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flatfootsam

S.Wales. Help pls!!!!!!!

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Hi to all from S.Wales. I am in my mid 50's and have decided to take up my schoolboy hobby again. I am also hoping to semi retire soon so I can devote the time to my old friend the sky. As I will have the time, (and a little pocket money from my wife), I want to immerse myself into astrophotography of DSO's and so have a zillion questions to ask, and it looks like I have come to the right place.

I have been looking at the Meade lxd75 SN10, which appears to be suitable as it is fast (f4), and I like the fact it is an enclosed tube, and size/weight is not a problem. What concerns me is the mount packaged with it. Many older reviews of the mount have said it is unstable especially with astro gear mounted on it and recommend the EQ6 Pro. The many adverts and supplier claims say the mount is "new" and is fine for the weight.(well they would) I cant seem to find a supplier who will split the ota and supply the EQ6, and so the price goes up further. Is the Meade combo suitable or should I look to another ota? If so, what would you recommend. Ideal budget for scope and mount being up to around £1300 - £1500

1 zillion less 1 questions to go :cool:

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Skywatcher 190 Mak Mak Newt on an EQ 6 syntrek with EQ mod would take some beating not sure if its within budget though...

I'm also from South Wales Nr Swansea....

Peter...

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Hi Sam.

I don't know if you've read it but this thread here is informative. My donation is the second last post.

http://stargazerslounge.com/equipment-help/80371-meade.html

A lot of people when buying a goto mount tend to forget the noise it makes when slewing. What seems very quiet under test at three in the afternoon becomes a concrete mixer at three in the morning.

As I say in the thread it's very solid and heavy. We both seem to be about the same age, 58 here, and I would advise to strip the setup down to just mount and tripod, minus weights, when moving it.

I have definitely not found the Meade mount unstable. At least when mated with a SCT 8". I've taken pictures with a heavy Canon 20D dslr and a DSI camera whilst using a Williams 80mm ZSII FD to guide. An all up weight of 16-17 kilos. This wasn't it's usual configuration but it delivered fine results when asked to.

Having said all that I think you'll find the consensus of opinion will be to go with the EQ pro or if poss the HEQ Pro. By all accounts it is quieter and if looking for just a mount and tripod it's the one I'd go for.

Ring FLO (top of page this page) and see what steve can do for you. If nothing else you'll get good advice.

Clear skies.

Dave.

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SN10 on an LXD75 would not be my first choice (mount wise), on an EQ6, much better

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Thanks for your thoughts. There definately seems to be concern over the Meade mount, even if only because it keeps the neighbours awake at night. My engineering background tells me that if something makes alot of noise its usually friction or vibration which eventually will cause wear and/or failure. I am still keen on the SN10 and if anyone knows of a dealer who would be prepared to split the ota and supply an EQ6 instead, I would be grateful if you could let me know. I also looked at the Skywatcher 190, but as with everything... "for a Few Dollars More", there is always something a little better. I will however, take my time over this, and get what i want and feel comfortable with. (and the wifes purse).

Thanks again for your replies. I am looking forward to talking again to you all. Defo a friendly lot here.

Q: Why are there so many on this site from Wales with the weather we have?????

Many Regards all

Adrian

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Hi Sam,

A warm welcome to SGL, as an astrograph, the Skywatcher Mak 190 with its coma free flat field front meniscus is on my hit list and I would support what Peter said in the first thread, I know it goes against the grain to reduce from the meade SNT 10 to a 7.5" but the price is good and could include the EQ6 for not much beyond your budget, have a look at FLO`s web site and in particular to the photo of M42, take with this scope, whatever you do enjoy the forum.

John.

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the 190MN is optically exceptional, that is for sure, but having seen what the guys at TH can do with Meade optics, I would not discount the SN10 OTA..

