Topics

My best < Your worst - Why doesn't anything work?

 

I've had my iExos-100 for nearly 1.5 months and I've yet to taken any better photos than what I was doing by lying the camera on a picnic table and aiming it. Yes, it's that bad. 

1. I decided to get a Amazon Fire 8HD so that I don't have to keep switching programs from APT (because that is working SO well for me, Plate solving? ERROR) and ExploreStars. Guess what? Explorestars is useless on my tablet, works fine on my laptop. I've factory reset the tablet, updated it, used my mother-in-laws, transferred the database to every folder possible (zipped and unzipped, because I can), and so forth. I can move my mount, that's it. No database. No GoTo. Nothing. Ideas? Error is "Could not open database file: /storage/emulated/0/Android/data/com-blahblahblah

2. I'm assuming my polar alignment is causing my inability to take more than a 2.5 sec exposure without star trails? Even last night I had Polaris dead center in my polar alignment hole, couldn't track worth a crap. Set the speed from 1 to 100 going in increments of 5. Just....yeah....I did a better job manually adjusting the mount every couple photos. I don't expect dead nut accuracy but wow. 

3. 100+ photos last night with a Canon T3 and 75-300mm lens. This was the best I got. Can you sense my frustration? I've read articles, I've watched videos, I've swore more than a sailor with syphilis. Someone pops out their iPhone and takes a photo 10x better than this, or whatever that Chinese company is that begins with a H. 



Basically, I'm lost, frustrated, and just looking at anything related to the sky just makes my blood boil at this point. 

Gord Farmer
 

I’ve had my exos2 PMC8 since March .
Still learning , having a blast.
For me it’s trial and error and help from friends who know more than I 
  I like the challenge .

Hang in there we will both get there .
Regards 
Gord 


On Nov 23, 2019, at 10:45 AM, Burks21 <nygburks2121@...> wrote:

I've had my iExos-100 for nearly 1.5 months and I've yet to taken any better photos than what I was doing by lying the camera on a picnic table and aiming it. Yes, it's that bad. 

1. I decided to get a Amazon Fire 8HD so that I don't have to keep switching programs from APT (because that is working SO well for me, Plate solving? ERROR) and ExploreStars. Guess what? Explorestars is useless on my tablet, works fine on my laptop. I've factory reset the tablet, updated it, used my mother-in-laws, transferred the database to every folder possible (zipped and unzipped, because I can), and so forth. I can move my mount, that's it. No database. No GoTo. Nothing. Ideas? Error is "Could not open database file: /storage/emulated/0/Android/data/com-blahblahblah

2. I'm assuming my polar alignment is causing my inability to take more than a 2.5 sec exposure without star trails? Even last night I had Polaris dead center in my polar alignment hole, couldn't track worth a crap. Set the speed from 1 to 100 going in increments of 5. Just....yeah....I did a better job manually adjusting the mount every couple photos. I don't expect dead nut accuracy but wow. 

3. 100+ photos last night with a Canon T3 and 75-300mm lens. This was the best I got. Can you sense my frustration? I've read articles, I've watched videos, I've swore more than a sailor with syphilis. Someone pops out their iPhone and takes a photo 10x better than this, or whatever that Chinese company is that begins with a H. 

<Single__9341_ISO3200_10s__8C.JPG>


Basically, I'm lost, frustrated, and just looking at anything related to the sky just makes my blood boil at this point. 

Dan Kahraman
 

Hi Burks:

1) Polar alignment has to be very accurate. To me it looks like you have a polar alignment issue. Use Sharpcap to help you with this. Initially make sure that Polaris is visible in your reticle scope. If you are using the same location outside, mark that spot. It will make subsequent set ups much easier. You won't have to use your reticle scope then...
2) Do you have the right files downloaded in APT to do platesolving? In addition you have to modify some of the directories. Here is a tutorial on that by Astroquest1 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01sWypHU7vo&t=64s)
3) If you have sag or tilt in your focuser so that your stars are not round, this too will throw off platesolving. Stars have to be round! So no wedge or tilt in your optical train.
4) You have to be quite accurate in determining the focal length, pixel array of your guidescope and guidecamera. This too will make difference in whether plate solving will work.

Don't give up! This is a brutal hobby. Many are ready to help you because we have all experienced your frustrations.

Dan Kahraman

On Sat, 23 Nov 2019 at 10:45, Burks21 <nygburks2121@...> wrote:
I've had my iExos-100 for nearly 1.5 months and I've yet to taken any better photos than what I was doing by lying the camera on a picnic table and aiming it. Yes, it's that bad. 

