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Thread: PHD Frustrations

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    Default PHD Frustrations



    I just got my SSAG this week and tonight was night #2 of a failed attempt to achieve successful autoguiding. I do not have the rs232-serial cable to control my mount yet so I was trying to just use my SSAG via usb cable to autoguide my mount. I select SSAG from the camera menu, I then selected on-camera under the mount tab at the top, I focus looped the camera and focused my stars in very sharp and tight, I clicked a star to guide and a yellow dashed line popped up and the camera began calibrating and then after about 10 minutes the green box appeared and said "guiding" at the bottom corner. So at this point I began a 3 minute exposure. During the exposure the star in the green box would slowly move out of the box and then the phd screen would flash red saying that it had lost the guide star. After about an hour or two both nights I called it a wrap because it is freezing cold outside and I have a cold. Does it sound like I am doing anything wrong? My mount is a CG5-GT and I polar aligned and ran a two star calibration before beginning exposure. Also I was using my camera mounted to a dovetail bar with a 300mm lens, no telescope.

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    Default Re: PHD Frustrations

    What were you actually using for a guide scope for the SSAG? Did you use default settings in phd? The most common causes for loosing the guide star quickly would be due to:

    1. Polar Alignment is off(common)/Mount tracking speed set wrong(unlikely)
    2. Guiding settings not giving long enough guide correction(located in the brain setting and in (mount hand control unit as a % of sidereal rate)
    3. Light clouds rolling in impeding the guider view of stars or dew forming on guidescope.
    4. Balance is also important.
    5. Not calibrating phd for each new position in sky one is imaging
    6. Mechanical issues in mount such as stiction etc.
    7. Was dec guiding enabled, it can compensate a wee bit for some PA misalignment.

    It helps if you monitor your guiding graph in phd. The graph can tell you quite a bit.
    Last edited by DaltonSkyGazer; 02-17-2013 at 06:24 AM.
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    Default Re: PHD Frustrations

    If you have not read the PHD sticky this will also prove helpful.

    Stark Labs PHD guiding software helpers

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    Default Re: PHD Frustrations

    Well said by DSG. Also you didn't say how long a exposure your using for your guiding. Also a CG5 GT is notorious for under achieving performance under cold temperatures. Balancing is a really important issue with this mount. You might need to calibrate for every imaging zone. Most of the times DEC will screw up your guiding and might not be necessary if you are well polar aligned. You mentioned that you wait 10 minutes for the SSAG to calibrate, that's kind of a long time. It may be due to inaccurate polar aligned and having the extra DEC backlash to correct for. Make sure that the mount is really tight to the tripod as sometimes this can cause some jittering and cause bad guiding. Also, and even thou people say it's not important, I have found out that "LEVELING" of the mount is very important and have resulted in better guiding. I have gone as far over an hour without losing the star a keeping it inside the green square. Hope adding this to DSG help you improve you guiding experience.
    Last edited by satcomsta; 02-17-2013 at 05:51 AM.
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    Default Re: PHD Frustrations

    I agree with Satcomsta....the amount of time for it to calibrate is very long at nearly 10 minutes. Sounds like it is taking too many steps to calibrate, you may have to increase the max ms. duration for guide correction for RA in the brain section. Off top of head default is around 750ms. Try increasing to 1200 ms, it will only apply max amount of correction needed, and should overcome the backlash quicker to cause the star to move. I usually run the mount % of sidereal correction within my hand control between 65% to 90%. Craig Stark actually recommends Sidereal rate for this setting. The sticky in previous post has some of my other findings in that thread, along with great advice from others.

    A typical calibration time may be anywhere from about 2 minutes to 4minutes.

    It usually takes a few sessions out with phd to get things tuned in properly for everybody, the time spent doing this is when we really learn our mounts.

