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Advice on equipment preparation and setup !


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HI SGL !

I am relatively new to astronomy and astrophotography. I am getting somewhat stuck with my equipment. I am based in London so the weather is poor for AP. I have been working somewhat but may have some time later this year if my work hours reduce due to change in work circumstances...

 

I am getting diverted by planetary, lunar, solar (white and h-alpha), DSO, dSLR and also starting to think about proper astronomy cameras e.g. Atik 314L+.

I have not gotten guiding up and running yet, as I only got the HEQ5Pro a few months ago, and have not had the time or weather to set up guiding (I could not guide on the EQ3 Pro).

I have a number of scopes, 70mm refractor ED70 F6 scope, then a 150mm Skywatcher PDS (not started imaging with this yet,not yet tried collimation and imaging with this, not sure if a coma corrector needed - very expensive!), Skywatcher Evostar 90mm F10 achromat.

 

What I want to ask is to simplify things:

 

1) How do you store the equipment ? Do you put tripods, mount heads back into the case or do you leave them in an empty room (I don't have much empty space or rooms) with mount heads on their tripods to maximum height (takes up so much empty space)

2) For large telescopes, how do you store them ? In a shelf or on a table or in their boxes ?

3) For setup, I find it can a long time, because I have all my filters, and things like adaptors in various boxes, sometimes in their original packaging. Do you have to be super organised and get them packed and arranged logically like a library ??

How do those with big scopes cope ? I find it cumbersome and hard to manage heavy big scopes which is why even the 150pds is not going into imaging just yet !! (not learned collimation yet, have to buy all those Cheshire collimators and lasers!!, no coma corrector - too expensive).

Many thanks.

Magnus.

 

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Hi, welcome.

Personally I decided to concentrate on making a compact travel friendly setup, though I've got various equipment my main setup fits nicely into one large rucksack, so if I ever decided to set off to a dark site I can pick up the one bag and go. So...

1+2. Stored in their own bags/boxes indoors.

3. Naturally the more equipment you have the more organized you need to be. Practice setting up indoors. I can assemble my main imaging rig in around 20 minutes, with another 20-30 minutes polar aligning, setting up the shoot etc. My visual setup can be done within 5-10 minutes.

With larger equipment I'm sure people have them pre-setup, with larger telescopes being assembled separately to the mount, or having them semi/permanent fixed platforms/observatory which other members can advise.

Collimation of a Newtonian is quite easy, all you really need is a collimation cap which is cheap, the PDSs have their primary mirrors centre marked as well which makes the process even easier, generally collimate within 5 minutes. You don't really need a coma corrector to start off with but as you develop your imaging it may be something to consider in future if you do not crop your images.

 

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No such thing as too much telescope equipment. If you find you don’t have the room for more equipment then throw away furniture.

Organisation is the key. I too use a 150 pds and I have one of those aluminium brief cases which houses all the kit to go outside. Another smaller one for eye pieces and a bag over the shoulder for camera stuff and cables.

There is no easy way to say this. Unless you build a obs you are condemned to carrying kit outside and back in again, hence #elp using a well throughout travel setup.

It gets worse. To jump to the next stage (guiding) you will have more kit like a laptop and power supply. I find a simple task of running a 50 meter power cable up the garden each time really annoying. Then even worse having to coil it all up again when it is wet from dew and inadvertently drag it through some sticky mole hills.

There is nothing glamorous about observing. It requires work and dedication but I can assure you it is worth it and with practise and experience you will organise your equipment to your needs. Now remember with the furniture, less is more😂

Marv

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Thanks everyone for their advice. I appreciate it.

I know I will have to make things more organised and throw away some of the packaging or store them somewhere in case I need to sell it again in future.

I will find or make a cap collimator so see if I need collimation. Seeing the images from the 130pds even is incredible.

Yes, and clearing out space/getting rid of furniture and clutter needs doing as well !

 

 

Thank you.

Magnus.

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This is how my stuff is stored if i expect to have suitable weather so i can leave right away. Everything is pre packed and i dont have to check anything and can just haul the gear to my car and set off. I push some of this under the bed usually though, but everything is packed as in the picture. I live in a tiny flat so floor space is not a luxury i have but what little there is left i have dedicated to astronomy gear (naturally).

20220210_150320_2-2.thumb.jpg.6333223d2794e4be56c1bc8d436b614d.jpg

Not sure how much all of this weighs, but probably around 50-55kg. I carry these to my car in 2 trips. I am pretty sure i cant have a single piece of kit more and still get away with 2 trips, whatever i buy next will need to be hauled separately. Its a struggle if my apartment building elevator is broken (sometimes is) and i have to carry everything down from my 6th story flat 😬.

