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Hi SGL,

Where to start.... Perhaps with the positives.... Like a lot of people got into Astrophotography due to lockdown and got myself a William Optics Redcat and Ipolar star tracker and have been using that for 6 months and got some nice images, so I thought it was time for a step up, however it all went wrong today. Firstly my new equipment: Skywatcher HEQ5 Pro, Optolong L Extreme filter, ASIAIR Pro, William Optics uniguide 32mm and ZWO ASI 120 mini for guiding! Before going out I tried setting it up and managed to get my gear where I thought I needed it, however...

Firstly polar aligning was unbelievably difficult (I'm used to ipolar software) like other posts here my polar scope was just a sea of red no stars at all visible. Other posts say to lower the brightness using the hand controller but no where was this function for me. In the end I used a torch to shine through the scope and I think I managed this (no idea if it was Polaris, but did try over min subs so must have been). Anyhow that took the best part of an hour! Secondly couldn't figure out star alignment as I could not see any stars with the filter in, so there was no go to function happening today! Also trying to focus was a nightmare and failed at this. The built in Bhatinov mask was not creating diffraction spikes on 2 minute subs at ISO 6400 have I added the Lenhance to the worng part of imaging train? Thirdly the ASIAIR was unbelievably temperamental constantly losing the camera and guide camera? After another hour I finally managed to get the guide scope looping exposures only to not find a single star I assume this is a focus issue, but I tried moving the camera in and out and after 30 minutes of not seeing a single star a gave up with that as well. Lastly the two dew bands I had plugged into the USB on ASIAIR didn't work at all do I need 2.1mm jack adapters? 

Overall a real kick in the teeth for me. With the success of my star tracker I thought this new gear would make things easier and more enjoyable, however the difficult level has gone through the roof. Cold and depressed as fisrt clear sky in a month, brand new gear and night totally wasted!  Any advice would be much needed. 

Thanks 

 

 

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Congrats, this is great! Really impressive for just an hour as well. Focussing is tough, especially using a filter like the L-eXtreme. If you've got the cash spare, I really recommend looking into an

Hey KP82, Ha ha you have a very keen eye I was quite heavy on the noise reduction I had awful horizontal banding. I did dither, but I didn't take flats, only darks and Bias. I do have the Astrono

Hi all, So got another fairly clear night last night (91% Moon) and manged only an hour integration on the Heart Nebula. Using all the tricks and advice here this is what I got. There are some ho

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Hi go into handset there is a brightness for polar scope mine is on number 2 it's in utility section under polar scope led

Sorry I don't do imaging like you but can't you do alignment using finder scope if that's zeroed in to the main scope , with mine  I use an eyepiece then once on target pop camera in 

There is an app called synscanlnit2.1  gives you all the info for your hand set and polar position is 

Edited by Neil H
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I've been using the ASIAir for a few months now, so not an expert, but I have had rock solid usage out of mine.

I'd suggest starting with the why the cameras are disconnecting. So a few questions on this:

  • Are they plugged in directly via USB or via a hub?
  • Is the ASI Air powering them?
  • Does it drop the cameras only after slewing (or during) - i.e. are the cables being pulled while in motion?
  • What power supply are you using? Does it have enough power for everything? All this needs a decent power supply, even the slightest drop causes all sorts of horrid issues which will drive you nuts.
  • Due straps plugged in via USB - I've not seen these before and I wonder if theses are causing power drop issues which means you lose the cameras? I'd go for the ones you can plug into the 2.1mm jack and use the ASIAir to control them.

As for polar alignment - I now only use the ASIAir to do this so no more squatting under a tripod/mount to look through the polar scope - it's really simple to do

Edited by tenpinmark
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Hi Tenpinmark

 

your last point when i pulled the dew straps out that’s when the cameras came to life so perhaps that was the issue. I will look for converters to utilise the 2.1mm jacks. All your other points I think I am good for they are plugged directly I am using 12v 5amps as per the requirement and prior to skewing so maybe it was the dew heaters! 
 

ok how do you polar align with asiair I tried but said something about not connected to mount? I was thinking I would but the ipolar camera for heq 5 by the sounds of it I don’t need to do that? 
 

thanks 

 

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19 minutes ago, Simon Pepper said:

Hi Tenpinmark

 

your last point when i pulled the dew straps out that’s when the cameras came to life so perhaps that was the issue. I will look for converters to utilise the 2.1mm jacks. All your other points I think I am good for they are plugged directly I am using 12v 5amps as per the requirement and prior to skewing so maybe it was the dew heaters! 
 

ok how do you polar align with asiair I tried but said something about not connected to mount? I was thinking I would but the ipolar camera for heq 5 by the sounds of it I don’t need to do that? 
 

thanks 

 

I suspect the due heaters are drawing too much power from the USB bus and this causes the cameras to "disconnect" and in turn, it's not enough power for the heaters to warm up so you notice.

