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johnrt

QHY PoleMaster

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I've seen this in a couple of places, what are the thoughts on this camera that attaches to the front of the RA axis on your mount and effectively plate solves your polar alignment? I wonder how it would work for those of us with restricted northern views and have to peer for Polaris through trees?

http://qhyccd.com/PoleMaster.html#PoleMaster

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Ingenious application of plate solving! Might struggle with the fact I have a house between my mount and Polaris though :tongue:

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If this works, I want one. If it saves my contortions it's worth it. Does anyone currently use one?

Peter

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I have one on it's way. Will let you know when I've given it a go :)

It sounds great, I hope it works as advertised, I'm tired of wet knees and a sore back from polar aligning!

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I got mine a couple of days ago, apart from a broken screw (why put a plastic screw in a piece of kit that will cost a few hundred pounds?) which was quickly replaced. The software user interface is very poor and flickers horribly with poor instructions, the documentation non existent and the supplied USB lead a tad short for my liking.  But once it is sussed out.... it works!  Between the clouds the alignment seems  fantastic and took minutes once I had worked out how things worked.  Looks like this is a good addition to my tear down every time rig  :smiley:

Align time, about 5 minutes once I'd worked out how the thing worked.

Cheers

Ross

Edited by sidelight
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Ross

Perhaps you could put some pointers on here for people like me who are going to get one as the instructions are poor. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I'm still waiting for Modern Astronomy to get more supplies in.

Peter

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Its pretty straight forward and sort of wizard driven.  Fitting takes minutes, just clamp the adapter on the mount then add the camera when you want to align.

  • start the software and adjust the exposure/gain to get a good view of stars (there are only 5 buttons for each so its not an onerous job).
  • adjust the mount so that Polaris is off center (bear in mind the next step when you place it).
  • double click Polaris, rotate the mount 90 degrees and double click on Polaris again.
  • Put Polaris back to the original position.
  • Put Polaris in the center of the circle on the screen.
  • Spin the red dot template to match the position of the stars on the screen.
  • click "Start Monitor".
  • Adjust Dec/RA to put the two small circles on top of each other (there is a magnified section of the mouse position at the top left of the screen).
  • Job done.

Please bear in mind those steps are from memory so might not be exactly in the correct order, and you do feel like the software is fighting you somewhat so the above is interspersed with clicking "Success" or "Next" or something, and the software redrawing itself on the screen several times a second will leave you feeling like you are setting up in the middle of a 70's disco.  But I couldn't fault the result for a quick alignment, OK if you have a permanent setup then drift align is probably going to be fine, but for those who don't then its the quickest alignment I've done with enough accuracy for longish subs without a drift align every time.

Cheers

Ross

Edited by sidelight

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That looks like a really quick and simple(!) method to polar align, being quite tall myself I hate crouching on the floor headbutting my polarscope when I want to align the mount. I don't have a permanent setup and for the foreseeable future all my observing will be done in the back garden so anything that saves time here would be a bonus. :)

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I wish I had had a clear night to try it tell you.

Sent from my SM-N9005 using Tapatalk

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I'm so intrigued by this device. The price is on the edge but I am having such a tough time getting my EQ6 to grab subs in the 600+ range.  I need a tight PA.  In the past year I've found setup timesavers and can go from boxed up to ready to PA in about 30 minutes, if the wife doesn't task me. Then I do the rough PA using the EQMOD workflow.  That is fine if I'm shooting LRGB in my redzone pollution, can't go longer than 360s.  But If I'm shooting narrowband I need the longer subs and I'm getting field rotation (I think.)  I've been doing the PHD2 PA routine and getting closer but still getting trailing.  But that took me an hour this past Saturday.  An hour of lost capture.  If anyone has more experience with this I'd appreciate the info.

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So without stating the obvious do you perform a basic mount alignment first or after performing the PoleMaster routine?

The QHL marketing page for the PoleMaster suggest after you have run the Polemaster routine you can "Just using the 1-star calibration or single star sync you can get your mount ready for GOTO."

So I would setup mount towards the North.
Level the mount as usual.

Perform the  Polemaster Routine

Perform a 1 star alignment?

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So without stating the obvious do you perform a basic mount alignment first or after performing the PoleMaster routine?

The QHL marketing page for the PoleMaster suggest after you have run the Polemaster routine you can "Just using the 1-star calibration or single star sync you can get your mount ready for GOTO."

So I would setup mount towards the North.

Level the mount as usual.

Perform the  Polemaster Routine

Perform a 1 star alignment?

Marketing hype I suspect. Goto alignment does much more than take into account polar alignment error - it corrects errors in the RA/DEC home position,  the alignment of the telescope on the mount itself, telescope cone errors and optical distortions - non of these can be measured or subsequently corrected by looking through the polar scope - be it traditional or a plate solving camera combination. 

Chris.

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I think I will wait for reviews and other peoples experience of this. It sounds great and if it can bring down my setup time as well as improving my PA.  However if the need to still perform the full alignment then it wont be saving me much time.

