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Hi all! Yesterday evening I finally was able to have a success with my new setup. Since february / march I have been struggling with getting autoguide up and running, but due to various mishaps and lots of bad weather, I haven't been able to produce a single image, up until now. This is what came out: M13. As you can see the stars are not very clean... So guiding apparently wasn't as good as hoped for... I also used flats, but there still is a bit of a gradient, but a lot less than previous. These are 180 sec exposures at 800 ISO, so I guess I have to be at least a little bit happy with this result, because without autoguide I could go up until 90 secs, approx. Any thoughts on what can influence good guiding? FWHM was around 5, so not perfect... maybe that could be better, but I never seem to be able to go below those numbers, and often in the past it was way higher... yesterday morning I wanted to set the focus point on the guide scope, so I pointed the moon during the day, and focussed it as best as possible, and marked that on the scope. this night, focus was in fact very close to that mark. But FWHM says it wasn't perfect... I also did drift alignment beforehand, and the guide error graph in Maxim was pretty nice, after initially having to redo the calibrate, because "guide star faded". There were no clouds, however, and the images from the guide scope showed good clear stars (I use a dew shield on the guide scope)... Any idea what this could indicate? I collimate every time, so that should not have been a problem either... Any thoughts much appreciated!! :-) Gerhard.
I'm looking to get a netbook to run AstroArt or Maxim DL for image capture using my DSLR (I already use BackyardEOS, but will use AA or Maxim with my DSLR as I gear up towards a mono CCD). Later I will use it to run PEMpro and guide my mount through PHD and the ASCOM driver. Do you think I am being too ambitious with a Netbook here? Would this overload the limited multitasking capabilities of a netbook? Also it would help me to run Stellarium from time-to-time, but I'm not sure of the graphics capabilities and whether I should be looking for a particular feature. It would be really great if people using a Netbook could list the RAM, Processor, graphics specs, they are using and what software they run on it. If they could indicate which software they run simultaneously that would awesome? Thanks Tim
This is more of a story about last nights efforts than a cry for help. I went out at ten to focus the OAG on the scope fitted with a lodestar and align the guiding axis to the telescope. The ultimate aim was to calibrate the PEC on the SS2K to start to take decent pictures with the mount. It was a glorious night. But my lodestar seems to have grown duff bright pixels by the dozen over summer. Even using full autocalibration in Maxim didn't seem to remove them. So I created a bad pixel map and applied it to my auto calibration groups but still with no effect. Meanwhile I soldiered on, using a brighter star in the OAG to focus and align axiis on. That done, I discovered there seemed to be a reflection from the bright star that Maxim insisted trying to guide on. It turned up on the row of the first bright star image and even after subsequent images when the star clearly moved according to movement calibration requests, the false star remained fixed and caused maxim to fail the tracking calibration. An hour and a half of this I tried, with various combinations of bin ratios, exposure times, star in different quadrants of the CCD and all with no success until I put the star in the top left quadrant and then calibration success! You might think that was it, I was motoring, since Maxim was now seeing the star. But no. Maxim could calibrate on the star but reported 'star faded' when trying to use it a guide star, consistently and persistently. Apparently it needs a different type of star to guide on. There were no others. So half an hour later I gave up with that and went to PhD2. It had support for the Lodestar and for the ZWI so I persevered with the Lodestar. It could even see the star Maxim refused to guide on and I could use it to calibrate the movement of the scope for Phd to guide with. I did get a 'ratio difference alert since my motion was very assymetric 'L' shaped but it did calibrate so on I went. Now I could calibrate my PEC!. Several times I achieved this, repeating it starting at different times on the worm since the ss2K will even out the measured with the already recorded. And then Puff! the star had gone - nothing to guide on and the duff pixels were there polluting the image as before. Where did it go ? The sky was still clear and the dome slot was right there where the scope needed it to be. Now I tried a few exposures at 3mins just to get a feel on what quality had resulted from all my efforts. Its an 8" 1800mm so its was optimistic but the evening conspired further - the camera intervalometer battery was flat. Not to be deterred I dug out the spare. That'll teach it. But that one has a duff lead that causes the camera to turn off occasionally and it wanted to play. It was now 1.30, I was freezing and not thinking about swapping batteries so it was time to hit the sack. Only up at 6 for work. I love these succesful evenings. Gotta have more of them. Better luck to every one else, and if you have a solution to the Maxim problem I'm interested. Mike
Hi all! It's been a while since I wrote here, also because this year I've been less active in the field, unfortunately... Anyway, I've now started to do autoguiding, with mixed results. I bought myself a laptop and guidescope, with CCD. I'm able to do 10 minute exposures that come out fairly well most of the time. Guiding is mostly good. I tried PHD as well as Maxim, but lately Maxim seems to be doing better, or I just found the sweet spot for my setup. The last 2 or 3 times however, I'm having difficulty in obtaining decent images. Even with no moon, the images I get are quite bright, with stars barely visible, and the stack is terrible: it's a light shade of grey, hiding all stars (let alone a nebula), and the histogram shows the peaks (in DSS) far to the right, so adjusting that is a nightmare, so much so that the last two times the result was not worth showing to anyone.... The site I go to is always the same, and I already obtained quite nice images, also with 10 minute exposures and the same ISO... Apart from this, I'm having a very hard time getting my flats right... I've got a "flatbox" (EL panel with two sheets of white paper, 8 sec exposures at 800 ISO, the same ISO I use for the Light exposures) that I tried at home in the dark with the scope and camera, to get the right histogram, as I gather looking online: the peak should be at about a third of the histogram. Problem is, which I discovered only last week, the histogram changes with the same setup, for the various "receivers" of the flat image: the camera, Maxim, or DSS. As shown in the photos below (the camera is a RAW picture, taken with the same settings as the FIT picture I used for the DSS and Maxim screen caps): camera: DSS: MAxim: Apart from the histograms, I also always get those very ugly red hue photos in Maxim.. Is this something of Maxim, or am I getting something wrong?? The image obviously is not red, but the grey shade of the DSS photo (the photo of the camera screen shows only white, but that's because of the phone cam)... This means I can never check in a decent way if the exposures are coming out right while I'm taking them with Maxim... So, recapping, problems getting the flats right, and headscratching about the bright exposures I'm getting lately from a setup that already proved it doesn't have to be that way... At the moment I don't have examples of the latter problem to attach (because I didn't finish any stack, seeing as they came out so horribly), but I can attach some, if needed. Any suggestions? Somebody had the same problems? I'm getting a bit frustrated, I must say... Clear skies!! Gerhard.