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About Howie_Oz

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  1. NexStar 6se EAA Recommendations

    You've done well as that's about what we all see on our first goes. Good job mate. Re number to stack ... you've already seen it and will now have in your mind what kind of number to stack yields a good result. Cos there's all sorts of recipes re what number is best. It is indeed a law of diminishing returns and sometimes stacking more than optimum leads to blurry images as more gear/motor pulse problems appear in more frames. Its a "give it go some night on one object" sort of thing for you to try out. Stack the equivalent of 1 minute (say thats 12 x 5sec frames), then 2 minutes (24 x 5 sec) then 4 then 6 then 8 and so on and watch for the difference in ease to move the sliders around to see the best you can get it, which both helps you learn what slider does what as well as the aha moments of Gee bright nebulas works best with about 5 minutes worth of total exposure time, but the dim stuff really needs 10 minutes, and star clusters only need 1 minute. Or something like that. Re cannot find the objects .... the 6SE Nexstar hand control has a Precise GoTo menu item. Go look that up in the manual, and if you dont have the manual look for copy of the manual on the web or from celestrons website or an astro shops website. Basically if you cannot 'see' it then use the HC menu to initiate the Precise GoTo. It knows the constellation of your desired object and so knows the brightest star in that constellation and slews over to it. Being a bright star you can see it thru your finder! Tada! ... so move the scope using the arrow buttons to centre that star thru both the finder and then the camera (which again being bright star it WILL show it on the laptop). Once centered you press Enter and the HC works out how much the error in slewing to that bright star was in that constellation and so refines the accuracy of all targets in that constellation based on that error. So then you slew back to your desired object and its accuracy to land on the small sensor should be much better now. cheers
  2. Does anyone broadcast?

    Another endorsement for NSN (Joe's site). Tis the best I've come across. If you broadcast be aware that it needs (according to Joe trying to help me do a show which kept crashing) 2Mbps upload to work properly. I'm in Australia and only average 0.4 to 0.7 Mpbs upload so once I got 3 or 4 people join in the show and voice chat with me it crashes several times a minute. Until I get better internet I cannot broadcast. There is debate on what I've just said there though, as some US people broadcast with less than 2Mbps upload fine. So it could be some other weird Aussie bandwidth/other problem going on for me. There is a Cloudy Nights Announcements sticky which Don in the above post (HiLoDon) and others put announcements of when they are going to be on. But some dont bother putting it in there and instead post they are up live on the NSN Facebook page ... so join that too. Don's broadcasts with the Lodestar X2 and Starlight Live are excellent. Always impressed with both that cam and the software. Another regular is another Don (DonBoy) who tests and wrings every last drop of goodness out of so many camera's it's wonderful to watch new stuff before everyone goes buy them. And lastly, Robin Clark who lists on that CN announcements page as saguaro (or something like that) who wrings the utmost out of ASI1600 doing 1 min x 10 to 20 stacked ... but while not VA shortness, the shots are like AP. Very sharp and great detail.
  3. NexStar 6se EAA Recommendations

    You got the 0.5x1.25" ... no worries ... just get out and use it and have fun experimenting! Those Mallincam (and other brands) 0.5x 1-1/4" and 0.5x 2" reducers are (IMO) all GSO's or that design spec, rebranded. They're all priced simiilarly, look identical, and have the same specs. I've tried several 2" out in field with the local astro club as many guys buy them and I've always found them blurry compared to the old Mallincam ones. But ... I see Roel's post above he was using the MFR5 ... he may have compared his MFR5 to the typical 0.5x cheap reducers and have a comment. IE dont just assume my findings on the 0.5 cheap reducers were the norm ... maybe the three or four I've tried were all rubbish offloaded to Aussie vendors at some point (LOL). Roel might have gotten a good one and reckon they're fine. You might have gotten a good one and find it great... so no probs keep it for now and get out and have a crack and see how it goes. But, it was the MFR5 I was referring to. Comes with spacers and two lens units. Using those in different combinations of lens and spacers you can achieve a variety of reduction to suit diff targets. I got it with my Mallincam VSS+ which was my first venture into VA waaaaay back 6 or 7 years ago! Anyway ... the ZWO cam's come with a 1-1/4" adapter which screws onto the camera body. Into the 1-1/4" hole in that adapter you normally thread the ZWO 1-1/4" nosepiece. But if you end up finding a MFR5 2nd hand and buy it to give it a try ... you'll find you can thread the MFR5 into that 1-1/4" hole effectively replacing the need for a nosepiece and away you go.
  4. NexStar 6se EAA Recommendations

