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Recommendation for equipment for Polar Alignment


tants
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Hi,

I am looking into Astrophotography, but information is abit too overwhelming for me.

I have a Nikon D600, Tamron 150-600mm lens, and the star adventure.

I am staying in Singapore, and only a brief period in Australia.

Which hardware/software is easier to use for polar alignment? Astroberry, ASIAIR? Do note that I need to bring Power Supply (preferably Lithium ion), which may also face some restriction by airlines.

I am thinking of getting the SVBONY SV165 Mini Guide Scope 30mm F4 and ZWO ASI120MM Mini for the alignment. Just to confirm, the ZWO ASI120MM is responsible for the autoguiding of the star adventure?

Regards.

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The ASIair polar alignment is easy to use and put simply works just fine.  The question I would have is whether it works with the Nikon D600?  It works by using plate solving on repeated downloaded images from the camera as the mount is adjusted to obtain polar alignment. I’d really want to make sure it will do this with the DSLR you own.

As with all recommendations for the ASIair, it needs to come with the rider that it only works with ZWO cameras and some DSLRs. 

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I moved from Astroberry to Asiair and it was the best decision I've made in my astrophotography journey. 

The power question is an interesting one, I have been using this in my search for an ultra portable setup:

Celestron 6.1 Ah Powertank Lithium LT | First Light Optics

Many people would criticize this as being inadequate to power an Asiair but I use it to power the Asiair only, my mount and the camera are powered by smaller Talentcell units (Amazon). I have run this happily for 2 hours but of course many imagers would need something running for much longer.  The capacity of the Celestron unit is 73.3 Wh which is inside the the FAA rules:

Pack Safe – Batteries, lithium (faa.gov)

 "Lithium ion (rechargeable) batteries are limited to a rating of 100 watt hours (Wh) per battery. " I don't know what the rules would be in taking more than one battery on board.

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12 minutes ago, Ouroboros said:

The ASIair polar alignment is easy to use and put simply works just fine.  The question I would have is whether it works with the Nikon D600?  It works by using plate solving on repeated downloaded images from the camera as the mount is adjusted to obtain polar alignment. I’d really want to make sure it will do this with the DSLR you own.

As with all recommendations for the ASIair, it needs to come with the rider that it only works with ZWO cameras and some DSLRs. 

The Nikon D600 has been officially tested by ZWO.

Sorry, missed the post by @SmokeyJoe

Edited by LaurenceT
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+1 +1 for the asiair and Lithium LT. Asiair is so much easier than going through tutorials learning other software you can likely suss it out just by using it first time if you know the steps required to be done for AP setup. The lithium LT I use to power my asiair pro, and that feeds power to my azgti and my two cameras and works for around 3-4 hours in the cold. Bought specific for travelling with it if I need to.

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Ill go against the grain here and recommend a mini-pc instead of an ASIAIR. You can do everything with a mini-pc that you can do with an Asiair, but not vice versa. With an Asiair you are forever locked to either DSLRs or ZWO astrocameras, locking you away from buying astrocameras from other brands that are hundreds of pounds cheaper but do the same thing.

Since you dont already have any ZWO products choosing the Asiair would be foolish. If you had, it would make a lot more sense.

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50 minutes ago, ONIKKINEN said:

Ill go against the grain here and recommend a mini-pc instead of an ASIAIR. You can do everything with a mini-pc that you can do with an Asiair, but not vice versa. With an Asiair you are forever locked to either DSLRs or ZWO astrocameras, locking you away from buying astrocameras from other brands that are hundreds of pounds cheaper but do the same thing.

Since you dont already have any ZWO products choosing the Asiair would be foolish. If you had, it would make a lot more sense.

His DSLR is compatible with the Asiair as is his other gear and he's talking about getting an Asi guide camera.

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4 minutes ago, LaurenceT said:

His DSLR is compatible with the Asiair as is his other gear and he's talking about getting an Asi guide camera.

Yes, I was just about to make the same point. I think describing the choice as “foolish” is too strong.  An ASI is a rational choice in the circumstances albeit with certain potential limitations in the future. 

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59 minutes ago, ONIKKINEN said:

Ill go against the grain here and recommend a mini-pc instead of an ASIAIR. You can do everything with a mini-pc that you can do with an Asiair, but not vice versa. With an Asiair you are forever locked to either DSLRs or ZWO astrocameras, locking you away from buying astrocameras from other brands that are hundreds of pounds cheaper but do the same thing.

