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Old 11-01-2014, 11:10 AM
bloodhound31
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ST-i Vs Lodestar

Hey all,

Just about to squeeze the trigger on a new AG camera for the RC12 for OA guiding.

Two contenders I am looking at, the SBIG ST-i and the Starlight Express Lodestar.

Who's got them and more importantly, who might have used both to school me in the differences?

Any local suppliers in Australia and prices?

Baz.
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Old 11-01-2014, 11:29 AM
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PRejto (Peter)
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I don't use both. My ST-i has worked fine but has a few hot pixels. Fortunately it has a shutter so can do darks quite easily and the hot pix become a non-issue. I don't believe the Lodestar has a shutter. Consequently there are some programs that will not be able to use a dark frame with the Lodestar - specifically TheSkyX Camera Add-On. It will try to take a dark automatically unless turned off. I do think the lodestar is quite sensitive. I don't know if more sensitive than the ST-i, however.

I think you would be fine with either camera, but the shutter on the ST-i is quite nice.


Peter
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Old 11-01-2014, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by PRejto View Post
I don't use both. My ST-i has worked fine but has a few hot pixels. Fortunately it has a shutter so can do darks quite easily and the hot pix become a non-issue. I don't believe the Lodestar has a shutter. Consequently there are some programs that will not be able to use a dark frame with the Lodestar - specifically TheSkyX Camera Add-On. It will try to take a dark automatically unless turned off. I do think the lodestar is quite sensitive. I don't know if more sensitive than the ST-i, however.

I think you would be fine with either camera, but the shutter on the ST-i is quite nice.


Peter
Thanks Peter. Can I use PHD guiding with either of these or is there software that comes with them for that? If so, is the software complicated?

Baz.
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Old 11-01-2014, 11:44 AM
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I just picked up a lodestar, and had my first outing with it last night. I am very impressed and it works with phd2 at least. I would recommend phd2 to you anyway because it has the ability to store dark frames which is great for the lodestar. One thing that I would strongly suggest you consider is if you plan to use adaptive optics down the track. The lodestar is required for the SXAO I believe and the SBIG AO units need an SBIG camera. So if your using another brand of camera and plan to use an AO then I would probably go for the lodestar.
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Old 11-01-2014, 01:01 PM
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Logieberra (Logan)
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+1 for the STi. Love it. It does everything I need it too. I also like the stock ST4 guider input. I understand that the lodestar uses a somewhat fragile SX proprietary connection instead?

Out of interest, how would one do dark frames with a lodestar mounted on a open tube truss RC? That's where the STi makes things simple, with its integrated shutter.
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Old 11-01-2014, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Logieberra View Post
+1 for the STi. Love it. It does everything I need it too. I also like the stock ST4 guider input. I understand that the lodestar uses a somewhat fragile SX proprietary connection instead?

Out of interest, how would one do dark frames with a lodestar mounted on a open tube truss RC? That's where the STi makes things simple, with its integrated shutter.
I am using pulse guiding so I dont use the ST4 connection. I had not thought about the open truss issue, but I personally would just take the guider out of the OAG and cover the CCD. I only need to take one set of darks every so often.
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Old 11-01-2014, 01:40 PM
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Hi
I use the STi in my STF8300 as an autoguider (But I've also used one in a piggyback arrangement). Its very sensitive (I have the mono version) - I never seem to have problems getting a guide star. I also have the lens kit they sell. That also works well.

I can vouch for it. I've never used the Lodestar

Dan
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Old 12-01-2014, 09:16 AM
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Hi
I use the STi in my STF8300 as an autoguider (But I've also used one in a piggyback arrangement). Its very sensitive (I have the mono version) - I never seem to have problems getting a guide star. I also have the lens kit they sell. That also works well.

I can vouch for it. I've never used the Lodestar

Dan
Hi Dan,

I got the lens kit for it as well. I was getting variable results with it that seemed to change with the angle of the scope. Everything was tight so I don't know where the flex was coming from. I should try it again and double check everything is tight. For now I decided it was not working well enough.

That was imaging at 600mm. I even tried it at 2 metres and it wasn't too bad surprisingly. So it has potential.

Greg.
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Old 12-01-2014, 09:46 AM
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The only other thing I'd say about the lens kit is the stars were very small (pinpoint) and I found I had to turn on the small stars checkbox in maxim to guide well.
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Old 12-01-2014, 09:58 AM
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multiweb (Marc)
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Don't know about the ST-I. I've got a lodestar and it works well.
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Old 12-01-2014, 10:12 AM
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lazjen (Chris)
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Just another data point: I've got the ST-i and use it with PHD2. The shutter for doing darks is very convenient.

I've used a QHY5L-II as well. I found it to be as good as the ST-i for guiding, but the lack of a shutter was a slight pain. With PHD2 you can load/save darks, so it's really a minor niggle.
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Old 12-01-2014, 09:56 PM
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Grimmeister (Anthony)
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Hi Baz,

I have the Lodestar, love it and is very sensitive, I have only used it with PHD (1 and 2) and never had any issues.

As mentioned the ST4 plug on the back is different to the Std phone RJ12 style plug and probably not as strong but I also use Pulse guiding in EQMod so doesn't bother me FWIW.

Also for the darks, while the Lodestar doesn't have a shutter mine only has 3 to 4 hot pixels and these stand out like balls on a budgie so you know what is what and what not to use so I have never had any issues there.

As mentioned once I went to the Lodestar I was massively impressed and never looked back, yes it was expensing but worth every cent.

I have never used an ST-I so can't comment there sorry.

Hope that helps a little.

Cheers

Anthony
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Old 13-01-2014, 07:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcalleja View Post
The only other thing I'd say about the lens kit is the stars were very small (pinpoint) and I found I had to turn on the small stars checkbox in maxim to guide well.
Yes they are small. I was using CCDSoft which is now somewhat archaic. I'll have to update to Maxim or try PHD2 now its more sophisticated.

Greg.
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Old 13-01-2014, 08:15 PM
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+1 Lodestar. I too looked into this debacle and ended up with the lodestar. Using my RC8 which has a focal length of 1.6m and a 50% secondary, I have yet to point somewhere in the sky at my light-polluted backyard and not see a star with 2sec intervals.

My only issue is that the huge pixel size of the lodestar means it's imaging scale is quite larger than my 8300 sensor, but nothing good PA cant solve Best advice I can give is don't think too much about it, both are capable and once you buy you will forget all this hassle of researching. If not then their second hand value is pretty awesome and you will have a minimal loss!
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Old 13-01-2014, 08:37 PM
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My only issue is that the huge pixel size of the lodestar means it's imaging scale is quite larger than my 8300 sensor
In actual fact that doesn't matter because of the "sub pixel" accuracy of guiding. Thats how people guide long FL scopes with miniguiders. The large pixels I dare say are why the guider is so sensitive.
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Old 14-01-2014, 10:29 AM
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Yes of course, sub-pixel guiding + massive pixel size is a big factor in how these are so successful. Though it would still be nicer if the pixels were similar-sized, errors are amplified less with similar imaging scales!

I might also add Baz that I had dealings with starlight regarding the number of hot pixels on my CCD, and their customer support was beyond amazing. Even shipped me a replacement one for free for me to trial and were very thorough in helping me along with the issue.
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