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Everything posted by DoctorD

  1. At the risk of being called a heretic, I have it's baby sister the 102 and am very pleased with it! Just started playing with an SDC 435 video camera and grabbed my first DSO pictures - M3 & M5. With a GSO 32mm Plossl I get almost 1.5 degrees FOV which should just about show M45 although I haven't tried as I have only recently got the eyepiece. I choose the 102 over the 127 based on size as I wanted to take it camping. Also comments on the AZ GOTO mount suggested that it was at it's limit with the 127 and I planned on getting the SDC 435 for use with the scope primarily for video assisted viewing for my kids. Clear skies Paul
  2. Hi Robin I'd like to make a feature request (have not been able to find it in the list, but please forgive me if it's been mentioned before). I'm using the SDC 435 frame integration video camera and would like to be able to select capture of every nth frame. I'm currently using the LX mod settings and varying the capture time, however it's not possible to select the exact capture time because of the resolution. Ideally you could have a "Frame Integration" mode similar to the LX mode which would allow the user to select the frame to be captured. The SDC-435 supports the following integration times:- x2, x4, x6, x8, x10, x12, x14, x16, x24, x32, x64, x128, x256 & x512. Note that although the camera is PAL interlaced, the integration is counted in fields so that x512 is actually 10.24 seconds (i.e. 512 20ms fields) but I would want to capture the whole frame. Thanks for a great piece of software. Clear Skies Paul
  3. Here's my first saturn with my SW 102 MAK. About 2 minutes of video captures with wxAstrocap and a Philips Toucam Pro and a 2x SW Barlow. Processed and stacked in IRIS and tweaked in GIMP. Not sure about the colour - the camera may have been RAW modded a long time ago (been a few years since I used it). Clear Skies Paul
  4. Hi I'm using SharpCap with an EasyCap DC60capture dongle to view and capture the images on my laptop. Capture was using no compression so I ended up with about 2G files for my 2 mins! I only captured a couple of minutes of video at x128 so that's about 45 frames of real data. I used ImageGrab to extract every 64th frame as .BMP To be honest, I am happy to see anything after my first night with the SDC 435 so did not look at the exposure and settings to much. Here's a single dark frame a single light and the output of DSS as processed and one with the levels adjusted to remove the background noise (both were .FTS and converted to JPEG in IRIS). You can see from the output of DSS that I seem to be having problems with the dark frame. I must read the DSS manual!!! Clear skies Paul
  5. The 102 MAK has some advantages - lighter than the 127 so less work for the mount to do. Also slightly less focal length - 1300 vs 1500 so wider field of view. I get almost 1.5 degrees with my Skymax 102 and GSO 32mm plossl. In the end aperture is king, but on the cheaper GOTO mounts you need to be careful of the stability with heavier scopes. Clear skies Paul
  6. I finally got my C mount to 1.25" adapter for my SDC 435 and was eager to try it out. Bearing in mind that I have a modest sized scope with a slow F ratio (Skywatcher Skymax 102 on Synscan AZ mount at F12.7) I was not sure what to expect. Having originally seen the SDC on Steve Wainwright's QCUIAG web site, I started with his recommended settings:- Lens: DC Shutter: ESC AGC: High SENS-UP: Auto (limit 512) SSDR: ON SSNR3: ON First light was an the 24th April - and I found it impossible to see anything - the picture always seemed to end up white. I have pretty bad light pollution at my home with an LP sodium street light at the end of the street. I reduced the sens-up limit to 128 with no real improvement. I finally gave up and spent the last 30 minutes looking at Saturn and then captured a short clip with my un-modified Toucam Pro. I had another go with the SDC 435 on the 27th April and decided to play with the settings. Lens: Manual - after all, the camera has no control of the scope! Shutter: manual - see below AGC: High SENS-UP: - (option disabled by manual shutter) SSDR: ON/OFF (I did not see much difference but will try again another night) SSNR3: ON I also used my 0.6 focal reducer and Neodymium filter (IR filter now removed from the camera). I used the two star alignment for the Synscan with Arcturus as the second star. Once aligned I replaced the eyepiece with the camera and reduced the shutter setting until I could see the star (1/50s) - at last I was making progress. I tweaked the focus to make Arcturus as small as possible then slewed the scope to M3. Just within the field of view was a faint smudge - I adjusted the position until the smudge was in the centre of the picture then slowly increased the shutter to 64 (anything greater than 1/50 uses frame accumulation I think). After a few seconds a ball of stars began to appear! My first video DSO - I