Since you dont already have any ZWO products choosing the Asiair would be foolish. If you had, it would make a lot more sense.

Sorry my knowledge of mini-pcs is pretty meagre. I am interested to know what other factors need to be considered when using a mini-pc?  How easily can they be attached to a telescope or mount? Does it provide 12v power outlets to cameras, dew heaters, focuser etc? Is there an app for controlling the software from an iPad or other tablet?  How much setting up is necessary before it becomes useable for AP? 

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3 minutes ago, Ouroboros said:

Sorry my knowledge of mini-pcs is pretty meagre. I am interested to know what other factors need to be considered when using a mini-pc?  How easily can they be attached to a telescope or mount? Does it provide 12v power outlets to cameras, dew heaters, focuser etc? Is there an app for controlling the software from an iPad or other tablet?  How much setting up is necessary before it becomes useable for AP? 

Looks like you've got a pretty good understanding of mini pc's there lol.

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This is why I always suggest asiairs. There's nothing easier and all encompassing on the market which is EASILY controllable via a mobile phone interface with little to no technical issues to overcome.

Edited by Elp
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One other thing to note is that the Asiair Pro with its built in power outlets can still be used with Astroberry or Stellarmate (and usig those power ports) so the ZWO gear lock-in can be overcome. Not quite as true with the Asiair Plus as that uses internal memory for the OS not an sd-card.

And even for non Asiair converts the ZWO cameras, focus motors etc are a good buy.

 

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25 minutes ago, StevieDvd said:

One other thing to note is that the Asiair Pro with its built in power outlets can still be used with Astroberry or Stellarmate (and usig those power ports) so the ZWO gear lock-in can be overcome. Not quite as true with the Asiair Plus as that uses internal memory for the OS not an sd-card.

And even for non Asiair converts the ZWO cameras, focus motors etc are a good buy.

 

How does the integration of the astroberry/stellarmate with the Asiair work?

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35 minutes ago, LaurenceT said:

How does the integration of the astroberry/stellarmate with the Asiair work?

The Asiair & Asiair Pro run on Raspberry Pi - the Pro has an add-on board with the power outlets & 12v input etc. The OS is on and loaded from the sd-card

The core of these use the INDILIB base  which has standard and optional libraries for cameras, mounts, focuser motors, filter wheels etc.  ZWO have limited the libraries they include and don't provide an option to add/use 3rd party ones - hence the ZWO only setup.

A new set of libs to control the ZWO add-on board indi-asi-power has been developed which can be used in Astroberry & Stellarmate

Stellarmate & Asiair have mobile apps, Astoberry uses a vnc web client. 

ZWO have limited their app so the user cannot add 3rd party and they only list available ZWO in the selections where allowed. Except for some DSLR and mounts, they would not sell if only ZWO mounts were allowed.

But on Astroberry/Stellarmate they access the indi-lib panels and select equipment from the full list of available drivers/libs.

INDI is not restricted to Astroberry/Stellarmate & Asiair. I have a VM of Ubuntu Mate I am trying on my Win 11 PC and can run Ekos/Kstars and access the same INDI libs and setup panels for any supported INDI equipment - just startd so have not worked out exactly what I want it to do. But I could of course load Ubuntu as the prime OS on a laptop/min-pc and have full access to Ekos/Kstar/Indi as well.

Does that answer the question okay?

Steve

 

 

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1 hour ago, StevieDvd said:

The Asiair & Asiair Pro run on Raspberry Pi - the Pro has an add-on board with the power outlets & 12v input etc. The OS is on and loaded from the sd-card

The core of these use the INDILIB base  which has standard and optional libraries for cameras, mounts, focuser motors, filter wheels etc.  ZWO have limited the libraries they include and don't provide an option to add/use 3rd party ones - hence the ZWO only setup.

A new set of libs to control the ZWO add-on board indi-asi-power has been developed which can be used in Astroberry & Stellarmate

Stellarmate & Asiair have mobile apps, Astoberry uses a vnc web client. 

ZWO have limited their app so the user cannot add 3rd party and they only list available ZWO in the selections where allowed. Except for some DSLR and mounts, they would not sell if only ZWO mounts were allowed.

But on Astroberry/Stellarmate they access the indi-lib panels and select equipment from the full list of available drivers/libs.

INDI is not restricted to Astroberry/Stellarmate & Asiair. I have a VM of Ubuntu Mate I am trying on my Win 11 PC and can run Ekos/Kstars and access the same INDI libs and setup panels for any supported INDI equipment - just startd so have not worked out exactly what I want it to do. But I could of course load Ubuntu as the prime OS on a laptop/min-pc and have full access to Ekos/Kstar/Indi as well.

