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With new mount and upgraded scope features, now looking to venture into imaging.
Before I start, I'm not looking to get feedback on polar alignment, mono guidecam, better imaging cameras, etc; this is more a 'dummies guide' setup discussion! I'm not expecting to get great images at this stage, just more the options available, getting over some issues, so that I can jump outside on a clear night with an ideal, foolproof(!), setup for either imaging or visual as time would permit and what may work best for me. As you may guess from the topic name, I'm a mac user (Macbook Pro) and would rather keep to this if possible (whilst I do have Windows (and Ubuntu) via parallels, I'd rather not use these).
I've got a setup which has worked well for visual, and obviously want to have a couple of 'staple' setups that I can use depending on expectations of night observing or imaging. So far, the best one for me has been the Skywatcher Wifi Synscan controller, which has worked a treat with my Android phone - I use the Synscan app to complete alignment and GOTO stars/planets/DSO etc, or Stellarium_plus after completing alignment. This removes the need for the Synscan Handset and any USB cables to the mount altogether. But I don't know if this will work for guiding.
That then brings me to my issue on mac - connecting USB(A) between Macbook and Handset, I've attempted to control the mount through Stellarium. Trying each of the available connections (/dev/tty.usbsetial-1420, /dev/cu.usbsetial-1420, and just for sake of it, the /dev/tty.Bluetooth-Incoming-Port and /dev/cu.Bluetooth-Incoming-Port) in the dropdown menu under DeviceSettings/SerialPort, I cannot get the mount to connect (well, more like selecting the telescope and clicking the "Start" on the TelescopeControl just results in the spinning icon and I have to Force-Quit Stellarium and start again with the same result each time. Annoyingly (for fellow mac users!), Parallels/Windows/Stellarium connects and controls the mount fine! As the mount is the newer "pro" type, I also have a USB connection directly under the hand-controller RJ45 and AutoGuider ST4 sockets, but using this still results in the same issue. Another issue I have seen is that when I unplug the USB from the computer when connected to the handset, the date on the controller jumps significantly - for example, last night at ~23:30, I was transported through the local wormhole galaxy to Jan 2048 according to Synscan! Obviously unplugging isn't going to happen during a genuine session, but just wondering if this is a possible issue somewhere?!
Any other mac users connecting USB directly to the SW 'Pro' mounts?
Software wise, would folks generally suggest steering away from Stellarium towards KStars or SkySafari(Plus) for controlling the mount?
Can the Wifi dongle be used for controlling mount from computer (any OS) or do I need to go USB either to handset or directly to mount?
Is there an issue in using Mac USB to the telescope compared to 'straight' Windows (i.e. PC/laptop with Windows instead of virtual)?
Anyway, back to topic... I've a Nikon DSLR to use for primary camera at this stage, which would be triggered independently from guiding software. PHD2 is my hopeful choice of guiding software (is EKOS with KStars similar?), with T7C guide-camera on 240mm f/4 guidescope, and at this stage, I can confirm PHD2 at least connects to the camera on OS-X. There is an ST4 port on the camera, but having read several topics, I think I want to pulse-guide directly - is this correct or is ST4 best for this setup? This sorta comes back to software and connections - my understanding is one of the following cable setups for guiding (as a minimum) :
Guiding-camera => USB(A) => Macbook => PHD2 => USB(A) => SynscanHandset => AZEQ6
Guiding-camera => USB(A) => Macbook => PHD2 => USB(A) => AZEQ6
Guiding-camera => USB(A) => Macbook => PHD2 => Wifi => SynscaWifi Adapter on AZEQ6
[using ST4: ST4_on_AZEQ6 => Guiding-camera => USB(A) => Macbook => PHD2] (no additional connections needed if ST4 is used)
Additionally, I'd like to use an observatory package, say Stellarium/KStars/SkySafari, to select objects and drive the mount, then use guiding software to keep good 'tracking'.
Where in this train does EQMac fit in, or when is it used?
What about the 2019 addition to EQMod (ASCOM Alpaca)? Can this be used or is it already in other packages?!
For Windows users, how does EQMod fit in (if I go down route of getting Windows laptop for controlling things, is the setup similar to above?
