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msacco

Looking for tips on how to improve my observing

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Hello, so I bought my first telescope a few days ago, I bought a SkyWatcher 200p on a goto EQ5 mount, my first general impression is that I made a good decision, it was a bit over my budget, but I bought it second hand, and 8" with goto EQ5 is a good start in my opinion so far, as I won't need to replace is really soon.

So I tried observing for 2 nights so far, I tried using it from my garden, and obviously its not amazing, but I live in a relatively small city with a decent light pollution.

So the first night was pretty bad, it was really hard adapting to everything, learn how to use everything, my brother ripped by mistake the crosshair in the finderscope(I fixed it today tho, it was kinda loose before, so its even better now), and it was pretty hard.

Today I read a little about the things that were harder to me, I tried to align my finderscope, and even tho Im unable to do it for some reason, I know where the finderscope leads me, so its a bit easier, I learned how to use my eyepieces better, managed to use the 2x barlow lens, I still couldn't figure how to really do all the aligning correctly such as polar align etc, but hopefully I'll learn that slowly. I also tried adjusting my goto mount, but I couldn't do it because when Im trying to do the star aligning I don't know yet which stars I should use, and trying to figure where each star is in a place that you're not even sure if you can see it because of light pollution is kinda hard, so I gave up on aligning the goto and just used it to move the mount sometimes to follow an object.

The only object that I really saw was mars(I think), I couldn't see it very well tho, I tried using all my eyepieces(25mm, 10mm and 4mm) and my 2x, but it still wasn't really great. Im not expecting to see anything too well obviously, but I did except to see it a bit more zoomed and a bit more detailed than sort of orange lamp light, it makes me wonder what can I do about it, what do I need in order to see mars better? Is it because of the light pollution? Maybe the eyepieces? Something maybe Im doing wrong? Again, Im not expecting to see it like hubble pictures or anything, not even with details, but just see it a bit bigger and a bit more clear, this is a photo for example(took it with my phone and 10mm super eyepiece):

IMG_20180809_233957.jpg.fdf01ab428577a76d3b35dd22d75ce81.jpg  IMG_20180809_215624.thumb.jpg.bc337feaa0a15b8f9217161b52c9a1b5.jpg

 

One more thing is about the finderscope, when Im trying to adjust the finderscope, I simply can't adjust it enough to make it accurate, I need to loosen the screws to adjust it, but eventually the screw will just go out and the finderscope will still not be aligned with the scope, what can I do about it?

I have a lot more to learn and experience, so sorry if I ask really stupid questions etc, thanks a lot for the help!

 

Edited by msacco
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It sounds like the finder scope screws are missing springs. That should be an easy fix. Once that is taken care of align the finder to the main tube during daylight to a distant object. To polar align face the scope north. Find Polaris in the finder. Look in the main eyepiece and center Polaris using latitude and longitude mount adjustments. Don't use your RA and Dec for this. You should now be polar aligned. Looking at your pics, if it was Mars, the scope may be out of collimation. You'll need a Cheshire eyepiece to fix that. It can be done without, but that requires extensive experience with collimation. There are a lot of articles online about how to collimate. Feel free to message me with any questions. Hope this helps. 

 

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Also check the base of the finder holder. It may need to be adjusted

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Welcome to SGL :)

Your experience is very common, and sounds very familiar. Stick with it, as you gain experience and keep trying things, you will learn what works for you.

The best tip I can give you is to avoid loca, sources of light. Observe in the darkest place in your garden, and try to avoid phones or tablets unless you dim them and use a red lithofilm sheet over them.

It takes a good 20 minutes or more for your eyes to properly adapt to the dark, especially at first, but you really need your pupils to open wide and really activate the parts of your eye which see better in the dark. 

Keeping your eyepieces etc in a set place in a box can help you find and change them in the dark. You can practice with closed eyes of course.