Does that answer the question okay?

Steve

 

 

Thanks

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3 hours ago, Ouroboros said:

Sorry my knowledge of mini-pcs is pretty meagre. I am interested to know what other factors need to be considered when using a mini-pc?  How easily can they be attached to a telescope or mount? Does it provide 12v power outlets to cameras, dew heaters, focuser etc? Is there an app for controlling the software from an iPad or other tablet?  How much setting up is necessary before it becomes useable for AP? 

One key difference is that a mini-pc will not have the DC power ports, other than that its no different and all of the attachment/useability things are exactly the same with asiair/mini-pc. Just run a cable from your imaging camera and mount to your power supply, its not that difficult. Most mini-pcs can be run with either 12V DC or USB-C 100w so no need for AC power either.

Will need a mobile device to access it, phone is usable but tablet is better (same as asiair). The app is remote desktop and other than that its just like using a windows PC so you can run NINA, sharpcap, firecapture, whatever you want with it.

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3 hours ago, LaurenceT said:

His DSLR is compatible with the Asiair as is his other gear and he's talking about getting an Asi guide camera.

One day he will be looking for a dedicated astro cam. When that happens they are forced to pay ar least 30% (some models) extra for the convenience of having to use ZWO products.

Just suggested that there are better options. The ZWO hivemind has already made its mind it seems.

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If you're patient you can find some absolute bargains used with any type of equipment. All my cameras are used other than the ones I use for guiding, don't even need to use cooled cameras nowadays. The OP sounds like they're new to AP, in this case the asiair is the best recommended device for ease of setup and use, kind of why the product was brought to market in the first place. If they weigh up that they'd like the freedom to use any other manufacturer products they can make that decision to utilise the equipment which will provide more future flexibility, it's a personal thing, the OP has asked for recommendations and everyone's point is valid. I bought an RPI first because I wanted the flexibility, then I bought an Asiair as I didn't want to use a laptop or tablet in the field, turns out it has also been completely headache free which can only be a positive.

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At the end of the day the Asiair is a plug and play solution for the equipment the OP has at the moment, minimum fuss and makes learning the basics that much easier.  If at a later date they want to purchase a non ZWO astrocam they can always ditch the asiair and look into mini pcs or another solution.  

For me the purchase and use of the asiair has meant I can stop mucking about with this bit of equipment for one thing and that bit of software for another, Plug everything in, spend less than 5 min polar aligning, set up guiding and get on with taking subs. 

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1 hour ago, ONIKKINEN said:

One key difference is that a mini-pc will not have the DC power ports, other than that its no different and all of the attachment/useability things are exactly the same with asiair/mini-pc. Just run a cable from your imaging camera and mount to your power supply, its not that difficult. Most mini-pcs can be run with either 12V DC or USB-C 100w so no need for AC power either.

Will need a mobile device to access it, phone is usable but tablet is better (same as asiair). The app is remote desktop and other than that its just like using a windows PC so you can run NINA, sharpcap, firecapture, whatever you want with it.

That’s interesting. Thank you. It sounds like it’s all doable.  I think I’ll stick with my ASIair though. :) 

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On 21/11/2022 at 11:27, tants said:

Which hardware/software is easier to use for polar alignment?

The star adventurer seems to come with a polarscope  ( https://www.firstlightoptics.com/star-tracker-astronomy-mounts/skywatcher-star-adventurer.html) and that should get you in a very good position. The additional software would let you reduce that error to reduce tracking errors.

As an example I use the PA scope on my HEQ5 all the time and without using any software can still get very decent images.

EDIT: I know I am not comparing apples to apples as HEQ5 has motors for both axes.

Edited by AstroMuni
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A big thank you for alll your contributions.

I main intention of getting ASIAIR is to aid me in doing the polar alignment; I have never thought of using it to control my camera. Since the choice is there, I might as well use it. 🙂

@LaurenceT, thanks for your suggestion.

@Elp, thanks for your affirmation.

@AstroMuni, I had tried doing the polar alignment in Australia before; there is no brightest star near the south polar pole for the alignment, and you will need to look for the other 3 stars (also not that bright). I look into the scope until my eye went blur and still do not get a good alignment.

As mentioned in my initial post, I will mainly shoot the stars when travelling, I think I will go with the ASIAIR and Lithium LT.

Thanks Again.

Cheers.

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