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With new mount and upgraded scope features, now looking to venture into imaging.
Before I start, I'm not looking to get feedback on polar alignment, mono guidecam, better imaging cameras, etc; this is more a 'dummies guide' setup discussion! I'm not expecting to get great images at this stage, just more the options available, getting over some issues, so that I can jump outside on a clear night with an ideal, foolproof(!), setup for either imaging or visual as time would permit and what may work best for me. As you may guess from the topic name, I'm a mac user (Macbook Pro) and would rather keep to this if possible (whilst I do have Windows (and Ubuntu) via parallels, I'd rather not use these).
I've got a setup which has worked well for visual, and obviously want to have a couple of 'staple' setups that I can use depending on expectations of night observing or imaging. So far, the best one for me has been the Skywatcher Wifi Synscan controller, which has worked a treat with my Android phone - I use the Synscan app to complete alignment and GOTO stars/planets/DSO etc, or Stellarium_plus after completing alignment. This removes the need for the Synscan Handset and any USB cables to the mount altogether. But I don't know if this will work for guiding.
That then brings me to my issue on mac - connecting USB(A) between Macbook and Handset, I've attempted to control the mount through Stellarium. Trying each of the available connections (/dev/tty.usbsetial-1420, /dev/cu.usbsetial-1420, and just for sake of it, the /dev/tty.Bluetooth-Incoming-Port and /dev/cu.Bluetooth-Incoming-Port) in the dropdown menu under DeviceSettings/SerialPort, I cannot get the mount to connect (well, more like selecting the telescope and clicking the "Start" on the TelescopeControl just results in the spinning icon and I have to Force-Quit Stellarium and start again with the same result each time. Annoyingly (for fellow mac users!), Parallels/Windows/Stellarium connects and controls the mount fine! As the mount is the newer "pro" type, I also have a USB connection directly under the hand-controller RJ45 and AutoGuider ST4 sockets, but using this still results in the same issue. Another issue I have seen is that when I unplug the USB from the computer when connected to the handset, the date on the controller jumps significantly - for example, last night at ~23:30, I was transported through the local wormhole galaxy to Jan 2048 according to Synscan! Obviously unplugging isn't going to happen during a genuine session, but just wondering if this is a possible issue somewhere?!
Any other mac users connecting USB directly to the SW 'Pro' mounts?
Software wise, would folks generally suggest steering away from Stellarium towards KStars or SkySafari(Plus) for controlling the mount?
Can the Wifi dongle be used for controlling mount from computer (any OS) or do I need to go USB either to handset or directly to mount?
Is there an issue in using Mac USB to the telescope compared to 'straight' Windows (i.e. PC/laptop with Windows instead of virtual)?
Anyway, back to topic... I've a Nikon DSLR to use for primary camera at this stage, which would be triggered independently from guiding software. PHD2 is my hopeful choice of guiding software (is EKOS with KStars similar?), with T7C guide-camera on 240mm f/4 guidescope, and at this stage, I can confirm PHD2 at least connects to the camera on OS-X. There is an ST4 port on the camera, but having read several topics, I think I want to pulse-guide directly - is this correct or is ST4 best for this setup? This sorta comes back to software and connections - my understanding is one of the following cable setups for guiding (as a minimum) :
Guiding-camera => USB(A) => Macbook => PHD2 => USB(A) => SynscanHandset => AZEQ6
Guiding-camera => USB(A) => Macbook => PHD2 => USB(A) => AZEQ6
Guiding-camera => USB(A) => Macbook => PHD2 => Wifi => SynscaWifi Adapter on AZEQ6
[using ST4: ST4_on_AZEQ6 => Guiding-camera => USB(A) => Macbook => PHD2] (no additional connections needed if ST4 is used)
Additionally, I'd like to use an observatory package, say Stellarium/KStars/SkySafari, to select objects and drive the mount, then use guiding software to keep good 'tracking'.
Where in this train does EQMac fit in, or when is it used?
What about the 2019 addition to EQMod (ASCOM Alpaca)? Can this be used or is it already in other packages?!
For Windows users, how does EQMod fit in (if I go down route of getting Windows laptop for controlling things, is the setup similar to above?