    Yeah mate ... have a crack with the 224 + reducer. Been there done that! LOL. Its still mighty powerful mag/narrow FOV with a 0.5x on the 1500mm FL 6SE tube though. So you'll be very limited to short exposures and any aberations in the tracking and bad goto's will show up. But it's all about having a go and learning and finding out. And cheap first go for you cos you already have the 6SE. Couple of tips ... I found the GSO 0.5x reducer to be rubbish. Second hand Mallincam reducers work really nicely. Much sharper views and less coma. Its tough to find them 2nd hand though (they are expensive (!!!) brand new). Plus you can double stack reducers with the very small sensor size of the 224 ... it handles it quite well. Secondly, if you do find it still has too much mag/narrow FOV/hard to goto, hard to track, hard to go long enough exposures, blurry stars .... its more the OTA problem with it still simply having too much FL/mag rather than a prob with the 224. Try to borrow an Orion ST80 from someone (although 2nd hand they are cheap as chips) and put it into the dovetail "clamp" on the 6SE mount. Much wider FOV/less mag so more forgiving on tracking, goto accuracy, field rotation with the small chip 224, much 'sharper' stars .... but you'll have to use a yellow #8 or #12 to cure the achromatic color fringing with it. The thing with the little ST80 mounted in the 6SE mounts dovetail clamp is that it makes a GREAT grab n go! Leave the thing all setup with camera the whole lot ready to go. You really dont have to use the tripod with the 6SE as the base has rubberised 'bits' underneath so you can plonk it on a car, the ground, a couple of bricks ... single cable from the cam to your laptop with you sitting in a chair and away you go. Bit tough to crouch and do all star alignment ... but get a 2nd hand StarSense and then you're really talking ... plonk it down, turn it on and in the couple of minutes the StarSense is doing your alignment you're getting the comfy chair and laptop out. By the time you're ready with that you're ready to start 'observing' with the 224. As they say the best scope is the one you use the most. And the easier the setup when we occaisionally see clear sky, the more we'll get out there ... and the more we can forgive the still fairly blocky/grainy/star bloat images coming from the 224 compared to other cams. But those other cams have their compromises ... longer exp time, etc. So crack on, cant wait to see how you go.
  5. New Set up for VAA

    Said I'd post up a quick tip on PA with a GEM when you cannot see the pole... The star alignment and PA routine built into the hand controls...... 1. Dont forget that second alignment is necessary after doing the PA routine! The sequence is always first 2 or 3 star alignment followed by PA routine followed by second 2 or 3 star alignment. 2. The alignment routine and also the PA routine selects stars for you to use assuming you can actually see the pole. So the tip is ... if it selects a star you cannot see because it is near the pole, don't sweat it ... just use any star it suggests which you can see. 3. Dont forget that second alignment is necessary after doing the PA routine! The sequence is always first 2 or 3 star alignment followed by PA routine followed by second 2 or 3 star alignment. Not a mistake writing this up a second time !!! LOL ... you'd be amazed how often it gets forgotten!
  6. New Set up for VAA

