View Full Version here: : Help me get started to auto guide...please

28-08-2017, 06:03 PM
Years ago I started setting up to auto guide but a prolonged wet and certain other issues caused me to not proceed:sadeyes:.

I did have a fair bit of information, and I think all the hardware that was then required, but my notes and the lap top from that time are gone as is my memory.

Unfortunately I don't remember anything and although I have been reading everything it seems the more I read the more complex the exercise presents to me I find that I really need some help.

I purchased a box from shoe string (GPUSB) with a USB cable which I gather goes to the computer and a curley cord with a plug that seems to fit in the hand controller of my EQ6.

I remember having a program and I think it may be on one of the old lap tops here but they don't seem to work and unless I need that old program I don't want to fix them just to find that program.

A generous member here gave me a Skynyx camera to use as a guide camera which I am at present trying to find a driver.

I have emailed the company who made the camera as I cant seem to find any listing for a driver on the net.

The lap top I have recently purchased has only 2 usb ports.

I recall when setting up years ago that I needed a four way usb but I cant remember why.

Will I need a similar hub for the new set up is one specific question.

I am not sure what software to try but PHD seems needed but I am not sure past this.

I hope to get another scope within a few days (8 inch f5 reflector to replace my now rather old Meade lxd 55 6 inch reflector) and I have an 80 mm 400 mm f/l scope (small refractor set up on the 6 inch) to use as a guide scope.

I seem to have read so much but not sure specifically what I need.

I seem to have quiet a few cables and an old 4 way usb which I presume is probably useless.

Any thoughts or suggestions as to what I should be reading or if you can suggest something I need ...anything in the way of help I would greatly appreciate.

Because all I needed was a smart phone and the fact I have not been in one place long, and on the boat, I have not used a computer for years so please be gentle:).

thank you


28-08-2017, 08:00 PM
Alex, in the best of terms, man you do need help, :help: and i am sure it is coming. ;)
Stay positive mate.:thumbsup:

Leon :thumbsup:

28-08-2017, 09:36 PM
Hi Alex

You may need some more toys yet, either a USB/Serial interface or better yet a USB "EQDIR" interface cable (Bintel sell them) so you could interface using EQMOD.

First thing is figure out if you can get a driver for the Skynx camera that works with PHD (PHD2 probably better). The last owner may be able to help you, or perhaps this fellow seems to have an ASCOM driver that might work:

If you can get that work, then move on to connections back to mount below. The 2 main options would be:

1. Using GPUSB connected to ST4 guideport on your mount. Also connect laptop to Handcontroller using serial cable plugged into a USB/Serial interface. See diagram in post from kookoo_gr 1/5/2012 in this thread for example wiring:

2. Load up EQMOD "EQASCOM" freeware, then do pulse guiding through a single connection between laptop and mount, with no handset required. You must have a suitable interface cable though, like this:

EQMOD available here: http://eq-mod.sourceforge.net/eqaindex.html

You'll probably never go back once you've tried option 2, but option 1 may be a starting point if you already have the right gear.

Hope I haven't confused the heck out of you.... :)

Guessing your main imaging camera will be a DSLR?

28-08-2017, 11:37 PM
Hi Leon thanks for the encouragement.
I am getting a little overwhelmed getting everything up and running.
I at least seem to have got a decent polar align and took some unguided snaps (lights , darks and bias) and downloade Deepskystacker and ran them thru to get a handle on that at least.

Hi Rob
I cant thank you enough for your help.
It seems I have the appropriate cable for option two but will have to follow up on the rest a little later.
The guy with the driver expects payment thru paypal so I need to set that up but lost my visa card so a couple of days to get a new one, but I openned another account at another bank so I can transfer funds to get cash now that I understand internet banking.

Living simply can bite you sometimes. So I am trying to get up to date with stuff I have avoided for so long.

But moving forward.

This week got a lap top, printer, a new dslr and tring and fitting to get it on the scope, got on net via lap top rather than just the smart phone, openned an email account, took some shots unguided and stacked them and purchased photo shop and light room, as I am a little familar with photos shop, and played a bit with them, fixed my reticle what a performance in the end threw out the little batteries and set up wiring to the big battery, connected the solar panel and regulator and cooked a lamb roast and a pork roast.:) took out two garbage bins and my legs are on fire and my toes got blood blisters...
So much better than laying on my back most of the day.