I would just not stick it on the LXD75

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Hmmmmm. Just seen the pic on FLO. Fabulous!! Now that is what I call tempting. Searching for equipment is quite exciting, but the more you see, the more you want to see, and the more you want. I dread to think what ccd I should go for. Do you think the 190 may need a better camera to compensate for the smaller apeture. I dont have a price limit in mind for the whole package that I want, only for the scope. I think this is a dangerous game to be playing. What comes first? price,ota,mount,ccd,wife, etc etc.

Life on the edge........:cool:

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Deep sky camera, for the money, the Atik 314L takes some beating (or indeed any that used the ICX285 chipset). Good balance of sensitivity, ease of use, no need to buy extra software to get it working, and featureset.

Planetary the DMK21AU04.AS for the money is a killer product, which only the vastly more expensive Lumenera Skynyx 2-0m beats (and that's not by much)

Expensive hobby...but rewarding

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Sorry, I misunderstood the subject of your post. I thought you needed help because you lived in South Wales!!!

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Hi Bob

There probably is an element of truth behind your mistake. Wales is the land of cloudy skies after all

regards

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Hi and welcome to SGL :cool:

The most important purchase for AP is a top notch mount so buy the EQ6.

Over the years you might try loads of scopes but the mount will stay.

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Well thats decided then. EQ6 it is!!

Now for the OTA. Still fancy the SN10. If I can get it separately, it would easily fall into my budget nicely. The 190mn certainly looks good, but takes me slightly overbudget and to binge on apeture, the skywatcher 300 is tempting, but I'm not sure if its quality matches its size.

Decisions decisions:icon_scratch:

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Hi Sam,

Tough decisions! You've made the right choice on mount - just make sure you hookup EQMOD, and life will be alot easier :cool:

As to OTA, if you want to shoot DSO's, you are going to need to guide, and unless you buy a very expensive SBIG, or compromise with an Off-Axis Guider, you are going to need a side-by-side bar and 2 scopes!

For starters, I would recommend looking at short tube refractors - the Williams Optics range are very good - personally, I use a Williams Optics Zenithstar 66 and an Astro Professional 102ED - thats because at the moment I am too tight to fork out for a 190 :) It really is alot easier to start imaging with small refractors, and work your way up once you get the hang of it - you'll be amazed at what a small refractor can achieve, even with relatively short exposures (if you don't believe me, have a look at this from my gallery: Witches Broom Page) - that was with my WO ZS 66, a monochrome SXV-H9 and Ha/OIII narrowband filters!)

That being said, the 190 is the bees-knees at the moment for a cheap imaging scope.

Camera wise, I prefer Starlight Xpress cameras myself - and don't forget you need to choose between monochrome and One Shot Colour cameras as well - and then you get into whether you choose LRGB or narrowband imaging :)

Decisions decisions!

Hope that helps a little!

Cheers,

Richie

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Good points, especially on small refractors, if you're going down the deep sky imaging route, you'll need a guide scope anyway, and a good WO refractor will serve dual purpose in that respect (guide with the larger scope, image wide with the smaller one is a nice option), and the S-Xpress cameras are very good, my problem with them is the awful software they come with (I owned an MX in days gone by)...it's almost unusable, and hence you have to buy something on top (Nebulosity, Maxim DL or Astroart usually)

190MN though...is the dogs danglies as an imaging setup

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Hi Ritchie

EQ6 + EQMOD. So far so good

OTA - Costs are an important part of any purchase and it seems in this game they can easily run amok with the wallet as there is so much to choose from for "a few dollars more". At this point I feel it is possibly a choice between the SN10 and the 190mn. I do like the idea of an enclosed tube design and both fall into each end of my budget providing guiding and ccd dont run amok.

Guiding - Next problem. I have seen arguments for and against for both off axis and piggyback. It seems the main problems for OAG is the choice of guidestar available. The main problem for piggyback being flexure. I have seen a review of the Taurus OAG. Expensive but seems to solve OAG problems. Any thoughts?

Camera - To be discussed once the above have been resolved to see what the wallet is like!!!

