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Gina

Thoughts on which imaging rigs to concentrate on

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I now have a number of options for imaging this coming season. 

FOV ranges available with various scopes and lenses :-

  1. 1000mm FL MN190 Pro Mak-Newt
  2. 400mm FL Esprit 80ED Pro plus 2 x ST80
  3. 105mm (and others) Ex Asahi Pentax camera lenses
  4. 2.5mm fisheye for all sky

My fields of view range from all sky through NB with 3 cameras and 3 lenses widefield to 400mm triple scopes and cameras to 1000mm single 190MN Mak-Newt.  I have the following cameras :-

  1. 3x Atik 460EX
  2. ZWO ASI1600MM-Cool
  3. ZWO ASI178MM - currently on all sky camera
  4. ZWO ASI185MC

And mounts :-

  1. EQ8 main mount in observatory
  2. NEQ6 with Skywatcher Pillar Mount currently uncovered. 
  3. The all sky camera is mounted on an aluminium tube mast attached to the side of the warm room.

==============================================

Now to the nitty-gritty - The main limitation as to what I can use will be the mounts.  If I can get my head round it I could have two imaging sessions running at the same time plus the all sky camera.

I currently have 4 projects on the books :-

  1. All sky camera - currently in progress
  2. Triple widefield narrow band imaging rig - on hold
  3. Triple 400mm narrow band imaging rig - also on hold
  4. Changing to Linux OS for imaging with Raspberry Pi - investigating

I'm also keen to try the ASI1200MM-Cool camera which may not need guiding and thus could save a fair bit of hassle.  I'm thinking of trying it with the MN190 or maybe the Esprit 80ED but I guess the wider aperture camera lenses would mean shorter exposures and no guiding.

What occurs to me is that I'm trying to do far too much at a time and that I must concentrate on one or two things and leave the others until later (if at all).

I have the NEQ6 mount on it's tripod in my living room so I can experiment with controlling that without going outside.  Once I have things working I can hump the mount out onto the Pillar for an imaging session.  I also have the PoleMaster PA alignment camera already attached to the NEQ6 which I can try once I put the NEQ6 outside.

Edited by Gina
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My 2p (and it's probably worth a lot less than that) ...

I would think that something that would pay real dividends when set up would be your triple 400mm NB rig. I'm sure the EQ8 would handle that with ease and considering the amount of time needed in each bandwidth, being able to take all three at once would seem to have major potential. I'm presuming that you would only need to guide on one scope and success would be dependant upon how solidly the scopes were held together.

Thanks.

And you are going to love the polemaster ... so simple even I can do it!

Edited by Demonperformer
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The summer is such a lovely time for Cygnus ..... There's enough to keep you busy at all focal lengths. 

I'd personally look at the 400mm focal length and the Esprit....... You could line up the Esprit and ST80's and get NB on the ST80's and luminance on the Esprit - All on the EQ8.

But I guess with so many choices I guess I'd be considering which one you feel would be more productive in terms of least time lost in setup and trouble shooting. You want to be up and running and gathering the maximum amount of data with mimimal fuss...... which of the rigs would give you this? How about starting simple and just running the Esprit with the new ASI1600 (or the 460 if the ASI1600 gives any connectivity problems )

Sure there's a lot to be said for getting loads of data, but if it's been a while and you are feeling in the slightest bit daunted with more than one setup running at once... then just concentrate on one scope (the easiest) and one camera (the easiest!) Start small and simple - there's some lovely mono Ha in Cygnus - then adjust things when you feel it's the right time.

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Thank you both :)

There's quite a bit to do to get the 400mm triple scope imaging system running again but the Esprit on its own with the ASI1600MM-Cool maybe with just an Ha filter, should be quite quick to set up.  Hopefully the EQ8 should still be reasonable for PA.  OTOH I have a filter holder adapter for Asahi lenses and could do widefield Ha with the ASI1600MM-Cool.

I have been thinking of doing mono Ha imaging as something nice and simple.  I have SharpCap running with ZWO cameras for my all sky camera and I think that will do for the biggie.  It's capable of taking a series of single frames as well as video.  There is also APT which has seen many updates since I last used it and I have a feeling it will cater for ZWO cameras.  I found that very capable and pleasant to use in the past.

