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Portable setup questions from screaming newbie.

Beginner Astrophotography Equipment
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#1 heschoemann

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Posted 21 May 2022 - 07:06 PM

Hi there!

 

I will be travelling in SEA for the next 2 years, and won't have the luxury of hauling along my visual kit, so I am seriously considering getting into astrophotography. I have been looking at small, lightweight mounts that I can transport in a backpack or small motorcycle saddlebag. The Skywatcher Star Adventurer line seemed sort of logical, as I already own an ES72. 

 

I'd love to get the new SA GTi, but it's not likely to happen prior to me departing the US, and I suspect will be difficult to find in Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia. On the other hand, I have a line on a gently used SA 2i Pro for a great price.

 

Where I get confused is with the use of an ASIAir module and a single-axis star tracker like the Star adventurer 2i. Are the major features of the ASIAir wasted on that star tracker?

 

The good news is, I have the time and interest in expanding my hobby to include astrophotography, but need kit as portable as possible, and purchasable in the next few months.

 

Any and all input would be greatly appreciated. 



#2 Sacred Heart

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Posted 22 May 2022 - 06:50 AM

Does it have to be an ASIair?? Unless ASIair has it's own battery, what about a mini computer??   Assuming you are using camera lenses or small refractors for dew use a longer dew shield.     Just asking,   Joe



#3 matt_astro_tx

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Posted 22 May 2022 - 08:07 AM

The ASIAir works great with the SA. No wasted features. You’re on the right track. 
 

Here’s my portable rig. It travels great in a pelican 1510 case with kaizen foam. A few items sit in the bottom of my suitcase. 
 

gallery 357716 15855 1500846
 
gallery 357716 15855 3204690
 
A09749C8-C7C8-4D3C-9BD3-88ECEF26E7DA.jpeg

Edited by matt_astro_tx, 22 May 2022 - 08:57 AM.

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#4 heschoemann

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Posted 22 May 2022 - 10:48 AM

 

The ASIAir works great with the SA. No wasted features. You’re on the right track. 
 

Here’s my portable rig. It travels great in a pelican 1510 case with kaizen foam. A few items sit in the bottom of my suitcase. 
 

 
 
 
Thank you!
 
Your setup is pretty much what I had in my mind's eye, except I will use a DSLR (can be used for regular photography as well. Now, only need to find an AIAir somewhere, LOL.


#5 Sheridan

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Posted 22 May 2022 - 11:38 AM

Nice looking rig and case setup Matt

#6 matt_astro_tx

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Posted 22 May 2022 - 01:29 PM

Thanks. Took me about a year to assemble. I have traveled by air with it. Piece of cake.

#7 heschoemann

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Posted 22 May 2022 - 06:51 PM

SA2i mount is on it's way, but ASIAir are apparently going to be unavailable for some time (unless I missed a memo about the super-secret extra-awesome astro shop). I have an old Nikon D5600 that I'll  use and a 1st-gen Windows Surface Pro for processing. Not quite as portable as I was hoping for, but until the cool bits are available on the market, it will work. And give me an opportunity to learn the ropes too, I suppose.

 

While I am waiting though, any suggestions on a good starter astro cam? If I understand correctly, if it's eventually to be paired with the ASIAir, it also has to be from ZWO?



#8 Sacred Heart

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Posted 22 May 2022 - 07:37 PM

SA2i mount is on it's way, but ASIAir are apparently going to be unavailable for some time (unless I missed a memo about the super-secret extra-awesome astro shop). I have an old Nikon D5600 that I'll  use and a 1st-gen Windows Surface Pro for processing. Not quite as portable as I was hoping for, but until the cool bits are available on the market, it will work. And give me an opportunity to learn the ropes too, I suppose.

 

While I am waiting though, any suggestions on a good starter astro cam? If I understand correctly, if it's eventually to be paired with the ASIAir, it also has to be from ZWO?

Depends on your OTA.   Recommendation,   Matt has a sweet set up, why not replicate it??     Joe



#9 heschoemann

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Posted 22 May 2022 - 07:58 PM

Depends on your OTA.   Recommendation,   Matt has a sweet set up, why not replicate it??     Joe

My scope is an Skywatcher 72ED. I am sure his setup is amazing, but I am a total neophyte in astrophotography. I mean, I have been doing visual astro for a couple years, and I also know basic DSLR camera techniques, but absolutely nothing about the astrocams. I have cameras, and scopes... but the they haven't met each other, LOL.

