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First time CCD: Astroberry, Focusing and platesolving

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#1 DoF

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 09:01 AM

Hi all,

 

I recently got a very good deal on a used Asi MC533 pro and went for it. Till that moment I mainly had done some shooting with my DSLR. I got some advice also to look at platesolving / polar alignment via plate solving with it. Very nice to see how it worked, but I'm completely lost now. So I'm very keen to get some help.

 

First things first, what I have setup at the moment:

- Esprit 80mm + flattener

- EQM 35 Synscan mount

- MC533 connected to the flattener (via the provided connection parts that came with it as per the instructions in the manual)

 

As I thought to make the next step directly, I pulled my old Raspberry Pi3 model B+ and installed astroberry on it. This went quite easy and I got everything connected to astroberry.

 

Now, what I have tried to do is to get focus first. I thought I would practice during daytime. I fired up the astroberry> K-stars>Ekos module and went to CCD. I set the gain to 1 and went to live view and got completely white frames (0.1 s frames). I move gain to 20, used different focusing on the scope but it remained completely white. I assume this means I overexposed the image, but I have no clue on what to change. I was hoping to get an image of the partly clouded daylight sky. My questions are:

1. What are correct gain settings to make a daylight picture? And how would I find the best settings for night pictures?

2. I assume the live view option with a bahtinov mask remains the best way to focus?

 

Although I did not have anything in focus, I thought I would check the Align module. I just hit capture and solve to see what happened. As expected I did return a compeletely white picture. However, it gave the error message 'no index files are found on your system' and got me to a menu with quite a high number of index files (of large size). I thought online solving was also possible, but how do I configure it to solve online so it does not need the index files?



#2 astrokeith

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 09:09 AM

You'll need exposures much shorter during the day. Its suck it and see, but 0.001 or less. Keep gain at 1 during the day also.

 

I recommend downloading the index files. Its easy and makes for a more reliable routine. 



#3 unimatrix0

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 09:27 AM

.1 second exposures are too long for this camera. If you're coming from DSLRs, it would also over expose in in that settings. 

Do this either in a dark room or set exposures to .001 or even smaller.  I was live focusing on a tree during evening when there was barely any light with 0.01 and I was still over exposing. 
 These cameras are super sensitive. Keep the gain at 0, don't raise it that makes it even more to over expose. 


Edited by unimatrix0, 18 October 2021 - 09:27 AM.


#4 bobzeq25

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 09:49 AM

Simple truths.

 

Doing this with a Raspberry Pi and astroberry is harder than it needs to be.  More for people who like fiddling with Raspberries and software than people wanting to image.  Imaging is hard and takes a lot of time.  You want to make it less hard, less time consuming.  That does cost money.  Surprise.  <smile>

 

The simplest way to do this is with an ASIAir computer, and it's on the low end of the cost spectrum.  But, it has limited hardware and software compatibility.  Many people are happy with one, I want more.

 

As with most people giving advice on CN, I'll recommend what I use.

 

A Windows PC of some sort.  For most beginners, that's an old laptop.  I did that for years, now use a NUC, mostly run it remotely with my desktop. 

 

Sharpcap Pro to manage the camera, run off sequences of subframes, do polar alignments.  It's extremely capable and easy to use, as these things go.  It can also do focus, using the best method, minimizing the size of stars.  Can control the mount.  Can work in daytime, the screen and histogram and sliders make it trivial to set exposure.

 

There are a number of good platesolving programs, I use PlateSolve2.

 

This is a good combination of ease of use, and hardware and software compatibility.  Relatively low cost, used laptops with Windows 10 are widely available.


Edited by bobzeq25, 18 October 2021 - 09:54 AM.


#5 DeanCN

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 10:04 AM

1. gain 0, exposure 0.001" or less for daytime.   In Ekos camera module click the capture preview button and change exposure from 0.001 on down

until you get a usable image, then click the framing button to auto repeat, adjust focus etc.

Nighttime exposure settings depend on target, sky conditions and filter (narrowband may required longer

exposure).  For example, the moon will require << 1" whereas with M33 you could try 30".  Look on Astrobin and see what others are using

with similar equipment and targets.

