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Thread: Guide to Autoguiding the LX90

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    Default Guide to Autoguiding the LX90



    Introduction:

    Some time ago, I asked on this forum if it was possible to autoguide using a Meade LX90. Unfortunately, it seemed that there were not many folks using the LX90 for such a process. I contacted Meade on three separate occasions and each time I was told it was “impossible” to autoguide with the LX90 because there was no longer an ST4 port for the LX90, which in short is used to accept/interpret data from the guidecam to the scope.
    After looking into the matter and contacting a number of people from Weasner’s Mighty ETX Site and the help of some great people at this form, I found that this can easily be done.
    With a wedge, proper polar alignment in polar mode, correct drivers and PHD software (stark-labs.com), anyone can use the LX90 to successfully track and image for long periods of time.
    What follows is a brief guide for those of you who wish to accomplish this.

    Setup/Procedure:

    For a guidescope, I use an Orion ST 80 with a Meade DSI IIC as a guidecam. The ST 80 is mounted on the LX 90 using Losmandy dovetails and rings. For imaging, the Canon Digtial Rebel XSi seems to be quite adequate coupled with Nebulosity’s exposure automation.

    You will need ASCOM drivers so that your LX90 can communicate with you computer. Download the ASCOM platform 5 and upgrade it to the 5.5 version afterwards.These drivers can be found here:

    ASCOM - Standards for Astronomy

    You will also need to download the file the reads:

    Meade LX200 Classic and Autostar #494, #495, and #497 (combined telescope/focuser, 5.0.3)

    There is no direct download link to it from their web page for me to post. However, simply navigate to their download section and find the above description in bold type.

    Next, download PHD:

    PHD Guiding

    Be sure to purchase the Meade #505 connector cable set. This cable connects to your Autostar hand controller. You will also have to purchase an RS232 to USB converter so that you can plug the #505 to a USB port on your computer (unless you have a native 232 on your computer).

    PHD communicates from your computer to the Autostar which in turn tells your scope what to do. PHD sends commands to the Autostar so that it corrects tracking errors. Keep in mind that PHD cannot compensate for a lousy alignment job.


    Next you will want to configure ASCOM/PHD. To do so, complete the following:

    Double click PHD Guiding and click the second icon from the left (it’s a telescope icon). This will bring up your ASCOM Telescope Chooser.

    Use the arrow option and pick “Meade Classic and Autostar 1.” Be sure to click properties to the right BEFORE you press the OK button.

    You will need to know what COM port your USB is connected to. Your USB converter should have come with software that handles the routine. You can find the information in Windows XP under:

    Control Panel/System/Hardware/Device Manager/Ports (COM and LPT).

    Once the correct COM port is entered and you have pressed the OK button you will be brought back to the main ASCOM Telescope Chooser menu of which you can now press the OK button. If everything is set correctly, PHD should notify you at the bottom of the screen with “connected.”

    Next I use the first icon to the left: “Connect to Camera,” which of course resembles a camera.

    You will need to calibrate PHD and initiate the guide routine. Luckily, PHD is really a Push Here Dummy concept, in that even the most inept and impatient person (I have just described myself) can use it quite painlessly. Refer to Stark-labs.com for particulars of using PHD.

    I hope this helps those of you who have a desire to engage in long exposure astrophotography using the Meade LX 90. I am quite the amateur and am learning as I go. If any of you spot errors, feel free to post or e-mail me at:

    bcsimonetti@converse.edu
    Tombstone17 likes this.

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    Just what I was looking for, I think. So the 505 cable goes from the serial port/USB adapter to the input on the bottom of the 497 paddle....then load up ASCOM drivers....and that's it?? I have all those parts but it's the starshoot guider I'm worried about, but I assume that the ASCOM language will talk to it through the RS232???

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    Wonderful thanks for that.
    I am heading in that direction so it's well timed for me and very informative
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    That was really great. I downloaded PHD and the ASCOM drivers and hooked my computer UHB and serial port adapter plus the 505 wire and RS232 adapter up to the 497. I put it to COM3 as that is what my UHB port is and then selected scope and put in all the user info and hit connect. BINGO...computer started talking to the LX90 with the prompt on the bottom saying connected. Tooooooo simple. Now I can't wait to get my Orion Short Tube 80 and the Star Shoot auto guider.....I smell a lot of sleepless nights for the next while. To make it easier I also ordered the 909 clone so I have an alternative to hook up to the aux port on the LX90. When it arrives and I have it hooked up I'll let you know how it goes.

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    Glad someone got some use out of this. Keep me up to date on progress, Bill.
    AT6RC, AT72ED, Orion ST80 (guide scope), Celestron 8, SW254N, Canon 450D, Meade DSI (guide cam), Celestron CGEM DX

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    My method works fantastic for a homemade retrofit. And the autoguiding is a breeze. When you look at it at first it sounds way to complicated but in reality it is so simple it hurts. The ST80 and Starshoot are completely compatible with the LX90 and the connection goes through the 497 hand paddle. I can't believe how well the LX90 tracked.

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    hello bill, do you observe significant improvement by guiding through ST4 instead of classic serial link and autostar keypad?
    thank you

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    Yes. I purchased the shoestring 909 adapter and run straight from the camera to it and from it to the mount. It seems much more simple, stable, and straight forward....less wires as well and it leaves the paddle for adjustments as well.

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    thank you Bill, I hesitate to switch to 909clone because I have to buy it, and a st4 compatible autoguider, this means hundreds of USD, So if I can't improve my pictures because I am limited by something else ( turbulence or point spread function of my LX90) it will not be a valuable investment! If someone has provided quantitative comparison...
    regards

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    It shouldn't have to be that expensive. The shoestring (autoguiding only) was only 20 bucks. The PHD program is free. I am using the Orion ST80 as a guide scope that would be about 110 but I have seen some where they adapted the 8 x 50 finderscope. The autoguider is the most expensive part but the orion package is a real deal and is easily adapted to a scope. Do you have an LX90??

 

 
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