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How close can you get to EVscope simplicity with your EAA

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#1 Escape Pod

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Posted 05 March 2021 - 11:19 PM

It’s not that I can’t, I just don’t want to. :)

 

What is the simplest, plug and play EAA setup out there?

 

We’ve seen these new EV scopes that charge you $3k for a 4.5inch telescope and all the EAA stuff baked in. How close can you get a la carte by adding gear to your existing scope?

 

Is there anything more automated than the ZWO Asiair Pro?

https://www.highpoin...eras-asiair-pro


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#2 Noah4x4

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Posted 06 March 2021 - 02:12 AM

I don't expect you will see many responses to this provocative question. But these two images might help answer your enquiry; both from last night, and under poor Bortle 7 and cloudy conditions. Both are the product of 8 second exposures using an ASI294mc non-cooled at f/2 on Hyperstar at Gain 400 and under two minutes total integration time.

The bright Orion Nebula region will produce a gratifying result almost immediately. In under two minutes the far harder to observe Horsehead Nebula is clearly visible, but somewhat noisy and less well defined. Note the satellite streak. I am blighted by these and aircraft at my location and that is another reason I don't chase long exposures or long integration times.These two examples perhaps shows the range of what is achievable in about "one minute".

Yes, if I had let the Horsehead Nebula image continue to live stack for perhaps 20 minutes I might get close to the stunning photographs that the long exposure Astrophotographers produce having spent many hours on it. I discarded it before too much histogram tweaking simply because the satelitte streak ruined it. But compare my (admittedly dull) effort below against what you might see via an eyepiece (e.g. nothing). Better quality requires very much longer total integration time even at f/2.

To me, this is true EAA Observing where the sole objective is beating light pollution.. At the other end of the scale is EAA Imaging. This Forum us a broad church and members range from those (like me) that simply want to beat light pollution to those that want to win Astrophotographer of the Year. But I think what I am doing is as close to 'near live' as one can get. You won't see many other "one minute" DSOs published in the Forum. Life gets tougher the higher the f/ratio. At f/6,3 you need longer total integration time, longer exposures, ideally a GEM or wedge, hence polar alignment, auto-guiding etc. These example images are straight off an Alt-Az with Hyperstar, no tedious hassle. I guess a RASA is broadly similar.

msg-257973-0-96886100-1614980393_thumb.jpg msg-257973-0-05022000-1614980068.jpg

Edited by Noah4x4, 06 March 2021 - 02:16 AM.

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#3 dcweaver

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Posted 06 March 2021 - 04:45 AM

Don, the ASIAIR Pro is very nice, but the simplest plug-n-play option is a laptop you already own.  Pick up a usb to serial converter cable, an RS-232 cable, and load a few software programs onto the laptop.  You will have all the capability you need to drive the scope and stack images.  You can also connect to the laptop from a phone or tablet and drive the scope remotely using a remote desktop app.  I use Chrome Remote Desktop over my home WiFi network.  Loading all of the software and drivers is easy, just follow the prompts.  It's very automated.

 

SharpCap ($15/year)

Stellarium or Cartes du Ciel (free)

Ansvr or ASTAP plate solver (free)

ASCOM platform (free)

Chrome Remote Desktop (free)

 

If you don't already have a laptop, consider getting one instead of spending money on a device that is only good for astronomy.  A laptop will cost more, but it can be used for many other things in your life.

 

Start with the 80ED.  The short focal length and wide field of view will be easiest to start with.  If you intend to use the Mak you will need a focal reducer.  EAA with a Mak is very hard without one.  GSO makes 0.5 versions for 1.25 and 2 inch visual backs.  You may also want some spacers to place it at a specific distance from the camera sensor.


Edited by dcweaver, 06 March 2021 - 04:52 AM.

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#4 alphatripleplus

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Posted 06 March 2021 - 07:36 AM

I agree with DW: Many of us use a set-up with just 3 programs - planetarium program (e.g. CdC)/plate -solver (e.g. ASTAP)/ EAA software (e.g. SharpCap) - connected to each other via ASCOM. With that software combo running on a laptop and a small refractor, you can be up and running very quickly.