1. I decided to get a Amazon Fire 8HD so that I don't have to keep switching programs from APT (because that is working SO well for me, Plate solving? ERROR) and ExploreStars. Guess what? Explorestars is useless on my tablet, works fine on my laptop. I've factory reset the tablet, updated it, used my mother-in-laws, transferred the database to every folder possible (zipped and unzipped, because I can), and so forth. I can move my mount, that's it. No database. No GoTo. Nothing. Ideas? Error is "Could not open database file: /storage/emulated/0/Android/data/com-blahblahblah

2. I'm assuming my polar alignment is causing my inability to take more than a 2.5 sec exposure without star trails? Even last night I had Polaris dead center in my polar alignment hole, couldn't track worth a crap. Set the speed from 1 to 100 going in increments of 5. Just....yeah....I did a better job manually adjusting the mount every couple photos. I don't expect dead nut accuracy but wow. 

3. 100+ photos last night with a Canon T3 and 75-300mm lens. This was the best I got. Can you sense my frustration? I've read articles, I've watched videos, I've swore more than a sailor with syphilis. Someone pops out their iPhone and takes a photo 10x better than this, or whatever that Chinese company is that begins with a H. 



Basically, I'm lost, frustrated, and just looking at anything related to the sky just makes my blood boil at this point. 

Chris Tardif
 

I use a PC with APT and not tablets so I'm not sure how much this will help so take it for what its worth.

I use ASPS (All sky plate solver).  Configuration is a little finicky but i found that you have to launch the ASPS program first and make sure you can platesolve in that app without APT. You have to make sure you download the correct files for your lens and scope and set the pixel size and focal length in ASPS first.  Once you get it working in the ASPS app then configure ATP.  You also have to tell APT about the focal length otherwise it will not work.

Are you auto-guiding?  


--
Mounts: Explore Scientific IEXOS-100 w Celestron CG5 tripod, iOptron CEM 40
Scopes: Explore Scientific FCD-100 ED-102CF, Various Canon lenses, ZWO mini-guidescope, StarField 60mm guide-scope.
CameraASI120MM Mini (mono), Altair GPCAM 130
Control PC: Intel NUC
Loc: 44 -79

 

Burks21,
 
As Dan said, this is a brutal hobby.  A whole lot of things have to go right, in order for those pictures to turn out. 
 
In order for those things to go right, a bunch of T's have to be crossed, and I's dotted.  If you find yourself thinking "It should just work", or "I shouldn't have to...whatever", then that gets in the way of the crossing and dotting, and frustration ensues.  And I know about that, because it was a hump that I had to get over myself. 
 
Visual and Explorestars:  I have no idea why the Android platform requires that the db be installed separately, but that doesn't matter, because for the here and now, it just does.  I don't use it myself, but there are lots of posts here from other folks asking for help with that, and the separate install step for the db in an SD card sounds pretty straightforward. Easy to dig up.  
 
Astrophotography:  You can try unguided for a lark, but guided is simply better and more reliable.  These mounts are designed to be used visually and guided.  The PMC8 controller and its power train are responsive enough, that, given a mount that's adjusted and balanced reasonably well, the Periodic Error(s) on the mechanical side can simply be guided out, just as Jerry says.  And yes, you need a good polar alignment for guiding, but PHD2 can guide around a bit of error.
 
So how do you get there?  By methodically crossing T's and dotting I's.  I'm reading one fer-sure installation problem with Explorestars, and AFAIK, it's easily remedied with a little research.
 
I'm reading a suspected installation issue with APT as well, but can't be sure because I don't use it.  I CAN tell you that it cost me a lot of research and fooling around to get my plate solving working, with AstroTortilla.  Combination of picking the right version of AT, getting the right indexes downloaded, and setting up its parameters properly.  Lots of fiddling about, and sifting good advice from bad on the interweb, but now that I'm past that, it does 'just work'.   Anyway... just be prepared to dig in and work the problems...plenty of happy APT users around, and if they can do it, you can too. 
 
HTH...
 
- Bob
 
--
Mounts: ES PMC-8 EXOS2
Scopes: SV 102EDT, ZWO 60/280 Guide
Cameras:  Nikon D5300, Altair GPCAM2-IMX224C
Software: ASCOM, CdC, AstroTortilla, BYN Pro, Sharpcap, PHD2
Computer:  Thinkpad x230, Win7Pro/64

jrichard333 <jrichard333@hotmail.com>
 

Good day Burks21,

 

I can’t agree with the picnic table.  I prefer a telephoto lens.  At a focal length of 300mm you will easily be able to image some popular Messier Objects:  M31, M42, and M45. 

 

Database not connected (highest priority):

I am an Android user, so I will give my ideas on locating your database. 

1.       When you unzip the file, you will see ExploreStars/ ExploreStars/images and etc.

2.       You have to copy the 2nd ExploreStars folder to the root directory of your SD card.

3.       Make sure you have storage permissions enabled for the ExploreStars app.

4.       I am Android, but you should be able to go into settings and select apps, and then select permissions

 

Polar Alignment (unguided exposures <2.6- seconds):

1.       Your eyes are much better than mine.  I can’t see Polaris or anything but reflections through that tunnel hole J.

