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Psychobilly

Skywatcher Synguider - A review in parts...

190 posts in this topic

Part One - whats in the box...

I have just got my sticky paws on one of the first batch of the New Skywatcher Synguider - Standalone Autoguiders...

I will hopefully be letting it see some real (or artificial stars using SGE) before very long...

Synguider-open1.jpg

What Skywatcher "Say" on the box...

Synguider-open2.jpg

Single language user manual (English) couple of confusing bits in but I am sure they will become obvious when I get to use it...

Synguider-open3.jpg

Handset and Cables...

Synguider-open4.jpg

Autoguider and Skywatcher 4xD cell Battery box...

Synguider-open5.jpg

Spread out for all to see...

Synguider-contents.jpg

The ports onthe bottom of the unit the front of the unit is diecast metal the back is SKP (Some Kind of Plastic)

from Left to right - Handbox (8 pin ) ST4 Guideport (6pin) RS-232 (4pin) and DC input (5.5/2.1mm Center Positive)

Synguider-Ports.jpg

With the 1.25" EP adaptor Fitted...

Synguider-1-25inch.jpg

And it removed and a standard T thread adaptor (M42x0.75) screwed in

Synguider-T-Thread.jpg

The Blackened Surround to the CDD and the CCD itself...

Synguider-CCD.jpg

You also get a serial cable and shorting plug needed for firmwware update from a PC , A parafocal locking ring and 1.25" EP Extension

End of part one....

Edited by Psychobilly
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Part Two...

I didnt fancy running the unit of 4 x D cells using the supplied battery box... and the manual says that the supply can be between 6 and 12V but lower is better...

So ...

Here's Billys Rechargable Battery Pack - 6x2400mAH capacity AA size NiMH with a regulated output (set to 6.5V) short circuit protected by an auto reset 2A polyswitch...

Synguider-PBS%20Battery.jpg

The "internals"....

Synguider-PBS%20Battery Internals.jpg

The display... sorry its a dim display so it was a 1/4s exposure hand held... The display seems to be 1bpp depth - so no "redscale images" its either on or off...

The installed Firmware is V1.0

Synguider-Display.jpg

Now waiting for stars... or SGE...

Manual as a PDF

If i don't get clear skies in the next few days I'll get SGE setup to give it a workout...

End of Part two ...

Edited by Psychobilly
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Ok skies are marginal - not great for imaging and work in the morning so decided to do a quick test just using the Synguider on my

old Equinoxe 66 on the mount.

Synguider-Quicktest.jpg

I had deliberately misaligned the mount in both axes and skipped the alignment in the handset... so there was no "sky model" beign used to control the mount..

I then manually enabled Sidereal Rate Tracking and slewed around to Arcturus - I know not exactly the most challenging guidestar...

Seeing as I didnt have a finder setup I started with a 40mm EP to find Arcturus then changed to a cheapo 8-24mm zoom that enabled me to check that the star would be on the guide chip...

I managed to get the guider to lock without resorting to the manual and left it tracking for 30 mins.. when i went back it was still centered on the chip...

Synguider-Locked.jpg

Arcturus was being smeared by contrails but was still saturating the CCD... but I wanted a satr that would "survive" being hidden by cloud...

Hopefully I will get the skies over the weekend to do some proper trials with it...

Peter...

End of Part 3....

To be continued....

Edited by Psychobilly

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A good insight into what to expect on emptying the box Peter.

How come you got one so quickly, or do you have it for a trial period only? One of these does appeal to me, but I will decide once there is some Info.. on performance.

Thanks for this so far.

Ron.:D

Edited by barkis

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How come you got one so quickly...

Peter and Nadeem were first off the mark :D

(We have more arriving in 10-15 days)

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Uh.... interesting! And plenty of piccys! :D will be waiting for the follow-up!

Marius

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Hopefully I will have the skies to do some proper testing with it over the weekend...

and will add more pics and results to this thread...

