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About London_David

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  1. London_David

    New direction for me

    Based on the initial post I went out and bought an adapter straight away — “why didn’t I think of that!” I thought. I have an ASI290 mono and a 50mm f1.8 at home. Put the two together with the adaptor and the result is fantastic. I’m in London so the light pollution is terrible but you can point this thing at an apparently empty gap in the clouds (nelm was about 2.5-3) and see loads in full motion video, not even stacking. I didn’t even put it on a tripod, I was just waving it around in the direction of the sky. Unfortunately the weather had not been co-operating at all this year. So this was the only night I had and it was still very cloudy. I’d really like to test it in a wide field target and <10s exposure on my GTI too. I might also try to get my filter wheel working on it to further eliminate the lp. It does start give you a taste of what the f1.9 hyperstar experience is like. Great post shirva!
  2. London_David

    Skywatcher evostar 72 ed

    I switched out the tripod for a manfrotto 055 I had. I was able to get my SW 150pds on it for some quick EEA of some galaxies one night. Yes it was not exactly rock solid, but it took 4 minutes to set up rather than 30 with my heavier EQ Mount. Just don’t walk close to it or use it in the wind... More practically I use my WO 71 GT on the AZ GTI with a Neewer CF tripod as a travel scope and I love it.
  3. London_David

    Total newbie to VA/EAA

    Just read this on the camera forum comparing the Atik Horizon and ZWO 1600pro — cameras that use the same sensor: If you are tempted by the specific specs of the Horizon, it seems like the Horizon performs virtually identically to the asi1600pro — the extra ~£260 you are paying for is the Infinity software instead of SharpCap.
  4. London_David

    Total newbie to VA/EAA

    I agree with the advice above, especially to try the software which is free. In va you spend a lot of time working with it so if you don’t like it, that’s an issue. For me, a good va experience is about speed; observing rather than gathering data and post processing. Ideally you want f5 or less on the scopes and you have a 905mm @ f7 and 500mm @ f6 which means longer exposures and slower live experience which introduces your mount issues. However, they’re certainly both usable for va. You just may find it trickier and less enjoyable. However, a bit does depend on what you want to see. I’d use that as a first way to narrow down your options. If you want to see wide fields of nebula, that’s a different setup to galaxies. A small chip camera and 750mm scope will be fine for galaxies, but maybe less exciting for extended nebula. Large chip camera might make all the difference. If you haven’t already I It’s worth looking at astronomy.tools to see what you might get see in camera/scope combinations. You should be able to do fine on the iOptron mount you have for va if you have a sensitive camera that can do short exposures and stack. I also recommend SharpCap for this. You should be able to test it with your asi120. If you’re really interested however, I’d come at it from a slightly different angle, especially if you like trying different equipment and your budget seems to be ~£2000. Have you thought about keeping the mount the same and adding a fast newtonian to your collection? You could get an 8” 800mm @ f4 Quattro for ~£425. I like the ~800mm focal length for what you can see with it in va. If you have a fast scope you won’t need to guide either, because you can keep exposures shorter and stack for much the same result . There are lots of good cameras out at the moment and more coming out all the time. The atik looks good, especially with the software, but for me the current leaders are the asi290 for mono (~300) and the asi385 (~300) and asi294pro (~800) for colour, you would use SharpCap with those. In terms of tech, you’ll get more bang for your buck with the ZWO cameras. Based on sensor specs and other cameras that use the same sensor (I’ve not used the atik) the will 294 perform better than then atik for va. I don’t know though, just comparing on specs and what you read on the forums can be dangerous. Either way, I have a hard time believing that it’s worth twice the price when you get the same basic hardware as in the asi1600. After looking for myself, I bought the 294Pro. However, the atik software is meant to really great for va, and that may sway you, since as I said the experience is all about the software. That did make it tempting, but the cost increase is big. What would I do? I’d buy an 8” Quattro and a 294pro and use your existing iOptron mount, that would be an great va setup for £1200 — less than the atik horizon alone. And it would give you totally new kit to try out.
  5. London_David

    SkyWatcher Synscan WiFi Adapter

    I have a GTI AZ Mount and use iOS. I’m sure it’s the same hardware as in the Wi-Fi adaptor. I really love the GTI mount. The two device thing is irritating but it’s not too bad. I’ve been surprised at how good the app is actually. It’s quite basic looking but it works quite well.
  6. London_David

    EAA over WiFi - Hypercam 183c Or SX Ultrastar C

    It’s true — watt hours would be a more helpful comparison than mAh. Having said that, in terms of what I get out of the battery, the 23000mAh PowerAdd runs my eq3-2 pro plus a 5ghz Wi-Fi hub all night (6-8 hours maybe I’ve never actually timed it) and has enough left for a shorter second session. I have a second one that I use for powering the cooling on the ASI294Pro and similarly it will run it all night, plus spare for a second session. I’ve never actually done a proper timing or Power test — my assessment on the batteries was very much “does this last all night with time to spare”. Sometimes I’m lazy and don’t actually charge these ones between sessions, dangerous as that is...
  7. London_David