Thanks again I needed direction and you provided it for me and I am most grateful.

I might rest for a day or two cause been staying up most of the night doing stuff.


29-08-2017, 07:27 AM
Wow so tired sleept until 7-30.
Happy to find reply to my email re driver so should get that sorted today but have to take Dad to Doctors and will take him to lunch so he can have a "day out".
But so happy this is moving forward.
Legs are pretty bad and as a last resort took a mild pain killer, which I dont like to do, but if I take it easy should be ok.
Dad gets around a little better than me fortunately.
After lunch will take him to bunnings because he likes looking at the stuff there and he will be happy, if he is happy I am happy.
Might have to resume work on the motorised walking frame.

29-08-2017, 09:21 AM

My autoguide camera (ZWO ASI1200) is still on offer to you, and it is hassle free and requires NO additional payments etc - it just works right out of the box. That's the problem sometimes with non-mainstream cameras - drivers, ASCOM compatability etc etc.

Anyway, as I mentioned it is available, but unfortunately I cannot give it away.

29-08-2017, 09:37 AM
Hi Lewis

Thank you very much.
I received an email from the manufacturer so I will give it a go first to honor the gift.
If it doesn't go well I will pm you.
I may offer you a package deal that may appeal.
And thanks again I appreciate your interest.

29-08-2017, 01:28 PM
Alex, Theres a fair chance you don't need a special driver for your camera. A bit of googling says the SKYnyx is a WDM camera (Windows Driver Model). That means it can connect to PHD2 by selecting camera type WDM. You can test this without using PHD2 by connecting the camera to USB and using just about any video capture program on Windows e.g. VLC .

EDIT: Correction to WDM meaning. Also, different web sites say different things about SKYnyx WDM compatibility - but still worth trying first

29-08-2017, 05:17 PM
Thanks you know I haven't looked to see what this computer has re video.

And thanks to everyone for all the help guidance and support.

I am fired up that's for sure.

I am not saying I came up with the dragon fly idea before they did but I had in mind buying four $200 binos 80 x 400 eight filters eight cameras ...eight hours in one...

Well I now have one hour max to image an object..so cheap cameras still costly but eight hours from one hour in my current situation would be great....And if you are using a filter say red ..any really...would the fact it may not deliver a good focused image matter as the filter would not pick up the out of focus light...

Three d print the mount, alignment would have to work with out after mold adjustment, big ask,...but a little offset could be good for dithering...so would one hour of quality time thru a high quality scope as to objectives or mirror , say the proposed eight inch go against eight hours from the $ 100 each objects...assuming deep sky stacker can manage;)

Following the interesting discussions between Rally and Bojan on the dragonfly I gather it has more to do with the lens quality...but my situation causes me to think how to make an hour go further...and why settle for eight when you could have sixteen on eq 8 anyways how many could go on my mount... you could print the mount and all focuser housing in one unit.. electric focusers...and I would put extended baffled dew tubes ...I wonder if they could be printed.
What is putting me off is you cant see the sky here I feel lost what can see is not the way I remember it up home its some how hard to figure out thru my narrow window all what I see ... never used goto always moved scope manually to where my target was and balancing everything was all I was interested in then I would narrow down objects or stars thru binos and be close and know where to go just thru scope...I lined the ring neb up one night like a pool shot ..should be about there yes...hjust like a pool shot.. and not in the center but in field of view of 1200 fl and 15 mm ep but down here here I think maybe get the mount to find stuff...plus cant see Shout and that was my way of seeing the sky but now its somehow seeing it looking North..
Thanks again for encouragement, support and help I really appreciate you all very much.
Good day:thumbsup:.