 

The difference between this type of solution is that there is a learning curve - you have to spend some time learning how to use each of those items of software, in contrast to something like an eVscope. However, it is not hard to do, and once you understand how to use a planetarium program, plate solver and EAA software it will be second nature.

 

I know some people are impatient and don't want to spend time "learning the software" beyond clicking one button - they just want to see pictures fast. For that type of person, the eVscope is probably a better bet. For anyone else, without much effort you can have an EAA system that will offer a lot of flexibility for a lot less than the eVscope.


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#5 Escape Pod

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Posted 06 March 2021 - 09:24 AM

Thank you for these replies, everyone. You’ve given me some new terms to google, like RASA and ASCOM. 
 

it seems clear that EAA is still much closer to astrophotography in terms of involvement than visual. But with some really remarkable results, Noah!

 

i find myself looking at images of things like pinwheel galaxy and wishing I could expand my list of impactful visual targets beyond the usual list of M31, M42, Bode, etc... . I’m not looking for hubble-grade images. Just wondering if I can make some of these other targets reveal as much detail as M31 / M42 do visually on a modest 6” scope for example. 

 

Alas...It seems I’ve either got to “aperture up” and go for a big Dob, or aperture down for something with a fast f/ratio and up my computer nerd skills smile.gif

 

or just wait for summer when all those globular clusters come out!


Edited by Escape Pod, 06 March 2021 - 09:25 AM.


#6 garyhawkins

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Posted 06 March 2021 - 09:35 AM

And I'll add, if you shop around, and buy 2nd hand, putting together an effective EAA can be done for under $1000.  I started with an AVX ($475), and C6 SCT (borrowed) and a modified 450D DSLR ($90 in an auction).  For $2000 you can put together a first-class system, my current system is an EQ6-R, C8 SCT and ZWO ASI 533MC.


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#7 nic35

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Posted 06 March 2021 - 10:40 AM

Good recommendations, all.

 

A couple of points to consider

 

The ASIAir Pro is a very nice gizmo that offers great capability.  Probably the fastest way to get to "remotely operated" systems - scope outside cold or buggy.  You inside, warm and comfortable. But:

 

it works only with Android or iOS systems,  so Windows systems are out, unless you are running an Android emulator.

 

It only works with ZWO cameras and some Canon/Nikon DSLR's.  Not a deal breaker IMO, as ZWO is amongst the leading camera producers.

 

It should work with your mount, but check the website.

 

If you dont like it, the resale potential is very high.

 

Your 80ed would be a great starter scope

 

If you enjoy the challenges of tinkering (many do), then assembling a system is a decent option.  But likely to be as or slightly to much more expensive than the ASIAir Pro if you are interested in remote (outside/inside) operation.  

 

enjoy

 

john


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#8 Escape Pod

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Posted 06 March 2021 - 10:50 AM

And I'll add, if you shop around, and buy 2nd hand, putting together an effective EAA can be done for under $1000.  I started with an AVX ($475), and C6 SCT (borrowed) and a modified 450D DSLR ($90 in an auction).  For $2000 you can put together a first-class system, my current system is an EQ6-R, C8 SCT and ZWO ASI 533MC.

I’ve definitely embraced the classifiieds forum here on CN to assemble my visual astronomy setup. And I’m a decent tinkerer, as John mentioned.

 

I guess I’m craving some of the simplicity that the ads for those EV scopes tantalize us with. All the stacking and stretching sorted out by a smart computer. Something you can bolt on to an OTA, sync to an iPad, and be dazzled.

 

I’m coming to understand that we’re still in the MSDOS phase of operating systems and software right now in the EAA field, with some crazy expensive Macs (the Unistellar, etc..) on the offering. I’m an amateur photographer as far as earthly subjects go. So if I were to dip my toes into EAA kit and technical involvement, I would probably go all the way and try my hand at astrophotography. 

 

Though I really appreciate what Noah 4x4 was able to achieve with 1 minute exposures on an Alt-Az mount. 

 

I guess there’s not as much of a middle ground as I had hoped. Seems like a lucrative, if niche, market. 



#9 alphatripleplus

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Posted 06 March 2021 - 11:51 AM

 

I guess I’m craving some of the simplicity that the ads for those EV scopes tantalize us with. All the stacking and stretching sorted out by a smart computer. Something you can bolt on to an OTA, sync to an iPad, and be dazzled.