increased the shutter to 128 and grabbed a couple of minutes of video. It takes sometime for the picture to stabilise after changing the shutter setting and I found settings greater than 128 caused the sky to begin to white out. This is probably due to the fact that M3 was directly above the street light. I dialled in M5 and found it almost immediatley - captured another few minutes of video and then called it a night. All I have to do now is get to grips with Dark Frames and stacking I'll post the photos once I've processed them. Is anyone else using manual exposure or have you been able to work with the ESC shutter and auto sens-up as recommended by Steve Wainwright? One advantage of the manual setting is that I was able to capture some dark frames at 64 and 128 frame accumulation and could guarantee that would match my earlier exposures. It seems to me that full manual control is better than the auto mode. Can't wait for the next opportunity to use the SDC435. Clear skies Paul
  7. Have you tried Iris - I have used it for planetary stacking but have not had a chance with any deep sky. http://www.astrosurf.com/buil/us/iris/iris.htm Just got me SDC 435 and still trying to get to grips with it. Clear skies Paul
  8. Hi Backlash is the slack that is inherent in any gear system and is seen in Alt Az and Equatorial mounts. You notice it when you change direction of any one of the axis and can been seen as a delay in responding to the input. Backlash compensation works by driving the axis in the opposite direction enough to take up the slack and then start moving the axis. Some mounts specify this as an absolute value in arc minutes and seconds, others as a compensation factor like the Nexstar mount. It's more important for imaging when using guiding, because the guide input will be constantly sending corrections to the mount and any delay in responding to these may cause problems such as oscillating back and forth slightly. As suggested you can slightly unbalance the scope so it is always leaning in one direction (actually you need to do this on both axis - difficult in AZ mode, easier in equatorial mode). You are unlikely to see any benefit in tracking unless you are using a guide scope. You may see benefit in positioning accuracy and response to manual inputs. Play with the values and see what happens - just make a note of the default settings in case it all goes pear shaped. Hope this helps. Paul
  9. Hi Andy Aperture is the diameter of the scopes lens or mirror - bigger means more light gathering capacity - the dimmer objects you will be able to see - aperture also affects the maximum possible magnification, however there are other things that affect this also. GOTO - some telescope mounts have the ability to find and track objects once correctly aligned this is usually referred to as GOTO. You will get mixed advice on it's suitability for beginners. Astronomical telescopes come with interchangeable eyepieces which alter the magnification - the Skymax comes with a 24mm and a 10mm. The magnification is calculated by dividing the focal length of the scope by the focal length of the eyepiece. The longer focal length eyepiece the bigger the field of view (more stars). This is useful for certain objects. I suggest you get a copy of the book Turn Left at Orion - this explains the basics of astronomy & telescopes and will help you understand what to expect. Have fun. Paul
  10. You could always consider the Skymax 102 - 4 inch instead of 5 inch. With GOTO would still be within your budget. Some say the optics are better than the 127mm - and it's a bit lighter so the GOTO mount has less work to do. What's the light pollution like from your balcony - if it's bad then you may be limited to planets, brighter clusters and DSOs - something the 102 will be fine for. Get a 32mm GSO plossl eyepiece to complement the 24mm and 10mm supplied with the scope for the widest possible field of view - almost 1.5 degrees. Clear skies Paul
  11. Hi, The Seben zoom works fine with my SW 102 MAK although the FOV is only 40 degrees at the 24mm end. Not so good with my 80F5 refractor. I like the convenience of being able to zoom in on an object to find the best contrast. The GSO 32mm Plossl give me the widest FOV without spending as much on an eyepiece as I did on the scope I'm very happy with it's performance bearing in mind I'm no expert. I'm considering a short focal length eye piece specifically for planetary use - not decided what yet. Clear skies Paul
  12. It should not matter how long you have between aligned stars, the software should calculate the 2nd star position based on the actual time when you centre it. I tend to use Polaris as the first star ( easy to find) and currently use Arcturus. Once aligned I GOTO an easily identifiable object such as Saturn to check everything is OK. Clear Skies Paul
  13. Mine came with a manual and it's also available to download from the Skywatcher web site. Pretty vague on Backlash though. Clear skies Paul
