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EQStarPro EQMOD PHD2 Pulse Guiding

Astrophotography Mount Equipment EQ DSO Beginner
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#1 Jdw1953

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Posted 15 October 2021 - 08:55 PM

I've experimented with astrophotograpy for less than a year with an iOptron SkyGuider Pro, DSLR with telephoto lens,  ZWO camera, PHD2 via ST4 guiding (RA only). Everything worked right away without too much effort on my part just using default settings and watching a couple Youtube tutorials dedicated to SkyGuider.

 

Now I've purchased a Celestron CG-4 and installed a EQStarPro kit, and configured a Windows Laptop with required ASCOM EQMOD platform / drivers.

 

The fun part in departing from the single axis ST4 guiding of my old system and learning how to achieve two axis pulse guiding with PHD2 with this new setup has began.

 

My first night out failed several ways when trying to do a PHD2 multi-star calibration. No doubt a few people have already gone down this same path before me with the EQStarPro...

 

Any advice on successful EQMOD / PHD2 settings, while using an EQStar Pro, so to make early PHD2 calibration attempts more easily achieved would be nice to get documented in this forum. Any Tips?


Edited by Jdw1953, 15 October 2021 - 08:57 PM.


#2 michael8554

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 10:37 AM

There's a wealth of PHD2 Help and Setup instructions accessible via the PHD2 Help menu.

 

Single Star and Multi Star PHD2 Calibrations are the same, only one star is used in both cases.

 

Not a EQMOD user, but beginners are often caught out by the ASCOM PulseGuide Settings, these need to be set to 0.50 or more

 

Otherwise Cal fails due to "Insufficient Movement".


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#3 Jdw1953

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 02:23 PM

Yes that was a good tip. I had a successful calibration and pulse guiding with these set to 0.90 in my case. The guide assistant tool in PHD2 also recommended a couple settings to change which I did. Also found this to be helpful:

 

https://openphdguidi...ces_2019-12.pdf

 

For those getting started for first time with EQStar Pro I found that  I needed to tighten the stepper motor drive belts a little more. They were OK for slewing around with a little play in them but I think PHD2 pulse guiding is doing a better job now that I took almost all of the slack out. It might be good to loosen them completely while not using the equipment for long periods of time however. Also make sure nothing is plugged into that ST4 port (like that simple N S E W hand controller that comes with the kit) while using PHD2 pulse guiding.

 

Finally there is a fair amount of discussions around the web concerning the thick grease and rough surfaces found inside these Celestron mounts. Persons in northern climates have noted that when outside under very cold conditions that this becomes a real problem (one I will eventually face next winter!). To fix this a number of people are disassembling, cleaning, polishing internal parts, re-greasing with better grease, and re-tuning mount once everything put back together. One estimate that it took about 10 hours to do it right. Here is one such web site:

 

http://astronomyboy.com/cg5/

 

My CG-4 definitely has a resistance to the ease of movement when manually moving RA and DEC around with their clutches released. My SkyGuider Pro on the other hand was easy to move RA around and slightest difference in counterweight position would cause gravity induced axis movement if not perfectly balanced with it's clutch released. This CG-4 pretty much just moves to another position by hand and sticks there until the counterweights are moved a lot further. I suspect what I'm seeing is the effects of that thick grease and it may ultimately impede my ability to further improve my guiding accuracy.



#4 Jdw1953

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Posted 20 October 2021 - 03:20 PM

Although this comment is not related to pulse guiding  I decided to include it here to illustrate the full capability of my EQStar Pro configuration so that everything I  wanted to achieve is documented in one spot. I first tried an older software  (apparently no longer maintained) StellariumScope:

 

https://welshdragonc...stellariumscope

 

Good news is that StellariumScope still starts Stellarium and I was very happy with Stellarium's GoTo slewing functionality with the EQStar Pro when it was started up this way. Unfortunately when it came time to sync when adding a star for calibration the expected entry in EQMOD didn't happen. This may have been my problem in setting up StellariumScope initially but I decided to immediately drop this effort and instead went through Stellarium's Telescope plugin settings as shown in this video:

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=Qx_xaovOmFY

 

Now with this method EQMOD is automatically started by Stellarium and sync works correctly with EQMOD when adding a star during calibration.



#5 Jdw1953

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 09:37 AM

Back to pulse guiding with PHD2 again. Anyone going down path for first time like myself should read this CloudyNights page as it conveys all the things that have to be right before really good guiding can be achieved. Actually anyone (not just beginners) who are actively trying to improve guiding should review this again I think:

 

https://www.cloudyni...ere-dummy-r2677




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