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Robfal

Camera Upgrade Advice (QHY183C or M)

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 Having had a few years out of the hobby I now getting back into astrophotography and considering a camera upgrade.

My current equipment is

Atik 314 L+

Skywatcher 200PDS  (FL1000 F5)

Guide camera  Zwo 120mm mini

Orion ED80 refractor

Electronic filter wheel (brightstar)

Mount SW EQ6 Pro

Currently using Astroberry/Kstars/Ekos on a raspberry PI to control it all.  I can general get 300-450s frames with the guiding with good round stars

 

I'm looking to upgrade the Atik so was considering a 183 Cmos cooled camera, specifically QHY183 c or mono with TEC cooling so have a few questions I'm hopy people can help me with.

Would this be a good upgrade?

Should I go with a colour OSC (obviously things have moved on greatly since I last bought a camera) or stick with a mono one and filters?

Which would be easier (mono or colour) given our mixed climate?

Does the QHY cameras work well with indi (although I could switch back to a windows based system)?

Would I need a Focal reducer (given the tiny pixels on the 183 chip)?

Which scope should I use to image through?

Should I be looking at OAG guiding (have a TS OAG already)?

 

Sorry lots of questions but equipment has moved on so much since I last looked

 

Rob

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If you're used the the simplicity of the atik it might be alot more faff with the cmos type sensors, you have to use calibration frames especially the 183, do you have lots of data storage space on your computer as it's going to need far more than the atik ever did..a friend uses a Gigabyte on most targets with his 183.. sure there's pros and cons with either system but for me the Atik wins

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Thanks for the comment.  Still undecided on what to do.  The Atik has served me well and is, in general pretty reliable  I have noticed some banding using Ekos and DSS but that could be due to the software too.

 

In terms of FOV they would both be pretty similar so suited to galaxies and smaller DSO however the pixel count in the QHY is much higher.  Using the coloured version (ie RGB Bayer filter) would still give the same resolution as the Atik and the mono version much higher.

 

the QE of the Atik is around 60% (I think) whilst for the 183 around 84% which would possibly make up for the smaller pixel size.  For instance I think i could run it in 2x2 bin mode effectively making the pixel size similar to the Atik and benefit from the higher QE and have much shorter frame times.  In real terms I don't think I would be doing that though!.

What I'm not sure of, is whether that gain would be offset by the need to take darks etc (which I do anyway) due to amp glow.

Despite having imaged using a mono and filters I do like the idea of a OSC if you don't have to 'mess' about with the processing later

 

Rob

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Posted (edited)

I have both the Atik 314L+ mono and the QHY183c colour and I would say that they serve different purposes.

I have been using the Atik on an 80mm f6 frac reduced to 390mm. According to the prevailing wisdom this is highly undersampled but it works very well for me for wide DSO targets. The 183c also works well with this scope though I understand that the aperture gives a low Dawes limit so resolution is being lost. 

I also found that the field of view is too wide for the smaller spring/summer targets so I recently bought a 110mm f5. 95 frac with only a flattener at 655mm and have been using the 183c with it to good effect. 

I am a lazy imager and try and avoid calibration frames - the Atik works very well using a single bias master as a dark at any temperature. I run the 183c at - 20 all year round and have a set of matching darks at varying exposure durations which fully remove all amp glow. 

I use an OAG on the 80mm mainly to free up the upper dovetail for power and data distribution. It works pretty well considering the base of the prism was chipped when I bought it!

Happy to answer any questions you have. 

Edited by prusling

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22 hours ago, Robfal said:

 Having had a few years out of the hobby I now getting back into astrophotography and considering a camera upgrade.

My current equipment is

Atik 314 L+

Skywatcher 200PDS  (FL1000 F5)

Guide camera  Zwo 120mm mini

Orion ED80 refractor

Electronic filter wheel (brightstar)

Mount SW EQ6 Pro

Currently using Astroberry/Kstars/Ekos on a raspberry PI to control it all.  I can general get 300-450s frames with the guiding with good round stars

 

I'm looking to upgrade the Atik so was considering a 183 Cmos cooled camera, specifically QHY183 c or mono with TEC cooling so have a few questions I'm hopy people can help me with.

Would this be a good upgrade?

Should I go with a colour OSC (obviously things have moved on greatly since I last bought a camera) or stick with a mono one and filters?

Which would be easier (mono or colour) given our mixed climate?

Does the QHY cameras work well with indi (although I could switch back to a windows based system)?

Would I need a Focal reducer (given the tiny pixels on the 183 chip)?

Which scope should I use to image through?

Should I be looking at OAG guiding (have a TS OAG already)?

 

Sorry lots of questions but equipment has moved on so much since I last looked

 

Rob

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rob,

Take a look at my post in this thread. The answer is mono is still a long way ahead of OSC.

 

Adam

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Prusling

 

Thanks for the information; your setup looks to be very similar to mine.  I'm controlling my setup through Astroberry/ekos which is essentially the free version of stellarmate.  How do you find it?  I was also considering upgrading to that too.  Is the QHY working well with stellarmate (INDI)?