Peter..

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Thanks for the preliminary review, Peter - looking forward to more when you have the skies.

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Is there any reason this device might have any problems on an Off Axis Guider?

Ron.

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Using it last night without refering to or having properly read the Manual there were some "funnies"... so i am genning up today as well... These were mainly to do with where the star needed to be on the screen for it to lock - At one point the star was under the text but then the guider would not lock onto it it's almost as if the guider works on a ROI around the center of the chip...which might be why they tell you to get it close to the center...

I will RTFM and find out...

I will keep popping back to the first few posts and editing them that way the review will stay together in one place...

Ron...

I am hoping to try it guiding the CPC800 with the guider on the 8" at PF and with the OAG, the Mergez 72 at PF and The 500mm f8 Teleguider and on the EQ3 Pro with the 60-200 f3.6 Teleguider... but that may take a while ...

I guess it will depend on how fussy it is with star shapes on the OAG...

Peter...

Edited by Psychobilly

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Thanks Peter. There's no hurry mate, there is no way you can rush through this, and it has to be a thorough, and objective investigation. Lets hope the sky plays ball.

Ron.:D

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Worse still lets sure the OAG plays ball.... the TS is a PITA to setup but fine when it is... Ask Steve-L et al about this...

Peter....

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Worse still lets sure the OAG plays ball.... the TS is a PITA to setup but fine when it is... Ask Steve-L et al about this...

Peter....

:D:eek::)! Now I really feel better, having just got one. If those guys are struggling, What hope have I got?:D:(.

Anyway, first things first. Press on mate.

Edited by barkis

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Ron,

Dont worry - It's only the focusing that a PITA made easier if you replace the standard screws with solder tipped grub screws.. PM me your postal addy and I'll send you some...

Peter..

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Ron,

Dont worry - It's only the focusing that a PITA made easier if you replace the standard screws with solder tipped grub screws.. PM me your postal addy and I'll send you some...

Peter..

PM On the way.:D

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Looks interesting

Good luck :D

Guy...

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Thanks for the insight into the guider Peter, im just thinking maybe it might have been better if they included a Cigarette lighter power lead with it as well. Looking at the .pdf posted I haven't noticed anywhere that Skywatcher has given any indication of how long you could power the guider with batteries.

Nadeem.

Edited by Deneb

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They recommend running off lower voltage they state 6-12v and recommend the lower end... i guess the internals are running (maybe 3.3V) so at 250 mA and a 12V supply depending on how they drop it thats about 1.5W of heat to get rid of .. and heat is the enemy for low noise in the sensors...

You could easily put a voltage regulator in a cigarette adaptor or a small in-line box...

Seeing as I have several thousand of those regulated battery units and pouches hanging around complete with the matching chargers they are the obvious solution for me...

Peter..

Edited by Psychobilly

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You could easily put a voltage regulator in a cigarette adaptor or a small inline box...
Yep, was thinking about doing that, another thing to do when I get back...

Nadeem.

Edited by Deneb

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Isn't it typical.. weather forecast isn't brilliant until Sun.,Mon Tues nights and then is marginal... and this time of year you cant start doign anyhting useful until around 23:00 or later and Lunas looming larger every night :)

Dont think I'll be doing much testing with the guider on fainter stars then :D

Peter...

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Ok managed to get a few hours out with the Synguider...

Firstly tried to use it on my old Equinoxe 66 on the EQ3 Pro... I reset the PA using the Polarscope did a 1 star alignment on Vega and then tried to get the guider running ...

I used a 12mm illuminated reticule EP to center Vega then switched to the Synguider after a bit of faffing around got Vega on the chip of the Guider and got it focused (can be a bit of a pain)... positioned it close to the center of the crosshairs and it locked OK.. told it to Auto cal and hmmmm.. Dec cal resulted in erratic movement and ticking noises from the DEC drive motor/gears on the EQ3 Pro .. it did eventually Cal and start guiding but within a few guide cycles the star had drifted out of the FOV and star lost was displayed... recentered the star tried again and same thing happened...

