Go Back   IceInSpace > Equipment > Astrophotography and Imaging Equipment and Discussions

Thread Tools Rating: Thread Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
Old 10-05-2013, 05:09 AM
Star Hunter
Registered User

Star Hunter is offline
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Ellesmere, Qld
Posts: 184
Auto Guiders: Which is best and why?


I need an AG be that a stand-alone or with a laptop. Price is not so much the issue here, but reliability is. Setting up, calibrations,

Lodestar, Orion, SBIG, Moravian,... What do you use with what and why?

G/scope I have vary from 400mm to 1200mm. Would prefer a stand-alone AG but can use laptop, if needed.


Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2013, 06:33 AM
Registered User

gbeal is offline
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 4,301
You'll get wide and varied replies here.
Mine is a Lodestar, tried a few of the others and have had the Lodestar for seemingly ages. Never fails, me.
PHD, or Maxim, works a treat.
I used a variety of guide-scopes, started with the ST80 style, bought a dedicated TS 60mm finder-guider, but have now gone for simplicity, an old 6x30 finder, with the Lodestar screwed into the rear. No rings, solid mounted.
The best guider is the one that you find works for you, ditto with guide-scopes (and OAG's for that matter).
In my case it took some experimentation, you might find the same.
Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2013, 06:51 AM
Novichok test rabbit

LewisM is offline
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Somewhere in the cosmos...
Posts: 9,326
Lodestar. Don't need to say more. Look for Chris Stark's article, and you'll see all the graphs and comparisons.

The Orion SSAG is OK if you use it in a densely star-populated area. Take it out into areas outside that, and you'll have a HARD time guiding. For instance, imaging the Glaxy M83: with the Orion SSAG, I had to take the rig well off target to find a star it could not only see but guide from sufficiently. With the Lodestar, honestly, I could have guided off the galaxy itself!!! The Lodestar is VERY sensitive, and picks up a lot of faint stars.

My entire imaging rig is Starlight Xpress, and I could not be hapier. Super products, backed by incredible customer support.
Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2013, 01:11 PM
DJT (David)
Registered User

DJT is offline
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Sydney
Posts: 1,352
Hi James

I started with the ST80 and Orion SSAG because a lot of other people were doing the same, its like the defacto starter kit, but I did upgrade the guide scope rings. Guiding using PHD.

Then I added an additional 60mm scope to the rig for widefield so ditched the ST80 because of weight and balance issues and was switching the guide camera and imaging DSLR between the 2 scopes depending on what I was doing. This worked fine but was a faff when changing imaging scopes.

Have now got an adapter to connect the guide camera to the standard finderscope that came with the ED100. This combination guides very effectively for my relatively short focal lengths. Basically I can get away without OAG with my rig, flexure is not a problem for me and the guiding results I am getting are fine at this level.

When I grow up I will upgrade to something different but that will be part of a bigger upgrade and its not crucial for me right now as I don't seem to not have any guiding issues. The main reason for wanting to change will be to help eliminate flexure.

I have never yet had an issue with the Orion SSAG not finding a guide star by the way and I am in a light polluted burb of Sydney with a very bright night sky. Just remember to take a dark in PHD which makes a huge difference.

Ultimately, had I known what I know now when I started this hobby ,with the rig I have, I would have gone the finder guider route right from the start. Its a lot cheaper and removes a lot of weight and balance issues when piggy backing. But part of the fun of this pastime is trying different things out and learning whats good for you.

I have not tried EQMOD pulse guiding or anything else like that but am sure someone else will pipe up on that subject.

Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2013, 01:50 PM
Terry B's Avatar
Terry B
Country living & viewing

Terry B is offline
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Armidale
Posts: 2,759
I have a STi and a QHY5 guider. Both work very well. The STi is more sensitive though. With either I have never not been able to find a guide star in the field. i have never needed to move my target to find a guide star. This is using a guidescope. I can't comment about off axis guiders though.
Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2013, 02:29 PM
alistairsam's Avatar
Registered User

alistairsam is offline
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Box Hill North, Vic
Posts: 1,817
I've had very good results with the QHY5L-2. A little more than half the price of the lodestar but sensitive enough with an OAG and way more sensitive than the QHY5.
Price was the factor for me. If that's not an issue, I think the lodestar is a popular and reliable choice. Not familiar with the rest.
I wouldn't think of the Orion SSAG or QHY5. the QHY5 worked fine for me with the ST80 and a finder guider, but was blank with the OAG.
Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2013, 02:38 PM
Novichok test rabbit

LewisM is offline
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Somewhere in the cosmos...
Posts: 9,326
I used to take Dark frames all the time with the Orion SSAG, but in some areas, it just could not detect a star, or if you COULD see one, half the time it was not bright enough and lose it with seeing fluctuations. I have yet to NOT find a guide star with the Lodestar

With the Orion, I had to REALLY change a LOT of PHD settings to get it to reliably guide. Aggressiveness, pulse duration, hysteresis etc etc.
Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2013, 03:21 PM
Star Hunter
Registered User

Star Hunter is offline
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Ellesmere, Qld
Posts: 184
Originally Posted by LewisM View Post
I used to take Dark frames all the time with the Orion SSAG, but in some areas, it just could not detect a star, or if you COULD see one, half the time it was not bright enough and lose it with seeing fluctuations. I have yet to NOT find a guide star with the Lodestar

With the Orion, I had to REALLY change a LOT of PHD settings to get it to reliably guide. Aggressiveness, pulse duration, hysteresis etc etc.