But its surprisingly easy to carry what most would categorize as a big scope and a big mount in a "mobile" fashion. Its not grab and go but no reason it cant be done.

Some things are prepackaged so that i dont have to set up everything every time, like for instance the imaging train never gets broken. The comacorrector and the adapters needed for backocus stay attached to the camera at all times so i can just plop that into the focuser and get going straight away. I also mark my focuser and camera with aluminium tape to get the rotational position correct to my previous setting (if imaging a multiday target) so that i can just get going quickly. Guidecam stays in the guidescope in the focus position it has so i dont really have to refocus all that much. Just a touch to account for different temperatures. From arriving to my imaging location i am set up and polar aligned within 30 minutes, which is always faster than the scope takes to cool down (well most of the time).

For trips where i intend to only do visual its a lot faster and i can drop a lot of this gear but it still gets carried in 2 trips.

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Absolutely brilliant breakdown of kit organisation and movement, like a military manoeuvre. I feel really guilty now about moaning about reeling out an extension lead. Onikkinen you have quite the system and the dedication, more power to you.

Marv

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Hi Onikkinen,

Thats great advice. I am currently staying at home so rarely make trips to observing sites (dark sites). I can see the benefits of having storage bags and cases for telescopes/mount heads/tripods ? and counterweights.

I have actually bought some storage boxes (various plastic boxes and also ) ...Raaco storage boxes which are very good quality and not expensive. Available in the UK,

www.raacostorage.co.uk

 

I can see some manufacturers make custom cases/bags for some of their equipment, can be  a bit pricey.

I can see myself making my own foam inserts for more important components, especially if going to another site.

Off course, getting rid of clutter in your home would be a big step in allowing more space for your gear.

 

Thanks guys.

Magnus

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On 08/02/2022 at 06:44, Marvin Jenkins said:

No such thing as too much telescope equipment. If you find you don’t have the room for more equipment then throw away furniture.

Organisation is the key. I too use a 150 pds and I have one of those aluminium brief cases which houses all the kit to go outside. Another smaller one for eye pieces and a bag over the shoulder for camera stuff and cables.

There is no easy way to say this. Unless you build a obs you are condemned to carrying kit outside and back in again, hence #elp using a well throughout travel setup.

It gets worse. To jump to the next stage (guiding) you will have more kit like a laptop and power supply. I find a simple task of running a 50 meter power cable up the garden each time really annoying. Then even worse having to coil it all up again when it is wet from dew and inadvertently drag it through some sticky mole hills.

There is nothing glamorous about observing. It requires work and dedication but I can assure you it is worth it and with practise and experience you will organise your equipment to your needs. Now remember with the furniture, less is more😂

Marv

Truest thing I ever heard! Although you don't need to throw the furniture out, just buy a bigger house!

Being visual only makes things easier, being lunar and solar (almost exclusively) makes things easier still. However, portability and seeing still determine what gear goes outside on any given night or day 

Ultimately, what you do is determined by your own circumstances, and you'll get to learn what they are through experience.

You could store non-critical items in a shed.

Edited by Roy Challen
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  • 2 months later...
On 07/02/2022 at 19:04, Altair8389 said:

1) How do you store the equipment ? Do you put tripods, mount heads back into the case or do you leave them in an empty room (I don't have much empty space or rooms) with mount heads on their tripods to maximum height (takes up so much empty space)

2) For large telescopes, how do you store them ? In a shelf or on a table or in their boxes ?

3) For setup, I find it can a long time, because I have all my filters, and things like adaptors in various boxes, sometimes in their original packaging. Do you have to be super organised and get them packed and arranged logically like a library ??

How do those with big scopes cope ? I find it cumbersome and hard to manage heavy big scopes which is why even the 150pds is not going into imaging just yet !! (not learned collimation yet, have to buy all those Cheshire collimators and lasers!!, no coma corrector - too expensive).

Many thanks.

Magnus.

I keep my OTA in a bag / backpack like these:

https://oklopbags.com/telescope-bags/bag-for-newtonians/

Mine has a compartment for eyepieces and accessories. The DSLRs and lenses have their own case. This one:

https://www.parkcameras.com/shop/veo-select-42t-bk---pilot-style-roller-shoulder-bag---black_9775560w

My big (photo) tripod came with a carrying bag, but is usually kept in the back of the Land Rover to save lugging it back and forth. I have a backpack for the laptop.

It would help to be super-organised, but I never am!

 

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