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About Sun

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    East Kent, UK
  1. COMMENT & REVIEW: THE LACERTA AUTOGUIDER - BEST IN CLASS? In principle and in practice I like the simplicity and elegance (in the scientific usage of the word) of stand-alone autoguiding. I tried the Synguider (= Nexguide) and even made right-angle viewing adapters for it to solve one of the several problems (listed in this thread) with this kit. I too sold it on. I now have the Lacerta M-Gen stand alone autoguider. It's expensive but very very VERY good - an exemplary piece of kit in every respect. In fact I would say it is probably by a long way the best in class - you get what you pay for, as with most things! Well designed, well made, reliable, and very easy to use. The screen is on the back of the hand paddle so you can orientate it wherever you like. It's VERY sensitive, and is designed around the standard Skywatcher 9x50 finder (screw the eyepiece off and attach the M-Gen camera). So you are not lashing out on a bulky and expensive guidescope. The field of view is big enough that there's a guide star in (in my experience) anywhere you point it so you don't need to buy, and fiddle with, adjustable guide-rings. And you can use a solar filter and invert the image and guide on sunspots (though I haven't tried this). I cannot think why it's not more popular: probably re the American market, it's just not known and I don't know if the firm has a USA distributor (it's made in Hungary).
  2. Good point, David. I have Skywatcher mounts now but like you had forgotten about their refinement procedures! I quite like the Skywatcher, but in my opinion no modern mount is anything like as good as the now unobtainable and now almost unrepairable Vixen Skysensor - but that's another topic!
  3. POLAR ALIGNMENT IF THE POLE STAR IS OBSTRUCTED (e.g. OBSERVING ON A S-FACING BALCONY!!!) Set up your scope on the floor (assuming it's reasonably level) in equatorial mode, with a rough guess at North. Put the tube into whatever 'home' position the instructions specify, or that you have chosen. Now choose an easily recognisable bright star at mid altitude. Pretend you HAVE polar aligned, and tell the scope to go to this star. When the slewing stops lift the scope very gently and turn the mount round till the star is in the centre of the field of view and you should have a fairly good polar alignment. If you are for example videoing planets and can also autoguide, this alignment may be all you need. But you can now refine it by the drift method if you need to - see https://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-resources/accurate-polar-alignment/ This method should be quite useful for Southern hemisphere observing, where the 'south pole star' - Sigma Octantis - is difficult to find especially in light polluted skies. And of course my advice here applies if you have a North-facing balcony!
  4. Thankyou VERY much, Rauno - PROBLEM SOLVED! I have powered up my Synguider and pressed a few buttons. I was indeed having exactly the same problem as you were: using the UP and DOWN options in the LOCKED menu is now giving me the AUTO and MANUAL options. We are getting about one clear a month in the UK and I wasted this month's on Wednesday! The software is inconsistent in the way it handles the subroutines - it seems idiotic not to display all the scrollable options, and idiotic that the default and only one presented is "don't proceed, go back to preview"!!! The Manual is rather perfunctory, and reads as if it was written for a beta version of the software and never updated when the product was launched. But most users seem to be pleased with the device and I look forward to getting it working for me too! Very best wishes , John
  5. I have not got my new Synguider working yet (though I HAVE manufactured an accessory to improve the screen visibility – see my previous post!). I have familiarised myself with all the menus, focus, noise adjustment, zoom etc. but when I come to lock on to a star – a necessary prerequisite to activating the guiding process – the only option presented on my LOCK screen is “NO” – i.e. return to Preview mode! The Manual says we should at this point be given options to lock manually or automatically. My vendor hasn’t used the guider himself, and I want to establish what’s going on – user error or faulty kit – before I send him and email to forward to the wholesaler for advice. (The manual is well written but the content is at a bare minimum). There seem to be two possibilities: either for some reason I’m not presenting a guide star adequately for the LOCK routine to work, and this is the kit’s way of telling me this, OR there’s corruption in the software. I would appreciate help especially from someone who has been presented with this useless screen, and solved the problem, and who can also tell me what the LOCK option comes up with when selected when it's working properly. Should it always be the three options (Manual, Auto, NO) whether or not it subsequently succeeds, and if so, what does it then display it can’t lock on a star? EDIT: Readers may be interested in my other post: http://stargazerslounge.com/equipment-help/128669-improving-visibility-autoguider-screens-synguider-nexguide-etc-lens.html
  6. A problem with, particularly, stand-alone autoguiders is the small display screen: one does not have the option of an adjustable laptop display. I have a Skywatcher Synguider – a cheaper unbadged version of the Celestron Nexguide – and have made a simple magnifier SEE ATTACHED PHOTO from an old reading glass, focal length about 10 cm and diameter 4.5cm. and a bracket made from some scrap 1mm thick aluminium sheet. The original lens handle was attached simply via a 4mm metric threaded handle, which I replaced with a nut. I drilled a 4mm hole in my aluminium bracket for the screw thread and cut and folded two small tabs onto the lens rim for rigidity, and embedded this fixture in epoxy resin. I cut a 42mm round hole in the other end of my new lens support, and sandwiched it between the T2/1.25-inch adapter that came with the guider, and the autoguider itself. The specification of my lens was ideal, but obviously not critical. Placing my head such that the LCD filled the field of the lens provided an effective magnification of about 2.5, and made a VAST improvement in usability of the autoguider. The jpg compression does not do justice to the photos of the Synguider screen. With the lens, individual pixels are easily seen. Actually, I have not got my Synguider working fully yet, and I would greatly appreciate it if readers could view my next post, and give me some help! PROBLEM SOLVED: SEE http://stargazerslounge.com/equipment-help/128671-problem-locking-onto-stars-skywatcher-synguider-celestron-nexguide.html
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