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Hi to everyone, I used to do some astrophotography in the past with a Celestron AVX and DSLR but after few month had to give up for several reasons, including light pollution (I'm living in zone 3 east London), and also working shifts. Now I want to start again, and this time more serious. I've been searching around for a couple of months to choose all the gear and I'm quite happy with the list so far although it's a bit over the price I planned at first.

 I will get an William optics Z73 with his 50mm guide scope, a flattener/reducer 0.8, light pollution filter IDAS D2 and as camera I will use a Canon 600D modded and I will buy a ZWO 183MC Pro, after so much research, I'm very happy with the scale and framing I will get with this combo, but I'm starting to get confused with the mount.

My first idea was to go for an HEQ5 Pro, as my previous experience with the AVX has been awful, then I realized that the FLO, sells that mount with belt modification and also some cleaning and tuning if required, I heard that it's a big improvement over the stock one and the price it's ok, but another important factor for me it's portability. Unfortunately, my garden doesn't allow me to do much so I will need to carry around on trolley, for a km walk, I'm a strong person and been doing plenty of time with the AVX, so my confusion came recently when the iOptron mounts entered my radar. I start comparing the heq5 pro with belt, with the iOptron cem25EC and the CEM40 without encoders, and I'm so unsure of which to buy, the cem25 seem to be the equivalent of heq5 at least speaking of payload, but in some threads I read people saying it's a bit fragile so kind of remove it from the equation although the weight it's interesting for my situation, then the cem40, seem to be quite similar on weight to the heq5 but with higher payload and that's interesting too as I will buy a C11 at some point.

Now it will all come down to the accuracy of tracking I guess, how the heq5 and cem40 would compare on tracking and guiding? If the cem40 it's better, I would probably go with that since it holds more and would last longer as I don't plan to get anything bigger than a C11, but if the skywatcher it's better, I could decide to go for that, and when I move to a place with better garden then get a second mount with higher payload.

Apologise for the long post and my english.

Kind Regards,

Giovanni. 

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Giovanni,

Sorry can't really help much with the question about the mount, I have a HEq5 Pro and am very happy with it but I have no experience with the IOptron mounts. However, am following the thread to see what advice you get as I am looking at an upgrade and had always looked at upgrading to a EQ6 Pro but now wondering id one of the iOptrons would be better. One thing that really improved my 2nd hand HEQ5 was the Rowan belt mod which I did myself. I also replaced all the bearings but to be honest the original ones were fine. So I if you go for the HEQ5 I would definitely get it with the mod. Not much more expensive than doing it yourself.

And no reason to apologize about the  post or the English (the English is perfect) 🙂

Steve

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I have no experience with the HEQ5, but I do have the iOptron CEM40EC and 2" tripod. I know it's not the same as the non-EC version and there will be variations in the tracking abilities between the two, but it's a very solidly built mount in general. It offers a lot of capability in a small package. I'm currently just running a WO RedCat and an ASI183MM with filter wheel, but I'm looking at expanding to something bigger like an RC. The mount can handle quite a bit of weight for how little it weighs. Benefit of the center balanced mounts. The inclusion of the polar finder scope makes polar alignment a piece of cake and it's extremely accurate. In the end, that polar alignment accuracy is going to help with reducing the tracking error. You could easily get that with a Polemaster or another polar alignment scope though, so it's nothing special to an iOptron. It does mean that you require a laptop to do your polar alignment using the polar scope though. Since I do all my AP with a laptop anyway, it's not a problem as I always have it with me. If I were just doing visual though, I could do a rough alignment and probably be satisfied.

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1 hour ago, teoria_del_big_bang said:

Giovanni,

Sorry can't really help much with the question about the mount, I have a HEq5 Pro and am very happy with it but I have no experience with the IOptron mounts. However, am following the thread to see what advice you get as I am looking at an upgrade and had always looked at upgrading to a EQ6 Pro but now wondering id one of the iOptrons would be better. One thing that really improved my 2nd hand HEQ5 was the Rowan belt mod which I did myself. I also replaced all the bearings but to be honest the original ones were fine. So I if you go for the HEQ5 I would definitely get it with the mod. Not much more expensive than doing it yourself.

And no reason to apologize about the  post or the English (the English is perfect) 🙂

Steve

Hi Steve,

I see that you have quite a few gear similar or the same as the one I will get, the WO Z73 and the canon 600D and of course the mount as you mentioned. What type of guiding error do you get on average when guiding with that combo? And how long you have to go before seeing elongated stars? Did you ever reach that point? I know that it depends on seeing and polar alignment, but it can start giving me an idea.

Giovanni.

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In higher light pollution environments there's no advantage in long exposures as multiple shorter exposures produce the same results (in signal/noise), potentially allowing a lower spec mount to be used.

With the scope/camera you mention in a high light pollution environment, there may be no advantage in exposures longer than, for example, 30 seconds.  On the limit perhaps for a Star Adventurer but an HEQ5 could be overkill if you are looking for a portable mount.

Guiding is typically not necessary for short exposure times, helping to simplify the setup.

