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Geoff Lister

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About Geoff Lister

  • Rank
    Proto Star

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Interests
    Railways (full-size and model), radio-controlled model boats, and astronomy
  • Location
    North Somerset, UK
  1. Geoff Lister

    SynScan Version 3

    It is possible that an internal connector to the control board or motor/encoder assemblies has come adrift. What mount do you have? My Skymax Mak. tripod mount and my Skyliner Dob. base have very different electronics. What power supply are you using? Too high a voltage can cause components to fail, and too low a voltage often causes problems when slewing, including returning to "Park" Geoff
  2. I have a "Virtuoso" app on my tablet. This enables my Skywatcher Virtuoso 90 mount to be controlled using the tablet's Bluetooth interface, and a relatively simple, and cheap, home-built, Bluetooth serial dongle plugged into the (Synscan) handset socket. Recently, Skywatcher produced a WiFi dongle, at over 4 times the cost of the Bluetooth equivalent, together with a "Synscan" app that does not recognise Bluetooth. The "Virtuoso" app was then withdrawn from the Google Play Store, and I cannot locate a legitimate means of continuing to use the Bluetooth control when my tablet reaches the end of its useful life. I have been a customer of some very professional test labs, running early (W 98) versions of Windows on their test equipment control computers, because they could not get hold of plug-in ISA card drivers that would work on NT underpinnings (2000, XP, Vista, W 7, etc.). The test data was then transferred to more modern PCs to produce the regulatory reports. One of the main reasons that Concorde flights ceased was because spares for the electronic components used in the avionics were unobtainable, and the cost of re-design and airworthiness qualification with modern replacements could not be justified commercially. My slide rule does not require updates, as long as I accept that 4 x 5 = (roughly) 19.98 Geoff
  3. I have found that my Skymax 127 with Synscan's tracking (in its Az/Alt mode) is fine for 8-second D3200 stills, webcam videos of Moon, Jupiter & Saturn, and with my GP-CAM using SharpCap's live stacking on my laptop, is fine for the likes of M57. Geoff
  4. Geoff Lister

    SynScan Version 3

    Is the problem with the mount's electronics, or the handset-to-mount cable? It is possible to get this sort of fault message if the cable became trapped and damaged in the mount as it slewed to the park position. My Skymax's cable is relatively short, and is prone to cord-wrap if the slew to park is close to 360 degrees azimuth. It is also worth checking that all of the mount/cable/handset contacts are clean. If I have any problems with either of my Synscan setups, it is usually due to a poor contact, often the plug not fully home in the socket. Geoff
  5. Geoff Lister

    Is aperture king?

