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Everything posted by buzz

  1. I bought a full frame SLR and decided to splash out on a Tak Baby Q. I have to sell the WO Star 71. It is extremely good for the price and can thoroughly recommend it for APS-C cameras. It is in excellent condition and is stored indoors when not in use. £765 - buyer can collect, or I can post in original box for £20 to the UK. I took this image with it: http://www.digitalastrophotography.co.uk/Astrophotography/Images.html#16 I also have a Lakeside focuser bracket for it, if you want me to include it.
  2. I found this thread after receiving my new Baby Q, fiddling with the grub screws on the reducer and then wondering; 'What the hell did I do that for?' I took Olly's advice and decided to square it off. Then I decided to loosen them completely and remove the ring and look at the adjustment 'mechanism'. I am not convinced this is a tilt adjuster. The design resembles the classic rotation device, with the grubscrews resting on a sloping surface, designed to automatically nestle up against the shoulder when they are tightened. If it were meant to be a tilt adjuster I would have expected an extremely shallow draft angle. Anyway, I squared it off and when the customary 3 months of cloud pass, I will test my theory
  3. DrRobin - the mirror separation affects focal length. I simply did a platesolve using PinPoint and noted the imaging scale. That goes to 3 sig figures and is sufficient to alter the mirror spacing. Bringing them closer together lengthens the focal length - by about a 10:1 ratio. I am using a KAF8300 too - I do not have vignetting and I sometimes don't bother with flats. I am using Astrodon filters that fit into the 1.25" housing but do not have a metal threaded ring.
  4. Useful information for iOptron users: Another user (CEM60) on the user group suggested the PEC failure could be due to interference from a dew heater. I was using a (filtered) high frequency PWM dewheater and fully regulated DC power supplies. When I turned the dewheater off, PEC worked. All my other electronics and cameras have no issue, including the Avalon mount, using exactly the same interfacing kit. I used to design RF circuits and the first thing I would try, if the mount was not in warranty, is put shielding inside the plastic covers and a few more decoupling components near the connectors. I thought that was it, as my Pk-Pk reduced from 60" to 7" but it then refused to execute the ASCOM guide pulse commands that I had used 10 minutes earlier to calibrate PHD2 or learn PEC. I tried repeating the whole exercise using ST4 but ran into other issues: With the original and replacement mount I noted that after a slew, the mount would sometimes track, but at the wrong rate. (Slew command issued from TSX via ASCOM). In both cases it was immediately following a PHD2 guider calibration using ST4 (one was with a Lodestar X2, the other with a Superstar). The 2-second PHD2 exposures were streaks! A second slew fixed it and the mount tracked at sidereal rate. When it happened the first time, I pulled out the ST4 cable but it still kept going. I use PHD2 with ST4 or Pulseguide on other mounts without apparent issue. Bizarre. I'm using the latest firmware and maybe something slipped up. I cannot roll it back as iOptron only show the latest version.
  5. iOptron #3 came back. PE slightly better but not great. Pk-pk values change significantly with RA and I cannot get PEC to work with either ST4/ASCOM (with latest firmware). Not good. Will have to use the Avalon for lightweight gear - so I'm getting another shorter counterweight bar being made up in aluminium for balancing and their lightweight aluminium tripod to reduce the overall package weight.
  6. I knew that guiding the Avalon was going to be interesting.... I just didn't know quite how much. Currently I'm using Lodestar/ST4/PHD2 with 0 min move, 1sec exposure and 100% aggression. and lowest guide rate (0.125x). Scope was William Optics FLT98, with the lodestar securely in the eyepiece holder. My guiding last night resembled a wounded fish! I tried a few variations 0.5 sec to 10 sec, changed aggression down to 50%. DEC seems OK when there is drift but the RA is proving a challenge. ( have not yet tried pulseguiding through the Skywatcher ASCOM driver or using guiding through EQMOD) This is only my first light with the setup so I expect a learning curve. I would be really interested in other users suggestions and typical performance. [update] I think I nailed the guiding. I conceptualized a ball suspended from a piece of elastic and thought about how I would raise and lower the ball without vertical oscillation. The trick was to find a scheme that introduces the smallest moves, as gently as possible, without leaving behind the residual PE. The PE without guiding measured about +/-5" with some quite quick swings, so longer 10 second exposure times had less seeing noise but potentially big corrections and oscillations. I needed to first remove all other causes of tracking errors - so PA'd with the PoleMaster beforehand this time and supported the wiring bundle to minimize any drag. The combination of Skywatcher ASCOM pulse guiding and less aggressive inertial moves reduced the RMS to under 0.5". Very short exposures were a bit too reactive to seeing noise. Somewhere in the middle, 1-3 second, a little hysteresis, 0.75 or higher aggression, low guide rate and good PA seemed to work well. I disabled DEC compensation as that introduces more sensitivity to seeing noise at high DEC. The hysteresis / aggression is a balance; rapid guiding with high aggression helps if it has some hysteresis to filter the noise. My DEC RMS was less than 0.1"
  7. thanks Beulah - that was the one. Where did you find it?
