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Everything posted by mattlane

  1. Nebulosity works perfectly on a Mac with the DSI, i think you can get old versions of it free, otherwise you have to pay for a license, but seriously its WAY better than the nonsense you get from Meade. My most successful images have come from using Nebulosity, and if you follow the tutorials on processing (on the stark-labs website) really do show the power of the app.
  2. It winds me up when things like this happen. I know the writers strike caused many problems, but is heroes really any better than Lost? Both went a bit downhill after the strike. And we know Lost totally lost the plot anyway. I actually thought this last season was better than some of the previous ones, not a patch on the first but i was enjoying it. Lets all pray they don't resurrect Defying Gravity to fill the programming slot, because that was shocking. My only comment on that is this: Anti Gravity Hair gel.
  3. Thanks for the positive comments chaps... Ant, the subs were 30 seconds. Hopefully i can add a few more tonight if the weather co-operates... I think what's most exciting about this image is in doing it i know the penny dropped, i got the result i wanted and i know that over time this image will become better and better as i add more subs to the stack. Also worked out a really useful way of finding the object quickly. As we all know goto/synscan seems to generally get the scope in the neck of the woods for visual, but for imaging its a pain when the object isn't in the field of view. 1, Align mount, and then connect to stellarium 2, move scope to object with handset/stellarium and find it visually, get it centred. 3, go back to stellarium and find the cross hair for the mount, take a screen shot because i was finding that in stellarium when its in the eyepiece and centred its not lined up in stellarium. 4, go back to the alignment star, put in the camera and get perfect focus (easily because it'll be a really bright star) 5, then open up the screen shot and manually position the mount with the handset so the cross hairs are in the same place in stellarium as they are in the screen shot from earlier 6, do a test exposure and see if its in shot. Saved me probably 20 minutes of time messing around trying to find the object again. In the past i've tried this manually by comparing stars in the field of view with stellarium and getting very lost. At least with this method i'm not far off the target, half a screen at the most. M
  4. So last night was a very fruitful evening. Following a setup in daytime to then look through the Polar Scope in the dark and see Polaris sitting in the little spot (it was totally centred, couldn't believe it). Set up to image M51, so here's the details so far. 47 Lights, 20 Darks (Bias and Flats to come...). Unguided on a Skywatcher EQ5 Goto, with a Skywatcher Explorer 130PM. Using a (£100 off ebay) Meade DSI-1 Colour. Captured using Nebulosity on my Mac - seriously, way easier than trying to use Envisage again. Using DarkAdaptedX to control my laptops screen and make it go all red. Stacked using Nebulosity, with a bit of PS curves and levels. I think this is the beginning of a project, would be really nice to get another 50 subs added and see what more i can tease out. Have sent my initial stack to a chum (Eagleseye) so lets see what he can coax out of it so far! Most chuffed as this is the first occasion where i have gone out with the objective of getting a good image, and managed it without any pain or stress. Bring on the next clear sky!
  5. A quick update on the situation. Solved (big fat full stop.) Managed to get out last night from about 9pm - 1am mount worked perfectly for the entire time, i even got so confident as to plug the mount into the Macbook and control it with Stellarium. I even stole a couple of Avis of Mars, took a bunch of images of M66 and had a crack at M82 (i was also going to get M81 after that but clouds stopped play). I think we can successfully say this case is now closed!
  6. Hi, I'm part of the Nene Valley Astronomy Society and we often have observing sessions at Sywell country park, we also have a meeting coming up this coming Monday 19th April at Chelveston Village Hall why not come along as i am sure other members will have suggestions about good locations (I'm based in Raunds btw). Matt
  7. Mount is now still running after an hour and a half, I think we got this issue solved, now if only this misty cloud will clear so I can do some imaging and really test it fully. Such a relief, and slightly annoying that it was as simple as replacing the power supply! Thanks so much to all that helped me resolve the problem
  8. Peter, eureka, almost, i picked up the power supply (arrived today) and am just performing a test, voltage is holding steady at 12v (no fluctuation whatsoever) am tracking m42 right now (make believe indoors) and motors are definitely working - i can hear them - lets hope its still working after half an hour, if it makes it to an hour i am pretty sure i'm back in business. Thanks for all the assistance guys, hopefully I'll update later with success, and in a day or two (weather permitting) with some images!