Part of getting another camera was to get a wide field and 'normal' camera setup.  I had thought of putting the Atik on the ED80 (maybe with a reducer) get get a wide field rig and mounting the 183 on the 200 reflector with an OAG for the Zwo120mm mini guider.

It also good hear that you always image at the same temp and once you have built a dark library you can just reference rather than continually retake darks.  That will save a lot of time and with stackers such as DSS or ASTAP it's not really any extra bother.

 

The appeal of the 183C is lazy imaging.  All too often to start a sequence but then the clouds appear and I'm left with missing too many of one of the colours.  With the colour I can use any frame I grab; granted the light has been split between the different colours and there is a loss of resultions but the pixel size is very small anyway.

Do you think the 183C is easier to use than the Atik?  What is the difference in imaging time between the two to collect comparable images detail?

 

Rob

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Robfal said:

The appeal of the 183C is lazy imaging.  All too often to start a sequence but then the clouds appear and I'm left with missing too many of one of the colours. 

It’s still total integration time that counts. You may have a complete image but it will be a poor one 

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Adam J

 

Some very interesting reading. the difference between the OSC and the mono one is considerable, this was why I went for the mono Atik many years ago.  Looking at the spec the QE of the Atik is much lower ( 60% vs 84% I think?) so the chip is less sensitive.  One big concern was the Amp Glow but if 'Prusling' is managing to use a Dark library effectively to remove this then that is not as much a problem as I originally thought.

 

Without doubt the mono has the potential to produce much better images but as a lazy imager the  OSC version makes grabbing a quick image easier. ans as such appeal.

Still not sure if the 183 (mono or colour) is a sufficient step up from the Atik, which is ultimately what I need to decide; it's difficult to justify spending a lot of money on a camera given the mixed weather and seeing we have in this country.  Will I be able to get decent images quicker or better with the 183 (M or C) than with the Atik?

 

Cheers

Rob

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I have Stellarmate but haven't used it in anger yet (I use SGP). I'll try connecting it up tomorrow. and report back. 

A step up? The Atik is a very fine low noise camera that I find works very well with narrowband (I rarely use LRGB). The 183c is a quality OSC with great cooling and small pixels though I find it a little hit or miss - it seems to need a darker sky background and that's not easy to achieve from an urban setting. When it's good it's very good but it can also be disappointing. As noted the file sizes are much bigger and with short subs you can end up with a lot of space used / transfer times and longer preprocessing time.

To me they are complementary and both are keepers!

Peter

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Hi again,

I don't know whether you are aware that there some excellent tools under "Info" at FLO's website.  They give the following data for your potential/current setups (you'd better check my calcs!):

OrionED80/QHY183c Max Res 1.45 a-s, Pixel scale 0.83 a-s/px (so you'd be limited to 1.45 a-s by the scope aperture) and good match for OK to good seeing

SW200PDS/QHY183c Max res 0.58 a-s, Pixel scale 0.5 a-s/px (so you could pretty well get the full res of the camera) but categorised as "This combination leads to slight over-sampling. Will require a good mount and careful guiding."

For your current setup:

OrionED80/Atik314L+ Max Res 1.45 a-s, Pixel scale 2.22 a-s/px and good match for poor to OK seeing; good seeing categorised as "This combination leads to significant under-sampling. This reduces the influence of guiding errors and improves signal to noise at the expense of finest detail. May be OK for widefield imaging but might result in softer images." which is no great issue in my experience

SW200PDS/Atik314L+ Max res 0.58 a-s, Pixel scale 1.33 a-s/px and very good match for OK seeing with good and poor seeing not bad

If you add a reducer to the OrionED80/Atik314L+ combo it makes the under-sampling worse though with my even worse setup I have never really found this a problem.

I'll give Stellarmate a go a bit later.  In the meantime, here's my latest image with the 110mm scope and the 183c for a total of c. 2 hours - I was gentle on the noise reduction to retain the dust clouds.

Iris Nebula.jpg

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Hi, sorry not to get back to you sooner re StellarMate. I've drawn a blank I'm afraid - not so much on whether the QHY183c is supported (though see later) but more in getting a reliable connection. Previously I've just played with StellarMate via VNC close to my wifi router and it's worked fine but I have all my kit in an obsy so can't easily test connectivity inside the house. SGP just works for me so there has been little incentive other than to minimising cabling. I've been able to connect the mount and the motor focuser OK but it hangs when I move onto the camera tab.

If it's not too off topic maybe you could help me by describing how your network is set up and in what mode you use it. I have a main router at the front of the house as it needs to be close to our security camera, and a repeater at the back of the house which covers the garden reasonably well and allows the laptop to connect in the obsy which is c. 10m away. I've tried locating the Pi in the obsy and it connects OK via the repeater, and used RealVNC on the laptop which also connects to the repeater OK. However the Pi is very slow in this configuration.  Is there a better way to work?