    Newbs2215 ... I'm a retired Engineer whose been into 'observing with a camera' for 3 years now with both AltAz and Eq mounts and many types of scopes. At one point I owned 4 different cameras. Here's my point by point take on your questions given the experiences I've had. 1. The hand control's of all GEM's have a built in PA routine which does not (!) require you to see Polaris at all. I have never ever used a polar scope to do PA. The hand control routine are really easy to use and do not (!) require you to pick any stars near the pole in order for it to work. On my HEQ5 PRO GEM mount I get great goto accuracy and 90 second tracking without star trails. I have never had to use autoguider doing VA. I will also post up a tip for getting close to PA in a second post after this one. 2. You can most certainly do VA on AltAz. I've done so many times! Because of field rotation effects (stars all around the edges of an image are rotating about the centroid of the image) you are limited to how long you can expose in different parts of the sky. Some parts only 5 sec frames before you get field rotation, and other parts up to 50 sec frames (if a good altaz mount - but generally max out at around 25 secs if using something like a Nexstar / entry level). Google to find charts and tables for max alt az exposure times so your latitude. AltAz actually makes it quite rewarding because (a) you are doing something which is not as easy as simply using a GEM; and (b) you have to plan more to wait for object to rotate into the 'good/longer exposure' parts of the sky during the night (or even later in the year) to get longer exposures to 'see' it and capture an image to keep as your observing log. 3. If you have done visual astronomy at all, then you'll understand what you can 'see' (IE FOV/magnification) with different size eyepieces on your scope. The simple way to understand what camera will suit a particular scope you have ... it is the diagonal dimension in mm of the sensor of the camera you get told about. If the sensor diagonal is 23mm then it will yield a very similar FOV/magnification as an eyepiece of similar mm size IE a 20mm or 23mm or 25mm eyepiece inserted into your scope. A very small sensor camera, like the old original security cameras converted for VA, had very small 5mm diagonal sensors. So they behaved like a 5mm eyepiece ... IE very narrow FOV/very high magnification. Which may have lead the poster earlier in this thread saying it was extremely hard to find, centre and align etc with a VA camera on the scope. Thats correct if using a small sensored camera - because it yield such a high magnification/narrow FOV, so it needs very accurate gotos from your mount or else you land off target and have no idea which way to move the thing to find the object! Of course it also depends on what scope you are using too. IE a short focal length scope of low magnification will handle a small highly magnifying sensor much better than sticking the same highly magnifying sensor onto a very long high magnification scope! Google for "12dstring FOV calc" and its a great tool to click on a huge number of scopes and cameras and objects to 'see' what you can view ..... and do that before (!) you plonk your cash down! 4. IMHO larger sensored cameras which yield great FOV are the way to go, because you can always zoom into the image if the object is small. Whereas if you use a small high magnification camera/sensor then you cannot 'zoom out'! But ... always a catch ... large sensors are far more likely to vignette. If you dont know what that is .... google it. So before buying a camera always ask on as many forums as you can if anyone has used that camera with your particular scope, or one with similar specs IE close to same focal length and aperture. 5. The biggest issue IMHO is learning how to get the best out of the software which is required to do VA/EAA. Thats where the learning curve is! They will all work and work well but its a challenge. Having said that, some folk find Sharpcap very easy to learn and use, and others dont! They find something else better and easier to use and get better results. And vice versa. So the software is where I think you'll wonder why you trusted all the people recommending this rig and camera or that rig and camera. cheers
  7. Shortened Dob struts - Lunar Liveview video

    Thanks all. I'll try to find the time to put a comment note in the vid ... yeah FL same just moved it outwards. cheers
  8. The Canon 700D wouldn't come to focus in my XX12GT dob, so I did the usual thing and shortened the struts. Well, actually the struts are still the same length, but I found the connection plate had enough surface area to allow me to drill a second set of attachment holes 35mm lower on the plate thus effectively shortened the focal length when I used those new holes. Worked a treat and out the backyard in my Brisbane Australia home, I was treated to the best live video feed I've seen from my scope. My other OTA, my old faithful 200p newtonian, has an eFocuser but just hasn't got the fine ratio like the XX12 OTA's dual speed. I need to invest in a new two speed focuser for the 200p. Anyway, live HD desktop video link below ... as per another post with video link, I waffle a bit so use the Youtube settings cog to set (a) twice normal speed so the video is only 8mins instead of 16; (b) set 720p HD; and (c) go full screen. I was very happy I took the trouble to do the mod to enable the Canon to reach focus and thus do liveview. Can't wait to do a bit of outreach at my clubs next astro night. Hope you enjoy the about 320x mag view. Cheers https://youtu.be/LQJ9WyE2nmA
  9. Don't post much on here, but enjoy the reads! Thought I'd make you all envious of Aussie country skies! Live in suburban Brisbane which is red zone, but a couple of months ago I was at a townhouse complex in a "dark green" LP zoned township. Green zzone but surrounding areas were pitch black being in central queensland australia. Amazing what you can do with your scope pointing at dark skies. The link below is to a 16 minute live HD desktop capture so use the YouTube settings cog to (a) speed up to 2x normal speed so its only 8 minutes long; (b) set the highest quality setting of 720p; (c) watch in full screen mode. All were a single frame iso800 sixty second shot on each galaxy. Zero stacking. Zero post processing ... it's a live desktop capture of the laptops screen. The 16 minutes includes me selecting targets, putting them into the hand control, the mount slewing to those targets, and also the shot time. The red "vignetting" patch is the townhouse complexes security lighting bouncing off the Newts tube (no LP shield) and also cos I used Toasters Expand Grad at 6 where I normally use only 3. But it's EAA not AP so I don't mind those sorts of aberations. Having said its EAA, well normally I shoot an object then spend the next 10 minutes looking up its details on SkySafari and marvelling at its stats and science. You'll glimpse a whole bunch of previous shots in the file list in the video which I'd gone to in the evening. But, I had a few minutes left before packing it in for the evening so grabbed the desktop capture so I could recall those wonderful skies in the future by re-watching the video, so I simply moved from object to object in very quick succession. Makes one want to retire somewhere with dark skies nearby! Used were full spectrum modded Canon 650d, HEQ5 Pro with Rowan belt drive, Skywatcher 200p f/5 Newtonian, bootcamped Macbook Pro (2009 model) running Canon EOS Utilities to control the camera lodging S1 fine Jpegs into Astrotoasters monitor folder. ShareX used to capture the desktop video. Enjoy. https://youtu.be/ICxv8eV_JYk
  10. Err, sorry to resurrect the post but this techie stuff always interests me. So outside it is 100% total overcast conditions and at 5:00pm (8 minutes from official sunset), I just put my two 6" aperture scopes on two mounts side by side pointing at the same piece of total 100% overcast sky. I took my Canon 700d in full manual mode and slipped it into each OTA three times to average out in case the 100% total cloud cover changed a bit in the time I was swapping the cameras. All 3 times it was slipped into the 6" x 600mm f/4 the built in exposure meter says correct ISO100 exposure is 1/160th sec but all 3 times slipped into the 6" x 1500mm f/10 the correct ISO100 exposure is 1/15th sec? The sensor is fully covered by the lightcone in both cases (isn't it?). The grey almost black cloud is moving very slightly so if it were darker exactly where the f/10 was pointing then in one of the times I had swapped the 700d into it, it should have registered a time of less dark area and vice versa in the f/4 OTA. Yet it didn't? The f/4 consistently was letting more light through causing the camera to say correct exposure was 1/160th, while the f/10 consistently let less light through causing the camera to say correct exposure was 1/15th. Yet both were 6" aperture scopes. Signed ... confused! Cheers if you willing to answer this old thread.
  11. I love my starblast 4.5