  14. Hi Factory settings for back lash is 00 00 00 - i.e no compensation. At least it was on my setup. Tracking should be set to Sidereal. Back lash compensates for any play in the drive train, usually seen when changing direction. My Synscan AZ has about 6 arc mins of back lash but this will vary from mount to mount. You notice it most when using the slower rates to position the object in the eye piece - it's seen as a delay in responding to key presses. For best positioning accuracy always approach your alignment stars from the bottom left (use right & up keys) at Rate 1. This is how the mount approaches the object so back lash is already taken up. Back lash can be annoying when trying to re-centre an object once it's been found - you can compensate by adjusting the backlash settings. To measure backlash, centre the scope on Polaris (approach from bottom left) note the AZ position - using the highest magnification you can watch Polaris. Select the lowest rate and press the left key - release the key immediately you see any movement of Polaris. Repeat for the down key. Note the new AZ position and subtract from the initial values - this will give you your backlash values. Try these in the backlash settings (I find that they need reducing a little for best results). Hope this helps Paul
  15. Thanks for the warm welcome every one. Looks like it's going to be a clear night. Clear skies Paul
  16. Hi everyone I've been lurking here for a little while and have recently acquired a Skywatcher Sysnscan 102 MAK from FLO based on many discussions in the forums. I'm returning to Astronomy after several years - I originally got the bug in 1996 when Hale Bop was in the sky and Jupiter and Saturn were in conjunction and high in the sky. First views of saturn through a 76mm Tasco table top scope were enough to make me want to spend more and my partner and I got a Celestron G8 SCT. Saturn and Jupiter through the SCT were stunning and one of my most memorable events was a observing a shadow transit of Jupiter. Later I acquired a Helios 80F5 short tube refactor, finding the SCT difficult to use and slow to cool down - this little scope showed me more than I'd seen in the SCT simply because it was quick to set up and easy to point - a real benefit given the pressures of work & family life. I dabbled with Web Cam photography with mixed success (no drives on the mount, so had to track by hand) - I still have the Tocam Pro some where. The recent speight of astronomy programs on the TV encourage me to get the scopes back out so my children could see more of the wonders of the universe - however it was clear that at 7 and 10 years of age their patience was a little less than mine That's why I wanted a GOTO and eventually bought the SW MAK - perfect for a quick set up reasonable cool down times and I can stash it away in my camper for use on those camping trips far away from light pollution. I'm very pleased with the MAK - the quality of the optics are great and am geting to grips with the Synscan AZ mount - not sure how it would perform with the 127mm MAK - the 102 seems perfect for this mount - not too heavy or long. Seems that the low cost imaging options have increased since I was last involved - I'm considering the SDC435 video camera as an option for the brighter DSO's through my little MAK. Pity the nights are growing shorter! Clear Skies Paul
  17. Here's how I simulated Skyfi: Using Ubuntu 10.10 1. Install ser2net using Synaptic Package manager 2. Edit /etc/ser2net.conf and add the following line: 1000:raw:3600:/dev/ttyUSB0:9600 8 DATABITS NONE 1STOPBIT -RTSCTS Comment out all other lines. 3. Start using sudo /etc/init.d/ser2net start 4. Set up an Ad-Hoc WiFi network - follow the instructions here:- https://help.ubuntu.com/community/WifiDocs/Adhoc Make sure that the IPV4 settings is set to "Shared with other computers" Start the Ad-Hoc network - your laptop should join it automatically. Open a terminal window and type ifconfig <return> Note the inet addr: for wlan0 - this is the IP address of your laptop on the ad-hoc network. Plug your scope into the seria port and align as per the manual. Connect your iPhone to the Ad-hoc network Open up StarSeek or Starmap and set the telescope control to the laptop IP address and port 1000. Select your scope type. You should now be able to connect to the scope. You can boot Ubuntu from a USB memory stick so you do not need to do a full install on you Windows lap top. Hope this helps Clear Skies Paul
  18. Hi this is my first post on the forum I was interested in using my iPhone to control my Skywatcher 102 MAK with Synscan hand controller. It is possible to use the Starmap Pro or StarSeek application without the Skifi - if you have a laptop with wifi and a serial port (can be USB-Serial adapter). I have managed to simulate the Skifi interface using linux - if anyone is interested I'll put together a How-To - it's pretty simple really. May also be possible under windows. Clear Skies Paul
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