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Everything posted by noah4x4

  1. Long USB active cables and hubs are terribly fickle. One can be successful over Cat6 cable and a USB extender as described, but adequate power is crucial. However, I found that the most successful route is....... 1. Put a mini-computer at scope running all software. 2. Control 1 from a computer indoors using Remote Desktop. 3. Connect 1 and 2 over either Cat6 cable or a 5Ghz WiFi network. I use the 5Ghz WiFi option via BT Whole home MESH WiFi extenders. Over longer distances Station and Access Point devices from Ubiquiti also work great. Remote Desktop replicates the screen of 1 on computer 2. So this route works for camera and focusser control too. I favour Windows 10 Pro/Windows Remote Desktop (an upgrade from Win 10 Home costs about £110) but there are free versions of remote desktop if you don't object to their issues and intrusions. I favour the Microsoft route albeit it has a cost (upgrade to Win 10 Pro on one computer) , then I know I have better security, having discovered that many of the free versions of RDT have an origin in Russia or China.
  2. Probably not (but I have not tried) as normally, Celestron devices won't work that way and you have to stay with the device that did the alignment. If connecting CPWI by cable to HC, definitely not as the HC must go into Boot loader mode. However, my system works great simply auto-aligning my scope using Starsense from within CPWI. I observe only from indoors and remotely control scope, camera and focusser from laptop networked to a mini-computer at the scope using Windows Remote Desktop over a 5Ghz WiFi network. Additionally, I plug in both my Starsense HC and Nexstar+ HC. Whilst the Starsense enters Boot loader mode (and is superseded by CPWI), the direction buttons still with on the Nexstar + HC However, there is a way of doing what you want to do. Instead of CPWI, use Stellarium via the ASCOM platform.
  3. I spent £££££'s on upgrading eyepieces, diagonals and similar visual paraphernalia before buying 'Turn left at Orion. This was the point I realised faint fuzzies would never satisfy me. I had spent even more £££££'s on travel and hotels to Dark Sky sites only to be frustrated by cloud. Then a pal showed me what he could see with a camera from his light polluted back yard. I can now set up with full remote control and be observing from indoors in under ten minutes. I leave my scope fully assembled (excluding camera/Hyperstar) and carry it outdoors. I bolt mini-computer and focuser controller to an ABS Plastic Box that slides onto my tripod rod and sits on the leg spreader. Surplus cables are hidden in the box. Because this lowers the centre of gravity, my 8" Evolution is now easier to carry, caber tossing style. I discarded wedge, as it proved unnecessary with short stacked exposures and added 16lbs weight. I challenge anybody to devise a more cable tidy and convenient to set up rig where near live observations are made indoors in glorious 4K UHD resolution.
  4. Why not switch from a DSLR to a silent astro-cam like ASI294? I hate the noise that DSLRs make and am not surprised that your neighbours are complaining. Mount motors when slewing can also be noisy. I limit mine to slow quieter speeds. Respecting neighbours is important, else when the inevitable security lights go up you can't expect their reciprocal cooperation.
  5. Gary Hawkins is a prolific live streamer and enjoys the weather to permit this. Another enthusiast is Doug from Emerald Hills Skies. His channel can be found at Emerald Hills Skies - YouTube Doug brilliantly organised the Zoom Messier Marathon that I mentioned earlier. Gary (like me) participated, also Roel (from Belgium) and Robert from UK (both SGL members) joined the fun. If you subscribe to Doug's YouTube Channel I am sure that you will hear of future live on-line events. It would be good to get a few more UK/European participants involved. I agree with Brown Dwarf, this ambitious type of event does need international participation, else if all were located in the UK we might simply end up drinking and crying together whilst looking at clouds. Wow, I've just inverted the virtual Astro- Zoom pub!
