Imaging Equipment

This is a set of pages about my imaging equipment. Initially I had just one page for equipment and images, but of course more and more equipment arrived over time so I had to  break it up. The equipment not needing more in-depth coverage is mentioned below, the other stuff is described in the following sections: cameras, guiders, software & computers, Bahtinov masks, light box, off-axis guiders, adaptive optics, imaging with C14 and imaging with O10. Non-imaging equipment is discussed in accessories section. My photo gallery can be browsed from astrophotography.

The best thing that I ever done for my astrophotography is to build the observatory. It is so easy to set up everything for imaging, and then control it from a warm room! The two imaging telescopes CGE1400 and Orion 10" Newt sit on the piers in the open part, while computers and the operator sit in the warm room. The Omega-2 piers have their own AC/DC converters and they provide source of 12V DC and 110V AC power. Controlling the scopes and cameras is another thing. I have 5 cables running to each pier, and I need 3 USB ports in each notebook:

  • USB extension cable, with a powered 4-socket hub on the pier side. It is one of the "active" USB extension cables, and this configuration minimizes noise and transmission problems. All the USB connecting equipment at the scope connects via this hub and extension cable.

  • Celestron serial cable for telescope control. The cable has a small phone handset plug that connects to Celestron hand pad, which allows controlling the telescope both from the hand pad and from the computer. Computer side of serial cable is connected via RadioShack USB-to-Serial adapter.

  • Autoguider cable. Standard autoguider cable that plugs to autoguider port on CGE pier and is connected to Shoestring GPUSB interface on the computer side and then to an USB computer port.

  • Phone cable for Orion Motofocus control. There is usually a problem getting handset type plugs, and unfortunately Orion Motofocus uses one of such plugs. I took the original Orion cable, which has RJ-45 plug on controller side and used RJ-45 connector to join the extension cable with the Orion cable. The other end of the cable plugs to Orion hand controller for Motofocus in warm room.

  • Stereo cable for JMI Motofocus control. JMI uses audio style plugs to connect the focuser motor with hand controller. A simple stereo extension cable works fine, female side plugged to motor cable at the scope side and male part plugging into JMI hand controller.

So far most of the imaging I did was using one shot color (OSC) cameras: Canon 40D (modified) and CCD-Labs QHY8 (Q453HR). However, even with these sensors it is possible to do narrowband, and even Hubble palette type imaging, with a loss of resolution. I have Astronomik 12nm Hα filter, Astronomik 12nm OIII filter and 12nm SII filter. For LRGB imaging with my SBIG ST-8300M mono camera I got Astronomik LRGB filter set.

And in the end one needs lots of different adapters, barrel extenders, T-thread extenders and such. The best place to get such things is ScopeStuff, and I have accumulated my share as you can see below ... It is good to have few spares at hand, nothing is more frustrating than loosing a good clear night because I forgot to order a $1 piece of equipment.