Last night I had a go at using my "new" Atik 1HS mono LX-webcam (bought for £30 from a Peterborough AS member at Kelling Heath) as an auto-guider/finder on the back of my 80ED optical tube. I'd made a wooden "dovetail-bar" and bolted it to the top of the scope-rings: this allowed me to attach the guide-camera using the bracket originally made to fix it underneath my C8 tube.I was relieved to find that my ancient WinXP laptop could cope with running both Atik cameras (the 1HS for guiding and 16IC for imaging) at the same time. And although the PHD Guiding program frequently dropped frames from the incoming video (just as it does with my home-made LX webcams), it still managed to keep track of the guide-star.
Using a portable tripod set-up my polar alignment will always be approximate, and my CG5-AGT mount suffers from a lot of backlash on its declination axis, however after fiddling with the parameters in PHD I found that I could still manage guided exposures of 5, 10 and even 15-minutes, and the only thing which caused the system to fail was the arrival of the clouds around 10pm!
Blog the previous nights viewing. Link to images on the gallery or simply describe what you observed the night before. Leave the technical and howto in another forum.
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