  6. Unfortunately, as the weather in the UK is so unpredictable, announcing a live broadcast session is fraught with challenges. More likely than not the event might be cancelled due to cloud, hence leaving a good many potential viewers disappointed. It is far more likely that you will find ad-hoc streams from UK observers being posted on YouTube that are published after the event. However, some of our pals in the USA tend to enjoy better weather (such as in California) and hence enjoy far greater live broadcast opportunity. There are also some dedicated channels for this purpose. I think it would be a good idea if SGL did have a page where announcements could be made about forthcoming live streams, but I doubt if there would be very many originating from the UK. However, I recently participated in an international cooperation on-line 'Messier Marathon' via the Cloudy Nights EAA Forum and I see no reason why something similar would not work in Stargazers Lounge. .. Basically, a team of EAA observers that only knew each other via text messaging in a forum, from Italy, Belgium, UK, and the USA/Canada joined a Zoom meeting that started after dusk in Europe. It was then still daylight in the USA, but US observers could enjoy our European after dark input. (from Belgium and Italy as we were blighted by cloud). Images were initially captured in Europe and folk shared their screens with our US colleagues via Zoom. Progressively, dark skies embraced those ever further west, so we in Europe could then enjoy the views appearing on USA screens. Frankly it was utter madness as it became a chase and race to determine who could capture what from the Messier catalogue and when, but it was great fun and comradery. I am not sure it would have worked so well had we not defined an objective (such as the Messier catalogue), but other topics are possible. One wag even suggested if enough participants, next time, we could attempt to do the entire NGC catalogue! Ultimately, the 'Team' managed to capture and share on screen (near) live views of all 110 Messier objects in about 12 hours where folk would stay for a couple of hours, grab some sleep then return. Sadly, the least number of contributions as regards images came from the UK as cloud engulfed us (again). Similar events probably do need to be led by US observers with kinder skies. However, as this was a interactive Zoom conversation, those blighted by cloud were able to make a significant contribution in other ways, such as demonstrating our equipment. We all learned an enormous amount about the software used by others. This Messier event was possibly the world's first international on-line gathering of EAA enthusiasts doing what we do best (which might be only cloud watching in some locations!) Another such event is planned later this month. If enough people were interested in SGL (n.b. we would need a number with guaranteed good skies else it might flop) we could perhaps attempt something. My only thought though is that we don't get that many threads in EEVA, so we might not have enough participants to make it viable.
  7. Much depends on camera and what purpose. Your principle cameras are high resolution, larger sensor and data hungry, which can be an issue. However, if you are capturing frames for later stacking and post processing 15M Active USB should be fine. The process might be a tad slow, but within USB tolerance. However, try live stacking extremely short duration exposures at fast frame rates, such as those possible at f/2 on HyperStar or RASA. Then output data to a 4K UHD display as I do. Like anything technical, there are limits and USB is no exception. It is not easy to predict where any particular methodology breaks as there are so many variables. But the important thing is to plan remote control rigs holistically, be they cable or wireless connected. If not it is easy to underestimate connectivity requirements and computing power.
  8. Your first challenge will be aligning your scope and finding these planets in the narrow FOV of an ASI224mc and then tracking, them (unless you align during dark when you can see stars). A solar system alignment is possible using the Sun, but take care to use an appropriate filter. I have recently witnessed somebody capturing the bright core of M81 at a fairly bright dawn to complete a Messier Marathon. Jupiter and Saturn ought to be easier. But I suspect all that you might capture is a white disc of reflected sunlight. If any camera will succeed, the fast frame ASI224 is perhaps tje most likely. Higher specification more sensitive cameras might just over expose. But I am curious enough to attempt this myself!
  9. As I said, I could clearly see the four primary stars of the Trapezium on my 4K UHD screen, but in reducing the file from 18Mb to fit SGL they have, sadly, become lost. Roel has done a far better job as in his posted image he has succeeded as I can clearly see the four stars AND the beautiful nebulosity. No disrespect, but the other images in this thread clearly show the Trapezium and the core, but no nebulosity. They look more like the faint fuzzies you see in visual astronomy. Roel and Martin jpintly get my prize for what I think is one of the hardest challenges in EEAA. Capture Trapezium plus nebulosity.
  10. Before you think about cameras, think holistically about what you want to do... The specified optimum length of standard USB3 cable is merely 3 metres. The specified optimum length of standard USB2 cable is merely 5 metres. You might succeed over 12 metres with 'Active' cables if they have their own separate power supply. However, be prepared for failure. I wasted a tonne of money on cables that didn't work over a similar 12M distance. Your best bet might be to put a mini-computer at the scope running all your software; which is then controlled by a laptop indoors using Windows Remote Desktop (or similar). You can then connect the computers by Cat6 cable or WiFi. I use an Intel NUC at the scope and WiFi, but even that required MESH extenders. There are no easy solutions unless you buy a proprietary WiFi solution like Atik Air or ASI Air (ZWO), but they lock you into specific camera manufacturers. Hence, my comment about think holistically. As regards, cameras,... Budget priced ZWO cameras like ASI224mc are great for planets, but have a very narrow Field of View. That can make life difficult for beginners and the FOV is too narrow for many DSO's More forgiving are larger sensor cameras like the ASI294mc and ASI533mc. But the price is higher. These are good all-rounders. Even better are the cooled versions of such cameras., but you are then upping budget again. To answer your question, no single camera is ideal for all purposes. So to guide you we really need to know what you want to see and what is your budget.
