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Old 27-04-2016, 07:37 PM
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thegableguy (Chris)
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Beginner's guide to guiding

Hi all,

I recently acquired a NEQ6 mount and Orion ED80 with flattener. Itís all going okay, slowly getting better at drift alignment and getting some not-too-awful results, but Iím quickly realising that the next step Ė guiding Ė is kinda essential. The best Iíve managed so far is about 90 seconds; Iím told I can expect about 2 mins somewhat reliably as my alignment technique develops, but all bets are off with any exposures longer than that.

So. Guiding! Can someone give me a quick rundown of what the options are, and the approximate costs? Iíd prefer not to drag a laptop into the process if I can avoid it, but I honestly have no idea Ė maybe the standalone guiders arenít much good...? Iíve read some pretty mixed reviews.

I also have no real idea about PEC. This mount has PEC capability but I donít think itís ever been programmed.

One other thing: I shoot Nikons. Though my full-frame cameras will work with Backyard Nikon, it wonít work with my crop sensor D3300 (no SDK released for it, annoyingly) and I'd really prefer to use the D3300 just for the increased magnification. So if I do have to go down the laptop route Iíll have to use some other software. Not sure of the options there. Does Stellarium have this functionality, or are there other decent free options that will work? Iím currently using a cheap intervalometer that works fine, but I simply donít understand how guiding works and what is connected to what, whether an intervalometer can still be involved or if it all has to be controlled by the laptop.

Any advice anyone can offer would be most welcome. Thanks in advance.
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Old 27-04-2016, 07:44 PM
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Ryderscope (Rodney)
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Hi Chris, on the auto guiding issue - if you are wanting to stay away from needing to use a computer to control guiding, you may want to look at the Skywatcher Synguider paired with the Orion 50mm guidescope. The Synguider will work standalone without needing an external computer. Not as good or flexible or as many features as using a separate guide camera and computer but a good option. I have had a lot of success with mine before I upgraded to a separate guide camera with computer control.
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Old 27-04-2016, 07:53 PM
raymo
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As an ancient gas emitter, I know next to nothing about auto guiding, but
you could always guide manually, like I and many others did in the days of film, in my case for almost 50 yrs.
raymo
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Old 27-04-2016, 07:59 PM
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thegableguy (Chris)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryderscope View Post
Hi Chris, on the auto guiding issue - if you are wanting to stay away from needing to use a computer to control guiding, you may want to look at the Skywatcher Synguider paired with the Orion 50mm guidescope. The Synguider will work standalone without needing an external computer. Not as good or flexible or as many features as using a separate guide camera and computer but a good option. I have had a lot of success with mine before I upgraded to a separate guide camera with computer control.
That's the very one I was looking at. I think the negative reviews I read were by people who were used to using a far more sophisticated arrangement with which it couldn't reasonably hope to compete.

What length subs can you expect using it with, say, a 1000mm focal length?
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Old 27-04-2016, 08:04 PM
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thegableguy (Chris)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raymo View Post
As an ancient gas emitter, I know next to nothing about auto guiding, but
you could always guide manually, like I and many others did in the days of film, in my case for almost 50 yrs.
raymo
Though I might not yet be classified as ancient, I also emit my share of gas. More than my share if you ask my wife.

I don't actually know what manual guiding is, but I suspect it involves peering through an eyepiece for hours and doing nothing else...? I kinda like the idea of setting it up, hitting Go and then retiring inside to watch Netflix while it collects the data. Not sure if I'd have the patience to sit and guide it all night, knowing that for $2-300 I could be inside instead.
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Old 27-04-2016, 09:15 PM
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Ryderscope (Rodney)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thegableguy View Post
What length subs can you expect using it with, say, a 1000mm focal length?
I successfully ran 5 to 10 minute exposures when running my Canon 60Da on a Skywatcher 900mm FL scope. The only negatives that I can report on the Synguider is that the cables were a little stiff and awkward and the small screen on the guider can be awkward to read particularly if the OTA is pointing toward the zenith.
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Old 27-04-2016, 09:20 PM
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Resistance is futile Chris. You're already well down the path to the dark side of imaging, so getting a laptop into the setup will be really helpful for guiding, and lots of other things later (positioning, plate solving, semi-automation).

You don't HAVE to have one of course but you almost certainly will give in at some point.
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Old 27-04-2016, 09:27 PM
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Atmos (Colin)
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Plus if you go down the path of a laptop, it allows you to use EQMOD with your NEQ6, opens up entirely new worlds
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Old 27-04-2016, 10:02 PM
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Yeah........ yeah.

You're right. I know you're right.

Sigh.

I dunno, might be worth starting with the Synguider. A small expense that will lead to significantly better results, and will keep me going until the inevitable major upgrade. I'm already half-settled on a 10" Newt, which will have to be properly guided. If I can get away with 10-min subs at 600mm I'll be happy. For a while anyway.