 

2. pick the brightest star you can find and track for bhatinov focusing.  A better way to focus is to use a motorized focusser

such as ASI EAF and have Ekos do it for you automatically.

 

hitting capture and solve is pointless during the day.  The error message was probably indicating that there is no region

of the sky at night that is all white and has no stars.  I would not use online solving.  Your Pi probably has more than enough

storage to download all the index files you require at your focal length.



#6 astrokeith

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 10:24 AM

Simple truths.

 

Doing this with a Raspberry Pi and astroberry is harder than it needs to be.  More for people who like fiddling with Raspberries and software than people wanting to image.  Imaging is hard and takes a lot of time.  You want to make it less hard, less time consuming.  That does cost money.  Surprise.  <smile>

 

The simplest way to do this is with an ASIAir computer, and it's on the low end of the cost spectrum.  But, it has limited hardware and software compatibility.  Many people are happy with one, I want more.

 

As with most people giving advice on CN, I'll recommend what I use.

 

A Windows PC of some sort.  For most beginners, that's an old laptop.  I did that for years, now use a NUC, mostly run it remotely with my desktop. 

 

Sharpcap Pro to manage the camera, run off sequences of subframes, do polar alignments.  It's extremely capable and easy to use, as these things go.  It can also do focus, using the best method, minimizing the size of stars.  Can control the mount.  Can work in daytime, the screen and histogram and sliders make it trivial to set exposure.

 

There are a number of good platesolving programs, I use PlateSolve2.

 

This is a good combination of ease of use, and hardware and software compatibility.  Relatively low cost, used laptops with Windows 10 are widely available.

Of course, an ASIAir is just a Raspberry Pi in  a case! (with a few extra components)



#7 nebulasaurus

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 10:57 AM

Simple truths.

 

Doing this with a Raspberry Pi and astroberry is harder than it needs to be.  More for people who like fiddling with Raspberries and software than people wanting to image.  Imaging is hard and takes a lot of time.  You want to make it less hard, less time consuming.  That does cost money.  Surprise.  <smile>

Really?  Why do people keep making that statement re Linux and RPi?  The OP clearly has experience with the RPi and has everything connected.  He is having issues that would be exactly the same as he would have on Windows! The issue he is asking about missing index files, which is the same with Astro Tortilla, or ASTAP without the G17 database or pretty much any other plate solving software.  Heck, at least with Ekos it's an integrated package instead of having to stich half a dozen apps together. 

 

 

Hi all,

 

 

Although I did not have anything in focus, I thought I would check the Align module. I just hit capture and solve to see what happened. As expected I did return a compeletely white picture. However, it gave the error message 'no index files are found on your system' and got me to a menu with quite a high number of index files (of large size). I thought online solving was also possible, but how do I configure it to solve online so it does not need the index files?

DoF,

 

You need to download the index files.  If you hit "options" while in the solver module it will bring up the solver settings.  There is an "Index Files" option.  Hit that and it will tell you what files you have loaded, and give you recommendations for the ones you need.  They can be downloaded from there.  Once you have downloaded the set you need I suggest bundling them into a tarball for future use, as it is quicker to untar them to a new location than to download them again.


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#8 bobzeq25

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 01:28 PM

Really?  Why do people keep making that statement re Linux and RPi?  The OP clearly has experience with the RPi and has everything connected.  He is having issues that would be exactly the same as he would have on Windows! The issue he is asking about missing index files, which is the same with Astro Tortilla, or ASTAP without the G17 database or pretty much any other plate solving software.  Heck, at least with Ekos it's an integrated package instead of having to stich half a dozen apps together.

I'll tell you why.

 

If you want a good unified package in Windows, there are some excellent choices.  NINA is very popular.  I like Voyager.  Has an easy mode, "on the fly", and an easy to use scripting language, "dragscript", if you want a custom sequence.  Extraordinarily reliable, keeps checking how things are going, excellent error recovery.

 

Runs anything with an ASCOM driver, ie anything anyone wants to use.  The best autofocus on the planet, there are 5-6 choices.

 

https://software.starkeeper.it/

 

But, for the OP, Sharpcap Pro plus... is my recommendation.

 

Minor point.  The Raspberry is marginal for doing everything one might want to in data acquisition.  I run PI to set exposure, and monitor the subs coming in.

