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Where do you start and how much does it cost?

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#1 godelescher



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Posted 21 July 2021 - 09:03 PM

I'm curious about this. I have good OTAs and good mounts, but everything is driven, not go-to. If I wanted to get started with eaa, what equipment do I need and what should I expect my total outlay to be-ish?

#2 Creedence


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Posted 21 July 2021 - 09:19 PM

I started with a Revolution R2 imager which displays near-real-time images on a small lcd handheld screen. At the time (about 3 years ago now) it was about $200. It all goes way up in terms of cost and complexity from there.
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#3 barbarosa



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Posted 21 July 2021 - 09:22 PM

The good news is that whatever works for you know PA and slews to targets will still work with a camera. The better news is that you can plate solve (and in many cases sync the mount to the solve) and use any of several PA routines (I really like the PA tool in SharpCap) with a camera. 


If you have an older driven alt-az mount you can still use plate solving to perfect your star alignment.


Tell us what mount and scope you plan to use, what diagonal if any, and we can make very specific suggestions about cameras and adapters. Tell  us about you primary observing site, what is the approximate sky brightness and what targets, planetary, DSOs, doubles are most important to you. Everything possible is an OK answer. If you know that you want to go for color tell us or if you are planning to use narrow band filters (not necessarily for EAA). 


Is your computer Win 10 or a Mac or do you hope to do everything from a phone (tell us what OS).


Do you want a wireless option or a remote operation capability? Some of us like to sit indoors on cold nights.


If you have a clear budget tell us, if not we will suggest cameras at several price points.


Meanwhile take a look at this chart and check some of the prices, There are other brands but this is a good place to start.


Welcome to a fun part of the  hobby.


Oh and no offense to anyone but all of these cameras do EEA  in real time, NRT is  a meaningless descriptor here. And the RI is basically old tech harking back to broadcast TV/Beta Max quality. There are much better newer CMOS cams, like everyone on the ZWO product list for example.

Edited by barbarosa, 21 July 2021 - 09:26 PM.

#4 *skyguy*



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Posted 21 July 2021 - 09:27 PM

You can start with the Revolution Imager R2 Kit with Viewing Screen for $299 USD:




It's about as close to a complete plug and play system that you'll find. However, you do run the danger of quickly outgrowing it and end up spending many hundreds of dollars more for a more sophisticated system.


Good Luck ....

#5 Jethro7



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Posted 21 July 2021 - 11:14 PM

I'm curious about this. I have good OTAs and good mounts, but everything is driven, not go-to. If I wanted to get started with eaa, what equipment do I need and what should I expect my total outlay to be-ish?

Hello godlelescher,

If you can find someone near you or a Astronomy Club that may be the good way into EAA with a bit of hands on. You also may be able to find used gear there, from someone that has upgraded. The big problem with the Resolution Imager system is, It leaves so much to be desired and is some what underwhelming. Most who start with this gadget very quickly upgrade to a much better system ala carte. If you go with a Resolution Imager, buy used so you can recoup your money. All you need is a tracking mount. GoTo is very helpful but not nessessary. The GoTo helps because many DSO's will not be visable to you without assistance. You will need a main scope, guide scope a couple of CMOS or CCD cameras and a computer with SharpCap and of course clear skies, That's about it. The cost of this gear will run the spectrum depending on your choices and like most Astro toys, you can spend as much as you want to spend. If you already have the mount and scopes and a computer you are almost there all you need is SharpCap about $19.00 USD for a year plus a couple of cameras. The price can run anywhere from about $500 USD or so for a pair of cameras to the sky. The cameras are where the money is and the better the cameras, the better your resulting images will be. You may be able to retask a good starfinder scope into a guide scope to save here, if not you will need to purchase one, guide scopes run from  cheap to as much as you want.



Edited by Jethro7, 22 July 2021 - 07:37 AM.

#6 garyhawkins


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Posted 21 July 2021 - 11:18 PM

As barbarosa indicated, the Revolution Imager is not the way to go, IMHO smile.gif. A ZWO (or similar) CMOS camera, paired with Sharpcap is a much better path. Yes, there's a little more learning, and a little more cost, but it's a platform that will grow.  What camera you pick depends on your OTA, and the type of targets you want to image.


godelescher please provide a little more information on the equipment you have and many will provide advice.  If you want to see what is possible with a C8 SCT checkout the following video -  Yes, the camera is more expensive than the Revolution 2 but any uncooled CMOS camera with a similar sensor size to the 533MC can achieve these results in Bortle 8 skies.

Edited by garyhawkins, 22 July 2021 - 09:51 AM.

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#7 GazingOli


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Posted 22 July 2021 - 03:00 AM

Here are some comparisons, all images are live stacked with SharpCap pro and saved as seen, no post production


M 27 Dubell Nebula


with selfmade 80/480 triplet apo + ZWO ASI 224 + UHC filter

M27 olifASI224UHC_21frames_126s.jpg


with Celestron C8 + ZWO ASI 294 + UHC filter

M27 C8f6.3ASI294UHC_17frames_272s_cropresized.jpg


with Revolution Imager: https://stargazerslo...d12be101140.jpg



M 20 Trifid Nebula


with Celestron C8 + ZWO ASI 294 + UHC filter

M20 C8f6.3ASI294UH M20_50frames_400s_cropresized.jpg


with Revolution Imager




M 63 galaxy


with Celestron C8 + ZWO ASI 178 MM

M63 C8f6Asi178_57frames_456s_cropresized.jpg


with Revolution Imager




Edited by GazingOli, 22 July 2021 - 03:01 AM.

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#8 dcweaver


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Posted 23 July 2021 - 12:35 AM

The way to go often depends on whether you are proficient with a computer and/or already have a laptop.  If you have one, for $250 US you can get far more capability from a ZWO ASI224 than you can get from a clunky re-purposed security camera like the RI.  There is only one USB cable to deal with instead of the octopus of cables and external battery needed for the RI.  But having a laptop will only get you part way there.


The other thing to think about is how you would find things without Goto capability.  You have some very nice OTA listed in your profile.  With wide field eyepieces, you have probably never had the need for Goto.  Unfortunately, cameras in the price range of an RI or ASI224, have very small sensors.  Even with a typical 80mm refractor, a small sensor will only give a 0.5 deg FOV and it can be very hard to see enough "waypoints" to sort out where you are relative to the target.  There are ways to overcome the lack of Goto, but they take patience, attention to detail, and some math.  I have seen examples of people using plate solvers (which require a computer) and setting circles (digital or good old fashioned etched rings on the mount) to manually move a mount to a target.


So you are in an awkward position where you need to either spend money on a camera with a bigger sensor, spend money on Goto mount, or spend your time (time = money) on a workaround for Goto with a small sensor camera (RI or otherwise).


I like to do hard things vs easy things, so I might try a small sensor with plate solving and mechanical setting circles.  The easier routes are a Sky-watcher AZ GTi mount that can be obtained for $400 US, or a camera with a bigger sensor like the ASI183 for $550 US (no cooling).  Your present situation with regard to a laptop (or lack thereof) will strongly influence your direction.

Edited by dcweaver, 23 July 2021 - 12:41 AM.

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