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Imaging for beginners...Laptop vs ASIair Pro


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Hey :)

Im a complete beginner to imaging.

Trying to decide/work out the pros and cons of going for..

1. A windows based laptop system with software (stellarium/eqv / phd / apt / backyard eos )

OR

2. The ASIair Pro with an iPad or android tablet

I have neither a laptop or a tablet at the moment so this is kind of a fresh start in every sense!

I must say though if a laptop is suggested I only need something good enough for image acquisition and running the software to track and control...I have a Decent spec windows desktop for editing /stacking/processing 

My mount is an EQ6 pro synscan and I have a Canon 6d dslr.

 

A spanner in the works!...and mainly the reason I’m posting...

The ASIair does the polar alignment via the app and main scope.. so no need for a separate electronic polar scope(which I want for ease and accuracy setting up) that I would need to buy if I used a laptop rather than a tablet and ASIair app

The ASI unit is £300 ...a polar scope is £250

A cheap laptop (15inch min) is around the same price as an iPad or android tablet.

This is what I’m really struggling with!

The fact it’s wireless isn’t a factor for me I’m happy with either 

What I want is the best setup for a beginner that’s easy to understand and use but able to perform and help me get some great images.

What do you guys suggest ? Where would your money go?

 

Cheers, Ant 

 

 

 

 

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Being quite "new" to astrophotography myself - I've only been imaging since about 4 years ago - I would really suggest you take the asiair pro (as the V1 is out of production) into consideration.

I really hated the fact having a laptop into the open air, because after a while, you'll be sitting inside while your rig is taking pictures. The asiair has revolutionalised my imaging. 

- setting up PHD through the laptop was a pain, every time. Asiair has a phd 'light' and it works. Every time. 

- Platesolving has been a revelation to me. I have always struggled with staralignment and goto, and trying to compare a testshot for framing when you don't know how accurate you have aligned is ehm.. frustrating ;)

- Cable management! I now run 1 (ONE!!) cable to the asiair pro, and it handles all my power needs.

- Automatic meridian flip. It has its days (or well.. nights..) but mostly works just fine. 

- Polar alignment: only tried it once, but my cem 60 has a better polar scope and I have no need for it. 

- I don't have an automatic focuser nor filterwheel, but those are also compatible - and I'm thinking about it, especially when they launch autofocusing.

- yes... the software is always up to date, no more manual updates or tweaking, or windows that decides to install updates in the middle of your imaging session. And all future new perks are free! 

 

I'd say you can't go wrong with the asiair, and if you're at it... buy SkySafari too. Heaven! 

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3 hours ago, AntHart said:

Hey :)

Im a complete beginner to imaging.

Trying to decide/work out the pros and cons of going for..

1. A windows based laptop system with software (stellarium/eqv / phd / apt / backyard eos )

OR

2. The ASIair Pro with an iPad or android tablet

I have neither a laptop or a tablet at the moment so this is kind of a fresh start in every sense!

I must say though if a laptop is suggested I only need something good enough for image acquisition and running the software to track and control...I have a Decent spec windows desktop for editing /stacking/processing 

My mount is an EQ6 pro synscan and I have a Canon 6d dslr.

 

A spanner in the works!...and mainly the reason I’m posting...

The ASIair does the polar alignment via the app and main scope.. so no need for a separate electronic polar scope(which I want for ease and accuracy setting up) that I would need to buy if I used a laptop rather than a tablet and ASIair app

The ASI unit is £300 ...a polar scope is £250

A cheap laptop (15inch min) is around the same price as an iPad or android tablet.

This is what I’m really struggling with!

The fact it’s wireless isn’t a factor for me I’m happy with either 

What I want is the best setup for a beginner that’s easy to understand and use but able to perform and help me get some great images.

What do you guys suggest ? Where would your money go?

 

Cheers, Ant 

 

 

 

 

or polar alignment you dont need a dedicated polar cam, I use sharpcap for polar alignment, it's £10 a yr, uses your imaging/guide cam and gives exactly the same results as a polemaster. I tried both side by side and got identical accuracy so sold the polemaster. as for leaving a laptop outside, I run a single 15 metre usb cable into the house and all works. If the ASIAir had a web interface to be able to control from a remote laptop it might be more appealing but one thing i've got to enjoy recently is using the DSS live stacking to keep an eye on the data being collected, live stackings isn't available with the ASIAir.  

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18 hours ago, Anthonyexmouth said:

or polar alignment you dont need a dedicated polar cam, I use sharpcap for polar alignment, it's £10 a yr, uses your imaging/guide cam and gives exactly the same results as a polemaster. I tried both side by side and got identical accuracy so sold the polemaster. as for leaving a laptop outside, I run a single 15 metre usb cable into the house and all works. If the ASIAir had a web interface to be able to control from a remote laptop it might be more appealing but one thing i've got to enjoy recently is using the DSS live stacking to keep an eye on the data being collected, live stackings isn't available with the ASIAir.  

I didn’t realise sharp cap could do that! ...that’s very useful to know thank you :) also the live stacking ..that’s great to know too.

This would save me a good few quid not needing the polar scope/polemaster which makes the laptop method considerably cheaper.

 

Now I really am torn!

thanks for your help mate 👍🏼

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19 hours ago, Wiu-Wiu said:

Being quite "new" to astrophotography myself - I've only been imaging since about 4 years ago - I would really suggest you take the asiair pro (as the V1 is out of production) into consideration.