 

Bottom line.  Much excellent stuff is Windows only.  I don't see the sense in cutting yourself off from it.  Using Linux for data acquisition is idiosyncratic.  I use it for processing, PixInsight runs fastest on Linux, and I personally don't see the need for any other processing program. Astro Pixel Processor for beginners, not sure all the platforms it runs on.

 

General principal.  When you see a variety of people on CN keep making a statement over and over, there's a reason.  <smile>  It's not coincidence.


Edited by bobzeq25, 18 October 2021 - 01:41 PM.

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#9 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 01:36 PM

Your Raspberry Pi-3B will work, though a 4 gig Pi4B would be better.  More memory, primarily.  KStars is a tight fit on a 3B.  I've used CCDciel on a 3B in the past, as it has a lighter footprint.  Also a more intuitive user interface in my opinion.  Just don't get ahead of the program with your mouse clicks, as I've seen crashes as a result.  ASTAP works very well for plate solving.

 

But you seem to have everything going ok, which is excellent; the exposure is likely the problem.  I recently did a daytime focusing run on my scope, and it took a .0001 second exposure (four zeros) with a gain of 0 to not blow out the image.  That's with an f/7 scope aimed at a tree down the block.  At night, the Moon is a good next target since it's prominent right now and easy to image.  Might as well shoot it.  It deserves to be shot :).  Still sub-second exposures, however.  Next I'd aim at something like Vega, and try to plate solve there.  I have CCDciel configured to take 15 second gain 300 plate solve subs, 2x2 binned, and down-sampled by 2.  M57 and M13 are short slews to the side, and easily imaged (if a bit small on your scope).



#10 nebulasaurus

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 02:16 PM

 

General principal.  When you see a variety of people on CN keep making a statement over and over, there's a reason.  <smile>  It's not coincidence.

 

 

What statement would that be Bob?  The OP has a simple config issue and clearly is comfortable with the RPi having successfully connected all his gear.   How does switching software entirely help the OP with a simple config issue?  A config issue which you could just as easily had with any plate solving software - missing or incorrect star databases.

 

The only issue I hear repeated in "Linux bad, Windows Better."  I use both for astrophotography, and there is good or bad with each.  Embrace the power of "and"



#11 klaussius

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 03:12 PM

Now, what I have tried to do is to get focus first. I thought I would practice during daytime. I fired up the astroberry> K-stars>Ekos module and went to CCD. I set the gain to 1 and went to live view and got completely white frames (0.1 s frames). I move gain to 20, used different focusing on the scope but it remained completely white. I assume this means I overexposed the image, but I have no clue on what to change. I was hoping to get an image of the partly clouded daylight sky. My questions are:

1. What are correct gain settings to make a daylight picture? And how would I find the best settings for night pictures?

2. I assume the live view option with a bahtinov mask remains the best way to focus?

Astronomy cameras are way too sensitive for daylight through a telescope. The amount of light gathered makes it necessary to expose for milli or even microseconds, rather than seconds.

 

Try at night.

 

 

Simple truths.

 

Doing this with a Raspberry Pi and astroberry is harder than it needs to be.  More for people who like fiddling with Raspberries and software than people wanting to image.  Imaging is hard and takes a lot of time.  You want to make it less hard, less time consuming.  That does cost money.  Surprise.  <smile>

 

The simplest way to do this is with an ASIAir computer, and it's on the low end of the cost spectrum.  But, it has limited hardware and software compatibility.  Many people are happy with one, I want more.

This is quite true, and I use a raspberry pi. But I'm on that "likes fiddling with software" camp.

 

It can work, and rather well, but it's not plug and play by a far margin.

 

And I'll echo what others are saying, a 3B is marginal. A Pi 4 with 4GB would be a better choice.

 

One thing that makes the Pi quite painful is that it has USB compatibility issues. Even though they say the Pi 4 has fully USB 3.0 compliant ports (the 2B didn't, not sure about the 3B), the reality of it is that a lot of astronomy devices are quite finicky with the Pi. It takes some experimentation and knowledge to find a way to make them work together. It can be done, but, again, not plug and play - at all. Some devices will require a powered USB hub to function, some devices just won't work through a hub, and some will fall in-between with random disconnects. It's quite a painful process until you find a way that works. When you do, though, it just works.