  9. Peter, thanks for the link, i think once i've tested the mount with a friends power supply i might well end up getting that unit - providing i can confirm its a power issue. Olly, i agree the cigarette lighter connections can't be the best/most reliable option, and i am a bit stumped as to why the mounts come with those as opposed to a normal mains plug - perhaps they expect us to all be powering our mounts from the car, or with one of the Powertanks - surely thats the alternative to mains supply. During my session on Saturday checking out whether the new firmware made a difference i did check the voltage reading from the handset, and it was fluctuating wildly from 10 - 14v at no point did it settle down, or stay constant. Now we've got some cloudy nights i'll get my friend to pop over with his power supply and see if that helps to resolve the issue. Thanks for the input guys, much appreciated.
  10. A quick update, I've now tested the mount with the new software version, and its still stopping as before, am hopefully testing with alternate power supply during this week. On another note, i followed Red Dwalfs notes on setting up the mount to work with Stellarium, which worked perfectly, and was very easy to get working, however it still suffered from the same issue of the drives dropping out after about half an hour, then almost religiously after 5-10 minutes. Can anyone point me to a web link to see alternative power adaptors for the mount? Both cigarette lighter connection to mount controller, and a powerpack to plug it into the mains - or if there is an alternate solution please suggest. I really hope its just a power unit issue now. Thanks
  11. OK i might be being thick, but i am strugging to work out when asked by my Synscan handset, when is Daylight Saving Yes or No, are we moving into the period that is YES, or No? Thanks and apologise for my stupidity. Its just i can find out a lot about BST/Daylight Saving but rarely does as site say yes or no. Thanks again chaps and chapesses.
  12. I was wondering, now I've got an EQ5 (yes its not working properly yet but that all in another thread..) with the old polar scope inside the mount is there a version of the PolarFinder software (where it shows you the position of polaris in the reticule) available for the Mac. Or perhaps even an iPhone version... An iPhone version would be so lovely...
  13. A short update on where i am with this issue. I've just updated the handset firmware to the very latest version (3.27) so crossing my fingers on that front. Secondly i found on the handset i could display the voltage coming through, now this was fluctuating, from around 10.8/11.3 volts, right up to as much as 12/13, will do a proper check later on tonight and write the numbers out better. But i was surprised that it fluctuated as much as it did. I am going to ask a friend also if i can try their power supply, lead and main adaptor and see if i can isolate whether its either of these cables.
  14. OK, lots of responses. Firstly i don't think its the power as the handset is on permanently when the drives stop, the display is functioning so i don't think its a power issue. With regards to the firmware for the handset, its not the latest but i did check out the fixes the software update provides and none of them appear to relate to tracking, simply object database updates as far as i could see. If i remember right its one version down from the latest. Balancing, yes i have got it reasonably balanced on the RA axis, i have to have the counterweight right up the end of the bar, close to where it connects to the mount, but it is reasonably balanced. I also hooked up a slow motion control knob to the RA axis (after unscrewing the casing around it) and the RA axis will go through a full rotation quite happily. From my observing site (back of house) i really only get SE > SW so when observing the mounts are rarely moving to the north, Polaris just about clears the roof, enough to align but not much else. This is a difficult problem to explain, but i think the main point is that although the drives stop power seems to still be going to the mount (the handset never powers down) but not reaching the drives, well briefly while they work, but then they stop. On two occasions i was able to regain control of the mount by slewing (at a high rate) and the other i parked the scope, and it parked. But every single other time i have no control over the motors once they have stopped, apart from doing the old windows trick of turning it of and on again. Then power is back and drives run. I normally get around 20-30 minutes of full capacity working, then drives lock/stop/fail turn it off and on, then they're back for around 10 minutes before they stop again.
  15. Carl, i don't think i have any slew limits set and i have performed a factory reset on the handset already, but might well try that again this afternoon, and also look to see if there are any limits set. Ken, I am powering it with a mains supply, i have a cable that goes from the mount (the clip on unit) to a cigarette lighter end and then i have a little transformer that has a cigarette lighter end on it (male coming from the scope lead, female on the power unit itself). I am based in Northants. I contacted green witch and Lee is going to give OVL a call to see if they can at least diagnose the issue. So i might be interested in the working controller board. Thanks for the responses chaps. If anyone else has anything to add please do.
