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Best budget guide camera and scope.


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Hi guys, 

I am currently in the market for a guide camera and scope. My budget is fairly limited so can’t go above £200 really if that’s possible. A lot of people have suggested to get one as soon as i can . I haven’t used my rig yet so I’d thought I would get this purchase out the way any advise or recommendations would be appreciated.

 

Thanks.

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6 hours ago, Olli said:

Hi guys, 

I am currently in the market for a guide camera and scope. My budget is fairly limited so can’t go above £200 really if that’s possible. A lot of people have suggested to get one as soon as i can . I haven’t used my rig yet so I’d thought I would get this purchase out the way any advise or recommendations would be appreciated.

 

Thanks.

I know this one is slightly over budget by £22 but worth a look. Also if you look on the classifieds here or on abs there could be a bargain to be had. 

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/zwo-cameras/zwo-mini-finder-guider-asi120mm-bundle.html

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The Astro Essentials guide scope has the same specs as the ZWO offering and is cheaper

Astro Essentials 30mm f/4 Mini Guide Scope | First Light Optics

and paired with the excellent ZWO asi120mm mentioned by @AstroNebulee comes in at £204, it's the combination I use. I seem to remember that the ZWO guide scope was not available at the time of my purchasing. There is a Youtube video on this combination by AstroFarsography.

https://youtu.be/2oiTVGA2zIs

 

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Thanks both for the suggestions, that is what I was kinda looking for and seems like a great bundle. This is probably a stupid question but how do you power the camera? I have a powertank can I just plug it into that or will I need to by a mini pc? This is completely new for me so sorry about the questions!

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Don't worry about asking questions, there is always a wealth of knowledge and support on this forum.

As far as power goes, what exactly will you want to do with the scope/camera combination?

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29 minutes ago, Olli said:

Thanks both for the suggestions, that is what I was kinda looking for and seems like a great bundle. This is probably a stupid question but how do you power the camera? I have a powertank can I just plug it into that or will I need to by a mini pc? This is completely new for me so sorry about the questions!

If you want to guide, then you will need a mini-PC. The ZWO120MM-mini is really just a cheap camera, it doesn't actually have any built-in star tracking functionality.

Also, if you choose to go down the Raspberry Pi route as a mini-PC, be sure to check about the compatibility of the ZWO120MM-mini as this particular camera has lots of problems with Linux which the Raspberry Pi runs on.

As for power, this camera can be powered over USB (from the mini-PC).

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15 minutes ago, gilesco said:

If you want to guide, then you will need a mini-PC. The ZWO120MM-mini is really just a cheap camera, it doesn't actually have any built-in star tracking functionality.

Also, if you choose to go down the Raspberry Pi route as a mini-PC, be sure to check about the compatibility of the ZWO120MM-mini as this particular camera has lots of problems with Linux which the Raspberry Pi runs on.

As for power, this camera can be powered over USB (from the mini-PC).

When I used the Raspberry Pi both in Stellarmate and Astroberry versions the ZWO 120mm mini behaved well unlike the Sony camera, everyone has different experiences though.

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1 hour ago, LaurenceT said:

Don't worry about asking questions, there is always a wealth of knowledge and support on this forum.

As far as power goes, what exactly will you want to do with the scope/camera combination?

It was to go on top of my z37. I didn’t want anything to big/heavy so this seems like a good choice. I will be buying a mini pc at some point to use with the guiding too.

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1 hour ago, gilesco said:

If you want to guide, then you will need a mini-PC. The ZWO120MM-mini is really just a cheap camera, it doesn't actually have any built-in star tracking functionality.

Also, if you choose to go down the Raspberry Pi route as a mini-PC, be sure to check about the compatibility of the ZWO120MM-mini as this particular camera has lots of problems with Linux which the Raspberry Pi runs on.

As for power, this camera can be powered over USB (from the mini-PC).

Thanks for the info, I did think that about the camera. I have been looking at mini pcs I’ve also been looking at the zwo asiair plus or there is a cheap pc Flo sells which looks like a good option. The power  I currently is the skywatcher 17amp power bank. Would this be enough for everything?

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Posted (edited)

Svbony SV165 guidescope is even cheaper still, it's what I use sometimes, not sure but it looks exactly the same as the ZWO one. You could get a gen 1 asiair for less than £100 used, you miss out on the pro features (plan is the main one you'll miss, 12v outputs, maybe live stacking too) but I kind of like it as it can be powered with a usb power bank too by default. If you've got a laptop/computer you can use that if you choose. If going asiair you'll need zwo camera so for guiding the 120, try and get the MM mono types as they're more sensitive than MC colour ones but you can use either.

