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Sammyb

Tracking mount for DSLR

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Hello - could anyone advise on affordable mounts with tracking for a DSLR?

i've been thinking of the EQ3 pro but wondered if there was anything else out there?

Cheers

Sam

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Hi Sammyb,

Depending on your buget, have you considered the following:-

Vixen Polarie http://www.vixenoptics.com/mounts/polarie.html

iOptron Sky Tracker http://www.ioptron.com/index.cfm?select=category&cid=91af533f-b0e2-4dd6-92eb-681025cbb317

AstroTrac http://www.astrotrac.com/

...and here is a review of all three! http://www.ioastronomy.co.uk/2013/07/astrotrac-vs-skytracker-vs-polarie/

...and if you are good at DIY, have you considered making a 'scotch' or 'barndoor' mount? http://www.philharrington.net/scotch.htm

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I've managed decent exposure times (four minutes) with a DSLR and 200mm lens on my EQ3-2. I could probably have done longer if I'd tried.

Others on SGL have even used an EQ1 successfully. I'm struggling to recall who at the moment, but I'm sure you'll find some postings if you search.

James

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Decide on how important Portability, Load Capacity, Functionality and Cost are ...

I have an EQ3 Pro and AstroTrac

If all you are going to use it for is Widefield with a DSLR and a Shortish FL lens then the Vixen and Ioptrons are worth a look...

the EQ3-Pro would be more versatile and can handle a suprising load if it's properly balanced... I had a 102mm/f11 solarscope on there the other day and it happily tracked all day... It has Goto and can be guided in both Ra and Dec, Comes with a tripod and doesn't need a wedge as it's a GEM...

The Astrotrac needs a lot of essential "extras" if you don't already have them and even then if you want to make the most of it's load capacity then your looking at a substantial investment in tripods and heads over and above those suggested in their "kit"... The ones they suggest are fine for widefield with more modest fL and weight lenses...

Peter...

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the EQ3-Pro would be more versatile and can handle a suprising load if it's properly balanced... I had a 102mm/f11 solarscoep on there the other day and it happily tracked all day... It has Goto and can be guided in both Ra and Dec, Comes with a tripod and doesn't need a wedge as it's a GEM...

I have occasionally thought that the EQ3-2 might be quite handy for camera-only imaging with a shortened (or even totally removed) counterweight bar and a short "table-top" type tripod -- a larger version of the EQ1 model, basically.

James

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Decide on how important Portability, Load Capacity, Functionality and Cost are ...

I have an EQ3 Pro and AstroTrac

If all you are going to use it for is Widefield with a DSLR and a Shortish FL lens then the Vixen and Ioptrons are worth a look...

the EQ3-Pro would be more versatile and can handle a suprising load if it's properly balanced... I had a 102mm/f11 solarscoep on there the other day and it happily tracked all day... It has Goto and can be guided in both Ra and Dec, Comes with a tripod and doesn't need a wedge as it's a GEM...

The Astrotrac needs a lot of essential "extras" if you don't already have them and even then if you want to make the most of it's load capacity then your looking at a substantial investment in tripods and heads over and above those suggested in their "kit"... The ones they suggest are fine for widefield with more modest fL and weight lenses...

Peter...

Excellent post. What I've noticed on my travels is that the lighter, more compact and easier to lug a mount is the more unstable it seems to be.

One idea for a lightweight system would be for a dog lead skewer screwed in directly underneath the centre of the tripod and a ratchet strap to tie the tripod down on to the skewer. Easier to do than explain :)

Dave.

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I have used mine like that in the past... I use a short lenght of dovetail with a Bal and Socket head to mount the camera...

For longer heavier lenses I use a longer lenght dovetail so I can balance the setup in RA...

At shorter FL I just use the polarscope to do the PA and then skip star alignment and enable sidereal tracking in the setup menu... By using a BnS head you can offest the camera to avoid the need to do a meridian flip if your imaging around and through the meridian - at home my lowest southerly horizon sits around the meridian...

The dog "skewers" - that sounds so wrong - work a treat... I use a heavy bungee cord rather than a ratchet strap...

Peter...

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If you want the "full" astro experience (guiding and goto) while still able to go backpacking with the kit, here's my solution:

Tripod: Induro AT-214 Alloy AT . For astro work, remove the center shaft. Weighs around 2kg.

Mount head: iOptron Cube Pro. Throw away the tripod that came with it. The mount head by itself weighs about 2kg also.

To use as a GEM, use a suitable bolt to mount the iOptron head to the photo tripod. Tilt the tripod to the desired latitude angle by leaving one leg short and lengthening the other two. Use tent stakes or similar to anchor the legs to the ground. If the ground is too hard, use netting attached to the center bolt and fill with dirt/rocks/etc to settle the mount.

To guide: First I glued a vixen saddle to the altitude knob of the iOptron. Then you can mount your guiding setup to that dovetail, which also serves as a counterweight to the camera plus lens mounted to the other vixen saddle that came with the mount. I tried to guide through the usb port, but never got that to work. Instead I bought the st4 adapter from iOptron which works very well, although pricey.

