What would you do...?

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What would you do...?

Postby jmbillings » Sun Jun 28, 2009 8:03 pm

Hello...

Throwing a rather open question out here to see what sort of responses I get... :)

At the moment I have a TAL 2M. I don't use it as much as I should as for imaging I find I can never align it well enough for long exposures, and visually the 6" is good but i'd like more. The question is what to do, as I don't have tons of money to spend. Ideally i'd like goto as well...

So far I've thought of:

1 - Build my own scope - I don't think i'd make the mirrors, but everything else I could probably do; but then it needs the control. Meade's 492 motor kit + 497 controller looks interesting but I don't think you can get the motor kit any more :( Plus this might push the cost up to that of a proper scope anyway? Doing the motor drive/goto stuff myself is interesting - i'm a software dev by trade so I may be able to do it, but it's a gamble, and is probably a lot more complex than you'd think!

2 - Buy and mod. I liked the look of the Skywatcher auto dob's - they do tracking, but no Goto. I wonder if the controller could be linked up to a pc for making it goto-ish...?

3 - Buy 2nd hand. The least fun option but probably easiest!

So, not sure which path to take really. I love the idea of making my own scope - and as an example, £300 ish for 8" mirror set from Orion Optics compared to double that for the full scope from Skywatcher is interesting; but need to account for all the other stuff such as motor drive etc.

Also - 8" or 10"? A friend has a 10" Dob and a 6"SC, and says the difference is very noticeable, but not sure how much better an 8" would be over the 6" of my Tal - I'd go for coated optics if doing the DIY route, but would I end up disappointed?
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RE: What would you do...?

Postby philipc » Mon Jun 29, 2009 3:00 am

[quote]I wonder if the controller could be linked up to a pc for making it goto-ish...? [/quote]

Probably not worth taking the risk to find out. The encoder accuracy required for auto-tracking is coarse compared to the accuracy needed for go-to.

If you're interested in trying, the controller looks identical to the one on the SupaTrak, and details of its command set are here: http://rwg.astro.googlepages.com/supatrakmounthacking

Bear
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RE: What would you do...?

Postby jmbillings » Mon Jun 29, 2009 8:16 am

Thanks bear, useful looking link that; i'll have a read :)
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RE: What would you do...?

Postby philipc » Mon Jun 29, 2009 1:16 pm

Other thoughts...

This is [i]very [/i]subjective and will probably annoy some people here who own expensive equipment, but I've always thought that marrying GOTO with Astrophotography turns the owner into little more than a machine-operator.

It's as if the owner has to service the needs of the equipment, rather than the other way around.

For several years I've been a writer and reviewer for one of the UK's best-selling music-making magazines and - as a result - I built-up quite possibly the most sophisticated music-production system anyone could hope for either professionally or as a hobby.

But after a couple of years I found that owning the most sophisticated setup just made me miserable.

It seemed that whenever I wanted to use it, I had to spend so long setting everything up, my enthusiasm simply evaporated - and I ended up feeling horribly guilty about owning a vast array of unused equipment and software. Worse still, the stuff I had, kept reminding me that I needed to check for expensive "upgrades" whenever I set things up.

For me, I'm determined not to let Astronomy go the same way.

With music-making, I now have more fun and satisfaction once I chucked out the computer and returned to traditional equipment. Now, I'm seriously thinking of stripping the system down yet further.

So with astronomy, I'll only be buying simple, classic, well-made stuff with one specific purposes in mind: To enhance a happy evening spent under the stars, and in an advertising-saturated world it's hard to keep the focus on that.

In summary, I'd recommend that you stop and think for a moment about exactly what the problem is you're trying to solve when you say you "want more".

- more quality? (to what end? what is it that you can't see well enough?)
- more fuzzies? (fuzzy-addiction seems like sending money into a black hole)
- more satisfaction? (personally I think GOTO [i]subtracts [/i]satisfaction)
- or maybe you just want more retail-therapy for tech-aquisiton-syndrome? (and that's OK so long as you recognise it)

Obviously only you can prioritize. I'm just saying you might want to think for a bit longer before setting off down a path you may come to regret - especially as you already own an excellent telescope...

Bear.

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RE: What would you do...?

Postby brianb » Mon Jun 29, 2009 3:13 pm

[quote]I've always thought that marrying GOTO with Astrophotography turns the owner into little more than a machine-operator. [/quote]
There's nowt wrong with that [i]per se[/i].
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RE: What would you do...?

Postby jmbillings » Thu Jul 02, 2009 3:10 pm

You make some valid points, and I think stepping back to stop and work out what I want is a good idea.

I think the main frustration I've had is that I often poke around the sky looking for stuff with no joy - I'm not sure how much of this is me not being good at finding things or whether I'm not getting enough light - as an example, I can find the ring nebula easily every time as it's conveniently placed, but it's very dim (not sure how good it should be through my ota...)

I've never really managed to find much in the way of other deep sky stuff though, such as galaxies and other nebulas, and as I only have a limited amount of time I can really spend outside for various reasons, I like the idea of Goto to make life easier. I'm not aversed to the idea of finding objects the old fashioned way, but I think a lack of success too often leads to frustration.

The other issue is that I'd like to do more with my dslr, but I can never align my mount well enough for eexposures of more than about 15 seconds - a lot of this of course is down to me not spending enough time, but when I perhaps only get an hour with my scope, I don't want to spend all that time drift aligning and so on - I assume a goto can be decently aligned and then track in a shorter space of time.


So, I'm wondering if Ion's suggestion is actually a good one - invest in something along the lines of the Skywatcher EQ5 Synscan and bodge my TAL optics on to it - then as a side project later on and when funds allow, I could build myself something with more light gathering power...?
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