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Anybody using SVBONY cameras for guiding duties ?


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Hi All,

is anybody using any of the SVBONY range of cameras to perform guiding duties only ? Not too interested in their imaging capabilities, coming from the position of “is sone guiding better than NO guiding ?”

interested to hear from people using them or no longer use due to issues etc.

cheers

Andy

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The SV305 looks to be about £120/130 after a quick Google. For another 20 or 30 quid you could get the tried and tested ASI120mm.

I guess that’s a NO then 😂 

Stellarium doesn't really guide.  It relies on the mount to talk to the camera (ST4) port or the use of an external, such as PHD2 to talk to the camera and mount through drivers. The above setup

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1 minute ago, david_taurus83 said:

Have you got a particular one in mind?

No, not really they just seemed an inexpensive way in to guiding. Interested if anyone is successfully guiding with any of them TBH or if someone had used them and found them to be not fit for purpose.

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I use a SV305 on my guide scope.  It was my original imaging camera, and did OK for planetary images.  As a guide scope camera, I will probably never replace it.  It works fine, and I even image with it through the guide scope when the subject requires.  I have a 10" dobsonian, so large deep sky objects are often too large for my FOV.  The guide scope is a 60mm refractor.

It has been nearly a year since I relegated the sv305 to guide duty.  No issues.  I am using the indi_sv305_ccd driver under linux (3rd party driver) with both the KStars/Ekos internal guider and/or PHD2.  Prior to that I used AstroDMx_Capture for imaging with the camera.

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Well that sounds like a positive experience, I was potentially thinking of the sv205 purely on not wanting to spend too much for now.

I have a few bits and bobs from svbony and have been impressed with them so far

thanks for the positive report 👍

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Just FYI, I also use the SVBony guide scope.  Here's an image I took with the guide scope and SV305 using PHD2 as the "imaging software."  I didn't bother with sharp focus, as it was just an experiment at the time.

I haven't used the SV205, but have a SV105.  It works OK, but I haven't used it in a while, mostly because I don't care for the V4L2 driver set in Linux.  The SV205 also uses the V4L2 driver set (in Linux).  V4L2 drivers are basically webcam drivers.

Moon2020-11-18-GuideScope-small.jpg.ac180facb7bf8bbc8a4ab29985c9db7a.jpg

 

Edited by JonCarleton
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17 hours ago, JonCarleton said:

Just FYI, I also use the SVBony guide scope.  Here's an image I took with the guide scope and SV305 using PHD2 as the "imaging software."  I didn't bother with sharp focus, as it was just an experiment at the time.

I haven't used the SV205, but have a SV105.  It works OK, but I haven't used it in a while, mostly because I don't care for the V4L2 driver set in Linux.  The SV205 also uses the V4L2 driver set (in Linux).  V4L2 drivers are basically webcam drivers.

Moon2020-11-18-GuideScope-small.jpg.ac180facb7bf8bbc8a4ab29985c9db7a.jpg

 

Very interesting, so it could be employed as an unguided planetary imager , I notice it’s the 305 model again which then begs the question is it worth the extra £’s for a ZWO for example ? Or are we thinking the 305 is a better guide camera than the basic ZWO ?

How is the 305 connected for guiding i can only see one port on the Camera ?

im using a Windows 10 lappy so not sure about the driver issues.

I have the SVBONY 9x50 finder/guide scope which as a finder works really well.

Edited by Newforestgimp
additional point made.
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Hi @Newforestgimp,
Not sure if this is off your topic, but I know I'd looked at the Svbony cameras for potential guiding, but had found a couple of folks saying their exposure times were limited to max of 1sec. I'm new to imaging and have had a steep learning curve (see my other posts, particularly this one) and use the Svbony guide scope (240 f/4) which I got off eBay for <£60 and a T7C camera (again under £70) which I ran into a couple of issues with but think they're now resolved, again commented in the linked post. I went down this route after watching the "astro on budget" youtube video.
Not sure if this helps, but the 1sec limit on the Svbony was the primary reason I avoided this for guiding.

