Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Getting to "first light" for the first time (workflow/checklist)

Astrophotography CMOS Equipment Refractor Beginner Imaging Software
  • Please log in to reply
6 replies to this topic

#1 sheakev

sheakev

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 34
  • Joined: 10 Sep 2020
  • Loc: Near Madison Wisconsin

Posted 07 May 2021 - 09:02 AM

Today, will likely be a very exciting and frustrating day for me. 

I will be getting my first Astro imaging camera (ZWO ASI2600MM). I have my ZWO 7x36mm filter wheel and filters. And I believe I might have the right adapters/ connectors to get the correct back metal distance for my 130mm (with a 0.7 flattener/reducer) refractor telescope. N.B., I have never done astrophotography and I only got into astronomy last fall.

If anyone has a workflow or checklist they use when setting up a new imaging train and getting to first light, I would be grateful if you could share it.

I have read everything I could, watched scores of YouTube videos but haven't found an A-Z process for a beginner like myself.   I’m hopeful someone has recorded their process from pieces of hardware and software to a successful, integrated astrophotography system.  I am hopeful the collective wisdom here will be the key to success and keep me sane.

 

Clear Skies!

Kevin

 

P.S.  I plan on using TheSkyX since I have a SB Paramount MX+.  I have a FocusLynx focuser, and will likely use Voyager once I get the basics working. Cameras and filter wheel are ZWO.  Guide camera will use  Tak guide scope which came with this setup, I may switch to OAG in the future.

ASCOM software has been loaded and all software and drivers are up to date..



#2 Ken Sturrock

Ken Sturrock

    Cardinal Ximenez

  • *****
  • Administrators
  • Posts: 10,223
  • Joined: 26 Sep 2009
  • Loc: Denver, CO

Posted 07 May 2021 - 09:22 AM

In general:

 

  1. Manage your expectations.
  2. Set the imaging train up and make sure that it works in the day-time with a very short exposure. This will help you get near focus.
  3. Try to do one thing at a time: Try to take images one night. Try to get the autofocuser working the next night. Go for guiding working after that. I know that it's tempting, but leave "all up" testing for NASA. It's not a race.
  4. Try to understand why you're doing things rather than just follow some recipe.

 

Since you have a Paramount and are using SkyX, you might (or might not) find a set of documents I wrote to be helpful for stepping you through software and gear setup. I wrote it for MyT users, but it's essentially the same for you. The chapter on PEC is weak & confusing and needs a re-write.

 

Even though you intend to eventually use Voyager, you should try to get SkyX to work, at least for now.

 

There are two phenomena that I see with many new Paramount owners. 1.) They sometimes don't read manuals and don't want to learn how SkyX or the mount works. Since you're new to AP, you'll actually have less baggage in some ways. 2.) People become paralyzed chasing perfection and second guessing everything. It's usually more productive (and more fun) to try to get the gear roughly setup and then take some pictures. Then go back for another round of optimization. There are way too many folks who spend their first three months doing nothing but TPoint models and don't actually image *anything*.

 

Have fun. Drop me a PM if you think that I can help.


  • limeyx and sheakev like this

#3 sheakev

sheakev

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 34
  • Joined: 10 Sep 2020
  • Loc: Near Madison Wisconsin

Posted 07 May 2021 - 09:59 AM

In general:

 

  1. Manage your expectations....

Have fun. 

Ken,

Thanks for the quick response.  I took a quick look at your documents and they will be quite helpful. All your comments make total sense.

The UPS truck with the camera won't be here for a few hours so I will read through your docs and then crack open TheSkyX manual again and start working through it.

Kevin



#4 Marcelofig

Marcelofig

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 652
  • Joined: 21 Jan 2015

Posted 07 May 2021 - 11:57 AM

Take one step at a time. If you try to do everything the first day, you will quickly get frustrated. And you will need a lot of patience.

 

A couple of points to keep in mind:

 

Take your time to perform the polar alignment, the most important setting you need to do.

 

Keep the autofocus in its box for a while.Focus manually using a Bahtinov mask on a bright star.

 

Don't try autoguiding the first time either. Try short exposures of about 30 seconds (and ignore if you get oval stars).

 

If you are located in a high light pollution area try the Ha filter on a bright object like Orion (the closest thing to instant gratification you will find in this hobby).

 

Leave the flats (and darkflats) for the second or third day. But since the camera is temperature controlled, you can start taking darks as soon as you get it, just keep the cap on.


  • Starman609 and sheakev like this

#5 Professor2112

Professor2112

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 623
  • Joined: 23 May 2020
  • Loc: Massachusetts

Posted 07 May 2021 - 12:07 PM

https://youtu.be/2FZkVp0Ng1I

 

I just saw this yesterday, it may be very helpful for you! Sometimes timing works out pretty well!


  • sheakev likes this

#6 sheakev

sheakev

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 34
  • Joined: 10 Sep 2020
  • Loc: Near Madison Wisconsin

Posted 08 May 2021 - 07:33 AM

Well the camera arrived, almost 4 months after ordering it.  I was happy that all my planning on getting the back metal distance sorted out paid off.  I got to within 0.3mm.

Next I plugged in the camera and it's power supply.  I used the hub that is part of the ASI2600MM to connect the filter wheel and the guide camera.  Both cameras connected and appear to work.  The filter wheel shows up as connected but I haven't been able to confirm that it is changing filters.

As it turns out, the focuser will need a firmware update and I need a special serial cable which I don't have.  Its been ordered and should be here in a few days.

 

So good advice from all and it was not a frustrating experience but it will take a while before it sees its first light.  Next will be to go through all the SkyX stuff so be sure it is setup correctly.  I also know I have some screw holes in the filter wheel which need to be covered up (they are there for bolting on an OAG and are letting in light).

 

I do have a scope buggy so once I'm sure that everything is properly connected and working I will disassemble the rig and get the tripod and mount on the scope buggy.  I can then move it outside easily and make certain my guide scope and telescope are aligned.

 

And of course it was clear last night with a forecast of clouds and rain for the foreseeable future.



#7 davidmalanick

davidmalanick

    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 115
  • Joined: 14 Oct 2020
  • Loc: Sheboygan Wisconsin

Posted 08 May 2021 - 02:51 PM

Be careful with that Scope Buggy.  That looks like a lot of equipment on wheels to tip over if not going slow!


  • sheakev likes this


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Astrophotography, CMOS, Equipment, Refractor, Beginner, Imaging, Software



Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics