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London_David

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About London_David

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  1. If you have a look in the EEA forums here and on cloudy nights you can find some great examples of DSO imagery using the mono ASI290 which is relatively inexpensive, ultra low noise and very sensitive. As someone mentioned above you can shoot lots of short subs and get some amazing results. With CMOS you don't need to rely on longer subs so much -- if your interested check this post out: It's a slightly different thing to typical CCD photography but definitely something to consider. I have one and really like it. It's a good option particularly on a budget. Check these out: https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/567930-m87-relativistic-jet-and-other-galaxies-using-short-exposures/ https://www.flickr.com/photos/abbeyroadobservatory/sets/72157668589828735/with/26830497230/ Also, the Atik infinity and ASI1600 are worth checking out in your price range but I have no personal experience with them. There are some great videos on YouTube reviewing them, and images in astrobin.
  2. Paul -- full details on my setup here: https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/287811-equipment-suggestions-for-live-viewing/?do=findComment&comment=3207127 No pictures I'm afraid, I've meant to post some but haven't got round to it, since I've not had many good nights for it. The stick has been fiddly to get running, mainly because I couldn't get a game pad that worked reliably. I'm now using the official Microsoft One controller with the dongle, which gives the thing very good range. If your Windows literate it should be a problem to set up, just a bit of trial and error for your exact setup. With Apple, I don't think it's any artificial barriers to be honest. Apple does that in some cases and it is annoying, but in this case I think it's more likely to be a simple lack of demand. We have quite specific niche demands, iOS devices are also designed to fit a specific design aim of being wireless and portable. Cameras and mount control mainly need wires. That's makes the issue Apple then and more Celestron, ZWO, QHC or Starlight Xpress. They would need to build wifi connectivity in. Celestron has built the Evolution with wifi so you can run it from your phone or iPad native though SS5. Or the Sony Alpha cameras can send a live view to their iOS app. Actually, I've just thought, you could set up an A7s with a Celestron Evo Mount and do EEA using live view on the A7s streamed to the iOS Sony app and control the mount using SS5 and the Evo. That could be a pretty cool setup! No live stacking, but simple and fully iOS...
  3. It may not be what your looking for but my EEA setup is entirely wirelessly operated through my iPad: I use iOS Sky Safari 5 for goto control and an ZWO ASI 290 camera into SharpCap for EEA acquisition. I have a wireless game pad for manual mount control. However -- and this is where it may not suit you -- for me to be able to run everything through my iPad, I use a tiny compute stick attatched to the mount that I Remote Desktop over wifi ito. I have a few wires around the mount but everything is easy to keep neat . SS5 is native on iOS is fantastic for goto control. Windows 10 is designed to work with touch and the SharpCap controls for the most part are fine with touch too (best with an Apple Pencil if you have one). SharpCap 3.0 is just out and is really good. I got the idea from AstroJedi on CloudyNights and robrj here. AstroJedi started a long thread on cloudy nights about this kind of set up called "I think Im in EEA Heaven." I am basically doing what he's doing. Worth checking out the threads for inspiration.
  4. Finally a clear night! Unfortunately, we’re also into astronomical twilight time in London so it never actually gets that dark now. I was also too late in setting up to attempt my highly optimistic goal of imaging the relativistic jet in Virgo A from a bad location: a bathroom window in zone 2 London that gives about an 18 degree view over some houses, street lights and the rest of London. You work with what you’ve got. This post should give a sense of what's achievable without any experience (at least only the experience described in this thread) in a terrible location with this rig. Also, everything here is without darks or flats or any calibration images. These all direct screenshots off the iPad Pro RDP into the Compute Stick. The exception is the M5 image that I mention and the inverted the NGC 5248 image, which I cropped and inverted in Photoshop when processing these down to web uplaodable images. First I set up and got in a quick look at Jupiter just to make sure everything was working, I also use Jupiter for polar alignment and achieving focus with the Bahtnov mask. The other evening when it was too cloudy for DSOs, I attached the ASI290 to the Hyperion eyepiece and got a great full screen video of Jupiter. Now when I see it without the Hyperion I think it looks tiny! I went over to Virgo A, but unfortunately I realised that the mount had gone too far round and the scope was now pointing into the wall, not out the window, so the relativistic jet will have to wait. In fact, really the only Virgo galaxy I could get aim at was NGC 5248 (Caldwell 45) an 10.97 apparent magnitude galaxy between 40-75 million light years away in the Virgo Supercluster, most estimates put it at 50 something million. Unfortunately you can’t see a lot of detail in the structure. It’s a little clearer on the inverse. This was the first galaxy I’ve imaged so I’m hopeful that with better conditions I can see crisper structural detail. That I can see anything that’s maybe 75 million light years away out my bathroom window I was pretty pleased with. There's definitely some odd noise in there. Note the multiple right angled jumps. I'm not sure what those are -- it looks to me like some kind of mechanical tracking error. Also, there is definitely a top left to bottom right patter to the image, which suggests that I wasn't totally aligned correctly or something. I did knock the mount at one point and had to re-align. So that might have something to do with it. Since everything was up and going, I