  11. There is nothing exception about an easy target like M42. However, most when chasing the nebulosity completely blow out the core. What I did here was reduce exposures to 8 seconds and increase Gain (108s total, Gain 400) using 8" Evolution (no wedge or guiding) with x6.3 FR and ASI294mc. With modern CMOS cameras, you have greater exposure/gain combinations and lesser exposure length, but longer total integration time is the knack. My image has lost a little detail in cropping and reducing resolution to fit SGL image limits. But on my 4K UHD graphics display the Trapezium is clearly defined. Again, merely 108 seconds total integration time, not even two minutes.
  12. Be ready for grief with long USB cables. The maximum recommended lengths are surprisingly short. I wasted ££££'s on active USB cables and powered hubs and still failed. Your better route is to put a mini computer at yoir scope running all your software. Then connect that to a laptop indoors using cat6 cable or WiFi. Then control the scope side computer from the laptop over Windows Remote Desktop (or similar). Cat6 will work up to 100M, whilst WiFi range will depends on your home network (I use BT Whole Home MESH extenders). But both are more reliable than USB beyond 3 to 5 metres.
  13. The problem with buying any low budget small sensor camera for EAA is you might find it challenging to get objects on screen due to the camera's narrow FOV. Much depends on mount, GoTo and tracking accuracy, but embracing small sensors is the hardest of entry routes and a recipe for frustrations if inexperienced. I suffered much frustration as a novice, and eventually I went completely the other way and bought Hyperstar to maximise my FOV, but I am not suggesting anything so radical. However lower focal ratios do assist. Frankly, I think the best camera for a novice is either an ASI294mc or ASI533. These might be almost double the price of an ASI224mc, but it will reduce the frustration and offer significantly better results than a low budget planetary camera..
  14. Further to my post above that offers a solution to rear end clearance on Alt- Az, but only for non-cooled cameras, I have discovered that the 105mm back focus behind the Celestron x6.3 FR is only sacrosanct in Refractors and Reflectors. An SCT achieves focus by moving the mirror and the extent of adjustment is far greater. However, a Crayford Focuser introduces unnecessary challenges with an SCT. My optical train is now OTA > FR > Celestron 2" dielectric diagonal > Camera. The diagonal has a light path of 137mm, far greater than 105mm. But I can achieve perfect focus. Running this through the Wilmsloastro tool it calculates my focal ratio to be 5.3, so my scope is a little faster from extending the light path.. But with either of the 2" solutions I describe, I enjoy perfect focus and suffer no undue aberations with a 4/3" sensor.
  15. If you use a x6.3 Focal Reducer you typically require 105mm back focus (distance between FR and camera sensor). I read earlier today that one of the Click Lock diagonals has a 112mm light path, hence too long. Most 2" diagonals are far too long. You need to check your light path. I achieve 105mm as follows and am resigned to having to embrace a different optical train if I want to pursue visual. OTA > FR > T-Adapter > Baader Varilock (or other spacers) > camera. EDIT Think I might have misunderstood. If you are referring to a click lock replacing the visual back, then you would attach FR to that and the 105mm trails that. Whether you can achieve focus is another matter (I don't know). But most of us screw FR directly to OTA as shown.
  16. I might be throwing a spanner in the works, but are we talking about an 6" Alt-Az or is it mounted on a GEM? Ignore this post if the latter. Back focus required is 105mm after the focal reducer. I achieve that by; OTA > FR > T-Adapter > Baader Varilock > Camera. I can just achieve rear end clearance going to the Zenith on my 8" Evolution provided I am using a (short) non-cooled camera. Won't rear end clearance be a problem with a 6SE Alt-Az if you try to add a Crayford Focuser? There is a little flexibility in the 105mm, but you need to be close. I simply use my regular focusser, albeit motorised. See image.
  17. My experience with Orion Optics UK is recent (August 2020). OOUK performed a complete service of my Celestron Evolution OTA including realignment of my corrector plate and secondary mirror holder, refurbishment of mirrors etc. What really impressed me is that without extra charge they replaced my Bob's Knobs (ghastly devices) with Allen bolts and lined my loose dust cover with felt to make it more secure. I was delighted with the results, service, speed and price. Whilst at the factory, I was shown models their own range and how they do stuff. Really impressed, indeed envious.
  18. I got so fed up with the mud I laid artificial grass and created a rectangular wooden jig for my tripod feet. Works great.