 

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3 minutes ago, pete_81 said:

Hi @Newforestgimp,
Not sure if this is off your topic, but I know I'd looked at the Svbony cameras for potential guiding, but had found a couple of folks saying their exposure times were limited to max of 1sec. I'm new to imaging and have had a steep learning curve (see my other posts, particularly this one) and use the Svbony guide scope (240 f/4) which I got off eBay for <£60 and a T7C camera (again under £70) which I ran into a couple of issues with but think they're now resolved, again commented in the linked post. I went down this route after watching the "astro on budget" youtube video.
Not sure if this helps, but the 1sec limit on the Svbony was the primary reason I avoided this for guiding.

 

Thanks i will take a look, the T7 was another i was considering, so ill def take a look.

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Yeah its starting to get close to the price of something with more of a proven track record or at least more users. I just dont like spending money when something a little more left field might do a better job. I apply my cycling factory knowledge to most purchases (stay with me) most stuff is made in the same factories and badge engineered, so you can pay a premium for the branding and underneath is the same chinese carbon fibre. Not sure if the same goes for astro gear.

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There was a problem with some of the early drivers for the SV305 camera.  It was released prior to a programmer's SDK, so some early drivers had limits.  That is no longer true.  I have used the SV305 and the SV105 for exposures up to 20 seconds.  As a guide camera with PHP2, my typical setting is bin 4x4 and 2 seconds. This, using INDI drivers.

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The SV305 has no ST4 port.  The SV305Pro does.  HOWEVER, most folks don't use the ST4 port any more on modern mounts.  It is better in many cases to let the mount driver handle the pulses rather than mixing the sources of mount control.

There is a Dylan O'Donnell video on YouTube 

demonstrating guiding setup in which he demonstrates removing the ST4 cable from its packaging and setting it on fire.  While this may not work for every mount with a ST4 port, it is current wisdom for late model equipment.

Edited by JonCarleton
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I actually bought a ZWO monochrome camera for guiding in November of 2020.  It is still in the box.  I may try it sometime in the future, but for not, everything is working well...especially guiding, so I go with the, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" rule.

I also bought a ZWO ASI178MC at the same time as a primary imager (hense the relegation of my SV305 to guiding).  It has taken me a few months to get used to the settings for the ZWO ASI179MC and begin to get reasonable images again.  It is concern for another period of re-education that has kept the ZWO monochrome camera in the box.  It may never be my guide camera.  I may just start using it as an imager for filtered monochrome images when I finally unpack it.

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All very interesting, would I be naive to suggest that the SVBONY SV305/pro although same price as the ZWO 120 mini might actually be the better device ? And if turned to unguided imaging in main scope it might be a better versatile option ?

im not anywhere close to understanding the technical blurb on the various cameras yet.

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Frankly, I don't think I would bother with the SV305/Pro...unless your (very old) mount has a specific need for the ST4 port.  One could argue that for guiding, you might get a more pinpoint image from a monochrome camera and therefore the ZWO mono is a better option.

Unguided imaging will only get you so far.  It is not good at all for dim images.   Sure, it works for planets and bright things...but guiding is the ultimate solution.

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17 hours ago, JonCarleton said:

Frankly, I don't think I would bother with the SV305/Pro...unless your (very old) mount has a specific need for the ST4 port.  One could argue that for guiding, you might get a more pinpoint image from a monochrome camera and therefore the ZWO mono is a better option.

Unguided imaging will only get you so far.  It is not good at all for dim images.   Sure, it works for planets and bright things...but guiding is the ultimate solution.

Thanks @JonCarleton, am i understanding correctly.... USB cable from Guide camera to laptop running PHD2, USB cable from Laptop to mount ? but which port on which part of the mount, I have an EQM-35 PRO with Handset and separate module that the handset plugs into.

So far my non guided routine has been...
1) Polar Alignment on mount
2) Switch on mount, and perform 2 star alignment
3) Once aligned successful I connect the handset to my laptop via "square" USB to standard laptop USB (Printer cable)
4) Start Stellarium and find and slew to target from Stellarium

I wonder if you could describe how i adapt this routine for connecting a guide camera, which port, which lead etc ?

It would help my understanding greatly before i take the plunge 🙂

Thank You

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In a nutshell, the same cable used to connect to the controller (as step 3). These are the USB-B type.

