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Tiki

Setting-up time?

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2 hours ago, Ouroboros said:

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.  

Perhaps, but having a permanent pier with mount always attached, and also all the wiring permanently installed (in my case running underground to my warm room) provides 95% of the benefits the observatory would offer.

ChrisH

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18 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

 

I box most of my stuff into original packaging - except the tripod.

Can normally be up and running gin under an hour, aligned and guide star selected and tracking.

Last night from a standing start it to assembly completed was 30mins: 

  • put out the tripod and level it, roughly north by compass - and eye (I know the markers on the horizon - there's one dead try north) - fit the PoleMaster
  • attach the mount put the bolts back in
  • mount the OTA (C8 last night) , piggy back guide scope (ST80), guide camera
  • focuser on the tube, DSLR, camera, nosepiece, filter and power (I use one of the mains powered battery replacement ), star sense,
  • run all the cables (15 mins for that bit :()

1hr to cool everything down - inside temp 19C, outside temp 16C. I made dinner.

  • Polar aligned with Polemaster - 5 min
  • Mount align with Starsense, inc recalibration of camera, 10mins
  • Focus and guide star selection - normal 15-20 mins, last night 2hrs (failed) because of the moon flooding everything out.

The last three I usually do while the OTA is cooling down.

I'm very much still learning this.

 

 

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30 minutes ago, ChrisLX200 said:

Perhaps, but having a permanent pier with mount always attached, and also all the wiring permanently installed (in my case running underground to my warm room) provides 95% of the benefits the observatory would offer.

ChrisH

Yes, I think this might be an option for me. I use the warm room approach (a dedicated shed) with a sort of patio area outside for the telescope. So even though the kit is as close as it can be to the set up area it still has to be assembled and got working. Every time is a new adventure! :)  The problem partly is that the said patio area is a bit of a feature that we use for a table and chairs. It's a nice place to have coffee in the morning. So I wouldn't be very popular digging it up (again) and a putting a boxed permanent pier and mount in its place.  Perhaps I could build a permanent pier that doubles up as a coffee table. ;) 

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I've a low internal garden wall with several corner pillars, so  I was thinking i would replace one of those corner pillars with a pier tall enough for OTA and camera to clear the wall.

No intrusion onto the patio area.

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Chris is very fast indeed. It's a bonus of a very accurate undguided mount, partly.

From inside my roll off roof observatory I'd say it takes half an hour to get to 'press capture' but that's with a tandem rig. So it's open roof, align on star by eye, power up both cameras, centre star in camera and confirm on mount, focus both sides, set up new files for both cameras, slew to object, frame, launch guider... press capture. If it's less than half an hour it won't be much less.

The time saved in having an observatory is huge and the stress is diminished enormously.  I am full of respect for those who have to carry kit outside and build it up. As for going to a dark site to do it, heroic! :headbang:

Olly

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I rarely go from a standing start. If I am going to set up for the evening, I usually take everything outside and wire everything up when it is still light. As soon as polaris is available in the PoleMaster I can polar align and slew to target etc. Once it is dark enough for calibration of PHD, I do that and then can leisurely kick off the imaging run when needed. End to end would be about 40 minutes at a guess, but would probably be longer as it would be in the dark!

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Around 30 minutes for me:

  • Transfer mount from garage to patio
  • Connect everything together and power up (when imaging at home I use mains from an external socket)
  • Turn on dew heaters
  • Cool down camera/polar align with Polemaster
  • Slew to bright star e.g. Deneb, to focus with Bahtinov mask
  • Slew to intended DSO/area of sky 
  • Plate solve with Astrotortilla
  • Calibrate guiding with PHD2
  • Start session

I have my dew heater controller, focus controller, usb hub and camera power supply semi-permanently fixed to my mount with velcro and pre-plugged, which cuts down on the faff significantly. I also only have to plug one power cable into my home made power distribution box (the same one that contains the dew heaters and focus controller) which again makes life a lot easier. I tend to stick to widefield these days using camera lenses so cool down isn't as much of an issue for me :icon_biggrin:

Still wish I could have a pier though but my other half won't go for it...

RLD-WF.jpg

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Either washers on patio or drill 3 smallish holes. Marks on weights bar for balance, same on the dovetail. I try and set up at dusk, just able to see polaris through polar scope to get PA then 2 star alignment. It'll be dark enough to do that but not dark enough for imaging.  It just stops any need to rush, have a coffee, watch tv, go to the loo!!! I've even put a mark for general camera focus. Even have PHD and APT already loaded. About 30 minutes all in. Then I can't find the torch...

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As mentioned having everything labeled up and ready makes setup a lot easier. I have to set up every time and usually in different locations and have recently trimmed all my cables to length and mounted a USB hub on the dovetail bar. I can now be up and imaging in about 30 minutes.