 

 

Nothing wrong with something simple if it saves time and effort. However, I think with a little practice you'll find the flexibility of any EAA set-up that you put together may end up reduce or even nullify the "simplicity" advantage those ads are touting. smile.gif


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#10 cpl43uk

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Posted 06 March 2021 - 06:31 PM

Its a good question and one that was partly behind my own search. I saw the eVscope and wanted to see if EAA could be achieved for me in my situation (light pollution on the rise, running out of low hanging fruit targets in my garden), without real added complexity (setting up, learning curve etc) but at lower cost and with wider pathways for the future.

 

I don’t own a laptop and have no plans to own one any time soon.i have my ipad/iphone and they are both quite powerful if exploited well. I don’t want to teach myself software that only plays nicely on Windows etc and that may be free but takes effort to learn the basics because its not set up to be a supported product. I don’t want a “set up” that takes effort to set up!

 

The answer so far for me is that no alternative exists imho and partly because as soon as you start EAA you realise your goals change. You realise you want to see more depth, wider skies and sharper images and this drives you towards bigger, more complex set ups but also routes to better experiences in the longer term.

 

So, most alternatives are compromises. To be honest the more i look into EAA the more i realise eVscope has  tried to make something play “nicely” in all its bits and pieces every time its used. But at a big price. Perhaps it will be a forerunner of a truly “killer” system in future years. 
 

As an alternative, Asiair Pro is perhaps the best route forward in many way - all in one package (in theory) but in my limited experience it does not always “play nicely” as advertised across the components. Still a work-in-progress. 

 

So, closest equivalent to my mind could be a Starsense-enabled 6” GOTO Evolution, an asiair pro, an asicamera, sky safari and an ipad. But its not what i need for my own journey going forward because, once you start down this rabbit hole...



#11 roelb

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Posted 06 March 2021 - 09:17 PM

It’s not that I can’t, I just don’t want to. smile.gif

 

What is the simplest, plug and play EAA setup out there?

 

We’ve seen these new EV scopes that charge you $3k for a 4.5inch telescope and all the EAA stuff baked in. How close can you get a la carte by adding gear to your existing scope?

 

Is there anything more automated than the ZWO Asiair Pro?

https://www.highpoin...eras-asiair-pro

Back in 2017, I started with https://www.cloudyni...ifi-connection/.

And still happy to use that EAA system with great "flexibility & productivity" for both my 6 SE & Evo 8 scopes.

Only included CPWI to do auto Starsense alignment.

I don't think it is the simplest EAA setup but rather it isn't a "rabbit hole"...smile.gif



#12 Noah4x4

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Posted 07 March 2021 - 03:05 AM

From what I have seen of the EVScope, and that is only the published images in the primary thread within this Forum, it produces results that are no better than my "one minute" demonstration above. Indeed, I don't think they are as good, but that is a matter of opinion. However, if I let my Horsehead Nebula example run for twenty minutes it will get significantly better. Can the EVScope similarly improve with longer integration times?

To be fair, I am using an Evolution 8", Hyperstar and ASI294mc, which is probably a more expensive "near live" combination than EVScope. In that sense, EVScope isn't such poor value as it is not a cheap exercise to create a 'fast' (f/2 to f/4) EAA system. However, if it ever becomes available again, the Starizona NightOwl x0.4 focal reducer looks interesting. But do you really need f/2 or f/4 for imaging? A 'faster' system enhances the 'near live' experience for an observer, but F/6.3 is perfectly fine if you are a patient imager. We now stray into the debate of what is EAA.

In summary, if you are not remotely DIY skilled, and focused more on observing than imaging, then EVScope is probably right for you. But I reckon 50% of the fun of this hobby is image problem solving and equipment solution finding. Once I had created my 'perfect' rig (two years in development), life seemed a bit empty merely waiting for clouds to clear. At least when I suffered WiFi drop outs I had something to challenge me when it was pouring with rain. I have just bought a Solar Filter to head in yet another new direction. Thankfully, there are billions of targets on my bucket list to keep me keen. I have a feeling that an EVScope would soon feel more like an expensive toy.
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