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syd_malicious

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About syd_malicious

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    Star Forming

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    http://sites.google.com/site/windyvalleyobservatory/home

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    Durham
  1. I wrote my post just as the previous one was being posted! I am signed up to the Yahoo group but as I have minimal programming skills can't actively contribute apart from with user experiences - Chris Rowland is one of the unpaid people that spend a lot of time keeping ASCOM going. Kudos to him for that and he has only ever posted helpful comments on the forum but even he as a developer says which is perhaps a bit more diplomatic than my first post but nonetheless quite an admission from an insider and what I was alluding to in my post.
  2. Hats off to you for even considering such a mammoth task. I'm not clear if you are proposing a true universal standard for things and hoping it get adopted by the wider astro community or just a "little" project for yourself. If it is the former then I don't think you're in with much of a chance of getting things adopted (unfortunately). ASCOM is supposed to open and universal (for windows) but in reality is driven by 2 vendors (Diffraction Limited who sell Maximdl and DC3Dreams who sell ACP). Whilst it is a good idea in principle it is what these 2 programs depend on and the programs also depend on each other (Maxim an ACP to a lesser degree). ASCOM is "run" by a number of people who are mainly amateurs but there are vested interests as mentioned before - the Yahoo group is the main place to gather and discuss info. In general Maximdl is the (expensive) gold standard for astrophotography and for the aforementioned reasons I'd be astounded if would ever support anything in addition to ASCOM. From a manufacturers perspective ASCOM is very attractive as they do just need to write a "driver" and it will pretty much work on any program that implements ASCOM. Having said that there is much to criticise ASCOM for and it was such a refreshing change to start using CCDSoft and TheSky that did away with the clunky and unwieldy thing that ASCOM can be sometimes. I am not doing down for one minute the work that the ASCOM developers put into a project that is free but it has many faults; there are one or two of them that are a bit snotty and arrogant and it is a bit cliquey despite what they would suggest. For a different perspective see this by Software Bisque - whilst a bit bias it has some very valid points. However, even Software Bisque are moving to make their software play more nicely with ASCOM. Overall, congrats for even considering such a project but I think (unfortunately) ASCOM is an unstoppable juggernaut.
  3. Orions belt and the pyramids Google is your best friend........ or No, no, no, no - I wish people would stop promulgating this myth . It is more Robert Bauval rubbish that is just put into print to sell books. Hancock, Bauval and science = oxymoron; Hancock's half hour had more coherent science.
  4. I'd be astounded if it wasn't flat batteries, flat tyres and running out of petrol; all Have been there pretty much since the start of cars (give or take). That's why the adverts (AA/RAC) claiming x percentage of breakdowns are fixed at the roadside is an example of pointless statistical posturing. (I'd go for the ASA everytime)
  5. I assume you have flicked the switch that changes the hub from hand to PC control? I have been caught out before by this.
  6. syd_malicious

