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DSLR piggyback mounting...?


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Hi there - Hoping someone can help me out here, but it's probably a really basic question (apologies!)...

I have a Canon 300D and would like to use it with the tracking available on my Skywatcher AZ GOTO mount to take some widefield and constellation exposures... but I'm not sure how to attach it.

I've had a couple of thoughts as to how it might be done - Using the tripod bush on the camera:

a) (somehow) attach it to a dovetail, or

:) put a ring around the OTA (attached to the mount) and then (somehow) attach the camera to that pointing down the OTA...(?)

Is either of these the way to go...? I know my time exposures are going to be fairly limited on an AZ, but I'm hoping that stacking a few 30-45 second shots might give me something(?)

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If you use 30 - 40 second shots, and the lens is around 50mm focal length, you should be able to take a number of images and stack them using Deep Sky Stacker. The software will rotate the images to compensate for the rotation. You should be able to produce a reasonable shot that way. I managed some pleasing Milky Way shots totally unguided this way.

Dave

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An Alt. Az mount makes it slightly more difficult as there are no tube rings but as you have guessed, the key is to attach tube rings - I would use two and put a bar between them on which you can attach the camera and a dovetail bar would make this simpler as it will already be drilled and tapped to fit to the tube rings. You could then fit a universal camera mount to the bar and then the DSLR to the universal mount or, even better, fit a quick release to the bar like this:-

piggyback_1.jpg

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My Skwatcher Dovetail has a 1/4" threaded hole in it. I can 'bolt' a camera directly to it as all of my cameras have what I assume is a standard 1/4" threaded camera tripod fixing in their bases.

Also, the tube rings on my SW 200P have the same 1/4" holes is them so I can piggy back the camera to the OTA using a 1/4" stud and a locking nut and washer.

Do you have anything similar?

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I have the NEQ6 Pro and machined a Losmady style plate which I drilled and tapped with a 1/4" hole and have popped my Manfrotto tripod head onto it which has enabled me to photograph without the scope on the mount at all.

Is there a way to attatch your camera without the scope as weight might become an issue at some point?

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A Ball and Socket head mounted on one of the rings allows you to point the piggy backed camera at any part of the sky you like... iff your going to use wideangle lenses you might want to position it toward the front of the scope unless you want the main OTA in the pic.. which can make a very nice pic at times...

Peter...

Edited by Psychobilly
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Wow... What a lot of options... Thanks all!

Dave - I have quite a few lenses, varying from a 12-24mm to a 300mm. I'm not sure what the results would be like with the 12-24, but I quite seeing what it might do... but I suspect that might need more than the 30-40 seconds my AZ will allow - I spent ages seeing if a wedge was available, but a) I don't think there is and :) it would probably be almost cheaper getting a new GOTO mount (Okay, I'll admit to being lazy!). However, it's very useful to know that it is possible to get milky way shots with the kit I have...

Steve - Your picture's worth a thousand words! I'm awaiting delivery of a dovetail bar to fit my 130 reflector (to put it on the AZ) and already have the rings for it... but it looks as though for this solution I should have bought another one. I also already have a quick release on my photo tripod (I'll have to check it out when the bar arrives to see if it will work for me (but can I ask where you got yours from?)

Glider - I just had a look at my 130 rings... It looks as though I do have a similar attachment (DOH!) making this potentially the simplest solution for me...

SlySi84 - I do like the idea of mounting the camera direct on the mount for these types of images. To be honest, I am a little concerned that I may not be able to use the camera at prime focus on the 102 reflector as I think I read somewhere that some people have had problems with the additional weight overbalancing the mount but I'm hoping that moving the scope forward in the mount dovetail might compensate a little(?)

Having said that, I was hoping that mounting the camera on the 130 reflector (either at prime or piggyback) might not be quite so bad in balance terms, but if I can mount the camera direct to the mount, then that would certainly mitigate that concern for wide field shots (and maybe open up the option for using the wide-angle lens)

Peter - That L-Bracket looks great for mounting direct to the mount. I can see how it attaches, but (maybe I'm being a bit obtuse) I'm trying to work out how it would work in practice (for widefield / milky way exposures) - Would I need to star-align with an OTA on the mount first and then swap it out with the camera? And looking at the orientation, would I be right in thinking that I'd need to slew the scope 90 degrees before swapping? (Really sorry if this is a stupid query...!)

Psychobilly - Now that I've found out that one of the rings does indeed have a 1/4" attachment, this is another very workable piggyback solution I hadn't thought about... Thanks!

I have to say that, with all these options available, I do feel a bit of a prat (especially as I'd never noticed the attachment on one of the rings!), but thanks to you all for these suggestions - It's extremely helpful...!

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Its a Losmandy style plate.

I drew it up and my brother machined it for me at his work, then I drilled and tapped the hole in the center.

Not sure what happened to the last picture so here it is again.

Image179-2.jpg

Edited by simon84
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Steve - Your picture's worth a thousand words! I'm awaiting delivery of a dovetail bar to fit my 130 reflector (to put it on the AZ) and already have the rings for it... but it looks as though for this solution I should have bought another one. I also already have a quick release on my photo tripod (I'll have to check it out when the bar arrives to see if it will work for me (but can I ask where you got yours from?)
I got mine from here
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Thanks very much... I just had a quick surf around your website - Absolutely awesome images!

I know I don't currently have the kit to get anywhere near your standard (let alone the experience!), but the image of your OTA, guide and mounted camera was a real eye-opener. Although I do believe I can have a lot of enjoyment with what I have, I can now begin to see that if I want to get some serious shots, I'm going to need to save up for an EQ5/6 goto mount (as a minimum) and be very nice to the wife...!

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You will certainly be able to make a fun start on all of this with what you have but you are right, you really could do with an equatorial mount especially if you have aspirations in the direction of deep sky - your 'scope will work fine on an EQ mount too.

Let us know how you get on

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Thanks Steve - I do have an EQ2 mount, which came with the 130 reflector and included an RA drive and handset...

It was originally bought for my daughter, who was 9 at the time - With hindsight, I think she was expecting something more "traditional" (ie refractor style) and if we had bought one of those (as we now have with the 102) at least we could also have used it in the daylight as well. It was obviously way too complicated for her to get the hang of though, and nearly for me - When I did get an object in view, whilst fairly impressive, we only had about 20s viewing as it drifted across the FOV... and then it would take me another 5 minutes to re-find it again. The result was a disillusioned daughter and me feeling very frustrated. For some reason I couldn't get the RA drive to work and therefore had to go manual... and I had real problems wrapping my head around everything being upside down and back to front.

It got packed away in summer 07 until I discovered it again a few weeks ago - With the sky as it has been (well, until the last week!), I thought I'd try and "re-use" it, but being lazy, I wanted a GOTO... and the AZ was the simplest option. I looked at an EQ3 GOTO but it was way out of my price bracket (and I knew I couldn't get it past my wife without a great deal of grief!)

I'm REALLY pleased with the AZ GOTO though, and my daughter being that much older, is now also getting interested again - Maybe I should have waited and saved up for the EQ3 (or bigger) but I'm pretty sure that unlike the EQ2, this WILL at least get used as it's SO easy to set up and start seeing things and in the meantime I'll just have to accept the imaging limitations.

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