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About nightster

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    Proto Star

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    Cooking, BBQing, Movies, All things Geek, AstroPhoto, TerraPhoto, Engineering, Mechanics, Science, StarTrek, Drinking....etc.
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    Charlotte, NC United States

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  1. When buying my first astro cam I was concerned that my value choice (Atik) might be a problem. Being in the US I assumed any service in the future would be a costly, long lasting headache. QSI was just too expensive for me at the time and I had to go with the lower cost option. Few years later my 460 (up to that point flawless) suffered from a failing peltier. Atik's service was nothing short of perfect. 3 week total turnaround time, including shipping time. The cost was fair, if not cheap, and their communication was timely. My hope is that they take more than just the intellectual property of QSI and set up service for either brands on both continents. They may be able to meld the best performing electonic designs from each for future products and leverage their larger purchasing power from the suppliers for better pricing to customers. It would make sense to keep the brands seperate for marketing. This seems like a great fit and I hope it happens. We need more choices in AP not fewer.
  2. nightster

    Atik 460m Cooler Problem

    Couple of hours on the bench for Bias and dark and it's performing well. When I get a master I'll compare the before and after cooler fail as I did a batch of dark back in the summer.
  3. nightster

    Atik 460m Cooler Problem

    Update: It took 2 days to ship the CCD from North Carolina to Atik. They had the problem identified within a week of its arrival. The peltier was in fact failing. They quoted the repairs. I asked if any addition service should be done while it is there (sensor cleaning, etc..) They said all that would be included in the quote. I approved the same day. They accepted paypal, which for the small cost of this repair was cheaper than a bank to bank transfer. Two days later they reported the CCD repaired. I had a few questions about the Camera: Voltage limits, need for new calibration frames, using only Bias wo/ darks, and cool/warm down times. They said Vmax is 13.8, yes shoot new calib frames, you can sometimes get away without Bias but for best results use Bias and Darks, a 10 minute cool down is preferred , and finally warm up is built into camera which is triggered by software. An hour after that answer, another came with a UPS tracking number confirming shipment has begun. I opened this support ticket on Sep 25, with the camera in my hand. 11 days later the CCD has been repaired and is on its way back to N. Carolina. I have no idea how ATIK could have any better customer service. I am absolutely thrilled that I took the advice on many on this Forum and choose ATIk. For 8% of the NIB purchase price I will have my camera back before the next new moon and will have missed only a single night of imaging that was planned on Sep 23rd, when I first suspected it wasn't working properly. The communication level was excellent, even with the US/UK time zone differences. I'd send an message in the evening and a response would be waiting for me when I woke up. The speed of diagnosis and repair were just a few days. I can't say enough them, what a great company. To Atik: thanks for offering up what I consider the best value in dedicated Astro cams with world class after sale service and support.
  4. nightster

    Atik 460m Cooler Problem

    @ollypenrice Point taken. You have much different parameters than I do. The family likes to do things during the summer weekends so my summer hiatus allows that to happen more often. This is an interesting point I've not read about before, the irregular background signal. I'm going to start looking for that when I get my camera back. Has anyone tried to modify their CCD with a higher performing peltier? Does it take a 2 stage system to go below a certain point?
  5. nightster

    Atik 460m Cooler Problem

    Well I'm not sure that 'lower than standard' is warranted. It really is a clean sensor. Attached is a dark from this cam. I only ran the CCD at -5. Which for the hot southern part of the US is obtainable at least for 3 of the 4 season. And honestly with bugs, humidity, and short nights I can live without imaging in the summer.
  6. nightster

    Atik 460m Cooler Problem

    I've always used the the 10 minute cool down and the 10 minute warm up. But there have been a few power drops or a spontaneous laptop reboots that have cause a sudden loss in cooling. But just a handful of times. I treat my Atik like a mother with her newborn baby. Craddled and swaddled in foam and desiccant packs.
  7. nightster

    Atik 460m Cooler Problem

    Yes out of warranty. I've had it 2.5 years. Right now I've got 100 US$ in shipping it to Atik. I didnt mess around with cheapest shipping mode, it should be there in 3 days.. After that it's a wait and see. They did say a peltier is 75US$ which isn't bad. Hoping that's all it is. Not sure if they charge for a cleaning or tune up or recharging the sensor compartment. Gonna let them do what needs to be done.
  8. nightster

    Atik 460m Cooler Problem

    Atik says hardware failure. Needs to go back. I'm out of the imaging business for October, at least.
  9. nightster