One to watch I think....

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The question you have to ask yourself is do you actually need full goto alignment. PoleMaster is only really of benefit to those doing long exposure imaging and typically those folks don't need perfect gotos across the entire sky as they will only be visiting one target each session. In that case a single star alignment near the intended target may well be good enough  - but that would be the case irrespective of whether PoleMaser was being used or not. My point was only that I doubt using PoleMaster would improve gotos to such an extent that anyone currently needing a three star alignment would be able to use a one star instead. However, those currently using a one star alignment may find that using PoleMaster offers some improvement as the polar alignment error component of the overall goto error has been reduced.

This all said many imagers, particularly of long exposure imagers, are using iterative platesolve, sync and goto methods nowadays - and with that you don't need to worry too much about star alignment at all.

Chris.

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I see the main advantage to this is not having to perform contortions to adjust the mount for PA whilst looking through the EP as I do my alignment and PA using ASPA before I get a camera involved. I only add the camera once I have a good PA, then I can just concentrate on taking images. I tried getting aligned and PA with the camera but didn't get on with that and it took so much longer to do as you have to keep a close eye on the cabling in case of snagging.

Peter

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I do along exposure photography and find that I have / like to perform at least 3 maybe 4 PA's before imaging. As you say I tend to only go to one target for the night however if I don't perform this number of PA's then its the guiding that tends to suffer.

If I can reduce the need to carry out 3 -4 PAs and just perform say a 3 star alignment instead then this would be very helpful, but as you mentioned earlier Goto alignment does more then PA Align so difficult to determine if it will help reduce time.

I am trying to get plate solving working but that's another can of worms. Especially when you are trying to go back to exact co-ordinates and orientation from previous images which may have been taken a couple of weeks previously. 

Its not clear whether the Polemaster software also needs to be constantly running and whether it adjusts the mounts PA accordingly. I would expect not as it would cause havoc with your guiding.

Lots of questions which I am sure will be answered once people have more time with the device.

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"Especially when you are trying to go back to exact co-ordinates and orientation from previous images which may have been taken a couple of weeks previously."

I don't know if you are using BYE but you can import a previous image so that you can align with the current image. I don't think that Polemaster adjusts anything - you do.

Peter

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Its not clear whether the Polemaster software also needs to be constantly running and whether it adjusts the mounts PA accordingly. I would expect not as it would cause havoc with your guiding.

The camera cannot adjust the PA as this is done mechanically by the alt/az bolts on the mount not via the mount head itself.

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"Especially when you are trying to go back to exact co-ordinates and orientation from previous images which may have been taken a couple of weeks previously."

I don't know if you are using BYE but you can import a previous image so that you can align with the current image. I don't think that Polemaster adjusts anything - you do.

Peter

Hi Peter,

Thanks. I have tried BYE and yes you are right in that you can align / overlay a previous image. It does then manually require you to move the mount via the controller. I got it close but it became apparent that it was the orientation of the camera which was causing the mismatch.

Although a small difference it was enough to be a big issue for DSS.

Yes make sense that it requires manual movement sounds obvious now come to think if it :embarrassed:

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I haven't done a visual star alignment since I installed AstroTortilla in over 2 years. Concerning the additional benefits of Goto Alignments, Im not sure if I should care about that. Unless it will increase my guided tracking accuracy in some fashion that I'm unfamiliar with, having dead on PA for long 10-30 minute subs without field rotation seems to be the white whale I'm searching for. But maybe I am not understanding that relationship fully.

With this polar axis mounted plate solving minicam, it seems to be a novel idea. If I setup 20 times a year this potentially gives me another 18+ integration hour deep image annually.

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The camera cannot adjust the PA as this is done mechanically by the alt/az bolts on the mount not via the mount head itself.

Now that is next level stuff right there. Some stepper motors on the Alt/Az bolts to automate PA. Nice.

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I haven't done a visual star alignment since I installed AstroTortilla in over 2 years. Concerning the additional benefits of Goto Alignments, Im not sure if I should care about that. Unless it will increase my guided tracking accuracy in some fashion that I'm unfamiliar with, having dead on PA for long 10-30 minute subs without field rotation seems to be the white whale I'm searching for. But maybe I am not understanding that relationship fully.

With this polar axis mounted plate solving minicam, it seems to be a novel idea. If I setup 20 times a year this potentially gives me another 18+ integration hour deep image annually.

This is exactly what I was searching for. I use SGP so all I care about is decent polar alignment with a minimum of fuss. SGP deals with the rest. Drift align takes a large chunk of time with a temporary setup, and being in the UK that time is a premium.

Cheers

Ross

Sent from my SM-N9005 using Tapatalk

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Can someone who has got a Polemaster post a screen shot through the scope itself, preferably pointing to NCP? I think that the software can take a snapshot via File->Save as BMP.

From the blurb it mentions a FOV of 15x10 degrees. I'd like to see what Polaris and potentially any other stars in the region looks like captured by it.

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