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Seleckta

£1500 AP set-up

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I bow deepy to the experience and knowledge on this forum....

Hi, I am looking for crystal clear answers to a cloudy question.

Almost total Noob to AP but I am lucky enough to have a budget of £1500 for a basic AP set up. I already have a WO61 and a SW Star Adventurer and use a Canon 200d.

I have done so much research on this that I am almost tempted to give up because....questions around mounts asked on this forum are often (always) answered with 'get an HEQ5 Pro' and, in this case I am not after that model.

I live in London, do not have a car and am likely to be found turning the light out around 10! 

My set up needs to be portable otherwise I will just get bored of lugging it about.

I'll take my Star adventurer and WO61 (on a weighted camera tripod) with me on hols etc. With the proper mount and 130pds more for back garden use.

I have been looking at an EQM 35 Pro (with mods done by Dark Frame Optics) and a SW 130pds.

I may or may not get a guide scope (apparently no need at the level I want to be at and after modding by DFO).

Looking at larger scopes and working on the 50% AP weight limit to go up to any decent sized scope beyond the 130pds would realistically need an 5Pro or EQ6 which is about as grab and go as a herd of excited elephants.

At present I am exceedingly unlikely to be out with whatever set-up I have more than 10-15 times a year and even then for no more than a couple of hours per session.

So my questions:

  1. EQM35 Pro (DFO modded) / 130pds / WO61...good combo? 
  2. Could I attach my Star Adventurer to the tripod of the EQM35?
  3. Is the 130pds the biggest OTA I could get on a modded EQM35 pro?

It would be great if HEQ5 Pro was not any part of an answer!

Image attached is from my third (out of 5) outing with the SW Star Adventurer...not world beating but (so far) the best photograph I have ever taken.

01 03 M42 v2.jpg

Edited by Seleckta
Update

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I might be getting old but see no mention of the camera you are using, can make a difference.

Alan

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Are you just after a mount as the scope you have is a good one already ? What camera are you going to be using ? Check on first light optics fov calculator to see what objects will look like size wise before you go any further.

If you feel an H#*5 pr0 is too heavy how about the ioptron CEM25 ?

Good luck choosing 😃

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26 minutes ago, knobby said:

Are you just after a mount as the scope you have is a good one already ? What camera are you going to be using ? Check on first light optics fov calculator to see what objects will look like size wise before you go any further.

If you feel an H#*5 pr0 is too heavy how about the ioptron CEM25 ?

Good luck choosing 😃

Hi, Canon 200d...as compact a DSLR as you could hope for. Not the best but it will suffice for now. Ioptron CEM25...all reviews point to them being somewhat delicate.

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29 minutes ago, Alien 13 said:

I might be getting old but see no mention of the camera you are using, can make a difference.

Alan

Canon 200D....for now.

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Just now, Seleckta said:

Hi, Canon 200d...as compact a DSLR as you could hope for. Not the best but it will suffice for now. Ioptron CEM25...all reviews point to them being somewhat delicate.

Sorry, yes a mount mainly but will get the 130pds just because.

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Hi

I agree, the Heq5 Pro is the better mount but is still rather heavy. How about an EQ3 Pro - fairly light with the supplied Al tripod. It can go on an eq5/heq5 tripod but then gets quite heavy (at least, it does for me!). I'd go for an 80mm ED scope just because they are virtually hassle and maintenance free, easy to use and easy to balance. Whatever you get, you will still need to guide. So budget for a guide scope and guide camera, as well as a field flattener. Put the rest towards a cooled astro camera.

Louise

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19 hours ago, Thalestris24 said:

Hi

I agree, the Heq5 Pro is the better mount but is still rather heavy. How about an EQ3 Pro - fairly light with the supplied Al tripod. It can go on an eq5/heq5 tripod but then gets quite heavy (at least, it does for me!). I'd go for an 80mm ED scope just because they are virtually hassle and maintenance free, easy to use and easy to balance. Whatever you get, you will still need to guide. So budget for a guide scope and guide camera, as well as a field flattener. Put the rest towards a cooled astro camera.

Louise

Hi Louise, but what about the EQM35 pro (with modifications) which is what I was asking about?

Edited by Seleckta

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1 hour ago, Seleckta said:

Hi Louise, but what about the EQM35 pro (with modifications) which is what I was asking about?

