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Everything posted by Al.Grant

  1. GIna .... read through this thread (any another) with great interest. I'm currently running an ASC based on an ASI120mm in a watertight enclosure and includes a dome and heater element and from Dew Control. The enclosure has a clamp on the bottom that attaches to the guttering and is easy enough to retrieve (from an upstairs window) as I want the ASC to be semi-mobile so I can take it away when we got away to Snowdonia and get under some very dark skies. I'm looking at adding some sort of passive cooling, as my ASC is mobile and I like to run it from a campsite I won't get getting too techy ... but any cooling will help. I usually run it with 15 or 20 sec exposures (longer when we're away under darker skies), but trying out a few different exposure/gain settings to see what works best. Can I ask what software you are using for your ASC? I'm using AllSkEye and having fairly good results with it but always looking at other options. I'm running it from a small stick PC (keeping it small to stay mobile) which runs without a monitor/keyboard etc and I log in remotely. Star trail image (auto generated by AllSkEye) on an unusually clear night! Typical image with current settings ... but tryhing to improve things Cheers..
  2. Reading this thread with interest ..... I've recently been running an all-sky camera using an old model ASI120mm and although these cameras are a bit noisy (15-20 sec exposure) I'm fairly happy with the results when using the software (AllSkEye) to subtract a dark frame I'm considering having 2 cameras. I often travel from my light polluted home to some nice dark skies and want to keep at least one of them as a 'portable' build and one 'fixed' at home. These 2 images are with the 120mm with no dark frame subtracted, so things look a bit better now Home skies Dark skies - new lens I've been looking at ZWO's offerings and have been considering both the ASI224 and ASI178 as possible options. As the portable camera will be used under darker skies it seems to make sense to use one with the lowest amount of noise (no good going for low noise if the neighbours keep switching on security lights!). I could just accept the noise level and go with another 120mm which would be cheaper, but my thinking (and justification should the wife ask!) is that I could use the better, lower noise camera on my telescopes when not needed for the portable all sky camera. Al
  3. Following this thread with interest .... I ran a meteor detector a little while ago but after the laptop died I didn't have a spare one I could use. That has recently changed and I just need to find a bit of free time over the next week or two and get things up and running. I've got a Funcube Pro+ dongle and found my old scripts for SpectrumLabs - however this script looks like a great place to get it back up and running again. My old script kept growing and whilst it did everything I needed when it worked ..... when something went wrong it caused me more than a few headaches!
  4. I had similar last year. At one point I was actually finding excuses (however tenuous) why I couldn't or shouldn't get set up .......... thankfully I now have my astro-mojo back, just in time for endless cloud If it keeps up much longer I'll have to get my SDR meteor detector up and running again.
  5. Thanks. Scope and camera were on my tripod and a the wind messed up a few shots. Used the 750D's LiveView 10x zoom to check focus.
  6. The Moon from last night, just before the clouds rolled in (again!) SW Equinox 80 Pro & EOS 750D. Single image - 1/200sec - ISO100 - No processing (cropped & resized for posting).
  7. My Starsense HC did lock up a few times when I first got it ...... always when the scope was pointing almost straight up. I tried a User Auto Align (pg13 of the manual) and that seemed to work. No idea why but I've not had any lock ups since doing that. If it had been pointing towards the West when it locked then I could perhaps understand (house!) but it was always pointing up high towards the zenith.
  8. Good to know. Glad you got it sorted in the end. However .... Do you seriously expect us to believe you've had 3 hours of good clear skies
  9. I got the same advice from Celestron. I installed the PL2303 driver from the link they sent me ( http://www.prolific.com.tw/US/ShowProduct.aspx?p_id=225&pcid=41 ). I already had the same driver/version installed, but I guess reinstalling is never a bad thing ...... other than my 'note' at the bottom of this post! The issue I had was that I didn't have the ASCOM Celestron Unified driver installed ( http://www.ascom-standards.org/Downloads/ScopeDrivers.htm ). Then in the ASCOM settings I select 'Celestron Telescope Driver' and it all seems to connect up OK. Now I think about it using that driver makes sense (being a Celestron HC) My cables go PC -> SS HC then as normal to the Interface box. There is no need for any other setting on the HC, so no equivalent of the SW 'PC Direct' mode. So far I've only controlled things with my laptop close to the mount, so no long/active usb cables etc, but that is something I need to do. Note: All of this was about 10 days ago .... since then my laptop died and needed all the software (incl Win) reinstalling ... so now it's all back I've got to connect up again and see if it still works!
