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“...we can rebuild him” The not-quite $6 million (wo)man’s astroimaging setup


BrumTaffy
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Ideas much appreciated!  I think is high-time to rebuild my Astro imaging setup and I’d appreciate advice please.

 

Here is my problem:

I sort of gave up in 2014, because either my Windows 7 PC driven EQMOD/EQDIR would let me down (often just as I thought I’d nailed polar alignment), and/or the Canon 450D to PC connection would fail and/or PHD tracking would fail (I never thought the software was at fault, probably the ancient OS and PC).  It was so frustrating when we get so few clear and suitable nights.  

I also tried using a SBIG OSC camera on my much larger 8” RC, I could rarely get star tracking accurate enough for decent images.

 

So so this is what I have and what I think about their suitability:

 

mounts - a sturdy SW NEQ6 c2011 and a HEQ5 c2013.  If they can be controlled by modern software, happy days, if not, so be it...

 

Scopes - SW ED80 which has always been satisfying to use, I’d considered upgrade for a faster and maybe wider-field option...

Altair-Astro RC 8” - thinking of selling, I thought it might help me go deeper, but I failed in that respect

 

cameras - the modified 450D was easy to use, but images so very noisy.  Camera tech is so much better now, I figure it is time for a change!  SBIG STF8300, cooled to -20C, might be useful as I buy a new system for 2023, open to selling on...

 

software - For capture, BackyardEOS worked well for those years... but limited to Canon cameras; Nebulosity worked fine for the SBIG, might be ok for my trial use with a new setup.  Processing was done through Nebulosity, which worked ok, I believe better packages may be available?  PHD/PHD2 took care of star tracking via a finder scope and camera.  Cartes du ciel and EQMOD drove the scope.  You can tell I like opensource!

 

Hardware - I’m a Mac fanboy, so it broke my heart to have to rely so heavily on Windows and Microsoft stuff.  I bought several reconditioned PCs from Morgan’s computers and still have 2 that I occasionally dig out if I attempt to see if my Astro setup still functions. That’s on Win 7...(ok, I can hear you laughing from here!). I have an old iMac happily running Linux, I have a 2013 MacBook Pro that might be pressed into service, if Mac can run the whole thing these days.  I really hope I don’t have to buy another PC, but if needs must, I will swallow my pride 

 

Just as I stopped trying, functions like plate solving were coming in, and I found that with longer focal lengths finding and framing my object was so much harder, so that would have been a great advantage.

 

You’ll want to know what I want to image - DSOs from an urban backyard, Bortle 7, mainly.  I had been experimenting with narrow band filters and Hubble-palette images, which was very satisfying, yet frustrating too, with so few clear nights!  

I used to have a Mak and do a little planetary imaging, might wish to go back to that too at some point 😁

 

As above, I’m very grateful for advice and ideas for options.  Ultimately what I really want is reliability, so if I give up a few hours to go out in the cold on a clear night, I am unlikely to fail just because of the equipment! Thanks 🙏 

 

 

 

Edited by BrumTaffy
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Hi Pete, please to see you're thinking about getting back into imaging again.

 

Things have moved on  somewhat since you were last imaging.  Though I am still using the same equipment I have been using for a number of years as it just works for me.  i.e. Mono Atik CCD cameras and their own capture software (Artemis) because it just works for me.  My own attempts at Platesolving have failed (3 times) even with help, so I still use the handset.  

 

But I do read what others are doing. 

Everyone (except me) swears by platesolving.  Most use PHD2 (I still use PHD1) 

 

Cameras: 

Many people have changed over to CMOS imaging, which comes in OSC and Mono, and is cheaper than CCD, but needs a bit more technical TLC that CCD, you can shoot much shorter subs  but more of them, so that the grand total of exposure time is pretty much the same as CCD imaging, but with shorter subs, you can avoid clouds, planes and satelittes more easily as if you have to chuck any subs away, you haven;t lost a really long exposure.   The downside, is they take up a lot of space on the PC.  (Don't ask me about how Macs, work with Astrophotography. 

 

Capture software: There are many more softwares to choose from these days. 

Many use SGPro (though I hear it is starting to charge more and more.  This seems to do pretty much everything, including mount control and probably platesolving.

Many are using NINA and I believe that does pretty much everything too.

APT (which was originally designed for DSLR imaging) now encompasses CCD and CMOS imaging and also platesolving.

 

Stacking software, there seems to be many out there these days:  Astroart (which I use), Pixinsight, Astropixelprocessor.

 

I use an HEQ5 which has served me well, and have been using a mono camera and filters since 2012 which are particularly useful as I live in Bortle 8, and have to do narrowband from home.

 

I still use a W7 PC for capture.  There are also many add ons these days for processing such as Noise Exterminator, and Star Exterminator, neither of which I am able to use because my computer and Photoshop are not capable of running them.

 

Hope this has been of some help.  Will PM you.

 

Carole 

 

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On 11/14/2022 at 5:27 PM, BrumTaffy said:

Hardware - I’m a Mac fanboy, so it broke my heart to have to rely so heavily on Windows and Microsoft stuff.  I bought several reconditioned PCs from Morgan’s computers and still have 2 that I occasionally dig out if I attempt to see if my Astro setup still functions. That’s on Win 7...(ok, I can hear you laughing from here!). I have an old iMac happily running Linux, I have a 2013 MacBook Pro that might be pressed into service, if Mac can run the whole thing these days.  I really hope I don’t have to buy another PC, but if needs must, I will swallow my pride 

No need to buy another PC. A Raspberry Pi or a Mac loaded with EKOS/Indi will run any astro gear you care to mention. Quite a few subscribers on here use this setup quite successfully.

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