bounced around and caught a glimpse of the Box Nebula NGC 6309. No picture though — it was a small overexposed square blotch and was not that exciting. I didn’t spend much time on it since I figured it would be very tricky to get any detail. Eventually, some globular clusters came into view. First up was M5: On the ASI290 you barely even need to stack to get some pretty cool images. I played around with exposure settings, to see if I could get good images stacked from very short exposures (half a second or less) and picking the best ones. I stacked these in post, rather than live viewing because I’m still not quite sure about all the features on SharpCap. Post-stacking helped, but not worth the hassle really, I’m just thrilled to be able to find and see this stuff. Post process stacked: Then M10. I tried here on the ultra short exposure run, with the gain too high really. Only a stack of two in this image — the image did improve on further stacking better but I didn’t take a screenshot. and M12, here I was playing around with the FWHM filter to see if I could get some lucky clear shots through the atmosphere with the 1/2 second stacking: Something I learned last night (I'm sure this is not news to most people...) from reading the info on Sky Safari is that all globular clusters actually orbit in the galactic halo -- above the plane of our galaxy and not inside it. There is a diagram here: https://www.britannica.com/topic/globular-cluster So that’s the first proper run through I’ve had with everything working as it should on a clear night. No galaxies here to compare with other posts in this forum, but looking forward to exploring more with this now it’s all working properly.
  5. I've had some gamepad issues myself mostly I've found that they're Windows problems rather than EQMod. Check with windows os game controllers monitor that your Xbox controller is actually feeding through button presses etc, then make sure eqmod is seeing them using the eqmod gamepad monitor. Then make sure the gamepad support enable checkbox is ticked. Some gamepad dpads signal eqmod as the joystick. It looks to me from that the gamepad isn't feeding to eqmod. I may be wrong. Try not worrying about the joystick and assigning a button. Does it assign? If not it's not feeding the info through. If it does try clicking the start calibration for the joystick. That is when the program figures out what signals the joystick sends. Also -- sometimes they're flaky for no apparent reason, so I often try a restart of the software, and then the machine if that doesn't help. Personally on a 360 controller I prefer the D-pad for mount control so I turn off the joystick and I don't have to worry about the calibration. I just adding the POV buttons to the slew movement (the N S E W bit in the left column of your screen grab).
  6. I have a Hyperion and attach an ASI290 to it using the Baader Varilock extension tube. This is different from the fine tuning tubes. I've been really pleased with the images I get from it. I don't know exactly about a DSLR since the backfocus will be different. I have the extension tube set to 45mm. You'll need to calculate the distance from the eyepiece you need to get focus and figure it out from there. It should work, since you're doing much the same as me, just with a different camera. I suspect you may get fringing depending on your sensor size and eyepiece size.
  7. There are quite a few great apps, my two favourites are Sky Safari 5 and Exoplanet. Exoplanet isn't a planetarium but it does let you explore the universe which is cool. There are a couple of posts on Cloudy Nights that have a run down on a few of these: https://www.cloudynights.com/articles/cat/user-reviews/phonetablet-apps-and-the-practical-astronomer-r2925 https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/567148-best-stargazing-phone-apps-for-iphone/ I really like using Sky Safari 5 on iPad to explore around. With a dob I would think it would be a perfect companion for a push to setup. I did attempt to mount my iPhone on the telescope with a laser pointer attatchememt in place of a red dot finder but I found it more hassle than it was worth because you can't really use the touchscreen very well without wrecking alignment. The novelty wore off quickly and I bought a Telrad. I'm a heavy light pollution area (Zone 2 London) so I mainly do eea and I can only find stuff like galaxies or globular clusters with a motorised goto. SS5 controlling the mount with my iPad is a great wireless replacement for the handset, but not the motorised goto system itself. Most things I want to see are are just too small and dim to find without assistance. One great thing on SS5 are the reticule hud options. You can overlay the exact field of view you will see through your scope, so you will know I exactly the patterns to look for at the right relative size for your magnification. You can also easily adjust the star magnitude shown, to account for seeing or the power of your scope. It is really excellent for navigating around and makes it fun and easy to explore. I often make a plan to see a few key things using the observation list and it will highlight them on screen. Then it encourages you to make detours to interesting hard to see stuff because it shows you the things on screen. It will kill your night vision unless you switch the red light function, but I don't since I like colour and I'm imaging anyway. Even with night vision I'd never see anything other than Jupiter because of light pollution. I don't use the (expensive) official hardware to connect, instead I use the free WiFiScope app which runs on the pc I use for imaging. It's super simple, fire it up, press Listen on the app, and Connect on the iPad. You're good to go, with full wireless goto mount control from the iPad (and celestron audio commentary too). If you like using your tablet or phone to navigate, I think you'd get a lot out of Sky Safari 5 - it's a great tool. It's the best app for me by a long way in terms of depth and ease of use. You may find you prefer others, some look nicer, some have different options, but overall SS5 I think wins for most people. Red Shift, Night Sky, Sky guide, Luminos, GoSkyWatch are the other planetarium apps I'd check out. Also, ScopeNights and Exoplanet.
