Jump to content

Stargazers Lounge Uses Cookies

Like most websites, SGL uses cookies in order to deliver a secure, personalised service, to provide social media functions and to analyse our traffic. Continued use of SGL indicates your acceptance of our cookie policy.

dark knight

Cheap Auto Guiding

Recommended Posts

Ok folks, as most know I was recently made redundant, and due to back injuries (long story) will not be working for the foreseeable future. I am determined to stay active despite being in constant pain and seem to be pouring my copious available time into astronomy, but am running out of projects (at least those that are not costly). I would really like to get auto-guiding so my second passion (photography) can continue. Photography has so far taken a back seat as crawling around the woods/countryside in search of wildlife to photograph is now a non starter and astro-photography seems to satisfy both passions. Here's the rub, I have a Neximage, Nikon D80 and an old Fuji 602zoom. I have salvaged the circuit boards from the Fuji including the ccd. Can the bits from the Fuji make a guide cam?

If not, what is the cheapest possible auto guide set up and roughly how much will it cost?? My budget/funds are virtually zero, so it looks like my carp fishing tackle will have to be sold to fund it (sigh, sigh another passion lost) if anyone is interested.

I really need to find something to occupy me and if it's astro related so much the better...

Lets hear your thoughts/ideas.

Carl

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First thought was to use the NexImage solar system camera as a guide camera and image with the D80 but I seem to recall that people have had problems with exposure values using this camera with autoguiding software. I am not sure why this should be a problem though as the NexStar camera is essentially a webcam. Might well be worth researching this.

I suspect that using the Fuji circuit boards is a non-starter because of guiding software incompatibility.

The cheapest route I know of is to use a Philips Toucam webcam, GuideDog Software (free) and a suitable ST4 guide p[ort interface interface (Shoestring Astronomy?) or you could build an interface for yourself.

I know your budget is Zero but the cheapest commercially available system is probably the QHY5 autoguider which includes the guide camera and the interface and works with PHD (free) guiding software.

Wish I could assist your further ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is the Neximage the same as the Philips webcams ? If so, I think the issue is that it's not sensitive enough, and can't do the long exposures. It might work with PHD on a good bright object though... M45 say. PHD is able to on the fly stack a series of shorted exposures on non LX modded cams... it didn't work for me.. but...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for that Steve, I read a bit about the neximage and also heard that there were issues with star acquisition. I wonder if I doing the software RAW mod would make a difference. It looks more like the QHY5 seems the sensible approach, but what cheap scope for guide cam? I have heard of people using finder scopes, but not sure of the requirements. Hmmmm need to think some more...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks for that Steve, I read a bit about the neximage and also heard that there were issues with star acquisition. I wonder if I doing the software RAW mod would make a difference. It looks more like the QHY5 seems the sensible approach, but what cheap scope for guide cam? I have heard of people using finder scopes, but not sure of the requirements. Hmmmm need to think some more...

Get one secondhand cheap finderscope, unscrew and remove the eyepiece, make an adaptor that a) slides snugly into the finder and ;) will hold the webcam

see http://stargazerslounge.com/diy-astronomer/84726-diy-finder-guider.html for pics of mine and beamishs version

Pete

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, thank you for all the kind generosity shown by people sharing their projects and ideas that they obviously put a lot of time into, I knew there was some clever souls on here but didn't quite expect such kindness.

Sam your USB project is great and I'd love to have a go at it but I have a few questions if that is ok.

My mount is a Synscan goto EQ5, which has an ST4 socket on the motor controller board for a guide cam, how do I connect the camera to this port instead of modding the synscan hand controller?

Would I only need to modify the webcam to provide a cable to run to the ST4 guide port?

If I can't get a Toucam web camera, what are suitable alternatives?

Sorry for the questions but electronics isn't my strong point..

Once again many thanks to all those offering assistance,

Carl

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Carl, no probs on the questions front ;)

Right then, your mount already has an ST4 port on it, so you can completely ignore the hand controller modification part (I think, not having the mount in question).

Your existing camera doesn't allow long exposures (again, I think) so you might need to undertake a modification, but I'd give it a try as is first to see if it can pick up any guide stars... If you do want / need to modify it I've found this linky: Neximage SC1 Mod That'll be the cheapest approach me thinks.

The camera doesn't connect directly to the mount. It'll connect to the computer running, for example the PHD guiding software, which will then send guiding commands out to the SimpleGpUsb box I made in my project. That then has an ST4 port that will connect to your mount.

What slewing speeds are available on that mount? I will probably need to modify the SimpleGpUsb ASCOM driver to suit other mounts like this one, but it's an enhancement I've been thinking about adding anyhoo :)

Hope I've cleared a few things up for you, don't hesitate to ask questions here or PM me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Right then, your mount already has an ST4 port on it, so you can completely ignore the hand controller modification part (I think, not having the mount in question).

Quite true with this mount.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a similar set-up to samtheeagle although I brought the GPUSB from shoestring. Focussing the guide cam can be a bit fiddly and I've found it awkward getting a guide star in to the fov. I've had a few other teething problems, but I think I can put them down to inexperience and a habit of trying to rush with it. Not much in the way of results though as I've not really been able to get out with the whole set-up recently.

I wish you luck. If you go down the finder route, you'll have to give me some tips as I'm not likely to get many more, if any chances to go out with the telescope this year.

Gareth

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The other option is to go for the full eqmod route, and get one of the USB cables listed on the EQMOD site. It costs about £18, and with a very simple cable hack adding the end of a lan cable to it (assuming an RJ45 connection for the hand controller) replaces it completly. Gives you full goto, guiding, satellite tracking, meridian flipping, all automatic, from the computer. All the software is free..

This still needs the camera and scope of some sort of course.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't do it!

That is, sell the carp fishing gear.

It may appear a good idea now, but come spring you will be kicking yourself. Besides you will only get peanuts for it second hand, and then undubtedly have to pay through the nose when you get the urge again. And you will get that urge!

I know a few people who have done it and have lived to regret their actions. :)

Just think what you will be missing? ;)

mornings.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cheers Andy, I haven't reached that decision lightly but I do more astronomy than fishing these days...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.