Mars is an especially disappointing target, most of the time, and especially this year. Saturn will be much more rewarding, and Jupiter too. On moonless nights, look out for brighter targets like M57, M27, M13,  M31, these will help you get your eye in, as it were. It also really helps to have a pre-decided target list to go for.

Please share your experiences with us as you go along :)

Tim

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One thing to check is that you are managing to bring stars into sharp focus? They should be pinpoints of light. It's a common beginner's mistake with this scope to use both extension tubes - you only need one of them. 

Mars will look a bit mushy at the moment, as it's so low down. You know when you look at the road on a hot day and it looks wavey- that's the effect of looking through a lot of unsteady atmosphere.

As for your finder, if you have 2 screws and a sprung pin on the holder then you should be good to try aligning, but do it in day it's much easier.  If it still doesn't align,  then you could try losening the screws of the shoe and seeing if it will twist a bit before tightening.

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7 hours ago, Kn4fty said:

It sounds like the finder scope screws are missing springs. That should be an easy fix. Once that is taken care of align the finder to the main tube during daylight to a distant object. To polar align face the scope north. Find Polaris in the finder. Look in the main eyepiece and center Polaris using latitude and longitude mount adjustments. Don't use your RA and Dec for this. You should now be polar aligned. Looking at your pics, if it was Mars, the scope may be out of collimation. You'll need a Cheshire eyepiece to fix that. It can be done without, but that requires extensive experience with collimation. There are a lot of articles online about how to collimate. Feel free to message me with any questions. Hope this helps. 

 

IMG_20180810_105207.thumb.jpg.73d43b7981abda43664c97197c9fea45.jpg

This is what the finderscope looks like, the "upper right" screw needs to be all the way out, and the bottom screw needs to be almost all the way out, this makes the finderscope totally unstable, and the last screw simply doesn't really do anything, just "holds" the finderscope, but still not strong enough. I did try aligning the finderscope during daylight tho.

I kinda understand how to polar align, but not entirely yet, what I don't understand is, what does polar aligning actually do?

The collimation thing is a very high possibility, as the bottom screws of the tube were off yesterday, so that would really make sense, but I'd need to order cheshire from ebay or something like that and it will take time to arrive, should I try fixing it myself without a cheshire?

Thanks.

Edit - will this one to the job? https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Explore-Scientific-Extreme-Wide-Field-82-degrees-Series-14mm-Waterproof-Eyepiece-1-25-Barrel/1663403909.html?

Or I'll need this one? https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Datyson-1-25-inch-Upgarde-Eyepiece-Laser-Collimator-Alignment-for-Telescope-with-2-adapter-without-Battery/32823477614.html?

2 hours ago, Tim said:

Welcome to SGL :)

Your experience is very common, and sounds very familiar. Stick with it, as you gain experience and keep trying things, you will learn what works for you.

The best tip I can give you is to avoid loca, sources of light. Observe in the darkest place in your garden, and try to avoid phones or tablets unless you dim them and use a red lithofilm sheet over them.

It takes a good 20 minutes or more for your eyes to properly adapt to the dark, especially at first, but you really need your pupils to open wide and really activate the parts of your eye which see better in the dark. 

Keeping your eyepieces etc in a set place in a box can help you find and change them in the dark. You can practice with closed eyes of course.

Mars is an especially disappointing target, most of the time, and especially this year. Saturn will be much more rewarding, and Jupiter too. On moonless nights, look out for brighter targets like M57, M27, M13,  M31, these will help you get your eye in, as it were. It also really helps to have a pre-decided target list to go for.

Please share your experiences with us as you go along :)

Tim

 

I currently can't go to a dark place or something like that, and I want to "master" whatever I can before doing so, to make the most out of it, as going to a dark place like that can be just amazing, and Im so looking forward to it, I do have a place to put the eyepieces etc, so its really nice.

I don't really think I can pre-decide atm which targets I want to view, as its really not dark enough to see everything in the sky and I still don't know the targets very much, so I will need more experience before that I think, and theres probably not enough dark in my garden for my eyes to really adapt to it, but I will try those advices when Im going to a dark place, thanks.

