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Thread: Upgrading my mount for better guiding.

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    Default Upgrading my mount for better guiding.



    I currently use an Orion Sirius EQ G with a starshoot autoguider and am not 100% pleased with my guiding while holding my AT65 or AT6in reflector.

    What would you guys consider a worthy upgrade? Id most likely be looking on the used market. Ideally $500-$1000 used. I had always assumed Id just end up with an Atlas but Im looking for some feedback because I may be assuming wrong!
    carter2002 likes this.
    Mount: Celestron CGX
    Telescopes: Explore Scientific 127mm ED APO
    Cameras: ZWO ASI 1600mm-c / ZWO ASI 120mm-s

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    Star Dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrading my mount for better guiding.

    I have an Atlas - (and an Ioptron iEQ30). The Atlas has performed extremely well without guiding or PEC. It's easy to get polar aligned - something I had extreme trouble with the Ioptron. OTOH I think I have a faulty serial to USB cable for the Ioptron and have a new one from Shoestring coming in the day or so. 2 minute photos with the Atlas are perfectly accurate, but I have been unwilling to go longer until I can get PHD2, Astrotortilla, Nebulosity, and Stellarium to work together. I think the bad cord is the culprit (and may actually be the main problem with the Ioptron). I'm using a ASI120MM for guiding - I was kind of skeptical of the StarShoot's abilities. But I can't claim to having achieved guidance because I keep losing tracking on the Atlas (going through the handset). Hopefully the FTDI cable from Shoestring which will bypass the hand controller will allow everything to talk nicely.

    The Atlas seems to be very robust handling my 18.5# of gear easily. The mount is pretty heavy - even without the weights, so that might be a consideration. Besides the mount was $1400, though I suspect you could get it a little cheaper used. I went new because of my bad experience with the used Ioptron. (I love the mini-tower - but that's another bird altogether).

    Not sure how you are guiding - but if you are using the hand controller as a "relay" as the Atlas does - that may be the problem and so getting a cable to bypass it (and go from pc to mount directly) might just solve your problem for $40 or so.
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    Default Re: Upgrading my mount for better guiding.

    Get an Atlas Pro AZ/EQ-G. I'm very please with mine after using to great results for 2 years now.
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    Default Re: Upgrading my mount for better guiding.

    Thank you both for the insight!
    Leveye likes this.
    Mount: Celestron CGX
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    Default Re: Upgrading my mount for better guiding.

    I have spent many a night learning new coarse expletives with 2 friends practicing astro photography. The coarsest of those expletives were expressed while getting autoguiding sorted out. Each of us are at different levels of experience. All three of us have gone through quantum leaps in our autoguiding quality simply by replacing our Starshoot Autoguider cameras.

    I image through a TEC 140 on a Celestron CGE Pro. I started out with a Starshoot with an ST80 as a guiding system and ran into a wall at 300 second exposures. Over probably 40 nights of imaging I struggled trying to get better guiding. I finally got advice from a fairly well respected astro imager on a solution to my problem; he said I needed better auto guiding equipment. He recommended, and I bought, a Baader Planetarium 60mm finder scope, a Baader Finder scope bracket, and a Starlight Xpress Lodestar Autoguider camera. The first night I used the new autoguiding system I did some testing and got 1,200 second guided exposures with pinpoint stars without any other changes to my equipment. Since then I've done one 1,800 second exposure with similarly round stars.

    My friend RO was using the same Orion Starshoot/ST80 combination with his older Celestron CGE and C11 with focal reducer. He was experiencing the same issues I was with guiding so he upgraded to a used Lodestar and a different but similar guide scope. His guiding improvement was as immediate and obvious as my experience.

    The third of the group to change his gear was K6EGF who I have had the pleasure of imaging with for a couple of years. He images with an AVX and a C8, also with a focal reducer. He went with a camera similar to the Lodestar though I can't recall the particular make and model, same with the the guide scope. His results were the same, he's able to continue with his standard 300 second exposures (which will get longer when he has darks to correspond), though now without a single eff bomb, but he has successfully tested at 600 seconds on a nearly full moon night.

