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Posts posted by malc-c

  1. 13 minutes ago, Gfamily said:

    DSO will probably be out of the question with a dob. You'll need longer exposures than a Dob will allow. 

    Planets may be do-able by capturing video streams as the planet crosses the field of view. You can then download the video stream to a laptop for processing in PIPP and AutoStakkert .



    Webcams work really well, and I can't see mobile phones being any worse.  I used a couple of 2x barlows and an old Phillips SPC900 back in the day to get these sort of results from my 200P explorer

    Jupiter19_11_2011 .png

    • Like 3
  2. Just to throw in a few curve balls... Skywacher mounts are more supported when it comes to interfacing the mount to a computer.  An EQDIR cable to replace the handset, EQMOD or GSServer to act as the software "driver" and ASCOM compliant so communications between other applications is normally seamless.  It is possible to do the same with Celsetron mount, but you have to use their own software, and if memory serves me correctly (and If I'm wrong, stand corrected) need connection via custom serial cables via the handset.  - I think it is for these reasons that SW mounts seem to be the more common when it comes to entry level imaging rigs.

    The HEQ5 can take a 200P, although if in exposed areas will have more impact on windy nights, but that doesn't me a 150 or 130 PDs would not be affected, they would, but to a lesser extent.

    With imaging you take multiple exposures and stack them to give the equivalent of one long exposure.  Now even though the HEQ5 is circa £1000 it is in no means a precision mount.  It's mass produced to a price point.  It has errors in the gearing, lacks encoders, and has bearings lacking fine tolerances.   But all this is inside the specification that the mount is built to.  If you want a mount with better pression, encoders and tighter machining tolerances then you're moving up to the next class of mount and paying £4000 an up.  Even with precise polar alignment as mentioned, an HEQ5 will last around 40-60 seconds before PE creeps in and stars trail.  Now you could take 300 x 30 second exposures and stack them, but you may not get the same results  as stacking 30 x 5min exposures, which is why guiding is really essential these days.  Guiding helps compensate for the imperfections in PE and machine intolerances (well to a degree).


  3. Just want to chime in here.  Stick with the HEQ5 mount.  I would suggest that a 150PDS would be the nice sweet point of aperture vs stability.  Yes even entry level AP isn't cheap... but as Vlaiv has mentioned, the mount is the most critical component in AP.   There is no point in putting expensive ED refractors on a cheap mount that lacks the stability, and the precision a decent mount has to offer.  The HEQ5 has for a long time been recognised as the entry level AP mount.  It had finer microstepping and resolution in the gearing.  It's fully goto and thus makes it suited to autoguiding using software on a laptop.

    If you are in the EU have a look at Telsckop Express  HEQ5 mount is 1021 Euro and the 150 PDS is 318 Euro, so around 1350 euro for the set up, and being within the EU it may make shipping and tax  - Shipping seems to be between 17 and 44 euro to your country.

    One thing that a lot of people have found out that there is no one scope fits all, and this is why a lot of serious enthusiast have two or more set ups between a fixed imaging rig in the garden, a small portable visual set up, and a large refractor for planetary work... 

  4. Using a guiding system, either guidescope / camera or off axis and camera will normally improve tracking to the ability of the mount.  The minimum option is to use an ST4 interface cable between the camera and the control box (needs to be the enhanced controller for a plug and play option).  It is possible to modify the basic handset, but that involves opening up the handset and soldering wires to  it.

    I've not used this personally, but have a look at the Hi-Tek astro ST4 autoguider here This allows you to connect the mount to a computer and then use their software to handle the guiding using the ASCOM platform.  You basically use an USB cable from the PC to the autoguider  and then plug the autoguider into the ST4 port on the controller.  You can then use any guide camera  that is ASCOM compliant with a USB cable and the software provided.  Being ASCOM compliant it should also work with PHD2.


  5. 3 hours ago, steve wiz said:

    Hi Guys, as the title says, any info appreciated, also any decent budget phone mount/ adaptors that users would recommend?

      Thank you.