  8. Another follow up on this equipment. A problem this time. This was on the EQ3 Pro. But I found a solution, so I thought I'd add it here. I'm quite fond of how portable and quick the EQ3 Pro mount is to set up, I've seen many people talk it down because it's not heavy and sturdy. But I really don't mind that it's light (and therefore a bit wobbly) since that makes it portable, and I'm doing everything wirelessly so it can settle itself quite happily. It might be different if I were moving things manually, or had a DSLR with a physical shutter or something to make it wobble on an exposure. I'm happy to stand a meter away (or in a warm room) and control everything from a small distance. Even when I do look visually on the 8mm eyepiece I just don't touch the telescope and it's fine. Anyway, I thought it was properly broken last night. The problem with the EQ3 mount was that it stopped tracking in RA on the first clear night we'd had in ages. Typical! I haven't found much in detail on the internet (except a few people who have taken the whole thing apart for a tune up and I didn't want to do that). Nor is there much in the manual. I could hear the motor spin, but the mount wouldn't move. I thought there was something strange when a few GoTo slew's I did were way off. Properly aligned they're usually off by less than 1/2 a degree or so. I didn't know what had caused the RA motor to stop moving the mount, so I was concerned the whole thing might have to be sent back. What I discovered was that the motor cog wheel had disengaged from the mount cog wheel. I thought this might be serious at first, but I took a chance and opened the thing up and it's a simple mechanical fix. First, remove the black casing on the EQ3 drive box. There are 2 small black Phillips screws that hold this in place. This will reveal the cog drive system and some wires. Be careful not to pull the wires too much. They're not going to be super fragile, but you don't want to strain them. I taped the box to the side of the mount with masking tape since you don't want to disconnect the drive, but want it out of your way to work. Loosen off the bolt below with an Alan key. This will allow the cog drive system to move along the mount, closer and further away from the cog wheel that moves the actual mount itself. Move the drive box closer to the cog until you can turn the other side with your hand and it moves the motor cogs. I spoke to a couple of people and read around -- closer and tighter may seem to give you less backlash, but it risks damaging the mount and seizing everything up. The correct amount of give is the turn test. Backlash is inherent to this mount and drive. It is a trade off for being light and portable after all! Once it's back working and engaged at the correct distance do the reverse: tighten the Alan key as tight as you can, put the black box cover on, put back the little screws, don't over tighten those. All in all it took about 10 minutes (after several hours of internet searching to see what might be wrong).
  9. Thanks Martin. As soon as I get something decent I'll post it as an example. Annoyingly there's been no clear nights for a while here. The best I've had recently has been some (good) glimpses of Jupiter in between clouds on the 8mm Hyperion. To add to the complications, we're almost into astronomical twilight season in London. I don't know how much that will actually hinder EEA, since there's so much light pollution anyway, but I do get the feeling that my opportunities to explore the Virgo galaxies this year are dwindling.
  10. Hi Ronin, just to clarify -- You could find that Skysafari uses magnetic North The SkySafari app has no sense of direction in this system. It only shows the model of the sky that the mount is using. The first part is aligning the mount to the model, so I could physically move the mount anywhere and SkySafari would never know. But the model in sky safari and the mount would match. Because the OTA and the mount are independant I cannot really see where the mount polar alignment is done. ... The section at the end "Align the OTA in RA, and correct for inaccuracy. " seems to be centering the object in the scope, there appears nothing to sync the mount to the position. As I understand it, the alignment happens in RA mainly when I place the tripod down in the correct orientation, then accuracy increased when I move the mount with the knobs to point at an object I know the location of in the sky. I do not slew or unclutch, I move the mount to align the mount with the model of the sky the mount has in the computer. In Dec, alignment happens mainly when I level the OTA at the horizon pointing north using the mount adjustment. Then accuracy increased when centering on an object, similarly this is physically moving the mount to align it with the computer model the mount is using. It's the reverse of a "normal" pocedure: polar align the mount first, then star align. Here, I align the star model with the mount, then I align the mount and it's model to the real world. You could indeed do most of this without the ota off, but with the ota and the inclinometer, it is easier to get a reading further away from the fulcrum. I don't think you could fine tune as close since I'm not using the polar scope. @Cosmic Geoff -- actually I've had some great views out of the window, and I'm in zone 2 London so light pollution is a pain too! I'm most interested in EEA for DSOs. It is best when you let the room cool and, yes I have to wait for the sky to come around... but it forces me to observe deep into the area I can see. And, dare I say it, an edge of excitement since if I don't get something right, I might miss it for the night I am most interested in galaxies, but the moon and Jupiter also wander past the window too. I do get out of my home observatory once or twice a month to local societies observation meetings since the setup is small and portable. But I'd rather try to see stuff if the clouds suddenly clear just taking 20 minutes to set up in the back than have to wait for a society meeting and hoping for good weather! @Juicy6-- thanks -- I read about Darv ages ago but haven't tried it. Totally forgot about it. Also -- I have the inclinometer and the dovetail already -- excellent idea! I will see how much faster this is, roughing it without the ota, then switching to Darv for accuracy.