    The common thread here is replacing the Starshoot. The Starshoot, in my humble opinion, is a good beginner Auto guide camera but not sensitive enough to give good results under average conditions. Instead of replacing the mount consider a bit of research on guide cameras and guide scopes. Because I'm very satisfied with my current system I'm not well informed about the latest greatest available. You can get great advice from other members here on what's the best available option. One word of caution, the new version of the Lodestar has specifications that are not as good for autoguiding as the original and it's more expensive. My friend RO did the research before he found his Lodestar so I'm not aware of the differences.
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    ST80, TEC140 APO ED with filed flattener. Baader Vario finder.
    Mounts:Celestron CGEM, CGE Pro
    Cameras:QSI 683 Canon 60Da, Starlight xpress Lodestar,ZWO ASI120MC. QHY Polemaster.
    Eyepieces: Baader Planetarium 8-24mm zoom, Televue Plossl 40mm and 32mm, ES 100* 20mm, 82* 14mm, 100* 9mm, Televue Delos 10mm, Ethos 6mm, 4.7mm, 3.7mm. Televue 2x Powermate.

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    Default Re: Upgrading my mount for better guiding.

    This is likely the route I will take. I’ve been SO good at notnlooking at anything to buy for nearly six months lol. I’m just tired of my slightly oblong stars. They aren’t bad, but my goal is breathtaking!
    carter2002 likes this.
    Mount: Celestron CGX
    Telescopes: Explore Scientific 127mm ED APO
    Cameras: ZWO ASI 1600mm-c / ZWO ASI 120mm-s

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    Default Re: Upgrading my mount for better guiding.

    The Starshoot, in my humble opinion, is a good beginner Auto guide camera
    Yup, I went through three AG cameras starting with the StarShoot, then an ASI120mc, finally a Starlight Express Lodestar X2.

    The X2 was leaps and bounds better. The largest improvement was a solid centroid of a guide star instead of waffeling around. Less of chasing seeing
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    Scopes: Orion 130mm APO Triplet, Orion 8" f4 astrograph, 10" RC Mount: Celestron CGX-L Guiding: Orion 60mm f4 scope, Starlight Loadstar, PHD2 software - Cams: Planetary: ASI120mc, DSO:Atik 383L+, SGPsoftware Processing : Regisax, Deep Sky Stacker, Star Tools, Pixinsight Assistant: One very large cat
    ~ Put your money where your mount is ~


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    Default Re: Upgrading my mount for better guiding.

    Would I absolutely need to replace the scope as well? I looked up the 60mm guide scope mentioned or A 60 mm by Baader and it’s nearly $400. I just don’t have another 1k to drop.
    carter2002 likes this.
    Mount: Celestron CGX
    Telescopes: Explore Scientific 127mm ED APO
    Cameras: ZWO ASI 1600mm-c / ZWO ASI 120mm-s

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    Default Re: Upgrading my mount for better guiding.

    Probably not, the Lodestar will work in virtually any guide scope.

    It fits in like a 1 1/4" eyepiece or with a C adaptor threads on.

    But there kind of pricey, starting at over $600.00
    carter2002 likes this.
    Scopes: Orion 130mm APO Triplet, Orion 8" f4 astrograph, 10" RC Mount: Celestron CGX-L Guiding: Orion 60mm f4 scope, Starlight Loadstar, PHD2 software - Cams: Planetary: ASI120mc, DSO:Atik 383L+, SGPsoftware Processing : Regisax, Deep Sky Stacker, Star Tools, Pixinsight Assistant: One very large cat
    ~ Put your money where your mount is ~


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    Default Re: Upgrading my mount for better guiding.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremiah.ROth View Post
    Would I absolutely need to replace the scope as well? I looked up the 60mm guide scope mentioned or A 60 mm by Baader and its nearly $400. I just dont have another 1k to drop.
    Nope you don't need to drop $1k. I kind of went top shelf, but my friend K6EGF went closer to $400 total I think. As I recall he went with a ZWO AG camera though I don't recall the scope he bought. He changed scopes for weight reduction. Thinking back on it now his first (well second) AG system was a Celestron 80mm scope that had a longer fL than the ST80. The point being that you can get much better results with a more sensitive system.

    Were I you I'd start a new thread titled something like "Looking for a new Autoguider system for around $xxx" and see what suggestions you get. Just make sure to mention your imaging scope, camera and mount combination.

    I know budget is always a concern in this hobby, but as the friend that advised me on my AG system said (when I commented on all the money I just parted with) "How much time do you have in your life to fight with a system that doesn't work?"

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