2.       Are you using a wireless remote to engage the T3 or are you using APT to control the T3?

3.       Do you use a leveler to make sure the tripod is level; I don’t use the built-in leveler on the tripod?

4.       Once the database is connected, I am sure your tracking will improve

5.       Have you checked your power source to make sure you are powering the mount at 11 to 12 VDC?

6.       Have you checked to make sure there is no backlash/ slop in the RA and DEC gears?

7.       On the bright side, you verified the 600 Rule @150mm:

FL (mm)

600 Rule (secs)

500 Rule (secs)

400 Rule (secs)

   150

2.50

2.08

1.67

 

 

 

 

 

 

100 Photos:

1.       I tried using blind solve on your image (All Sky Plate Solver), which did not work.  The stars were not sharp enough.

2.       Your Image details:

Exposure: 10-seconds

Focal Length:  150mm.

F-Ratio:  5.0

ISO:  3200

 

My Limited experience:

1.       Drift that bad at 10-seconds is an indication that your mount is not tracking properly or your polar alignment is off; remember, the polar alignment that you are doing is a rough polar alignment.

2.       I had this issue as well in the beginning.  I overcame it by doing some things which are not recommended.

a)      I level my mount using an actual leveler, not app.

b)      I use a compass app to make sure the mount is pointed due North for my home position.

c)       I set the Altitude to my location

d)      I have a list of bright stars near objects I wish to image ie. M31 and the star would be Mirach

e)      I use ExploreStars to slew to Mirach and then I manually adjust the altitude and azimuth on the mount until the star is centered in Liveview.

f)       Once I am done, I sync the star

g)      I also use a Bahintov Mask to aid in focusing

h)      Then I slew to M31 and begin imaging.  Until I can locate Polaris in my Bottle 8.5 skies, this will be my process.

i)        I use a YouPro intervalometer with liveview. 

j)        I also enable Long Exposure Noise reduction (low setting). When I first started, I had a ton of hot pixels.

 

Software:

I am just beginning to get into software to control my iEXOS-100.  This is a list of the packages I am using:

1.       All Sky Plate Solver:  blind plate solving is a must have (setting up can be interesting, but it is worth it

2.       APT:  recommended

3.       Stellarium and Stellarium Scope- pretty easy to setup

4.       Plate solver2:  to involved to figure out.  Does not appear to have blind solving

5.       Ascom Platform/ Poth:  Still working through random crashes

6.       ASCOMPAD:  learning

 

Conclusion:

1.       A frustrated person can resolve very little.  Just slow down and tackle one problem at a time.  Paraphrasing Mr. Spock…if we find everything that it’s not, we will surely find what it is.

2.       I can take 30-second exposures with minimum star drift.  Sometimes stars are not round at the edges; nope, not investing in a field flatter when I can  easily crop.

3.       Once I master drift alignment, I hope to take unguided 3-minute exposures.

 

JR

 

From: MAIN@ESPMC-Eight.groups.io [mailto:MAIN@ESPMC-Eight.groups.io] On Behalf Of Burks21
Sent: Saturday, November 23, 2019 9:45 AM
To: MAIN@ESPMC-Eight.groups.io
Subject: [ESPMC-Eight] My best < Your worst - Why doesn't anything work?

 

I've had my iExos-100 for nearly 1.5 months and I've yet to taken any better photos than what I was doing by lying the camera on a picnic table and aiming it. Yes, it's that bad. 

1. I decided to get a Amazon Fire 8HD so that I don't have to keep switching programs from APT (because that is working SO well for me, Plate solving? ERROR) and ExploreStars. Guess what? Explorestars is useless on my tablet, works fine on my laptop. I've factory reset the tablet, updated it, used my mother-in-laws, transferred the database to every folder possible (zipped and unzipped, because I can), and so forth. I can move my mount, that's it. No database. No GoTo. Nothing. Ideas? Error is "Could not open database file: /storage/emulated/0/Android/data/com-blahblahblah

2. I'm assuming my polar alignment is causing my inability to take more than a 2.5 sec exposure without star trails? Even last night I had Polaris dead center in my polar alignment hole, couldn't track worth a crap. Set the speed from 1 to 100 going in increments of 5. Just....yeah....I did a better job manually adjusting the mount every couple photos. I don't expect dead nut accuracy but wow. 

3. 100+ photos last night with a Canon T3 and 75-300mm lens. This was the best I got. Can you sense my frustration? I've read articles, I've watched videos, I've swore more than a sailor with syphilis. Someone pops out their iPhone and takes a photo 10x better than this, or whatever that Chinese company is that begins with a H. 