    EAA over WiFi - Hypercam 183c Or SX Ultrastar C

    I did an exhaustive search for batteries and in addition to the MaxOak there are two Poweradd batteries that looked appropriate power sources for a wireless rig: Poweradd Pilot Pro2 23000mAh Multi-Voltage (9V 12V 16V 19V 20V) Portable Charger https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B013HXKZYW/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_cPhwAb4XVNV2X That was the one I bought because it’s smaller and flatter and easier to travel with. It is light enough to velcro to the tripod leg. However, if you just want power the Poweradd Charge Center which is 50,000mAh is a good design. Unfortunately amazon seems to have stopped stocking it. But it has great connectivity and features.
  8. London_David

    EAA over WiFi - Hypercam 183c Or SX Ultrastar C

    I’d definitely second Martin about guiding and EEA, with short exposures I’ve found no need. Also, jumping ahead, in the new SharpCap there is a feature tracking tool which can reduce drift in between exposures - essentially guiding using the exposure itself. I was looking for a very similar EEA set up to what describe, though I had slightly different priorities with the OTA and mount. I did a write up of my set up here (it’s also worth reading the thread on how I got to what I bought, Martin and others were extremely helpful with detail): Also, over on Cloudy Nights there is a long thread called “Compute Stick: I think I’m in EEA heaven” or something similar that I found extremely helpful. I’m fully wireless including on power. I mostly get two observing sessions out of the batteries that drive everything. Though as a force of habit I mostly charge everything each night anyway. Personaly, I would look at the ASI294Pro or the ASI385 for a colour camera. The ASI294Pro is really great, it’s very sensitive with a wide dynamic range — and I’ve been super happy with mine — though since it’s a 4/3 size essentially, I’m not sure how it’ll work with your sct. You’d need to take a look at how it fills the sensor — especially since you’ll want to use a reducer. The TSOptics 0.5 worked pretty well for me on a Meade SCT. But you need to check scope, reducer and sensor size. I use ShaprCap and really like it. The 3.1 beta has lots of great features — plate solving mount control being by far the best. I can’t give you a comparison to any other software unfortunately. But I can say that the developer Robin answers emails personally and responds in the forums. He’s made changes to the software based on some feature requests and other conversations about stuff which is amazing. Some notes on my setup. Since that post I also bought a asi294Pro and I do now have an extra battery for its cooling system (though I sometimes am lazy and use it uncooled). I’m also doubly happy I bought the Core m3 Compute Stick rather than the atom since ive had no number crunching issues with it, even with the big sensor on the 294. There are reports that the less powerful sticks struggle with big sensors. I think the m3 is relatively safe, though it is definitely more expensive. Having had previous experiences with underpowered computers I was happy to assign budget to the brain of the system since that is what you interact with most. I know you said you had an iPad Air, which is what I started with too... but then I started using an iPad Pro with the Pencil and it’s fantastic. I hate going back to my iPad Air (the pro is on loan from work). Since I rdp to the Compute Stick the stylus makes all the difference when your trying to do simple stuff like resize a window or pick a specific point on the histogram. An apple pencil makes the experience like using a surface pro but on prettier hardware... All the electronics and my two cameras pack into a very small bag. About 20 x 30 x 10 cm? It also carries a Bahtinov mask and some other odds and ends.
  9. London_David

    Entry level DSO ccd recommendations?