  11. Hahaha. I don't mean to blame Microsoft for all my problems. I will remove the double emphasis if that's the impression it gives. Either way my Microsoft problems were largely OS setup based. I don't want to get into a Mac/PC discussion, but it was less drivers and more things like random updates, or the way Edge search almost gave me a virus. Yes it was user error, but Bing shouldn't put virus filled software at the top of paid search results! Still, my fault I downloaded the wrong thing. I have also since learned how to manage automatic updates (essential if you have no monitor other than RDP). Or something I still haven't worked out: why wifi scope only seems to work properly launching from the desktop. I like a lot about Windows 10 - and the RDP is great for ease of use. If you're comfortable and experienced with Windows 10 then your experience may be a lot easier than mine. But I haven't used windows regularly since Windows 7, so there was a lot to catch up on. This has no bearing on whether or not Windows is a good operating system or not. It's just that in my experience it was that it has been fiddly to get it set up working smoothly. Someone else may or my not. I was not intending to unfairly blame Microsoft.
  12. I thought I’d do an update on the equipment I purchased after a few weeks of ownership. The short version is: it's been great. I’ve been very happy with everything and it’s been lots of fun putting everything together and getting stuff working. The longer version is the rest of this post, which is a bit of a debrief. I’m going to go through everything in some detail for anyone that is interested in a similar setup. Basically this is the post I was looking for when I started researching what to buy, so it will be a long one! As I said in my first post in this thread my priority was to build the most lightweight, portable solution for seeing DSO's within a certain size bracket. What fits your needs is quite personal, so someone else will have different priorities. Everything is a tradeoff. So first I'll describe my experience on this set up, then the specifics of what I bought. The EEA Experience with this Equipment To navigate around the sky and control the mount I use SkySafari Pro native on the iPad. This is a real pleasure to use and is a night and day compared to any handset. I even prefer it to laptop control since it feels snappier and more immediate when you are exploring around or star hopping with the GoTo. Now it even has the Celestron voice narration tours built in, if you’re into that kind of thing. Sky Safari on iOS connects to the Compute Stick using WiFiScope, which then talks to the scope using EQMOD. I use MS Remote Desktop (standard Windows 10 RDP) on the iPad to control the Compute Stick - it essentially turns the iPad into a Surface Pro (with a fraction of lag that is barely noticeable for most use. I wouldn’t try and play an FPS over RDP though…). When at home I sometimes use my laptop in the same way. For viewing I use SharpCap (and sometimes FireCap for planets) on the Compute Stick. This software is not nearly as slick as Starlight Live but it's pretty good. I decided that I wanted to go with the low noise ASI290 over the Lodestar. I chose better specs over ease of use. SharpCap is good though and has a lot of great features. I’ve tried AstroLive USB a few times, but it doesn’t format to the screen properly over RDP. FireCap on the other hand, reads that it’s on an iPad retina and makes everything super small. It looks crisp and is pretty much useable, but you need decent eyesight and a stylus! FireCap is easier on a laptop. SharpCap has some issues on touchscreen RDP in terms of interface too. Mainly it’s okay though. I tested it with an iPad Pro with a Pen and that was much easier. Finger control is a bit less precise than the mouse it was designed for and there is a technique to getting it right. You do sometimes fight with the controls, but it’s not too bad. Occasionally I use the laptop at home for SharpCap control. iPad Pro is very good though! Images are recorded to an microSD Card in the Compute Stick that I can then physically remove and move files to my Mac for later processing or archiving to HDD. Sometimes I just copy images to a USB stick which saves fiddling around with the tiny microSD card. Before Sky Safari I attempted to use Starry Night Pro via the iPad on the Compute stick for mount control, but it’s too laggy and mouse oriented to be useful. It doesn’t work well with touch at all. I had similar issues with Stellarium, though it was better. Anyway — native Sky Safari Pro on the iPad is really great for touchscreen mount control. Indeed -- if there’s one thing I'd recommend -- I’ve found it’s really great fun to explore the sky using Sky Safari on iPad/iPhone to control the mount. It's the best mount control I've used. Once you’ve bought the app it’s free to connect using WiFiScope and EQMod on your PC. You could alternatively purchase SkyFi or SkyBT from Simulation Curriculum. I’ve used the official SkyWire and the EQMod based WiFiScope, and wireless is much easier and more fun. I use a small gamepad to move the mount manually. Touchscreen control for direct movement is annoying and laggy on any of the multiple bits of software I tried. So in keeping with everything else I looked for the smallest gamepad I could find and came up with the 8BitDo Zero. This is a tiny but functional (8cm x 3.5cm x 0.5cm) gamepad that can control the mount through ASCOMPAD. I use the shoulder buttons to increase and decrease slew speed and the direction pad to move the mount itself. Then