Basically, I'm lost, frustrated, and just looking at anything related to the sky just makes my blood boil at this point. 

wcblack1020@...
 

Hi Burks21,
IMO, getting a good polar alignment is a key starting point and once you have a process for doing it, stick with it. You will get better at it over time (It's a learned skill).
Honestly, I don't see the peep hole on the IEXOS-100 doing the job. I use an EXOSII mount and the polar scope will get me close, but not good enough.
After using the polar scope, I use SharpCap pro polar alignment tool to refine my alignment (I think the subscription is like $20/year).

On your tablet issues, I had a similar problem because my default pictures folder (where ExploreStars looks for the database) was not on my tablet.
For some reason, Windows 10 had decided my default pictures folder should be on my onedrive on the cloud -- which is a problem, if you can't connect to the mount and the internet at the same time.
I eventually figured out how to tell Windows to use my local drive for the default pictures folder, but that process was not intuitive (I think you can set this up when you first install Windows by telling it not to back-up folders to the cloud).
As I recall, I think I had to right-click one-drive icon on the taskbar, open settings, pick backup tab, unselect photos & videos. Also, went into "manage backup" -> Onedrive settings, and deselected all folders for backup.

--

Bill
Location: Dallas, GA
Scopes:
 Celestron C8, AstroTech 80mm APO

Mounts: EXOS II PMC-Eight, LXD75

Cameras: ZWO ASI294MCPro, ASI385

Pavel
 

Hi,

don't worry, you are not the only desperate beginner! Actually, I ended
up with a broken mount and nobody is able to tell whether it was my
fault or not. From the two trials I had, I only managed to fit Polaris
(I hope it was the Polaris and not some neighbour of it!) into the polar
tunnel once, and it was rather by chance. Most people say I have very
sharp eyes, but it seems to belong to past times... So, congratulation
if you can actually fit a star into the tunnel!

On the other hand, I can help you with the ExploreStars database
location, since I managed to run ExploreStars on devices the authors
never had dreamt (the nightmare) of. The application tells you where it
is looking for the database and you must put it exactly there. I know -
the error message is displayed too shortly for anyone to read or even
remember. Obviously, in your case it is looking to the internal storage
and not any external SD card (that seems to happen when there is no
external card available or possible). The full path should be:
/storage/emulated/0/Android/data/com.explorescientific.explorestars/files/ExploreStars
(that is the "ExploreStars" folder you download from the website and
unpack). You can use applications such as "Total Commander" or "ES File
Explorer" to move the files around. If you cannot get into
/storage/emulated/0/, there can also be a way through /sdcard/.

Best regards,
Pavel

P.S.: Even when you fit the Polaris into the polar tunnel, you are not
done. I have also had problems to get the telescope pointed at anything
- the difference was just too big, maybe around 5 degrees. In addition,
do remember to reset the alignment after the physical setup, it seems to
remember the previous one. Well, actually I am still not sure why the
mount sometimes pointed the scope down into the ground when I selected a
planet above the horizon in ExploreStars. Other objects seemed to be
pointed at in the right direction. However, I also had some mechanical
problems at first, so that the mount was losing its alignment and I was
just testing at home during the day. Hard times for beginners if you
have no experience yet and don't know if the problem is you, the device
or just your misunderstanding of how to control it!

I've had my iExos-100 for nearly 1.5 months and I've yet to taken any
better photos than what I was doing by lying the camera on a picnic
table and aiming it. Yes, it's that bad. 

1. I decided to get a Amazon Fire 8HD so that I don't have to keep
switching programs from APT (because that is working SO well for me,
Plate solving? ERROR) and ExploreStars. Guess what? Explorestars is
useless on my tablet, works fine on my laptop. I've factory reset the
tablet, updated it, used my mother-in-laws, transferred the database to
every folder possible (zipped and unzipped, because I can), and so
forth. I can move my mount, that's it. No database. No GoTo. Nothing.
Ideas? Error is "Could not open database file:
/storage/emulated/0/Android/data/com-blahblahblah

2. I'm assuming my polar alignment is causing my inability to take more
than a 2.5 sec exposure without star trails? Even last night I had
Polaris dead center in my polar alignment hole, couldn't track worth a
crap. Set the speed from 1 to 100 going in increments of 5.
Just....yeah....I did a better job manually adjusting the mount every
couple photos. I don't expect dead nut accuracy but wow. 

3. 100+ photos last night with a Canon T3 and 75-300mm lens. This was
the best I got. Can you sense my frustration? I've read articles, I've
watched videos, I've swore more than a sailor with syphilis. Someone
pops out their iPhone and takes a photo 10x better than this, or
whatever that Chinese company is that begins with a H. 



Basically, I'm lost, frustrated, and just looking at anything related to
the sky just makes my blood boil at this point.