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About neilhooper

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  1. Gad you liked it. I'm now looking forward to the Lunar in September. - Neil
  2. In May last year I managed to break my ankle and was in plaster for a while and then in a 'boot' to support it while recovering. Having a mobile setup made it impossible for me to setup everything as my ankle couldn't take the weight. The pain didn't go away and in late July I had an MRI scan which showed damage to 2 of the 3 ligaments and intense physiotherapy was started. This made it better but not perfect but at least I could setup now and start observing again. In January surgery was decided upon which wouldn't take place until after Easter. Great !!! The eclipse was in March so everything would be OK, or so I thought. I started making my preparations for the eclipse viewing as I wanted to 'try' and record it and make a video, had to change plans for location when I ran a simulation and found that the sun would be behind one of our neighbours' house for the whole duration. New location found, disk space problems solved (new laptop, old one nearly dead). Finally I had a plan. The only thing that wasn't sorted was getting my new eqdir cable based on the FTDI chipset rather than using my Prolific one. Sorry Prolific but despite offering a 'work around' to use it with Windows 8 it's 'flaky' at best. I've found that the handset in PC Direct mode using an old FTDI USB to Serial adapter has worked flawlessly but it's extra cables and connections. Then disaster struck. My appointment letter for the surgery arrived; March 16th. I knew that I would be in plaster for a month, on crutches and previously being told that I'm not to put any weight on it under any circumstances. This meant no driving, no observing and no eclipse capturing. Everything was put on hold, I didn't even get my new cable. Then disaster reverted. Two days before the surgery it gets cancelled until April. Plans had been made for 'visitors' on Monday and Tuesday which left Wednesday and Thursday evening to set up new laptop with Eqmod, APT, PHD etc etc. Didn't have time to get the new cable as I'm going to make one as I'm frivolous with money (SWMBO calls it tight !!!) and I'm not paying over £45 for something I can do for less than £20. All installs went perfectly, indoor testing took place but we all know you can test and test but it doesn't mean it'll all work on the night or in this case the day. I found out about a local event on Thursday that offered better conditions than my planned site but I wanted to set up during the dark to get good alignment. My original plan was to set off to my site at about 3.30 am to get set up and wait but this site is some 40 minutes away, the new site is less than 10 minutes away and lower, 74m as opposed to 484m hence warmer and less wind. I'd made some phone calls to see if I could arrive there very early but was told due to security concerns I had to get there by 8pm on Thursday evening to meet up with some BT engineers and stay overnight with the kit. As forecast here was looking favourable I decided to go for it. The only problem was I wouldn't get home until 6.15 and everything was setup at home for testing from the previous night. No time for final testing, so kit packed up, no tea, have to grab something on the way when I get fuel. I got to the site a little late as it wasn't particularly easy to find the gate from the instructions to meet with the engineers who were also staying on site and somewhat better prepared than I was !!! They were all interested in what I was doing and invariably had lots of questions which delayed setup for a while. At this time it was a lovely clear night. I eventually went to find my spot, it's a BIG site, and started setting up; everything was going ok and I was using Astrotortilla to get good Polar alignment, a feature that I didn't know about before and had never used. Then another disaster struck, all my power went off. The way that we (there are usually two of us) supply our power is to plug an inverter into the cigar lighter socket on the car then run an extension out to the scopes to a 10A power adaptor to get everything back to twelve volts. The reason that we do this is down to the physics of electricity. We both have NEQ6's which can take up to 2A each and other various bits an pieces as you all know. We hope not to ever need 10A and we allow for 6. When calculated, running 6A at 12V over say 20m requires a 10mm cable, a bit difficult to wire into a cigar lighter plug !!! Using an inverter we can plug an ordinary extension lead into it and get the power where we want without voltage drop. We run the inverter for a maximum of two hours and then plug a power tank into my little power distribution box and disconnect the inverter and start the car for 20 minutes to make sure we can get back home. You'll notice that I said we start the car up. The problem was I wasn't using the car as SWMBO needed it for work on Friday morning so I had to take my Van which we've never done before. This is how I found about the great feature that turns everything off after 20 minutes and the power tank, although fully charged, wasn't going to last for the time that I needed it to. That's when the BT engineers came to the rescue. They had generators on site so I was hoping to run some long extension leads to them . However the general public were attending the event on Friday so running the leads didn't seem like a good idea. What they suggested was that they get me a little generator the next morning that they would have access to which they did at 6am. I reset everything and ran off the power tank to get the alignment done, just after I'd got the Altitude sorted the inevitable cloud arrived so that put an end to that. Time for bed of a fashion. Freezing cold, -2 but warming because of the clouds and ill prepared as I was never planning to stay out all night and even less, sleep. I didn't get much sleep, too busy trying to keep warm but was up at 5 to a toasty 1 degree temperature. Anyway the cloud was still around at 6.30 and I was starting to get worried, then it started clearing and clearing rather quickly to a beautiful clear blue sky and everything (almost) went to plan. The event was well attended by the public and a lot of people arrived with various setups including a few who were staying at Lucksall with SGL10. So, one eclipse later and 840 images taken I managed to make a video of it which everybody is welcome to look at here http://1drv.ms/1CGgIcg Sorry about the wobble in the middle as I had to make some adjustments and the long story. ..... and that's why I feel like the luckiest man on earth at the moment. - Neil
