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About Flinthead

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    Ashdown Forest, East Sussex
  1. Bingo! Well after waiting a week for some clear skies we finally got our chance last night, and we actually managed to focus on venus and guided successfully, also managed to lock onto a bright star and successfully guided on that. Still got a way to go, fine tuning the setting, but feel we are well on the way. Reading Pix's post I suspect that we might have a similar problem with regard to aligning the guide scope with the the main scope, especially with an imaging device on both, but we'll see. Maybe get a chance for another go tonight. Thanks QM again for your help and advice. Flinthead
  2. Hi QM, So it's "nil point" for not setting the mount an scope and testing the whole lot together, doh! We'll try the whole lot the next time we get a bit of clear sky. We watched the video that you posted the link for, and it was useful as it showed that at least we have got the hardware side ok. Now its just the set up. I'm hoping that it's just a matter of focus and settings. In terms of settings I assume you need a combination of high contrast, low brightness, medium saturation and median noise reduction(3x3)? Not sure what to do with the gamma setting. Thanks again, Flinthead.
  3. Hi QM, thanks for the reply, we are using our imaging camera on our SW200 and we are quite pleased with the results although clearly got a lot to learn. Our problem is with guiding. We have our guidecam in our finderscope, just like on your blog, and we have the shoestring interface and ST4 port, that is all hunky dory, but when try to test the guidescope in PHD, we either get loads of noise or of we reduce the noise we get a black screen. Not a sign of a star and the image of the moon we got was just a blob of light. As we are using a similar set of gear and software as lots of others, the problem is clearly in what we are doing. The settings or the focus, or something else we haven't thought about. This might sound a daft question but for testing the guidecam in PHD, does it have to be mounted. Last night we were just holding the guidecam on a prop and pointing at the moon, although the other night it was mounted, and with similar results. Thanks Flinthead
  4. Hi QM, We've been looking at your thread and blog, and have got the gear to start guiding but we're having a few problems and hope you can help. We have set up the Quickcam4000 in the finderscope. Software is PHD, and the interface is GPUSB + ST4. The camera works, and the laptop talks to the mount ok. We've tried adjusting the brightness/contrast/gamma/saturation settings, etc with no luck at getting a useable image. We're currently testing it and have been proping up the finderscope, so obviously wasn't as secure as it would be on a mount. Managed to get a great glowing blob of moon last night, but it's impossible to get detail. We did try it on a mount in trying to find Venus, or brighter stars, but there seemed to be no way of locating them as there's either so much noise, or in reducing the noise, just a dark screen. On positive note, after the advice you gave us previously, we have bought a cheap planetry CCD (Opticstar 130C) and are able to take acceptable images of the moon manually guiding, and feel we are on the way with planets. We'd really appreciate any advice or some pointers as to where we might find it. Thanks Flinthead
  5. Hi QM, thanks for the advice. I've only got one port on the HEQ5, which when I looked at shoestring astronomy seemed to suggest that it was an ST4 port, but have done a bit more research, not so sure. On my mount I have just the one port that my hand controller plugs into, and it is just an up/down ant/dec controller. If it's not an ST4 port it only means a small soldering job which your blog demonstrates really well, plus the webcam/guidescope mod. I'm reasonably happy that I can tackle that at some stage. As far as the imaging goes, I did try it last winter with my Nikon SDLR, had a go at Orion Nebulae. The result was pitiful, but it was just a single frame long exposure. I now know that a Canon SDLR is more suitable and before subs and stacking software was a bit greek to me (actually still is). It's interesting to know that it's worth trying with short subs, although still haven't a clue what darks and flats are. So next step will be to get a webcam and a 2nd hand canon body, and have ago at something easy and play with some stacking software. Also seems as though "make every photon count" comes highly recommended. Sadly the philips spc800 and the logitech 4000 seem to be unavailable, but I'm sure there are plenty of others. Andy
  6. Hi QM, Have been reading your blog with interest, very impressive and clearly enjoying your new scope. Hope you don't mind me asking but I have a similar set-up to your newt, but it is a 250p with an HEQ5, and I would like to mod it for auto guiding, eventually to try some imaging. Do you (or anyone else) know if I can use the some bits and procedures to hook up to my laptop, or do I have to shell out for the Skywatcher Synscan kit and use that for auto guiding. I'm very much a newbie and not very technical. Thanks Andy
  7. Hi Koko, as a newbie myself I cant comment on the relative merits of the scopes you mention, however I was in your position a few months ago, and bought a 200P with an HEQ5 mount. I also had the same idea about goto, that I'd rather learn my way round the skies a bit b4 I upgrade (also quite expensive to go the whole hog straight away). Several months later I van honestly say that I do not regret buying the 200p. I am always pleased with what I see thru the EP. And yes it takes a while, but you do get to learn your way round. its also quite nice to be able to look up and ID constellations and stars without a book or computer. If you dont have a pair already then I would recommend a pair of bins (I use a pair of 10x50), and a skymap, great for just popping out to the garden on a clear night when you dont have time to set up the scope. Also suggest you download Stellarium (free). One thing you might want to think about if you are interested in imaging is the mount. As I understand it you will need a substantial mount, and as they are quite expensive its makes sense to buy a heavy mount at the outset rather than upgrade later. As already stated you will also need to be able to track accurately. Have a look at OTL's website (they import the Skywatcher into the UK). Lots of images taken thru a 200P. As you have already seen they are quite substantial bits of kit, but the tube is light but bulky and if you keep the mount on the tripod is heavy and awkward to carry. Lastly, once you've got your scope start saving, it wont be long b4 the lure of nice shiny accessories becomes irresistable, especially EP's and filters. Lastly, once you get going be patient, many DSO do not jump out of your EP, they may take time to see, depending on conditions LP etc (and you, your eye is also a variable). There are however some easy and impressive sights to see. This is a great forum to be on, loads of really friendly helpful people hang out on here. If you have a question or problem, just ask away. Its highly unlikely that you will the first person with that problem. Also have a look at some of the threads. Most likely any questions you have, will already have been answered. Oh, and by the way, welcome to SGL.
  8. No one mentioned David Bowie yet? How about Life on Mars, Starman, Space Oddity, Ziggy Stardust, sure there's a few more. What about The Radiators From Outer Space (though not very relaxing). I would think almost anything by Tangerine Dream would do it for me these days.
  9. Unfortunately the Beeb seem want to dumb down science (when they do any) to educate the masses (as they also do with news, the arts, history etc), trouble is the masses dont want to be educated they just want more Cowell et al. This leaves the rest of us with puerile science programmes for the most part. Fortunately Patrick doesn't dumb down, but that leaves him on the periphery. Or am I just being cynical?
  10. Spent last night dodging the clouds, got fed up about 10ish and packed up. Within 10 minutes of packing up it was clear! Then 10 minutes later it snowed. Tonight looks possible..............
  11. Flinthead