    A lot depends on what you want to see and do. As you say, your setup is not the right mount for astrophotography. With an alt/az mount you are closed off from long exposure photography. However, new low noise sensors and stacking get around some of that. You should get up to 30 second exposure okay on your mount. You just need a sensitive low noise camera. The wedge and guide cam can also help with that, but then that’s expensive equipment when you only are leaving 300 for the camera — if you want to buy the new camera. The wedge and guider will help with the dslr imaging. I’d be thinking the other way around. What do you want to image with your upgrades. figuring out the right camera for that, then worrying about what else you need to get the best out of it. You can also practice easier things with the right camera while saving up for the other stuff. First, I’d go to http://astronomy.tools and use the field of view calculator to see what kind of things you can image with a new camera and your DSLR for reference. You can pick various objects to get a sense of what you might see with your combination Your scope is 1500mm @ f/10, that’s pretty slow for everything except planets. I’d look at a focal reducer or even a hyperstar to get your speed up. Since your just starting I’d look at a ts optics 0.5 reducer for about £50 which will get you to f5. So I suggest putting in your scope and a focal reducer into astronomy.tools and playing around. But what camera? As mentioned it’s worth checking out if you’re interested in mono and filters or colour. Also, what is the reason for upgrading... I know you say take it to the next level but that can mean many things! From my experience I really like the zwo cameras. They’re very good value and have the latest tech. In the lower cost budget range with your scope I think the ASI224, ASI385, and ASI294Pro are the best colour cameras around right now, and the ASI290 is the best mono. The 224 is a small sensor, the 385 is a bit bigger and the 294Pro bigger still - getting similar in size to a dslr (its pretty much a micro 4/3 size). The 294Pro is cooled and is really great. It has a very low noise, meaning the sensor doesn’t create a false signal, it has very high sensitivity meaning that if a photon hits the sensor it will detect it, and has an extremely high full well capacity meaning that it has a high dynamic range. It’s also cooled so the noise is lowered even further. I’d strongly recommend that camera even if it is outside your budget, it’s the best bang for buck around right now. Especially if you are used to a dslr it will really feel like a upgrade. The only thing I wonder about the 294is if the nexstar 6 can fill the sensor without vignetting. However, if you’ve been having no problems on a dslr (I assume it’s an aps-c) the 290pro should be fine, though — you’d have to check for this. Going back to sensor specs and how to read them — The key specs to look at in a camera are read noise, qe and full well capacity. Read noise is a measure of how clean the signal is from the sensor, so if it is 1e then on average 1 electron gets fired off as a false signal per unit of reference. Qe is a measure of how sensitive the sensor is to photons that hit it, eg. If qe is 80%, 80% of photons that hit the sensor create a signal. Full Well Capacity is how much dynamic range there is before the sensor overexposed. You want the biggest full well capacity, the highest qe, and the lowest read noise. But also remember never to just trust specs when you’re buying! I fear that if you’re happy with your dslr you may find most £300 astronomy cameras a little disappointing. At that price point the one thing they have is higher sensitivity than a dslr but at the expense of a smaller sensor. They are however, far more sensitive than your dslr (unless you have a Sony a7r then nothing will impress you in this price bracket). The 224 and the 385 are similar in performance. Using short exposures and stacking even on your altaz you will be able to see galaxies and other dso’s. The 290 is more sensitive but again it’s a small sensor and mono. Search Flickr and astrobin for these cameras an you will see the kinds of thing you can get. There are other manufactures than ZWO with some great cameras, and other things that might make you purchase - atik has great software, as does Starlight xpress. But ZWO currently seems to be in front on camera tech and SharpCap is great software to use too. So the quick answer to your question is, for £300, I’d buy an ASI224 and a focal reducer, but while you’ll see an improvement in how deep you can see, and the ease of use and speed of seeing it, you may be disappointed with the actual images. With a little more money the focal reducer and the 385 for a bit more field of view. However, I’d suggest the asi294pro is where you’ll really notice a big upgrade from a dslr all round, and if you can put together the money, I’d wait to buy that.
  10. London_David

    Subs - Quantity vs duration

    Not a full answer, but you may be interested to know that the new SharpCap 3.1 Beta can do a sensor analys, determine noise levels for your camera and give you graph of suggested optimum subs and exposure information. http://www.sharpcap.co.uk/sharpcap/news/whatsnewinsharpcap31
  11. London_David

    Zwo recommendation

    The ASI224 is actually excellent for DSO EEA since it is one of the most sensitive colour cameras you can get, allowing you to stack short exposures. Of course, angle of view does depend on your scope, so it is a great idea to check out what you will see on astronomy.tools as suggested. You could get a TSOptics 0.5 focal reducer for £50 and get down to about f/6 @750mm on your skymax which would be great for galaxies. I just gave someone exactly that as a gift this Christmas (for an 8” sct 2000mm @f/11, going to 1000mm @ f5.5 ish) and it we had it working a treat. If you’re interested, over on Cloudy Nights EEA forum there is a lot of great examples taken with the asi224 on short exposures. There is a guy there called AstroJedi who posts a lot with the asi224, you can just search the forum for the camera. Here is his asi224 flicker stream: https://www.flickr.com/photos/147842817@N06/albums/72157674749494795 I wouldn’t worry about an IR filter too much. For some dso (galaxies) it’s better without. If you feel the need it’s an easy accesory later. If you don’t have a lot of experience, I suspect you’ll not know the difference. If you’re interested in planetary then you definitely want to go for the usb3. You can get away with low frame rates on dso but planets are bright and the faster frame rate allows you to shorten exposure to get luckier with fractions of a second of good seeing. The short version is that usb3 can allow you to have crisper views on nights of poor seeing. If I was looking to buy a colour camera in your budget range I would only be looking at the asi224 or the new asi385. The 385 is very similar to the 224, only with a large chip — making it more expensive. So to answer your specific questions... Yes Yes - the 224 will make your life a bit easier. You can image everything and with out an ir filter. Some people even spend lots of money removing the IR filter from their dslr to make it better for use in astronomy! With a filter on certain objects will have a little more detail. In a good IR filter you want clear transmission on every other wavelength except IR. most filters are shown with a graph of transmission lines. You want a high mark on the ir wavelengths and zero on all others. The Baader brand of filters are good quality and not too expensive. The even cheaper ZWO ones are probably fine too. You can get fancy Japanese made filters for more than the cost of the camera too, but as I said... if you’re new to this I’d be surprised if you can tell the difference. I wouldn’t bother or worry about it until you know exactly why you think you need one. Look at the ASI385 since it will give you a bit of a wider view with the same level of detail but the actual sensing performance should be very similar. If your hard Budget cap is 250 go for the ASI224 — it’s is a great little camera!
  12. London_David