Keep all your cables and bits and bobs together that you actually use...I have a number of other bits (clamps, cables etc.) that I keep separate so as not to get in the way.

That way, once the box/bag/case is empty you know everything is connected up and nothing has been forgotten.

Mark off dovetail and counterweight positions and you won't even have to balance your mount.

My astro PC has all the icons on the desktop that I use placed in usage order...

Also as mentioned, have a target sorted before you go out then you are not wasting imaging time looking for an appropriate target.

 

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I suppose I should add that, if it is necessary to run a new mount model then that job will add another 30-60minutes depending on which camera I use, the big Moravian G4-16000 being much slower to download 4096x4096 images so takes longer to run. However, I've not needed to do that for several months now since making some end-stops which precisely reposition of the OTA onto the saddle plate. The accuracy of the 10-Micron GM2000HPS-II is still breathtaking compared to my previous G11, if re-mounting the same OTA as last time then the 10-Micron will exactly place the target within a few arcseconds and track it with no more attention following power up and un-park. If I intend to change OTAs then I will certainly need to run a new model, but the big ODK12 takes an age to cool down anyway (1-2 hours even with fans running) and is totally useless until it has done so. The 100-point model run is fully automated thanks to Per's ModelMaker software so that can be left to get on with the job unattended. Per was going to modify ModelMaker so it would run with a sub-frame for the Moravian camera which would have reduced the run time but sadly he left us for a better place far too soon. :( 

ChrisH

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4 hours ago, ollypenrice said:

The time saved in having an observatory is huge and the stress is diminished enormously.  I am full of respect for those who have to carry kit outside and build it up. As for going to a dark site to do it, heroic! :headbang:

Seconded absolutely heroic.

With my ROR it is about 5-10 minutes including walking to the obs and pushing the roof back. If I have opened the roof earlier in the evening then a bit less. I can run the rig hard wired from a bedroom or from a laptop in front of the TV or elsewhere in the house via wifi. 

Regards Andrew

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12 hours ago, baggywrinkle said:

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

Wow...this is soooo cool... wonna have !!!

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I forgot to mention in my previous post that if I go to a dark site to shoot OSC rather than gathering NB data in the more predictable environment of my back yard, everything that can go wrong does and I can multiply my setup time by a factor of three, no matter how organised my kit and I seem to be :D

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Thanks very much everyone. I appreciate the time that has been spent in providing so much detail.

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I'm currently a set up and take down imager, and from deciding to go out and capturing my first sub is about 2 hrs, biggest variable is drift alignment, there always seems to be some cloud around to mess this up.

I found workplace configuration really helps, everything in its proper place and doing it the same way every time, just like an F1 pit stop only slower:grin:

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Used to take me a couple of hours but gradually I've managed to get that down.

If I've not observed for a while I have to spend 5-10 mins attaching a few balance bars to my scope as it doesn't fit in the storage case with them left on. From that point to everything connected and a basic one star polar align outside is about 20 mins (little more if you account for transporting gear downstairs). I'd say a further 5 mins to switch over to my imaging setup and rebalance.

So up to this point ~40 mins. Polar alignment has been a thorn in my side. I'm going to try to use ekos next session (applied a few fixes to it so it should work well this time) and hopefully that will get me to a minimum PA time, but without that I can sometimes eat through 30-60 mins trying to drift align.

Focusing, doesn't take too long 5-10 mins but my focuser is a relative one so getting it spot on is quite hard and I usually go for closer enough. I'm planning on adding a zero image shift/absolute focuser to improve that.

All told about an hour if polar align goes well first time, if not it's anyone's guess and then there's the inevitable gremlins. Why is the wifi not connecting, why isn't plate solving working, why won't this bolt fit that fit fine the other evening, where did I leave my torch...

I really want to get a pier installed so I can leave the wedge attached and polar aligned. Then I expect my setup time would drop rapidly. I'd expect to be ready to image within 15-30 mins when I can cut out levelling tripod, pointing north, polar aligning etc

That said, it certainly doesn't feel like 60 mins :) I timed my packup the other night, ~10 minutes. if only setup was as quick :P

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With my new imaging kit I don't have a timeframe yet for setting up for guided imaging. Mainly because once I manage to get everything in the car, travel the 3 miles to the dark sky site (Durham Dales, milky way easily visible with naked eye :happy11: ) I found I've invariably either left a counterweight at home or the cable to connect the laptop to the battery pack so after half setting up I have to pack it all in and go home :hmh:

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Yeah I'm at about half an hour, but that doesn't include drift alignment etc.
This is the first mount I've used that has an inbuilt polar align scope and it's been pretty nice so far (CEM25)

 

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