#1  
Old 25-07-2021, 06:01 PM
mariner10 (Steve)
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Guiding Software

Hey all,
I'm really tired of battling with PHD2, no matter what I try I cannot get it to guide with any great accuracy even though I have very good polar alignment.
To that end, can anybody recommend a decent guiding package/software that I can use please.
I'm using NINA as the imaging software system but I'm prepared to pay for a system that supports/or provides better guiding systems.
Cheers.

Steve
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  #2  
Old 25-07-2021, 06:41 PM
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Merlin66 (Ken)
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Steve,
Iím not sure, but if you canít get PHD2 to guide for you, you will probably have the same or similar problems with other software.
I use PHD2 and Astroart for guiding my spectrograph which requires locking a star image in a 20 micron slit gap for at least ten minute subs with a C11 at f10.

You may need to look at the PHD2 data files and see what the problem is related to. It can be the choice of guide scope and guide camera to the stability of the guider set up.
The good news is that PHD2 works for thousands of users with different telescopes, mounts and cameras, just takes a little analysis and work to be successful.
The PHD2 forum is active and very supportive.
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  #3  
Old 25-07-2021, 07:30 PM
Startrek (Martin)
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Steve,
PHD2 is probably the most successfully used guiding software on the planet
Hereís some info attached that may help you

Some key things that are a must -
Use Ascom pulse guiding method not ST4 method
Make sure you get a good calibration near the celestial equator and north meridian ( Dec near 0 )
Create a dark library and bad pixel map ( use either )
Correct guide camera and guide scope settings
Try a guide scope in lieu of an OAG if you OTAís focal length is 1000mm or less

Good luck
Martin
Attached Thumbnails
Click for full-size image (IMG_8328.jpg)
52.1 KB10 views
Attached Files
File Type: pdf PHD2 Multi Star Guiding.pdf (22.4 KB, 8 views)
File Type: pdf PHD2 Guiding Information.pdf (23.8 KB, 6 views)
File Type: pdf PHD2 Guiding Procedures.pdf (67.1 KB, 5 views)
File Type: pdf PHD2 Settings in EQMOD.pdf (304.8 KB, 7 views)
File Type: pdf Advanced Functions for PHD2 Guiding PPEC.pdf (23.1 KB, 6 views)
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  #4  
Old 26-07-2021, 11:55 AM
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Wilsil (Wilco)
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Steve, what gear are you using?
Like main scope, guide camera, guide scope or OAG?
The combination of the correct FOV for the guide camera is important.
Other questions are:
- can you get the guide camera focused?
- as Martin mentioned, are you using pulse guiding?
- What mount are you using? As a Skytracker or similar has a different setting.
- Did you enter the correct parameters for you guide camera and guide scope?

But as said, many of us are using PHD2 without any issues. I must admit I struggled in the beginning, but that was all solved after using the correct setting.
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  #5  
Old 26-07-2021, 02:53 PM
mariner10 (Steve)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilsil View Post
Steve, what gear are you using?
Like main scope, guide camera, guide scope or OAG?
The combination of the correct FOV for the guide camera is important.
Other questions are:
- can you get the guide camera focused?
- as Martin mentioned, are you using pulse guiding?
- What mount are you using? As a Skytracker or similar has a different setting.
- Did you enter the correct parameters for you guide camera and guide scope?

But as said, many of us are using PHD2 without any issues. I must admit I struggled in the beginning, but that was all solved after using the correct setting.
Hi Wilsil,
Thanks for the reply.
Okay, fairly straight forward setup and I have checked to ensure my guide scope and the OTA are compatible using an online calculator.
The mount is a Skywatcher EQ8 (not the newest version)
The main scope is a Meade 10" SN at F4.
The guiding rig is piggybacking the SN, one atop the other, and is an Orion Starshoot autoguiding camera with the Orion 80mm refractor.
The guide camera is focused and it is connected to the mount so I'm thinking it is pulse guiding (happy to be re-educated).
All of the parameters are correct for the set up, I've checked that a few times.
The issue I have is maintaining the guide star within 2 arc seconds, it bounces all over the place, off the page quite often and then comes back in one huge leap.
I've tried different exposure times from 1 sec to 6 sec and nothing changes, it just keeps on doing the same thing.
So I'm at a loss.
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  #6  
Old 26-07-2021, 03:01 PM
mariner10 (Steve)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Startrek View Post
Steve,
PHD2 is probably the most successfully used guiding software on the planet
Hereís some info attached that may help you