My guiding setup for this follows my minimalist philosophy lol. The guidescope is a Celestron Startravel 70mm scope, which is smaller and lighter than an st80. You can use a finderscope depending on the guide camera, which reduces bulk even more. However, I wanted to eliminate using a computer altogether, so I have a Celestron Nexguide, which required the larger scope. The combo works, although I'm not entirely happy about how Celestron implemented the Nexguide. But that's another story. The good news is that the whole guider part weighs less than 1kg. My imaging camera and lens (Canon 70-200 and modded 1000D) weigh another 1.5 kg or so.

To capture images you can use a timer remote. I wrote an android app some time ago to do the same thing (it also does liveview, which is very handy), so I use that with my tablet.

The whole thing is powered by a lithium rechargeable battery. Here's a link to the battery (sorry, it's US but I'm sure there's a version available in Europe):

http://www.amazon.co...cr_notf_fhv_prd

The battery will power the whole kit for about 15 hours. It weighs about 0.5 kg. I have a 40W folding solar panel which recharges the battery in about 4 hours in full sun.

Alternatively you can use AA lithium batteries in a power pouch, which last a little bit longer. I got one of those from an old Meade kit I believe.

But anyways, for about 7kg total, you can lug it around just about anywhere without getting too tired. :-)

Hope this helps. I have pics that illustrate how it all works together. I'll post if there is interest.

Daniel

Edited by minimalist
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If you want the "full" astro experience (guiding and goto) while still able to go backpacking with the kit, here's my solution:

Tripod: Induro AT-214 Alloy AT . For astro work, remove the center shaft. Weighs around 2kg.

Mount head: iOptron Cube Pro. Throw away the tripod that came with it. The mount head by itself weighs about 2kg also.

To use as a GEM, use a suitable bolt to mount the iOptron head to the photo tripod. Tilt the tripod to the desired latitude angle by leaving one leg short and lengthening the other two. Use tent stakes or similar to anchor the legs to the ground. If the ground is too hard, use netting attached to the center bolt and fill with dirt/rocks/etc to settle the mount.

To guide: First I glued a vixen saddle to the altitude knob of the iOptron. Then you can mount your guiding setup to that dovetail, which also serves as a counterweight to the camera plus lens mounted to the other vixen saddle that came with the mount. I tried to guide through the usb port, but never got that to work. Instead I bought the st4 adapter from iOptron which works very well, although pricey.

My guiding setup for this follows my minimalist philosophy lol. The guidescope is a Celestron Startravel 70mm scope, which is smaller and lighter than an st80. You can use a finderscope depending on the guide camera, which reduces bulk even more. However, I wanted to eliminate using a computer altogether, so I have a Celestron Nexguide, which required the larger scope. The combo works, although I'm not entirely happy about how Celestron implemented the Nexguide. But that's another story. The good news is that the whole guider part weighs less than 1kg. My imaging camera and lens (Canon 70-200 and modded 1000D) weigh another 1.5 kg or so.

To capture images you can use a timer remote. I wrote an android app some time ago to do the same thing (it also does liveview, which is very handy), so I use that with my tablet.

The whole thing is powered by a lithium rechargeable battery. Here's a link to the battery (sorry, it's US but I'm sure there's a version available in Europe):

http://www.amazon.co...cr_notf_fhv_prd

The battery will power the whole kit for about 15 hours. It weighs about 0.5 kg. I have a 40W folding solar panel which recharges the battery in about 4 hours in full sun.

Alternatively you can use AA lithium batteries in a power pouch, which last a little bit longer. I got one of those from an old Meade kit I believe.

But anyways, for about 7kg total, you can lug it around just about anywhere without getting too tired. :-)

Hope this helps. I have pics that illustrate how it all works together. I'll post if there is interest.

Daniel

yeah, please post some pics.....sounds interesting :)

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Here you go Scott. This pic just shows the iOptron on the Induro tripod, this was before I added the guider kit. I'll take a pic tomorrow of the current setup, although it's currently mounted on my "home" tripod, which is not as portable.

post-4127-0-19289100-1377412671_thumb.jp

Edited by minimalist

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Ok, went out today and took a pic of the kit as it is set up at home. Bear in mind that the tripod in the photo is not the one I use when camping or backpacking. That's shown in the previous pic. This one is an old Celestron wedgepod I had, which is now more or less permanently anchored in my back yard.

You can see on the right side of the mount where I glued a vixen saddle (from a nexstar mount I had) to the altitude tightening knob. The guidescope is actually mounted on an Orion geared head, to allow picking out guidestars better. The whole thing is also mounted a bit forward due to clearance issues as the guidescope goes past the northern tripod leg. It hasn't caused balance issues as far as I can see.

Hope this helps.

post-4127-0-60231300-1377467005_thumb.jp

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Excellent post. What I've noticed on my travels is that the lighter, more compact and easier to lug a mount is the more unstable it seems to be.

One idea for a lightweight system would be for a dog lead skewer screwed in directly underneath the centre of the tripod and a ratchet strap to tie the tripod down on to the skewer. Easier to do than explain :)

Dave.

I have a hook under the centre of tripod and hang my camera bag off it with a karabina

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