As for the PA using the ASIAir - you will need a connection from the ASIAir to the mount or it won't be able to guide, slew etc. On my setup, I have a USB connection to a HITEC Astro EQDIR which in turn plugs into the 9 pin socket on the mount. I have no handset connected to the mount. In addition, from the guide scope to the mount there is the usual ST4 cable for guide corrections.  What do you have in terms of connections?

You can see my setup here

Edited by tenpinmark
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7 minutes ago, tenpinmark said:

I suspect the due heaters are drawing too much power from the USB bus and this causes the cameras to "disconnect" and in turn, it's not enough power for the heaters to warm up so you notice.

As for the PA using the ASIAir - you will need a connection from the ASIAir to the mount or it won't be able to guide, slew etc. On my setup, I have a USB connection to a HITEC Astro EQDIR which in turn plugs into the 9 pin socket on the mount. I have no handset connected to the mount. In addition, from the guide scope to the mount there is the usual ST4 cable for guide corrections.  What do you have in terms of connections?

You can see my setup here

I am using the ST4 from guide camera to mount, power to mount obviously and then the hand controller. So no EQDIR not heard of this? I reckon you are right regarding the dew heaters I will stop using them then. Do you have any recommendations for dew heaters as I only have USB powered ones I cant seem to find a female USB to 2.1mm jack for ASIAIR? Please elaborate on EQDIR though this sounds like the way to go.

 

Thanks again

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If I understand this correctly, you are slewing the scope from the handset then - if this is the case, you can't PA using the ASIAir as it needs to control the mount.  If you get this connection going, a lot of functionality is opened up to you.

As a lot of things have moved on since I purchased my EQDIR, I think something along these lines could work - Lynx Astro FTDI EQDIR USB Adapter for Sky-Watcher EQ6 or NEQ6  I'd check with FLO first to be sure

As for dew straps, then I've seen these Dew straps from FLO The ASIAir should have come with a splitter cable for the 2.1mm jack if you feel the need for running two of them - saves a power output being used or you could use two outputs and control them separately. 

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Hi Simon, I've got similar kit to you and have it all working a-ok. I reckon tenpinmark has gotten you onto the right track! I believe this is the cable you need: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/sky-watcher-mount-accessories/lynx-astro-ftdi-eqdir-usb-adapter-for-sky-watcher-eq5-pro-heq5-syntrek-pro-az-eq5-gt-az-eq6-gt-and-eq8-mounts.html. As suggested it's always good to check with FLO. Once you get the mount properly connected to the ASIAIR, you won't need the ST4 cable -- the guidescope can do all its communicating via its USB connection to the ASIAIR. Polar Alignment can then all be done through the ASIAIR too, with you making minor adjustments to the mount. Much easier than what you're doing at the moment!

Those Lynx Astro dew straps are good. You may need an adapter (single: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/astronomy-cables-leads-accessories/lynx-astro-21mm-dc-male-to-rca-socket-for-dew-heaters.html double: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/zwo-accessories/zwo-dc-to-rca-y-splitter-cable.html) to power them from your ASIAIR.

Regarding focus, it is difficult with a filter like the L-eXtreme because you need longer exposures to get an image. An electronic autofocusser would make your life a lot easier. I'd ask someone with a Redcat for advice on that; I've seen some mods that use a ZWO EAF, which would communicate nicely with your ASIAIR.

Try not to feel too down about initial teething issues. It always seems to be the way that the first few clear nights are spent troubleshooting, but you'll get over that initial bump soon. Rest assured you've got some great kit! What camera are you using?

You can see some photos of my set-up here: 

 

Edited by Lee_P
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9 minutes ago, Lee_P said:

Hi Simon, I've got similar kit to you and have it all working a-ok. I reckon tenpinmark has gotten you onto the right track! I believe this is the cable you need: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/sky-watcher-mount-accessories/lynx-astro-ftdi-eqdir-usb-adapter-for-sky-watcher-eq5-pro-heq5-syntrek-pro-az-eq5-gt-az-eq6-gt-and-eq8-mounts.html. As suggested it's always good to check with FLO. Once you get the mount properly connected to the ASIAIR, you won't need the ST4 cable -- the guidescope can do all its communicating via its USB connection to the ASIAIR. Polar Alignment can then all be done through the ASIAIR too, with you making minor adjustments to the mount. Much easier than what you're doing at the moment!