30-08-2017, 12:21 PM
Picked up an 8 inch f5 reflector from Andrews Communications just now only $469.
Was going to get one from Bintel but they are waiting on new stock and I could not wait, sorry Bintel but you get the next purchase.
My loyalties are divided they both have been so good to me in the past.
Bintel gave me a lift home when I purchased my 12 inch rather than let me take it on the train and Lee from Andrews Communication personally delivered my eq6 ...all years ago but I remember and appreciate what they each did for me over normal customer service.
The scope looks great, they didn't have the coma corrector I wanted but I have enough to get started setting up a new rig around the new scope.
I was surprised and happy to find a right angled finder scope which I was going to buy separately cause the straight thru is difficult to use, I now have four finder scopes, and one I will turn into a guide scope as it seems I have a few bits that can achieve this..maybe need some screws, fiber glass and drilling, but does not seem a difficult exercise.
And included were 3 little EPs which I was not expecting and a 2 inch to 1 1/4 inch reducer and I think I now have 3 of them but handy nevertheless.
Flaws...the tube cover although hard to get off won't stay in place, may be I doing something wrong but I can get around that.
The screws mounting the short dovetail go thru the bracket an would dint the ota and I was lucky to notice before I did any damage. Only needs a washer which you would think was probably left out of the box.
Downloaded stellaterium which will be a big help to find things plan etc.
Also downloaded the free camera control suggested and worked out how to use it.
Was all ready to go to Hornsby to buy a USB long cable and noticed one in the stuff I am still sorting thru..I was very happy cause saved me a trip.

Waiting on driver but that's on its way.

Designed a big box to serve as an observatory which can be easily dismantled and taken North when that time comes...its outta ply and turns on cuts that I can get done at Bunnings and will fit in my little car.
So moving along happily but the house is a mess astronomy stuff and empty boxes all over...but my home don't have to please anyone.


30-08-2017, 01:10 PM
Alex that little dovetail that GSO supplies with that scope is a joke, it's far too short. Get a longer solid one that can space rhe rings further apart. I had a long one on my 8" f5 when i owned it.

30-08-2017, 02:31 PM
Hi Alex, keeping it very simple PHD and a small QHY or ASI ZWO guider on a 8x50 GSO finder let's say will get you everything you need. You can pick a guider second hand from almost anywhere these days. Finders are cheap too ~AUD75.00.

30-08-2017, 03:18 PM
Yes I thought it small.
I have a decent dovetail here some place which should do the trick.
But for the moment just want to get it on the mount and get other things organised.
Thanks for confirming my suspicions.

30-08-2017, 03:22 PM
Thanks Marc.
I may not have been clear there was a right angle finder scope in the box with the scope.
I don't use them much but this will be better than a straight thru...
Things are going better than I expected but a little way to go yet.

10-09-2017, 08:35 AM
Sorry Lewis I purchased a new one from Bintel.

Well only sorry that I could not take yours off your hands but very happy dealing with Bintel.

My reasoning was if I have problems with it or anything I can call down and get help
I like dealing with Michael who has some links with Tabulam.
And I was in a buying frenzy:D

Anyways got the camera working last night.
But still a way to go with auto guide.

I still am not sure of what I am doing.

I have got the stuff I need however so I will see what I can do.

There is a lead that goes from the camera which fits in the mount and a lead from the camera to the lap top.

I have PHD downloaded and it comes on screen but although I follow the simple steps the mount does not seem to respond... mind you it still needs sorting so maybe I ask too much.. It occurred to me after the session that maybe I needed to ajust something like the length of the pulse.

Have anscom downloaded and looking at it today.

However making slow progress.. found a alluminium bar to go on top and conect all four tube rings to provide a platform for a camera or scope but mainly to stiffen the set up.

Made a neat bracket to atach electric focuser using cardboard and resin overlay which came out rather well and although still with a short cable have it working well.

The new little guide scope is neat.
I downloaded sharpcap and learning what it can do...

The new focuser mask is terrific and I like it a lot.


10-09-2017, 10:13 AM
Can I run all this by those of you that know what they are doing?

First photo below is of the camera.

There is a USB cable which goes to the lap top.
The other lead does it go to socket in mount labeled "auto guider"? If not where does it connect?

The second below photo of what I think is the appropriate cable to the mount. It seems as I should remove the phone line part and remove the hand box controller and connect the lap top using this lead.

Could the phone line part go in the hand box and the hand box remain where it is ?
I included a photo of the sockets on the mount which is the last photo.

I suppose this thread would have been best placed in the beginner section..

Any help or comment greatly appreciated.


