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Everything posted by NickK

  1. The Big Picture? Hmm one of the imagers - how about we pick a target.. then all image it and make the data available for everyone to try combining all the subs from everyone?
  2. Also I think people are stuck on cost-based pricing. (I'd agree with the valuation of the astro market being seen is one of the rich's hobbies - it's expected that a mount is <700 low, ~700-2000 med, ~2000+ high) Many factors - including perceived value and brand value also play a part in addition to the basic demand, R&D and cost to manufacture. A takahashi MT200 will have had a certain premium to maintain it's elite status and brand reputation. Naturally there will be a higher cost to drive the excellence by a higher R&D cost. Naturally you pay for it. As the mount represents a high value asset, it makes sense to ensure the quality is high throughout the lifetime of the product offering. To have a Tak fall apart after a year would be terminal to the business. An HEQ1/2/3/4/5/6 are basically mass produced with a comparatively small R&D cost (if the alleged plagiarism is correct). Naturally the business model is to drive down costs to increase margins with the predictable impact on quality over a period of time. The mount isn't a high cost.. so you'll buy another mount in two years. So depend on the positioning and business model of the business and the product portfolio influencing the final product in your hand. After all you 'vote' with your wallet for the most popular mount (regardless of being rich or not). (spoken like a product manager... ahem..) Personally I'll take a mount that satisfies the requirements and has a reputation of being solidly dependable. The result is expensive
  3. Booked all days.. will be sending a cheque as I don't trust PayPal/eBay with any financial information! Booked a tent pitch with electricity. I thought I'd stick with being a bit selfish in taking all the pitch (4man tent) and electrical feed.. need the space as I snore. If it runs out of space I'll be tempted to give up some pitch for someone to put a tent up. Just don't know the size of the pitch and if a car is parked on the pitch etc.. Will be making 25L of beer this week (although it looks like it's going to be a clear sky tonight - perfect lunar watching)
  4. Well.. although beautiful and probably expensive, it's the real world stats I'd be interested (no manufacture's fictitious marketing blurb).
  5. I suppose the guide scope is married to the mount accuracy & precision so it doesn't need changing. I'm assuming it has a sensitive CCD (cooled) to allow tracking with high magnification DSOs. Perhaps "Fido" as a model name.. after all it chases stars and 'fetches' them..
  6. Sounds like a plan. Will save me from alcohol poisoning, 25l = 40 pints!
  7. Normally I'd show compassion. However to quote Spock: "Not this time."
  8. Now that's a good idea. The only issue I see is the sizes, really to make it simple it would only be one size (for volume costs etc). Personally I'd use a red maglite or wooly hat/beanie.
  9. Time off booked at work - going for all days. It'll be bridging the end date of my contract - either way I'll need a holiday. Although the full week may be a bit overkill with just beginner's kit. Thinking about it - I should have made up a 25l homebrew keg at the start of Jan.. if I do it now it'll just ready to drink. Well that's this week's nightly entertainment Anyone going with a Vixen VC200L? Reason I ask is I'd love to have a chat as I'm considering a VC200L purchase later this year.
  10. There's something about CNC machined metal.. Looks like it's designed for mobility rather than the EQ8 which is very much designed at piers and observatories. Although looking at the size of the wheel and worm gear I have this ikky feeling that it could be form over function *cries*.
  11. I think the basis for imaging and observing are the same - I think the difference is that observing requires a greater 'impulse' of light (ie the amount of light so that the eye will register it) thus will ultimately be limited by aperture to provide enough light to use that 1.45 arcsecs resolution. ^^ ie the eye will not register features at 1.45 arcsec if they're too dim. As to the human eye: Clarkvision Photography - Resolution of the Human Eye Additionally (academic): http://www.swift.ac.uk/vision.pdf: I'm only a beginner, but i've been researching quite a bit (both from a DIY mount in the long term and for the tracking in software).
  12. I think Olly should map the entire sky.. then upload them as a stellarium addon.
  13. I still think it's funny to see this in marketing blurb for a mount: "Motor type and resolution: Microstep driven 1.8 stepper motors. Resolution: 0.144 arc sec (or 9,024,000 steps/rev.)" I'm sure the motor, unloaded may give this in ideal situations.. but what is the final scope resolution and periodic error?
  14. Yup the average is 7 years for all replaceable cells in the body to be replaced. So think of that next time doctor who is on!
  15. I'd consider it if it was on Kindle I have a Sony PRS but just can't get on with the fragmented availability. If you buy one in a series then you can guarantee that one of the series isn't available due.. Amazon's clout seems to at least be able to offer a complete series more often than not. I've put a stop to physical book purchases, simply because I'm swimming in them!
  16. Got up late, so unfortunately I won't make it in time to be worthwhile
  17. Given the guys here pre-warning of the time off booking.. I may even have bought myself a new mount by then
  18. Hmm if the curved contrast delta is a function of the picture as an input then it should be possible to remove the effect through processing.
