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About cjdawson

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    Sub Dwarf

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    Yorkshire UK
  1. cjdawson

    Software needed to start

    I image using my scope, and one of the most critical parts is getting the polar alignment as good as possible - the better your alignment, the less your guider will have to work, and the better the images will come out in the end. To your list of software, there is two things that I would add. 1. ANSVR - https://adgsoftware.com/ansvr/ It's astronmetry.net plate solver for windows. This can be used to in SGPro to add a second plate solver to the system, allowing blind solves to happen. 2. SharpCap Pro for the polar alignment feature. This will help you to get the polar alignment really good, and it looks simple to use - you do it before turning on the mount. Here's a demo And finally, you'd be well advised to have some kind of planitarium program. I personally prefer to use SkySafari on my iPad and connect to SGPro on the laptop.
  2. I've got an artificial star, and yes when you use it you need to place is a good 100m or 100yards away or further! Also, you need to place is somewhere so that your scope is pointing up, rather than horizinal or down, so as to minimise issues with mirror flop. A real star is also a good to use. The process is really easy, and don't be scared of it. Collimation of an SCT is simply a case of lining up the secondary mirror with with other optics - as the rest are set in stone, the only thing that you need to do is alter the rotation of the secondary, which is behind the central obstruction in corrector plate. There should be three screws holding the mirror in place. Using a conveniant star - any bright star will do. Firstly, give the scope an hour or so to settle down to ambient, So that the optics are stable. No point collimating before this as you'll be trying to catch a moving target. (I normally set my scope up before dusk and wait for stars to appear. Then use a lower power eyepiece, find a bright star and defocus the scope until you get a donut shape instead of a star. Next adjust the screws to rotate the mirror until the donut is central. Do not tighten the screws completely as that is too tight, it's about the rotation not doing it all up tight. Once you have good collimation, switch to a higher power eyepiece, and do it again. Repeat using a more and more powerful eyepiece until you get to your most powerful eyepiece that you can use with your scope. Each time you put in a higher power eyepiece, the hole will shift slightly, just recenter it, and note that the changes should be smaller and smaller each time. When you run out of pieces/cameras you are done. Having done this method several times, I've got to the point where I only ever need to make small tweaks to my setup with that, I jump straight to my imaging camera and use that. As it's the highest power that I intend to use on my scope.
  3. cjdawson

    My first attempt with Guided AP

    Getting good polar alignment is the key to getting good guiding - the less work the guider does, the better the end result. As for the pole being visible, it only needs to be visible in your guide scope to be able to polar align. I'm currently looking very closely at using the Polar Align feature in SharpCap as this looks like it's really going to help with getting the polar alignment sorted out. There's a similar feature in PHD2, which I might investigate as well. The SharpCap version to me looks like it's the easiest to use by a long way.
  4. cjdawson

    Remotely Controlling Imaging Queries

    There's no need to use a cloud based sharing service. Instead there's nothing stopping you from sharing a folder on the laptop, then connecting to that share from the desktop and copying the files directly across the network. There won't be any thottling involved and you can pull the files off as fast as you make them. This is the method that I've setup on my astro laptop, so that I can simply copy the files off over wifi. it's fast enough for the deep sky images.
  5. cjdawson

    Remotely Controlling Imaging Queries

    Hiya. Here's a few thoughts to add to the mix. I'm just comming into the thread, so might repeat things what others have said already... 1. Forget about ST-4, you have a goto mount and using PHD you are better using pulse guiding. result is that you'll end up with one less cable and better results (PHD is designed for pulse guiding) 2. Windows remote desktop requires that the service side is running windows professional, so won't allow a connection on windows home edition. Alternatives will work, Teamviewer, VNC are a couple of examples. 3. As long as you can get a good network connection for both PC's you will be able to remote control the scope. The quality of the connection will determine the quality if the images you see remotely. 4. WIFI comes in many forms these days, they're not all equal. The protocols are 802.11a/b/g/n/ac or for short you have the choice of a, b, g, n or ac. a and b are extremely old and new kit doesn't bother with these. G allows 54Mbps, again it's old and probably not used. N allows about 300Mbps, and AC is much faster - I think it's comparible with Gigabit networking. For Remote control of a PC, you should be fine with G, N or AC. That is provided that you have sole access to the channel with no interference. (which can be a tall order) The distance of the PC from the Access Point (The Wifi antenna) determines the max throughput of the signal, the further you are the weaker and slower things go. 4. Wired network connections - These offer the best throughput the cables are normally 10/100/1000 Mbps. The better cables Cat 6 and above allow 1000Mbps without any second thoughts. You can get a 100m run from the switch - if you have a router (which you most likely to) all you need to do is run a standard patch cable (not cross over) to the switch and plug in there, it'll then be available on your network without any issues. I think your idea is good and should work without much difficulty. My own setup I'm running two cameras, filter wheel, and mount from a laptop. I think remote into the laptop using Windows Remote Desktop and can work with it like that. For my purposes, I run over a wifi (N) and it works just fine for my needs. The data is captured and stored on the laptop running the camera, I transfer it afterwards. This helps to keep the network traffic down a little.
  6. cjdawson


