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Author Topic: Cheap way into astrophotography for beginners  (Read 1291 times)

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Offline mechanoid

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Cheap way into astrophotography for beginners
« on: 18:43:40, 10 March, 2016 »
I was wondering how a beginner might get tracking images without any serious expenditure.  Perhaps it may encourage more people to take that step beyond star trails.

So I came up with this as a first thought.  The tracking mounts can be obtained for about a £1. OK, its a mains 24 hour timer. I epoxied on a couple of plastic knurled discs with the standard UNC thread, and made a two axis gimbal out of some parts from a defunct action camera.

Its not ideal to hang a DSLR on this, so I used my Canon Powershot.  iPhone maybe ?  I know the bearings (if you could call them that) are lousy, but they may be good enough for a minute or two.  Registax could used to combine the subs, 'cos its free.

I only managed 10 x 15 sec subs on Orion.  Annoyingly Canon stopped allowing remote control of this model, and 15 secs was the maximum exposure possible, which rather defeated the objective of testing the tracking. So next time I'll have to try the DSLR.

I'm not sure that the result is any better than a short static exposure, but if the clouds ever part I'll experiment some more.  The glow is because I was in too much of a hurry to bother to turn the outside light off.
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Offline Einari

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Re: Cheap way into astrophotography for beginners
« Reply #1 on: 18:59:45, 10 March, 2016 »
Interesting solution.
Have you checked if you can use CHDK in your Powershot ?
That enables you to use longer subs.
Tapio

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Offline jhughe22

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Re: Cheap way into astrophotography for beginners
« Reply #2 on: 19:08:16, 10 March, 2016 »
I would be wary of using 240v mains in damp conditions :scare:.  If this is a viable solution for you I would ensure all mains connections are sealed against water ingress :ugly:.
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Offline tomhow

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Re: Cheap way into astrophotography for beginners
« Reply #3 on: 19:20:00, 10 March, 2016 »
That is an utterly brilliant bit of inspired lateral thinking!

I hope it takes you a step down the astrophotography path.

Yes, there is a massive safety issue, but still, superb idea!
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Online chris.bailey

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Re: Cheap way into astrophotography for beginners
« Reply #4 on: 19:29:13, 10 March, 2016 »
I'm of the school whereby Health and Safety should not stifle inspiration and this fits right on in. Rubber gloves and stout shoes, what could possible go wrong?
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Offline swashy

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Re: Cheap way into astrophotography for beginners
« Reply #5 on: 22:11:59, 10 March, 2016 »
Great idea, with the added bonus that the rcd will trip the whole house if it gets too dewy, thus saving you wasted subs, and no alarm clock for work in the morning !     ;)
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Offline AstroStew

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Re: Cheap way into astrophotography for beginners
« Reply #6 on: 23:55:11, 10 March, 2016 »
I know there is a serious safety issue here, but that aside it is a superb and inspiring idea, very ingenious indeed...  :big_clap:
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Offline Bazzaar

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Re: Cheap way into astrophotography for beginners
« Reply #7 on: 10:01:41, 11 March, 2016 »
Safety issues? How? Why?
Don't put an inspired idea down with unfounded fears
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Offline jhughe22

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Re: Cheap way into astrophotography for beginners
« Reply #8 on: 10:18:24, 11 March, 2016 »
 :harhar: :harhar: I see ALL of the above have not had a belt off the mains :scare:, believe me i'm a person who likes to tinker and bodge about but such an experience makes you wary  :tease::yes:  However this is a cracking idea with just a few issues to overcome :big_clap:.  A glue gun will take care of water ingress :gum:  There is a tiny bit of play with the Timer i've got and this can be overcome by off setting the camera from centre.

John..
8" f/5 Sky-watcher 200P f=1000,  6" f/9 Ritchey-Chrétien Revelation Astro f=1370, 3.5" f/10 Meade 90 with 2" focuser mod f=900, 3.5" f/13 Maksutov-Cassergrain f=1200...  Heavy Duty EQ est-60lb payload.  iOptron Minitower v2, Skywatcher SupaTrak, and a damaged EQ-3 Mount. Latest;- EQ-5 with dual drive.
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Offline mechanoid

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Re: Cheap way into astrophotography for beginners
« Reply #9 on: 19:33:01, 11 March, 2016 »
Thanks for the comments. I can assure you that I'm as keen to stay alive as you. That's what plug in RCDs are made for.  The experiment was simply to try an idea.  Of course, if you are that worried about electrical safety you could always use it indoors through an open window.  Maybe that's what I did. Maybe not.

Just to be clear. I am NOT advocating this as a working solution, at least not outdoors.  If it did work, maybe someone could figure out what might be done to make it compliant with electrical regs. Which probably rules it out it as a "simple" solution. Still, probably safer than your average tumble drier, eh ?

Maybe an old clockwork or battery powered clock with a 2:1 reduction gear on the hour hand might work too.  Perhaps you can get battery powered timers. But to meet the objective its got to be simple to do with household tools and a tube of glue. And cheap.

Or you could just fork out £300-£500 to see if you might like the hobby.

Thanks for the tip about CHDK - I'd forgotten all about that. It is available for my camera.  I'll give it a try.

Dave
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