 

 

However, it gave the error message 'no index files are found on your system' and got me to a menu with quite a high number of index files (of large size). I thought online solving was also possible, but how do I configure it to solve online so it does not need the index files?

I platesolve with ASTAP, and I think the index files for ASTAP are preinstalled or at least easily installable with apt-get. I would recommend using ASTAP, it's quite fast and reliable.



#12 DeanCN

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 03:25 PM

DoF, what are you using for your guide camera ?  You didn't specify in your post.   You can plate solve with your

ASI533 but you can't do any guiding without either an OAG (or separate guide scope) and another camera.



#13 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 04:07 PM

Astronomy cameras are way too sensitive for daylight through a telescope. The amount of light gathered makes it necessary to expose for milli or even microseconds, rather than seconds.

 

Try at night.

 

 

This is quite true, and I use a raspberry pi. But I'm on that "likes fiddling with software" camp.

 

It can work, and rather well, but it's not plug and play by a far margin.

 

And I'll echo what others are saying, a 3B is marginal. A Pi 4 with 4GB would be a better choice.

 

One thing that makes the Pi quite painful is that it has USB compatibility issues. Even though they say the Pi 4 has fully USB 3.0 compliant ports (the 2B didn't, not sure about the 3B), the reality of it is that a lot of astronomy devices are quite finicky with the Pi. It takes some experimentation and knowledge to find a way to make them work together. It can be done, but, again, not plug and play - at all. Some devices will require a powered USB hub to function, some devices just won't work through a hub, and some will fall in-between with random disconnects. It's quite a painful process until you find a way that works. When you do, though, it just works.

The 3B is USB 2.0 on all 4 ports; no 3.0.

 

Regarding "finicky" devices, my ASI2600MC camera works perfectly and reliably when plugged directly into a 3.0 port on my 4GB Pi4B, but I have had intermittent trouble when plugged into a powered 3.0 hub.  I figured it was due to the hub, not the Pi.  Hadn't considered the interface between the two.



#14 khobar

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 04:28 PM

Although I did not have anything in focus, I thought I would check the Align module. I just hit capture and solve to see what happened. As expected I did return a compeletely white picture. However, it gave the error message 'no index files are found on your system' and got me to a menu with quite a high number of index files (of large size). I thought online solving was also possible, but how do I configure it to solve online so it does not need the index files?

There is a radio button. My version looks like this (borrowed from https://rasc-vancouv...ated-alignment/). Disregard the yellow outlines. See where it says Solver and beside that ASTAP and Astro.net, etc?

For more info, see: https://indilib.org/...ent-module.html

HTH

 

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#15 fewayne

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 05:58 PM

Your Raspberry Pi-3B will work, though a 4 gig Pi4B would be better.  More memory, primarily.  KStars is a tight fit on a 3B. 

Plate-solving, in particular, was always a big struggle on my 3B but a no-brainer on my 4B. 



#16 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 08:08 PM

Plate-solving, in particular, was always a big struggle on my 3B but a no-brainer on my 4B. 

Back when I was using the 3B, the DSLR I was imaging with wasn't well supported by INDI (it's even worse now...), so I used the guide scope and camera for plate solving.  Only had to align the two scopes to point in the same direction.  Worked well.  (The DSLR used an Intervalometer to capture the images.)

 

The guide camera had a much smaller sensor than the DSLR, the processing of which went a lot easier on the smaller platform.  It just needs a wide enough field of view to capture enough of the sky for the solve.  The restriction is that one can't run the plate solve process and the guider at the same time, so aim the scope, turn off that software, fire up the guider and image away.



#17 DoF

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 03:53 AM

Thank you astrokeith, unimatrix0 and DeanCN for the consistent advise on gain settings and the index files! 

 

I see a lot of discussion on software also started and in principle my philosophy is the same as bobzeq25 stated. 'Imaging is hard and takes a lot of time.  You want to make it less hard, less time consuming'.