The IDAS D2 filter will help to some degree, though I don't know how much. Perhaps someone else has experience of this.

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9 minutes ago, bobro said:

In higher light pollution environments there's no advantage in long exposures as multiple shorter exposures produce the same results (in signal/noise), potentially allowing a lower spec mount to be used.

With the scope/camera you mention in a high light pollution environment, there may be no advantage in exposures longer than, for example, 30 seconds.  On the limit perhaps for a Star Adventurer but an HEQ5 could be overkill if you are looking for a portable mount.

Guiding is typically not necessary for short exposure times, helping to simplify the setup.

The IDAS D2 filter will help to some degree, though I don't know how much. Perhaps someone else has experience of this.

Thanks for the input, I saw with my eyes the D2 in action here in my area and of course it's not perfect or a good option to dark sky but he was shooting at iso 1600 120s while me without filter and same aperture, iso 800 60s, that's actually 2 stop and gives me feeling that I could shoot 3 or 4 minutes with a low gain quite easily.

I've seen a talk from Robin Glover from Sharpcap, and he explained that shorter or longer subs with the same total acquisition, will give you same results but still, I prefer not to go too short as I don't want to end up with dozen of hard drive, I'm a fashion photographer and it's already hard to manage space, depending on the object, I would rather stay between 2 as very  minimum and 3 or 4m as average, and in January I will go for an ZWO1600 and narrowband. I'm not trying do it long just for the sake of doing it, I'm more interested on finding a balance between managing space and problem of too long exposures such as oversaturation or tracking. As for the weight that's ok for me, I can manage that.

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11 hours ago, GiovanniF said:

I see that you have quite a few gear similar or the same as the one I will get, the WO Z73 and the canon 600D and of course the mount as you mentioned. What type of guiding error do you get on average when guiding with that combo? And how long you have to go before seeing elongated stars? Did you ever reach that point? I know that it depends on seeing and polar alignment, but it can start giving me an idea.

Hi, Yes I noticed the similarity in equipment as well. Regarding the guiding I have had lots of issues with guiding BUT ALL DOWN TO ME NOT THE EQUIPMENT.

I am pretty new to Astronomy and even newer to AP so still learning, hence my issues with guiding. I just had issues with setting PHD2 up properly. So really most of my images up till now were unguided and so long as I was polar aligned well had exposures of 3 mins without too much noticeable elongation (although I am sure some of the guys on SGL that take these fantastic images would have noticed and not been happy with them themselves). Just recently I took what I consider to be my first real image I was happy to let others view (still a long way to go but I personally was happy that I was progressing and learning). This was also my first NB image with Badder Ultra Narrow Band filters so exposures really needed to be longer anyway. I still have not set up PHD fully but did the minimum needed in that I took Darks, set all figures correctly in PHD2 and then let it calibrate itself. So no fine tuning or running Guiding Assistant to get it better. And I then took 400 sec subs with Ha, OIII and SII, so over 6 mins and I do not think there is too much distortion of the stars. I am confident if I tune PHD2 in with guiding assistant I should be easily able to achieve 10 min subs, maybe longer. I do not have a graph to hand what I did achieve and as I am going away with work probably will not get another chance to image nti the SGL star party in November (clouds permitting of course). 

large.1816717491_Image02swithSignature.jpg.81986933c126063c9045d2dc19cabd1a.jpg 

Edited by teoria_del_big_bang
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4 hours ago, teoria_del_big_bang said:

Hi, Yes I noticed the similarity in equipment as well. Regarding the guiding I have had lots of issues with guiding BUT ALL DOWN TO ME NOT THE EQUIPMENT.

I am pretty new to Astronomy and even newer to AP so still learning, hence my issues with guiding. I just had issues with setting PHD2 up properly. So really most of my images up till now were unguided and so long as I was polar aligned well had exposures of 3 mins without too much noticeable elongation (although I am sure some of the guys on SGL that take these fantastic images would have noticed and not been happy with them themselves). Just recently I took what I consider to be my first real image I was happy to let others view (still a long way to go but I personally was happy that I was progressing and learning). This was also my first NB image with Badder Ultra Narrow Band filters so exposures really needed to be longer anyway. I still have not set up PHD fully but did the minimum needed in that I took Darks, set all figures correctly in PHD2 and then let it calibrate itself. So no fine tuning or running Guiding Assistant to get it better. And I then took 400 sec subs with Ha, OIII and SII, so over 6 mins and I do not think there is too much distortion of the stars. I am confident if I tune PHD2 in with guiding assistant I should be easily able to achieve 10 min subs, maybe longer. I do not have a graph to hand what I did achieve and as I am going away with work probably will not get another chance to image nti the SGL star party in November (clouds permitting of course). 

large.1816717491_Image02swithSignature.jpg.81986933c126063c9045d2dc19cabd1a.jpg 

Thank you very much Steve,

That, actually answer my question, and very nice photo. That's more than enough for me, and the cem40 would have been a bit of a stretch for my budget. Knowing that you can achieve decent 3 minutes unguided, and as far as I can tell by the size of this photo, good 5+ minutes without tweaking PHD make me feel more than happy on buying it. 

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