    Such an open ended question.  It's dependent on a lot of other factors non of which you mention.  How much money you want to spend, is the setup needing to be portable, what targets or results you want / expect to get.  Post up some more details to help people suggest some suitable options, thus save wasting their and your time suggesting options that don't meet those requirements

  6. Could be anything form a broken switch to corrupted firmware.  The only way to narrow it down is to open it up and test the switches using a test meter.  The fact it's registering a button press on either button would suggest the switch is functional, but depending on how it is wired and how the input to the circuitry is made.  If the switches are wired such that each has its on input then this would suggest the firmware on any microcontroller is corrupted, if it uses one pin that goes high or low depending which button is pressed then it could be the switch or any pull up/down resistor that has blown.

  7. The problem is the 200P being an f5 scope won't give you a magnified image like the one you got with the eyepiece. 

    The best image I got was back in 2011 using  an old Philips SPC900 CCD webcam with two 2x barlows stacked to give a focal ratio of f20, and even then the resulting stacked image still had a blue hue to the edges.  I was lucky as seeing was very good, and Jupiter was better placed compared to how it is now.



    The forum software has brightened the image slightly and thus reduced the contrast somewhat, but there is still some detail, but the cheap barlow lenses still made processing hard work. - Another example below



    I later tried my QHY5 mono straight onto the scope at f5 - this gives you some indication of the image size, although different sensor and pixel sizes may give a slight improvement


    This was at native resolution of 1280 x 1024 compared to the other two images which were 640 x 480, being the max the small web cam offered.  (Yes, a decade ago were were hacking CCD webcams to act as planetary cameras :) )

    The 200P is however an excellent DSO imaging scope, even with a modest canon DSLR... but that's a different ball game altogether 




    Hope that helps 

    • Thanks 1
  8. Its not critical  to  calibrated with the mount exactly due south and at 0 degrees DEC...  you can calibrate anywhere, but the close to the NCP the less effective it is (as Paul mentioned in his post on 22/11).  Irrespective if it wasn't pointing exactly south and at 0 degrees DEC, to me I would have still expected the movement in RA to be at 90 degrees to DEC because the RA movement is in one plane, and the DEC movement in another at right angles to each other.  If the scope is in the home position pointing at the NCP and calibration was done, then the two traces would be close and possibly overlap as the DEC movement would be in the same plane as the rotation of the RA (so would have a LEFT / RIGHT track same as DEC all be it with a slight arc).  

    If you place the mount as show in your post of 23/11 with the weight bar horizontal, and the scope pointing to the south, you will see that operating the DEC axis moves the front of the scope up and down, where as operating the RA the front of the OTA will move left to right, so would trace out a right angle .  To get the same straight overlapping track in RA and DEC, if the scope was pointing in the same position seems almost impossible unless PHD is driving the same physical axis when it thinks its moving them independently.  Why I' have no idea


  9. Are you stacking the RAW image files or the corresponding JPEGs ?  - If you are stacking JPEGs these are already compressed and so you would be stacking the compression artefacts as well.

    As the more experienced imagers have said, darks and flats are needed as they get used in the process to reduce the background noise and clean up the images.  Again, if you are using JPEGs this may be the reason they didn't give the results you expected?

  10. Baz, Can you confirm that the calibration was done with the scope pointing at a star due South and around 0 degree DEC ?  I'm no expert with PHD2, but when I calibrate my HEQ5 the calibration shows normally has two axis traces at 90 degrees to each other (NS and EW).  Your calibration graph shows the track for both axis as being in the same plane ???




    As mentioned I'm no expert, and maybe this is a red herring... but this may have some bearing with the issue ??


  11. OK I'm confused... in post #1 you stated you are using an LYNX EQDIR cable... If your mount has an USB port (as the newer versions of SW mounts now have) then all you need is an A-B USB cable to connect the mount to the laptop.  When doing so the port settings does indeed have to be set to 115200 baud.  If you connect via the EQDIR cable, replacing the handset, then the baud rate is 9600.

    Personally I never connect the mount via a hub. In the observatory I have two 5m active USB ext cables between the mount and the warm room.  One has the EQDIR cable plugged into it, with the other end directly into a USB port on the PC.  The second USB ext cable connects to a powered hub for the cameras.

    • Like 1
  12. Great news that the mount is OK.  - Everything is pointing towards the EQDIR cable or the registration of the driver. 