    Atik 460m Cooler Problem

    I'm working with Atik now. Intake ports are clear. The cables are good. The power supply is within spec. Using Artemis I get a Tdelta of 7C and the same with the ASCOM driver. It is only drawing .34 amps. That is what Atik asked me to check. It should draw near 1 amp at 100% power. The camera works, it connects, is takes images, downloads the data, etc. It just isn't cooling more that about 7-8C. So now I wait for the response. I'll let you know. I haven't read about any cooler behaving like this. Usually its all or nothing with solid state equipment.
  10. This has been posted in the Atik's forum but from the looks of things there they get almost no replies. This problem first popped up last Saturday night. I couldn't get the CCD to cool below 7c then. I did some powerdowns and it began working. Cooled to -5 as I normally have it set. Today I'm running it on the bench to debug this issue. I'm using a regulated powersupply at 13.8v to power CCD. I've used several different USB cables and 2 different power cables. There is no problem connecting to the camera and the cooling power percentage changes when setpoint is changed. All seems to be working, the camera takes images and downloads them. I've used APT and SGP and run the cooler today and from the ASCOM driver also. Trace on is ON and there is no errors in log, but that is avail if needed. The only issue is that is can't seem to get full cooling. Last weekend the ambient was about 18c and the lowest it would go was about 7c. Indoors today it is about 23c and the lowest it will report CCD temp is 16.6c. Last weekend I was running the original drivers that came with the cam, today I updated them from Atik's download page. I don't like the smell of this problem... I haven't read that the Peltier coolers are failing on these Atiks. I'm still hoping something got twisted somewhere. 3 weeks ago the camera had been flawless for the 3 years I've had it.
  11. nightster

    Adjustable Sensor Plane

    Would there be a benefit if Astro camera makers could design some tilt adjust into their sensors? I'm doing a lot of research into collimation, field flattness, etc for my new baby RC and it seems like we spends loads of time, money and brainpower on getting everything squared. If there was some simple push pull adjustments on at least 3 of the 4 corners of our sensors inside the camera body adjustable from outside the camera body, I'm thinking that this might make the whole process easier. Instead of tilting spacers, or collimating focusers then having no rotational squareness. If the dam sensors were square with the optics everything else could be cockeyed and it wouldn't really matter except for maybe some non-uniform vignetting. And its seems that it wouldn't take much adjustment as the light cone isn't getting any smaller at the sensor hence smaller movement make a big change. Or am I missing something with this though?
  12. I ran a test of my GSO 6" RC and while the conditions were horrendous and invalidate any major decisions, it seems that this scope may benefit from a field flattener. I have a Stellarvue SFF6, which is sold for the 80/480 refractors. If you remove it from its OEM M48 to T2 extension tube (57mm long) it has a total backfocus of 112mm, per the specs. I've read that other flatteners and/or reducers have variable backfocus depending on certain things. Like the CDT667 which can change the % reduction based on its backfocal length. I am wondering if flatteners behave the same way. Since this was sold as a corrector for 480mm if I use it at 1370mm would/could/should I change the distance and if so, which direction should I move it. Or if your not in that specified backfocus does this not allow you to come to focus. Trying to understand how these things work can fry a mere mortal's brain.
  13. nightster

    Binning and Pixel Scale

    And this is why I asked the question. So much of what we think is true is not necessarily so black and white when we actually make the attempt. I'm not sure my camera can bin2 well, what should I be on the look out concerning this? Are there tell tale signs my sensor isnt good at binning? Can the SNR benefit from bin2 help the slower F9 optics of this RC? I haven't been using darks in the past, just a master Bias built from 250 subs. I made some upgrades to the power delivery system of the rig and I needed an all night test of it's functionality. A full run of all darks 30s-900s seemed like a good way to stress the system hence the 2x2 dark library. To test my understanding: Running bin1 should not change my routine running at this longer FL 1370 vs 480 (all my previous images taken with an 80mm triple.) My specific camera may or may not bin2 well, testing will prove this. SNR increase may help final image but at the expensive of resolution. I suspect there are other variables that could influence the decision like LP, target type/brightness, maybe filter choice. But the pixel scale isn't the deciding factor I thought it was.
  14. nightster

    Binning and Pixel Scale

    I bought a 6" RC this past spring but didn't get it setup before the summer heat, humidity and insects arrived. Now the rig is ready for the long southern fall and the dry clear skies that are more common. I'm trying to figure if I should bin2 this scope. Specs: 1370 FL, Atik460 w/ 4.54um pixels, No reducer at this time. The OTA is reported to having a .79" resolution ( not sure what that means.) I use AF and OAG if that matters. I calculate a .68pp bin1 and 1.37pp bin2 I read that alot is dependent on seeing. What are the pros and cons of bin2 on this combo? Any processing issues, or just smaller files? I've already built a bin2 Bias and Dark library. Any aquisition issues (sub length, guiding changes, etc)? Will bin2 change how large I can have a final image printed?

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