Mate, what model of the Lodestar do you use, why that one? and how easy/hard is it for this unit to calc aggressions and iterations before the AG kicks in to guide?

What is the min. mag of star will it guide on?

I use an EQ6 mount, a Paramount GT1100 and a new Titan 50. All these mounts use the SBIG ST4 protocol. Does this unit use same and how sensitive is your unit with short to long g/scopes?

Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2013, 03:44 PM
rmuhlack's Avatar
rmuhlack (Richard)
Professional Nerd

rmuhlack is offline
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Strathalbyn, SA
Posts: 873
From the comments here, the light pollution (or lack of) may also be a factor in how reliably the different guide camera options will work.

I have been using a QHY5 since I started imaging last year. First with an 80mm f6 guidescope, and now with a 500mm FL f8 camera lens (see attached). Both setups had the guidescope/lens rigidly fixed to the OTA. I have never had a problem finding a guidestar, although sometimes I would need to extend out the exposure time to 5secs. That said, I have very dark skies where image from.
Attached Thumbnails
Click for full-size image (guidescope.jpg)
112.1 KB102 views
Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2013, 04:28 PM
jase (Jason)
Registered User

jase is offline
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Melbourne, Victoria
Posts: 3,916
Selection depends on use. Wide field guide scopes are easier to guide with as they are usually quite a fast instrument (low focal ratio). As such the camera doesn't need to be too sensitive. Also a generous FoV makes locating a bright guide star simple.

The opposite can be said for guide cameras operating through an OAG. Much smaller field of view and by nature the pick off prism is typically at the edge of the telescope's optical path where there is a drop off in intensity of light. In such circumstances, camera sensitivity is important.

Of course you can always 2x2 bin if the camera supports it to boost sensitivity in both situations, providing the arcsec/pixel combination works out comparing the main imaging system.

I'm in awe how many guiders are available on the market today. 'Once upon a time' there was the ST-4, which revolutionised long exposure imaging. Look now and you can guide with just about any video or imaging capture device if there's an ASCOM driver for it.
Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2013, 04:33 PM
Novichok test rabbit

LewisM is offline
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Somewhere in the cosmos...
Posts: 9,326
I too use a rigid guide setup, with an old Meade/Toya 50mm refractor. Solidly locked in with Borg 60mm tube rings (with custom made inserts to bridge the gap). NIL flexure detectable, and it pays dividends in the images as a result. The whole guidescope setup weighs in just a LITTLE over 300 grams, which brings my entire imaging rig to 8.7kg, which is well under the 10kg limit of my Vixen mount (when I finally get to use it in GOTO on Friday - that's what UPS says anyway).

I have an f/9.2 system, reduced down to f/6.4. I see NIL difference in imaging at either focal length, so the guide setup is reliable and good. I went from slightly eggy stars with the Orion SSAG with miniguider, to ROUND stars with the Lodestar and my own guide setup. I found the Orion mini guider system sufficient, but not exact. The optics of the mini finder really let the whole thing sown - I found any stars to guide from HAD to be more or less within the inner 2/3's of the screen capture, otherwise guiding was pretty terrible, thanks to the distortions happening in the finder's average at best achromatic lens system (I too use an achromat, but it is actually rather flat field, and Japanese optics)

James, I have a mono Lodestar (not the newer colour - don't see much sense in that, unless you make it a planetary camera) - no model number or such. I got it second hand recently from Allan Gould on here at a very good price. I have had it guiding (just trials using the Vixen GPD2 setup) some pretty faint stuff - never looked what mag they were - but the Lodestar has been shown to guide at as low as mag 18!!!! (http://www.sxccd.com/lodestar-autoguider - look at the picture at bottom of Eris!!!!!)
Reply With Quote
Old 11-05-2013, 02:09 PM
blink138's Avatar
blink138 (Pat)
Registered User

blink138 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: perth w.a.
Posts: 2,226
james i too use the mono lodestar, it is the only one i have ever had so cannot comment on others
it is generally accepted that it is in the top two
i am in a very seriously light polluted perth 4km from the cbd, and my lodestar has never failed me even in poor star starved regions of sky for galaxy capture
Reply With Quote
Old 14-05-2013, 04:17 PM
Registered User