I have buttons for sidereal tracking, lunar tracking, spiral scan, align, unpark and emergency stop. You can move the scope using the gamepad and see the scope crosshairs move on Sky Safari. So it’s super easy to get around, even without using goto. The live updating crosshairs on the screen in Sky Safari are one simple thing that makes it particularly easy to move an equatorial mount in the right direction. For quick keeping-a-record-of-EEA-observation and sharing snaps I just take screenshots on the iPad of SharpCap and of Sky Safari (pressing power button and home). That shares quick note pictures easily across devices. In terms of mobility, it all fits into a small backpack, and a hold-all for the OTA. It takes exactly 15 minutes to be unpacked and set up for polar alignment. Breakdown and pack is just under 10 minutes. Polar alignment takes as long as you want it to… My biggest issue has been with polar alignment. Since I can't see Polaris I had to figure out another way to set up each night. I have gone into detail in another thread here: Equipment List Core - Skywatcher Explorer 150PDS - This was the largest aperture for the weight class I could deal with. - EQ 3 Pro - This is a great portable mount — the smallest, easily packable one I could find. - ZWO ASI290 - 2MP and very low noise. - Low noise allows for short exposure stacking. This is a very interesting thread: - Intel Compute Stick STK2m3W64CC - That’s the Core m3-6Y30, 4 GB RAM, 64 GB eMMC, Intel HD Graphics 515 - I know Rob in this thread said that the Atom was fast enough, but I watched some clips on youtube comparing the m3 and the Atom and I up-sold myself because of the general system speed. I'm sure the Atom is fine for most use -- and cheaper. - Also, I went for the m3 because I wanted a powered pass through USB-C hub. Unfortunately that didn’t work. The m3 is very flaky in terms of power and USB plugs. - iPad - This is the main control interface. I leave the SynScan hand control at home. - Not going to lie, but the iPad is a bit fiddly with fingers only. I’m mainly using a regular iPad but the iPad Pro is the way to go. I tried it using my iPad Pro from work and the experience was much better with the pen, because it’s designed for the small button precision control of a mouse. - 8Bitdo Zero Bluetooth Wireless Controller - This is my direct mount control interface because often just pressing a real button is better! - It’s very small and wireless and you can keep it in your pocket or let it dangle from your wrist. - There are more reliable gamepad controllers (official Xbox and PS4 to star with!) but they are all much bigger. I went for small size and portability above all. - The Bluetooth is a little flaky but I think it is to do with charge, and connection dropouts. It is generally reliable within bounds. - Make sure you turn on the PC first. Then turn on the pad using right shoulder and start together for a couple of seconds. It should auto-connect if the PC had paired before. If not, pair on windows. Turn off by just pressing start. Don't walk too far away to loose the Bluetooth connection or it will drop and get confused. You may have to remove the device and re-pair, as if for the first time. - I think I was confusing it by trying to pair each time, I don't know. It seems to work fine if I'm careful about not dropping the connection. - The controller mapping is a little odd to set up since ASCOMPAD seems to read the buttons differently. I cleared the ASCOMPAD preferences and only used the main EQASCOM settings window. - You can of course redefine the keys, though I couldn't find a way to redefine the joypad because ASCOMPAD sees the direction pad as a joystick not separate keys like on the XBox or PS4 controllers. - For a non mobile setup the official controllers are the best made controllers, and easily run on PC. Xbox using standard windows drivers or DS4 on the free DS4 PC drivers. - I had no flaky Bluetooth, or key mapping stuff using the PS4 Dual Shock 4. It was rock solid. - TPLink 5Ghz Wifi Hub - This was the most frustrating part of the experience and a thing to note for any computer user: USB 3.0 and 2.5Ghz WiFi interfere. - This isn't a compute stick issue but a hardware specification issue. Intel have a paper about it here (http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/io/universal-serial-bus/usb3-frequency-interference-paper.html). - If you are using any USB 3.0 devices (camera, HDD, camera) with a hub or wires that are not shielded enough you must use the 5Ghz wifi band to avoid interference. - I know people have had issues on the Atom Compute Stick but I though I might be ok on the m3. I was -- if I didn't use a hub. Add in the hub and it was too flaky to use. I wasted a few nights just trying to figure out why my RDP connection was dropping signal while getting my camera working. At first I thought it was a hub bandwidth issue but I narrowed it down. The hub generates interference -- is my guess. On reading the intel paper it's probably too small to be shielded properly. A more shielded hub may be okay, but I am happy with this tiny one, even if I need an extra WiFi point in the field (at home I can use my home network which is 5Ghz anyway) and don't want to purchase yet another USB hub. - Bottom line is to RDP in over wifi you need to use 5Ghz. Ad hoc networks are turned off on Windows 10 and the network adaptor on the compute stick doesn't want to allow hosted networks, preventing command line launching of an ad hoc network. There's probably a way to fix this and I might at a later date but I got bored wrestling with