I really hated the fact having a laptop into the open air, because after a while, you'll be sitting inside while your rig is taking pictures. The asiair has revolutionalised my imaging. 

- setting up PHD through the laptop was a pain, every time. Asiair has a phd 'light' and it works. Every time. 

- Platesolving has been a revelation to me. I have always struggled with staralignment and goto, and trying to compare a testshot for framing when you don't know how accurate you have aligned is ehm.. frustrating ;)

- Cable management! I now run 1 (ONE!!) cable to the asiair pro, and it handles all my power needs.

- Automatic meridian flip. It has its days (or well.. nights..) but mostly works just fine. 

- Polar alignment: only tried it once, but my cem 60 has a better polar scope and I have no need for it. 

- I don't have an automatic focuser nor filterwheel, but those are also compatible - and I'm thinking about it, especially when they launch autofocusing.

- yes... the software is always up to date, no more manual updates or tweaking, or windows that decides to install updates in the middle of your imaging session. And all future new perks are free! 

 

I'd say you can't go wrong with the asiair, and if you're at it... buy SkySafari too. Heaven! 

That’s a plus 1 for the ASIair then :) simple is definitely a good way to go for me being a beginner 

 

cheers mate👍🏼

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5 hours ago, AntHart said:

I didn’t realise sharp cap could do that! ...that’s very useful to know thank you :) also the live stacking ..that’s great to know too.

This would save me a good few quid not needing the polar scope/polemaster which makes the laptop method considerably cheaper.

 

Now I really am torn!

thanks for your help mate 👍🏼

I think as a newbie the laptop method is the best way to go. It may not be the simplest but its certainly not rocket science to set it up and with help from here you'll be ok. Keeps costs down and if youve got a laptop anyway why not. Most of the software is either free or extremely cheap. Sharpcap £10, APT £10ish with a free 30 day trial. eqmod/ascom Free. 

theres certainly a place for mount mounted computers but I'd make sure I enjoyed the hobby first and really needed remote access to it. I think if ASIAir had a web interface rather than resticted to the tablet app it would be more appealing. Stellarmate has web access and works in a similar way off a raspberry pi. If remote operation is the way you choose take a look at that option too, if you have a raspberry pi knocking about the stellarmate OS is £50. 

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Rather than the ASIAir, take a look at Stellarmate, I've been using it since taking up the hobby in Feb, love it. Initial setup was done via VNC from my sofa, then I can use the app from my phone. I tend to do a mix of some sessions from my phone, some on the laptop. It gives me the flexibility to take the setup somewhere remote without a laptop if I wish, or to do a session from home and to tweak some config if I want.

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  • 4 months later...
On 06/04/2020 at 07:21, Anthonyexmouth said:

... live stackings isn't available with the ASIAir.  

WRONG!!  

ASIAIR allows the calibration of your Live Stack with Flat, Dark, and BIAS masters. ... The Live Stacking Mode of ASIAIR captures and stacks calibration frames into a single saved Master, per type.

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6 hours ago, lasvideo said:

WRONG!!  

ASIAIR allows the calibration of your Live Stack with Flat, Dark, and BIAS masters. ... The Live Stacking Mode of ASIAIR captures and stacks calibration frames into a single saved Master, per type.

Was that the case back in April? How's autofocus going BTW..

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StellarMate (or if you’re ok with computers a Raspberry zip with Astroberry which is basically the same thing) would be my shout over Asiair. Cheaper, better choice of cameras and very simple to use. It too has a built in polar alignment routine so you don’t need a separate camera. 
 

I started off with a laptop but a) setting up ASCOM, EQMod, the imaging software etc is more fiddly and b) like others, I feel much more comfortable leaving an RPi outside than my laptop. 

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On 06/04/2020 at 03:53, AntHart said:

What I want is the best setup for a beginner that’s easy to understand and use but able to perform and help me get some great images.

If you don't mind casting your vote with ZWO equipment the ASIair is an amazing piece of kit which has transformed my imaging experience. Without doubt the feature that has saved me most time is using the ASIair with Sky Safari and the faultless plate solving. So far the meridian flip feature has also worked faultlessly. Rather than use the focus feature I use a Bahtinov mask which combined with the pinch-and-zoom feature on the iPad makes focussing easy and very accurate.

I started with a PC (NUC) indoors near the mount and more wires than you could shake a stick at trailing through a custom made hole in the conservatory wall. I then moved to placing the PC with the mount in a weather proof box along with all the same lot of wires, albeit shorter versions, and controlling the PC remotely from a laptop in the house. I now use the original ASIair mounted on the scope and there is one wire (12V); I use it with a ZWO ASI1600MM, ZWO EAF, and ZWO EFW. I use an iOptron CEM25-EC mount and with the focal length of my scope I can get away without guiding and the joy of using any variant of PHD.

If you enjoy the challenge of spending hours configuring and fine tuning disperate pieces of software and getting them to talk to each other only to find that something gets upgraded or discontinued then go for a laptop. I should say I still use mine on the odd occasion I use my Canon cameras because although they are supported by ASIair I prefer to use BYEoS instead.

I have used the ASIair polar alignment feature and it works well providing you are sure your OTA axis and polarscope axis are very well aligned. I chose to buy a PoleMaster to align my mount and have no regrets; the additional expense was worth it in my opinion.

I love my ASIair and the ease of setup and use it provides. I would love to buy one of the new versions but can't really justify spending the money as my original does everything I need.

Good luck with your deliberations.

Adrian

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