  10. Well maybe not for a garden rake, but shed break-ins are not that unusual as they often contain power tools, bikes etc. in fact shed break ins happen is spates in certain areas. Most local police force websites contain gardedn/garage/shed security advice. This link from Nottinghamshire Police https://www.nottinghamshire.police.uk/advice/prevention/shed Has advice and a PDF on securing your shed (or discreet obs!). And this from Essex Police on securing your garden in general https://www.essex.police.uk/advice/garden-security/ Fitting an alarm doesn't cost much http://www.homebase.co.uk/en/homebaseuk/yale-shed-and-garage-alarm-210437 Your neighbours may ignore an alarm going off, but I'm sure you wouldn't :-) either way I'm sure the scumbag breaking in won't hang around! The PIR should trigger the alarm as soon as the door moves. CCTV might be going a bit too far, I'm lucky as I have an old CCTV system from our shop and have put a cam looking over our back garden, might not (probably not!) going to get a face image, but it will give a date/time and general description.
  11. Ok thanks. I've managed to get things working (mostly!). The laptop connects direct to the usb on the bottom of the Starsense HC .... the problem wasn't the HC it was me stuck in 'Skywatcher' mode. What I hadn't done was install the ASCOM Celestron driver as soon as I did that things looked much better. I think put a bit off course with the driver issue because I got Stellarium to see the mount and control it even without the Celestron driver, so assumed all was OK! So I have Stellarium, CdC, Astroplanner and BYE all talking to the mount and controlling it through the SSA for Skywatcher HC. So it should be easy enough to align with the SSA and then swap over to the laptop for imaging. The only issue I still seem to have is with PHD2 - as soon as I try to connect to the scope it crashes as soon as the mount control window opens, hopefully I'll get that sorted before the next clear night.
  12. I'm currently using a Starsense for Skywatcher on my HEQ5 Pro and getting quick and easy goto's all of which are visible in a 10mm ep with # reticule (although often not centred). I've not felt the need to go down the GPS route as it remembers the location and entering the time/date takes no more than a few seconds. So far I've only used it at the mount rather than from laptop/phone/tablet ect. One question I do have is about controlling the scope from my laptop. On the SW hand controller I could set it to 'PC Direct' bypassing the HC for remote control. ?? How do I connect up when using the Celestron Starsense HC ? Do I connect my laptop to the Starsense HC (via the usb on the bottom) or do I plug direct into the Interface Box, bypassing the controller ? I did have a quick try after updating the Starsense HC firmware. The firmware update went OK so I know the laptop could see the HC/Interface box/SS Camera and know it was using COM 3, but couldn't get any software (stellarium/CdC/Astroplanner) to see or move the mount. Any info greatly appreciated! Thanks
  13. Hi Jamie, I'm using my Starsense on an HEQ5 Pro with a Vixen VC200L. So far I've done everything at the mount via the hand controller, no wifi, gps etc involved. I will send Celestron support an email, but will wait until after I do another run. Even if I don't see the issue again I'll report it. I have moved the location of the Starsense on my scope to allow for better positioning of my guide scope and also to allow me to keep my Telrad, which I'll be keeping on the scope (really useful during Manual Align). As I have moved the Starsense I want to do a Calibrate Centre again. I have also changed the way I have the Starsense attached to the small camera bracket. Initially I followed the instructions in the manual (page 9), but for some reason it always looked wrong to me and so I reversed it in the bracket. It sits perfectly and as the new position in the bracket moves the Starsense forwards it's out of the way when I'm looking through an EP or adjusting the camera etc. Al
  14. I've had a Starsense for Skywatcher for a few days now and only really had 2 quick goes with it. Worked both times straight out of the box, which I'm happy with as I've seen others having issues. When I say 'worked', there were a couple of times it locked up during an auto align and the HC was totally unresponsive. On both occasions it was looking almost straight up towards the zenith. Power on/off & start again! I did a Manual Align, followed by a User Auto Align and it's not happened since , I did try a number of other auto aligns to check and all now seems OK, but time will tell on that one! It now auto aligns using only N, E & S .... my W horizon is mostly blocked by our house. I know that in theory the SS means you don't need an RDF, but with my admittedly limited time using it, I did find my Telrad was a great help during the manual align. As for goto accuracy, well my set up was very quick (pushed for time on both occasions). A very rough PA by pointing the scope N, a quick look through my Telrad ..... "Yeah that's about North!" was about as much as it took. Then an Auto Align and first time Calibrate Centre were giving me goto's where the object was within view in a 9mm EP, not centred but visible each time and each time was less than 5 mins from switching on the power. I imagine with a better PA and a few calibration stars things should improve. I'll be running through the Calibrate Centre routine again next time as I've swapped the position of the SSA on the scope to give my guide scope a better position. For visual observing it does seem to make things much quicker and easier ...... not tried any (guided or unguided) imaging yet, but if it gets me on a target quickly so I can switch over to the guide cam then I'll be happy. Early days (or nights) but looking good so far! Al