 

Right now, since that ASIAir is unavailable, I am trying to figure out the better controller software programs in lieu of the simplified, like N.I.N.A. or Backyard Nikon.  



#10 Sacred Heart

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Posted 22 May 2022 - 09:26 PM

My scope is an Skywatcher 72ED. I am sure his setup is amazing, but I am a total neophyte in astrophotography. I mean, I have been doing visual astro for a couple years, and I also know basic DSLR camera techniques, but absolutely nothing about the astrocams. I have cameras, and scopes... but the they haven't met each other, LOL.

 

Right now, since that ASIAir is unavailable, I am trying to figure out the better controller software programs in lieu of the simplified, like N.I.N.A. or Backyard Nikon.  

Have you ever taken a photo using a DSLR or 35MM camera in manual mode  and no flash???   You do not set the aperture, but you set exposure time / shutter speed, gain / ISO ASA,  and off set something I do not know how a DSLR handles.  Oh yeah, you set the focus too.  Possibly the temperature as well.  Other than that it is the same.   

 

On a serious note,  I do not use a mini computer, ASIair, pegasus, Mele,  I use an old school laptop at the base of the mount.   Laptop in the house and Teamviewer.   Sky X and Sharpcap.    I'm portable but stay at home.   Joe



#11 Sheridan

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Posted 22 May 2022 - 09:28 PM

Matt What did you use as a template to cut the foam. I hate that pull out stuff.

#12 heschoemann

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Posted 22 May 2022 - 09:38 PM

Matt What did you use as a template to cut the foam. I hate that pull out stuff.

I'm obviously not Matt, but I have used the pluck and peel foam. After I have the slots the way I like, a light coat of rubber cement over the remaining "cubes" makes it far less likely to fall apart.


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#13 RoscoeD

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Posted 23 May 2022 - 02:56 AM

I've used Kaizen foam a lot.  It's built in glued layers.  You take a shop knife (Kaizen sells one that works great) with an adjustable length blade and cut to the depth you need, then peel back the layers. First few attempts can get ragged and messy but doesn't take long to get the hang of it. (if you're going all the way through it's much easier)


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#14 matt_astro_tx

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Posted 23 May 2022 - 07:34 AM

Matt What did you use as a template to cut the foam. I hate that pull out stuff.

With kaizen foam you simply lay your equipment on top, trace it's outline with a sharpie, and then slowly and deliberately cut with an extendable razor blade.  Pretty easy.  The hardest part was deciding how to lay everything out so it would fit.



#15 matt_astro_tx

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Posted 23 May 2022 - 07:38 AM

While I am waiting though, any suggestions on a good starter astro cam? If I understand correctly, if it's eventually to be paired with the ASIAir, it also has to be from ZWO?

Yes it has to be ZWO for compatibility.  And, you can't go wrong with them in my opinion.  They make quality products.

 

I would recommend the ASI533MC Pro.  I specifically chose the ASI183MC Pro so I could use it with either of my scopes, but seeing as you only have the one, the 533 is a good bet.

 

There are some basic questions though; do you want to shoot color or mono, and what's your budget for a camera?



#16 heschoemann

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Posted 23 May 2022 - 09:10 AM

Yes it has to be ZWO for compatibility.  And, you can't go wrong with them in my opinion.  They make quality products.

 

I would recommend the ASI533MC Pro.  I specifically chose the ASI183MC Pro so I could use it with either of my scopes, but seeing as you only have the one, the 533 is a good bet.

 

There are some basic questions though; do you want to shoot color or mono, and what's your budget for a camera?

So, I *think* I have a short-term plan sorted. I ordered a small guidescope and the ZWO ASI120 Mini camera for a guide camera to go with the Sky Watcher 72ED and mount I already own. For the immediate future (6 months?) I'll stick with my DSLR for imaging.

 

Honestly, I am in the middle of military retirement, and have a LOT of travel scheduled. I'll be in SE Asia in a couple months, and want to see just how the seeing is there before I get too deep into gear. If it's good, I'll figure out how to get a good camera, and maybe an ASIAir shipped to me there.

 

As for color vs mono... apparently Mono is the more advanced? That seems counterintuitive to me, but I need to do more research.


Edited by heschoemann, 23 May 2022 - 09:11 AM.


#17 matt_astro_tx

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Posted 23 May 2022 - 09:11 AM

Sounds like a good plan.  Congrats on retirement.




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