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SkyGuider Pro with iPolar questions

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#1 xelfer

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Posted 08 April 2021 - 07:18 AM

Hi all,

 

I'm looking into getting a SkyGuider Pro to begin astrophotography. Until now I've mostly been into timelapse photography. I'll be using a 5dmk3 with various L glass (16-35 2.8L, 70-200 2.8L and others). 

 

I'm in the southern hemisphere (Australia) and I've read that the iPolar can assist here more with polar alignment due to it being a bit harder here.

 

My main question is if I'm also looking at using an Auto Guider like the ASI120MM Mini and combine it with the ZWO ASIAir Pro, does that mean I shouldn't bother getting the iPolar equipped SkyGuider Pro?

 

Am I right in thinking the ASIAir Pro can align and auto guide?

 

and do I need anything else in this setup besides a guide scope? I'm trying to do my best to piece together https://www.peterzel...e-skyguider-pro and other blogs i've read before purchasing anything.

 

Thanks in advance for any assistance!

 

 



#2 DubbelDerp

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Posted 08 April 2021 - 07:38 AM

You bet. I use an ASI120MM to polar align my Skyguider Pro, although I use astroberry server instead of ASIAIR Pro. They both will let you autoguide and polar align. To be honest, I think the iPolar defeats the purpose of the Skyguider Pro, as it's just such a nice little tracker to set up, visually align, and start shooting with minimal equipment. I would recommend getting the one with the visual polar scope, and use your guide camera to refine your polar alignment rather than the iPolar.

 

One thing that helps with the Skyguider Pro is to put a panoramic head on the DEC bracket, as it allows much smoother adjustments in declination. Beyond that, you'll want to decide how to attach your camera and guide scope. A longer arca-swiss plate works well, as you can mount the camera/lens on top and attach the guide scope to the bottom.


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#3 sg6

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Posted 08 April 2021 - 08:12 AM

I would suggest you get a "proper" goto equitorial mount.

With the equipment listed you are already putting a fair amount on a Skyguider, and if memory is right they have only an RA motor so guiding in Dec is kind of impossible.

 

I know cost in Aus are somewhat high, but AP comes down to getting the rigt equipment for the job. And the Skyguiders etc initially came out as small items to get images when on holiday and when the proper equipment was impractical to take along.

 

The other aspect is that you need the Skyguider and some variety of wedge, When you add those 2 items up in cost I expect you are close to an equitorial mount. So get the equitorial mount.



#4 Islander13

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Posted 08 April 2021 - 01:29 PM

DubbleDerp knows way more than I do, but I'm  new to AP and I have the SkyGuider Pro with a 5D2 and a ZenithStar 61 refractor. I have found polar alignment to be fairly simple now through the polar scope. I actually flipped my DEC bracket like Peter zelinski said in order to get a little more leverage for the counter weight. The problem was that you can't polar align with the camera/scope on as the DEC bracket has to be in the 12:00 position to illuminate the polar scope red light. So I flipped it back to the factory setting so that I can polar align with the scope and camera attached. 

 

I'm around 6 pounds, which is well under the weight limit for the SkyGuider pro, but I do feel the torque on the mounts. I have ordered the extra counter weight and have a small 3 pound weight on there right now added to the single counter weight that the tracker shipped with.

 

I had a super solid tripod to mount it all on which has a azimuth adjustment so I don't really use the stock ioptron wedge has a clunky set of screws for adjusting and the range is very limited. The Alt adjustment screw is much better. 

 

The rig seems to do a great job of tracking when you get a decent polar alignment. I use the ioptron polar scope app on my phone to help find the exact spot to set up. 

 

I'll keep the SkyGuider Pro for sure. I want to be simple and portable, and don't want to be tethered to anything. But I do get that it is a small mount as you start adding gear.

 

I'm interested in seeing what I can get to help guiding after PA. 



#5 xelfer

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Posted 09 April 2021 - 12:23 AM

You bet. I use an ASI120MM to polar align my Skyguider Pro, although I use astroberry server instead of ASIAIR Pro. They both will let you autoguide and polar align. To be honest, I think the iPolar defeats the purpose of the Skyguider Pro, as it's just such a nice little tracker to set up, visually align, and start shooting with minimal equipment. I would recommend getting the one with the visual polar scope, and use your guide camera to refine your polar alignment rather than the iPolar.