  16. OK, I've been back and forth with Lee from green witch about this already but was wondering if anyone here may be able to assist me. For Christmas i got myself a second hand Skywatcher EQ5 with the Synscan Goto. Bagged it for £300 (from astronomybuysell.com/uk) so was fairly chuffed, it arrived looking almost as new, a few marks from use but nothing major. Work wasn't as kind to me as i'd hoped and reduced any time i'd get to test it out, so have only managed a few nights observing since Christmas. All sounding good so far yes? So i had the mount all set up lovely, figured out alignment and all was good. It tracked beautifully when i took a few shots of Mars, but occasionally the motors locked, or stopped, and i would have to switch it off and on again and it would then work (following an alignment). It would then work for a few minutes and then stop again. I initially thought i'd done something wrong, but after consulting a friend i had set it up fine, and wasn't doing anything wrong. Then i started to test the mount properly indoors, the scientific approach, and found that following an alignment it would quite happily track for around half an hour and then simply stop. Occasionally i could regain control of the mount and move its position with the handset, and with other tests found it was completely non-responsive. Essentially i get around half an hour after my first alignment, then the time the mount works for gradually decreases, down to anything from 5-10 minutes before the motors stop. At this point i took it into Green Witch who re-greased the mount in the hope that it may just be that the mount is stiff in a certain position. Green Witch reported to me that it was working fine for them, tracking for over an hour in both north and south directions. I collect the mount, do a quick test indoors and all appears fine, although my time testing was limited to about an hour, but i will agree it did appear to function as it should. So excitedly i took it out a few nights later to do some observing, and lo and behold it stopped just as it did before. In fact i sat there watching it for 10 minutes without it failing, then 15, and then 20, and finally after about 35 minutes of perfect operation i decided that i should go indoors and get the laptop and have a go at some imaging, i came back outside and the moment i walked up to the scope/mount i audibly heard the drives stop, and the mount fell silent. (Insert swearing, and lots of bad language here). So calmly i reset the mount, and performed an align, then slewed to mars, and within 5 minutes the motors stopped, and the only way to continue was to reset the mount and start again. Which i did a few times just in case. Green Witch have done nothing but try and help (and i am eternally grateful for this), but i am at my wits end with this now. Has anyone seen this issue before, or could point me in the right direction to repair the mount, its unlikely i can go back to the seller and recoup what i paid for it, aside from being utterly disappointed in the fact that they didn't warn me of the issue before purchase, considering the care taken in packing the mount for transit to me i can't see the delivery causing any damage. I'm also a bit stumped really that the seller wasn't aware of the fault before selling, but that's a whole other issue that will never get resolved. I know i could just go out and buy a new synscan goto upgrade for the mount, but then this would all have ended up costing me nearly £600 for what is only a £500 product brand new. So it appears that i have a few options (beyond someone tinkering with it and fixing it): 1, Sell the mount with the advertised problem, and buy new. 2, Repair the mount (at a huge cost) 3, Scrap the goto system, and attach dual axis drives to it. Please if anyone has any input, or could help me deduce the actual problem, lets put it this way if the goto drives cost over £100 each then if the fault lies with the control board, or some other component this could be a fairly low cost fix -considering that if the drives are £100 each, and the cost of a new upgrade kit is around £300, that only leaves £100 for the other parts that may be the problem, and it can't be all of them being at fault so i wonder if the repair might not be as expensive if the drives don't need replacing. I also wonder that perhaps replacing the drives might not be the issue as if they were at fault surely they would not work at all, i might be being naive with this, but i can't see an electric motor working for half an hour as a first go, then only ten minutes each time after that. Thanks for reading this, and i hope someone can give me some sound advice for moving forwards.
  17. I have successfully imaged both Moon and Planets with my 130PM, I used a Philips SPC900NC camera, combined with a 2x Barlow, and a 3x Barlow. I would say that initially focussing and getting the correct exposure setting was a challenge, but once you have that sussed it gets a lot easier. I have also recently purchased a Meade DSI, which allows me to go for the feint stuff, of which i have only managed a few successful nights imaging. Capturing a globular cluster and the orion nebula all of which i am very happy with. The mount that comes with the 130 doesn't really allow for long exposure imaging, but it will handle around 8-15 second exposures. If i were you i would have a crack at doing planets, they're big, bright and easy to find, don't expect amazing results initially, but you will be surprised and no doubt buzzing once you have captured your first image. I have not tried a DSLR with the scope yet as i don't have one, but as steppenwolf says the inward travel may be a problem when focussing. So far I've only spent around £200 on imaging kit, thats both cameras and some filters to help out. If you need any help just ask... Matt
  18. Blade Runner Soundtrack. (good call with Jean Michelle Jarre forgot about that one, i'm sure it in me itunes somewhere) Failing that i usually bash on a few of my Gatecrasher cds (headphones of course) the ones where they put a third cd of chillout mixes. Reach for the lazers, big phish little phish that kinda thing... Oh yeah shopping trolley and cardboard box....
