Tuesday, January 1, 2013

First experience with new equipment

Finally, a clear night and I could try out my new equipment:

1. Manual focusing
Although Robofocus is incredibly slow, manual focusing was very easy. And that I can store all the focusing positions (eyepiece, camera, with / without diagonal...) will help a lot. Yes, it won't be 100% accurate because of the SCT focusing mechanism, but close enough. Very happy with it!

2. Using the CCD camera
Using the CCD camera through SkyX was easy. Setup was easy. Taking pictures was easy - SkyX takes a dark frame to improve the quality of the pictures. Great! Played a little bit with binning.

3. Autofocusing with @Focus2
This did NOT work at all. Everytime I tried this, SkyX would start moving the focuser in, but not stop. And at some point time out. Not sure if I have to adjust the parameters or if there is something wrong. Another weird thing was that after using Robofocus through SkyX, moving the focuser in did not stop anymore. That could explain the wrong behavior...
But I also need to use dimmer stars - not the ones that I use for autoguiding. Well, lots to learn here!

4. Manual focusing with SkyX
For the love of my life I could not find any buttons or control to move the focuser from within SkyX :-(

5. Autoguiding
There were tons and tons of issues with getting the Lodestar working. First, I couldn't connect it in SkyX. Then I tried PHD - I could connect in the Ascom camera chooser, but then PHD gave an error message. Finally, I tried the Lodestar program itself. I couldn't connect either - error message: "could not write to sxvio output". I couldn't find anything online about it. I unplugged the camera, restarted and at some point it worked. And after (too) many tries, I could get it to work in SkyX. And finally, I could start autoguiding. Though the image was still shifting - not only the image from the CCD camera, but the autoguiding image itself. Not sure if SkyX even communicates with the mount ...

Well, not too bad for a first try with new hard- and new software!