    At last ...

    Hi Darkly, Yes I've read Astro's post, read quite a few of hers as its interesting to get an idea of possible suitable upgrades from someone who has the same scope and is very experienced. Might try for a bit of viewing tonight as the forecast says clear.... The holiday is on Dartmoor so I think horizontal rain is more likely than sunshine, still we love it there, if we had a bit more room in the car we'd take the scope. Hope you get some decent clear nights where you are.
  12. Hi Crepitis, I'm sure you're right. just a bit wary of upsetting the applecart as they are very good neighbours and have helped us a lot in the couple of years we have been here. we owe them a meal anyway so perhaps mention it when they come round.
  13. perhaps I'll have to drop a subtle hint to start with. They know we've got a telescope and have said for them to pop round and have a look when we're using it. I guess that as we get on really well with them I dont want to risk falling out. If we didnt get on so well I wouldnt worry about that (and I guess that they would probably be less likely to co-operate). Thanks for the suggestions.
  14. Know the feeling with LP. We live in a rural area so no street lights. But rather annoyingly our neighbours leave there outside light on all evening as they dont use their front door. Its amazing how your eyes catch on it, and yes the orange glow is familiar. How do you get them to switch it off but remain friends?
  15. Flinthead

    At last ...

    Hi Darkly, our new toy has arrived and we have managed to use a it couple of times. First target was the Moon, followed by the Pleiades, Orion Nebula and Mars. Second night was more or less similar. The conditions werent great but was very pleased with what we saw. have also bought the revelation kit. Managed to use it the other night for about 10 mins before it clouded over! Still it gave us an indication of what to expect. Decided on the kit when I realised that it would cost about the £1k to buy the eypieces I wanted, so the kit will do and I can save and build up gradually. An UWA might be the first one on the list. Hope you get to use yours when your home. It would interesting to read about your experience as another newbie, with more or less the same kit (except the 38mm!). This week does not look promising (snowing as I write this) and on hols next week so will be a couple of weeks before we use ours again.
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