The EQ3 Pro sees to slew fine so I don't know whats happening there :)

Left the EQ3 running tracking at Sidereal rate on Vega and came back an hour later and it was still close to the center of the FOV of the EP...

So ...

Decided to try the Synguider on the CPC 800.. the manual says the guider works with FL between 400and 1200mm so I used a f6.3 FR with a 2" SCT and 2" - 1.25" adaptor to mount the Synguider on the CPC800...focusing is a lot easier on the SCT than the small frac helped by the "hollow" star image when your out of focus.. I took the opportunity to make the guider and my 12mm illuminated reticule EP parafocal...

This time I decided to use Sadr as a test star as there a fair bit happening around there... I mounted the unmodded 500D onto the Megrez 72 FF III Combo, focused it up and got the guider locked on Sadr... I let it guide for a about 30 mins before taking any test shots and it kept Sadr centered in its FOV... I then took a 600s sub with the guiding enabled, then I disabled the guiding before taking another 600s sub and finally re-locked Sadr and resumed guiding for a final 600s sub here's the result...

600s%20Comparison%20Unguided%20v%20Synguider%20small.jpg

Higher res tif here... http://www.graigolaobservatory.org.uk/Synguider/600s%20Comparison%20Unguided%20v%20Synguider.tif

SO ...

I couldn't test faint stars due the moon + spread contrails etc...

I did have some isues with the UI appearing to lock - This is possibly as a result of pressing keys to quickly but I need to try and reproduce this .. when this happens the preview area of the screen just goes "white" and won't change even if you alter the exposure over the full range - turning the power off for 10-15ss and restarting cures it...

I have got to get to the bottom of what's wrong with the EQ3 Pro... I will run the mount with PHD guide and see what's going on with the guide inputs... perhaps its something simple as I am new to the "mount" maybe it's the backlash calibration etc... the Synscan EQ3 Manual isn't very helpful here...

So a mixed night but when it works it works really well (user error cannot be ruled out at the moment) and at least I have the 12mm reticule EP parafocal with the Synguider now...

Peter...

Edited by Psychobilly

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Looking promising Pete, nicely detailed round up too :)

Regards

Kevin

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The image seems pretty reasonable for a 10min exposure. At £229 from FLO this may be a much more reasonable buy that an LVI Smartguider, which seems to retail in the UK for a crazy £439 or thereabouts. From what I can see (and I haven't used either of them) the big diffrence seems to be a parfocal eyepiece on the LVI, perhaps making focussing and then finding the guide star on the guider easier.

Please post up your further thoughts Pete, once you have had a chance to try the Synguider out a bit more.

Thanks

Tom

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I Will do.. might be next weekend before I get another chance to get a few hours in on it... I hate the late and limited dark skies this time of year...

I have spent the day looking at and "fixing" various "issues" with the DEC drive on the EQ-3 Pro so hopefully will be able to try the Synguider back on that rig which was the main reason for buying it in the first place...

The EQ-3 Pro has been running Dec + and Dec - for a few hours in each direction at 1x without missing a beat so hopefully it will respond properly to the Guide inputs this time...

Just added a HS Jpg from the 500D its a single 600s sub full frame from ther Megrez 72 FF III guided with the Synguider on the CPC at f6.3 - still need to get round to the FFIII optimisation but that can wait until the longer nights in the autumn...

http://www.graigolaobservatory.org.uk/Synguider/600s%20Guided%20CPC%20f6-3%20frame%202%20HS.jpg

Peter...

Edited by Psychobilly

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Nice round up Peter - hadn't noticed these gadgets before, but looks good for the DSLR users :)

I look forward to seeing your results in the Autumn! Will you be coming to Salisbury this year?

Cheers,

Richie

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