 

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1324955632_ngc6979mosiac.png.96668f37583d8ca0dee7814cb3651c2d.pngPeter,

 

A mighty fine image, particularly  with only 2hrs of total.  Most of my images has 8-10 300s subs per channel.  I might be overdoing it and I'm very much a novice in terms of the processing in PS.  I find it very difficult to remove gradients an bring out fine detail without making the image look false,  More practice on my part.  I had been moving to not upgrading the camera but then that picture makes me question that decisions. The photo's attached are from the Atik and the 200P reflector, Can't remember exactly but would have need considerably more time than yours from the 183

Thanks for the info, I'll check out Flo's website.  I do understand that the Atik is fairly well matched with the 200p hence I got that pairing 10 years ago however I;m still undecided which is a better imaging scope the ED80 or the 200P.  The 200P has the advantage of having a bigger aperture so can gather more light and is F5 so a faster optics.  Never played around with a focal reducer

 

I run Astroberry on an RPI3b in my obs however I did run a network cable in when I put the power in so I'm not reliant on a wifi signal., much too far from the router.  I can then connect via VNC which does give me good control and is not too 'laggy'. I also run Kstars, INDI and Ekos all on the RPI.  I understand that you can just run the INDI drivers on that and move the bulk of the processing to your PC.  Not sure if you can do that with Stellarmate and you would need a reliable connection.

 

If Wifi is a problem then using some Homeplugs may be a way forward.  These allow you to transmit the signal over power cables.  https://business.currys.co.uk/buy-rent/N179444W?cidp=Froogle&gclid=Cj0KCQjwzZj2BRDVARIsABs3l9Lso7sz119FZiVNDo63HwoQcvJ8spAlTtUpPEznmQ51vkNN835M1aoaAh_XEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

I think the Stellarmate has a network port (underneath its a standard RPI). IT was fairly easy to configure that in Astroberry so I guess would be even easier in Stallermate.. I had heard the the QHY can be problematic with their INDI drivers so it might be that is you have a poor signal..  How do you run your system with SGP, a PC in the Obs?  I used to do this  but then my son nicked it to use on his graphics tablet. hence the move to the RPI

 

Rob

NGC1333.png

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Very nice images - love the delicate filaments on the Veil!  I found 5 min subs were fine at f5 for LRGB but I tend to go longer for narrowband (my preferred mode for winter targets).  The challenge for me is that you really need 16 or more subs to bring sigma clip stacking into play which I find very useful; this is one of the advantages of OSC with which I tend to use 1-2 minute subs depending on the sky background and dither.

As a lazy imager the whole mono experience was made so much easier (even I would say practicable) with automated control.  I don't know whether you have a motor focuser but I find mine a godsend. In SGP I can frame my intended target ahead of time and create a sequence from its coordinates, then slew / plate solve / centre, then leave the sequence running and it takes care of auto-focusing as necessary.

Have you tried StarTools - I'm a big fan.  It's great value and performs very well on gradients (Wipe function).  Most functions work well with their default parameters but you can change them when you have worked out the effects.  There's a free trial.

Thanks for the networking advice - I now have the Pi running on a network cable linked to a Homeplug equivalent.  It's a DIY StellarMate on a 4GB Pi 4 (you can buy just the image and source the Pi separately).  I generally use a laptop with SGP and don't have connectivity issues over wifi via the extender though it is slow.

I've also successfully set up the Pi in 'headless' mode with just an Indi server on the Pi, though I've also connected over VNC without any issues.

The bad news is that I can't connect to either my guide camera (Altair) or the QHY getting: "Unable to establish the following devices: + QHY CCD + Altair". I had a similar problem with a previous uncooled Altair 183c with SGP so sold it and bought the QHY cooled equivalent but not got around to trying it with the Stellarmate.  I'll do some digging around but it may be a problem - a pity.  I'll update if I find anything out.

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I had heard that both the altair and  QHY cameras could be problematic part of why I started this thread.  I used to have a very old QHY 5 guide camera (just replaced it with a zwo 120mm) and had that working with INDI.  I'll have to check how I did that, might be the same process for the 183C.  My Pi 3b (considering moving to a Pi4 or mini PC) is also running headless.  I like the concept of a mini pc mounted on the pier but only if it works effectively

If you can get it running ekos has a pretty nice scheduler built in, it deals with focusing, platesolving, guiding  and imaging and will shut down everything at the end to.    It will even deal with offsets between different filers. I do have a autofocusser..(a home built Rob Brown one) Myfocusserpro2, https://sourceforge.net/projects/arduinoascomfocuserpro2diy/ really cheap to make,uses an arduino for control and has INDI and AScom drivers.  Got a batch of 3 PCB' boards made, only populated one.  He also had a dew control system and just got the boards for that.  Seems very relaible and accurate

 

Rob

 

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I've googled "QHY183c Indi" and there do seem to be issues though some seem to have solved them with some Linux-level tinkering.

This was my original plan for an economy setup to minimise cabling between the scope and mount but I ended up making the USB output to a hub on the side of the mount rather than input from it (for mount, focuser, etc) and kept the laptop connection from it to run everything rather than the Pi.

Please keep me up to date on any positive outcomes as I'd like to revive this sometime.

Cheers, Peter

WhatsApp Image 2019-09-12 at 15.30.30 (2).jpeg

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