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Everything posted by malc-c

  1. I was looking for the image of this setup, but couldn't find it at the time. Excellent planetary combo IMO.
  2. James, most reed switches are normally open, being closed when affected by the magnetic field. I think the negative edge trigger is a read herring, as a normally open reed switch, having been triggered will go form high to low when the magnet releases the switch. In the sea-saw arrangement (if the module is similar to the Maplin stations) rain water fills the small bowl on the sea-saw, causing it to tip. If the magnet and reed switch is on the opposite side this would result in the negative going "logic" triggering a counter, as the magnet would be moved away form the switch allowing the reed to open. If however if the magnet and reed are under the bowl the reed will be closed when the sea-saw tips under the weight of the water, but then as the water is emptied, the reed is opened again as the sea-saw gets reset once again. I'm sure I have a selection of reed switches left over from the days of using them with model railways for train detection if you need some.
  3. For me I found the 200P + an ST80 + QHY5 + Canon D400 (plus finder and cabling) was about the limit for imaging with an HEQ5. Approximate all up weight of around 11 - 11.5kg, so around 75% of the quoted maximum payload of the HEQ5 But that was on a solid concrete pier mount and inside an observatory which naturally gave some protection form the wind
  4. Welcome Tony, As one of the founding members of the Letchworth & District Astronomy Society I would recommend you join us. Pre-Covid we met up for regular meetings and start parties at Standalone Farm in Letchworth, and have a dedicated imaging section with members who range form having basic equipment (like me) through to those with serious kit that have produced images that have graced the covers of leading national magazines. We also have a our own observatory containing a computerised 14″ Meade LX200 on an equatorial mount, so we have a lot to offer. We also have telescope workshops form time to time, where members can bring their scopes along and be instructed on setting them up or servicing them etc. The link is in Steve's post, so no need for me to duplicate it here. But for £17 pa plus meetings it's well worth the cost (naturally I'm biased )
  5. Ahh I see.... yes the functionality is more or less the same by the look of things.
  6. Do iOptron use the Skywatcher command protocol then... EQMOD doesn't list iOptron as a supported mount on its compatibility table posted on the prerequisites web page That would suggest that the iOptron Commander software could be used with Skywatcher mounts them
  7. A quick google search and I found this - An ASCOM driver is available, looks like a stripped down EQMOD but with a more modern GUI. The direct connection is via USB to the handset which shows up as a TTL Com port under windows. I can't find any info on the handset pin outs to see if an EQDIR cable used for Skywatcher could be substituted, but as damage to the mount may result I would suggest sticking with USB via USB to the handset. Being ASCOM compliant it should be possible to use most of the ASCOM supported applications such as NINA, CdC, Stellarium etc.
  8. When I was looking at getting a scope I made arrangements to visit a local(ish) stockist and go and physically look at them. I didn't realise just how large and impressive the eq5/200P was. They also demonstrated the slewing of the mounts. I originally was considering the Celestron 6" cassagrain on the GT5 mount, but when I heard the mount slew it just sounded too loud and course... The 200p/eq5 actually worked out a few quid cheaper, and so I placed my order. Now with CV19 etc, some shops are not open to the public, or only by appointment, but its worth making that journey if the logistics are plausible. If not then you are covered by the distance selling regulations, but its a lot of hassle to return something like an HEQ5 and 200P, and quite costly too. You'll always be at a loss... for the reasons I mentioned. I've owned two mounts, and I've voiced my opinions on both. Others will give you the pros and cons on any mount they have owned too.. The guys that work with these bits of kit can give you the best advice as they have access to all the mounts in the range...
  9. Well having owned an EQ5 (goto) they are indeed a nice capable mount. It worked well with my Celestron 127 MAK, but wasn't that stable with the 200P on board when it came to imaging. The 200p acted like a sail and caught anything but the lightest of breeze. As I said in my other post, we will all have differing opinions, and for me the suggestion of an ALT/AZ mount for imaging, even planetary is something I would avoid as field rotation is a real issue. In fact have a look at the new Astrobiscuit video which has an animated image of Jupiter in which the bands make a complete arc making the planet appear to rotate around its centre. IMO ALT/AZ are fine for widefield where images are not going to be stacked or animated, other than that an EQ mount makes the task of imaging easier.. As for the HEQ5. The white pro goto mounts have been the bread and butter entry level imaging mount for decades. It's not advisable to opt for one of the old black versions (if you could still find them) as they lack the precision the newer versions have. But they are not light. They can still be portable if the site has the facility of parking the car next to where you want to set up, but if you were having to lug it half a mile form the carpark that could be another thing altogether. For me as I was looking at a permanent set up in an observatory, portability wasn't a consideration.
