Sunday, 1 December 2013

Guiding with ASTROEQ EQMOD AND PHD

For those that have not read my blog from the beginning or are just interested in getting a guiding and go to system with an eq5 mount this is an update on what I am now doing.


Last year modified my equipment to give me a cheap way of guiding the setup I used is illustrated here and covered in my blog further back in 2012 if you wish to understand what I was using then.


Since then I have upgraded my set up using the Astro EQ mount control box so it now looks like this..


This system is much better and gives me a lot more control of the mount, if you refer to the first old system you can see my webcam attached to my 10x50 finder scope. I still have this on the new set up but there is now no need for an ST4 port. I plug the webcam used for guiding into the laptop and using PHD push here dummy guiding software I can select my mount through the Ascom drivers and EQMod.
If you have not used Ascom  and Eqmod please Google it and find out more, it is brilliant and well worth using to control your telescope and its FREE!

So now my telescope has a fully functional guiding system and it also has the ability to slew to any target in the night sky at the touch of a button. The key to all this is the Astro EQ control box that acts as a gate way to the laptop and the software that controls the mounts gears and how they function.

Previous videos and blog entrys detail the use of Astro EQ so this time we are going to focus on guiding with the webcam finder scope and phd software.

The guiding system in action and how it works.

Guiding for those that do not know is simply using another small telescope called a guide scope to focus on a star and then software tracks its movement and issues commands to the mounts gears to correct any movement away from the tracking you are doing to take a photograph of a night sky object.

I am using the finder scope that came with my sky-watcher 200P as a guide scope and have a Logitech 4000 webcam attached to it as my guide camera.
This webcam is plugged into my laptop and I then open the software PHD and select the webcam from the list of cameras.

Once the camera is selected I then select my telescope which because I am using Astro EQ control box I can choose the Ascom EQMOD telescope as PHD fully supports the Ascom driver.

Using PHD is fairly straightforward once you have got a good star selected but the webcam is not too great at those fainter stars it must be said.

If when starting the calibration in PHD it comes up with an error message telling you that the star is not moving enough you will need to increase your calibration steps in the Brain logo of PHD, I have increased mine to 1500 which is working at present.

I am in the process of testing this all out with my present set up but so far the results are positive.

From last night despite poor conditions and cloud coming in and out I managed to get a full 4 minute guided image on Beetle Juice in Orion.


With a bit more tweaking I am certain I can get this to guide for 10 minutes as I did last year so this is very good news.

I am going to do a full write up on my progress on my blog so if this interests you please come back for more or contact me via the stargazers lounge forum where you will find me under the username of Quatermas.