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Old 14-01-2013, 10:32 AM
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technofetishism (Nick)
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Guide Cameras

So I'm currently in the market searching for a new guide camera. Currently I'm using an ImagingSource DMK31BF03 camera via fire wire.

Unfortunately, no matter how much i like that camera, the fire wire interface and the extra power required from the laptop is a pita most of the time, and severely limits my choice of laptop to take with me.

So USB is the order of the day, and there's a few models I'm thinking about, and probably a few other good choices I haven't heard about. Unfortunatly, the SXCCD hardware is a bit out of my price range right now (oh how i'd like a lodestar/superstar.)

So the ones I'm looking at are

QHY5L-II - I like this cause its fully in the 1.25" form factor the whole length which gives some interesting options and the fact it has an ASCOM driver also is of interest.

ZWO ASI120MM - native 2" thread is interesting, bit heavier than the QHY5L-II but the mounting threads covering the back of it give ideas for future uses.

Any others people can recommend or steer me away from?
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  #2  
Old 14-01-2013, 01:33 PM
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The Orion Starshoot autoguider worked for me until I replaced it with a lodestar.
http://www.bintel.com.au/Astrophotog...oductview.aspx
Also, the same camera is rebadged as a QHY model.
Not as good as the lodestar-- more noise and less sensitive-- but half the price and as long as you get a nice bright guidestar it works fine.
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Old 14-01-2013, 01:49 PM
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Just finished testing a ASI120mm camera and found it to be brilliant. Single USB cord to power and communicate. Far better image than my DSI II Pro that I was using and maybe even better than my Lodestar. A perfect guider for the price and you get a good planetary camera thrown in.
Runs perfectly with PhDGuiding with a very clean image.
Allan
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Old 14-01-2013, 02:22 PM
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pluto (Hugh)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allan gould View Post
Just finished testing a ASI120mm camera and found it to be brilliant.
That's good to know as it's got the same sensor as in the QHY5L-II which I've been looking at getting very soon. The ASI120mm looks a little more expensive than the QHY5L-II though, anyone familiar with both to comment on design, build quality,etc.?
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Old 14-01-2013, 02:59 PM
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I have replaced my old QHY guider with an STi. The STi is vastly better but for the price the QHY5 was very good. These are still available and cheap but if you can afford it then a Sti or lodestar are much better. There isn't much between these 2 though.
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Old 15-01-2013, 04:40 AM
Karls48 (Karl)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allan gould View Post
Just finished testing a ASI120mm camera and found it to be brilliant. Single USB cord to power and communicate. Far better image than my DSI II Pro that I was using and maybe even better than my Lodestar. A perfect guider for the price and you get a good planetary camera thrown in.
Runs perfectly with PhDGuiding with a very clean image.
Allan
I will second that. There is ASCOM (beta) driver available for it that works OK with Maxim DL. Only issue with the driver are Chinese captions on the buttons during the installation and capture progress bar not working properly.
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Old 15-01-2013, 08:58 AM
Poita (Peter)
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Save the money or take a nightfill position at Woolies for two nights and buy an STi (worst name ever!) or a Lodestar.

The ZWO will work okay and is cheap, but it is worth the extra money to pony up for a Lodestar/STi, you never have to worry about finding a star and autoguiding frustration disappears altogether.
You will keep it forever, whatever scopes/mounts you end up with down the track. Well worth the investment of a few hundred extra.

But if not, then get the ZWO.
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Old 15-01-2013, 10:50 AM
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The SBIG ST-i has a built-in shutter (Lodestar doesn't), which is very useful for taking dark frames without having to manually cover up the scope.

What guide scope are you using? My QHY5 (first gen) works great with an Orion mini guide scope. The field of view is wide enough that it's very easy to find a bright guide star... easier than finding a bright guide star with the Lodestar on an off-axis guider (GSO RC8). Second hand ones go for quite cheap in the classifieds every now and then.

What about the other solution - increasing your power supply in the field with more/larger batteries and/or a generator?
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Old 15-01-2013, 11:06 AM
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I love my Sti

Only gripe is the occasional lockup during download. Usually once every session or second session early on it will freeze during a download randomly. This locks up ccdsoft and I have to physically disconnect the USB. Then reconnect and then reconnect in ccdsoft. Cannot narrow it down. Tried different cables different pc's but get same result. Seems fine after it happens once.

Also have latest drivers. Other than that its great.
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Old 15-01-2013, 11:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cventer View Post
I love my Sti

Only gripe is the occasional lockup during download. Usually once every session or second session early on it will freeze during a download randomly. This locks up ccdsoft and I have to physically disconnect the USB. Then reconnect and then reconnect in ccdsoft. Cannot narrow it down. Tried different cables different pc's but get same result. Seems fine after it happens once.

Also have latest drivers. Other than that its great.
I have had this happen a few times as well.
Every time it was because I had taken an image with the guide tab and then selected a subframe. I then try to use the subframe and it freezes. If I take the original image with the focus tab or the main tab then select the subframe it is happy.
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Old 15-01-2013, 11:15 AM
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I like others have tried various guide cameras - DSI I/II, QHY5, ATiK16 etc. They all worked OK.
But "when you've tried the rest - buy the best" - I went for a Lodestar and honestly have never doubted my decision - it works and works well.
What more can I say?
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Old 16-01-2013, 12:12 PM
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It'd be hooked up to one of the orion 50mm guidescopes at first.

The bigger problem with the current camera, is the fact its firewire, and most laptops do not have firewire ports, or if they do, its a 4 pin firewire requiring a power injector cable to power the camera.
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Old 16-01-2013, 12:24 PM
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Generally firewire camera (ie DMK) need more than the 5V available thru the USB/ small firewire connector....
I use a PCMCIA card (Xpress) with my Acer / Dell to provide a heavy six wire firewire connector to the camera - there's also a 12V socket....
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Old 16-01-2013, 02:33 PM
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small 4 pin firewire connector provides 0v, the power lines are on the other 2 cables. I have an injector cable from TIS that lets me feed in 12v from the mount, but its an extra cable i have to have running from mount to laptop and thats a bit annoying
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Old 16-01-2013, 02:39 PM
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Understood, but the reason for using firewire was the faster download rates compared with usb???
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Old 16-01-2013, 03:26 PM
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reason im using firewire is cause the USB versions of the cameras didnt yet exist (nor did the astro firmware load) when i got the camera
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Old 16-01-2013, 03:59 PM
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Hi,

anyone know how the Starlight Xpress Costar - Autoguider compares with the rest? its reasonably priced, not sure how sensitive though.
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Old 18-01-2013, 09:30 AM
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Hey Alistair,

Just read that the Costar uses the same CMOS sensor as the QHY5. So that almost debunks it, since you already have a QHY5. Have you considered an STi? Or a Moravian?

Meru
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Old 19-01-2013, 07:57 AM
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SBIG STi is cheap, compact and well made plus it has a shutter for doing autodarks.

Lodestar is similar but is more expensive, has no shutter and is lower quality.

With the cost of these units there's no need to get anything else which is likely to not work well.

No good autoguider = no images.

Greg.
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Old 19-01-2013, 09:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregbradley View Post
SBIG STi is cheap, compact and well made plus it has a shutter for doing autodarks.
Paper bag is in the usual drop spot....

Seriously... the autodark is pretty important. You only need to have a single hot pixel develop...and they do...and your autoguider will happily guide on it, rather than a star, ad-infinitum. (guiders are dumb..they just look for the brightest thing in the field, and guide on that, even if it is a hot pixel )

Autodarks remove the problem.
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