  10. I would say yes it should be possible. Originally Skywatcher mounts were connected through serial cables to the handset with the handset connected to the mount, but then the EQDIR cable was developed and allowed for a direct connection between mount and PC. However, as to what cable you would use for a Celestron mount I can't say. Most google searches seem to suggest a serial cable is used, but that would most likely still need the handset to act as the "translator" between mount and PC. I did find these videos that may help, plus there does seem to be a wi-fi adapter that could remove cables altogether and part two here
  11. The choice of mount and scope will be a personal one, and dependent on lots of variables, such as portability, location, and budget. When it comes to any imaging set up, the mount is key. You want a mount that will make the optical tube as stable as possible. To a degree a stable mount is important for visual too, but doubly so for imaging. Often you might see what looks to be a silly combination of a small 80mm reflector on an HEQ5 / EQ6 mount, but the reason is that that combination gives a very sturdy and stable platform. As for suitable mounts, well that is some legwork you are going to have to put in. Trawl through this forum, there are hundreds of similar threads asking for recommendations for a setup within a certain budget. Astro imaging also ranges from hanging a mobile phone in front of an eyepiece, through to dedicated cooled astro CCD cameras and filter wheels controlled through software running on dedicated computers. It can be a simple snap of the Moon, through to a large mosaic of images taken over months to show a wide field nebula. And each will require different level of equipment. Part of the problem is the cost. Astronomy isn't cheap. The subject of cheap (sub £100) telescopes has been covered in Astrobiscuits latest video on youtube, and yes the final refractor performed well and outclassed the others FLO had sent him to "review", but only when it was placed on a £150 tripod / mount. I would say that anyone with £1000 or less will struggle to get an imaging rig. You'll spend £200 on a camera, either CCD or second hand DSLR. The mount will be 50% or more of that budget, so you're left with £200-£300 for the optics. The choice of optics will depend on what you want to image. Long focal length scopes are more suited for planetary work, short focal for DSO's. There is an overlap to a degree, and you can image bright DSO's through an f10 scope and take images of large planets and the moon with f5 reflectors, but often it involves additional items to make it work well. There are lots of threads on the forum where people have produced stunning images on budget gear - a 150P on an EQ3 for example, but equally these threads are often littered with 1001 issues that needed to be overcome to get those results. Having a more capable bit of kit often makes the task easier, but not always. One other thing.. if you can, plan ahead. If you want to run an guided imaging rig, even with "entry" level cameras then save up and get a mount that can easily take a decent payload. Often you buy on a tight budget then realise the kit you have just can't cope with the payload and you need to upgrade the mount, losing money in the proceeds. I'm talking form personal experience. I purchased a 200P / EQ5 pro goto package, and within a year had sold the mount and purchased a second hand HEQ5 (a lovely mount) to take the 200P and ST80 guidescope. The EQ5 probably would have coped well if I had an 130/150P (these are normally bundled with an EQ3-5 mount), but I went for that extra aperture. Make a post saying you have a budget of £xxxx I want a scope to do X/Y/Z and you'll get dozens of different suggestions. What appeals to me or suits my needs will be different to someone else's. Not all of us have experience of every scope or mount on the market, unless you work for FLO or RVO - maybe a visit and call to them could narrow down your choices. Hope that helps
  12. I agree, PA helps a lot, but another factor that can affect guiding is cone error, and flexure, both of which have been documented here on the forum and no doubt on Youtube This is an old video, but one of the best Then perform a Polar alignment
  13. With most things there are always multiple ways of doing things. I'm not saying my way is the way it should be done, just one that I found works for me... I've never done plate solving, other than the routine used by Sharpcap to get polar alignment. But I also have the luxury of having an observatory so once set up there should be less need to repeat that step. Good luck, and let us know how you get on
  14. My routine is more or less the same. Being permanently set up, there is no need for me to PA each session. This was done using Sharpcap's excellent PA tool. Open Cartes Du Ceil, connect to the mount via EQASCOM, unpark, and slew to ta bright star near the intended target Place a Bahtinov mask over the OTA and open up APT and take an un image for focusing - adjust if required. Remove mask and slew to target via Cartes Du Ceil Take an unguided image to check framing If' the framing is OK, launch PHD2 and connect to the mount and guide camera Let PHD2 autoselect the start and let it run a calibration session Once its started guiding, let it settle for a minute or two before running a plan in APT I don't use APT for target selection or any other integration. It's simply used to control the DSLR and run the plan which is typically 30 subs of 5 minutes at 800 ISO. Any longer exposures and I start to get bright background due to being in a town location. I'm old school, I run a planetarium application to control the scope, a guiding application to handle the guiding and an imaging application to control the primary camera... These days IMO there are too many applications that try and merge the boundaries between those tasks, and I think this is where the problems lie.