Just to add - I feel with some clear night skies that I need to do something about DSO imaging and if I can get something going I shall feel happier at investigating new stuff.

Edited by Gina

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I would suggest using your most simple and reliable setup at first - fewer bugs to flatten before you start getting some nice images!

ChrisH

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Simple I can do - reliable was something I never achieved!  Problems with USB and Windows 7 has added to the weather in putting me off imaging.  One advantage with the ASI1600MM-Cool is that it has a built-in USB hub so altogether 3 USB devices in one - camera and two others.

The 1600 on the Esprit gives the following :- 4656 x 3520 pixels of 3.8 microns giving FOV of 2.53° x 1.92° with a resolution of 1.96"/pixel.  This resolution is about the limit of seeing here.

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It's the multi rig that really does the business for us. That's the dual Tak. The TEC is a luxury on the side but the multi rig is fast...  Now, sure, I personally have lots of clear skies here but the guests who come for just a week have just a week. The tandem is the thing. I counsel... multi-scoping! :headbang2:

Olly

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I shall be totally selfish and say that I am waiting to see how you get on with the 1600.  I am so impressed with the other ZWO offerings I own (or have owned) especially as they run natively on my Mac.

Edited by Owmuchonomy
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Thanks Olly and Chris :)

I've been looking at the 400mm triple scope imaging rig and the main thing it wants is the control box.  This will contain a powered USB hub and Arduino focussing control plus fuses etc.  For damp nights I shall have to add dew heaters and these will also need connectors on the control box.  I seem to have mislaid the T2 adapter for the Esprit :(

The widefield triple imaging rig needs the main frame making and that is even more work.

ZWO have ASCOM drivers available for download so I could use APT for imaging and maybe get the 1600 working.  Don't think it would be very good on the MN190 with its small pixels and resolution of 0.78"/pixel - rather oversampled with the seeing we usually get here though with a FOV of 1.01° x 0.77° it would be quite good for the moon with extremely short exposures.  Wouldn't need any filters either.  I haven't imaged the moon for a few years and might be just something silly to get something working.  No guiding required either.

   
Edited by Gina

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I've been out to the observatory and checked a couple of things.  The roof opens fine, the backup battery is half charged and I've left it charging.  Mount power is fine.  Scope control box is present - feeds focus motor and supplies power to the dew heater.  Camera power plugs are also there ready.

For imaging the moon with the MN190 and ASI1600MM-Cool I shall need USB for 1.) mount and 2.) control box which can be connected to the camera hub.  Software my need ASCOM updating and ZWO driver installing and APT updating.  I've been going through the imaging laptop and cleaning up.  I found defrag was scheduled for 0100 Wednesday mornings - that could be some of the times it failed.

Edited by Gina

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I have my first test image with the ASI1600MM-Cool not with the MN190 but with the Esprit 80ED pointing out of the living room window.  This is without any filter though the EFW2 is in the optical path as is the OAG.  This gives the right distance for the field flattener for the Esprit.  Software is SharpCap and this is a screenshot of the Preview screen.  There is around 20% cropping as the camera resolution is too much for the laptop screen.  There is also loss of resolution due to uploading here.  The camera cooling is OFF as I'm using USB power only.

Test 01.JPG

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Here is a second test of the ASI1600MM using APT and also the Ha 5nm filter as it was too bright without (just realised I should have refocussed).  No cooling hence showing a temperature of 24°C.

Test 02.JPG

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One thing the image above does show is that there is no vignetting with 1.25" filters with this setup.  1600 camera screwed directly onto EFW2 using the M-M T2 adapter ring supplied with the camera.

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Refocussed with Ha filter.

Test 03.JPG

Edited by Gina

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With the good test result with the Ha filter on the Esprit I feel a bit inclined to go for this and try DSO imaging in Cygnus rather than the moon with the MN190.  Only problem is that I haven't got remote focussing or dew heater set up for the Esprit.  I think I can focus fairly well manually on the Esprit with the extra large gear added to the fine focus knob.  With the moon out I can focus on that with plenty of brightness.