    My 250PX 10" Dob. is a 2-part carry from my garage to my patio. All of my other setups are portable, and, unlike the 250PX, will fit in my Mazda MX5 roadster. If the seeing conditions are good, I use the 250PX, but most of the time I use the Skymax with the 127mm Mak., and capture roughly a quarter of the available photons. Geoff
  6. +1 for the Heritage 130P. You will see from my signature that I have several setups, but it is the Heritage that I use if I want to start observing quickly. Geoff
  7. The AZ-GTI is the newer design, with the releasable clutches for the 2 axes, so can be used in manual mode, or if powered, pointed manually and still know where it is pointing. It is designed to be controlled by a companion app., running on a smartphone or tablet. It can also be controlled by an optional Synscan handset (£145 + £21 for the interface cable). The Synscan mount is the earlier design, with fixed clutches, so requiring power to make any movement, and is controlled with the handset. I have not found this to be a serious restriction in normal operation. I have 2 of the Synscan systems (UK & France), and 2 Celestron setups, with essentially the same mechanicals but different controls. (1) The Skyprodigy has a built-in Starsense camera, so, once it is properly dark, it can self-align. This works well most of the time, but I can do a Synscan "Brightest Star" alignment roughly 45 minutes earlier at dusk. (2) The Cosmos 90GT WiFi (can be used with an optional [non Synscan compatible] handset), uses another companion app. on a smartphone or tablet. I use my Samsung tablet, but have found the whole setup difficult to use. Perhaps the AZ-GTI is more user-friendly. I found it difficult to locate and use the tablet screen's virtual up/down/left/right buttons, whilst looking through the eyepiece. I prefer the tactile feedback of "real" buttons. I also found, on a couple of occasions, that the WiFi link would drop out, the tablet would re-connect to my home WiFi hub; and the mount would slew at full speed, requiring me to cut power to avoid damage (I subsequently added a power switch to the mount). I do most of my observing from my back patio, so I generally use a plug-top 12V 2A supply. For portable operation, I tend to use a series pair of 6V 2600mAh NiMH battery packs borrowed from my radio-controlled model boats. These have plenty of spare capacity after an evening's observing. The Skymax system comes with a holder for 8-off AA alkaline cells (an expensive power option), similar to the 10-cell holder that I made for the lower-voltage NiMH cells (bottom right). The batteries fit in the little satchel (shown behind batteries, bottom left) supplied with the mount, and I added a stick-on plastic hook to the mount so that the satchel hangs off the mount, moving with it and avoiding cord-wrap. The heavy-duty white bell flex added to the mains PSU's output lead shows up well in the dark, so reducing the trip hazard. Geoff
  8. Geoff Lister

    Focuser Upgrade

    With my 10" truss Dob., I went for the Lacerta dual-speed upgrade kit. It certainly works well, and is cheaper than replacing the complete focuser assembly. https://www.365astronomy.com/Lacerta-Dual-Speed-1-10-Microfocus-Upgrade-Kit-for-Skywatcher-Crayford-Focusers.html Geoff
  9. Each setup has slightly different visual characteristics, and requirements for alignment and power; but for at least 75% of my sessions, I use the 127mm Mak on the Skymax mount with Synscan GoTo.
  10. This is my selection of interchangeable OTAs and mounts. Some have limitations near the zenith. Geoff
  11. Geoff Lister

    Viewing Jupiter with a 10 inch dobsonian.

    With Jupiter and Saturn, I found that the 8-24mm zoom lens enabled me to adjust the magnification to obtain the best magnification/image clarity compromise. With my 10" Dob., this summer, it tended to be in the x100 to x130 range. Geoff
  12. This is what I use. I use an infra-red mini zapper to take a series of stills. This avoids the mount vibration that would occur if you pressed the normal shutter release button. I then transfer the stills to my PC and use the "Registax" stacking software to generate a final image. Geoff
  13. I have used mine for viewing the main planets (super for the Moon, Venus, Jupiter & Saturn; Uranus is a definite blue-green sphere, and Neptune looks like a wide star). The Mak design has the focal range to take almost any camera, so a modified webcam is fine for the planets out to Saturn. The aperture is fine for most of the Messier objects, given clear skies and low light pollution. My Nikon D3200 and GP-CAM work well on the Az/Alt mount with exposures of up to 15 seconds. This is an idea of the setup with the Philips SPC 900 webcam, replacing the eyepiece, feeding an adjacent laptop. The red wine is optional . Geoff
  14. I liked my Skymax 127 with Synscan so much that I bought a second one to take to my holiday home in France. The 127mm Mak. is built like the proverbial brick outhouse, and neither of mine have needed any collimation adjustment. I have a 10" collapsible Dob, and there is no way that it will fit in my Mazda MX5 roadster - no problem with the Skymax setup. This is my transportable configuration With 2 sets of batteries, and a couple of eyepieces, the whole lot weighs under 11kg. Geoff
  15. I believe that there are 2 standards of Synscan V3. One for Az/Alt mounts, and one for EQ mounts. I assume that yours is programmed for EQ mounts. I have used my Az/Alt V3 handsets from my Skymax 127 and Skyliner 250PX with my Virtuoso 90 mount without any problems. Geoff

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