  8. I once came across a combination map showing the likelihood of clear nights and the level of light pollution in the UK, but an hour on googling cannot locate it. Has anyone seen this before, got a link etc.? Would be appreciated. regards
  9. For info - I'm using the ASCOM driver through the handset, rather than EQMOD. I have used EQMOD in the past with an EQ6 but it was a love / hate thing. With my Paramount I use Dimension 4 NTP program to set accurate time in TSX and noticed that Synscan does not have an inbuilt clock. I needed to send the PC clock to the Avalaon. (I'm not using GPS) I noted that the API supported reading and writing UTC to Synscan and after a discussion with the ASCOM driver author, Chris Rowland, he very kindly provided me a script that sends the clock over. It is a VBS, with options for daylight saving or not.
  10. I bought the Avalon and await the return of the iOptron. You might be surprised but I would like to keep both. My original post was for a lightweight system. The Avalon, fitted with a William Optics Star71 / EOS cannot be balanced. The counterweight bar on its own is too heavy. There is still a place for a super light-weight mount that balances lightweight equipment.
  11. The graphs are the tracking error report from PHD2 guiding program. The vertical axis is arc seconds and the horizontal is minutes. The error cycle repeats for each worm gear rotation. Your 10 micron would be hovering within a +/-1 arc second range! The new worm gear I was supplied made things worse....wait for it.... +/- 60 arc seconds!!! The mount is being replaced. Third time lucky maybe. I'm working on it most evenings but it takes time to thoroughly research each topic, try and test the theories and acquire the data for the images. It will be worth the wait though
  12. iOpton IEQ30 - I got the new worm gear from Altair - but took one look at the installation and decided to let Altair do the update. They turned it around in a few weeks. That is the good news. Got it back on Friday and checked the PE last night. PE peak to peak of ~80 arc seconds. The PE was so bad that PHD2 threw a warning message during the calibration as the DEC axis moves went off at a 30 degree angle. Even at +/- 16 pixel scale, the PE was off the chart. This is a real shame. A good sensible design marred by critical tolerances.
  13. This is a really accurate polar scope - I was getting within 1 arc minute (confirmed by T-Point) on regular occassions. I am now pier mounted and want to stuff more cables through the mount, hence the sale. Bought new with my MX a few years ago. The condition is excellent £165, including P&P (within UK)
  14. Not sure on the color. I think this really a cover for the Italian military - for surface to air missiles!
  15. It is very easy - set up your laptop connected to your home WiFi and enable remote desktop in Windows. You can connect to the laptop with the free Microsoft Remote Desktop program - which is available for Windows, OSX and iOS devices. I have a NUC PC in my obsy and I only control it remotely - if you enable your firewall to let things through, you can connect to it from anywhere in the world.
  16. thanks - Altair is sending me a new worm block for the iOptron - it would be good to get this diminutive mount to work. It is a perfect size and weight for holidays. I may buy the Avalon as well, for good measure.
  17. For info - there is a new version of the software on the GoldFocus website. It does not appear to be radically different but I notice it has fixed the ASCOM focus disconnect bug. It also now has an updated instruction supplement that takes you the intricate process of collimating a dual mirror system.
  18. just a thought - I have been offered a used Avalon - with the EQ electronics. Is there any downside to this older design over the new StarGo system?
