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Thread: Suggestions for autoguiding setup

  1. #1
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    Default Suggestions for autoguiding setup



    Hi Astroimagers,

    I’m planning to upgrade my imaging setup from unguided to guided. I am seeking feedback on the below combination of components:

    ZWO OAG Off-Axis Guider (guiding 8” sct with 2000mm focal length)
    ZWO ASI290MM Mini Monochrome Astronomy Camera (For guiding)
    ZWO ASI178MM 14 Bit ADC CMOS Monochrome Camera (For imaging)

    This combination is roughly within my budget. I’m primarily interested in getting clearer images of deep sky objects. Any thoughts are appreciated!

    Thanks
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    Default Re: Suggestions for autoguiding setup

    I have never used either of the cameras you mention. However, a few things strike me off the bat, because I have been contemplating a similar move, maybe sometime next year. I'm interested in seeing the reaction of others who know more.

    Here are my thoughts, having read a lot on the subject.

    1) Off -axis guider is a great idea with an SCT. I bought one myself for my C8, only to be disappointed that my Orion SSAG cannot pick any stars except the very brightest (e.g., mag 3 and brighter). I would make sure your intended guide camera is sensitive enough for the job.

    2) I am also interested in getting a ZWO 178MM. From what I have read in various comments, go for the COOLED version no matter what. You're making life VERY difficult for yourself if you go for the non-cooled version. I myself would buy the ZWO 1600MM COOLED if I had deep pockets. But I don't so I can't. ZWO 178MM seems like a good compromise.

    3) You'll need the filters of course. I suppose you have budgeted for that too. In which case, I'd be interested to know your budget and what you're going to do for filters.

    Joe
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    Default Re: Suggestions for autoguiding setup

    Using an oag with such a long focal length can be frustrating; with my OAG I use a Lodestar with large pixels (8.6uM) and this is one of the reasons for its great sensitivity. I do not know how the ASI 290mm will work with the OAG, but remember that CMOS cameras can not be used in hardware binning, while I often use the Lodestar in BIN 2 to increase its sensitivity and find guide stars.

    One of the most suitable recent CMOS cameras seems to be the 174mm with its 5.6uM pixels and a good sensitive area ...
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    Default Re: Suggestions for autoguiding setup

    Yep its hard to beat the lodestars for a guide camera. I tried several different brands and models and was never really satisfied till I got the Lodestar X2.

    Good luck guiding that long focal length!
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    Default Re: Suggestions for autoguiding setup

    As others have mentioned jumping right in with an OAG (at 2000mm focal length) can be a challenge. That being said, the OAG will eliminate some of the frustrations of using an SCT.

    The ASI camera you mention for guiding should be fine. The older SSAG's are toys compared with the newer generation cameras. The ASI you mention is probably more sensitive than the lodestars mentioned. It might make more sense to just get something like the 120 and save some money.

    Dan
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    Dan Crowson - O'Fallon MO

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    Default Re: Suggestions for autoguiding setup

    The issue that is coming across with these comments is having sufficient sensitivity to detect a guide star from the pick-off prism. With these suggestions, I may instead go with a focal reducer on the main scope and use a larger aperture guide scope instead of an off-axis guider. Thanks for the input astronomers!
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    Default Re: Suggestions for autoguiding setup

    With a separate guide scope, you will have to contend with the possibility of differential flexure, and also give added consideration to the payload of your mount (rule of thumb is to try to keep imaging gear weight right around 50-60% or less of mount max payload). Not saying it can't be done, but like Dan mentions, an OAG with longer focal lengths may make things less frustrating once you get your settings correct for acquiring guide stars.

    Mike
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