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Tiki

Setting-up time?

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How long does it take to get set-up for a session of imaging?

By set-up I mean; place the mount/scope on the patio, polar align, calibrate the guiding, point the telescope precisely (ie. plate solve) and focus. Assume a sampling rate of 2.75"/pixel and requirement of 5minute subs.

Are there any particular mounts/software/gizmos that would make it quicker to get up and running?  What sort of a time saving would a permanent rig in an observatory likely yield?

Thanks,

Paul

 

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I have a permanent pier that I leave the scope fitted to most of the time.

Unless I have had the scope off setup entails:

1) Opening up the obsy and remove lens caps (1min)

2) Powering up all systems and booting obsy laptop (2min although in the winter everything is left on as the heat generated is beneficial)

3) Start software; Artemis, CDC, PHD2 and astrotortilla (2min).

4) Connect to mount and slew to target with CDC, disconnect from mount (1min).

5) Take a short binned sub in Artemis and plate solve in Astro tortilla , sync and re-slew (2min).

6) Calibrate PHD2 and commence guiding (5min).

7) Select desired filter and focus (2min).

Setup is then ready to image so 15 minutes all going well.

Without the obsy setup would be much longer with levelling tripod and polar aligning.

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I feel I've been "setting up" for about 6 years since I first bought a scope.  Who knows .....  One day .....  maybe ...... I'll get a decent image.  ;) 

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From a cold start -- everything in the basement where I left it from the previous night -- it takes me about an hour to get to the point of starting the first exposure. That includes setting up the scope, mount and accoutrements, aligning for GOTO, polar aligning (software assisted), finding and framing the target, focusing, getting the guider going, and doing one final check-over before starting. It helps to have a plan (know your target, know the stars you're aligning to, know the exposures you want to take, etc.). And, time allowing, some times I'll set things out before dusk/dinner so when I go out all I have to do is power up and start aligning things.

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For me with a static tripod on the patio it takes about 20mins, thats a 2 star align, 3 calib stars and a precise goto, then focusing. Then hit the Mgen guider, find guide star and calibrate.

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Don't forget that, if you are not keeping the scope outside, the recommended 'cool-down' time is 5mins per inch of aperture, which, for your 8" scope, would be 40mins. That's once it is outside, so (presumably) once the mount has been set up. I suspect, with practice, this would become your limiting time.

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Thanks for the replies so far.

 

1 minute ago, Demonperformer said:

Don't forget that, if you are not keeping the scope outside, the recommended 'cool-down' time is 5mins per inch of aperture, which, for your 8" scope, would be 40mins. That's once it is outside, so (presumably) once the mount has been set up. I suspect, with practice, this would become your limiting time.

Thanks DP, I hadn't thought about the cool down time too much but I would be imaging with my 4" scope. It is the prospect of too much fiddling that has kept me away from imaging so far.

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Polemaster sounds like it has the potential to dramatically speed up polar alignment of the mount.  Lots of good reviews of it around.

 

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I have to lug everything in and out each time I setup, and I'd say it takes about 45 - 50 minutes if it goes well.

I'm looking at tying all the cables together into a wiring loom, I need to get some cable ties or some fancy cable braid. I doubt it'll save much time, but every little bit helps, and will neaten everything up.

And while it's not so heavy that I can't carry it all in one go, I now think that it's quicker when taken out as two separate parts (mount and scopes).

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Took me about 3 hours the first time. But you learn tricks and short-cuts every time you go out so get quicker and quicker.

Now, 40 minutes to an hour and I have to lug everything out and wire it all up each time. And that is from opening the door to starting the first sub for photography. Obviously something can always go wrong, but once you get a system going it will be much smoother every night. And, as suggested, you can use the set-up time for cool-down. 

At the other end it is best not to rush either as you will probably muck something up along the way and spend hours trying to figure out why something isn't working...and in the dark... in the cold...