  15. Interested in any updates on the SSA from Skywatcher mount users. Earlier this week I got a Celestron Starsense for Skywatcher and have managed 2 quick sessions with it on my HEQ5 with Vixen VC200L. I did see a couple of lock up's very similar to those reported earlier in this thread by Jam1e1 here: It only seemed to happen during the auto align when looking up at the zenith. I then performed a Manual Align followed by a User Auto Align and not seen the lock up since. Still have a few things I want to have a go at that should improve the goto accuracy. Currently with just a rough northern alignment and a 'Calibrate Centre' I'm getting goto's that are a little off centre in a 9mm eyepiece - that's without the Polar align or additional calibration stars, so I'm fairly happy with that (for visual) One thing I'd really like to know is if anybody has managed to use the Starsense for the initial goto and then switch over to PC control? I have a few software packages (astroplanner, PHD2 & CDC in particular) that use ASCOM for telescope control and interested in knowing if/how I go about running this when using the Celestron Starsense HC What I'm hoping to be able to do is get things running under the SSA and then swap over for some imaging, using PHD2 for guiding. Not had a chance to even start looking at this yet but not clear if it can be done or how I go about it ....... so any input greatly appreciated! Thanks Al
  16. My webpage 'waterfall' now has 2 waterfall images, I've added a 10 min trace alongside the 60 sec one. http://ukstargazer.net/radio-meteor-detector/meteor-waterfall/ Outside expected meteor showers I'll probably just show the 10 min one as it cuts down on the amount of images that need uploading (every 10 mins rather than every min). As for interpreting what we see, I'm not sure but yesterday I got an email from Zooniverse on a new project on the BRAMS tranmitter https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/zooniverse/radio-meteor-zoo These is some info on their website that may help https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/zooniverse/radio-meteor-zoo/about/research But it's more directed towards identifying what is or is not a meteor rather than info on the meteor itself.
  17. My detector has been back up and running for a few weeks now and seems to have settled down. My webpage now has a 60sec and 10min detection trace running and auto updating. The 10 min trace has only been up for about an hour or so, but seems to be working. It means I need 2 copies of SpecLab running, but the laptop seems to be coping OK. http://ukstargazer.net/radio-meteor-detector/meteor-waterfall/ (The 'waterfall' pages should auto update.) Good job my detector is working as we had 100% cloud cover last night so couldn't see a thing.
  18. Hi, I used http://www.innovantennas.com/ for my 3 element OWL Yagi, if I remember correctly the price was about £40 2 years ago They no longer seem to do the one I got - but very similar to this 4 element version http://www.innovantennas.com/our-antennas/view/productdetails/virtuemart_product_id/331/virtuemart_category_id/35.html It needed assembling when it arrived, but comes with clear instructions and was very straightforward (a few small nuts & bolts) and has worked without any issue for the last 2 years. For cable and connectors I went to our local Maplin. I was also getting confused over what to get so to get things working I simply bought one of these 10m cable kits http://www.maplin.co.uk/p/10m-cable-kit-a98jh it terminates in a BNC connector but comes with a BNC to SMA adapter which plugs straight on to my FUNcube Pro+ dongle. I had to the BNC off one end to connect to the Yagi It was always my intention to change the cable and connectors eventually to try reduce any noise etc .... but it all works so I've never felt the need and again everything is working just fine. Can't help with the telescopic mast, Maplins do one but don't know if it's any good or not. Al http://ukstargazer.net/radio-meteor-detector/
  19. Ken, I've had an issue getting Colorgramme to work over the past few days, which was frustrating as it worked straight away last time. I contacted the RMOB website and the guy who wrote the program thought it was because I am using 64 bit Win 10. He suggested changing colorgramme to run under Windows XP compatibility mode (right click > Properties > Compatibility). As soon as I did this it started uploading and showing up on the RMOB site straight away. I also set it to run as Administrator I wouldn't have seen this on my old PC as it was running and older 32bit version of Windows. Al
  20. Ken, Give me a couple of days to get my detector working again and that should be enough to actually remind me how to get it all working. I've already got SpecLab running the script again and it does create the .dat files (after it's been running for an hour). For the directory you'll need to open windows explorer and go to your spectrum lab install directory -- or if you have a spectrumlab desktop icon just right click it and select 'Open File Location' -- in there just create a new directory and name it meteorlog. It's going a bit slower than I'd planned because I'm starting from scratch and trying to get it working on one of these 'stick PC's' https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B015Q2A3NA - Cheap enough at less than £70 and it free's up my main home laptop ..... also cheaper to leave running 24/7 It seems to be running things pretty well at the moment. Once I know it's all working again I can save a copy of the script file and also a .USR config file. Although your system will be different to mine it should make a decent start point and the script isn't too hard to tweak.