Edited by Elp
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Posted (edited)
On 25/05/2022 at 23:17, Olli said:

I haven’t used my rig yet so I’d thought I would get this purchase out the way any advise or recommendations would be appreciated.

I would recommend geting used to your rig before adding guiding to the mix.

Try out your rig w/o guiding to see the longest duration of images you can get without stars trailing. On the HEQ5 Pro with my scope, I can get anywhere between 30-60s unguided. I have the Astro essentials 30mm + ASI120mm mini btw for guiding and it works well.

EDIT: I am hearing lots of successes using Lucky imaging (short exposures < 1sec) and that maybe something to consider as well. 🙂 https://www.astrobiscuit.com/lucky-imaging-theory

Edited by AstroMuni
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1 hour ago, LaurenceT said:

When I used the Raspberry Pi both in Stellarmate and Astroberry versions the ZWO 120mm mini behaved well unlike the Sony camera, everyone has different experiences though.

I use the ASI120mm mini on RPI (Astroberry). No issues so far.

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Posted (edited)
34 minutes ago, Olli said:

Thanks for the info, I did think that about the camera. I have been looking at mini pcs I’ve also been looking at the zwo asiair plus or there is a cheap pc Flo sells which looks like a good option. The power  I currently is the skywatcher 17amp power bank. Would this be enough for everything?

The 17ah powertank will power everything, how long for depends on exactly what equipment you have and how it is set up, a poorly balanced scope on a mount can suddenly take up a lot more power and will shorten the time you have available. Dew heaters are also a drain if they are needed.

I usually power everything out the back of the house via a mains PSU.

I have got 2 17ah powertanks, but have only ever used them a couple of times. I tended to power the mount via one and everything else (via a Pegasus PPBA) via the other one (The PPBA, although expensive can report on power usage, so helps to estimate total time available).

ZWO Asiair under the hood is essentially the same driving hardware / software as a home made Astroberry Raspberry Pi. I think it will also tie you in to ZWO cameras though, so bear that in mind.

As others have mentioned, gonig straight to a full set up, with guiding, imaging, filter swapping, dew heater management, mount aligning, plate solving etc... etc... is a really steep learning curve, and when limited to a few hours on a single night (particularly during the Summer months in the UK), this is a recipe for a lot of frustration. So it is wise to go step by step, get acquainted with what you have, and slowly add things along the way that you anticipate will resolve the problems you experience as you experience them.

Edited by gilesco
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11 hours ago, Olli said:

Hi guys, 

I am currently in the market for a guide camera and scope. My budget is fairly limited so can’t go above £200 really if that’s possible. A lot of people have suggested to get one as soon as i can . I haven’t used my rig yet so I’d thought I would get this purchase out the way any advise or recommendations would be appreciated.

 

Thanks.

If you haven’t used your rig yet it might be an idea to start with what you have before getting into guiding.  Your Z73 + Heq5 pro is a nice combo - get used to setting up, polar aligning, using the goto function and tracking your target.  Lots to do and learn and, if properly polar aligned, you can still get nice images 😎.

However if you do want to jump in the deep end (nothing wrong with that!) and £200 is your budget then that will only really stretch to a guide camera + guide scope (good examples mentioned above), not an ASIair or mini pc as well.  FLO sell a guide scope/camera/ASIair combo package, but that’s £510 (and out of stock).  Cheaper if you can buy used of course.  Without a mini pc/AAP you’ll be plugging it all into a laptop and using PHD2 or NINA (for example) as your guiding software.  Power to the guide camera will be via the usb connection from the laptop (or mini pc/asiair) - the same cable used for guiding.

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12 hours ago, Olli said:

Hi guys, 

I am currently in the market for a guide camera and scope. My budget is fairly limited so can’t go above £200 really if that’s possible. A lot of people have suggested to get one as soon as i can . I haven’t used my rig yet so I’d thought I would get this purchase out the way any advise or recommendations would be appreciated.

 

Thanks.

First of all what's your setup?

Many are suggesting to power the guide cam with a RPI,power bank etc... That's untrue.. the power comes from the laptop that you're using, doesn't need a power source

Are you looking at using PhD?