 

1 hour ago, rockystar said:

One thing to check is that you are managing to bring stars into sharp focus? They should be pinpoints of light. It's a common beginner's mistake with this scope to use both extension tubes - you only need one of them. 

Mars will look a bit mushy at the moment, as it's so low down. You know when you look at the road on a hot day and it looks wavey- that's the effect of looking through a lot of unsteady atmosphere.

As for your finder, if you have 2 screws and a sprung pin on the holder then you should be good to try aligning, but do it in day it's much easier.  If it still doesn't align,  then you could try losening the screws of the shoe and seeing if it will twist a bit before tightening.

What do you mean by both extension tubes? Im not sure what that is :x

And I do have 2 screws and a spring, I tried doing it during day, but I just couldn't adjust it enough because the screw would simply go off.

Can you better explain the last sentence you wrote please? Im not sure I really understand it, thanks.

Edited by msacco

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You have got a lot of time - the whole lifetime -  for learning to handle a scope and to find your way among the celestial bodies. The stars won't go away, and the Pleiades and Orion will return reliably; so slow down deliberately. As a Dobsonaut, I cannot comment on the problems of aligning a scope or GoTo; others on here will help you. Start with the brightest and always easy to locate object - the moon. There is always something rewarding to discover on it's surface. Then go over to Jupiter and Saturn, as Tim pointed out above (avoid the almost always disappoining Mars); after that, to the easy to locate brighter DSO's, as the Pleiades, the Double cluster between Cassiopeia and Perseus; Lyra with M 57 and the Double Double. By and by, you'll build up knowledge and skills - it's a "learning hobby". Take yourself time, enjoy every small step; and start to keep an astro diary/ logbook (paper version); it's very rewarding, to track, after years, one's way into this hobby/lifestyle. 

Keep on asking here; and

Clear Skies

Stephan

Edited by Nyctimene
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2 hours ago, msacco said:

IMG_20180810_105207.thumb.jpg.73d43b7981abda43664c97197c9fea45.jpg

This is what the finderscope looks like, the "upper right" screw needs to be all the way out, and the bottom screw needs to be almost all the way out, this makes the finderscope totally unstable, and the last screw simply doesn't really do anything, just "holds" the finderscope, but still not strong enough. I did try aligning the finderscope during daylight tho.

I kinda understand how to polar align, but not entirely yet, what I don't understand is, what does polar aligning actually do?

The collimation thing is a very high possibility, as the bottom screws of the tube were off yesterday, so that would really make sense, but I'd need to order cheshire from ebay or something like that and it will take time to arrive, should I try fixing it myself without a cheshire?

Thanks.

Edit - will this one to the job? https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Explore-Scientific-Extreme-Wide-Field-82-degrees-Series-14mm-Waterproof-Eyepiece-1-25-Barrel/1663403909.html?

Or I'll need this one? https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Datyson-1-25-inch-Upgarde-Eyepiece-Laser-Collimator-Alignment-for-Telescope-with-2-adapter-without-Battery/32823477614.html?

I currently can't go to a dark place or something like that, and I want to "master" whatever I can before doing so, to make the most out of it, as going to a dark place like that can be just amazing, and Im so looking forward to it, I do have a place to put the eyepieces etc, so its really nice.

I don't really think I can pre-decide atm which targets I want to view, as its really not dark enough to see everything in the sky and I still don't know the targets very much, so I will need more experience before that I think, and theres probably not enough dark in my garden for my eyes to really adapt to it, but I will try those advices when Im going to a dark place, thanks.

 

What do you mean by both extension tubes? Im not sure what that is :x

And I do have 2 screws and a spring, I tried doing it during day, but I just couldn't adjust it enough because the screw would simply go off.

Can you better explain the last sentence you wrote please? Im not sure I really understand it, thanks.

