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I know I'm not the first, I know I won't be the last but when you have a rubbish night it's just incredibly frustrating, some nights have more reasons to be than others. I guess I just need to vent before I try and sleep. 

Like many I've dedicated so much time to this hobby, done my best to cope with the rough and the smooth and been really pleased when the results are all worth it, it's what keeps you going. I felt I was coming to the end of what I could with a DSLR so had recently started to look into a dedicated camera. Well out of no where, it happened, I purchased Adam's full QHY mono camera, filter wheel and filters set. Although it happened earlier than planned, the move just felt right. After some stress and learning I became happy in my DSLR bubble, even had my guiding in TOT 0.30's last session, it was all going well but I fancied moving on. I knew that going mono would be some degree of stress and a whole new way of learning. I took most of the day getting the software set up yesterday, the last issue was a bit of trouble with the external USB port, I did my very best to remain calm, I got some help on here and it was sorted. I went to bed thinking, well it was a bit of a faff but actually seemed less stressful than when I set up the guiding software!. I was nervous but excited as the next step would be out under the stars. Well that was tonight and I've just spent 4hrs getting no where but just being fed up. First issue, USB port (Again!) nearly shut everything down and gave up then. Deep breaths, right, it took a while to set everything up so let's just see if I can sort it, googled stuff, tried some things, somehow sorted. From then on it was still just issue after issue but with things that have worked fine before! When I eventually got the guiding working, I wasn't 100% sure I was on target, even after plate solving as there was no nebulosity in a single 10 min HA exposure!? So I stopped guiding, parked then un parked the scope and did some test runs on some bright stars. The mount could not find it the stars correctly or plate solve correctly! Why, you have worked fine before and as far as I can tell you have the correct new camera settings so why!? After that I was done for the night and fed up so packed up. If I'm honest I'm at that stage of asking if its all worth it, I'm not trying to be melodramatic but I think I'm running out of steam and patience with what feels like constant issues with this hobby, maybe I just don't have the mental strength for it as I'm easily stressed and anxious. It's hard to take when you have honestly dedicated so much to it to get probably more hassle than pleasure back.

Do I won't to give it up though? No, not really but..... 

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I had a terrible session the one before yesterday. I do solar and then my solarquest mount for some reason wouldn't lock on to any GPS satellites. It won't do anything if it doesn't. Took an hour turn

I know I'm not the first, I know I won't be the last but when you have a rubbish night it's just incredibly frustrating, some nights have more reasons to be than others. I guess I just need to vent be

Test night number two with new kit is going well. Still some issues to sort but all in all a lot more positive. I've managed to fire off my first few 10min exposures in HA and from I can see the stars

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I've had nothing but trouble with imaging. Zero productivity since last May and I only stared with imaging in April!

But imaging isn't what brought me to astronomy. I was visually only for decades. I can can back if needed.

But I'm not that flappable. I actually find it funny sometimes. Luckily I'm not a huge spender and don't have complex gear. Even so simple things can spoil a night for no good reason. An example being PHD2 this evening. Showed alternate good then blank frames. Took some messing before I even tried guiding. No particular problem. It just decided to play up!

I've not run out of steam yet but I might eventually put all the imaging stuff away and get out the eyepieces again. Imaging with a big scope and non permanent set up is really hard work.

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I never ever plate solved but always found the target.
About four synchs with CdC and EQMOD is all that's needed, may be the odd nudge with the game controller
to be spot on but not often.

Guiding was crap with PHD but I then found the Lacerta guider, perfect guiding from then on.

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Thanks guys, APT plate solving has been working a treat for a while so that's why I'm annoyed and confused that it wasn't playing ball last night. I've also always managed to get pretty close to target for plate solving so I don't know why that's wasn't working either. Maybe I'm missing a new setting or something. Today is another day, let's try again tonight and see how I get on. There are much bigger things in life to cry about so il shut up and get on with it, I'm just really passionate about the imaging side of things that's all and really don't won't to pack it all in but I'm also not wanting the continuous frustration with equipment failure. 

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I had a terrible session the one before yesterday. I do solar and then my solarquest mount for some reason wouldn't lock on to any GPS satellites. It won't do anything if it doesn't. Took an hour turning it on and off. Finally picked up the GPS signal and off it went and did it stuff as normal but by then clouds started to gather. Also I had dust bunnies that I couldn't get rid of and took another half hour before finally able to image. Yes I was very frustrated, yes I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks so that didn't help. I question the validity of what I'm doing when things go wrong but keep going nonetheless. From that session I finally got this. Was it worth it, he'll yeah.