    Dew is a fun challenge. There are several solutions. Firstly let's talk about the optics.... 1. Dew shield - This helps to prevent the formation of dew by limiting the heat radiated from the optics. Also, it helps to block down on stray light a little too. 2. Dew heater - This puts heat into the scope, targeted at a surface that dew normally forms on to prevent the heatloss that happens and allows dew to form 3. Dew Zapper - i.e. a hair dryer. This has 2 things, firstly the moving air can help to evaporate condensation and the heat put out can also help. I use a 12v one and it works great when everything gets soggy. Used as a last resort but can save a night if needed. 4. A fan - moving air makes it harder for dew to form. Away from the options, people have been known to forget about this bit.... 1. toilet tent to put laptop, power supply and other bits in. This is a great way of allowing my to sit near the scope and have the goodies out without having to worry about dew forming on everything. 2. plastic boxes. Putting stuff in boxes helps to stop dew forming on anything electrical, the box doesn't need to be air tight or anything like that, just needs to keep the dew off. So where does dew come from? Answering this question will help to understand how to prevent problems with dew and make your life a whole lot easier. Dew is formed on the cold surface when it temperature falls below the dew point. The dew point is a temperature at which the air can no longer hold moisture, and it changes with the ambient temperature and humidity. Wind also also effect the ability of moisture to condense - so can also have an effect on the dew point (hence why the hair dryer and fan above works) When you put your object outside, it's surfaces will start to radiate heat out in all directions until it reaches a natural temperature. The glass optics of your scope (mirrors, corrector lenses etc) are normally pointed upwards toward the night sky. Space, obviously is very very cold, so your relatively hot telescope will start to radiate it's heat out to the entire visible part of the night sky, trying to balance it's temperature with everything else. The dew shield cuts down the visible part of the sky by a huge amount, so it means this radiating of heat slows down exponentially, doesn't stop, but will slow the progress of something that could take say 30 mins, to take several hours. The temperature of the optics will eventually fall below the dew point - this is because glass is good at radiating heat, once it falls below the dew point, moisture will start to form. If that moisture gets cold enough, you get ice. aka frost. The dew heater works be providing extra heat energy to the scope. This isn't to "heat up the scope", but to mitigate the heatloss. Done correctly, the dew heater will keep the scope just about the dew point, meaning that everything stays stable, and therefore works efficiently. This is why you can get expensive dew heaters that measure the temperature and humidity. I personally use a simply PWM based heater and turn it up on a soggy night, and down on a no so soggy night, no science involved, just a guess. Tends to work for the most part.
  7. cjdawson

    Computer resources (how to access them)

    You should be ok to uninstall all of the above programs. If you do screw something up, it won't be a killer, and just be aware of what you removed so that you can reinstall if needed. As for the bigger problem of the performance. I think you would be better using a proper RDBMS at least one that isn't MS Access. it's not designed to run parallel queries. So rather than looking at the total CPU, take a look at just one core and use that to figure out if you have any resources left. on top of that check that your query is optimised in terms of indexing and lookup efficiency. (This is an art unto itself) I've not been following the thread, so don't know what went wrong with SQL Express. For personal use, you can get SQL Server developer edition for free - it's for creating and testing software, which it sounds like you are doing to me. you can use SQL Management studio to connect to your Access database and copy all the data across to SQL Server without needing to go via export files.
  8. Turns out there's another method that's been staring me in the face the whole time! For now, I decided to remove the camera cooler, and keep the benefit of being able to get to the home position. When it's reattached, I will be able to use an eyepiece anyway to get me "close" The answer for me to give the polar alignment tool in SharpCap a go! Been watching a few videos of it and it looks a great solution. I should be able to use my Starlight Express and ST80 guide scope to do the alignment, before I turn the scope on and do star alignment in the handbox.
  9. That’s an interesting idea, clamping the polmaster to one of the forks might indeed work
  10. cjdawson

    need some imperial bolts in metric land

    1/4" threaded stuff is possible to get on ebay or amazon. I know that Europe is metricated these days, pretty much everywhere. However, I'm fairly sure that I'm right in guessing this will be for mounting Cameras, as they tend to use 1/4" Whitworth threads for the main connection to a ballhead/tripod etc. Worst case scenario is to get a good quality thread cutter and make your own!
  11. TeamViewer is an option, also you might want to take a look at VNC.
  12. The setup that I have is a little different. Firstly, I'm not using an observatory (shed), instead I take my telescope caravaning. The setup goes like this.... Meade LX-90, StarlightExpress Superstar, ZWO asi290-mm, ZWO Filter Wheel. All connects to a StarTech USB 3.0 hub (Powered by the same 12v feed that I use for the scope) the USB 3 cable from the hub then connects to my laptop (HP Pavillion) This allows me to work locally to the scope, everything is good. However there is more... I have a DLink Dir615 router that I use in my caravan. This provides a strong wifi signal, capable of B/G/N, good enough for my needs. Then finally I have another laptop that I a run in my caravan. (MacBook Pro) and connect to the HP laptop via remote desktop. With my setup, I'm using a wireless connection. But there's no reason why I can't run wires and have it all hooked up. The key thing here is that the total distance from a laptop to the router is less that 30m and only the wall of the caravan gets in the way. The immediate question that I get is asked is what about connecting to the internet? The answer to that is that have I have a Raspberry Pi 3 connected to the router's wan port. This in turn connects to a wifi signal (my phone, or site wifi) This way, everything connected to the router has access to the internet.
  13. Over the weekend I was talking to someone in the dark, about a stepper kit that you can get for focussing a telescope. However, I can't for the life of me remember the name of the place to get it. Anyone able to provide the link? I kinda don't really want to go to all the trouble of building a focusser for an SCT, would rather buy one.
  14. cjdawson

    ZWO Peltier Cooler

    There I was about to announce that the project was completed any working great. However at the SGL weekend, I fired it all up to make a dark library. Worked to start with, however I moved it and think I shorted out the temperature module. The display went black. I checked the fuses and they are OK, but the display now gets very hot. Guess, I'm going to have to get another one off eBay. oh well. think I'm going to dismantle the plugs and see if I can add some insulation to make it harder for them to short out.
  15. cjdawson

    Good News - River level dropping!

    Yep. Hopefully that's the worst of it over and done with, guess I won't have to try to build a ToyBoata overnight.

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