 

One thing that helps with the Skyguider Pro is to put a panoramic head on the DEC bracket, as it allows much smoother adjustments in declination. Beyond that, you'll want to decide how to attach your camera and guide scope. A longer arca-swiss plate works well, as you can mount the camera/lens on top and attach the guide scope to the bottom.

Thanks, appreciate your response!

 

 

I would suggest you get a "proper" goto equitorial mount.

With the equipment listed you are already putting a fair amount on a Skyguider, and if memory is right they have only an RA motor so guiding in Dec is kind of impossible.

 

I know cost in Aus are somewhat high, but AP comes down to getting the rigt equipment for the job. And the Skyguiders etc initially came out as small items to get images when on holiday and when the proper equipment was impractical to take along.

 

The other aspect is that you need the Skyguider and some variety of wedge, When you add those 2 items up in cost I expect you are close to an equitorial mount. So get the equitorial mount.

Thanks for this suggestion. Are there any EQ mounts you suggest to look at? I did kind of want a smaller portable system (ie when I go camping) so the SkyGuider was appealing in that sense. 

 

Maybe I should just stick with timelapse photography.. it seems easier at this point ;-) 



#6 DubbelDerp

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Posted 09 April 2021 - 07:57 AM

You'll be fine with a Skyguider Pro. It really is the perfect thing for what you are trying to do - a small lightweight tracker that you are able to take with you on camping or hiking trips. It can be as simple as setting it down on the ground, aligning it, mounting your camera, and turning on the power switch. Do you really want to be messing with multiple cables, hubs, laptops, batteries, etc. when you're out in the middle of nowhere in the dark?

 

I use the stock iOptron tripod, wedge, and counterweight with my Skyguider Pro, and it works fine. And I can be set up and shooting in as little as 5 minutes. But if you want to try shooting with a longer focal length, the option of guiding and more accurate polar alignment through the guidescope is really nice to have. And a good polar alignment really makes guiding in declination unnecessary. Sure, goto is nice with a full EQ mount, but now you've just sacrificed the portability of the Skyguider Pro. But that's kind of how I feel about the iPolar. Why have such a lightweight, portable setup that you've just handicapped by not being able to polar align it without a laptop?


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#7 xelfer

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 08:45 PM

You'll be fine with a Skyguider Pro. It really is the perfect thing for what you are trying to do

Thank you :) I appreciate the insight! 

 

My concern was that the iPolar would make it a bit easier to align in the southern hemisphere and I have no idea how difficult the polar scope would be for a newbie. 

 

I also missed your original comment about astroberry server, that thing looks awesome. I'll definitely try that out too. 

 

Is the black thing at the bottom of this package the wedge or do I need to still get one? the image seems to show it directly mounted onto a tripod as-is.

 

Thanks DubbelDerp!



#8 DubbelDerp

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 09:24 PM

Yes, that’s the wedge. It should come with the full package. It attaches to the tripod head with a 3/8”

bolt, and then the skyguider body attaches to the wedge. Here’s a photo of mine - I have the 8”

ioptron pier on the top of the tripod, but otherwise attaches the same. The guide scope is a great addition for polar aligning - definitely skip the ipolar if you think you may want to autoguide. 

 

Not sure what’s going on with the formatting...

F24CF46D-CF62-4B0F-BBF7-D72BBF7D5E38.jpeg

 


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#9 xelfer

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 09:26 PM

Thank you! that answers all my questions I think. Really appreciate it :) 



#10 xelfer

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 09:31 PM

Actually, what's the name of the piece the camera and guider attached to?



#11 DubbelDerp

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 10:05 PM

Good eye! That’s a 360° pano head attached to the dec bracket:
https://www.ebay.com...7UAAOSwtOZcdkvU

It really helps the adjustment in declination, because the one that comes with it is really coarse. This one has a very fluid motion.

I also bought an 8 inch arca-Swiss plate that clamps in the pano head. This lets me adjust the camera and lens forward/back to balance in that axis. Last thing - I attached the guide scope base to a standard arca-swiss clamp, which lets me attach it to the bottom of the 8 inch plate.
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#12 xelfer

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 10:10 PM

Actually it was the swiss plate I noticed, not the pano head! Thanks for all the advice.

 

I own a 360 pano head somewhere too.. I wonder if that'll work too!



#13 DubbelDerp

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 10:20 PM

It should! Here’s the plate I ordered. It’s nothing special but it works fine for both my Rokinon 135mm f/2 and AT60ED refractor paired with a canon 600D.

https://www.amazon.c...0NsaWNrPXRydWU=
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#14 EdDixon

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 10:22 PM

I have a SGP, a few scopes, as well as a full size GOTO mount.  Each combination has their good and bad points.