windows. This means I needed to set up a separate wifi hub to connect the iPad and the compute stick on the same network. Seems crazy to me but that's the only rock solid way I've been able to connect if I want to use the camera. - You can use any network connection for RDP of course: so long as your main computer and your remote computer are on the same network RDP is easy. - Since I am focused on being mobile, I have the compute stick set to automatically WiFi connect to my TPLink and my iPhone, nothing else. Since there is no monitor except over RDP if it connects to something else I’d never be able to see anything because I couldn’t connect in. The TP link is primary and the iPhone is the backup in case something happens. I know I will always have my iPhone with me, and the iPhone personal hotspot is totally reliable I will always be able to get in. Power - Quick Charge 3.0 RAVPower Portable Charger 20100mAh - I bought this because of the USB-C power, which I wanted to plug into a USB-C powered USB hub. The idea was to cut down on cables using USB-C passthrough. Unfortunately, the Compute Stick is a little flaky with power needs. I haven’t quite got to the bottom of it, but USB-C wouldn’t power the Compute Stick and an inline hub (despite that is what it is supposed to do!). - But -- it turns out however, the Compute Stick is very happy using QuickCharge 3. (Using a standard USB to USB-C cable). - The RAVPower can also power the mini USB 3.0 hub. So unfortunately an extra (small) wire but not a deal breaker. - I can probably get 8 hours out of the compute stick and camera with this battery. - All that said, there's noting particularly special about this battery -- the important thing is the Qualcomm QuickCharge 3.0 to supply the Compute Stick. - Poweradd Pilot Pro2 23000mAh (12V DC out) - This is for the mount mainly. - When needed I also plug in the 5Ghz nano WiFi hub. - I occasionally charge my iPhone with it too. - I found it actually to be quite a small rage of lithium ion batteries at 12V DC. This was the best bang for buck for me. It was similar in price to the TS 10Ah one, and more than double the capacity. I can get about 12+ hours mount control out of this, and that’s with quite a lot of slewing. Software - Sky Safari Pro for iOS - Makes mount control really easy and fun - WiFi Scope - Wirelessly connect (over your standard WiFi network) the Sky Safari on iOS with the Compute Stuck ASCOM control. - EQMOD / EQASCOM, using ASCOMPAD - SharpCap - For viewing almost everything. - FireCap - For video of planets. - It's a bit too frustrating to use on the iPad though it makes all the text and buttons super small. You really need a mouse. - It does work though, and I have successfully taken planetary videos which are the best representation of what you see looking through the eyepiece. Additional - 28mm Skykwatcher Plossl Eyepeice - Comes with the 150PDS. - Nice enough wide view eyepiece, I have no basis of judgement on quality. I've not used it much. - 8mm Baader Hyperion Eyepiece - Even though I’m most interested in imaging, I like checking things out on visual. - I got this because it was flexible, changing magnification. - I also like that I can stick the camera on it and experiment with the adjustment rings as well as use it for visual. - I've had some great views of Jupiter through it when I've been unsuccessful with the DSOs. - MicroSD Memory Card for storage on the Compute Stick - For storage of images. The internal drive on the Stick is only 64Gb. - It allows me to transfer images to another computer very easily. - Anker 4-Port Ultra-Slim USB 3.0 Data Hub with 10W Power Adapter / USB Wall Charger Included - The USB-C pass-through power hub I tried didn’t work, so I switched to this. This is reliable, even if it adds an extra wire to the battery. - Rii K28C 2.4Ghz Mini Wireless Keyboard, Backlit - Sometimes you just need a keyboard. This one is responsive, reliable, has a touchpad and is backlit. I’ve tried a lot of small keyboards over the years for HTPC and this is one of the best. - Most of the time, I leave this at home. iPad RDP good enough. - Digi-Pas DWL 80 Pro 0.05 Degree Mini Pocket-Size Digital Level/ Angle Gauge/ Protractor/ Inclinometer - For polar alignement. - They say this is 0.05 degree accurate. I don’t know if its’ true, but it’s the most accurate inclinometer I could find without being ridiculously expensive. - Bahtnov Mask - This is a great invention! Utterly essential. Makes focusing easy. - I don’t understand how anyone got anything in focus before? - Lynx Astro EQMOD cable - Compute Stick to SynScan mount control. Good quality thick cable, nicely finished. - Anker PowerLine USB-C to USB 3.0 - RAVPower to Compute Stick - USB 3 cable - Compute stick hub to ASI290 - RA/DEC/Control Mount Cables - These came with the mount, and connect the motors and the control unit. - Collimation cap - I was tempted to buy a fancy laser thing, or a nice Chesshire one, but I figured I’d start simple and crucially -- small. It was cheap too. - I’ve found it easy to collimate using this on the 150pds. Put the cap on he eyepiece, point the scope at a bright wall (or put wither paper over the front and shine a torch on it), get the circles inside arch other. - 3M Command Hanging Strips - Everything snaps onto the tripod legs using these 3M velcro like strips: mount controller, batteries, wifi hub, stick... etc. Everything. Some small additional velcro cable ties tidy any dangling cables. The only cable is from the camera on the OTA to the USB hub. - I have 2 strips on each leg, and all the elements stick on and off with