Step 5... Once you use Stellarium to slew to object, start PHD2 and it should pass the 'pulses' to the mount via the USB to handset to the mount, effectively keeping the guide star in the same position, meaning the mount is correctly tracking, i.e. "guiding"!
ST4 adds the extra complication that the computer sends info back to camera for the camera to send to the mount.
If you have USB to mount, this does the work for you :)
Unless I've got it completely wrong!

My setup requires 3 USB cables...
1) Mount (direct to PC via USB, essentially the same as mount-controller-computer)
2) Guide camera, to allow PHD2 to get signal
3) DSLR controller (allows computer to trigger camera), although I could set multiple exposure mode on the camera and ignore this but I don't think that's a good idea - might have to change settings if over/underexposing

Want to hear others comment though just so that my understanding is correct!

Edited by pete_81
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Stellarium doesn't really guide.  It relies on the mount to talk to the camera (ST4) port or the use of an external, such as PHD2 to talk to the camera and mount through drivers.

The above setup is reasonable for most mounts as a setup with Stellarium.  Stellarium, in that case, does the initial point and then an external guiding program keeps the tracking honest.  That works well if your star alignments during setup are tight.  Although, if you move across the sky a lot to various targets, you probably have to do some centering and other minor tweaks.

The more current way to do guiding (sans ST4 cable) is to talk to the mount through INDI or ASCOM drivers (Linux or Windoze).  If, for example you choose to use Ekos (KStars) internal guider, you would have an indi mount driver and an indi camera driver.  Both the mount and camera would be connected to the computer running the indiserver service.  The guide camera will be connected to a computer via USB (either a laptop or an on-scope IOT type computer).  The mount would be connected via either USB or WiFi to the indiserver computer.  Ekos, then, looks at the images it receives from the indiserver process via the camera driver and makes a determination of what to send via pulses to the mount driver through indiserver.  Ekos also does plate-solving.

PHD2 works the same, more or less.  INDI or ASCOM drivers handling the connectivity.  Some cameras are supported natively by PHD2, but the process remains similar.

I have no cables (other than power) running to my scope.  It runs a Pi4 on the scope that runs indiserver and handles the USB to the cameras and WiFi to the mount controller.  I connect my inside desktop to the WiFi and am done. 

One of the big advantages of ASCOM or INDI drivers is plate solving.  Alas, it is like a drug.  Once you use it, you can't live with just slew to target with a planetarium program.

Edited by JonCarleton
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Thanks Jon, I’ll admit a lot of what was covered there went right over my head.

im looking for the most straightforward connection initially, the connection from the laptop back to the mount, is that to the usb socket on the handset or the usb socket on the separate synscan module which then has the multi port cables to the motor drives.

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Hi Andy,
Sorry that we're not being more help here.
Can you send photos of your available connections, into mount, controller, computer etc, and we'll try to explain better - I'm a newbie to this too, so facing the steep learning curve, but want to help with my findings as I learn!
As Jon says, Stellarium doesn't guide, it's a 'go-to' program. Equivalent to other users is KStars. Sure you'll have heard/seen this mentioned plenty on SGL.
We use 'Ekos', which is the connection to all hardware, which then talks to the mount via the 'INDI' protocol. Equivalent to INDI is ASCOM (as I understand it).
EKOS controls all the decisions and controls mount as 'GOTO' via KSTARS, GUIDING via PHD2 or internal guider, and camera for capturing your final images.
If you're successfully driving the mount 'GOTO' with Stellarium, I guess just opening PHD2 and using the 'connect equipment' should just use the same 'goto' cable to control the mount, see:image.png.8ff9cf66a6b1c842f32120ca84705975.png

(I'm using mac, hence the connection here being EQMAC, on Win it'd be EQMOD, and linux likely INDI. Note at this time, I'm using KStars on OS-X, and also updating my Raspberry-Pi mini computer to run the setup via the Astroberry OS, but all replies on SGL I'd use mac for, hence this screenshot and other detailing)

Obviously the weather is the issue for most of the time, but can I suggest you try your setup to just connect to a guide-cam (if you have one as this is the initial topic discussion!) and mount then 'mock' a 'goto M42' some evening, then try opening PHD2 and see that all connections are made successfully, this is likely the best way to try this out and you'll learn issues as you go and come back here for more help as you run into new and more issues! I have had my mount setup more in the living room than outside of recent, and it's shown cables being too long/short, and allowed me to practice setup in the light (and warm!) in preparation for when the clouds break! I know I can't assess how good my guiding is at this time, although I have learnt more about the setup in this time.

