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Old 11-12-2012, 04:22 PM
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naskies (Dave)
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New CCD fun, cooler woes, and a confession

After lots of DSLR fun and grief with summer temperatures, I finally took the plunge with my first CCD purchase from OptCorp.com: an SBIG STF-8300M Pro Plus package which includes the camera, eight position filter wheel, off-axis guider, and Baader LRGBHaSIIOIII filters Even better, UPS delivered the packages three days late and I managed to get the shipping fee refunded

I also picked up an Astrodon 3 nm H-alpha filter too for imaging under a full moon, and had also found a Moonlite focuser a few weeks back. After assembling all the pieces, I gave the camera and Astrodon Ha filter a whirl in my back yard with the GSO RC8 on an EQ6 under a bright moon:

* Horsehead 1x30 min, binned 1x1 - GSO RC8
* Tarantula 4x5 min, binned 2x2 - GSO RC8
* LMC 6x5 min, binned 2x2 - Canon 100mm macro

My initial results looked promising, but I think the exposure times on the GSO RC8 were too short since the faint wispy stuff below the Horsehead wasn't recored. Going by the optimum exposure calculators, it needs to be about 60-90 mins! I wasn't a fan of CCDSoft, so I gave the MaximDL demo a go and really like it.

My greater concern was that the stars in the 1x1 binned frames looked eggy. Polar alignment was very good (about < 10 arc sec error in alt/az according to AlignMaster), so I collected some periodic error data using PHD to examine in PECPrep. The peak-to-peak PE was about 20 arc secs (not bad for an EQ6), but it was also very jagged with a MaxRate of 2.58 arc sec / sec

After doing some online research, I decided to order a Starlight Xpress Adaptive Optics unit and a Lodestar guide camera. On the day before it arrived, however, I was assembling a dark frame library for my STF-8300M at -10 deg C. I noticed that the temperature was slowly creeping upwards with the cooler at 100% (I'd been running it at 50-80% before then).

It turns out that something broke in the camera's cooler and now the max cooling delta is only -15 deg C or so. SBIG says that it needs to be sent in for repair with a typical turnaround time of two weeks. I'm seriously unimpressed with their quality control right now... it was a one-week-old camera!

I may try to return the STF to OptCorp as a dead-on-arrival product, and try to trade up to the STT instead.

As for all the clouds and rain in SE QLD at the moment... I confess! I'm also dreaming of a Pyxis rotator and the Moonlite stepper motor kit... but they'll definitely have to wait. In the mean time, I also found a Skywatcher ED80 from another IISer but with the weight of the camera/FW/OAG/AO I think it'll need a Moonlite upgrade too. I think it'll be good when uni starts again... holidays are expensive!!
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  #2  
Old 11-12-2012, 04:34 PM
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Moon (James)
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Dave, you listed so much gear in that post my head started to hurt. Keep practicing and your images will get better and hold off on any more new gear for now.

How are you focusing?
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Old 11-12-2012, 05:03 PM
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RickS (Rick)
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Sorry to hear about your new camera woes, Dave. Hope it gets sorted quickly.

Cheers,
Rick.
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Old 11-12-2012, 07:00 PM
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naskies (Dave)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moon View Post
How are you focusing?
I've traditionally been using focusing previews to minimise FWHMs, but I find Bhat masks faster since I'm doing it by hand.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RickS View Post
Sorry to hear about your new camera woes, Dave. Hope it gets sorted quickly.
Thanks Rick!
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:52 PM
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Moonlight are about to release a rotator which may be worth looking into, so I would email Ron and ask.
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