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Gathering a guiding set up - what do I need?


Grant93
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Hello everyone.

Just looking at finally getting into guiding and using christmas to my advantage, asked the fiance to get me a ZWO ASI 120MM Mini and Astro Essentials 50mm Guidescope from FLO. Also going to get myself a Raspberry Pi 4 8GB to use AstroBerry on.

Basically what I'm asking is, what else do I need to connect it all up? Any cables that these items do not come with, but I will need to connect it to the HEQ5?

Also any recommendations for something I might need in the future. Or even if you recommend a different camera, scope, or mini PC (As you can see, on a budget), Because you think I may regret some purchases?

Thanks in advance for your help :)

Grant

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The 120 min and a 50mm guidescope will be fine up to about 800mm FL. You could push this to about 1000mm depending on how fussy you are and how accurate the mount is. You might need an extender to get focus on the guidescope - I'm not sure. Depending on how you are going to control the mount you might need a cable to the mount such as Lynx Astro FTDI EQDIR USB Adapter for Sky-Watcher Mounts (see description for models) | First Light Optics. I would suggest this is a better option than using the ST4 guiding - but that is just my opinion. The only other thing you might want to think about is possibly getting the 120 mc which you could use for planetary imaging with your Dob. It won't be sensitive as the mono, but it is USB 3 and at F4 should still be more than able to guide.

With regards to RPi or mini PC it is really a personal choice. I actually run everything remotely over a 10m USB 3.0 active cable from a laptop or PC in the house. I have considered using a mini PC, but the set up I have works (normally) so I have kept to what I know.

All your choices seem pretty reasonable to me.

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I went for this exact set up recently. I chose the mini mono as it's highly sensitive and almost weightless. You won't need anything extra for it to come into focus. If weight isn't an issue, the usb 3 colour version is a good shout from @Clarkey. PS, I have been unknowingly using both the EQDIR and the ST4 cable, so thanks for the tip.

The one thing I got with mine was an extra 21cm dovetail to mount it on top of the tube rings. It doesn't budge, not sure if that would be the same clamped into the finderscope shoe.

This is a great tool from FLO btw to help you make the right decision based on your OTA and main cam.

16382199147593753853947787626649.thumb.jpg.a3e6c5bd8fae172a562ca7eb7149d654.jpg

Edited by Pitch Black Skies
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16 hours ago, Grant93 said:

Basically what I'm asking is, what else do I need to connect it all up? Any cables that these items do not come with, but I will need to connect it to the HEQ5?

I use a similar configuration. I am assuming you are planning on using Kstars/Ekos to control mount, camera etc.

You will need an FTDI cable to connect HEQ5 to RPi. 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

The camera comes with USB cable so thats taken care of. I connect my laptop to RPi using a long ethernet cable, so if you choose to go down this route, you will need that too. You might need a wifi extender if you decide to connect to RPi using Wifi. And if there is no power point outside your house you will need an extension cable.

And make sure you have a SD card reader as you will need that to upload astroberry on RPi.

Good luck.

Edited by AstroMuni
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Thanks to everyone for the very helpful advice! I will get that recommended EQDIR USB Adapter Just a couple of follow up questions :)

19 hours ago, Clarkey said:

The only other thing you might want to think about is possibly getting the 120 mc which you could use for planetary imaging with your Dob. It won't be sensitive as the mono, but it is USB 3 and at F4 should still be more than able to guide.

Whats the difference between the two when it comes to imaging planets, moon, and solar? Because that was going to be something else I'd start to do come summer when the nights are shorter. Some planetry, lunar and solar imaging (With the right solar filter ofcourse) with the mini. Is it just the frame rate difference? So I would have to expose for longer with the mini? Thanks :)

 

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1 hour ago, Grant93 said:

Whats the difference between the two

The 120mm mini is mono whereas the 120mc is colour. Also being USB 3 you will get a much better frame rates. As Astromuni says you could consider the 224 which is a better planetary camera.

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I think you guys are twisting my arm into spending more money :o :D Just checked the 224mc on astronomytools and everything seems to fit so perfectly. Looks almost perfect for a full disk of the moon and sun in the ZS61 (How does this perform in solar imaging? Might be a dumb question but I don't know how solar varys vs lunar and planetary). And looks nice for planetary and zoomed in photos on the Dobsonian.

Definitely going to go for the 224 I think, just them couple of questions above 😅.

Cheers!

16 minutes ago, Clarkey said:

The 120mm mini is mono whereas the 120mc is colour. Also being USB 3 you will get a much better frame rates. As Astromuni says you could consider the 224 which is a better planetary camera.

