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bobro

Lowest Cost DIY 2 Axis Autoguiding Setup?

5 posts in this topic

Previously I posted my efforts at a DIY autoguiding setup https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/285181-diy-eq2-economy-autoguiding/

This setup used a Raspberry PI and Lin_guider for guiding, driving DC Economy RA motors for RA and DEC and works well.

As an alternative (and simpler/lower cost setup) the PI/Lin_guider combination has been replaced by PHD2 running on the laptop and an Arduino Nano acting as an Ascom interface to drive the Economy RA motors in a similar (though not identical) way to an ST4 interface. This is a potential, and very low cost, way for someone with a basic reflector scope without Goto to upgrade to a single or dual-axis guided system. It does require some DIY skills though. Note the motors cost about £30 each and are simple DC - not stepper motors. Some scopes come with a single RA motor.

Only 3 batteries in the setup : PC, RA motor (PP3), and camera. The DEC motor is driven by the Arduino output and hence the PCs USB output.

Code for the Arduino is at : https://hackaday.io/project/4386-arduino-st4-telescope-control

Testing so far has shown the setup produces a similar guided result to the PI/Lin_guider config. Having PHD2 on the laptop provides a very good set of utilities for polar alignment etc. Although Astro Photography Tool is used on the PC, any image capture method could be employed.

There's not a great deal in the sky other than small galaxies I can image at present, so apologies for the lack of images. Galaxies images are composed of 300 second subs.

If there's interest I can post more details.

 

Setup3t.jpg

Galaxies5t.jpg

Galaxies1s.jpg

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HI Bobro

I love these little spring galaxies.  Not so little really, just far far away.

I've got my arduino guider working with some home made code. I have a couple of issues. One is that my Arduino now does everything I can throw at it so I need to be able to deal with contention. The other is that my camera really is not sensitive enough even with the gain turned right up. I don't know if I can do a mechanical mod to it to up it's sensitivity.  Otherwise I need to bite the bullet and she'll out for a proper guide cam.

Good luck with the weather. Have you seen iTelescope? I haven't tried it as it involves money but you can rent telescope time in other clear locations on a monthly basis.

Regards

Steve.

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Thats brill. Thanks for the info

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1 hour ago, SteveBz said:

Otherwise I need to bite the bullet and she'll out for a proper guide cam.

Yes, I found it slightly tricky trying to find a suitable guide star when imaging the Virgo galaxies - my thoughts also turned to a proper guide-cam. QHY5-II perhaps. Glad you have your Arduino guider working - a great little device! Must admit I don't find using an online telescope too interesting - a bit like downloading someone else's images. DIYing is more fun for me!

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2 minutes ago, bobro said:

Must admit I don't find using an online telescope too interesting - a bit like downloading someone else's images. DIYing is more fun for me!

I agree, however the renowned Damian Peach swears by it.

Regarding finding a guide-star, the experts on this site all say you shouldn't have to use guide rings, but I was running around (on tiptoe), pulling out the guide cam, inserting an eyepiece, finding a star optically with the guide rings, thinking about re-installing the finderscope on the guidescope, trying not to hit the telescope, centring the star, reinserting the guidecam, re-finding focus on the guidecam, and then guiding.  But after all the faffing, it worked. And I was so chuffed, but then the software was playing up and it was midnight, and I was thinking do I really want to debug at this time of night. 

And so I didn't.

Steve.

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