Man, this entire hobby is a never-ending process of smacking into the limits of your gear and working out how to finance the next upgrade... I'm sure the wife wishes I'd just taken up fishing...
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Old 27-04-2016, 10:33 PM
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I just went through the similar process with my ED80 on EQ5. Before I was able to get up to 90sec exposure after spending few hours carefully aligning the mount (marking spots on the ground helps enormously).

Then I built a guiding system the cheapest way possible, with a finderscope + webcam (SPC900NC) and PHD2 (free) on my laptop. It works very well although finding a guiding star can be tricky. I managed to get 10min guided exposure on the first go (I never tried going longer).

So, if you like building stuff yourself that may be a cheaper and better option. As others already said, laptop opens many other doors.

However, I should warn you that my dreams of taking >10min exposures got crushed quickly. Once I overcome the guiding obstacle I hit the next one (or two): the light pollution (I live very close to CBD) and also the camera noise (the sensor heats up during long exposures). I am imaging now with 3min exposure time and am looking at getting a light pollution filter and building a cooling system for my DSLR. Don't get me wrong, having guiding was a great improvement and the 3min images are always perfect now. Before I had to throw out a third of 90sec exposures due to trailing.

Regarding PEC, you can record it using PHD2 and a webcam on your scope. Then you should be able to upload it to the mount somehow. This will help with unguided exposures. If you have guiding PEC is not needed as the guiding system will do the work.
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Old 27-04-2016, 10:54 PM
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jenchris (Jennifer)
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I have to repeat... resistance is futile. ... guide.
APT is a great prog for camera .
PHD2 is the bees knees for guiding and you can use a webcam on a cheapy scope as a guide camera no problem. You may not find too many stars but it'll give you some practice before you sell your firstborn.
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Old 27-04-2016, 10:58 PM
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rustigsmed (Russell)
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guiding is pretty much mandatory i'm afraid..
the worst thing is the amount of cords going to and from the cameras to the computer to the mount. using the software is easy.
you don't need a whizzbang laptop at all to run it properly. a cheap cheap cheap old laptop will run PHD2 no worries.
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Old 27-04-2016, 11:51 PM
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I run cdc apt and phd2 and the moynt from a medion 10 inch notebook.
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Old 28-04-2016, 06:30 AM
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barx1963 (Malcolm)
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Just when you mentioned not running BY Nikon, have you contacted Guylian about it? I did when I ran into the same issue with my new Canon and he sent me the appropriate software to get it going. Of course if as you said, Nikon haven't released the SDK then not much can be done.

Malcolm
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Old 28-04-2016, 07:10 PM
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thegableguy (Chris)
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Thanks all.

Yeah okay I think I'm convinced. If I get a proper guiding setup now, it'll work great with both the ED80 and whatever I inevitably upgrade to down the track. Makes more sense for a variety of reasons to bypass the standalone guider and just get something decent now. I've got an old laptop that should do the trick so will load PHD2 on it and keep an eye out for reasonably priced secondhand guidescopes & cameras.

Thanks again everyone.
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Old 28-04-2016, 07:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barx1963 View Post
Just when you mentioned not running BY Nikon, have you contacted Guylian about it? I did when I ran into the same issue with my new Canon and he sent me the appropriate software to get it going. Of course if as you said, Nikon haven't released the SDK then not much can be done.

Malcolm
Yeah it's an issue I discovered about a day after ordering the damn thing. I was pretty annoyed because the program looks absolutely amazing. It'll work with my full frames, but a full frame on a reduced 600mm just doesn't have enough oomph for me!
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Old 28-04-2016, 07:15 PM
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thegableguy (Chris)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jenchris View Post
I run cdc apt and phd2 and the moynt from a medion 10 inch notebook.
I'm familiar with PHD2 but I don't know CDC or APT...? Can you give me a brief summary of what they do? Sorry - I really should have posted this whole thread in the Beginners' forum - I'm playing very much in the shallow end here.
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Old 28-04-2016, 08:49 PM
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Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts - desktop planetarium): https://www.ap-i.net/skychart

AstroPhotography Tool (camera control, plate solving, image sequencing etc.): http://www.ideiki.com/astro

I rely on both! (along with PHD2 and EQMOD)
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Old 28-04-2016, 09:11 PM
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Just a note that APT does not support Nikon.
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Old 28-04-2016, 10:08 PM
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Cartes du ciel runs with eqmod to control my mount.
I actually run my little medion with a 19 inch monitor as well or sometimes with a full size laptop.
This allows me to flip cartes du ciel and apt and phd2 between the two screens.
I think sometimes it is a long way from being uncomplicated but I revel in the lunacy of technology. It's not hard to learn, just hard to get truly competent
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