  21. Hi Ken, Sorry for the delay, I've been away for the past week or so and not had a chance to look at anything. I'll be spending a few hours over the next couple of days getting my detector back up and running and once I've done that I should be able to help - It'll refresh my memory as I've not looked at Spectrum Lab/Colorgram for over a year. Once it's working I should be able to let you have the script I'm using. However if you look back at page 4 of this thread you'll see I'm using a modified version of the script on this page http://cmhas.wikispaces.com/slmeteor See here: This is what I used/followed to first get me up and contributing to RMOB. Use the latest version. In the script you'll see "DIR="c:\\spectrum\\meteorlog\\" You'll need to manually create the 'meteorlog' dir for it to work. Just going from memory I think this is all you'll need to create the files for RMOB Hope that helps
  22. Hi Ken, I've not looked at colorgramme for a few months (my detector has been down) but I had a similar issue when I first started. When you filled in the 'Observer' tab did you fill in ALL the boxes? My issue was that I didn't fill all the location boxes, the lat & long boxes AND the google map location. I also filled in any blank boxes with 'none' if needed. After that you need to select the correct RMOB .dat file and it should upload. I can't help much on the creation of the .dat file as mine was created by the script I was running. I do have a copy of the script that I can make available, but it might need tweaking to your system. Al
  23. Due to numerous distractions, delays and frustrations my meteor detector has been offline for months (mostly a lack of spare PC/Laptop). I'm hoping it will be back on the air soon. Middle of next week I've got a 'Lenovo Ideacentre Stick 300' stick PC arriving for use at work: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B015Q2A3NA It comes loaded with Win10 and I know I can use TeamViewer to log in and control it remotely. I'll be holding it at home to try it with SpectrumLab & FCD Pro+ and I also want to try it with another antenna as an ADS-B aircraft detector (a bit like FlightRadar24). Being a 'stick PC' its spec isn't going to set the world alight, but I'm hoping it will manage SpectrumLab and it's certainly small enough to sit in a discreet location. I've checked software install sizes and it shouldn't be an issue. I'm confident the ADS-B tracker will work, just not sure how the processors will take the SpectrumLab workload. If it all works then at less than £70 it's a nice cheap, low power option to leave running the meteor detector 24/7.
  24. I'm off on Monday and at the moment the forecast is looking good (let's hope it's accurate) and planning on giving the Equinox 80 and Quark a run. Might also switch over to do some white light. On subject of solar safety ..... here's what happens to the plastic end cap of a Quark when you forget to remove it (too busy chatting whilst setting up). Thankfully no damage to the Quark ............... but imaging what it could do to an eyeball !
  25. Hi Andrew, I've never used or seen the Airspy but I've had good meteor detections using the FCD Pro+. I would have no probs recommending the FCD for meteor detecting. I also tried one of the cheap RTL DVB-T (less than £10) dongles and wideband sdr dongle from ebay (less than £40) and they both worked but were noticeably noisier than the FCD and the DVB-T dongle was a bit more fiddly to configure the extra drivers needed, whereas the FCD was a simply plug & play. However they are certainly an option for a quick/cheap start. Don't forget that sensitivity will also depend on the antenna used and it's location. You can easily make your own antenna but I bought one for about £40. I have mine mounted outside a few meters above the ground on our extension and it's fine, others have them on the roof and some have them in the loft. I also got better reception/less noise when I changed the cable from a very cheap budget one to one that cost a few quid more (but still not expensive) and when I was connecting the cables up there was a significant difference in the internal shielding around the core. I've heard some people noticed a difference between mounting the antenna horizontally and vertically, but I didn't notice any. Once you have it all up and running it can sit there for months unattended detecting meteors. My detector should be back on line later today as I've just got back from travelling and needed to take the laptop with me .... still need a dedicated laptop for my meteor detector and an all sky cam, until then it will need to go down sometimes. Good luck with getting the detector up and running.
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