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agthomson

Starter Set-up Progression

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I bought a 200p Dob quite a while back, but a few house moves (to a top floor flat, then a cottage with no clear view garden) meant it was put into storage for 3 years. Now i've got a new place with a great garden I've finally got it back out of storage and back into regular use. Just a quick note, I already own "..Every Photon Count" and will be re-reading it again soon .

Just before the first move I was gearing up for Astrophotography. The (ambitious) plan was to modify the 200p with a upgraded parts (focuser), but a HEQ5 Pro mount, a cheap guide scope, a cheap guide camera and off I go (already own a DSLR). Having reviewed my plans, I think going down that road would probably frustrate me, and put me off AP having spent the better part of £2,500. 

My new (!) plan, after reading some reviews on here, is to start small and then ramp up over time. I am planning on buying a SkyWatecher ED80 to go with my original planned mount of the HEQ5 Pro. I'm starting off unguided to learn the ropes so to speak, and possibly add guided into the equation later. I guess my question is what would be your preferred upgrade path from the ED80 + HEQ5 combo? Is it even worth "upgrading" from imaging with the ED80 to imaging guided with the 200p?

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The small scope which has impressed me lately is the WO Star 71 also availabe through Telescope Service. It's fast (which matters), it has a focal length well matched to small DSLR pixels (which also matters) and it can cover a full 35mm format (which is astounding.) An HEQ5 will have no trouble with it. However, I would guide as soon as possible. It is the life blood of deep sky imaging.

Olly

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The good thing about a small fast scope is that exposure times are reduced which reduces the star trailing due to inaccurate polar alignment. Short focal lengths will also reduce star trailing. I would say that your plan sounds good - I wonder how long you can push your subs before stars elongate. 

That said, I do agree with Olly, you will need to guide sooner or later - luckily your planned set up should buy you some time.  :smiley:  :smiley:

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I was wondering if spending a litle more to get the EQ6 mount may save you money in the long run as this mount will take a greater payload than the EQ5, a good solid hefty mount is very beneficial for AP. Having said that a big old mount like the EQ6 would be a pain to set up each time, not a problem if you at least have the mount in a permanant set up.

I put off autoguiding for far too long, in truth to laziness mostly,  and have always regretted that.

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Thanks for the feedback and suggestions folks, much appreciated!

I had started to consider the WO ZS71 ED (not Star), as it prices favourably with the ED80 (£445 for the WO vs £355 for the SW) and comes in at F/5.9, reduced to f/4.7 with a reducer-flattener. This is faster than the stock 71 Star (4.9), and much faster than the stock ED80's f/7.5 and the ED80 with a reducer-flattener at f/6.3. At this stage I can't quite justify £1,000 on a WO 71 Star, when a WO ZS71 ED (including reducer-flattener) costs £525 albeit with a narrower imaging circle and I imagine poorer quality optics.

Guiding is definitely on my radar but I am reluctant to go straight for guiding, given it'd add about £350 for a cheap setup (£100 ST80, £250 SW Synguider to cut out the laptop requirement - does this even work well?!?). I also think the EQ6 mount is a bit much for what I am planning. I don't intend on going over the maximum payload of a 200p + guidescope + DSLR (upgrading to a lighter CCD over time) which I believe the HEQ5 Pro can manage. In all likelihood i'll be keeping the 200p off the mount and using it for observations while I image on the other set-up.

From the above, I think my options are:

SW Evostar 80ED + HEQ5 Package from FLO for £1,300 (this includes diagonals, a finderscope and a carry case for the 80ED)

WO ZS71 ED + Reducer + HEQ5 Pro Mount from FLO for £1,300 (may need to add a finderscope, although I could borrow the one from the 200p and upgrade that to a telrad for £35)

Guiding would add £350 for a basic set-up and then some additional bars etc, which can wait for the time being. I need to weigh up all of the options, as the cheap and cheerful setup of an ST80 and Synguider might not be ideal for me.

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Guiding could be cheaper than that (not necessarily a good thing). My present setup consists of a 9 x 50 finderscope (ebay £20), a s/h laptop (£80 - originally for working on the car's computer), high street electronics store web cam (£14), interface cable (shoestring astronomy or similar depending on your mount) and PHD (free).

Definitely not the last word in guiding equipment but it has allowed up to 8 minute subs and for under £150 (or under £100, if I don't count the already purchased laptop).

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