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Fed up with synguider - new guide camera time


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Hi all.


i've just given up on trying to use my synguider ii.  Have far too many problems trying to get it to acquire a star.  So I've made the decision to look for an alternative guider.


heres my current kit list...

main scope - Meade lx-90. (Not changing this)

guide scope SkyWatcher St-80


main camera canon 70d -stand alone at the moment

Laptop - MacBook Pro15"  (not the best for astronomy - more later)


the synguider is mounted to the st-80 at the moment.  The problem is that I cannot get it to find stars to guide on. Part of the issue is that I cannot see the field of view for the camera.   So I think it's time to bite the bullet and change the guide camera to something else.  I've never used ascom, and i don't it will work on the mac so this is going to be a major project.

im thinking about a new setup using a camera, and a new cheap laptop.   Then running Remote Desktop from my mac to be able to control the scope from in the warmth.

i would love to be able to run my dslr from the laptop as well, including focussing - I've got the #909 apm and an electric focusser


my question is what cameras should I be looking at?


im thinking something like a ZWO - https://www.firstlightoptics.com/zwo-cameras/zwo-asi120mm-s-usb-3-mono-camera.html

that ill plug into a new cheap laptop (windows 10). Then Remote Desktop from my mac.

im guessing that I would need a USB to Rs232 cable so that I can control the scope.


im interested to hear everyone's opinions on this idea.  My goal is to end up with a good guiding setup that does not have problems finding stars when I can see stars in the FoV of the St-80 with an eyepiece attached.

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For those interested, the root problem seems to be that the synguider is not sensitive enough.  I can get it to work with Capella, so I know the focus is good.  When I slew to M45, nothing shows up at any exposure setting.

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i used to have an LX90 with ST80 piggybacked to guide through, I used an old Meade DSI colour as my guide cam and it was superb, I also used teamviewer to Remote Desktop the lot, and control the scope via APT, it all worked like a charm.

i used to guide using the serial port on the Meade handset, and PHD, even though I had the 909 port, they guide better using pulse guiding through the handset, and controlled the scope from my PC using a serial to USB adapter.

 the guiding and scope control is done through the same serial cable from handset to PC.

i would look at a loadstar guide cam, there is one for sale on here ATM, for £220 best thing I ever bought, superb with the ST80 never fails to find a guide star.

the one thing I will say with the LX90 and piggybacked guide scope,  is the balance need to be excellent, invest in a good 2D balance set up, I did and got subs of 15mins with nice round stars.

Hope that helps, and any questions please ask :)

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The DSI was a great little guide cam on the ST80, you will need to download the Meade Envisage software as that includes drivers for the DSI, then it can be used in PHD for guiding, also envisage is the Meade software for guiding and imaging with the DSI, which could also be used but it is takes a bit of getting used to.


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I tried the Synguider when it first came out - I couldn't get it to work but that was because of my setup (drivers etc.) not the camera - sorry to hear it didn't work out for you as it seems like a great idea.

I use an ASI120MC for guiding (and planetary imaging when its not guiding) coupled with an AltAir 60mm finder which is a huge weight saver

If you get the ASI120MC with the cctv lens you can do some "all sky" work too which can be fun

I actually have two of these cameras - one for guiding and one that's mounted to the scope to keep an eye on the clouds while I'm sat in side :-)

Never had any problems finding stars through it using PHD2 :-)

Hope that helps







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Something is wrong here. The ST80 is a fast F5 scope. (I know point sources are not bound by the F ratio rule but in an ST80 stars are not point sources!) I think it probable that the gain setting or something else is not right in the Synguider, which is just a QHY5, from memory? You should be drowning in guide stars so, if you are not, it will be a camera fault or, most likely, a setting somewhere.


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I had a 2nd hand LVI Smartguider II a while ago, it was a complete faff to use. You had to use the parfocal eyepiece to check focus then swap it with the camera and hope nothing moved (no live-view). I ended up getting rid of it about a year later after having had enough.

Then I got a QHY5L-II-M and used that with my netbook and PHD2. Much easier to see what is happening and to diagnose problems.

Recently I picked up a bargain priced 2nd hand LaCerta M-Gen II. I wanted one for when I want to go totally PC free. It works really well, being easy to use and to see what is happening.

If you don't need to be PC free, a camera like the QHY5 is hard to beat... otherwise the only real alternative I am led to believe is the M-Gen II.

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I've been thinking about this quite a bit.  My thought is the root cause of the problem might be that I can't see the FoV of the camera.  This in turn makes it hard to know if the stars are in focus - I'm now wondering if that was part of the problem.   I know when I used anc eyepiece there were plenty of stars in the FoV.


Before I finally give up on the synguider, might just spend a night pointing it at a star like Capella.  Then go to a slightly less bright star, then work down until I have dim stars.  With any luck it will highlight the problem setting and i can fix it from there.  Luckily, I have a flip mirror on my guide scope so it should be possible to get everything working properly.


failing that, it'll be time to find a much more sensitive camera.   As I said might try my DSI and see if I can get results from that.

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I have been using a Synguider for about 18 months and although I had problems with the initial set up I have had no problems since. I just plug in the power find a star and away we go. the only thing that lets it down IMO is that you cant dither with it. If you want to guide without a laptop sitting outside, I dont think you can beat it.

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Just made the decision to switch away from the SynGuider II to a Starlight Xpress Superstar.  Getting the monochrome version, as it means it's more sensitive camera than the colour version.


There's lots of reasons for doing this here's my thought process.

1. Chip should be much more sensitive than the SynGuiders chip.

2. The screen on the back of the SynGuider is dim with a narrow viewing angle.  Means you have to sit under the scope to see the screen.

3. Hard to find guide stars on the SynGuider. As you cannot directly see the FoV of the camera, it's hard to know if the camera is pointing at a star, of if it's in focus etc.


The downside of using the a laptop is that I need to have the laptop present to be able to capture images - means more power required.    My setup was build with this limitation already in mind, so it shouldn't be a big deal.

My battery pack is based around an 85Ah battery, so that should be enough power to run a laptop for the night.

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