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Psychobilly

Skywatcher Synguider - A review in parts...

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Hi Mike - Yes, Steve gave me the same information about using a 50mm finderscope, but I had to give it a try as from other comments, it does seem to work for some people (and the idea of less weight/flexure/cost etc was too attractive to ignore). I did think about using an OAG, but they're pretty expensive too, so having slept on it, I think it really is a case of "doing it properly".

There's effectively 2 ways to attach another OTA. As you've noted, one way is to piggy back for which you'd need another dovetail, and also some guiderings to hold the OTA.

The other way is to get a dual mount plate, guiderings and a dovetail. As Steve said

A side-by-side mounting is more difficult to balance up but once done, it moves the centre of gravity closer to the mount so requires less counterbalance weight and introduces less inertia - However, a side by side mount could easily cost more that the cost of a guide 'scope!!

Piggy backing is cheaper and easier to balance BUT it moves the centre of gravity further away from the mount thus increasing the amount of counterbalance weight required.

I have tried both and found no improvement in protecting against differential flexure so I went back to piggy-backing mine.

Thus, they both work as well as one another but I guess it could be argued that the side by side is the more 'elegant' solution and potentially reduces the overall weight a bit which may be an issue on your mount.

Hope that helps...

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I don't see any reason why not - I had some good "test" results with an ST102/f5 which was able to lock onto a guidestar for over 20mins... but I wasn't able to test it in full anger as my CG5 mount wasn't up to carrying the two OTA's ;) (but in 8 days time I can rectify this as I'll have an NEQ6 :))

Okay, the FOV may not be as great as using an ST80/f5, but if you can't find a guidestar in the FOV with it locked (either to the other OTA with normal rings or direct to a side-by-side), then you could always use guiderings...

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How's everyone getting on with this?

It seems like a good bye and very practical.

I've noticed the Celestron Nexguider is identical and their manual is downloadable and makes for easy reading. Looks a bit classier but essentially identical.

If a new version is coming out these should become cheap on the secondhand market :)

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Weather dependent, I'm hoping I should be able to try it out in anger after this Thursday, but I know some others have had some pretty good success with it. I agree with you that the Nexguider looks (operationally) identical, but I can't see why anyone would want to pay an extra 10+% for it(?)

Here's a couple of links I know related to images using a Synguider:

http://stargazerslounge.com/imaging-deep-sky/119401-m45-pleiades-request.html

http://stargazerslounge.com/imaging-deep-sky/117513-m42-my-second-guided-image.html

(Although I've seen a few comments spread around the web about a possible forthcoming upgrade (with the screen on the handset), I'm a bit sceptical...!)

All the best

Andy

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I think the only feasable upgrade that they could possibly make to it is to maybe increase the bit depth of the screen. Anything has got to be better than what they have on there at the moment. Putting it on the handset would be a nice idea as you could then, with a bit of sticky back velcro, put the handset in any number of positions to make using it easier.

I know for an absolute certainty that the last thing I want to do when imaging something at the zenith would be to crouch down and have to make adjustments on a 1 bit screen......nightmare!!

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And for that very reason I am so glad to have netbooks and QHY5's.......

If its ever made possible to run PHD and a QHY5 on Google Android then I'd rather buy one of those £80 7" touch screen tablets from Morgans and a 2nd hand QHY5, pretty close to the cost of a new Synguider and you get a wireless touchpad to play with aswell.....

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QHY5 is not as sensitive, but I do like the "droid + guide cam idea" though..

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Is it not, crikey I thought the Synguider was a bit of a gimmick but if its got a decent sensor on there.

Maybe a Meade DSI with 7" Android touchpad. I here they make an extremley good guide cam, but then you have to start mucking about with other bits, those ST4 ports do make life alot easier.

Edited by simon84

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It certainly looks a bit gimmicky, and the silver plastic parts are the main culprit, but that's only the part that the screen is on - the rest (the bit with the heat-dissipating "fins") is metal. Also, the sensor is probably the Synguider's greatest strength... that and it's independence of external devices.

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Yeh, the plastic is nasty but that's why I prefer the Celestron version. Darker.

Completely superficial but important to me lol

post-21451-133877505887_thumb.jpg

post-21451-13387750589_thumb.jpg

Edited by astroimpulse
  • Like 1

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The biggest problem in using one of these devices, I've found is not the guiding at zenith, nor the 1 bit screen (it's nice to have and once focussed it does show the potential guide stars clearly). After all, you're mostly interested in whether it can find a star and what the integer BRI and NOISE and exposure levels are, not what it looks like.

What really, really, really drives me nuts about this device is that you have no idea when it's guiding or when it loses a guide star unless you're watching the display.

There is no flashing LED, no noise, no beep or otherwise no indication that guiding has been lost.

That's the biggest problem, in my opinion!