 

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I have had many a frustrating night but I find I then have a night where it all goes right. The image then produced makes me feel like it's all worth the effort. If at any time it starts to feel like it's a chore to get all the gear set up then for me that will be the time to sell up.

I do like the fault finding part when things are not working (it's what I do as a job) and when the solution is found that again makes it worth the effort for me.

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Yes, it can certainly be a frustrating hobby when equipment doesn't co-operate, sorry to hear about your problems. This kind of thing is why I tend to spend more time working with a simple setup (DSLR and camera lenses) than my cooled camera and scope, the latter takes more time and energy than I have to get results. But the mono setup can be very rewarding when the conditions are right.

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5 minutes ago, Chefgage said:

I have had many a frustrating night but I find I then have a night where it all goes right. The image then produced makes me feel like it's all worth the effort. If at any time it starts to feel like it's a chore to get all the gear set up then for me that will be the time to sell up.

I do like the fault finding part when things are not working (it's what I do as a job) and when the solution is found that again makes it worth the effort for me.

Fault finding builds up knowledge over time to hopefully fix things yourself but there is just so much in regards to settings, software etc that I still find it overwhelming. It's a great feeling when something works, I feel I can tick that off and move on, but when it comes round and gives you problems on top of new stuff you just feel like banging your head against the wall. People are right that when you get a decent result it feels worth it but it's a slog getting there. Still, onwards and upwards. 

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When I got first light with my OSC I went with the mindset that I was using the first & second sessions as "tester sessions". This way I expected things not to go right and wasn't disappointed when they didn't. I also made sure I picked an nice bright, familiar target (M31 in my case) so it was easy to find and see with APT's auto-stretch.

I know I took the lesser jump from DSLR to OSC and not DSLR to mono with filters like you have, but it's still a whole new ballgame.

I also had issues with plate solving a while back and ended up having to re-install/update the plate solving software for APT which sorted it. I've also had camera drop-outs, mainly on the ZWO ASI120MM Mini guide camera and that seems to be down to the supplied USB cables. So I've now invested in a couple of higher quality USB cables for the guide camera and OSC, which seems to have solved that issue. ;)

Lastly, when you've had a bad night, just go and have a look at the first images you produced and see the advances you've made in quite a short space of time. No more Sad Face!  😀 👍

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I have had many nights like this. But eventually I got the hang of it and my setup is usually pretty smooth now. What helped me was realizing I won't remember everything between sessions - so I made myself a checklist in excel.

Make sure you use the L filter when you are platesolving. Which software do you use?

USB issues  - If you are on Windows  - try installing USBview as explained here:

https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/354148-howto-set-up-win10-from-scratch-to-control-mount-with-stellarium/?do=findComment&comment=3855306

Edited by Viktiste
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Partly the reason why I jumped over to Cooled OSC from DSLR instead of straight to Mono. I thought there would be a learning curve with OSC and there is. There's nothing wrong with jumping straight into Mono, and if forgoing the filters it's essentially the same process, that said I have found a jump between going from DSLR to Cooled OSC, and more of a jump than I expected.

I spent the first night expecting everything to be really easy and get some good hours of M42 for first light. No, instead I spent the night trying to understand why I couldn't see any stars to focus on whilst watching M42 sail on by, in good skies and with no Moon. Frustrating? Yes.

By the time I had kind of figured out how to focus and see bright stars ... clouds.

Next night I decided to shoot the Soul Nebula, the subs were horrible, severely elongated stars in all corners and stretched / bloated stars near enough across the entire frame. Seems I hadn't tightened my flattener after rotating it, and I still hadn't properly managed to focus, or at least go through the focus routine smoothly.

So yesterday I decided to take a step back from it all and reassess my whole imaging set up. I decided that rather than try to capture images, I'd try to focus on my work flow. So I decided to to reset and recalibrate my guiding, and I spent most of yesterday understanding how to focus in APT with a dedicated astronomy Camera and why Live View was poor in ZWO native driver mode.

So I uninstalled PHD2, installed the latest version, went through the calibration of my Mount and it tracking speed, at night I calibrated my Guide Camera with Sharp Cap for focusing it and Calibrated on a good guide star 20 deg of the Celestial Equator. 

I realised that with APT you have to left stretch the histogram to see Stars in Live View

ZWO native driver live view for whatever reason doesn't work very well and so I set the Camera to ASCOM in APT, live view worked much better. 

Focused the Camera.