these, one strip on the mount, one on the element. Bags - Veevan Portable Electronic Accessories Organizer Travel Carry Case(Grey) - Everything except the eyepieces, mount and OTA fits in here — L26 x W20 x H9 cm - Kaboodle and Co Neoprene Lens bags for the camera and eyepieces - These are nice soft padded camera lens bags. - I keep the ASI290, filter wheel and eyepieces in these. - Nike SB RPM Backpack (http://m.nike.com/gb/en_gb/pd/sb-rpm-skateboarding-backpack/pid-10883087/pgid-10958155) - Nicer than needed but it fits the mount and electronics perfectly, has lots of pockets and is comfortable. - Best of all: you can strap the mount tripod onto the back using the velcro straps. - It fits a large iPad or a laptop too. - Skypak 90L folding travel bag black - This takes the OTA easily, I wrap it in padding, since the bag is super thin. - It folds away into a small square pack about the size of a small vinyl record. I also have the two chargers at home for the two batteries. But they never come into the field. Everything fits into the back pack, except the OTA which goes in the hold-all. Everything can easily be carried by one person. Finally, I haven't purchased these yet, but I will as a reward for getting a galaxy image on screen that isn't smudgy. - ZWO 5 Space Filter Wheel - Baader LRGBC Ha Filters Conclusion In terms of ease of use, the mount has been great so far, for visual it has already been excellent, for imaging the proof is still to come. The initial results are very promising though. I will admit the computer control side has been fiddly to figure out. Various things didn’t like talking to each other. I blame a combination of cutting edge tech, unusual voltages, home brew software and a lot of Microsoft. However, once things were figured out, the experience is very good. My biggest issue has been polar alignment at home because of my restricted view. I’ve not managed to snap great galaxy images to compare with anything usually posted here on SGL (I will post one when I at least get something crisp). This is user error and lack of time rather than equipment issues. Jupiter images seem about par for this kind of setup. On the other hand, I have seen several galaxies - smudgy -- almost like visual viewing -- but most definitely there. I've tracked along Markarians Chain. I've seen Virgo A (though not the relativistic jet... yet -- this is one of my big initial goals). All of which is more than I thought I would ever do in Zone 2 London. I’ve also had some great views of Jupiter and the moon. There's lots to explore, and too much cloud! So I'm very pleased so far and look forward to exploring the deep sky! I hope this detailed breakdown is helpful to someone thinking of doing something similar.
  13. Is there a similar linear/non-linear option on SharpCap for limiting overexpose of the core?
  14. I recently purchase my first EQ setup. And as you might guess... my biggest issue has been polar alignment. I have some big constraints, but I've worked out a solution. The question is: Does anyone have any suggestions for improvements in set up speed or accuracy, given the constraints of: no pole star and only 15 degrees of sky (pointing south)? Why the constraints? I’ve not got an optimal location. That's putting it mildly. My observatory is the bathroom... and my dome opening: the bathroom window. I can only see a thin sliver of the sky, about 15 degrees of sky looking south. So, no pole star and it rules out easy software alignment like Alignmaster. Also, no wide view for two star alignment for the GoTo afterwards. After much searching the internet I figured I could align the mount using an inclinometer as you would for solar observing. I'll go into detail on what I do to see if there's something I could improve. Before you start know your observing lattitude. Your phone gps is okay, I think dropping a pin on Google maps is better, because phones can sometimes give inexplicable readings if they don't get a good signal. Also, the inclinometer I use is rated to 0.05 degrees (DigiPas DWL80Pro £35 on Amazon). This is a slightly modified version of (https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/416367-daytime-polar-alignment/), and learning stuff from this video (https://youtu.be/rPdQ9pU9GJA) and this one (https://youtu.be/AAB9nom4Ke0). I may also have modified it for the worse so please correct errors or redundant steps. Here’s what I do: - Set up and roughly align the mount and North using a compass. - On the EQ3, one tripod leg is marked N and you just point that north. - Precise is great because it makes things quicker, but it doesn’t matter too much at the moment — you only need to be precise enough to be able to compensate later with the RA knobs. - The easiest is to figure out the west-east axis and put the back two tripod legs on it. - iPhone compass is fine. - Make sure the compass is set for true north, not magnetic! - Level the mount using the spirit bubble on the tripod. - I double check the finder scope is pointing in line with the OTA using any bright object. Important for later. - Register the OTA position to the mount controller, (this will mean the alignment works even if your mount isn't properly levelled, or starting in the home position). - North/South register - Move the mount to point North exactly north on the horizon - I use SkySafari and move the reticule until it points exactly north. - I've set up a UserDefined mount park on EQMod for quick goto then tweak the last fractions using slew controls. - The OTA should be horizontal on the west side: parallel to the ground pointing directly north