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Getting started in astrophotography


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Hello,

I'm going to start doing some astrophotography I have a skywatcher 200p, will soon have an NEQ6 pro mount and a modified DSLR camera. What I would like to know if someone could help is what equipment I would need to control it from the house on my laptop.

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Hi Dave,

To control the mount you would need to purchase an EQDIR module and a suitable (5v) USB-RS232 converter.

Both available from FLO.

You would then need to download the  ASCOM 6 PLATFORM software and the EQMOD package + any drivers for your Laptop operating system... all free downloads from

http://ascom-standards.org/Downloads/Index.htm

You will also need an ASCOM compatible Planetarium software package... most popular is CDC

http://sourceforge.net/projects/skychart/

You will need a Powered USB hub (preferably 12v-15v capable) and a good stabilised DC power supply or high AH 12v battery.

You will also need a couple of Active Repeater USG extension cables if the distance between scope and laptop is greater than 5metres.

That should get the mount under control.

Camera control can be achieved using EOS or APT for capture but you may also need a suitable USB shutter release depending upon your camera model.

That lot should get you up and running for up to 3 minute exposures, possibly a little more, but, if you want to go to longer exposures you will need to invest in a guiding system.

This can be a finder guider (modified finder scope) with a mono guide camera (QHY 5 or similar).

or a separate small refractor fitted with a similar guide camera.

Suitable guide software can be obtained free from the ASCOM links (PHD guiding).

Focusing the camera will require an electronic focuser (possibly a SW autofocuser coupled with the HITECh astro focuser controller... See FLO for details.

Some things can't easily be achieved though... such as attaching/removing a Bahtinoff focus mask... so you will still need to go outside for some things. :evil:

UNLESS YOU  Build a robot :grin:

Hope this helps.

best regards.

Sandy. :grin:

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I control my HEQ5 pro synscan just via a USB -> serial cable straight into the handset, nothing else needed. The USB to serial converters are only cheap. You just need the cable that goes to the handset as well. (I use a mac, same for windows pc though)

Then any software like Stellarium can control the mount, tell it where to point and show you where it is pointing.

I don't use canon stuff but you can control most cameras from the PC via some software. Also I use a Pixel wireless interval timer often, if I don't want to use the PC.

In terms of doing it remotely, my plan is to put laptop near the telescope setup, running everything via a USB hub, then just remote control that machine from another indoors, simple :)

In terms of guiding, lots of ways - again here I don't use ASCOM for anything at all, if your camera has an ST-4 port on it, hook it up to PHD on the laptop and connect camera to mount, job done. There are various ways to go about this though, different cameras and tubes. 

Also for photography a coma corrector is necessary, that's next on my shopping list.

good luck!

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Be aware that you may have trouble getting the DSLR to focus with the 200P , you may need to get a low profile focuser to enable enough inward movement or the more drastic fix of moving the primary mirror up the tube a tad.

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If you have a second computer you could leave your imaging setup outside (covered with a towel maybe) and remotely control it over Wifi. Check out logmein.com.

It's free version works a treat!!

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Hi Dave

I have a setup that I use from indoors. I tether the handset to my laptop using a USB and control it using Stellarium (free download). My DSLR is operated by the software that comes with Canon camera's (check your CD for the setup). That is also tethered by USB to my laptop. I use both programs simultaneous displaying them side by side on the laptop. When it comes to focusing, I do all of that when I  setup outside. This seems to work pretty well for me and it's very low cost which is a bonus :rolleyes: 

Brenda :smiley:  

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