    I find also that I run the guide cam to refresh every 2 to 2.5 seconds seems to work well.
    Last edited by DaltonSkyGazer; 02-17-2013 at 06:01 AM.
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    Default Re: PHD Frustrations

    Quote Originally Posted by DaltonSkyGazer View Post
    What were you actually using for a guide scope for the SSAG? Did you use default settings in phd? The most common causes for loosing the guide star quickly would be due to:

    1. Polar Alignment is off(common)/Mount tracking speed set wrong(unlikely)
    2. Guiding settings not giving long enough guide correction(located in the brain setting plus and also in (mount hand control unit as a % of sidereal rate)
    3. Light clouds rolling in impeding the guider view of stars or dew forming on guidescope.
    4. Balance is also important.
    5. Not calibrating phd for each new position in sky one is imaging
    6. Mechanical issues in mount such as stiction etc.
    7. Was dec guiding enabled, it can compensate a wee bit for some PA misalignment.

    It helps if you monitor your guiding graph in phd. The graph can tell you quite a bit.
    Thanks for the help. I centered polaris and leveled the tripod at the beginning and it was centered in the eye hole, i don't have a polar scope. I did not drift align or anything like that. Im not sure about adjusting the tracking speed, usually it is on low after I slew to an object, less than 5 i think. This mount was used to guide with an ST8 in the past and there have never been any problems with stiction. There were no clouds out tonight so I am wondering about enabling DEC guiding, I didn't know that I needed to tell the guider to do that. Do you guys have your mount control enabled? I am also wondering if it would improve my performance if PHD can speak straight to my mount? Not sure. It is quite frustrating though. Oh I forgot to add that the last time I calibrated it only took a minute so I think that was better. I dont really understand what Im looking at when I pull up the graph screen.

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    Default Re: PHD Frustrations

    Does that particuliar mount do the ALL Star Polar align routine? If so and you did this; what did it show for your final PA result on the handcontrol?
    A drift align is something that one should learn and do also, although on my cgem I do find that the All star Polar align is fairly accurate.
    My routine would be to do 2 plus 2 or 3 add on stars for alignment stars. Then do the All Star Pa routine.
    Polaris centered in the Polar align scope hole does not reflect the true North Celestial Pole. A polar scope does come in handy.

    My cam is run same method on camera and to the mounts guide port from the guide camera. It operates very well for me this way, I should mention I am on permanent pier.

    It did take me few outings with the new guiding setup several years back to get things figured out. PA was one item I worked on along with getting my balance perfected. I then worked on getting the max amount of guide correction down to a science for each of my scopes. The graphing feature of phd helped me to really understand the mechanics of what was happening with my mount.
    Last edited by DaltonSkyGazer; 02-17-2013 at 06:25 AM.

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    Default Re: PHD Frustrations

    I have not enablke the DEC guiding. As a matter of fact, it actually gets disable by the system itself. Another issue is that you have no polar scope!!!!!!!!......that might be your problem.
    Quote Originally Posted by calypsob View Post
    Thanks for the help. I centered Polaris and leveled the tripod at the beginning and it was centered in the eye hole, i don't have a polar scope. I did not drift align or anything like that. Im not sure about adjusting the tracking speed, usually it is on low after I slew to an object, less than 5 i think. This mount was used to guide with an ST8 in the past and there have never been any problems with stiction. There were no clouds out tonight so I am wondering about enabling DEC guiding, I didn't know that I needed to tell the guider to do that. Do you guys have your mount control enabled? I am also wondering if it would improve my performance if PHD can speak straight to my mount? Not sure. It is quite frustrating though.
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    Default Re: PHD Frustrations

    DSG, I was going to say that people should check the polar scope collimation too, as that reticle isn't always where it should be, making the polar alignment a false one.
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    Default Re: PHD Frustrations

    Quote Originally Posted by satcomsta View Post
    DSG, I was going to say that people should check the polar scope collimation too, as that reticle isn't always where it should be, making the polar alignment a false one.
    Very true and an excellent point.
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