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New setup - test first light

Astro Tech Equipment Beginner Astrophotography
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#1 JEPott

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 06:55 AM

It's been a few years since I've posted, but I'm finally getting back into it again.  I'm an amateur photographer and have always been interested in astrophotography.  Unfortunately, my budget did not allow for much and I ended up with an LXD75 EQ mount with a Burgess 102mm f/6 scope.  I was able to attach my 5D Mark II and start capturing a few shorter exposures as I did not have any auto-guiding at the time.  Frustration set in as I knew I could do better.  Now, four years later.... over the last four years, I started building my new setup and was able to finally get the last pieces about a week ago.  After much research, and knowing my limited budget, I settled on the following set-up:
ZWO AM3 Mount
ASIair Plus
AT72EDII Scope
SVBony guidescope
ZWO ASI220MM Guide camera
ZWO ASI533MC Pro Main Camera

A few nights ago it was clear and I had just enough time to get the setup outside and run it through polar aligning, selecting and object, and getting auto-guiding going.  To my surprise, focusing the guide camera was the most difficult part of the process... but thankfully, once focused, I never need to focus it again.  Getting the ASI533MC focused in didn't take but about 5 minutes of my time and then came polar aligning.  Again, to my surprise, this was the fastest polar alignment I have ever achieved, getting it done in under 10 minutes.  I was able to get guiding setup and running as well - seems that ASIair takes about 5-7 minutes to properly get the guiding going, which is completely fine and acceptable.  Once set, I slewed over to M101 and decided to put the guiding and camera through a test, pulling in a full 600 sec exposure - I wanted to see if there would be any drift in the guiding.  Below is an unedited JPEG of the shot I was able to get (pulled from the ASIair)

 

Light_M101_300.0s_Bin1_533MC_20240525-223046_0001_thn.jpg

 

Overall, I was very pleased with how this shot turned out and how the equipment was so easy to setup and use.  Now I need to get myself a dew heater and prepare for a full night of capturing data!!

 

Unfortunately, I only had enough time to run these simple tests as clouds quickly moved in - figures this would happen when wanting to try out new equipment!  However, tonight will be clear and I plan on spending some good time getting to know my equipment and capturing a true first light.

Praying that skies stay clear as predicted!!


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#2 Tymaishu

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 07:08 AM

Easiest way I’ve found to focus my guide camera is to slew to a bright star, then switch the cameras up on the air. With the guide camera now in main mode I can zoom in and use my guide cameras bahtinov mask to get it in focus. Once completed I just swap them back.

Edited by Tymaishu, 30 May 2024 - 07:09 AM.


#3 JEPott

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 08:58 AM

Easiest way I’ve found to focus my guide camera is to slew to a bright star, then switch the cameras up on the air. With the guide camera now in main mode I can zoom in and use my guide cameras bahtinov mask to get it in focus. Once completed I just swap them back.

That's actually what I ended up doing, although I didn't have the bahtinov mask to help me.  It took a little time to find the right focus and I'm thankful that the guide camera doesn't need to be precise with it's focus in order to guide correctly.



#4 Tymaishu

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 09:07 AM

Agena sells 3d printed ones in various size's. I’ve got one for my uniguide 50.

#5 Cliff Hipsher

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Posted 30 May 2024 - 08:03 PM

Congratulations!

 

I have an LXD75 gathering dust so I know what you were up against.

 

I have two rigs with ASI Air Plus controllers.

 

For dew heaters, I get Dew Nots from Agena Astro,  You can get one for the guide scope and one for you main scope.

 

I cut the cables to length and solder on Right Angle Male 5.5mm 2.1 mm plugs.  Makes cable management much easier.



#6 JEPott

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Posted 31 May 2024 - 06:56 AM

Congratulations!

 

I have an LXD75 gathering dust so I know what you were up against.

 

I have two rigs with ASI Air Plus controllers.

 

For dew heaters, I get Dew Nots from Agena Astro,  You can get one for the guide scope and one for you main scope.

 

I cut the cables to length and solder on Right Angle Male 5.5mm 2.1 mm plugs.  Makes cable management much easier.

The LXD75 has been a solid mount for viewing, but I've never been able to get it truly polar aligned for imaging - best unguided shot I got, while using it, was about 60 sec before star trails.  Unfortunately, I would have to setup and tear down after each session and therefore I usually didn't get any exposures past about 30 sec, which worked fairly well except for the fact that I needed a LOT of drive space for all the images.... and then stacking took forever, lol.

 

Thanks for the tip on the Dew Nots, I ordered those as well!



#7 Cliff Hipsher

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Posted 31 May 2024 - 08:17 AM

Yep.  Polar alignment is a total pain in the neck with those old mounts.  The one thing I'd like to change is having the motors enabled at start up so you can run the Air Polar Alignment routine, but you have to do that silly star alignment first.

 

Things will be a lot easier with Air and your new mount



#8 DanMiller

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Posted 31 May 2024 - 10:17 AM

I just connect my guide camera to N.I.N.A. for focusing. Then I take test shots until I have an HFR in the mid 2 range.   Better than my eye sight for focusing by far.  Once done, don't forget to disconnect the guide camera from N.I.N.A.. 

 

Dan




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