 

49 minutes ago, AstroMuni said:

@Grant93 if you are considering a colour camera, You should also consider the ASI224mc.

 

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The 224mc is a good all round camera though I find it's not so good for solar (I use a coronado) as it's not sensitive enough being colour (a mono is needed due to utilising all pixels and dynamic range), for white light solar it might be okay though I haven't tested it. A 120 also won't be suitable for solar as it suffers banding distortion due to the sensor used. For everything else the 224 is great, planetary is good (see my profile pic). Great performance for the price.

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14 hours ago, Grant93 said:

(How does this perform in solar imaging? Might be a dumb question but I don't know how solar varys vs lunar and planetary).

I have the ASI224 but havent used it for solar photography, but friends of mine have used it with good results. I have been using it mainly for the brighter DSOs as you can see in my signature link.

If costs are your concern then go for the ASI120mc as it comes with IR/UV filter. The filter costs around £25 but its still additional cost right 🙂

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This all helps, thank you both :) Think I will be getting the 224 as a guide cam, so I can also use it for moon and planetary for them not so transparent/summer nights :) Going to have to buy the guide scope myself though as I don't want my fiance to spend too much on me for christmas :( 😅

Also buy the looks of your photos @AstroMuni it looks like it will be good for them Planetary Nebula and Globulars! Something I would struggle with in my current set up :)

 

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1 hour ago, Grant93 said:

Something I would struggle with in my current set up

I think you have the right combination - remember my images are without guiding using the HEQ5 pro mount and the 130EQ scope. You have a much better WO ZS61 in my opinion. You just need the right software to control the mount.  As I have an old laptop that cant run windows, I loaded Linux and I used Ekos and set it up to realign after every 10 subs. Each subs was 5-30secs. So any drift would get corrected at end of 300sec 🙂 You could try NINA which works on Windows.

If you prefer Ekos, you either need to have Linux in a multi boot windows environment or like me repurpose an old laptop for Linux.

Otherwise more money needed to buy a RPi 😉 but remember once you have done that you can sit in the luxury of your warm room and control your mount and cameras remotely!

Edited by AstroMuni
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3 hours ago, AstroMuni said:

I think you have the right combination - remember my images are without guiding using the HEQ5 pro mount and the 130EQ scope. You have a much better WO ZS61 in my opinion. You just need the right software to control the mount.  As I have an old laptop that cant run windows, I loaded Linux and I used Ekos and set it up to realign after every 10 subs. Each subs was 5-30secs. So any drift would get corrected at end of 300sec 🙂 You could try NINA which works on Windows.

If you prefer Ekos, you either need to have Linux in a multi boot windows environment or like me repurpose an old laptop for Linux.

Otherwise more money needed to buy a RPi 😉 but remember once you have done that you can sit in the luxury of your warm room and control your mount and cameras remotely!

I've ordered my RPi, so soon I will be setting it up from the comfort of my living room :) :). Although if I know I've only got a couple hours to image, I usually just use my SGP. If I've got multiple hours I set up the HEQ5.

I assume once I've got my RPi, Astroberry will have everything I need on it?

Edited by Grant93
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Pretty much, it does need configuring a bit like creating equipment profiles, setting your date and time (everytime you switch it on unfortunately), setting your WiFi etc. Software wise it's all there, if you're planning on plate solving via astroberry only in EKOS (no connected WiFi internet connection) you'll also have to download the astrometry databases which takes up quite a bit of space on the memory card.

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13 hours ago, Grant93 said:

I usually just use my SGP. If I've got multiple hours I set up the HEQ5.

If you have a paid subscription to SG Pro then the bad news is it doesnt work with INDI. The good news is Ekos has pretty much all the features (if not a few more) of SGP but there is always the learning curve.

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6 hours ago, AstroMuni said:

If you have a paid subscription to SG Pro then the bad news is it doesnt work with INDI. The good news is Ekos has pretty much all the features (if not a few more) of SGP but there is always the learning curve.

Dont plan on using it with the SGP, I just use the SGP for a grab and go, so keep it simple with a intervalometer, no computers, so can just use it for them 2 hour windows free of clouds :) Gonna keep the RPi permenantly attatched to the HEQ5. Just got it delivered today :D Lets see how frustrating it is to set up!

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I use my rpi offline hence have to input a sudo command to adjust the date and time everytime it's switched on, only a minor inconvenience. I do however hate the default colour scheme of phd2 as you can't read the white warning messages against the orange background, why would someone think that was a good colour combo? Tried adjusting this on startup with another sudo command but it doesn't save. Minor gripes for another forum.

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Yes, though I only really use it now for planetary/solar imaging. I got an asiair instead which is much easier to use and it can power my other stuff.

Edited by Elp
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