There may be bits in the above that repeat, and for that, I'm sorry, just want to get across the message that I'm new to the guiding but haven't quite settled down into the software/hardware I'm expecting to use for 'goto' and 'guiding'
For a mac user, what setup and software are folks using for guiding and observatory softwares for the newer USB-on-mount 'AZEQ6/EQ6-R Pro' mounts from SW?
How to get quick and easy polar alignment and add a Push-To finder screen to an EQ2 mounted scope, all for £20.By Gasconman
I’ve found two apps and a couple of pieces of photo kit that I think could be a big help to other raw beginners like me. But before I get into detail on those, I would just like to mention my experience with my red dot finder.
The Sky-Watcher RDF which came with my Sky-Watcher 130M failed on its second outing. As I was reluctant to accept a replacement, FLO kindly gave me a voucher to set against the cost of a Baader 30mm SkySurfer III. I don't have a reticle eyepiece so, to make sure I was setting up the RDF accurately, I first sighted a target about 2 kms away from me using a 25mm eyepiece, getting the target in the centre of the EP as best I could judge (in daylight this is). I then adjusted the RDF until it fell on the target. I then swapped the 25mm EP for an 18mm and found that the target was off-centre slightly, so I re-aligned the scope and made further adjustments to the RDF. Finally, I changed the 18mm EP for an 8mm and did the same again. At the end of this, my RDF was absolutely spot on.
OK, moving on to the apps, the first is called PolarAligner, the second is called SkEye.
PolarAligner comes in two versions, free and paid for. The ‘Pro’, paid for version (which is cheap enough) has a ‘Daytime Alignment’ setting which I don’t think is available in the free version. Using ‘Daytime Alignment’, you lay your phone down on its back, on your mount, and parallel with the axis of the mount. You then adjust the azimuth and altitude positions of the mount with the aim of centring a white cross against a red target. Et voila! When you’ve done that, your mount is pretty much polar aligned! And in daylight! I lay my phone along my EQ2 mount axis by resting each end of the phone on the bottom of the two tube rings, holding it there with an elasticated hair band, kindly donated by my partner. See the image below taken in my home at around midday today.
SkEye is a free app which is similar to other sky map apps, except that it allows you to enter a target object and then shows you in which direction to move your phone in order to find that target. After you’ve selected your target, the app creates a circle with an arrow projecting from it, the arrow pointing in the direction in which you have to move the phone. When you have located the target, the circle brightens and expands, the arrow disappears, and the target is shown inside the circle.
To put the two apps into use, I swapped the tube rings on my mount, placing the one carrying the ¼” tripod screw at the front. After daytime aligning my mount with PolarAligner Pro, I fully tightened the azimuth and altitude settings on my scope and then fixed the OTA in place. In my case a Sky-Watcher Explorer 130.
The two pieces of photo kit I happened to have in my collection of bits and pieces were a spring-loaded smartphone holder with a ¼” tripod bush, and a dual camera photo bracket. The latter is about 25 cms long, and has a ¼” tripod bush at the centre with two 1/4" tripod screws on either side, each adjustable along a length of about 7 cms. I fixed the dual camera adapter to the front tube ring and then attached the phone holder to the right side of the adapter, as per the pics below. Then it was simply a case of putting my phone in the holder and making sure that it was exactly perpendicular to the OTA in both planes.
When I fired up SkEye and searched for Polaris... bingo!... I saw Polaris located in the circle as you can see in the photo below... so 10/10 for PolarAligner.
Using SkEye in a phone properly fixed to the OTA like this, you have yourself a brilliant ‘PUSH-TO’ facility. You can then obviously refine your target fix with your properly aligned RDF.
PolarAligner cost me £2.49, SkEye was free, and, as I said, the two bits of kit I already had. But you can get a tripod-bushed phone holder from £7 upwards, and the dual camera bracket is available on Amazon for £9. So, say £20 in total. And for that you get a brilliant polar aligning aid together with a Push-To sky map screen which makes operating your scope so much easier, especially if it’s an EQ2 mount like mine.
I hope this is of help to all absolute newbies like me
I have had a real problem with my AZ EQ6 GT:
I have found that the MOUNT guide rate in RA is 1/3 the guide rate in DEC. EQMOD is set to 0.9 in both axis?? This seems to have happened when I tried guiding with AA& instead of the normal PHD2?
Is there a mount direct command to alter the RA guide rate. Bit like the mount commands to dim the polar scope and set park position.
You know one of these serial commands the no one ever uses??
All the best