Plate solved over to the Soul Nebula and started imaging. Good guiding, much better stars. And this was with the attitude of expecting to use the night for testing, I wanted to be sure I had everything dialled in and couldn't care less about imaging last night, but from being pragmatic and methodical and not trying to jump straight into imaging I was able to sort everything out.

What I'm trying to say is, do everything in steps slowly but surely and go through them with a checklist to make sure you have done everything as well as possible and try to eliminate power or connection issues during the daytime. Things like USB hubs/ports can be diagnosed during the day and once you've established where the weak links are you can fix them one by one until everything is working as it should.

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1 hour ago, smr said:

Partly the reason why I jumped over to Cooled OSC from DSLR instead of straight to Mono. I thought there would be a learning curve with OSC and there is. There's nothing wrong with jumping straight into Mono, and if forgoing the filters it's essentially the same process, that said I have found a jump between going from DSLR to Cooled OSC, and more of a jump than I expected.

I spent the first night expecting everything to be really easy and get some good hours of M42 for first light. No, instead I spent the night trying to understand why I couldn't see any stars to focus on whilst watching M42 sail on by, in good skies and with no Moon. Frustrating? Yes.

By the time I had kind of figured out how to focus and see bright stars ... clouds.

Next night I decided to shoot the Soul Nebula, the subs were horrible, severely elongated stars in all corners and stretched / bloated stars near enough across the entire frame. Seems I hadn't tightened my flattener after rotating it, and I still hadn't properly managed to focus, or at least go through the focus routine smoothly.

So yesterday I decided to take a step back from it all and reassess my whole imaging set up. I decided that rather than try to capture images, I'd try to focus on my work flow. So I decided to to reset and recalibrate my guiding, and I spent most of yesterday understanding how to focus in APT with a dedicated astronomy Camera and why Live View was poor in ZWO native driver mode.

So I uninstalled PHD2, installed the latest version, went through the calibration of my Mount and it tracking speed, at night I calibrated my Guide Camera with Sharp Cap for focusing it and Calibrated on a good guide star 20 deg of the Celestial Equator. 

I realised that with APT you have to left stretch the histogram to see Stars in Live View

ZWO native driver live view for whatever reason doesn't work very well and so I set the Camera to ASCOM in APT, live view worked much better. 

Focused the Camera.

Plate solved over to the Soul Nebula and started imaging. Good guiding, much better stars. And this was with the attitude of expecting to use the night for testing, I wanted to be sure I had everything dialled in and couldn't care less about imaging last night, but from being pragmatic and methodical and not trying to jump straight into imaging I was able to sort everything out.

What I'm trying to say is, do everything in steps slowly but surely and go through them with a checklist to make sure you have done everything as well as possible and try to eliminate power or connection issues during the daytime. Things like USB hubs/ports can be diagnosed during the day and once you've established where the weak links are you can fix them one by one until everything is working as it should.

Good advice. I had done all the usb connections and software connections during the day which is why it was annoying when it failed again last night, I will look to get a better quality powered external USB hub. Today I have taken the mount down, checked everything is level, balanced the new gear as well as I can and it appears good. I managed to focus ok yesterday but that was only if I had a bright star in view, I slapped on the B mask and took a short exposure and the defraction spikes appeared bang on after a couple of focus adjustments so locked it down. I'm concerned going forward how to check focus on each filter if there's no bright stars in view. I've not looked at where the histogram is in APT? I look at what you said about stretching it. 

Edited by Rustang
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2 hours ago, Viktiste said:

I have had many nights like this. But eventually I got the hang of it and my setup is usually pretty smooth now. What helped me was realizing I won't remember everything between sessions - so I made myself a checklist in excel.

Make sure you use the L filter when you are platesolving. Which software do you use?

USB issues  - If you are on Windows  - try installing USBview as explained here:

https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/354148-howto-set-up-win10-from-scratch-to-control-mount-with-stellarium/?do=findComment&comment=3855306

APT and PHD2

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2 hours ago, Budgie1 said:

When I got first light with my OSC I went with the mindset that I was using the first & second sessions as "tester sessions". This way I expected things not to go right and wasn't disappointed when they didn't. I also made sure I picked an nice bright, familiar target (M31 in my case) so it was easy to find and see with APT's auto-stretch.

I know I took the lesser jump from DSLR to OSC and not DSLR to mono with filters like you have, but it's still a whole new ballgame.