  19. As the OP has said - the only nagging things with the porta are: a) the opening of the legs if retracted can catch (seems a bit of a design booboo). the spider holding the legs from spreading is made of plastic. It would be better if this was aluminium too. c) the knobs don't lock on (they're push fit) and they could have provided a set of flexi-controls to limit wobbles. However it's so light that with my A80Mf it's possible to lift the entire setup at arm's length! I didn't see it mentioned but the allen keys that sit under the rubber base are actually held in by a magnet - which is a nice touch.
  20. I wonder what the cost implications are for doing mosaics rather than using a large area CCD. It costs you in time and in mount accuracy however for a high resolution setup a high accuracy & precision mount is required anyway. Maybe I'm rambling but doing a 2x2 or 4x4 mosaic of a target may be a better option. So in my view a mount would be the better buy before a large CCD and widens the range of scopes available for intended targets. Any thoughts?
  21. Astronomy apps on OSX are sadly lacking. I'm a mac developer and currently putting together a framework that should allow any application using it to support any device. It will make development of OSX applications easier and allowing developers to focus on the usability/features rather than writing drivers for equipment that doesn't support OSX. It's called AOSX. I hope this will provide an attractive platform for equipment vendors to write an AOSX plugin which I'm attempting to make a quick and simple affair. My plan is to provide initial support for the cams I have access to - ATIK 16ic (USB FT232BM) and MS HD lifecam (USB Quicktime) - then publish it as opensource and push tracking etc. I hope others will then step in for their hardware - companies like starlight xpress have published their control protocols but I don't have the hardware to test on. If it takes off I can use that position to ask for a loan in return for developing a driver. It won't offer an application direct to end users, however with a few commands it's easy for application developers to utilise the library of known devices
  22. Don't think it's all planets. Once your night vision is developed, you can spot nebulae and clusters!
  23. Well I've just spent the last couple of hours playing around with imaging for the first time. I thought I'd put some notes down for others that are considering starting imaging. My equipment for this: Vixen A80Mf, Porta mount and a ATIK 16ic. (oh I can hear the sniggers already) Oh ye fools that wish to tread this path... Focus. Focus! Fo$%#. Oh.. did I say focus? So you have the camera plugged in.. finding the focus point is hard for the first time.. expect a good 1/2 hour or so. The fact that you do not have an eyepiece attached and the slow rate of image refresh makes it hard work. I eventually put an eyepiece in and then focused. Only to find the focuser at full extension (which makes the CofG fall back). Success - 6mm EP focused and put the camera in instead of T-screwing in.. with a little bit of twiddling and I managed to get a star focused. Having a dual speed focuser will make things far easier. Things would be a little simpler with a flip mirror too. Ooopfh sir - just one sir? The star, now focused then precedes to take a good sized chunk of the sensor image real-estate. I didn't think it would be _that_ large! Perhaps a focal reducer would help reduce the size and increase the brightness overall.. food for thought... use a calculator to check the size of the things you wish to image and then have a play with focal length. I can see that it's edges are lovely and sharp with zero aberration of the star 'colours' (blur in the mono image). A good sign lines and lines and lines and lines and... Having a manual mount - this was expected. Any real exposure for anything other than a bright target (1 second+) will result in drift lines for the stars. Add to this mount stability wobble making some interesting abstract masterpieces - O I'm starting to go green at those with a pier topped my some over engineered elbow joint.. I think people have a initial priority for astrophotography wrong: 1. Clear skies, location... 2. A steady hand to guide by (ie pier/tripod stability & the accuracy of the mount) 3. The scope(s) and cameras to see by. Which is like good espresso: 1) Good freshly roasted coffee beans (roasted 1-2 days before), 2) the best flat burr grinder you can buy afford, 3) the coffee extraction device last... but I digress. The blighters (stars) move quick.. most unsporting! Just when you are getting comfortable the image is blurred.. foc? no.... looking up you can now see that you're imaging through a set of trees.. planning prevents pish-poor performance. It's worth picking a target that will be available for a long duration rather than one at low declination.. preferably one that an exposure will not end in the trees/telephone mast/a.n.other random object. ..Foooocuuuusss... Also I managed to knock the telescope out of focus - the A80Mf has a focal lock screw.. now I know why it's useful! How can one screw alleviate so many problems. So that's an awesome image Err.. Well they say that 99% of the image appears at processing.. and to get that processing requires images that are stable, without lines and in focus from a tracking mount. I have put my imaging DIY mount on hold as the friend with the workshop and welder is sprinting to get his renovations finished before his wife gives birth. However that gives me time to have a think further but in the meantime I'm now considering purchasing a Vixen Sphinx SWD mount (even if it's overkill initially) before adding the VC200L later than originally planned. The load capacity will cope with both telescopes. With AOSX (my ASCOM-type of framework for Apple Macs) progressing towards it's initial release, it would be easy to add support for the SWD in addition to the ATIK.. but that will have to wait until my contract renewal is sorted. Now if only i could persuade Vixen to loan me an SWD *wink* *wink* (ok it was worth a try!) Lastly.. it's probably worth attempting all this in the warm through a window initially. There's lots of equipment, lots of experimenting and certainly would result in cold fingers, lost equipment and probably running out of battery. So I hope that others may learn from my inane ramblings before they place their first foot on the path of ruin too.
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