SkyX? i never heard of, but i took a look at their prices shocked.gif  Ok, thats like @rgsalinger wrote - not for me as a beginner.

 

A lot of really helpful people here waytogo.gif

 
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