I also had issues with plate solving a while back and ended up having to re-install/update the plate solving software for APT which sorted it. I've also had camera drop-outs, mainly on the ZWO ASI120MM Mini guide camera and that seems to be down to the supplied USB cables. So I've now invested in a couple of higher quality USB cables for the guide camera and OSC, which seems to have solved that issue. ;)

Lastly, when you've had a bad night, just go and have a look at the first images you produced and see the advances you've made in quite a short space of time. No more Sad Face!  😀 👍

Yeah I did my best to prepare for some wasted nights but ended up still being fed up lol. What do you mean when you say in regards to the target 'easy to find in APT auto stretch' !? 

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22 minutes ago, Rustang said:

Yeah I did my best to prepare for some wasted nights but ended up still being fed up lol. What do you mean when you say in regards to the target 'easy to find in APT auto stretch' !? 

Have a look at this page in the APT User Guide and it explains all. ;)

The Histograms button is top left on the Tools Tab in APT.

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I would second the idea about creating a workflow/checklist. I recently dived headlong into AP, but rather than ease my way in step by step I opted to go mono, use guiding, platesolving, autofocuser, etc, all from the off. I'm not good at restraint! 

I must admit that it was daunting but I already feel confident now to set up quickly and effectively, and get some shots off. However, right from the start I created a workflow and guidance document, which was a godsend.

I hope you get your mojo back though. Hopefully the next session will deliver some lovely shots that make all the pain worthwhile.

Edited by Mr Thingy
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13 minutes ago, Mr Thingy said:

I would second the idea about creating a workflow/checklist. I recently dived headlong into AP, but rather than ease my way in step by step I opted to go mono, use guiding, platesolving, autofocuser, etc, all from the off. I'm not good at restraint! 

I must admit that it was daunting but I already feel confident now to set up quickly and effectively, and get some shots off. However, right from the start I created a workflow and guidance document, which was a godsend.

I hope you get your mojo back though. Hopefully the next session will deliver some lovely shots that make all the pain worthwhile.

Cheers, I have a folder that I'm constantly adding to, notes, procedures and everything in between. I'm not sure I still fully understand my notes! 😊 every time you awesome lot give some advice, I add it to the folder. Because there is just so much to do and so much involved I have struggled to grasp it all but getting there. Its really easy to miss even the simple stuff. I'm doing my best and I try to figure stuff out in between the panic, but I honestly just get confused when reading up on stuff, one day Il be able to stand on my own to feet a bit more but for now, you kind lot will have to keep putting up with me! 😉

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13 minutes ago, Rustang said:

Cheers, I have a folder that I'm constantly adding to, notes, procedures and everything in between. I'm not sure I still fully understand my notes! 😊 every time you awesome lot give some advice, I add it to the folder. Because there is just so much to do and so much involved I have struggled to grasp it all but getting there. Its really easy to miss even the simple stuff. I'm doing my best and I try to figure stuff out in between the panic, but I honestly just get confused when reading up on stuff, one day Il be able to stand on my own to feet a bit more but for now, you kind lot will have to keep putting up with me! 😉

I have a 1-page process flow table, with very basic guidance (e.g settings, things to consider). Then more detailed guidance on the next pages, linked to the steps in the process.

This helps keep the steps succinct and not get lost in detail. 

 

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1 hour ago, Budgie1 said:

Have a look at this page in the APT User Guide and it explains all. ;)

The Histograms button is top left on the Tools Tab in APT.

That's been really helpful, thank you, I think I can use that stretch process to look at stars with the Bahtinov mask to aid focusing. I looked at some shots from last night in APT, stretched them and I could then see all the diffraction spikes of the stars to show I was in focus so that's really handy, and will help with the darker NB filters, thnaks! 👍

Edited by Rustang
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Since swapping over from my ASI 1600 to a new QHY 268M i've had one bork after another, not all connected, and not all related to the camera, starting with the imaging computer dying on me and needing a full reinstallation from Windows on. I still haven't got it all working smoothly. Or even at all.

It doesn't help that clear skies are needed for testing, and they've been thin on the ground lately.

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2 hours ago, Rustang said:

That's been really helpful, thank you, I think I can use that stretch process to look at stars with the Bahtinov mask to aid focusing. I looked at some shots from last night in APT, stretched them and I could then see all the diffraction spikes of the stars to show I was in focus so that's really handy, and will help with the darker NB filters, thnaks! 👍

I've also found using the 1:1 view ( I think that's the one- the non default one!) with the bahtinov aid helps focusing. And after stretching I've found it helps to press the arrows on the histogram to darken it slightly, especially if the star is too bright

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