 

As I have not invested too much time/money in software I'm quite happy to take any advice here. However I have landed with astroberry because I simply had the Pi lying around and found a two reasonable good youtube channels that got me up and running within half a day. I have read about the limited processing power of the Pi3 vs 4, but thought I may move over to AsiAIR eventually. I believe that astroberry, asiair and stellarmate all use the same ekos/kstars underlying software? Anyway, I control the astroberry from my PC, so you may say why won't use the PC directly to control all, I thought about it, tried it, I didn't get it running after half a day.

I may have used the wrong youtube tutorial, but the fact that astroberry comes as a package makes the whole setup much easier. On my PC I have now the following list of software that I don't use but still is installed: ASTAP, NINA, Stellarium, ASCOM, a bunch of ASCOM drivers, EQMOD, Astrotortilla, ZWO camera drivers, PHDGuiding2. That means I had to install download 9 software items and see how they worked together (which they didn't). I recon some of them are duplicates, but I quickly tried some different ones. Further, I went indeed for free software but that is mainly as I'm trying which works best. I'm quite happy to switch over to a paid software (such as the reference Sharpcap Pro) when that means I got the same setup experience as with astroberry. However, I felt the astroberry setup was just 10 times easier than the NINA setup, because after several hours with the PC software I got nothing working. 



#18 DoF

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 03:55 AM

DoF, what are you using for your guide camera ?  You didn't specify in your post.   You can plate solve with your

ASI533 but you can't do any guiding without either an OAG (or separate guide scope) and another camera.

I don't have a guide camera. So far I used the SynScan tracking of the mount to remain on target. It worked reasonably well for exposures up to 60 seconds with my DSLR.



#19 astrokeith

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 04:13 AM

Thank you astrokeith, unimatrix0 and DeanCN for the consistent advise on gain settings and the index files! 

 

I see a lot of discussion on software also started and in principle my philosophy is the same as bobzeq25 stated. 'Imaging is hard and takes a lot of time.  You want to make it less hard, less time consuming'.

 

As I have not invested too much time/money in software I'm quite happy to take any advice here. However I have landed with astroberry because I simply had the Pi lying around and found a two reasonable good youtube channels that got me up and running within half a day. I have read about the limited processing power of the Pi3 vs 4, but thought I may move over to AsiAIR eventually. I believe that astroberry, asiair and stellarmate all use the same ekos/kstars underlying software? Anyway, I control the astroberry from my PC, so you may say why won't use the PC directly to control all, I thought about it, tried it, I didn't get it running after half a day.

I may have used the wrong youtube tutorial, but the fact that astroberry comes as a package makes the whole setup much easier. On my PC I have now the following list of software that I don't use but still is installed: ASTAP, NINA, Stellarium, ASCOM, a bunch of ASCOM drivers, EQMOD, Astrotortilla, ZWO camera drivers, PHDGuiding2. That means I had to install download 9 software items and see how they worked together (which they didn't). I recon some of them are duplicates, but I quickly tried some different ones. Further, I went indeed for free software but that is mainly as I'm trying which works best. I'm quite happy to switch over to a paid software (such as the reference Sharpcap Pro) when that means I got the same setup experience as with astroberry. However, I felt the astroberry setup was just 10 times easier than the NINA setup, because after several hours with the PC software I got nothing working. 

I think you are taking the right approach. A full Windows setup can be excellent, but it does take a while to get setup and stable and sometimes there can be major issues. The Astroberry/Stellarmate is an amazing 'package'. As an experienced Pi user, I found Stellarmate was to 'glossy' with a fancy user interface I a) didnt need and b) made accessing some features difficult or impossible. ASIAir, although based on a Pi, is even more restrictive about what you can connect.

 

Everyone has their personal favourites. I 'try' to remain neutral and I use Macs, Windows and Pis all the time, but Windows the least as it gives me most problems. Running a Pi/astroberry at the mount does mean you can remotely connect with any breed of pc.

 

I have a few Pi3B's doing various jobs, but the 4B is a lot better. I have index files stored on the Pi's and get solves in typically a second (1 degree field of view)



#20 OldManSky

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 08:07 AM

Interesting discussion.  I'll chime in with 2 things:

 

First, getting a Windows setup "setup and stable" takes me all of 30 minutes.  Seriously.  I recently got a new mini-PC for my observatory, and 30 minutes to download/install/setup/test/use all the software I use is being generous on the time it actually took.  That said, I'm not one of the "you have to use MY OS because it's the best!" folks, and I don't care what you use -- as long as it works for you.  I just like to point out that when people claim a Windows setup is hard, big, clumsy, etc. that such isn't the case.  At all.