Some key things that are a must -
Use Ascom pulse guiding method not ST4 method
Make sure you get a good calibration near the celestial equator and north meridian ( Dec near 0 )
Create a dark library and bad pixel map ( use either )
Correct guide camera and guide scope settings
Try a guide scope in lieu of an OAG if you OTAís focal length is 1000mm or less

Good luck
Martin
Hi Martin,
Many thanks for the reply and information.
I'm second guessing myself here about ST4 and pulse guiding.
My guide camera is connected directly to the mount so I'm not sure if that's pulse or ST4.
I don't use EQMOD to drive the mount, I use NINA and a program called Green Swamp Server which I found to be much better than EQMOD which wanted to drive my mount to all sorts of different places (for whatever reason, and I checked the settings about six times, it thought I was in the northern hemisphere, GSS knew otherwise).
I do have a dark library and I don't use an OAG. The focal length of the 10" SN is just over 1000mm, 1016mm from memory.
CHeers.
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  #7  
Old 26-07-2021, 03:05 PM
mariner10 (Steve)
Mariner10

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merlin66 View Post
Steve,
Iím not sure, but if you canít get PHD2 to guide for you, you will probably have the same or similar problems with other software.
I use PHD2 and Astroart for guiding my spectrograph which requires locking a star image in a 20 micron slit gap for at least ten minute subs with a C11 at f10.

You may need to look at the PHD2 data files and see what the problem is related to. It can be the choice of guide scope and guide camera to the stability of the guider set up.
The good news is that PHD2 works for thousands of users with different telescopes, mounts and cameras, just takes a little analysis and work to be successful.
The PHD2 forum is active and very supportive.
Hi Ken,
Thanks for the reply.
I believe the main scope and guide scope are compatible. It's just frustrating when it has a good guide star and simply won't hold it.
I'll have a look at the data files (when the weather improves).
Cheers.
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  #8  
Old 26-07-2021, 03:26 PM
Startrek (Martin)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariner10 View Post
Hi Martin,
Many thanks for the reply and information.
I'm second guessing myself here about ST4 and pulse guiding.
My guide camera is connected directly to the mount so I'm not sure if that's pulse or ST4.
I don't use EQMOD to drive the mount, I use NINA and a program called Green Swamp Server which I found to be much better than EQMOD which wanted to drive my mount to all sorts of different places (for whatever reason, and I checked the settings about six times, it thought I was in the northern hemisphere, GSS knew otherwise).
I do have a dark library and I don't use an OAG. The focal length of the 10" SN is just over 1000mm, 1016mm from memory.
CHeers.
Steve,
You are using ST4 connected guiding
The developers of PHD2 recommend Ascom pulse connected guiding for many reasons including ďcalibrationĒ which is super important
Once you achieve a good calibration at Dec 0 then with Ascom pulse guiding you can use your calibration for a long time. Iíve been using the same calibration for 6 months with no issue ( this saves 10 to 15 minutes each time you go out to image )
If you follow my procedures and info to detail then Iím sure if you connect via Ascom direct from camera to laptop ( As long as mount is connected to laptop via Ascom as well which Iím sure it would with be with GSS ) then you should be able to calibrate , use your dark library, save your calibration and guide your backside off
Remember with Ascom camera direct connection you have to select your guide camera in the main connection window ( click on cameras double arrows ) , otherwise it might select your imaging camera by mistake and guiding wonít work

See how you go
Cheers
Martin
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  #9  
Old 26-07-2021, 04:01 PM
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Wilsil (Wilco)
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The Orion gear should work.
Even though I use an OAG my exposures for the guide camera is 2 seconds.
I agree with Martin, you are on ST4 as the guide camera is connected to the mount. With pule guiding it is connected to your laptop/mini pc or what ever you use.
Never heard of Green Swamp Server but I am reasonably new to this.
I am using EQMOD and my HEQ5 is always going the right way when slewing to a target.
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  #10  
Old 26-07-2021, 04:09 PM
AdamJL
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Hi Steve

I use NINA and PHD2 together. I just had a massive improvement recently in guiding performance by removing as much backlash from my mount as possible. Have you checked for backlash? I had zig zag guiding graphs and it was frustrating.
Guiding software is only as good as your hardware.