But it can keep track of a guide star under severely light polluted skies and through thin cloud - I find it's usually dewing or frosting up that kills the lock. Maybe dew heater stripes on the guidescope will reduce the risk of losing the guidestar....

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I've read the manuals right through and that wasn't something that crossed my mind.

A dam good point and a potential deal-breaker.

Hmmmm.

I've by no means decided my route...but it's good to hear user opinions 100 x more than the bumf :)

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I did wonder if you'd be pining for a black one Sy.....

That is a huge flaw with it though, some sort of indication it has lost the guide star is essential, comes back to imaging something at the zenith though, how often are you honestly going to get down there and check its still guiding. Hearing that has put me off one altogether.

I'll be sticking with cameras and laptops.....

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Indeed, a potential for frustration there, although I've yet to be in a position to not easily see & check the display, as I usually mount it in a diagonal. Increased risk of flexure, but the lock has held in the few chances I've had to use it so far. Definitely begging to be a feature of version 2.0 though. :)

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I have bought one and am struggling when it gets to the Auto Cal / autoguiding sequence

Then it says.. star not found :)

As a newbie... I need some guidance!

It tells you when the star is lost!

My Kit

200P on EQ5 upgraded to goto

ST 80 Guide with Synguider.

Help!

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Hi there - I'll certainly try...

1. An assumption - You're attaching via the nosepiece(?)

2. Are you sure that the focus is optimal, using the zoom facility to make the star(s) as sharp (less "blobby") as possible?

3. What noise setting have you selected, what BRI and EXP figures are displaying before you select the Auto Cal / autoguide sequence, and can you describe what's showing on the screen...? (Photo?)

When I first started trying to use the Synguider, the noise level was set ridiculously high and once I'd lowered it significantly things became a LOT easier.

If you ensure that the focus is optimal, the noise level is set at a reasonable level and, depending on the star magnitude, the EXP level is set reasonably (if it's too low you won't see much, if it's too high you may get a large "blob") you should see the screen showing one or more stars. Depending on the guide star magnitude selected, you should see a BRI level displayed, which is dependent upon the EXP and noise levels you've set - If it's a bright mag star, you may need to lower the EXP level, with the aim being to reduce the BRI to c. 10-15.

Once you've achieved that, THEN move onto the autocal / guide sequence and it should then lock. If the star is too much of a large "blob", it may well lose the lock after a short space of time - You probably need to reduce the exposure further.

However, if it's a reasonably small obect, then it should lock onto it fairly easily and for a fair time - In a test I did (with an ST102), it stayed locked on for nearly 25 mins before I cancelled it...

Hope that helps...?

Andy

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@Simon,

Imaging near Zenith isn't really a big dealbreaker for me. I have the ST80 piggybacked on the 150P and a diagonal attached to the ST80 and the SynGuider attached to that. I have a very small camping stool which I can sit on and look fairly comfortably at the Synguider (thanks to the diagonal). A right angle could be even better!

And when you do lose a guidestar it can be a real pain in the ***. You set up an hour's worth of images, go away and find the second half of your image run has lost guiding. Not having a simple piezo-electric buzzer that beeps a couple of times (or a LED that flashes) when it loses lock. Hopefully SW will introduce *something* in a future firmware update (ideally an option to use the Synguider as a PC-connected webcam :D).

Best,

Mike

@Petrol - I replied via PM but Andy's response is good too :)

Edited by MikeWilson

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Indeed, a potential for frustration there, although I've yet to be in a position to not easily see & check the display, as I usually mount it in a diagonal. Increased risk of flexure, but the lock has held in the few chances I've had to use it so far. Definitely begging to be a feature of version 2.0 though. :)

It was my main gripe in the review...and diagonal solution to me was not ideal.. needed a screen on the handbox IMHO... or ext video link (like a Meade EEP type affair)

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Thanks Andy, that helps a lot. It’s attached to a ST80 with the diagonal. I have also had a PM from Mike and you have both made the same suggestions –

I need to focus at zoom level 3 (not done that and the star was probably too big)

I used an exposure of 250ms – as per the instructions. What I need to do is adjust the exposure to achieve a bri of 10-15 before I move on to guiding.

Think I should be OK now

Cheers

Pete

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Another poor thing. Not hard to build in a voltage dip protector.

I wrote this off when the lack of alert was pointed out. Unless one comes up for a super bargain; I'm moving on. :D

If I get a new laptop it will have to go to the missus and I'd use her old one. I reckon that's fair considering I'm always updating my tech. :)

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One other little thing. If you're running from a power source and the voltage dips the SynGuider will reboot.

Untitled | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Having watched an Atari ST die on me many times live with a major pop group who decided to sequence their entire set rather than put it on ADAT tapes (voltages fluctuating like windscreen wipers on tour) this is not a new or uncommon problem with electronics... and if you're on a battery pack which is really where it's aimed at (portable DSLR guide unit) then...

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