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Lodestar 1 and 2 compared


michaelmorris

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Three years ago I splashed out on a SX Lodestar 1 guide camera because I just couldn't get on with the QHY 5 camera I had bought secondhand.  The Lodestar was a revelation, with a simple set up and a wealth of potential guide stars in almost very star field.  Someone has recently offered me a SX Lodestar 2 camera secondhand.  My research on the interweb brought up only one direct comparison study of the two versions of these cameras.  

http://www.astrosurf.com/comolli/strum60.htm

Despite the manufacturer's claims, this study found little practical difference between the two models.

I decided to try the Lodestar 2 up against my existing Lodestar 1 to see if I drew the same conclusions.

First of all I compared how noisy the two cameras were.  I took 2 and 10 second darks with both cameras (see picture below).   The Lodestar 2 produced a noticeably cleaner image with less noise, less amp low and fewer hot pixels.  The difference in hot pixel numbers may simply be down to a possible difference in age of the two cameras.

Next I took single 1 second exposures of the same patch of sky (see picture below).  The Lodestar 2 was noticeably more sensitive than the Lodestar 1, showing many more faint stars (Pictures have a approx. 90 deg difference in orientation).

Conclusions

For the examples tested, the Lodestar 2 displayed much less noise and was more noticeably sensitive than the Lodestar 1 camera.

lodestar darks.jpg

lodestar stars.jpg

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Good post.

I've no need for more sensitity than I find with my Lodestar Mk Ones though, obviously, a better SNR is always a good thing. I prefer to guide using ST4 and, on one mount, have no choice anyway - and here lies the bane of the Mk1. The cable connections. They are dreadful. The mini USB is too close to the mini ST4 (whcih is a darned stupid little thing to specify for a moving outdoor application) and presses on it unless you shave off some of the sheath on the USB. Connection breakdown happens fairly regularly (bearing in mind that I'm imaging for thousands of hours per year) and simple failures of the mini ST4 also happen quite often. This is so annyoing on what is otherwise a great guider. I know all the tricks and dodges, the looping round and fixing of cables onto onto the camera body, the TS cable suppoort, etc etc. and they don't work. What works, when you  get a failed connection, is changing the cable route. This leads you to believe that the change has found the souttion but it hasn't. In time you'll need a different change to revitalize the connection.

Id buy a Mk2 just for the cable connections.

Olly

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