  19. Some initial feedback. The iEQ30 pro is very nicely built. Stainless steel rather than chrome plated steel. The Polemaster from QHY is brilliant. I mounted the FLT98 with a FFIV reducer and the Lodestar. Using PHD2, I measured the PE near the meridian/horizon and then computed the PEC using the mount's internal process, following up with a guiding performance check. The native PE is +/- 30 arc seconds! PEC is remarkably effective though, considering the task and gets it down to +/-2 arc seconds but the autoguiding struggles to remove it. With PEC, the error changes 3.5 arc seconds in a minute and to avoid reacting the seeing, I had guider corrections every 5 seconds, up to 75% aggression. In that time, the error has changed 0.3 arc seconds and is always playing catch-up and you see a smaller amplitude ripple of the same period as the PE. DEC guiding was OK so long as you kept the aggression at about 30%, to avoid overshoot. I'm in two minds - whether to ask for a refund or try for a replacement. There are some reports of PE in +/- single figures from this mount, in which case the autoguider would be fine. In my searches I have also come across the Vixen SXD2 - which might be a contender. Failing that, I might have to dig deep and go red. [update] - I'm going to persevere. The mount is otherwise nicely put together and will ask Altair if they can replace the worm. If I get really desperate, I'll just get a red spray-can out.
  20. I have bought an iEQ30 in the end, along with a QHY Polemaster. So far it is leaving a favourable impression with better build quality / design than my 2013 NEQ6. It is a shade under 8Kg for the head and nice and quiet, working with TSX or ASCOM. I'll put a WO FLT98 on it and measure PE before and after PEC and then try and guide it. I'll share the results here. If it can cope with this, it will cope with the intended use of a bunch of Carl Zeiss (Contax) optics on a EOS 60Da. It will be very interesting to see how well it goes. In fact, the counterweight is too heavy and I'm going to have to find a lighter one to balance the camera/guider system.
  21. Cheers Steve - it will be a few years yet before it comes out. It takes a long time to research things thoroughly and test it for oneself, rather than write about things in a superficial manner (which seems to be the norm). Just seen the price of an M-Zero - ouch! that is too expensive for these purposes and more than the linear. Nice concept but almost 4K. I'm planning to run this with photographic kit at first, rather than telescopes . I have found some really nice Carl Zeiss lenses (18-300mm) that fit the Canon - from the old Contax days. Very affordable, good performance wide open and solid. The C/Y adaptor is really robust, much better than the normal crop of T-adaptors. I'm working on a DIY AF rig for the lenses. I used these lenses in the slide film days and the results were excellent - most importantly over the entire field, rather than concentrated in the middle.
  22. Thanks Erquy , I will take a look at the M-uno/zero. I had not considered them before as they looked a bit like a springboard and might topple over in EQ mode. I am trying to keep within the budget (weight and cost). I am writing the second edition of the The Astrophotography Manual, and I'm in danger of being too up-market. I want to include some more affordable and lower-end acquisition projects using dSLR's, rather than everything with expensive mounts and CCD's etc. The Avalons are tempting but start getting out of that territory and back to the point that I would just buy a MyT to match the PMX. I did a little more research on the EQ5 GT/iEQ30pro. There is very little on the web about their real performance but note the EQ5 GT has 0.25" step size, which is a little coarse. One the SGP users says his iEQ30 works fine with SGP and I have asked him for his typical tracking figures, so I think if it was just a choice of the two, I would try the iEQ.
  23. Dave - you are right - I wouldn't dream of using the 132mm anyway - the idea is to be portable. I'm not intending to do air travel but just want something that is reliable and doesn't make my hernia any worse and which doesn't take over the boot space on holidays- The 132 was just mentioned by Barry to demonstrate the capabilities of the Avalon. I had an NEQ6 at one point and the backlash was annoying and could not be adjusted out - I assume the GT version is better. Olly sums up well- he probably sees more mounts in use than the rest of us too - the shortlist is AZ EQ5 GT / Avalon and potentially the iEQ30 (I asked my dealer about the CEM30 and apparently it is no more. I think the same is true of the ZEQ25 too) Just saw a EQ5 GT in gloss red. It looks like a different mount!
  24. thanks folks - yes Olly - I did some Google searches over the weekend on GM8 and Tak and came away with some worrying concerns relating to poor mechanical assembly tolerances and worn plastic gears respectively - Not what I was expecting but certainly backs up your view that these mounts are good but resting on their laurels whilst the competition moves on. I'll look more closely at the Avalon - it is slightly over budget (weight and cost) but if that is what it takes... I might also see if I can loan an iOptron and check it out.
  25. Don't know about the iOptron Barry. My Kent-based dealer who sold me the PMX is pushing the iEQ30 as being well-received. There is always the problem with that kind of recommendation on the variability of customer expectations, knowledge or discrimination. I'll post a note on the SGP forum. As for polar alignment, those PoleMaster cameras look perfect for a fast accurate setup of a portable rig.
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