Others have gone over ensuring you use pulse guiding, and using USB (not ST4). But also make sure your balancing is right. The EQ8 is an awesome mount, but you still need to ensure you're a little easy heavy in both RA and Dec. You can get very weird spikes in RA and Dec if you haven't balanced properly.
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  #11  
Old 26-07-2021, 06:31 PM
Startrek (Martin)
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Steve, I noticed you have the same mount as me an EQ6-R pro
Your ED80 with all AP gear on board should only weigh around 6 or 7 kg on a 20kg class mount ( 15kg AP recommended max payload )
Iím carrying 15kg on my mount ( 8Ē f5 newtonian ) which is nearly maxed out and on good nights my mount can guide around 0.65 arc sec total error ( 0.45 Dec and 0.55 Ra approx ) Nights of poor seeing around 1.30 to 1.40 arc sec
Admittedly I have adjusted mount to reduce backlash and tightened the Ra and Dec belts a tad bit, but out of the box you should be guiding around or under an arc sec with this mount
Balance is super important in Dec and Ra ( slightly east heavy as Adam pointed out )
Thereís no reason if everything is set up correctly both with mount and guiding software that you canít guide under an arc sec with a lightly loaded EQ6-R pro
Alternative guiding software wonít fix your problems if itís your mounts balance or your guiding software set up correctly
Happy to advise further if you wish
Cheers
Martin
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  #12  
Old 26-07-2021, 08:04 PM
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peter_4059 (Peter)
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Hi Steve. I have an eq8 (not the new version) and an SN10 and use phd2 and green swamp server. Only difference is I use an off axis guider rather than a guide scope. Happy to compare notes if you want. Send me a pm. Peter
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  #13  
Old 26-07-2021, 10:13 PM
Startrek (Martin)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Startrek View Post
Steve, I noticed you have the same mount as me an EQ6-R pro
Your ED80 with all AP gear on board should only weigh around 6 or 7 kg on a 20kg class mount ( 15kg AP recommended max payload )
Iím carrying 15kg on my mount ( 8Ē f5 newtonian ) which is nearly maxed out and on good nights my mount can guide around 0.65 arc sec total error ( 0.45 Dec and 0.55 Ra approx ) Nights of poor seeing around 1.30 to 1.40 arc sec
Admittedly I have adjusted mount to reduce backlash and tightened the Ra and Dec belts a tad bit, but out of the box you should be guiding around or under an arc sec with this mount
Balance is super important in Dec and Ra ( slightly east heavy as Adam pointed out )
Thereís no reason if everything is set up correctly both with mount and guiding software that you canít guide under an arc sec with a lightly loaded EQ6-R pro
Alternative guiding software wonít fix your problems if itís your mounts balance or your guiding software set up correctly
Happy to advise further if you wish
Cheers
Martin
Apologies Steve
I just read you have an older EQ8 which is a beast of a mount ( not an EQ6-R ) and a 10Ē Meade scope with an ED80 guide scope ( ignore my comment about payload )

Martin
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  #14  
Old 27-07-2021, 04:08 PM
mariner10 (Steve)
Mariner10

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Guiding Software

Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamJL View Post
Hi Steve

I use NINA and PHD2 together. I just had a massive improvement recently in guiding performance by removing as much backlash from my mount as possible. Have you checked for backlash? I had zig zag guiding graphs and it was frustrating.
Guiding software is only as good as your hardware.

Others have gone over ensuring you use pulse guiding, and using USB (not ST4). But also make sure your balancing is right. The EQ8 is an awesome mount, but you still need to ensure you're a little easy heavy in both RA and Dec. You can get very weird spikes in RA and Dec if you haven't balanced properly.
Hi Adam,
Thanks for the reply.
The mount is pretty good for balance with a little heavy east which is what most people tell me it should be.
The backlash is something I'm going to have a look at I think as it's quite possibly the culprit but not sure.
Having thought about what others have been suggesting I do use pulse guiding so at least that's not going to add to the woes.
Cheers.
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  #15  
Old 27-07-2021, 04:12 PM
mariner10 (Steve)
Mariner10

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Guiding Software

Quote:
Originally Posted by peter_4059 View Post
Hi Steve. I have an eq8 (not the new version) and an SN10 and use phd2 and green swamp server. Only difference is I use an off axis guider rather than a guide scope. Happy to compare notes if you want. Send me a pm. Peter
Hey Pete,
Have sent you a private message, thanks for the response.
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  #16  
Old 27-07-2021, 04:15 PM
mariner10 (Steve)
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Guiding Software

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilsil View Post
The Orion gear should work.
Even though I use an OAG my exposures for the guide camera is 2 seconds.
I agree with Martin, you are on ST4 as the guide camera is connected to the mount. With pule guiding it is connected to your laptop/mini pc or what ever you use.
Never heard of Green Swamp Server but I am reasonably new to this.
I am using EQMOD and my HEQ5 is always going the right way when slewing to a target.
Hey WilSil,
I've been using the Orion gear for years, on different setups mind you but I was told it was compatible with the 10" SN and mount.
I've tried increasing and decreasing exposure times with zero results, just much of the same thing which is odd, I'd expect to see some change, even for the worse.
I started using EQMOD but as I said, had issues with it. GSS is very good and so much more user friendly.
Cheers.
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Old 27-07-2021, 04:18 PM
mariner10 (Steve)
Mariner10