    Open up Device manager, right click on the com port associated with the EQDIR cable, and select "Uninstall Device" and then confirm the operation.  If prompted to remove the driver as well, then do so.  Once the device has been removed, pull the USB cable out of the port and plug it back in so Windows detects the hardware and will re-install the driver and give it a com port.  You may find the port number has changed, if so then repeat the previous instructions to set the baud rate etc in both the port properties and EQMOD

    • Like 1
  13. 17 minutes ago, paul mc c said:

    After tidying up my cables i added a usb extension to my laptop,which turns out to be faulty,so resorted back to the original usb,and getting same can not connect message.

    I have checked the com ports are the same and all the cables are not loose and still no joy.Obviously i am doing something wrong,but starting to do my head in now.

    If you still have the handset, do you get any "no response" messages for either or both axis.  If  not and the handset connects and you can move the mount then that confirms the motor control board is OK.

    USB extension leads can cause problems, which is why is always advisable to use active extension leads rather than passive.  I would suggest you try deleting the com port associated with the LYNX cable and repeat the instructions I gave above.  If that fails then the problem may be that the faulty extension cable has damaged the FTDI chip in the EQDIR cable and a new cable may need to be purchased.

    • Like 1
  14. 19 hours ago, Logan Run said:

    I am a new member to stargazers lounge Hello to everyone hope you are all keeping well & safe , i got some gear which i will send later , am stuck on a few things , my mount sky-watcher eq5 pro

    I am using ascom drivers with eqmod APT platesovling and stellarium to operate my gear ,just like to know how you use the pulse guiding on eqmod , my guiding OAG is all over the place , please help 

    Try the search function above.  Enter PHD as the search string and then just read through the posts - PHD (PHD2) is discussed at length, from installation to advanced calibration, so chances are you'll find the answer rather than members repeating what has already been posted.  Failing that, post up screen grabs of the traces and the log files if you have a specific issue.  The main issue with failure when pulse guiding is that the users don't change the pulse rate in EQMOD to 0.9x for both axis.


  15. 19 hours ago, PeterCPC said:

    Sharpcap only works with Windows. Not Android.

    Which is clearly stated on the download page 


    Sharpcap runs on Microsoft Windows – you should choose the version of SharpCap to install based on your version of Windows.


  16. On 10/11/2021 at 23:23, Swoop1 said:

    It would also have a single bed, a Lazeeboy and a beer fridge.


    Didn't go as far as the beer fridge, but my warm room had a bench for a sleeping bag, a kettle and a microwave to warm up some pasties or pies at 3am on a cold winters night... I now remote into the observatory from the warmth and comfort of the living room.....




    • Like 2
  17. My 2p worth.

    Is there anything preventing you from running an mains extension cable to the location and having the powersupply in a portable box of some description.  I've seen insulated plastic coolers being used before, the insulation preventing a lot of dew forming on the contents.

    If this is not an option, use a multimeter and measure the actual current drawn directly from the supply for each item of equipment so you have a true understanding of the load.  I would expect the mount to draw around 1.8 - 2.3 amps when both axis are slewing, but have no idea about the cooling of the camera and dew heaters.  Then you have some real values to use in the calculations.  You may find 2.5m2 multi strand cable is better than solid core twin and earth, an electrician could advise you better on that.  

    Power supplies are split into two types.  Constant current or constant voltage.  In order to provide a constant current the voltage is adjusted, with the opposite when a constant voltage is used.  Personally if the power supply needs to remain inside, then look for a constant voltage supply which can supply 7-20 amps.  There will be voltage drop of the distance which would be between 0.75 and 1v over that distance and depending on the resistance of the cable used and the true current draw.

    • Thanks 1
  18. On 24/11/2021 at 21:43, dnl said:

    For my canons I use dummy batteries and a buck converter to step down from the the 12v of my power pack. 


    I did the same for my 400D, but used an old fashioned 7885 linear regulator and a pair of capacitors - Does the same job.... 

  19. For items over £135 VAT and Excise Duty is payable.  - If the EU retailer has an option to display EX VAT prices on their website then select it.  Take that ex VAT price, add the companies delivery fees to the UK to get a total EX VAT price.  If its over £135 add 5% of the total EX VAT price, and then add 20% VAT to that sub total.  This will give you an approximation of the landed cost to your door.

    • Like 1
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