  15. I know what you mean. Over the past decade I developed a multi-channel thermostat controller, basically 8 thermostats and two timers in one unit. Parts wise probably around £180, but the time spend on R&D, and then to assemble and wire everything up priced the item well above what people wanted to pay (and that's not including the £25,000 I would have had to spend on having the unit tested to be able to CE mark the unit). The only saving grace was that there is nothing like my design on the market that is commercially available
  16. Just googling that brand and they retail between £484 and £620, and I'm guessing they are mass produced on a CNC.... If you focused on the fact yours are hand crafted and offer selected woods then I'm sure the calibre of person who is looking at spending £500 on a tripod, may well pay that little bit more for a one off hand crafted one.
  17. I'm running my observatory on an old dual core Pentium, 8GB of old DDR3 RAM, a 500GB mechanical drive and windows 10 (but ran windows 7 for years). Given its age it is way off the requirements for win11 - But it does the job I need it to do. Data is stored to a NAS drive and I process on my main machine - a 1st gen Ryzen 5 based machine, 16GB DDR4, fast NVMe SSD, and windows 10. Being 1st gen Ryzen it to doesn't pass the upgrade requirements, at lease not without messing about with the installer which is well documented on the net. Being my daily driver I read emails, post on forums, edit the odd 4K video but mostly browse the net, hardly anything requiring the "advantages" of upgrading to win11. My point is that just because the latest firmware, operating system, or drivers are released, it doesn't mean that there is a need to update the installation if your existing installation or hardware is otherwise running OK. At least it's not Apple Owners mentality... Apple add a 5th camera to the iphone, everyone replaces their recently purchased iphone 12, 13 or whatever with the latest one just so they can say they have the latest model, even though the previous model did everything then needed up to that point.......and they will probably never use that new 5th camera (my eldest daughter being a prime example !)
  18. A friend of mine recently replaced his old Dell laptop with a barebones NUC pc AsRock 4x4 BOX-RV1000V with a 2.4GHz AMD Ryzen CPU and 16Gb of memory. It will take an M.2 PCIe card as a system disc and has both USB2 and USB3 ports. It was purchased as a means to remote control his EQ8 and other equipment in his observatory, but also be powerful enough to run a live zoom meeting from the observatory... He added hard drives etc and he's been pleased as punch with its performance
  19. I can see a small side line business here.... Very professionally made - well done
  20. Excellent feedback - makes things clear I use EQMOD and Cartes du Ciel with PHD2 and it all works for me - I'm not sure about the relationship between Stelarium Stelarimumscope and EQMOD, so can't really advise on how that works, but having two ASCOM interfaces between the scope and the other software may be adding to the issues
  21. Not sure why you are using stellariumscope - doesn't the latest version of Stellarium now have scope control built in ? Remove the ST4 cable and connect the camera via USB. You've already mentioned that the planetarium software can see and connect to the scope, so the presumption is that you are either using an EQDIR cable to connect the mount direct to the PC, or using a serial cable via the handset in PC-Direct mode. If that is the case then there is no need to use ST4, and use the USB connection for the camera. I don't use SterlariumScope, so can't advise on how to set up pulse guiding within it, but in EQMOD there are two sliders than need to be adjusted to x0.9 for the pulse rate in order to make these mounts move enough for PHD2 to detect the star movement. You also need to ensure the ASCOM platform is installed and up to date.
  22. If that didn't work, take a look at the 1N4148 diodes on the TX lines of the PICs - If replacing those (see previous posts in this thread where I replaced some using through hole parts) you still get the "no response" message on the handset, or a time out using EQMOD and a EQDIR cable then yes I would agree, the UARTs on one or both 16F886's will have been blown, and replacing them with a reprogrammed PIC would be my recommendation. Hopefully you'll have more luck than I have at sourcing replacements at non inflated prices due to the global shortage. I had to resort to contacting Microchip in order to get the last pair of controllers, which took 6 weeks to get to me from the UK. The RJ11 port is a normal standard serial (RS232) port. The TX/RX pins are given as Note that you will need a standard RS232 to USB adapter if your computer lacks an old style serial port - If you use a 5v TTL serial to USB adapter it may not work as the handset is expecting +/- 12v rather than 0-5 signals A little googling found the pinouts for the Skywatcher serial cable that normally gets shipped with the mount More info
  23. Just read your unedited post - No deleting the EQMOD INI file should not affect your camera in NENA. Not sure what's going on with your system, but it sounds like there are some underlaying gremlins
  24. You beet me too it... I was thinking the same thing... it sounds more like a power issue than a comms issue, especially as an EQDIR cable is being used. One other alternative for the OP is to download ASCOM and EQMOD and see if the same drop out in communications between PC and mount occur
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