Those Lynx Astro dew straps are good. You may need an adapter (single: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/astronomy-cables-leads-accessories/lynx-astro-21mm-dc-male-to-rca-socket-for-dew-heaters.html double: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/zwo-accessories/zwo-dc-to-rca-y-splitter-cable.html) to power them from your ASIAIR.

Regarding focus, it is difficult with a filter like the L-eXtreme because you need longer exposures to get an image. An electronic autofocusser would make your life a lot easier. I'd ask someone with a Redcat for advice on that; I've seen some mods that use a ZWO EAF, which would communicate nicely with your ASIAIR.

Try not to feel too down about initial teething issues. It always seems to be the way that the first few clear nights are spent troubleshooting, but you'll get over that initial bump soon. Rest assured you've got some great kit! What camera are you using?

You can see some photos of my set-up here: 

 

Hi lee,

 

Thanks for this and yes I think tenpinmark is on the mark! Dew heater issues he mention is a good shout and this cable you both mentioned I will be sure to google it and speak to FLO. I have a modded 750d andunmodded 800d. The next step for me is a dedicated OSC Zwo but this hiccup has put that on the back foot for now. After all as we know this hobby is not a cheap one so if I mail these issues then I may take the leap. With regards the the filter perhaps I will remove it for now till I become more confident with the other equipment. 
 

anyone have any ideas with regards to the guiding and not seeing any stars

thanks for all replies on this thread it’s really helping me

 

 

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Taking out the filter for now is a good shout.

Regarding the guidescope and camera, what exposure time are you using?

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1 minute ago, Simon Pepper said:

I tied looping the exposures in asiair I think I tried 0.5, 1, 2 and 4 seconds. All I saw was noise and grain cap was off I checked that :)

Ok, you should be seeing stars with those settings. (When everything's working consider 2s a minimum, otherwise you're just chasing atmospheric conditions). Other things to check that are obvious but easy to forget: the lens hasn't fogged up; you're not accidentally blocking the view with your arm! 

Here are photos of my set-up so you can see where I've positioned the camera, and how far screwed out the front of the guidescope is. Note that I need to do more tweaks to make sure it's spot on, but this should at least ensure you're able to see stars in the first place:

137588650_3540355586002377_1839508737599594033_n.thumb.jpg.ca591cad4e798ca0d35da9552c636b60.jpg

 

138055815_434984127539613_8739226925049417826_n.thumb.jpg.39f09faf1c3d5d3039cd3903f7848993.jpg

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On 10/01/2021 at 09:15, Simon Pepper said:

I tied looping the exposures in asiair I think I tried 0.5, 1, 2 and 4 seconds. All I saw was noise and grain cap was off I checked that :)

Oh, and you can set the gain in ASIAIR too. I think mine is 70.

Edit: I've recently read that ZWO recommend a medium level gain for guidecams. Mine is now set to 30.

Edited by Lee_P
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Hi Lee, 

Pleas see below. The front of mine was not screwed out at all and there is another small extender screw still in the box. I only had the larger of the two adapters screwed on but looks like this. I think my gain was set to 10 but pretty sure I played with those settings....

Thanks 

1.jpg

2.jpg

Edited by Simon Pepper
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Bingo, I bet your issue is the front  of the guidescope. You can unscrew the lens shield, and then adjust the black ring to tighten it up. This will need to be unscrewed by a particular amount in order for your view to be in focus.

You can actually get your guidescope focus fairly accurate by testing it during the daytime. Just aim for something far away, like a chimney or TV aerial on a neighbour's roof. (Hopefully they won't think you're a peeping tom!) Focus loop through your ASIAIR, and make adjustments using trial and error until your view is in focus. This is easier than starting from scratch using stars at night.

Let us know how you get on!

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I'm assuming your using 5v USB ended dew bands? I'd always recommend dew heaters are powered off their own controller or power supply. A USB power bank might be the best option for you.

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7 minutes ago, david_taurus83 said:

I'm assuming your using 5v USB ended dew bands? I'd always recommend dew heaters are powered off their own controller or power supply. A USB power bank might be the best option for you.

Oh that's a good idea, could avoid the OP needing to buy new dew heaters :)

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4 minutes ago, Lee_P said:

Oh that's a good idea, could avoid the OP needing to buy new dew heaters :)

I've just bought one of those USB bands off Amazon for a mobile setup. I have to say I'm impressed by how warm it gets. I had to buy an Anker power bank to go with it but it beats lugging a 12v leisure battery around just to use my normal dew straps!