  19. Sorry about the delayed reply. I tend to use Passmark benchmarks. I too was under the assumption from reading historic posts in SGL and CN that you don't need much horsepower for "imaging". But that myth developed because it is not that long ago folk were using low resolution, large pixel CCDs. Today, most new astro cameras are CMOS and available sensor producion is being driven by sensor demand in the far larger terrestrial camera market where we are now seeing larger sensor high resolution entry level cameras (even in mobile phones). The ZWO ASI1600 and Atik Horizon OSCs recently ceased producton as sensor production dried up. Quite modest astro workhorses like the ASI294mc are 10+ Megapixel. Much then depends on frame rate or rate of capture. Double digit megapixel cameras churn out 48Mb + individual frames. Consider how long it takes to send a A4 page of coloured text to your printer (as that is a circa a 48Mb file). OK, that's more processing than mere saving image data, but you get the idea. I happen to use Hyperstar, so I might be generating one 48Mb frame every two seconds at f/2. If doing Lunar or Planetary frames rate soar. Of course, if you merely capture images on a lesser machine and then post-process later on a faster machine you will have a bit of headroom. However, a recent i5 and 8Gb should be good for your purpose. But try live stacking (EAA style) and you might discover the computing power required is more significant. My 8th generation i5 crawled when attempting live stacking from my 16 Megapixel Atik Horizon. I had to leap to 8i7 and 16Gb RAM to enjoy (near) real time live stacking.
  20. An AMD E-450 processor has a CPU benchmark of merely 417. That is incredibly slow by current standards. I have a 16Mp and a 11Mp camera and they both stuttered with an Intel i5 and 8Gb RAM. I didn't enjoy 'near live' performance until I upgraded to an 8th generation i7 with 16Gb RAM having CPU benchmark near 6,000. More recent processors are 10,000+. Much depends on what you want to do. If prepared to download and post process high resolution frames over many hours you can succeed with minimal computing power. However, I think you are too underpowered for anything close to 'near live' processing activities, given that even 11Mp exceeds 4K UHD resolution.
  21. I often use 2 second exposures on Hyperstar at f/2, so I am not surprised at your 3.2 seconds. Remember at f/2 you are capturing photons 25x faster than at f/10. Hence a 2 second exposure is the equivalent of almost a minute at f/10. I do use live stacking, so 100 frames x 2 seconds will capture a huge amount of data.
  22. There is an easy way in Sharpcap that is so good I can get close to the right gain/exposure without even looking at my DSO object. 1. First focus on any star. Then Goto your target. 2. Next open Smart Histogram in logarithmic mode. 3. Adjust gain until the two upper green bars in Smart Histogram are at their maximum length and square ends are aligned left. 4. Adjust exposure until the steep slope at the left edge of the histogram is a fraction to the right of the left end of the green bars. Now look at your target. You will be within a notch of perfect gain and exposure. Tweak that (and focus) from there. You might need to perform a Sensor Analysis before step (2), but this has already been done in Sharpcap for most popular ZWO cameras. Few people seem to embrace Smart Histogram, yet I find it brilliant. I still don't know my gain from my ISO, but with Smart Histogram it's sorted for me.
  23. I have just had my Celestron 8" SCT serviced by high end carbon fibre OTA manufacturer Orion Optics UK (OOUK) located near Stoke on Trent, which cleaned my mirrors in mild acid, realigned all optics including corrector plate and re-centered secondary mirror, replaced my Phillips screws with Allen bolts, re-collimated and returned my OTA in a better than new condition. I am now convinced that my mass produced and assembled Corrector Plate and secondary mirror had never previously been perfect. The difference this adjustment has made is astoninishing. I used to blame 'poor seeing' for lack of detail in planets. Now I am getting the performance I desire. I had earlier spent £500 on a Hotech Laser Collimator which after using it for collimation led me to question the alignment of my optics but I didn't think there was an easy DIY solution. Cost of the OOUK service was £120, well worth the investment. The scale of charges for different OTAs is listed on their website. The adage, if it ain't broke don't fix it is sensible, but if convinced your optical performance isn't great, this service is worth considering, if your scope is out of warranty.
  24. I think it's down to volumes of sensor production. Outside of long exposure AP and a few limited commercial uses nobody wants mono sensors, so production per unit is more expensive. The terrestrial camera market drives demand for mass production of colour sensors. With your set up, I would suggest an OSC camera such as a ZWO ASI294mc, use short stacked exposures (under 20 seconds) behind a 0.6.3x focal reducer. For EEV, you don't need a cooled camera, or autoguiding. Frankly, I don't notice any difference with my cooled camera if I forget to turn on the cooler. You might need cooling for long exposures, or if in Death Valley, but in Bristol, the benefits are limited. I suggest a ASI294mc as cheaper models such as an ASI224mc have a very narrow FOV. Think of this like eyepieces. The ASI224mc is great for planets, but you need a wider field of view for most DSOs.
  25. That suggests you don't suffer much light pollution Olly. If you lived in a dismal overly illuminated location like so many of us you might find Electronically (camera) Assisted Astronomy to be the only viable way to observe, then AP using live stacking is merely a step away.
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