  19. Thanks for the responses chaps, much appreciated.
  20. Does anyone know of any shops selling telescopes and accessories in Oxford, I tried a search on google but all results were useless (even yell.co.uk couldn't manage a result - in fact it made suggestions that were ridiculously far away). I'm doing some Christmas shopping tomorrow and I might be able to convince my partner to impulse buy me something, mind you I might end up with an impulse purchase as well. Thanks ahead of time guys matt
  21. OK, I'm running Macs and have been doing planetary imaging with an SPC900NC (same driver i believe as the Toucam) i've not managed to get ti working with the Mac and have resorted to using bootcamp to install windows on my mac. This link may be of use. Webcam Astrophotography on the Mac - Review I struggled and struggled to get the spc900 to work on my mac and failed, hence why i'm using windows on it. I can then use wxAstrocapture to capture movies (for planets) and then i use registax to process these. It's annoying yes, having to resort to a backward OS but i rolled with the punches. My best advice would be to get a copy of XP (don't even bother with Vista or Windows 7 - keep it simple) and install this on the mac (using bootcamp) then ONLY install the apps you need for imaging (wxastro, registax etc...). Do not set automatic updates to happen, always choose what you install - never update any hardware driver as this almost always leads to the blue screen of death, or a fight to roll it back in safe mode. You could always try and use Virtual PC, or one of the other apps that runs windows in a window (but it will be slower and less responsive) on your mac. The PC applications (for capture and processing) are fairly easy to use, and because of the volume of users support online is very good. And because 99% of the cameras we use were made for PCs they are pretty much guaranteed to work and finding drivers is easy. I've only been imaging for about 5-6 months now and have managed some good results with a very small spend. If you need help just ask. Matt
  22. I believe it is, however i decided not to, as although i stacks them it saves each stacked image, rather than keeping the individual captures to stack later. I tried that first time, and just ended up with 50 images all the same. I decided to just save each unstacked frame, then it gives me more options when i learn about DSS.
  23. Right, i thought i'd update this thread again with some results. Unfortunately I've not managed to process M52 very well yet, am waiting on a little help from a friend. But i did manage to get M15 on saturday evening. I'm still having arguments with my motor drive, it just doesn't seem to work, or it takes forever for me to turn it on and off connect and disconnect it for it to start holding the target still. I've correctly polar aligned, and am pretty sure i've got the scope balanced - although i really want to check this with a friend in case the balance is out, and that's why nothing stays in the field of view. So i was only able to manage 10 second exposures, with the best in fact coming in at 6-8 seconds (stars weren't trailing or blurred). I stacked around 100-130 images, and then followed a guide to stack in DSS, which did (sort of) get me a result. I went out for about an hour last night, but gave up as my motor just wouldn't work, and it was perfectly clear - so slightly disappointed as i had high hopes for a good session last night. Although i think i really have to resolve the RA motor issue really as I'm loosing massive amounts of time imaging messing around to get the motor driving the scope.
  24. I tried Windows 7 (the free release candidate edition), with my astro software, and yes it worked. However, wxAstrocapture would never quit, it would only crash, and at times the drivers were dodgy and either not functioning, or working fine. As an OS it works, and is much more pleasurable to use than prior releases, again however i reverted back to XP a week ago, why, well i had the same 'blue screen of death' on two machines within days of each other, neither would boot properly after that. As far as i was concerned with Windows 7 i would use it up to the point i see the BSOD. If i were you hold off a little while, perhaps 6 months or so, last thing you want is to upgrade and have issues, as these are bound to happen on clear nights when we should be imaging and not reinstalling drivers. A lot of people waited until the 2nd Service Pack before updating to XP, it may be wise to hold off. However the dual boot suggestion is a good idea, that way you can actively test it and see if everything works as it should, and if not pop back into XP until its all ok and at least you will only loose minutes at the scope/camera. I'll stress again in case anyone thinks this is a negative post, Windows 7 is good, it is a decent update finally to the windows OS, yes it has it idiosyncrasies but this time it actually felt like someone was thinking at Microsoft. FYI this comes from a mac user, a die hard one at that, i would advise to go for a mac, but the software just doesn't exist (well it does but its even harder to figure out than the windows software) either way i think be safe and stick with XP, and test windows 7, but don't jump in with both feet.
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