Have a look at this video to align finderscope

 

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Hi

you wrote

"What do you mean by both extension tubes? Im not sure what that is :x"

 

the adapter on the left is for 2" eyepieces and the one on the right is for 1.25"

 

hope this answers your question

 

skywatcher-20241-2inch-crayford-focuser.jpg

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Go with the Cheshire eyepiece for now. You should probably avoid the laser collimator till you get a bit more time under your belt. LCs many times need to be collimated themselves before being used on the scope. 

When he's talking about the shoe ,he is referring to the base of the finder scope holder. Many of them will have a couple of screws at the bottom that allows the base to be slightly adjusted. 

I know we are throwing a lot of info at ya, but you got this :). Just go slow and easy. It will all start to come together before you know it.

 

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Msacco your finder scope bracket is mounted Back-to -front.

Remove the finder & it's bracket from the dovetail shaped shoe & replace it so that the 3 adjusting screws are towards the rear of the telescope, not the front.

Then remove the optical tube of the finder & replace it facing forward. It should look like this.

 

It should be easier to align now.image.png.5b36b5ae8520376d132de71987f2008e.png

Edited by lenscap
added image
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10 minutes ago, lenscap said:

Msacco your finder scope bracket is mounted Back-to -front.

Remove the finder & it's bracket from the dovetail shaped shoe & replace it so that the 3 adjusting screws are towards the rear of the telescope, not the front.

Then remove the optical tube of the finder & replace it facing forward. It should look like this.

 

It should be easier to align now.image.png.5b36b5ae8520376d132de71987f2008e.png

I was just about to say this. Also, there should be a rubber O-ring at the front of the bracket and the tips of the adjustment screws should sit in the indented part of the finderscope.

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Just to amplify the point made above,

A small but crucial componant in the finder scope setup is a rubber O ring that fits between the finder tube and the front end of the finder mount. Without this the finder scope will never hold it's position. The O ring holds the finder tube tight in the front part of the finder mount and the adjustment screws (the 2 black ones) adjust the tilt of the finder. With the O ring in place, the finder should hold it's alignment with the main scope well. Without the O ring, much frustration will occur !

 

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2 hours ago, Ricochet said:

I was just about to say this. Also, there should be a rubber O-ring at the front of the bracket and the tips of the adjustment screws should sit in the indented part of the finderscope.

I didn't even notice in the picture that the finderscope holder bracket was back to front, well spotted this will solve problem

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On 10/08/2018 at 11:33, Nyctimene said:

You have got a lot of time - the whole lifetime -  for learning to handle a scope and to find your way among the celestial bodies. The stars won't go away, and the Pleiades and Orion will return reliably; so slow down deliberately. As a Dobsonaut, I cannot comment on the problems of aligning a scope or GoTo; others on here will help you. Start with the brightest and always easy to locate object - the moon. There is always something rewarding to discover on it's surface. Then go over to Jupiter and Saturn, as Tim pointed out above (avoid the almost always disappoining Mars); after that, to the easy to locate brighter DSO's, as the Pleiades, the Double cluster between Cassiopeia and Perseus; Lyra with M 57 and the Double Double. By and by, you'll build up knowledge and skills - it's a "learning hobby". Take yourself time, enjoy every small step; and start to keep an astro diary/ logbook (paper version); it's very rewarding, to track, after years, one's way into this hobby/lifestyle. 

Keep on asking here; and

Clear Skies

Stephan

Thanks for the reply, of course its a lifetime hobby to experience, but when I do something I always try to do it the best I can, so I want to try and get to a level above beginner as soon as I can, I'll try your tips, and I think I'll take the diary/logbook idea, as it seems like something really nice and fun to do. Thanks :)

On 10/08/2018 at 13:31, fozzybear said:

Have a look at this video to align finderscope

 

I have watched this video, but I still had the problem, but I think the comment of someone here might really be the issue.