    When I had my little Starblast 4.5 I bought a Baader zoom eyepiece (EP). Yes, for sure you can get better individual non zoom eyepieces, but the Baader zoom has a good reputation for quality optics. Saved carrying around a bunch of EP's.
  12. I love my starblast 4.5

    I certainly wish I'd kept my ol Starblast 4.5 OTA - minus the dob base and plus a vixen dovetail. I ended up moving to GEM which carried an 8" newt and later a SCT ... but its so nice to go widefield at dark sites, and the 4.5 OTA on the GEM would have been lovely. Sorry, my mistake, a German Equatorial Mount (GEM) is just another type of telescope base on which to stick your telescope tube. I should have just said something like ... I certainly wished I'd kept my old Starblast 4.5 telescope tube, as it had good optical quality. It got wonderful wide views of the Heavens compared to the larger telescope I now own. But I would have had to buy a dovetail bar to allow the Starblast tube assembly to be put onto the new larger mount, as thats what it needs for the tube to be afixed to the new mount. If I'd kept the Starblast to use with my new equipment, then I could have had the best of both worlds ... use the Starblast's smaller length to look at really big objects ... And my new telescope's longer length to look at the really small objects. So no, not recommending another telescope nor mount ... just saying I wish I'd kept my little Starblast for future use. cheers
  13. I love my starblast 4.5

    I certainly wish I'd kept my ol Starblast 4.5 OTA - minus the dob base and plus a vixen dovetail. I ended up moving to GEM which carried an 8" newt and later a SCT ... but its so nice to go widefield at dark sites, and the 4.5 OTA on the GEM would have been lovely.
  14. Great night out at a local Lake. By the time I'd "observed" a bunch of stuff and looked up the objects info etc I realised I didn't have much time left on the laptop battery, so this is the last 30 minutes during which I slewed to a bunch of target very quickly. Watch in the highest HD setting in wide screen and preferably on your HD widescreen TV. Pretty sweet images. BTW first 6 minutes are details about the kit used, the site and its LP rating, etc. So you may want to speed up through that bit before the slewing and images start rolling in. Also, about 8 minutes in, there's this .... sound .... rather embarrasing it is LOL but its the push plunger on the insect repellant bottle cos the Lake is absolutely riddled with mosquitoes in the Aussie Summer. Least thats what I reckon it was ... LOL
  15. drift alignment with phd

    There's actually another way to do PA with PHD and is explained in the link below. See the section titled Drift Alignment Using PHD Guiding Software ... and it isn't using the PA routine but is instead using DEC pulse only and the DX/DY chart function available in PHD. http://njstargazer.org/PolarAlignment.asp