10-09-2017, 11:20 AM
Softly softly...
1. The "telephone" type cable from the camera is actually a ST-4 to ST-4 cable (which sends the guide commands to the mount) - this pluds into the guide port on the mount.
2. Image 2 shows the USB to Serial adaptor... one end is plugged into your USB port on the computer and the other should have the USB cable from the camera. (this allows the camera to send images to the computer -which are then used by your software to guide...)
3.First thing to do is to ensure the camera "talks" to the computer. Once connected (#2 above) you should be able to see an image in PHD (select your model of camera in the drop down box)
4. Once you have an image then try it out on the mount.
Connect the ST-4 cable (#1 above) set PHD to ""mount" - on camera"
If this successfully connects you can test the connection using the move arrows in PHD. Tools-Manual guide. Probably easiest to point the scope with the guide camera to a distant object - no sidereal drive (!) and then press the PHD buttons - you should see the image move on the screen.

When you reach this stage you're good to go to the next step.
Hope this helps.

10-09-2017, 11:52 AM
Thank you Ken.
It sure does help as I have things to try and that is good.

The camera shows up in PHD and I get stars on screen so that is something.

I tried to download EMOND but Norton says its not safe so I presume I have to disenable Norton to get it downloaded:shrug:.

I will have another go later it seems many things work out after a few attempts.

I managed to download EMOD diagnostics and Profile explorer which I understand comes first but the main thing is the one I am having difficulty with.

Thanks again. I do find this a little beyond my ability or maybe I am just lazy and it all seems too hard... but happy with my progress and happy that I seem to work out many of the problems that present.


10-09-2017, 12:05 PM
One step at a time....
Get the mount and guiding working for you.....
then you can consider the move to EQMod - you'll need a planetarium software like CdC as a "front end"
Note: successful guiding has nothing to do with EQmod....

10-09-2017, 12:07 PM
Here I am a little confused probably I need another section of cable to replace the female section.

But it seems that I must remove the current female plug section of cable which goes to a st 4 ( phone type connector ) and replace that with a lead that has a female serial adaptor one end and a usb into which I plug the camera.

Does that sound correct?


10-09-2017, 12:13 PM
I only have two usb ports on the lappy. One has a mouse which I can replace with a wireless one but I think I may need more than two ports.

I think you can get a box with four usb ports..well I have an old one usb 2 that has four ports... so there would be something around..but I recall reading that one should avoid such.. Any thoughts?

But I think I will need a port for the imaging camera, a port for the guide camera, and one for the focuser and later if I get a zwo 16 a filter wheel control.



10-09-2017, 01:04 PM
Well I managed to download the software and CdC I only now noticed your post.

Anyways they are there now.

Thanks again


10-09-2017, 02:01 PM
Yes, to reduce the cable clutter I use a powered 6 port USB hub mounted on the telescope pier and one USB back to the PC.
(Note: I only use USB2 equipment on this hub - I've no experience with USB3 hubs)
With CdC and EQmod - you can set the telescope connection in CdC as "EQMOD_SIM.telescope" and practise moving and slewing the Sim telescope around...
(To set the connection to the scope as ASCOM - Telescope/General/Settings tick the ASCOM button and save)

10-09-2017, 02:17 PM
Re USB connectors....
Refer #2 Image
The cream coloured cable has a RJ 12 (six pin) connector at one end and the Serial at the other.... The Black serial/USB adaptor has a USB socket on the body (usually fitted with a USB cable) and accepts Serial at the other end of the body.

I was incorrect....

This cable arrangement is ONLY used to allow the PC to talk to the mount handcontroller (when set to PC Direct) for EQMOD. It plugs into the RJ12 socket on the handcontroller. (Other's will tell you a EQMod DIR module direct to the mount can do the same job....)

OK, back to guiding.
The USB connector from the camera should be plugged into the PC and the ST-4 cable connected between the camera and the mount guide port. That's it.

10-09-2017, 05:16 PM
Thanks for all of that,
My pin has a count of nine 9 pins, but I dont use that now? only the link from the camera to the auto guider port on the mount...this will give me auto guide ? I like to move the scope manually to an object so if I was to image something I would probably balance the scope to work well in an area where ti performs very well...but moving it around locally will be neat.
I think I need to pull the mount down it needed an oil change before I started trying to set up..
That sharp cap is interesting.
I am very surprised the view one gets thru this little guide scope.

And..well I think this is funny but a cool project..You build a little observatory around a guide scope with a nice little camera like the little one on it..so it works..but a novelty ..well to me... with a little mount and a little pier a dome that houses such a small guide scope set up...a model for the coffee table .. and the thinking more you could fit a 80mm in a very small dome...which could be remote..

