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 nheacock







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02/24/04
    
Monday, March 24th, 2008
Tonight the clouds cleared again and even though the moon was nearly full I wanted to test my new autoguiding setup.
 
The guidescope
A modded (read - cheesey hack job to a) 8x50 finder scope I had sitting on the shelf. I hacked about 3/4 inch off of the end of the tube to get the camera to come to focus. I used the 1-1/4 inch tube from an Orion Variable camera adapter, wrapped a few layers of duct tape around it to fatten it up and crammed it into the finder tube. It holds the camera perfectly.
 
Guide camera
Monochrome Meade DSI Pro. I modded it by using duct tape to block the sides where the filter slider goes in because I don't plan on using the slider at all. I may find a more permanent solution to block the sides.
 
The DSI Pro has about the equivalent of a 5mm eyepiece and in the 50mm finder is roughly 25 power with a 1 x 1 degree FOV.
 
Autoguide Adapter
I purchased a Shoestring Astronomy GPUSB and GPFC-14 cable (the proper cable for my particular setup) as an interface between the computer and the mount
 
Autoguider Software
Simply because it works with a Mac and it's free I started off with PHD Guiding from Stark Labs as the guiding software. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to use and how spot on it kept the tracking.
 
Invasion of [the] Wires 
So now the scope setup looks really strange to me. I used to have a scope sitting there. No wires or anything. Now it's got wires galore. I went from having only a power cable going to the laptop to:
1) Power to the laptop
2) Power to the EQ platform
3) Power to the Sirius mount
4) USB to the EOS 350D camera control
5) USB to the DSI Pro guide camera
6) USB to the DSUSB shutter control box
7) Shutter control cable from the DSUSB to the camera
8) USB to the GPUSB autoguide control box
9) RJ12 GPFC cable from the GPUSB to the Sirius mount
10) USB to the Serial adapter for scope control
11) Serial from the Serial adapter to the Sirius scope controller
 
Since I only have 2 USB ports on my laptop I've got the multiple USB devices going to a USB hub. I have a feeling though that I need a powered USB hub because the DSI needs power over USB and it's not getting it from the current hub. So there's a new power cable -  number 12. Then I also think I need to get a power adapter for the EOS 350D because if I'm going to take long exposures for hours at a time I will eat up my batteries. I've already had a battery die twice in the middle of a sequence. So there's cable number 13. Sheesh.
 
The Setup for the Test
In setting up for my first autoguide test I pointed the mount North, put Polaris in the proper spot in the reticle and called it good for the polar alignment. I then performed a 3 star alignment and turned on Sidereal tracking. No leveling, drift aligning, PEC, or any other dialing in. 
 
The Results
The target was M35 for no other reason then it was near my last alignment star, was opposite the moon and has lots of stars in it. I only took 3 frames this evening and I threw the first one out. I wish I would have kept it for comparison.
 
Frame #1
A 5 minute exposure with the mount as is. No autoguiding or PEC. The stars were rather drifty. Elongated and definitely no good. As was expected. I wish I wouldn't have tossed the frame.
 
Frame #2
A 5 minute exposure, ISO 800, with PHD Guiding controlling the autoguider via a 6.7 magnitude star. PHD Guiding was set to 1 sec exposures.
See Gallery below for image
 
Frame #3
Since frame 2 worked out so well I thought I'd double it. A 10 minute exposure, ISO 800, with PHD Guiding controlling the autoguider via a 6.7 magnitude star. PHD Guiding was set to 1 sec exposures. This image was horrendously blown out in greens and blues from the CA (I'm assuming) so it ended up being black and white.
See Gallery below for image

Needless to say I'm very excited about the potential here. If I can take 20, 5 minute exposures at ISO 800 I think the quality of my images will increase substantially.


Image Gallery For This Session
M35 10mn BW M35 5mn Color
   

M35-10mn-BW.jpg
Click picture above for larger version
If the picture seems too bright or too dark, try adjusting the brightness below.
Brightness:
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