Saturday, December 14, 2013

New Scope #3 - First imaging experience

I am still waiting for the FLI camera and filter wheel, so I am using the H694 from Starlight Xpress for now. I had to get an extra connector from preciseparts from it :-( They aren't cheap, but it so worth it - very stable and robust!

First, I had to focus the scope. Without the Robofocus I had to focus manually. And I could even use my old Bahtinov mask - I bought it for my 6" SCT. And it fits quite well on the TOA 130.

Next, I wanted to adjust the red dot finder. I do remember that this was a major pain in the a... But with SGPro, I could use it's center function to center the scope on a bright star (Deneb) and then adjust the red dot finder until it was over Deneb. Wow - that was easy!

Then I wanted to do some basic curvature analysis. After all, that was one of the main reasons to switch from an SCT to a refractor. Took some random images and analyzed them with CCDInspector:

Not too bad! The remaining tilt could be with the imaging train. I'll investigate this more when I get my FLI camera.

Next on my list was to calibrate SGPro to take flats with my flip-flat. Took me a while to figure that out. But now I have all my filters calibrated. But the flats look like this:

Yikes! Seems like I got a lot of dust into the imaging train when I assembled it. Will fix that with the new camera too.

At some point when the scope pointed almost straight up, guiding became VERY shaky. Pretty much unusable. When I checked the scope, I noticed that the filter wheel was hitting the Mach1 keypad - which was dangling loosely. See these image that I took the next day:

Seems like I will have to move all the cables and everything to the front or back to the scope. This is certainly a problem that I didn't have with the shorter EDGE scope before.

Finally, I took some images just to see how they look like:

This is a simple Luminance image (10 subs a 10 minutes) of M31. Only stacked no processing whatsoever. Very impressed with the amount of detail that I can see here. Can't wait to take some real images!!!