There may be bits in the above that repeat, and for that, I'm sorry, just want to get across the message that I'm new to the guiding but haven't quite settled down into the software/hardware I'm expecting to use for 'goto' and 'guiding'
For a mac user, what setup and software are folks using for guiding and observatory softwares for the newer USB-on-mount 'AZEQ6/EQ6-R Pro' mounts from SW?
I have had a real problem with my AZ EQ6 GT:
I have found that the MOUNT guide rate in RA is 1/3 the guide rate in DEC. EQMOD is set to 0.9 in both axis?? This seems to have happened when I tried guiding with AA& instead of the normal PHD2?
Is there a mount direct command to alter the RA guide rate. Bit like the mount commands to dim the polar scope and set park position.
You know one of these serial commands the no one ever uses??
All the best
So I routinely have issues with guiding. Last night, I was getting some solid sub exposures of 5 minutes on the Flaming Star Nebula. When it got to about 15-20minutes of the meridian, I began getting trails on my stars. Then after the flip, I was still getting trails despite PHD reporting all's well. I moved over to the Horsehead Nebula and tried 5 minutes there, and it behaved itself. Then I tested it on the Jellyfish Nebula and it also behaved (just about - minor trails). But it just did not want to dig it with the Flaming Star Nebula, which was practically near the zenith (about 2:30am 30/11/19).
I tried recalibrating PHD (I use Pulseguide so the scope knew where it was). I then also recalibrated PHD at Alnitak so it was near the celestial equator (as the PHD best practices recommend). I even checked my Polar Alignment (done with a Polemaster), which was fine. I couldn't find anything wrong.
The guide scope was slightly off alignment with the main OTA, but that wasn't making any differences before the Meridian.
I did find the helical focuser of the Starwave 50mm guide scope I was using to have some movement in it again when I manipulated the guide camera. So that's something I need to look into. But before I start throwing money at this issue, I see the terms "flexure" and "differential flexure" coming up. Can anyone shed light on what this means please?
I tried manipulating the OTA in its tube rings, that didn't yield any movement either. The piggyback scope is secure, the g/scope is secure in its rings as well, there's no movement in the OTA focus rack and the cameras are secure in their tubes.
I do have my guide rings quite far back on the body of the telescope to assist with fitting the guide scope piggyback.
Video of g/scope play:
Flaming Star Nebula. 5 minute sub, post Meridian Flip, about 2:50am (30/11/19). Note the plate solve compass in the top left. Drift appears to be in S/W direction.
Position of tube rings (they're now at the focus end).
I think I am leaning towards needing to move my tube rings (once I remember to get the tools from work).
(brand new) Skywatcher EQ6-R Pro, SW Evostar Pro 80ED, Altair 0.8x R/F, Canon 600D, Altair Starwave 50mm Guide Scope, Altair AR130 Mono Guide Cam.
By John Lawley
Hi - I've not posted here before as only just launched into this hobby, although I've always been massively interested in astronomy.
I had first light on my rig last night, which is:
Esprit 100, HEQ 5 Pro, ZWO EAF, ZWO mini filter wheel, skywatcher 50ED guidscope with ASI120, ZWO1600mm Pro, Lynx dew controller w 2 astro zap tapes
A big endeavour to get that lot working from zero experience, but I love a challenge and have really enjoyed the computer side (I'm a grade A nerd)...
So - what went well... I got the guide scope in focus (was stressing about this), and also the main scope. Even more awesomely, the autofocus routine in SGP is working perfectly Filter wheel also working perfectly and I'm getting lovely smooth pics from the main camera (I've already done the flats and darks while I was waiting for clouds to clear). Final good thing (well, good-ish), is that I got the platesolving working eventually, and was able to get the scope to align from Park to the Soul Nebula and centre fine. For some reason the "number of attempts" in my SGP profile hadn't applied, so it was giving up after 1 go, but I got it working in the end.
So the bad...
I couldn't take any data because every time it finished the platesolving and started PHD2, PHD2 would start the calibration process and then halfway through, the sidereel tracking on the EQMOD panel would turn off. Obviously, that would lead to a "lost the star" error. Is there some reason why sidereel tracking would turn off like that? I'm generally a bit confused as to whether I should be controlling the telescope from SGP (i.e. unpark) or using the park and unpark + tracking button on the EQMOD panel. Both PHD 2 and SGP are setup to use EQMOD ASCOM HEQ5/6?
So at the moment I can't do anything, because there's no way of guiding without it turning tracking off
Also I was cold. Very Very Cold.