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Although I have to set up each time I try and keep everything ready to go if and when the opportunity arises. I suppose I could (and have) get everything set up and running in under an hour. But actually that's not how I like to set up. If I'm going for a full imaging session I will have been watching the weather most of the  afternoon. I will have been checking out MET satellite images, weather websites like the BBC and Clear Outside. I make a decision mid-afternoon to go for it. Now this is the advantage of being retired. I can then set everything up at a leisurely pace. Get power to the where I need it, my lap top installed, tripod, mount and telescope, achieve balance, connect cables, check the mount is connected and other various devices all during the day. Then it's time to eat and get changed into suitably warm clothes.  I then go out as daylight begins to fade ready to polar align and make a start.  So that's several hours of preparation, but it's how I like to do it.  In fact I enjoy the set up time spent like this.  

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I have a roll-off shed Obsy that is ready to plate-solve and go to a target in less then ten minutes!

However, the two longest stages to starting imaging proper are:

  1. Focusing - usually at least 20 minutes before I'm happy (especially for narrow-band);
  2. Letting the guiding settle down to take out the backlash in my "budget"* AZ-EQ6 mount - another 5-10 minutes.

So, even with an Obsy, my minimum time to start properly imaging is usually around 40 minutes.

* "budget" - lols! ;)

 

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4 hours ago, Tiki said:

How long does it take to get set-up for a session of imaging?

By set-up I mean; place the mount/scope on the patio, polar align, calibrate the guiding, point the telescope precisely (ie. plate solve) and focus. Assume a sampling rate of 2.75"/pixel and requirement of 5minute subs.

Are there any particular mounts/software/gizmos that would make it quicker to get up and running?  What sort of a time saving would a permanent rig in an observatory likely yield?

Thanks,

Paul

 

Way too long, precisely the reason I built an observatory. It is singly the best investment I have made in this hobby. It has cut set up time to a fraction of what I used to experience.

image.jpeg

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Takes me about 20-25 min to set up from scratch, maybe a little longer if im returning to a mosaic (as I need to find the previous pointing location). With the R&P focuser on the Star71, I can usually skip the focusing bit becuase I can be pretty certain it wont have moved since the last outing - so that saves a few min.

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+1 for demonperformer- I have come down from several hours to about 30-60 minutes. The limiting factor for me is the cool-down of both the mirror and my old

2nd hand qhy8 ccd. I usually start to set up when the first stars show up, ie with the beginning of nautical twilight so that everything is ready about 1 hr after that. And why the heck is this bold? *sigh*

 

Edited by uhb1966
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Having an obsy eliminates most of cool down and polar align phase, which cuts the time probably in half (at least).

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I timed it the other day and from thinking about it to capturing images with portable mount takes 7 mins that includes getting the scope out of its case and mounting it, carrying everything outside, polar aligning, the joys of an EQ3-2.

Alan

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24 minutes ago, uhb1966 said:

ready about 1 hr after that. And why the heck is this bold? *sigh*

 

Because it's all too easy to click on the B when you start a post :grin:

Dave

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Hi Dave, nope... i did a cut + paste, and clicking on the B didnt remove it (?) possibly some embedded html code... B)  PS: very nice gear list !!!

Edited by uhb1966

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1.5 to 2 hours for me to get everything outside, polar align, then try to figure out why the auto-guiding isn't working tonight when it worked perfectly the last time :happy8:

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My best is an hour. All my kit is setup in the garage. Carry out, polar align. This is aided by having washers araldited to the drive. the biggest problem I have is connections i.e. getting everything talking to each other.

Tonight was a god damn nightmare. Recently updated Windows and cleaned out "redundant" files - that seemed to have included necessary drivers etc. Aaaahhhhh!!!!!!!!

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10 minutes. That includes carrying my scope and camera outside to my mount which stays on its permanent pier, plugging in the leads, powering the rig up and starting the software. A simple fast slew is all the mount requires to be on target, no plate solves or guiding. I will normally check the temperature of the OTA and compare that to ambient, try a couple of autofocus runs to see if it is stable before starting

ChrisH

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That's fast Chris.

For me, and depending on which telescope I am using. It normally takes between 5 to 10 minutes to get everything set up.  All I do is plug all usb leads in and fire up SGP or APT.

 I also keep my G11 on a permanent pier.

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Reading these posts it's quite clear, at the risk of stating the bloomin' obvious, that having an observatory makes all the difference to set up time.  

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I managed to get my obsy built this year, it was not imaging set up times that led me to do this but the awful UK weather and the need to take advantage of any clear patches.

I can be out observing within 5 minutes.

IMG_0003.JPG

IMG_0329.JPG

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