 

Second...I would like to gently point out to the OP that he isn't doing "First Time CCD."  And wish him the best of luck getting started!  :)


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#21 unimatrix0

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 08:36 AM

Yes, running raspberry Pi "Astroberry"  can be a bit painful, because there are so many settings and options that it can get confusing. I beleive the focusing routine has at least 4 different options and those 4 different options has another 5  and pretty much same with everything else in it. 

 

If in doubt, just pull out your main camera usb cable and attach to a laptop with Sharpcap Pro running, and you can adjust all the sliders for the exposures and gain while having a live view and see what you're doing. That is the easiest way really. 

For example I ran into a focusing issue last night , because it looked like after 2hrs of imaging, I was out of focus.  The autofocus routine I used in Astroberry kept saying focusing completed, but the stars looked out of focus anyway.  I tried about 4 different ways to focus, and by the time I focused and ready to go, it got cloudy mad.gif   (this is typical in New England, there are no clear skies here anymore, even if they say so).  I was even thinking of pulling that USB cable and attach my laptop with Sharpcap running, next to the mount as a last resort, since I was doing all this from the comfort of my office desktop.

Sharpcap has a good autofocus routine also and easier to see what the stars I'm getting in live view and adjust the settings on the fly. 
 

It gets even harder with a narrowband filter , since I have to start binning like 4x4 for 3 second exposures if I don't want deal with it forever with longer exposures.  Same issue with polar alignment, it has to be binned down with narrowband filter, otherwise it just won't see the stars. 


Edited by unimatrix0, 19 October 2021 - 08:43 AM.

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#22 bobzeq25

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 08:53 AM


If in doubt, just pull out your main camera usb cable and attach to a laptop with Sharpcap Pro running, and you can adjust all the sliders for the exposures and gain while having a live view and see what you're doing. That is the easiest way really. 
 

Sharpcap has a good autofocus routine also and easier to see what the stars I'm getting in live view and adjust the settings on the fly.

This.
 



#23 Hank Scorpio

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 08:59 AM

OS opinions aside here I believe the astroberry/stellarmate ecosystem has reached a state where most people who are comfortable with a Rpi can get this to work without too much hassle (as always google is your friend here).

 

regarding focus - I would wait for dusk and try to loop/focus on a distant tree-top where you're not battling both the gain and the focus (no need for stars to get close to focus) - and if you get a break in the clouds while working on this give the stars a try also.

 

I also echo the recommendations here to upgrade to the Rpi4 (at some point) as the speed bump from USB alone is worth it (there are many good/cheap powered-USB hubs that work fine with the Rpi setup listed in the Indi forum)

 

lastly, astroberry/stellarmate has "simulators" as options for cameras/mounts/focusers/etc and in particular, you can solve existing images by clicking "Load and Slew" in the Solver Control section of the platesolver - this way you can grab an old fits file you have from other sessions (or grab one from the web) and load that to see if your platesolving has enough starfiles and works the way you need it to. 

 

Good luck!



#24 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 12:25 PM

Just a note, if (when) you decide to upgrade from the Pi-3B to a 4GB Pi-4B, the upgrade process involves:  (deep breath here...)

 

1.  Take the SD card out of the 3B

2.  Put the SD card into the 4B.

 

Done.  You may need to reconfigure a few networking items, as your network hardware changed, but that's about it.

 

Last time I could do that with Windows was, um, ... ?


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#25 bobzeq25

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 12:48 PM

Just a note, if (when) you decide to upgrade from the Pi-3B to a 4GB Pi-4B, the upgrade process involves:  (deep breath here...)

 

1.  Take the SD card out of the 3B

2.  Put the SD card into the 4B.

 

Done.  You may need to reconfigure a few networking items, as your network hardware changed, but that's about it.

 

Last time I could do that with Windows was, um, ... ?

Yeah, this really hard.

 

Buy computer with Windows preloaded.  Connect to Internet.  Update Win.  Download your software and install.  Opportunity to get the latest versions.

 

If you can't do that easily, DSO AP is not for you.  <smile> 


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