Hope this helps again?

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@Newforrestgump:

If you are looking for goto control for your scope (and/or guiding) and want a wired connection.  The simplest way is a USB A-B cable (same as a USB2.0 printer cable) connected to the hand controller, with the hand controller connected to the motor as marked in the scope manual.  You then set the hand control to "PC Direct" and you should be good to go for basic pointing.  You will need a driver whatever program you choose for pointing.

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Thanks Guys.

I think initially the cables and connections are the thing I need to get clear. I can get Stellarium to control my mount which is fine. I tend to do all my alignment prior to using Stellarium to drive the mount to my selected target. I use a printer cable from laptop to the usb on the handset for this.

where it seems to fall down is when I try and connect via EQ mod & Stellarium using ASCOM. Again Stellarium will connect but it won’t drive the scope via ascom connection and EQMOD won’t even connect.

ive tried connecting to the handset and directly to the synscan module that the handset plugs into but only via usb (I don’t have the LAN type cable) I’m suspecting that if connecting directly to the synscan module I need the LAN type cable ??

After many failed attempts im tying to get the star alignment and Goto sorted from laptop to do away with the handset before I consider buying a guide camera and guiding.

thanks again.

7242A041-795E-4ACC-8222-8B030F8374AC.jpeg

40CAB190-C46B-4752-B221-4EC4C7F2C117.jpeg

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Hi Andy,
Reading this last post sounds a little familiar to my first connections... I tried using USB via Stellarium connected into the bottom of the hand controller and was initially able to connect and goto, then I started noting odd results (handset date would jump to 2050 and other things, and I couldn't get goto working). So switched to just using handset for setup, then discovered the wifi dongle, used it for a bit via smartphone to do initial alignment, and then Stellarium app on phone as the go-to, meaning doing away with computer.

This setup is great for my visual work and works really well as there is only one (power) cable extending more than 10cm from the mount head!

Then I wanted to start dabbling in imaging, which up to now hasn't been successful. Maybe this is the time for folks to tell me to get lost that I don't know what I'm talking about, but figure until then that I'll continue offering advice, based on my experience and help from the stand point that I've struggled with the setup and spent hours (and my Christmas present allowance!) researching the best way for me to do things. Tell me to sod off if you want! 😂

Anyway, back to topic. What happens if the USB is directly into the controller mounted on the tripod? Can you tell stellarium to 'goto' after initial alignment (which if you're doing like me, would be setup on the hand-controller)? My main move forwards was this step - directly connecting PC to the mount. As a sidenote to the connections on this box, you're right about the ST4 connection applying the correction to the mount via the auto-guide socket, although the objective here (and for most folks I guess) is to avoid the ST4 all together and have the computer (PHD2) talk (guide) directly to the mount rather than going via camera.

Not sure if it'll help, but here's how I have things setup... Sorry it's on paper rather than actual images but don't have access to mount just now!

20210115_125359.thumb.jpg.82312f796d5c5b7044222bf280a33a08.jpg

The only bit that's missing here is using KStars, which is the 'goto' commander. It uses INDI though to send coordinates to the scope when not guiding.
Have just got new shorter USB-B cables rather than fishing out 2m printer cables, so things are going to be much tidier later!

Alternatively, can you start PHD2 and see if you can connect the mount - not being a Windows user, this may be where ASCOM/EQMOD is needed so you may need to do more seeking here (youtube) - particularly if you change where the USB is connected (into controller or handset?)

So what about guidecamera - have you got one as that's really the initial topic discussion (sorry about the 1sec exposure limit, in which case, I'd guess they should work)? What is important for guiding is probably a high pixel density (rather than high pixel count) - when guiding, any star image deviation from a given location on the image sensor is what the main camera doesn't want - there's no point in having a 35mm sensor on a guidecamera if only 10pixels in the centre are being used - the ZWO mono for example is 1MP (1280x960) at 3.75µm, which is 10% smaller than my DSLR pixels. The Svbony 105/205/305 have higher pixel density (smaller pixels), but whether their connection would work with PHD, no idea. Obviously the smaller pixels should give more accurate guiding but I'd guess setup (polar alignment, balancing, etc) is more critical.

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