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Forget about the polar scope and use your guidescope with your guide camera for plate solving polar alignment.

There is no need for star alignment. Issue GOTO commands from the handset (if using the firmware update cable) or a planetarium software (if using EQDIR) then use plate solve to centre on the target.

The L Enhance filter is a tri-band narrowband filter that severely cuts the amount of light going through it. Because of it, the stars would be too dim to show any obvious diffraction spikes (they are still there just too dim to be seen). You may want to use a different method like the FWHM measurement for focus adjustment.

ASIAIR is basically a raspberry pi with a power regulator and some custom software based on INDI. The pi has a combined USB power output limited to 1.2A. If you attempt to draw anything more than that, your USB devices will become unstable. Having dew bands plugged into these USB ports will definitely exceed the limit. You could either get a USB to 2.1mm adapter and plug them directly into the power regulator of the ASIAIR or use an active USB hub. Also you need a 5V/3A power supply for the ASIAIR. Otherwise the pi will crash due to insufficient current.

Edited by KP82
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Thanks for all the responses here its been very helpful. I have ordered the EQDIR from FLO, so will remove the hand controller and plug this from the mount to the ASIAIR and try polar aligning and plate solving using that. I have also used Lee_P method of focusing the guide scope on my neighbours point on the roof and unscrewing the front seems to have been the issue so great shout there. I have also ordered a power bank which I will velcro to the other side of the mount and plug in the dew heaters there. Lastly I have removed the lextreme for now as that was clearly adding just another obstacle to my session. Annoyingly in doing so I put my oily thumbprint on it (what an amateur fail) so will have a look here for any recommendations on cleaning that for the next time I add it back in. When the next clear sky I will try again with the knowledge I have gained here and will update you all.

 

Thanks all again for your knowledge and suggestions. 

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@Lee_P I have the Lynx cable plugged in to the hand controller port on HEQ5 pro and then to ASIAIR. Also the cable from ASIAIR to guide camera I have also not connected the ST4 cable from guide camera to mount. Two quick questions... Is that correct? And in the ASIAIR App under telescope or mount which setting should I use? Is it On-Camera-ST4?

 

Thanks

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7 hours ago, Simon Pepper said:

@Lee_P I have the Lynx cable plugged in to the hand controller port on HEQ5 pro and then to ASIAIR. Also the cable from ASIAIR to guide camera I have also not connected the ST4 cable from guide camera to mount. Two quick questions... Is that correct? And in the ASIAIR App under telescope or mount which setting should I use? Is it On-Camera-ST4?

 

Thanks

That's right, no need for the ST4 cable. It sounds like your cable arrangement is correct.

When connected to the ASIAIR PRO, your Mount should be "EQMod Mount". At least, that's what it is on mine :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi all,

First clear sky in a while last night. Got out with your advice above and it went well. The EQMOD cable and focusing the guide scope worked a treat I was able to polar align using the ASI air pro and plate solving worked as well so thank for all this. I started with IC1396 as that appeared to be the only DSO I could see from my position. I got a good 2 hours on it (4 min subs stars look good so PA and guiding worked a treat :)), BUT.... I put it through DSS then PS and it appears to be grey channel and when I convert to RGB each R G B level is identical it does not look right at all as a result i'm struggling to pull any definition or colour out. I was using my astro modded camera. so would expect it to see some HA... Is this grey channel something ASI air does? I checked I was not shooting in B&W as that would have been a major fail, but pretty sure camera settings look good. I have attached the DSS.tif.

 

Thanks again all.

Autosave.tif

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2 hours ago, Simon Pepper said:

Hi all,

First clear sky in a while last night. Got out with your advice above and it went well. The EQMOD cable and focusing the guide scope worked a treat I was able to polar align using the ASI air pro and plate solving worked as well so thank for all this. I started with IC1396 as that appeared to be the only DSO I could see from my position. I got a good 2 hours on it (4 min subs stars look good so PA and guiding worked a treat :)), BUT.... I put it through DSS then PS and it appears to be grey channel and when I convert to RGB each R G B level is identical it does not look right at all as a result i'm struggling to pull any definition or colour out. I was using my astro modded camera. so would expect it to see some HA... Is this grey channel something ASI air does? I checked I was not shooting in B&W as that would have been a major fail, but pretty sure camera settings look good. I have attached the DSS.tif.

 

Thanks again all.

Autosave.tif 66.87 MB · 1 download

Congrats on getting the hardware working! I suspect (but am not sure) that your new issue is caused by your DSS settings. If you could somehow get your individual subs to me (via Google Drive or Dropbox maybe) then I could have a go at stacking them myself and see if I can get a colour result.

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