    Intel compute stick on mount...

    I was inspired by that thread on CN to go for the compute Stick and I’ve been very happy I have the Core m3 Stick that I use with an ASI290 and and ASI293 Pro and it’s been great. I live stack with SharpCap and on the 290 it’s very quick, on the 294Pro it’s fine though you notice the fact it’s crunching bigger files. The exact model is Intel Compute Stick STK2m3W64CC. It’s has a Core m3-6Y30, 4 GB RAM, 64 GB eMMC, Intel HD Graphics 515. I bought the one with more power because I have had horrible experiences with underpowered PCs before. One thing I found though is that the m3 is flaky with power. To control the mount and the camera over USB you need a powered usb hub. This is fine since I power the hub and compute stick from a lithium ion battery with IQ charging to give me a high enough voltage. It’s a great compact form factor.
  13. London_David

    Which cam

    Just to complicate things slightly. ZWO has realeased the asi385 very recently. You can buy it direct from their website. This has very similar specs to the 224 but marginally better and about $150 more expensive. The main advantages are a slightly larger sensor and slightly lower read noise. I haven’t seen anything about the 385 and don’t own one — but there is a thread on cn about it. Thought I’d point it out in case you suddenly realise you’ve not seen all the options. However, from what you’ve been saying I suspect the asi224 colour is your best camera pick. I love my 290 but unless you’re really into mono before you buy I suspect you’ll want colour. The 290 mono is better and more flexible and will give you more detail but... there is something quite fun about just seeing a colour image appear, especially if this is your first camera. Between the 385 and the 224 I’d say it just depends on your budget — they’ll both be good.
  14. London_David

    Which cam

    Personally I’d recommend the the ASI224 colour too. It’s the best bang for your buck in terms of sensitivity at the moment, so you can use shorter exposures and stack rather than having to worry about your mount so much (though a motorised tracking mount of some sort alt az or eq is still pretty essential). You can also use it on planets as a video camera into which will give you a live feed off the sensor.
  15. London_David

    How do we define Video Astronomy

    I agree with much of the above -- And I think the distinction is only useful in helping people find the right board to post on. So, the true definition is simply whatever the moderators say it is in the posting rules! However, if I was pushed to come up with one myself then I'd also suggest that it is entirely about intention. I'd also conflate EEA and Video -- since the word video relates to a technology of moving pictures, which is the same technology used in any cameras. All cameras are essentially video cameras now. So I'd say astrophotography is about aiming to create a beautiful or interesting image that, like any other photograph, has aesthetic or communicative value, and it is probably for made for an audience (even if that audience is only the photographer himself, at a later date). EEA and Video Astronomy is about the act of observing, whether that be in the moments at the scope with live stacking or, I would suggest digging into photographic data at a later point in time. How can you exclude from "electronically assisted astronomy" or "video astronomy" a scientist who is looking at images from a video camera sensor trying to determine the chemical make up of a star. However, it seems clear to me that this is not a suitable fit for "astrophotography". The image itself is not the value, but the information it contains. I don't think you can ever draw a clear and satisfying definition using technology or exposure times because they will always change, and the image will never really tell you what the technology was. And either way, does it matter how something was created if it looks exactly the same to the pixel? There is nothing inherent in an image that you can look at and see is the essence of astrophotography or video observing. Any image will resist classification outside a context. So, as a definition: In astrophotography you are primarily interested the aesthetics of the image. In EEA or Video Astronomy you are primarily interested the meaning of the image. It is true that under my definition some images may start as an EEA/video observation then become astrophotography.Or indeed, two people could look at the same image at the same time and one person is engaged in astrophotography while the other is engaged in EEA. It is the use of the image in the context of the moment you are asking the question that matters. But I think the main thing is that "EEA" "Video" and "astrophotography" have a vague but specific enough catch for people to just about know what it is -- so they can find the right place to talk about things without too many confusing posts from different interests clogging up the board...

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