One thing to be said for using the MN190 is that it is already on the mount - just depends if the control box etc. is actually working.  I'll pop out and see shortly.

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The current hub wouldn't cope with the ASI1600MM-Cool so I've connected directly to a second port on the laptop and it's working.  Here's a moon shot.

Test 04.JPG

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Now capturing 100 subs of the moon - exposure 100 microseconds.

Test 05.JPG

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I think I'm satisfied with the moon and I might see if I can get the Esprit on the mount and try DSO imaging in Ha.  Might have to leave it until tomorrow night though as the light is fading and I haven't got any lighting working in the scope room.

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Definitely too dark to risk changing scopes tonight so hoping it will still be clear tomorrow night.  Anyway, a pretty good session tonight proving the gear works :)

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Here is a section of the moon still resized a bit to fit the upload criteria and saved in PNG format.  This was focussed by hand so a sharper image may be possible.  I also overexposed it - APT doesn't have auto-exposure.  Also this is one sub and stacking a number would probably also result in a better image.

L_2016-08-15_21-16-03_2016-08-15_21-16-03.png

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Looking at setting up the Esprit with FW and ASI1600MM-Cool.  The little power distribution & control box for the MN190 will be fine for the Esprit.  I shall also use the ADM dovetail bar that I used with the MN190, removing the scope rings and screwing the foot of the Esprit to it.  The control box includes focus control and has a stepper driver board with socket for motor.  So I just have to make up a bracket to attach to the dovetail bar and take the motor.  I should be able to make that this afternoon.

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Been working on the Esprit with FW and ASI1600MM-Cool rig and have made a bracket plus little box to hold the stepper motor driver board.  Now printing a cover for the control box that was previously covered by the MN190 scope.

Here are some photos showing the focus control and power distribution box that I used with the NM190 with and without lid and the stepper motor bracket and box for focussing, using the reduction drive knob.

Control Box 01.jpgControl Box 02.jpgControl Box 03.jpgControl Box 04.jpg

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I think the 400mm triple rig may not take too much more work to get it going and I agree that this rig could be a great bit of kit if I can get it working properly. 

To make use of the ASI1600MM-Cool I might set up a widefield rig using a camera lens or maybe an Evostar 80 ED with reducer/flattener, on the NEQ6. 

What to do about filters I'm not sure.  I have Astrodon 5.25" and Baader 36mm unmounted ones for narrow band.  The Astrodons are narrower bandwidth.  The EFW2 takes 5.25" filters but I have the makings of a DIY filter wheel that takes 36mm unmounted filters.  I'm planning on getting a 3nm Ha Astrodon just to confuse things further.  I would think the 400mm triple rig with 460EX mono cameras will get the best filters.

Edited by Gina

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Have the Esprit etc. on the mount with 1600 and remote focuser working - focuser box connected to camera hub.  But I can't get the mount to connect tonight.  The problem is that ASCOM only works up to com16 and Win7 is choosing com21 from the USB hub or com22 when connected directly to the laptop :(   I'd have thought they would have fixed that after all these years of updates!!  I seem to remember seeing a way round this a couple of years ago - will do a search...

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Found it :)  In my documents folder on my main desktop.  can't remember where it cam from so I don't know who to thank...

Quote

HI thought I would post this as it may be useful to anyone having com port problems as if you are unplugging and replugging devices into different usb slots, then each time a new higher numbered com port is likely to be allocated leaving phantom com ports behind.
So to clear old com ports for windows 7, as windows xp method wont do it on 7.
To permanentely display the phantom devices in device manager first right click computer>properties>advanced system settings>advanced tab>environmental variables at the bottom. Click new and put in variable name box the following devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices then put 1 in the variable value box then ok and out.now click start right click computer>properties>device manager>view>show hidden devices then find com ports right click on each of these and uninstall restart computer and that should sort it.

Hi I forgot to mention that when you show hidden devices and then right click on the com ports a warning message appears saying you are about to uninstall this device are you sure you want to continue don't worry about this you wont because in this message box is a tickbox giving the option to uninstall the driver software make sure this is unticked.Next time you plug in your mount or focuser etc then a new lower com port will be allocated and if you continue to use the same usb slot for these devices the same com port should be allocated each time

 

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