    ATIK

    It takes an awful lot to really impress me with customer service - my recent experience has surpassed any expectations I could have had. I had an Artemis (ie the previous, old version of Atik) 11002 camera. Whilst it was okay it recently developed a couple of issues - some dust on the chip and a defect at the side of the coverslip. My thoughts were that it just needed a "clean" so thought I'd check with Atik if they would look at it. Initial encouragement (they said they could deal with it even though it was an Artemis) turned to disappointment when they said they would need to swap the chip into a new body (at a fair but not cheap price). I sent the camera off to them in Portugal and after a while was told it was back in the UK and "repaired". Vince (from Atik UK) then emailed to say testing had shown a significant column defect and it looked like the chip was "failing". This time extreme disappointment turned to delight when he said they would simply supply me with a new chip (so in essence a new camera)! Again after a delay Vince said the new camera was in, had passed tests and then duly arrived. What I had returned was my old camera - what turned up astounded me; not just a new camera but the whole kit and caboodle (Peli case, camera, cables, adaptor, power supply). Whilst not used in anger the camera seems fine and bias/darks/flats look fine. I am genuinely impressed and taken aback that Atik not only supported a previous camera but, without asking for extra money etc, replaced it for what is essentially a new (and better as the Atik version is superior to the Artemis version) camera. Just astonishing and speaks volumes for their customer service - I would unhesitatingly recommend them to anyone. My only quibble (and it is minor!) was needing to pay for the repair in Euros (understandable) but into a UK bank (bizarre, and obviously incurs a transaction fee). Well done and thankyou Atik.
  7. I'd take your keyboard back to the shop if it makes audible radio waves. Or sell it to a university for a research project. Or sell it to a military weapons company.
  8. Here we go again. Refractor versus reflectors, again. I am not knocking refractors or their fans and ultimately this hobby is about what gives you the most pleasure - by definition this is entirely subjective. However, I get so fed up of refractor fans going on about how superior they are to reflectors. They aren't, they are different and are usually designed for different things. Still the refractor zealots always argue otherwise and then go off comparing a high end AP or Tak refractor against a (probably) poorly collimated low end SCT; well doesn't take a genius to work out which one is "better". If you compare like-for-like there is much less difference than perceived other than the snob value of expounding the virtues of paying far more for similar performance. You just can't fairly objectively compare an f5 8" reflector costing about £300 (Sky watcher explorer) with a f7.5 5" refractor (skywatcher equinox) costing over 4x as much. This gives an interesting read - though no doubt people will accuse him of having a reflector bias. And just to throw something out if you think that an SCT can't give astounding planetary views go check out Damien Peach's pictures.
  9. Talk about sweeping statements......the £75 Newtonian the local camera shop is bad so all Newtonians are bad. You probably don't agree with this and yet this thread is doing exactly that about Crayford's. Surely there are good Crayford's, bad Crayford's and Crayford style focusers etc etc. A blanket statement that Crayford's are bad is far too simplistic. Granted, bad Cryford's are very bad but I have an Optec TCF which has never slipped and hauls many pounds of gear without an issue. It is expensive but, as ever, you get what you pay for. I am about to upgrade to an even more expensive Crayford that is rated to carry very large loads and I have no doubt that it will. A quote from a hight end manufacturer "Be aware that all [so-called] Crayford focusers, are not really Crayford focusers. Deceptive advertising by many dealers, trying to take advantage of the Crayford's reputation, offer Crayford-type, Crayford-like or Crayford-style focusers that have very little to do with the true Crayford design. NO radial ball bearings, NO zero-flexure, NO fluid motion, NO ultra-tactile sensitive control, NONE of the above functions that made the Crayford the finest precision focuser on Planet Earth. These non-Crayford focusers typically use plastic pads to simulate Crayford bearings and other inferior construction techniques that diminish the Crayford name. Only a focuser that uses precision radial ball bearings (not slot-car bearings) can [rightfully] be called a Crayford focuser" Perhaps OTT but it makes a point. There, reverse rant over.
  10. You're going to struggle to find someone who has both at those prices. I have an Optec 2" TCF and have been very happy with it. I've never used the temperature feature but it has been rock solid, excellent reproducability in Focusmax and I've had very good support from Optec. Plus they have a good range of adapters to attach to various equipment. One advanage for me with the TCF is that CCDSoft has native support which cuts out the added layer of trouble that ASCOM can cause. I'd highly recommend.
  11. I had pretty low expectations of The Widescreen Centre after previous experiences and they have managed to live down to them. Overall I've had 3 communications with them over about £5, 500 worth of custom that's now gone elsewhere. First - enquired about some software via email. Had a reply promising to look into it followed by precisely no further emails. Second - I had the "cheek" to 'phone up about what would have been a multi-thousand pound order half an hour before closing. Was told by the lady who answered that the chap I needed to speak to was dealing with someone else and it was a bit late in the day anyway. I asked would it be possible for him to call me back after he finished and was told he wouldn't as it would be near closing time, he'd be going home and I'd have to simply call back another day. Third - Thought I'd give one more try to get a quote to compare to others by email to avoid "bothering" them to much. Result - yet another failure to respond to a short email query. Well, either their customer service sucks or they are so rich they don't need the custom. Well don't worry, never again.
  12. Hmm, don't know why that ended up being posted twice
  13. I do stay away. We have 2 conferences a year - the summer one is always outside London and the winter one is always in London. I never go to the winter one. As for 'elektrickery' then the countryside is a net inputter (wind/hydroelectric/nuclear/gas/coal) of it (as well as food, water and oxygen) compared to London that sucks it all in and spews out CO2 and sewerage.
  14. I do stay away. We have 2 conferences a year - the summer one is always outside London and the winter one is always in London. I never go to the winter one. As for 'elektrickery then the countryside is a net inputter (wind/hydroelectric/nuclear/gas/coal) of it (as well as food, water and oxygen) compared to London that sucks it all in and spews out CO2 and sewerage. At least I have peace, quiet, open roads and dark skies.
  15. Would have been quicker and cheaper with brillo pads and a few rattle cans from Hellfrauds.......................
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