Might be ok but has the heavy tripod legs - I suppose it all depends on what you call 'heavy'. As for me, I'm an old lady and not very strong... I imagine that using the EQM35 without DEC would be a bit limiting - might as well just have a Star Adventurer on a Velbon tripod. I've no personal experience of the EQM35 so can't really recommend it - or not.

Louise

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Sounds like you already have a great imaging starting base. Have you exhausted using it. What are you hoping to achieve that you think your are not currently. 

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On 29/05/2020 at 20:36, Seleckta said:

I live in London, do not have a car and am likely to be found turning the light out around 10! 

My set up needs to be portable otherwise I will just get bored of lugging it about.

SW 130pds.

At present I am exceedingly unlikely to be out with whatever set-up I have more than 10-15 times a year and even then for no more than a couple of hours per session.

In the garden.

You mentioned a few things: no car, portable, In the garden, SW 130pds etc. Have you thought about either building a pier in the garden (two dense hollow concrete blocks) so that you don’t have to lug a tripod outside. Only carry the mount outside? Cover it over and leave mount attached outside? Keep stuff in a shed? Give up on going somewhere else? Anything if it gets you using it more often... I would agree that weight and size is a problem. What’s too cumbersome won’t get used after awhile.

Simon

Edited by SimM

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3 minutes ago, happy-kat said:

Sounds like you already have a great imaging starting base. Have you exhausted using it. What are you hoping to achieve that you think your are not currently. 

Hi Happy-kat...

I've not even started using it really and have not even had the WO61 on the Star Adventurer yet!

I've managed to save £1500 and am really not interested in cooled cameras etc. I spoke to the chap at Dark Frame Optics who said, with their modifications, I could expect 5 minute + unguided with either my WO61 or a SW130pds. 

At present I don't have the time nor patience to submit to the full requirements/dark arts of AP but want to be able to take some half decent shots without too much hassle and, more importantly, without going over budget....I wouldn't know a dark frame if it punched me in the face!

I have to be honest when I say that a lot of responses to questions on this site fail to answer the questions asked and just make newbies like me even more confused. I know everyone has an opinion but...

 

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I hope you didn't feel I did that, it wasn't my intention. 

Your refractor and camera lens are good to play as is, the 130pds does also crack out some great images there's a long running thread on it here though being a reflector would need periodic collimation checking.

https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/210593-imaging-with-the-130pds

Sorry I can't offer anything directly useful.

 

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31 minutes ago, happy-kat said:

I hope you didn't feel I did that, it wasn't my intention. 

Your refractor and camera lens are good to play as is, the 130pds does also crack out some great images there's a long running thread on it here though being a reflector would need periodic collimation checking.

https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/210593-imaging-with-the-130pds

Sorry I can't offer anything directly useful.

 

Not at all...sorry, perhaps my original post could have been more detailed, your response was fab because it confirmed the 130pds was a good scope.

I'm happy to collimate a scope and don't need a 80ed as I already have the WO61. 

This is just going to be an occasional hobby and so not worth the investment of an HEQ5 pro / cooled ccd / guide scopes etc.

If I go for a Dark Frame Optics mod on a mount and they are as good as they say they are then I should get near HEQ5 pro performance without the added complications.

I'd be taking the mount and WO around the UK to the Peak district and Kielder on occasion but not anything too serious...like I said, just an occasional hobby.

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1 hour ago, SimM said:

You mentioned a few things: no car, portable, In the garden, SW 130pds etc. Have you thought about either building a pier in the garden (two dense hollow concrete blocks) so that you don’t have to lug a tripod outside. Only carry the mount outside? Cover it over and leave mount attached outside? Keep stuff in a shed? Give up on going somewhere else? Anything if it gets you using it more often... I would agree that weight and size is a problem. What’s too cumbersome won’t get used after awhile.

Simon

Hi SimM,

No chance of a pier in le jardin at this stage. My kitchen is big enough to leave a mount/scope set up ready to take outside when the skies are clear. 

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On 29/05/2020 at 20:36, Seleckta said:

 

I have done so much research on this that I am almost tempted to give up because....questions around mounts asked on this forum are often (always) answered with 'get an HEQ5 Pro' and, in this case I am not after that model.

 

01 03 M42 v2.jpg

You might find a lot of imagers recommend the HEQ5 pro simply because they have found it to be a good mount for imaging! 
 