The cheapest guidescope you may already have?,  A 9x50 finder makes a great finder/ guider... It can be used with a adapter(£20-30) meaning you have more to spend on a guide cam.. I'd suggest a mono cam, and depending on the setup depends on which to choose

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Thanks all for the help. A lot of info to take in. I guess the best solution would be to try with out guiding first and give it a go. At least I now have some idea on what to get for when I want to go the next step. Cheers everyone. 

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2 hours ago, newbie alert said:

Many are suggesting to power the guide cam with a RPI,power bank etc... That's untrue.. the power comes from the laptop that you're using, doesn't need a power source

It really depends on how you set up. Yes if you connect the camera to your laptop then the camera is powered through the USB power on the laptop. The downside to this is that your laptop needs to be within a few metres of the telescope (limited by the length of your USB cable, and the longer the cable you try to use, the more likely you will run in to problems).

So many mount a mini-PC or Raspberry Pi to the OTA and connect all the devices to that, they they run a ethernet network cable, or use a WIFI connection (less stable) to connect their Laptop or even desktop PC to the mini-PC / Pi, either via INDI client, or by connecting to the mini-PC / Pi via a remote desktop protocol such as VNC etc...

In that case, the camera will be powered by the mini-PC / Pi, as that is what connects to the USB.

There are lots of solutions, and which way you go depends on your circumstances. I personally like to set everything up outside and then go indoors to my home study with a comfortable PC to command the set up from indoors through the night. Ideally, I literally only visit the telescope to set up and polar align at the beginning and then at the end of the session to bring everything back down again.

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1 hour ago, gilesco said:

It really depends on how you set up. Yes if you connect the camera to your laptop then the camera is powered through the USB power on the laptop. The downside to this is that your laptop needs to be within a few metres of the telescope (limited by the length of your USB cable, and the longer the cable you try to use, the more likely you will run in to problems).

So many mount a mini-PC or Raspberry Pi to the OTA and connect all the devices to that, they they run a ethernet network cable, or use a WIFI connection (less stable) to connect their Laptop or even desktop PC to the mini-PC / Pi, either via INDI client, or by connecting to the mini-PC / Pi via a remote desktop protocol such as VNC etc...

In that case, the camera will be powered by the mini-PC / Pi, as that is what connects to the USB.

There are lots of solutions, and which way you go depends on your circumstances. I personally like to set everything up outside and then go indoors to my home study with a comfortable PC to command the set up from indoors through the night. Ideally, I literally only visit the telescope to set up and polar align at the beginning and then at the end of the session to bring everything back down again.

I know how it's done and the different ways to do it.. but is that the recommended way for someone that's not even used his kit, may not have Linux, might not have a Pi or want to buy a ASI air.. pros and cons for every solution, but as he's thinking of guiding and never mentioned a stand alone guider I'd assume him to be using a laptop, which you don't need to power the guide camera for... And that's how I was reading it

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3 hours ago, newbie alert said:

I know how it's done and the different ways to do it.. but is that the recommended way for someone that's not even used his kit, may not have Linux, might not have a Pi or want to buy a ASI air.. pros and cons for every solution, but as he's thinking of guiding and never mentioned a stand alone guider I'd assume him to be using a laptop, which you don't need to power the guide camera for... And that's how I was reading it

I'm not a teacher, I see a request for information and i impart what I know, to the best of my ability. If it is too much information then I take the reader to intake what they can understand and follow up at a later date for further clarification. I'm not going to purposefully drip-feed information on a forum.

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1 hour ago, gilesco said:

I'm not a teacher, I see a request for information and i impart what I know, to the best of my ability. If it is too much information then I take the reader to intake what they can understand and follow up at a later date for further clarification. I'm not going to purposefully drip-feed information on a forum.

Astrophotography is a steep learning curve, to someone that's not even used their kit bombarding them info in one go might not be the best idea, certainly wasn't even the question he even asked... Bite sized pieces or drip feeding as you put it will be far easier to absorb, certainly in the early stages.. he was asking for a guide camera and scope and his budget was £200... If he went down the PI route, there's half his budget gone.. not the question he ssked

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, newbie alert said:

Astrophotography is a steep learning curve, to someone that's not even used their kit bombarding them info in one go might not be the best idea, certainly wasn't even the question he even asked... Bite sized pieces or drip feeding as you put it will be far easier to absorb, certainly in the early stages.. he was asking for a guide camera and scope and his budget was £200... If he went down the PI route, there's half his budget gone.. not the question he ssked

You guys need to stop. It’s sorted and it’s fine they were just giving me advice and it was helpful. Don’t take it so personally.

Edited by Olli
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