Anywyas I just need to get the current things fixed, rather working the auto guide ..Maybe I had it on last night???I had the camera connected to the mount and the camera connected to the lap top..thats all from what I gather to get started, particularly as I like to drag the scope around.
The stars vanashed at a critical stage if that is all to get started..I went thru the phd easy steps and could get stars on screen..is that all to start or have I got it wrong and still need something else...for now.

.. but I thought building such a model would be a good way of taking away my obsession with astronomy at the moment. The dome could be made of cardboard and resin ..verry strong and cute done well.
I have requested a mate help me pick up the ply for the box one that I am actually building. I need to check it will fit again cause I took the original measure meants with a six inch there..certaily will need a different roof be cause pier may need to be higher than originally planned...mm anyways.

Thanks again.


10-09-2017, 05:23 PM
All good Alex - I am keeping it for now - I like redundancy in case something goes wrong. And it is still under Bintel warranty too which is good.

Good cameras - pretty close to a Lodestar in performance.

10-09-2017, 05:26 PM
Yes, the ST-4 cable does it all....
Moving the scope/mount by hand has nothing to do with guiding....
The camera is connected to the PC via the USB cable.

10-09-2017, 05:27 PM
I use the Lodestar...
There's nothing in the same league.

10-09-2017, 05:53 PM
I know Ken - so do I (use Lodestar). The ASI120MM is my backup in case the Lodestar cable breaks (I have the old model). The ASI120 is not too bad really - no, it is not as good as a Lodestar, but it's a LOT better than the QHY offerings.

Reminds me to buy a spare Lodestar cable from Peter Tan.

10-09-2017, 08:02 PM
Happy days I am guiding even with the mount far from perfect but guiding holds it in place ..trying different settings but its great.
Thanks all who helped.
My first experience years ago put me off but now it all seems so simple.

10-09-2017, 08:21 PM
Back lash clearing failed star did not move enough...that's got to be good.

10-09-2017, 10:05 PM
So now you are calibrating in PHD2. This needs to complete successfully before you can start guiding. Best thing to do now is to attach your guide log. It will be in Documents/PHD2. There are two types of logs: the Guide log and a Debug log. The guide log is smaller and easier to analyse. The alternative is to ask a hundred questions that are all answered in the log.

11-09-2017, 10:21 AM
Thanks Kens.
I found following the graph interesting.
I adjusted settings and even with the mount poorly aligned it was "only" jumping around 2" either side of the center line.
I dont know what the thing can get down to but I expect a better align and a mount maintenance will improve that range.

I am so happy to have got it going...simple in retrospect.
I fell victim to over thinking the situation and a belief that I would never get there so it seems that I have done something beyond me...usually I am confident but all the material available overwhelmed me ...

Fortunately everything has presented small problems that I have solved with nothing bringing things to a halt.

So I happily captured some stars, dont even know which ones but did some short exposures (30 seconds ) and most happy with the ease of excecution. Stacked them to get to know deepskystacker... but next I need a processing program.


11-09-2017, 12:53 PM
For processing I settled on Startools. Reasonably priced, built here in oz and well supported by Ivo, and you can either just use the default settings or try to act the pro.
2" Sounds ok for now. I wouldn't start fiddling till you have a few more sessions under your belt. Last one might have been lucky, unlucky or typical. Once you get a feel for what's typical you can think about tweaking the settings.

11-09-2017, 04:20 PM
Interesting you should suggest Star Tools I downloaded a trail version today and been on utube where I found a laid back guy showing how easy it was...

I should pull down the mount but I just want to drive.

And I havent even bothered about collminating the new scope still so much to do. Must get a proper tool for the job.

I will try and sort out the mount.... its not making grinding noises but its past service...

what is the magic number for movement...0?...I bet the next " is probably hard won but after that $25,000 mounts.

12-09-2017, 04:21 PM
Hey Lewis - is a Lodestar better than a SBIG ST-i?

15-09-2017, 01:34 PM
The next night the indicators were off the chart, I thought it was near perfect when I had my first run and played with adjustements...even if the mount was off the guiding went great......then the thing went wild so I pulled it down last night. it seems a screw holding a cog on the worm drive shaft was slipping so I hope that was all there was to the crazy spell..maybe that is why ra was playing up..yeh!