I’m afraid I can’t give you a crystal clear answer on your choice of kit, (crystal clear answers, like skies, are hard to come by in this game) but you have done your homework and It looks to me like a combination that will deliver the results you are after.

That’s a nice M42👍

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Difficult to improve on Thalestris' answer. I'm carrying an EQ6 around every imaging night and i understand your preference for a light mount...

That being said, a good mount is, ahem, paramount for imaging (pardon the pun). But i must say your first picture is very impressive!

I think you might even squeeze your existing rig further? Best, U.

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7 hours ago, tomato said:

You might find a lot of imagers recommend the HEQ5 pro simply because they have found it to be a good mount for imaging! 
 

I’m afraid I can’t give you a crystal clear answer on your choice of kit, (crystal clear answers, like skies, are hard to come by in this game) but you have done your homework and It looks to me like a combination that will deliver the results you are after.

That’s a nice M42👍

Thanks Tonato.

I'm sure the HEQ5 is a great mount but it seems like it"s the ONLY mount worth considering. Down the line, you never know but for now portability and cost are overriding factors.

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7 hours ago, uhb1966 said:

Difficult to improve on Thalestris' answer. I'm carrying an EQ6 around every imaging night and i understand your preference for a light mount...

That being said, a good mount is, ahem, paramount for imaging (pardon the pun). But i must say your first picture is very impressive!

I think you might even squeeze your existing rig further? Best, U.

Cheers U. Much appreciated.

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You might want to read this thread: https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/350628-dark-frame-experience/  

I would use the WO since nothing is more portable than a small refractor and it will travel well without costing you time collimating in the field.

An alternative line of attack would be to keep the Star Adventurer and buy a cooled OSC CMOS camera for use with a fast camera lens like the Samyang 135. You'd need to be sure an adapter was available but FLO will sort you out there. The key advantage would be speed. You'd have fast optics and a fast camera with low read noise, so it will work well with short sub exposures. This makes tracking less of an issue, as does the short focal length.

There are lots of great widefield targets out there...

Olly

 

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46 minutes ago, ollypenrice said:

You might want to read this thread: https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/350628-dark-frame-experience/  

I would use the WO since nothing is more portable than a small refractor and it will travel well without costing you time collimating in the field.

An alternative line of attack would be to keep the Star Adventurer and buy a cooled OSC CMOS camera for use with a fast camera lens like the Samyang 135. You'd need to be sure an adapter was available but FLO will sort you out there. The key advantage would be speed. You'd have fast optics and a fast camera with low read noise, so it will work well with short sub exposures. This makes tracking less of an issue, as does the short focal length.

There are lots of great widefield targets out there...

Olly

 

Hi Olly, thanks for the reply.

I read the post re: Dark Frame Optics and whilst agreeing that their experience was pretty awful, I've also read some great reviews about the service they offer elsewhere on the web. and no other posts about them here on SGL...though that might also be something to set alarm bells ringing!

So confused.

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As you say there seems to be a number of very satisfied DFO customers and a couple of highly dissatisfied ones, so I wouldn’t know which way to call it.

Sound advice, as always, from Olly.

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I also had a very poor experience with DFO....  Whatever mount you get I'd see what it does out of the box with your Scope/Camera combo and get advice on here if needed before spending money on tuning it.

As for the Samyang 135 there's a thread on here about using it showing the excellent results that are possible

 

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If you live in London, then its going to be narrowband imaging only im afraid (if you want any hope of a good image).

Keep the star adventurer, buy a fast lens (eg: like the samyang detailed above), a lightweight cooled CMOS camera + some filters. Should come to less than your budget.

Edit: Just need to add that your choice of camera needs to be mono

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15 hours ago, Seleckta said:

I spoke to the chap at Dark Frame Optics who said, with their modifications, I could expect 5 minute + unguided with either my WO61 or a SW130pds. 

Hang on.... stop right there...lol.

No camera modification on Earth (apart from increasing the pixel size) can influence the maxiumum length of an unguided sub... that is determined by both the mount and the focal length of the optics. With a 130pds, you would be lucky to get 30s unguided without trailing (@ 1x1bin). You might be able to get longer unguided @650mm, but that takes a lot of fiddling.

Just wanted to clear up that bit of mis-information  ;)

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