Re: Upgrading my equipment #iEXOS-100 #TECHNICAL #ASCOM #astrophotography

Jeff Snell

Hi Koen,
I'll jump first I guess. Disclaimer up front:  First forgive me if I am covering anything you already know, and know I'm in my rookie season.  But I'm confident the seasoned vets will jump in should I say something stupid or inaccurate.  I'm probably one of the closest to your skill level having only been doing astrophotography since last Sept.  Like you, I'm not technically savvy.  I'm from Alabama (note the southern accent), an old USAF fighter pilot (think knuckle dragger) and I need pictures (preferably with crayons) with things dumbed down to the lowest level possible. There are quite a few VERY savvy folks on this forum who can speak to our level (as well as a much higher dialect if needed) that will help you get the most out of the mount.

So first, here's a picture of my setup.  

This is my EXOS2 GT PMC Eight Mount.  The scope is an Explore Scientific ED 80mm Apochromatic (APO) Telescope (~$699 when I bought it).  Great for wide-field shots (Nebulas, starfields, clusters and galaxies).  For planetary, I think you will want something bigger but I'm not there yet having a preference for the wide-field shots.  I have a Celestron 8" SCT thought that I am going to bring on soon.  I heard about the ED80 from Trevor Jones (Youtube channel: Astrobackyard) who recommended it.  By the way, if you haven't discovered him yet, Mr. Jones speaks our language too with a slight Canadian accent :-).  I watch his videos religiously and have learned quite a bit from his tutorials.  Also take a look at Dillon O'Donnell from down under (Youtube channel: Starstuff).  He's easy to understand as well (also accented :-)).  The smaller scope on top is an Orion Starshoot Autoguider and 50mm guide scope combo (~$250ish).  The camera is an astro modified Canon T5i.  I bought it used ($300) and then had it modified by Spencer Camera (~$275) to remove the IR cut filter (that helps bring in the reds of the Nebula/night sky).  You can do the mod yourself (think youtube videos) but I'm unlucky at that kinda thing and didn't wanna ruin my $300 camera investment.  Spencer Camera does mods for NASA so there ya go. Here's the link: (  Attached to the front end of the T5i is a Field Flattener to round out the stars at the edges of the image field (~$250ish), and there are three extra extensions (maybe ~$15 each) along the image train to get the right focusing length for the ED80.  Also on the mount itself you might notice a rose colored ring (NE corner above the counterweight).  That's an adapter that is holding a QHY Polemaster Polar Alignment Camera (again,  I think around ~$275ish).  Of all the additional/optional things I bought, I found that item to be most useful for me, and the guidescope combo to be indispensable to increasing exposure time and eliminating any elongation of stars in my photos.

Here are a couple more closeup photos for you.
Autoguider and scope.
Starshoot Autoguider.
Polemaster Camera and adapter ring for the EXOS2GT.

Below is my ad hoc cable setup using a USB Hub velcroed to the PMC eight.  Works like a champ.  The USB hub is connected to a Lenovo Thinkpad (again recommended by Trevor from Amazon for ~$300).  This is where my serial connection (the left most gray/blue USB) from the Thinkpad flows to the PMC eight (big blue connector on the right).  You will be advised to switch to a serial connection from wi-fi to control the scope at some point.  The middle black USB is to my T5i, the gray plug to its right is to my guide scope connection and the other gray USB sticking out the right side is my Polemaster camera setup (long story as to why thenUSB is connected there.  I won't bore you with it).
Cable Management via a USB Hub.
Above are the programs I currently run on my laptop.  Cartes du Ciel is my planetarium program, APT controls my camera (and can do quite a lot of other things that I am still learning or will eventually learn, including plate solving), the Polemaster program for polar alignment, PHD2 (which literally stands for Push Here Dummy) for sending minute pulses to the mount to keep the stars from trailing, and ASCOM POTH which in my layman's brain means a translator enabling all the other programs, and parts and pieces talk to each other.  All of these programs, with the exception of the Polemaster Program were free downloads.  BTW, the plate solving available via APT (or whatever program you choose) essentially eliminates the need for having to sync the PMC eight to any stars for slewing.  Again, the way my Alabama brain thinks about it is that you tell the PMC where you are and what the date/time is via your selected planetarium program, then the camera takes a picture through APT, compares what it sees then solves the puzzle.  It then knows precisely where it's at in time and space and where it's pointing and can now be slewed to a target easily.  No syncing required.  I have yet to use plate solving because I'm inherently lazy, have some additional things to download and configure, and have a way around it via a single star sync after a good Polar alignment via Polemaster.  Since getting good at that method, I have yet to have the target not be centered when I slew to it. Of course I am using a widefield telescope so a little error is OK.

All the above said, There are a thousand little nuances/issues I've had to learn/overcome but everyone here is very generous with their time and expertise.  Have fun, be patient, dive in, and let the good folks on this forum help you get it all up and running.  It wasn't all that tough.  The toughest part to me was and still is the tweaking you need to do to get a good/great finished product.

Good luck!


PMC-Eight w/Explore Stars
Celestron 8" Edge HD
Canon Ti-5 w/ Spencer Camera Astro-mod
Orion Starshoot Autoguider/50mm Guidescope
CdC, Polemaster, APT, PHD2, ASCOM POTH Hub

On Fri, Jul 17, 2020 at 2:06 PM Koen M. <koen.molemans@...> wrote:

Allright, so it seems i am going to have to start guiding...
My current setup is the iEXOS100 PCM8 with my camera mounted on top of it. and thats it.

I am planning to get a telescope to mount my DSLR on, but that wont be the biggest issue.

I want to go deep space, i want nebula's i want planets i want the whole "shabang"
But i have been told that that is impossible with what i have unless i go and start guiding.

Now technically i am as dumb as fu...
So, is there somebody that can explain me in baby language and baby steps what items i will need (guiding scopes, extra cables, ....)

If possible with pictures :p (like i said i am a dumb fu..., so half of what is being typed is not comming in :p (and english is not my native language :D )

Thx guys 

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