 

I use the SGP for basic wide field things.  MilkyWay photos, meteor showers, and similar things.  However as another already said, the SGP only moves in RA and has zero DEC capability.  While I have guide scopes and cameras for use with the large mount, I don't use them at all with the SGP.  I focus on getting a dead-on polar alignment with the standard polar scope.  I have a right angle view finder that makes that process SO much easier.  I can get 3 minutes subs with no star trails with a 300mm lens on a Nikon DSLR.

 

I also have a WO Z61 scope, which is small enough for the SGP.  I have done a few things with that, but mostly that's for travel things.  Taking the large mount on extended trips is not practical...the SGP is.

For any higher magnification targets, the GOTO mount is the only practical choice.  I have a couple of large reflector and SCT scopes and a bigger WO refractor as well.

 

I believe the SGP is a real value for those starting out.  I will say I know less about the use in the southern hemisphere, but I believe that is fairly straightforward as well.



#15 xelfer

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 12:25 AM

I don't use them at all with the SGP.  I focus on getting a dead-on polar alignment with the standard polar scope.  I have a right angle view finder that makes that process SO much easier.  I can get 3 minutes subs with no star trails with a 300mm lens on a Nikon DSLR.

That sounds awesome! thanks for your input!



#16 xelfer

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 01:17 AM

All right, SkyGuider Pro (non iPolar), ASI 120MM MINI and ZWO 30 f/4 MINI GUIDE SCOPE all ordered. Will have to find some arca-swiss clamps but this should do me for now. Look forward to the results!

 

Now to dig out that raspberry pi...


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#17 EdDixon

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 02:39 AM

I also have an iPolar, ASI120MM-S and ZWO guide scope.  I only use those parts on the GOTO scope, not the SGP.  Guiding on a rotator mount can at best make tiny changes in the rotation speed.  It has no ability to change DEC to move towards guide stars that are moving out of view.  If you have a good PA, there won’t be much of that.

 

For the SGP, consider looking at small parts to make this.

Attached Thumbnails

  • IMG_0051s1.png


#18 xelfer

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 03:37 AM

For the SGP, consider looking at small parts to make this.

That looks great! any model names or anything I could look up to make one?



#19 EdDixon

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 10:34 AM

Here are some refs:

 

https://www.amazon.c...e?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

I originally made the connector using a pill bottle.  Later I got a 3D printed one that I now use.

 

https://www.shapeway...d&utm_content=2

 

Ed


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#20 T~Stew

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 12:04 PM

xelfer, be sure to check out the Skyguider thread in mounts, kind of a general chit chat https://www.cloudyni...name-it/page-42

 

I really like using the ASIair pro with mine, with guidescope and a supported camera (I use various Canon dSLR) it really adds a lot of features and makes the mount much more capable. Some have made thier own with raspberry pi, but I'm not too familiar with that. Yes ASIair pro has its own PA routine, would likely make the extra cost of iPolar a waste. I don't have windows or a laptop so didn't want iPolar anyhow, and I prefer to still have the option of actual polar scope if needed. I don't know if the southern hemisphere changes much with ASIair, I assume it can polar align in the south no problem but I have no experience. Looks like Derp gave some good info on upgrading to a pano head and arca plate.

 

 

I would suggest you get a "proper" goto equitorial mount.

With the equipment listed you are already putting a fair amount on a Skyguider, and if memory is right they have only an RA motor so guiding in Dec is kind of impossible.

 

I know cost in Aus are somewhat high, but AP comes down to getting the rigt equipment for the job. And the Skyguiders etc initially came out as small items to get images when on holiday and when the proper equipment was impractical to take along.

 

The other aspect is that you need the Skyguider and some variety of wedge, When you add those 2 items up in cost I expect you are close to an equitorial mount. So get the equitorial mount.

 Of course a proper goto mount is always going to be better (except for cost and portability!). But I don't agree that anything he lists is even breaking a sweat on a SkyGuider. Yes, dec guiding isn't possible with any RA-only tracker, I hope this is obvious. You need to have good polar alignment, then its not much an issue. Even without guiding I have been able to go to 2-3 minutes with 300-400mm focal length with good PA. I don't know what you are getting at about the needing some variety of wedge, the standard kit includes the wedge. I did upgrade mine to the very costly WO wedge, which I am unsure if really made a difference or not, but still total cost for me is half of what budget GEM like HEQ5 would be.