On 10/08/2018 at 14:01, fozzybear said:

Hi

you wrote

"What do you mean by both extension tubes? Im not sure what that is :x"

 

the adapter on the left is for 2" eyepieces and the one on the right is for 1.25"

 

hope this answers your question

 

skywatcher-20241-2inch-crayford-focuser.jpg

I see, I think I have only 1.25" adapter, so Im not sure if it makes a difference atm.

22 hours ago, Kn4fty said:

Go with the Cheshire eyepiece for now. You should probably avoid the laser collimator till you get a bit more time under your belt. LCs many times need to be collimated themselves before being used on the scope. 

When he's talking about the shoe ,he is referring to the base of the finder scope holder. Many of them will have a couple of screws at the bottom that allows the base to be slightly adjusted. 

I know we are throwing a lot of info at ya, but you got this :). Just go slow and easy. It will all start to come together before you know it.

 

I kinda do have time, and I've seen videos on how to collimate the laser which doesn't seem to be that hard, but Im still not sure if I want to buy the laser or not, the cheshire eyepiece is more accurate than the laser? It seems a bit harder, but if its more accurate it still might be better, its also cheaper..

There is a lot of information, but I'll just have to learn more and more slowly and surely, hopefully I'll get all the beginning stuff sorted in my head soon enough and it will be more natural, thanks!

21 hours ago, lenscap said:

Msacco your finder scope bracket is mounted Back-to -front.

Remove the finder & it's bracket from the dovetail shaped shoe & replace it so that the 3 adjusting screws are towards the rear of the telescope, not the front.

Then remove the optical tube of the finder & replace it facing forward. It should look like this.

 

It should be easier to align now.image.png.5b36b5ae8520376d132de71987f2008e.png

HOLY LORD!!!! I bought the telescope from second hand and the finderscope was just attached that way when I bought it, so I thought thats how its supposed to be. Im not home until sunday, and I can't tell for sure if it'll really fix it, but it makes a lot of sense because I had align my finderscope way to the left, so if its the opposite direction now, it really makes sense for it to work. But as I said before, I'll only know on sunday, anyway, huge thanks!

21 hours ago, John said:

Just to amplify the point made above,

A small but crucial componant in the finder scope setup is a rubber O ring that fits between the finder tube and the front end of the finder mount. Without this the finder scope will never hold it's position. The O ring holds the finder tube tight in the front part of the finder mount and the adjustment screws (the 2 black ones) adjust the tilt of the finder. With the O ring in place, the finder should hold it's alignment with the main scope well. Without the O ring, much frustration will occur !

 

Hmmm, thats really interesting, I think I don't have an O ring, is it something unique, or any regular O ring that fits will do the job? Can I get one on ebay/something like that? It seems kinda crucial.

Thanks for everyone on the comments! sorry it took me long time to respond, and its really nice that everyone finds something else that helps and makes my observing/telescope better/easier, thanks to all of you, I really appreciate it! :)

 

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You'll get a much better collimation if you use the Cheshire first. It seems more complicated, but really isn't. Just take your time and go one step at a time. A Cheshire gives a much better secondary mirror alignment due to direct visual. A laser can get it close but has has to be itself spot on. Lasers can also be thrown off by small variations in eyepiece holder screw tightness. 

That's not saying don't ever get a laser. They are useful for quick spot checks while observing. If you combine it with a 2x Barlow it can negate the slight misalignment of the laser, but only for small field adjustments during observing times. There are plenty of info on the net about that. But definitely do initial alignments with a Cheshire. 

If you have a 35mm film canister you can make a simple alignment tool that works pretty well. Cut the bottom of the canister off and put a pin hole in the center of the lid. This is like a Cheshire but without the cross hairs. If your really good at measurements then you could add those at the bottom of the canister.

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42 minutes ago, Kn4fty said:

You'll get a much better collimation if you use the Cheshire first. It seems more complicated, but really isn't. Just take your time and go one step at a time. A Cheshire gives a much better secondary mirror alignment due to direct visual. A laser can get it close but has has to be itself spot on. Lasers can also be thrown off by small variations in eyepiece holder screw tightness. 