  3. I wanted to get it working first and then try some tweaking. I had already tried increasing the calibration step and gave up on that track when I reached 5000. I was going to start reducing the guiding rate a bit at a time thinking smaller steps has got to be better when I ran into another problem. I moved to a different part of the sky around M57 to find some dimmer stars, my test had been on a bright one to start with, ran Astrotortilla to get the positioning spot on but after it had solved it sat there not moving the mount to recenter although it said it was and appeared to lock up. I killed it off and tried several times more with no luck. I've had to give up on that one for the moment. I then noticed that I couldn't see any stars in PHD and no matter what I did I couldn't find any way of making them 'appear' even at 10s exposure. Then after a lot of fiddling and it being 3 in the morning our good old friends, the clouds, came rolling in. So, at the moment I'm stumped. Anybody got any ideas ? - Neil
  4. James - Wow! How did you do that so quickly. This is where I think part of my problem exists. I'm now getting there on capturing the data, the only problem is apart from the stacking I don't have much of a clue on how to process things. Photo editing is a black art to me. I only wish there was a decent and up to date tutorial somewhere that would at least start people off in the right direction. - Neil
  5. I've decided to 'have a go' at guiding for the first time tonight from the back garden. I'm using my modded SPC900 on my finder and I've been having the same problem. Star not moving enough error. I read through Ian's thread and picked up on setting the guiding rate in EQMOD. He suggested to put it at 1x rate. It will only go up to .9 but it calibrated without any problems. I'm just testing at the moment but it's happily guiding away at the moment. - Neil
  6. I haven't done any processing to that one apart from the stacking. I could do another one without the Custom Rectangle and the drizzle. - Neil
  7. The SPC 900 one was my first attempt at a DSO and at that time I hadn't perfected polar alignment and it was done with my old EQ5 not the NEQ6. The DLSR was done without any guiding but I do try to make sure my mount is perfectly level and take some time to get my polar alignment spot on. That was 25, 60 second exposures at ISO 800. Should I be taking more / longer ? To get it that size I had to use a small Custom Rectangle and 3x drizzle. May I ask how many exposures did you use to get it and what settings on the camera. - Neil
  8. Thanks everybody for the replies. I've been doing a bit of playing about with DSS tonight and stacked some images using the custom rectangle mode and 3x drizzle. It's made me realise that I have a few issues to overcome before I get anywhere near where I want to be; guiding, focusing (which is now sorted) etc and possibly getting my 1100D modded as there's not a lot of red in my image. I ended up with this https://www.dropbox....1ur/m57 Big.TIF I did this https://www.dropbox.... Nebula PS1.tif with my SPC900 back in June and at the moment I'm honestly not sure which is the best one. Of course the only thing I need now is some clear skies, one can only hope. - Neil
  9. Hi All, I've started to use my 1100D for imaging but in some respects I'm a bit dissapointed. I've been revisting some of the objects that I've imaged with my trusty SPC900. The only problem is that they are tiny. How can I make them bigger. I'm using the 1100D with a 2" T ring adaptor and my 200P . - Neil
  10. When my mate and I go out we always set up our tripods with no mount on them first to get them level and facing the right direction ready for polar aligning . If we put a compass on one of the tripods and then on the other one some 20 ft away and follow the 'needle' we end up with the tripods pointing to different 'Norths'. How strange is that - Neil
  11. Thanks for all that. It's working now. I removed everything to do with it from both machines and even deleted the downloads of the driver and software. I downloaded both the driver and the software, installed the Ascom driver, restarted, installed the software, restarted, plugged it in, waited, ran the software and now it connects. I've got a feeling that there may have been some sort of corruption when I downloaded the driver / software the first time. - Neil
  12. Even though the Hand controller uses a 9v battery it only ever delivers 7.65v to the motor, from my understanding and research the reason that the DC Focus unit comes with the cigar lighter plug is that it is able to deliver the full 12v to the motor, this is supposed to be selectable in the software. I've tried a different cable thinking that could be the problem, I swapped it with one on one of my printers and the printer still works fine and I've tried it with the one off my scanner as well just to be sure !!! I've emailed HItec Astro which is a follow up to filling in their contact form on the website a couple of days ago to which I have had no reply as yet. I'm just getting a bit frustrated with it now, I might try it on my Windows 8 desktop tomorrow or on my XP Netbook. I'm starting to think I've got a bad unit. - Neil
  13. It does work manually, well sort of, I've measured the voltage coming out of it and it's been set to just under 2 volts, so not enough to actually turn the motor. I guess that what it was left at when it left the factory and as I can't access it I can't turn up the voltage using the software. When I first plugged it on both machines it went through the usual installing device procedure but it doesn't show up in Device Manager as a COM port it shows with two entries under Human Interface Devices, one is a HID-compliant device and the other is a USB Input Device. I've just seen your other post about clearing old com ports but as this is the first and only thing I've installed on a clean Windows 7 install I don't think it applies. Should it show up under a COM port in Device Manager ? - Neil
  14. Hi All, I bought a Hitec Astro DC Focus last week, a little birthday present to myself, but I'm having problems getting it to work and I'm wondering if anybody has had the same problem. I installed the software, downloaded from Hitec Astro's web site, on my Windows 8 laptop. The software installed without problem and when I plugged in the unit Windows went through the usual installing device procedure and all seemed fine. I fired up the Hitec Focus software which ran fine but when I clicked on the Connect button I got a message box saying NO HITEC FOCUS UNIT DETECTED. At this point I thought it might be a Windows 8 issue. I'm in the process of raising my old laptop from the dead and I've now installed a clean install of Windows 7 on it as I'm having too many problems with various things 'astro' running under WIndows 8. I'm thinking dedicated astro laptop. I installed the Hitec software on the Windows 7 laptop and I'm getting exactly the same problem. Anybody got any ideas? Is anybody running one of these on Windows 7 or Windows 8 for that matter? - Neil
  15. It arrived today. As a test I plugged it in, plugged my 5m extension into it, plugged my 10 port powered usb hub into that and had no problems reading and writing a usb stick. - Neil
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