With the help of this forum I think I am going to end up with an awesome set up. Again I thank you all for your help and advice

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HI and welcome from S. Wales.

Regards,

Paul

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Hi Ritchie

EQ6 + EQMOD. So far so good

OTA - Costs are an important part of any purchase and it seems in this game they can easily run amok with the wallet as there is so much to choose from for "a few dollars more". At this point I feel it is possibly a choice between the SN10 and the 190mn. I do like the idea of an enclosed tube design and both fall into each end of my budget providing guiding and ccd dont run amok.

Guiding - Next problem. I have seen arguments for and against for both off axis and piggyback. It seems the main problems for OAG is the choice of guidestar available. The main problem for piggyback being flexure. I have seen a review of the Taurus OAG. Expensive but seems to solve OAG problems. Any thoughts?

Camera - To be discussed once the above have been resolved to see what the wallet is like!!!

With the help of this forum I think I am going to end up with an awesome set up. Again I thank you all for your help and advice

Whilst I agree with and respect the advice that is being given on here, I'd suggest a large amount of caution in trying to do it all at once :cool: There is an AWFUL lot to learn here. The guys who are good imagers tend to be very experienced and have learned a LOT over a period of time. They can certainly produce the goods when it comes to the images (I've never been much of a photographer, but the shots these guys get are awe inspiring).

Firstly, for the nominal difference in price, I'd get the EQ6 SynScan rather than the SynTrek - this will allow you to use the mount as a standalone and (relatively) portable goto mount without a computer attached (adds complications, and uses a LOT more power to do the same job). You may want to find some dark sky sites around you and portability is important then.

For learning steps you have (in a general progression)

  • Setting up the mount (polar alignment)
  • Balancing the scope
  • Powering the scope (are you going to build a deep cycle power tank, or just buy one)
  • Using the synscan to align the scope in the skies (this is a precursor to attaching the EQMOD)
  • Getting used to looking at objects in the sky and understanding what the properties of the scope you have bought are - are you factoring the cost of some decent eyepieces into the equation - a fast scope will beg you to buy a couple of decent eyepieces to look through
  • Dew prevention...... (and how you are going to power/control it)
  • Linking up a PC to this set of hardware and controlling it
  • Getting some form of stellarium software to interface to the EQ6 and understanding how that works
  • Figuring out what you want to capture. My advice would be to start with the solar system and a CCD cam of some description - you can see the objects as they are relatively bright and you learn an awful lot about how imaging with a scope works.
  • Collimating the scope - you will need to do that!
  • Attaching a camera to the 'scope and figuring out how to focus it
  • Trying the myriad of image capture software to see which one has the best UI for you.
  • Once you've focused and captured your first sequence, understanding the processing steps to getting a good picture (stacking)
  • Understanding the processing steps needed to make the picture better again (contrast enhancement, noise reduction, wavelet processing etc..)
  • Doing the "first capture" loop several times as you inevitably get rubbish images/sequences/out of focus/incorrect exposure....
  • Getting some satisfaction and starting to produce some good images with the equipment you have
  • Starting to think about DSOs...
  • Taking the first steps - probably unguided
  • Learning further processing methods that are applicable to DSOs (different exposure to bring out details, layering images etc...)
  • Wondering if what you really want is an observatory
  • Repeating the above processes with a second scope to understand how guiding works...

All this is done under the constraints of British weather - many nights not clear, and nights at the moment that are very short.... Also, you'll find you need a shedload of connectors, adaptors, cables, boxes, supports, home made adaptors that you don't already have.

Believe me, you can spend an awful lot of money on this hobby (I have 4 scopes here in the space of 2 months - 2 of which I haven't really used) but you have a long learning path to go down too.

My advice (as a newbie) is take it slowly and start off with a scope and mount and a cheap webcam and take your time... It will ultimately be more rewarding as you master each step and allows time for the technology to mature/become cheaper as you rise the curve.

Hope that helps

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