That's not saying don't ever get a laser. They are useful for quick spot checks while observing. If you combine it with a 2x Barlow it can negate the slight misalignment of the laser, but only for small field adjustments during observing times. There are plenty of info on the net about that. But definitely do initial alignments with a Cheshire. 

If you have a 35mm film canister you can make a simple alignment tool that works pretty well. Cut the bottom of the canister off and put a pin hole in the center of the lid. This is like a Cheshire but without the cross hairs. If your really good at measurements then you could add those at the bottom of the canister.

I think I'll just order a cheshire, but since I don't think I can find any in my country, and even if I do its probably for an absurd price, I'll probably need to order it from aliexpress/ebay, but what do you suggest me doing meanwhile? Should I try doing the collimation myself? Try making a cheshire myself?

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Once you get your Finder aligned it will be much easier to find targets to observe.

This thread will give you a good idea of what you shouldl be able to see with your scope;

Personally I would spend some time observing & getting familiar with how to use the scope before I started to adjust the collimation.

It would be easy to make it worse at this stage.

Once you have become a good judge of the quality of the images you are seeing you may decide that the collimation needs a little tweak.

Clear skies!  ?

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44 minutes ago, lenscap said:

Once you get your Finder aligned it will be much easier to find targets to observe.

This thread will give you a good idea of what you shouldl be able to see with your scope;

Personally I would spend some time observing & getting familiar with how to use the scope before I started to adjust the collimation.

It would be easy to make it worse at this stage.

Once you have become a good judge of the quality of the images you are seeing you may decide that the collimation needs a little tweak.

Clear skies!  ?

I've read this guide, but honestly, I just don't know what picture I should really get, as many things like light pollution ans other things might be a cause for the quality, so its kinda hard to judge atm..

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8 hours ago, msacco said:

Hmmm, thats really interesting, I think I don't have an O ring, is it something unique, or any regular O ring that fits will do the job? Can I get one on ebay/something like that? It seems kinda crucial.

Astroboot usually have them. Mine was also missing so I used self amalgamating tape in place of it. 

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He's right. Before messing with the collimation, try the scope again and it may be ok. 

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3 hours ago, Ricochet said:

Astroboot usually have them. Mine was also missing so I used self amalgamating tape in place of it. 

You can cut a strip of rubber from an old cycle tyre inner tube and that will do the job as well !

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The "standard" O ring on the SW/Orion etc finders seems to measure 1.7mm diameter x 45mm internal diameter. Probably actually an Imperial size?

 

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9 hours ago, John said:

You can cut a strip of rubber from an old cycle tyre inner tube and that will do the job as well !

Yeah I just tried something similar, hopefully it'll hold up.

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      I have an EQ5 telescope mount which i use for astrophotography. I have modified it with a motorised RA axis using a bipolar stepper motor - my thread for the build is here .
      I want to expand the mount's tracking ability by motorising the DEC axis and using a guide scope/camera. I generally use the mount in fairly remote locations so would like to use a raspberry Pi for portability.
      I understand that I'll need to use a Raspberry Pi Camera Module for the guide camera. 
      The capability I want is:
      1. guide the mount along RA and DEC axes using a guide star as feedback
      2. track the mount using the RA axis only, and if possible continuously take 20-30 second exposures on the guide camera (this functionality is optional, but would assist in polar alignment of the mount)
      I don't want any GOTO capability. I am very new to RPi and need some help:
      - do I need to write code for this, or is there existing programming available for what I want to do?
      - is it possible to avoid the use of screens (in the field)? My preferred option would be to flick a switch to start and stop the guiding, with another switch for alignment mode (or something simple like this).
      - do I need to use any particular stepper motors/drivers for raspberry Pi? I'm using a bipolar stepper motor running quarter steps, with an A4988 stepper driver
      - is the RPi 3 Model B+ the unit I should buy?
      Thanks
       
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