 

Having something like the ASIair pro does make finding your target as accurate as a goto mount and much easier than just doing so visually, but it is still tedious to manually move the scope. A tracker will always be much more tedious and possibly not as accurate... I have good days and bad, sometimes images ok at 800mm focal length, some days I throw out subs at 300, but you may have similar bad days even with a GEM. I don't mind the tediousness, at least not yet. I think it's important to learn how to manually do all this stuff first, find targets, etc. Especially if you might take it camping and using it without external devices like ASIair.


Edited by T~Stew, 13 April 2021 - 12:08 PM.

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#21 acommonsoul

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 12:50 PM

I really enjoyed the SGP when I had it. I ended up selling it to help fund my EQ6-R Pro. I will probably buy another one someday. I will say that the polar finder on the SGP is so much better than the one on my EQ6-R Pro. It is very clear and easy to read. One recommendation I will give, is that is you are using a regular tripod with it, make sure you weight it. Any little bump will knock your polar alignment off. Weighting it down helps dramatically. Best of luck!


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#22 xelfer

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 08:03 PM

It should! Here’s the plate I ordered. It’s nothing special but it works fine for both my Rokinon 135mm f/2 and AT60ED refractor paired with a canon 600D.

https://www.amazon.c.../dp/B07D4CGK7R/

Do you think these would be suitable for my camera and the ZWO mini scope? (your HITHUT is unavailable)

 

https://www.amazon.c...e/dp/B00KYEO70Q
https://www.amazon.c.../dp/B00J7LT4ZK/

 

one clamp for the camera and one for the scope underneath? 

it's hard to see under the rail though so i'm not sure if the clamp can mount to it for the scope.. maybe i'll just use the hot shoe and a spare ball head to start with.. smile.gif

 

edit: oh your scope clamps TO the rail.. it's not screwed to it.. the scope is screwed to the clamp? hmm then it might work..


Edited by xelfer, 13 April 2021 - 08:13 PM.


#23 limeyx

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Posted 14 April 2021 - 12:45 AM

Thank you smile.gif I appreciate the insight! 

 

My concern was that the iPolar would make it a bit easier to align in the southern hemisphere and I have no idea how difficult the polar scope would be for a newbie. 

 

I also missed your original comment about astroberry server, that thing looks awesome. I'll definitely try that out too. 

 

Is the black thing at the bottom of this package the wedge or do I need to still get one? the image seems to show it directly mounted onto a tripod as-is.

 

Thanks DubbelDerp!

I *think* one benefit of iPolar is since it doesn't move when you slew, you could monitor PA and fix it when it goes bad without having to go back to the pole and then physically move to your target again ? That could be a benefit I would think if it's possible



#24 limeyx

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Posted 14 April 2021 - 12:49 AM

Do you think these would be suitable for my camera and the ZWO mini scope? (your HITHUT is unavailable)

 

https://www.amazon.c...e/dp/B00KYEO70Q
https://www.amazon.c.../dp/B00J7LT4ZK/

 

one clamp for the camera and one for the scope underneath? 

it's hard to see under the rail though so i'm not sure if the clamp can mount to it for the scope.. maybe i'll just use the hot shoe and a spare ball head to start with.. smile.gif

 

edit: oh your scope clamps TO the rail.. it's not screwed to it.. the scope is screwed to the clamp? hmm then it might work..

This is the plate I have (200mm works for me. If you mount the guide scope under the plate you might want a 300mm)

 

https://smile.amazon...8379284&sr=8-10

 

Pano head is something like this (look for low-profile knobs or they will hit the SGP body as mine do)

 

https://smile.amazon...8379350&sr=8-11



#25 xelfer

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Posted 14 April 2021 - 12:54 AM

This is the plate I have (200mm works for me. If you mount the guide scope under the plate you might want a 300mm)

 

https://smile.amazon...8379284&sr=8-10

 

Pano head is something like this (look for low-profile knobs or they will hit the SGP body as mine do)

 

https://smile.amazon...8379350&sr=8-11

Thanks, unfortunately that first one is unavailable in Australia! I'm trying to find an equivalent smile.gif

 

https://www.amazon.c...dp/B07NB83PS2/  are these knobs ok?

 

and maybe this plate? https://www.amazon.c.../dp/B07TV4N91T/ (ew, delivery 7th of may though)


Edited by xelfer, 14 April 2021 - 12:55 AM.



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