at the horizon. - The counterweight should be horizontal: parallel to the ground along the West-East axis. - Release the relevant clutch and level the counterweight arm using the inclinometer (you will get the best reading with the level instrument as far away from the mount fulcrum as you can). - West/East register - Move the OTA to point exactly West on the horizon. - I use SkySafari and move the reticule until it points exactly west. - I use the UserDefined mount park again on EQMod then tweak. - The counterweight arm should be vertical at an angle of the arm at about 90 degrees minus your latitude. The arm will be lining up north-south. - The OTA should be horizontal: parallel to the ground pointing west. - Release the relevant clutch and level the OTA using the inclinometer. - Align the OTA in Dec - Point the OTA exactly north at the horizon. - I use SkySafari and move the reticule until it points exactly north. - As before I use the UserDefined mount park on EQMod for quick goto, then tweak until perfect. - Again, The OTA should be horizontal on the west side pointing north, with the counterweight arm parallel to the ground on the east side. - I use the park position and then slew the reticule on SkySafari to make sure it's lines up with the mounts model. - Level the OTA -- this time using the Declination polar alignment bolts. - Do not release the clutches. - Align the OTA in RA, and correct for inaccuracy. - Turn on sidereal tracking. - Slew to any bright object you can see. - Do not de-clutch the scope. - Center your bright object in your finderscope eyepiece using only the physical RA polar alignment knobs. Dec should be close to correct. - Ideally you will only be adjusting RA, but you will probably want to tweak Dec a little too. - For final tweaking, centre it using the polar adjustment knobs in your highest power eyepiece too. - Focus using the Bahtnov on the bright object (though it could be any star) using the ASI290 on the screen. - If this is not good enough then drift polar align using the camera which has a good explanation of what to do here: https://www.cloudynights.com/articles/cat/articles/darv-drift-alignment-by-robert-vice-r2760 - Here too: It seems not many people outside of solar observing do this - or at least if they do they don't talk about it! This procedure uses the fact that the equatorial mount has be exactly level to point exactly to the West or South cardinal point on the horizon. From that you can get your mount and sky model aligned, then you can align it to the sky. It took me quite some time to figure this out, because instructions I found didn't quite seem to match my setup - nor really explain why something was happening. Hence why this is a little over explained. As a beginner I was very unsure about a lot of things that now seem obvious. I've found this a very easy way to polar align without going near a polar scope or Polaris. Visual is great with the procedure, now I'd like to tweak to see if there's a way to get longer exposures without a drift align, i.e. over 30 seconds on an f5 Skywatcher 150pds which is 750mm with an ASI290. Also, since I’ve not really got the space to properly align the scope for the GoTo to work as well as I’d like, this works well enough for small goto jumps after the initial align. EQMOD software can build up a sky model with the jumps and I find it accurate enough within my viewing window. This is basically star hopping with GoTo: align, star-hop, align, star-hop, align. It’s actually quite a fun way to get around and is relatively accurate straight off the bat, especially since I’m only looking at a small part of the sky. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to improve speed or accuracy in this procedure, within the given constraints?
  15. I have one too (though I went for the Core m3 version for a bit more grunt and snappier windows experience) and it has been great. I love it -- I use it for both imaging and mount control using eqmod. I Remote Desktop in from my iPad or laptop so I have wireless control over the mount and camera on the touchscreen. Even if I'm using my laptop, I almost always still use the iPad for mount control. The reason for this is Sky Safari on the iPad. It's the best thing I have found to control the mount. All you need is to have the iPad and the stick on he same wifi network and then connect through a free utility called wifiscope running on the stick (assuming your stick is controlling your mount). The wireless touchscreen control of Sky Safari is a really great experience. Using the stick you don't need to purchase the large and expensive official box from simulation simulacrum, avoiding more stuck on the mount. It makes star hopping and exploring using goto really fun. Thr one thing to note is that 2.4GHz wifi band interferes with USB3. This isn't a compute stick issue but a general technology specification one. However the compute stick is particularly susceptible due to its size. Basically I found that as soon as I tried using a USB 3 hub the 2.4 wifi became completely unreliabe. Curiously it was sometimes okay plugging the usb3 directly in. But only sometimes. In the end I dropped using 2.4 all together and use 5ghz exclusively and I've had no issues. The other great thing is that you can make it super portable and power it from a small lithium ion battery pack. It's a little demanding on the voltage so you need to be careful about what you buy, but for the m3 if you use a battery with Qualcomm quickcharge 3 USB power it is completely stable. For the atom I think pretty much most 2.4A USB outputs are good.