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Guiding Software

Quote:
Originally Posted by Startrek View Post
Steve,
You are using ST4 connected guiding
The developers of PHD2 recommend Ascom pulse connected guiding for many reasons including ďcalibrationĒ which is super important
Once you achieve a good calibration at Dec 0 then with Ascom pulse guiding you can use your calibration for a long time. Iíve been using the same calibration for 6 months with no issue ( this saves 10 to 15 minutes each time you go out to image )
If you follow my procedures and info to detail then Iím sure if you connect via Ascom direct from camera to laptop ( As long as mount is connected to laptop via Ascom as well which Iím sure it would with be with GSS ) then you should be able to calibrate , use your dark library, save your calibration and guide your backside off
Remember with Ascom camera direct connection you have to select your guide camera in the main connection window ( click on cameras double arrows ) , otherwise it might select your imaging camera by mistake and guiding wonít work

See how you go
Cheers
Martin
Hey Martin,
I've copied and pasted the information above into a Word document so I can use if for reference. I have all your other information at hand as well.
Now, just need the clouds to clear and learn how to clear the backlash on the EQ8 and we'll give it a crack.
Thanks again for the information and time taken, appreciate it.
Cheers
Steve
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  #18  
Old 27-07-2021, 05:20 PM
Startrek (Martin)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariner10 View Post
Hey Martin,
I've copied and pasted the information above into a Word document so I can use if for reference. I have all your other information at hand as well.
Now, just need the clouds to clear and learn how to clear the backlash on the EQ8 and we'll give it a crack.
Thanks again for the information and time taken, appreciate it.
Cheers
Steve
Steve,
Glad to help
Ive attached one of my guiding graphs on a stable night of good seeing
As you can see there are no big excursions in Ra or Dec so this tells me the mount is performing well and I have a good calibration
I set my graph up as follows -
X:axis 200
Y:axis + - 8Ē
And use the Star Profile tool as well ( photo attached )
I canít stress enough to get a good calibration ( find a location near the celestial equator and close to the north meridian ( eastern side ) where Dec is close to 0 ) and once calibration is successful, auto save your calibration so you can re use it for months and months.
Also note that Iíve had nights of bad seeing with heavy dew around and my guiding error has increased from 0.65 to 1.35 arc sec within 1 hour of imaging. But even though the graph is saw toothing badly I still didnít have big single excursions in Dec or Ra (except during a dither) Iíve still pushed 5 minute subs with round stars at 1.35 arc sec error
Hope you sort out you guiding problems , it may take a few nights , take your time and do a checklist of all the settings and requirements with mount and software parameters
Cheers
Martin
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  #19  
Old 28-07-2021, 02:51 PM
mariner10 (Steve)
Mariner10

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Startrek View Post
Steve,
Glad to help
Ive attached one of my guiding graphs on a stable night of good seeing
As you can see there are no big excursions in Ra or Dec so this tells me the mount is performing well and I have a good calibration
I set my graph up as follows -
X:axis 200
Y:axis + - 8Ē
And use the Star Profile tool as well ( photo attached )
I canít stress enough to get a good calibration ( find a location near the celestial equator and close to the north meridian ( eastern side ) where Dec is close to 0 ) and once calibration is successful, auto save your calibration so you can re use it for months and months.
Also note that Iíve had nights of bad seeing with heavy dew around and my guiding error has increased from 0.65 to 1.35 arc sec within 1 hour of imaging. But even though the graph is saw toothing badly I still didnít have big single excursions in Dec or Ra (except during a dither) Iíve still pushed 5 minute subs with round stars at 1.35 arc sec error
Hope you sort out you guiding problems , it may take a few nights , take your time and do a checklist of all the settings and requirements with mount and software parameters
Cheers
Martin
\
Hey Martin, Once again, thanks for the info. I generally use the star profile tool and my stars actually look like the one in your photo, nice pointed peaks.
Also, I do pulse guide, I had a quick look to satisfy myself this morning so that's one item off the list.
So, I think it's going to take a few sessions of just playing with PHD to get things right.
Cheers.
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  #20  
Old 28-07-2021, 05:30 PM
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The_bluester (Paul)
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One thing to try would be to disable the guiding output in PHD2 and then select a star and let it run, see what the mount is doing with no guide inputs over a couple of worm cycles. At least that way you should get a reasonable idea if it is a mount issue or something like PHD2 settings.
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