Looks ok everything was clean the lite oil I put instead of grease seemed to have worked as there was still a nice film over everything... a bit of discolouration on gears which would be a dust build up so cleaned that off and relubricated...anyways I will give it a run and see if its works.


15-09-2017, 01:57 PM
The QE of the Lodestar and the ASI120MM are nearly identical. The ASI120MM is 75% and i think the Lodestar x2 is 77%, not really a relevant difference given the price difference, imho.

15-09-2017, 02:14 PM
Pixel size....

I use the Lodestar cable "clamp" from TS....never let me down in the past six years or so.

May be cheaper than a new cable...

16-09-2017, 03:45 PM
I have noticed a bit of " play" in DEC which sounds like movevement in the straight cut gears.
I have not noticed it before, it may have been there, but I can't think why it should be so. Is it what is called back lash.

Put everything back and with luck on my side polar seemed perfect.
Only got one shot before the sky went misty ...
May pull down DEC and have a look..


17-09-2017, 10:33 AM
Ah Alex, it sounds like you're well and truely on the "dark side" now!
You realise your conversations with others will now forever be how to get guiding and imaging perfection. Glad to hear its beginning to come together for you.


17-09-2017, 10:58 AM
Alex, have a look at the play in the worm end bearings. They are adjustable, you can screw them in to eliminate back and forth movement of the worm.

17-09-2017, 01:35 PM
Nope, new cable is $19.95 from Peter Tan.

18-09-2017, 03:55 PM
Well I pulled the DEC down again.
The only way I could see to fix it was to move the motor closer and thereby getting a deeper engagement with the straight gears.
This worked very well, there is the slightest slop, which may not be further fixable...I had the gears meshed very tight...but I am not pulling it down again today.

Nearly finished the cement pier frame and reinforcing, I will complete it before putting the box, observatory, together.
Got it all figured should be simple.

18-09-2017, 08:45 PM
I am still not happy with the mount...
there is still the slightest movement in dec.
All I can think is to put valve grinding paste in the gears and see where the high spots are and take them out and hone each one.

It is mechanical so I doubt if you can get it perfect.

Anyways it is keeping me active...and somehow I can cope better being in Sydney. At the moment I am back to getting the thing to align... I am sure the only way I get it aligned is by playing with it for so long eventualy I hit the sweet spot by sheer chance and then it is perfect aligned...

Its so much like moto cross you spend so much time getting the machine to work efficiently and yet so little time actually driving the beast...well its that way for me...maybe others have no problems.

And like moto cross it is strange we spend so much effort to do the same thing over and over and delight in the improvements we make to the machine...we are strange things us humans.

And the focuser...poor design...I need to build a new one...there are only four bearings in the standard focuser and the focuser axle actually acts also as a bearing...not right ..not good...need more bearings..to me its obvious....and the t ring..its slaps around...it is going to get a bath in fiber glass resin ..no slop after that.


18-09-2017, 09:09 PM
Thank you Rob.
I would like to think others will gain confidence from the fact a mug like me can move forward.

I tend to get obsessive unfortunately, its a personality thing, but I am happy so far.

I just want everthing to work perfectly.

All the little gaps I hate.

I like blueprinting..which is to make something work like the engineer laid out in his plans.

Take out the burrs and stuff that should not be there.

I have given this mount the treatement but still room to improve...it needs to be in a temprature controlled room for a start..how can we fix things when the tempratures changes and makes everything different...maybe I should just get a better mount...but still I would want it to be more perfect...so the problem is not the equipment its me and my obsessive approach to the simple things...thats why I live alone I guess.

But of course mass production sees little imperfections to the original design...and the eq 6 is not bad but everything could be bigger better and ....well there you go..thats my problem.. I have to be content with what it will do..actually just getting to that point is a major undertaking for me...but the irony is..by using short exposures you really do not have to have it perfect.


18-09-2017, 09:16 PM
Thanks Glen.
I will see what their role is next time I pull the thing down.
I am getting rather fast at it now...I wonder how short a time you could get to pull down a mount...I think I could do it in maybe 15 minutes... anyways I will try and set a record next time. All I need is allen keys set up in a small cordless screwdriver.