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Recommendation for advanced StarTracker

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Hi all,

After many years of imaging, about a year ago i lost my astro mojo and started selling my astro gear (Eq8 & scopes) etc and found myself purchasing a mirrorless camera and some lenses for regular photography. Fast forward a year and the old astro itch is creeping back up on me and just like the hotel California you can check out anytime, but you can never leave.

So i had a think about what i wanted an decided that i wanted the following, below, as i dont want to go back to an observatory setup.

  • very portable setup
  • very simple to use with absolutely minimal gear
  • must have goto & tracking functionality
  • Can be controlled with an Ipad or phone

After a bit of research i came up with the following 2 options :-

Skywatcher Star Adventurer GTI (£599)

The main attraction of this mount is that its a fully fledged EQ mount, so could connect it to a laptop or ASIAir to do some guiding. That said, it's a little more bulkier than average trackers, and and i'm not really intending to do exposures more that 60s, so don't really need the tracking capability but dithering would be a nice to have. I believe the  associated app is very good with all the catalogues built in as well as the ability to talk to 3rd party sky atlas apps. the price is pretty decent as well. The only draw back is that i might be in locations where i dont have a clear view of polaris - so it would make it impossible to polar align using polaris and not sure if there is any work around possible.


Benro Polaris 3-Axis Astro edition (£1100)

Now this Skytracker has certainly grabbed my attention. I love the idea that it's absolutely tiny yet still has a good payload capacity, but the real star of the show is that it requires no polar alignment, so it's perfect if you're trying to take some night scapes where polaris might be blocked by tree's etc. I also like the fact that you can fine tine the star alignment either with the app or by adjusting the knobs on each axis (yes i'm old school). The app some very big benefits and some darawbacks. Starting with the benefits, the app has full remote camera & mount controls (so you can adjust exposure, shutter speed etc ftom the app) as well as the ability to do dithering and very easy mosaics & timelapses. For daytime photography it has some additional fantastic features. Now the drawbacks - the built in star catalogue is very limited, but it's not a deal breaker as you can manually enter in coordinates for objects, and i guess the elephant in the room is the price at nearly double the cost of the Star adventurer GTI.


Now to my actual questions :-

  • Are there any other similar goto star tracker solutions that i should be considering ?
  • Has anyone used the Benro Polaris 3-Axis Astro edition ? What is your feedback ?
  • Any users of the Skywatcher GTi - This mount generally gets very good reviews, but are there any drawbacks i should consider. Is there a way to polar align if your view to polaris is obstructed ? 


Many thanks in advance,




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Ok curve ball thought az-gti tracking, freedom find and goto plus optional (not supported) skywatcher eq firmware update which has the option when run to either be alt-az or eq mode for the days when Polaris isn't visible. Synscan pro app (mobile or computer) even has camera trigger cable tie in. There's a long owners thread where members share setup progress the good and any bad.

Edited by happy-kat
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Another azgti EQ mode user here. My most used mount even though I have other setups. Its so convenient having everything I need in one (heavy) bag I can carry out straight away without forgetting anything.

Thr asiair has an experimental feature you can enable called all sky alignment, so you don't need Polaris. Or learn to drift align.

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@happy-kat thanks for the suggestion, but i dont want to really have to install 3rd party firmware mods - I'm looking for something that works out of the box, without any messing.

@Elp Thanks for the idea about the AsiAir - i thought they only worked with ZWO gear ?  So how would i power the ASI air. Would this not need a separate 12v power supply ? Just want to avoid carrying extra power tanks etc, in case i wanted to take it on a hike up a mountain.


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The azgti EQ mod is an official skywatcher firmware installation, takes literally less than a few seconds to install. Guiding during good seeing is around 0.5 RMS, around 1-1.5 average at 120mm focal length guiding.

I use a Celestron Lithium LT, full EQ mode around 2-3 hours operation. Alt az only operating around 5-6 hours. The Talentcell battery I've got is even better. Plugged straight to the air, then 12v out to the azgti. I use a separate usb power bank for dew heaters as they're power hungry.

Understand you want minimal fuss, but the azgti is the smallest option out there generally which is capable of operating like a larger fully eq rig. If I were to buy from scratch I may consider a SWGTI, but the price point is wrong considering it doesn't give a larger payload than the AZGTI, but it's supposed to be well built.

Edited by Elp
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Thanks Elp, i'll take a look at that thread, but at the moment, despite it's massively inflated price i think i'm leaning towards the Benro at the moment, purely for it;s simplicity and not needing to carry a hefty 12v powerband with me. That said it's nearly double the price and lacks such things as plate solving and a fully featured catalogue.

The SW GTI + AsiAir combo would still be £300 cheaper, but having to carry a heavy 12v power bank just to power the AsiAir is a bit of a deal breaker for me, as it defeats the purpose of it being a lightweight grab and go system, so i would have to use it SW GTI as std out of the box without any extra's.



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Posted (edited)

The two batteries I've got weigh around a kilo together which is less than the weight of the Benro head. I've used them to power my gem28 asiair combo on a dark sky visit. If you're looking for a super light setup maybe the benros the way to go, but personally I don't like the idea of devices which have unnecessary limitations that others do not, especially when they cost more. Your largest consideration for weight and portability is the tripod, and it's maybe the most important consideration out of everything as a poor tripod will ruin everything.

Edited by Elp
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