Digital_Artist is offline
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Bangladesh
Posts: 16
What would be a good autoguider package for GSO 8" RC on NEQ6 Pro mount:
1. Orion mini autoguider package http://www.bintel.com.au/Astrophotog...oductview.aspx

2. Orion Awesome autoguider package http://www.bintel.com.au/Astrophotog...oductview.aspx

Will it make any big difference if No.1 is used instead of No.2 ?

and which one is better as an autoguider:
1. Orion mini autoguider http://www.bintel.com.au/Astrophotog...oductview.aspx

2. QHY5L 2 standard kit http://www.gamaelectronics.com.au/QHY5L2.html

Both have same price. But i have never seen any picture of QHY5L 2 with an ST-80 or other guidescope. Do anybody know the answer?
Reply With Quote
Old 15-05-2013, 09:32 AM
Strawb's Avatar
Strawb (Dave)
Registered User

Strawb is offline
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Townsville Australia
Posts: 232

I am new to the game but am very impressed with my Moravian G1-0300 guider - simple to use - and dead accurate. Quick to calibrate and very sensitive. Definitely worth considering in my view
Reply With Quote
Old 15-05-2013, 09:39 PM
Paul Haese's Avatar
Paul Haese
Registered User

Paul Haese is offline
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Adelaide
Posts: 9,407
Jimbo, I have used an SSAG before and it worked ok for many years. Now I use a SBIG ST-I. I chose that because it is really sensitive, it goes straight into a MOAG as well screws onto a QSI OAG. I have been very happy with its performance. It can pick out stars that are very faint on my f5.8 system with OAG's. It guides on any software out there.
Reply With Quote
Old 16-05-2013, 12:12 AM
Tandum's Avatar
Tandum (Robin)
Registered User

Tandum is offline
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Carindale, Brisbane.
Posts: 4,113
I have a qhy5L II mono on a fixed OAG, ie: I can't easily rotate anything. So far I have never failed to get a guide star, in fact maxim has never failed to auto find a star to calibrate or guide on. That is no mean feat either, even lodestar users have trouble getting maxim to auto calibrate/guide. Pros: Clean image, sensitive and cheapish. Cons: weird threads on the front.

The qhy5L II is the size of an eyepiece so goes in the eyepiece holder of any scope.
Reply With Quote
Old 17-05-2013, 05:45 PM
toc's Avatar
toc (Tim)
Registered User

toc is offline
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Mill park, Victoria
Posts: 658
I also have the QHY5-II-L - its extremely sensitive. Even with a little 50mm guide scope, there are plenty of stars to choose from.

Im not exactly sure why you would get a lodestar over one of these, but Im happy to be educated

The only thing I dislike about the QHY5-2 is the lack of MAC drivers.
Reply With Quote
Old 21-05-2013, 04:32 PM
gregbradley's Avatar
Registered User

gregbradley is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Sydney
Posts: 15,454
I like the SBIG STi. Its small, light, well built, sensitive and it does darks as it has a shutter. Its performed really well and I think its one of the best autoguiders I have ever used.

The other really good autoguider is the ST402ME. That is cooled, its super sensitive but a bit larger and needs a power cable. But it would be the most sensitive out there.

Reply With Quote
Old 22-05-2013, 06:55 AM
Merlin66's Avatar
Merlin66 (Ken)
Spectroscopy Wizard

Merlin66 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: St Leonards, Vic
Posts: 7,037
I started with the ol' QHY5 and an ST80 - worked OK.
Tried the DSI I/ DSI II for a while - very fiddly...
Then used the ATiK16ic (cooled) again this worked OK
I now use the Lodestar (mono) and find it, for an uncooled CCD, far more sensitive and works 110%.
All these options used with a beamsplitter on various Lx scopes, now using a C11 for spectroscopy.
(The ATik 16 makes a great electronic finder, when combined with a Zuiko 135mm telelens!)
Reply With Quote
Old 22-05-2013, 05:56 PM
Peter Ward's Avatar
Peter Ward
Galaxy hitchhiking guide

Peter Ward is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: The Shire
Posts: 6,650
Originally Posted by gregbradley View Post
I like the SBIG STi............ it does darks as it has a shutter.
The presence of a shutter is no small feature.

Just about every CCD I've used developed hot pixels over time...which can easily cause a guider to morosely follow a hot pixel rather than a guide-star.
Reply With Quote


Thread Tools
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT +10. The time is now 08:28 PM.

Powered by vBulletin Version 3.8.7 | Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
SkyWatcher Australia
Celestron Australia
Meade Australia
Lunatico Astronomical
NexDome Observatories
OzScopes Authorised Dealer
Astronomy and Electronics Centre