Delivery of clouds and WL wedge (h-alpha inbound)

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Delivery of clouds and WL wedge (h-alpha inbound)

Post by SimonM » Wed Jan 06, 2021 9:22 pm

Traditionally after purchasing astronomy equipment, there is (for no apparent reason) a delivery of clouds (lack of sunshine...) - or so it seems! I received my Baader cool ceramic Herschel wedge and a Baader Polarising filter late this afternoon (almost after a lovely sunset) :cat.

I have also ordered a Daystar Quark and an Astronomik L1 UV/IR cut filter for delivery tomorrow. I was in two minds to order a Quark as the feedback from this and other forums aren't always quite what you want to hear. I ordered it from the Widescreen Centre, UK. I was asking Simon Bennett what his experience of receiving Daystar products was. He said that it was like most astronomy products and 95% will be (mostly) OK, with the two biggest issues being adequate power delivery (the cable) and a suitable blocking UV/IR filter.

I was all set to purchase a 2" UV/IR Baader filter to go on the front of my diagonal (as recommended for my SW 100mm refractor which he also supplied), but he recommended using one of the Astronomik filters (an unfamiliar brand to me) and specifically the L1. I did look at the spectrum transmission graphs and I can see that L1 is the widest and L3 the least bandpass, so (perhaps) a slightly odd recommendation as "wide" also means "least effective" as an ERF solution, but I went with it and got the L1 version. Most users seem happy enough with a Baader one and they would have been a lot cheaper - perhaps I was (again) "duped" :geek: .

My initial plan is to use both WL and h-alpha for visual use and only later use them for imaging. I'm not too familiar with how to use lucky imaging, FireCapture, and other programs to compile a representative image. Would it be wrong to try to reach a conclusion solely on the basis of individual images? I will remember to collect .avi or .ser too. No point in trying to collect more than 8 bits of data?

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Re: Delivery of clouds and WL wedge (h-alpha inbound)

Post by Montana » Thu Jan 07, 2021 8:31 am

Simon, if it helps this is a comment from another vendor (Astrograph) about the Astronomik UV/IR filter vs the Baader, you were not duped viewtopic.php?f=10&t=22453&p=206107&hil ... ik#p206107

The Sun will come, patience is a virtue :) :) :)

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Re: Delivery of clouds and WL wedge (h-alpha inbound)

Post by Alto » Thu Jan 07, 2021 9:20 am

The Sun is always there, just not where you are! Happy viewing when you get the chance :-D


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Re: Delivery of clouds and WL wedge (h-alpha inbound)

Post by DeepSolar64 » Thu Jan 07, 2021 5:09 pm

New equipment ALWAYS draws clouds!!


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Re: Delivery of clouds and WL wedge (h-alpha inbound)

Post by SimonM » Thu Jan 07, 2021 7:02 pm

Montana wrote:
Thu Jan 07, 2021 8:31 am
Simon, if it helps this is a comment from another vendor (Astrograph) about the Astronomik UV/IR filter vs the Baader, you were not duped viewtopic.php?f=10&t=22453&p=206107&hil ... ik#p206107
I also don't think I was duped by getting the Astronomik L1 filter and it is good to be trying another brand (Baader can't have their way all the time) too. I did find other references that the L1 behaves as if the filter wasn't there (ideal behavior for image quality). As my dealer is suggesting it, and also the use of the UV/IR as an effective ERF for my SW scope, then I'm not about to try something else.

My Quark Chronosphere arrived today and yes there has been a stream of clouds all day! The only tests I could do were to confirm that the EP is OK to use with my 2" SW diagonal (and probably a Baader one too) and to power it up, and see how long it takes for the LED to go green. To reach temperature (inside the house) was about 8 minutes and to move through each of the bands, just under six minutes.

I was surprised that interrupting the supply only for a short time also resulted in a wait of about six minutes, I wasn't anticipating that it wouldn't recover so slowly. I tried an Anker Power Brick with a short power lead (I do need to order some longer high current cables for my setup) which worked as expected and also for each of the filter 0.1 variance settings, using the supplied PSU. I was also surprised that going from +5 to zero to -5 takes as long as one step up or down and so not be proportional.

I didn't have any issues with the supplied PSU, but I did notice that it does introduce a slight buzz when holding the red control section. The PSU is double earthed e.g. not earthed and you definitely can feel something (I measured 85v AC relative to earthed equipment ( a toaster) with a high impedance multimeter).

At first, I thought it might have been a mechanical effect, but using clingfilm I can stop the buzz. This effect is one that I notice when using laptops that are powered with a mains adapter where there are metal surfaces e.g. some Apple products. Other people don't seem to notice or are susceptible to it. I emailed Simon at Widescreen (today, 12.01.2021) to check that both the PSU and/or the Quark are operating "normally".

Next stop, will be a cloud-free period to try out the WL and also h-alpha when I have some free time. This will be my first transition to daytime Astro activities :cool: so I'm pretty excited.

FWIW, the "buzz" is an electrical "effect" that I'm sensitive to. It is caused by equipment that doesn't have an earthing pin and where the product has a metal outside that is connected to the internal "ground" and where the product is double-insulated. Even a "good" product will sometimes show the effect. Almost all mains powered equipment at my nearest Apple Store shows this effect too (with me).

Simon
Last edited by SimonM on Tue Jan 12, 2021 1:00 pm, edited 3 times in total.



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Re: Delivery of clouds and WL wedge (h-alpha inbound)

Post by marktownley » Thu Jan 07, 2021 7:39 pm

Congrats on the new purchases Simon! Hope you have lots of enjoyment from them. Saturday for me, here in the Midlands, is forecast to be clear, hope it is where you are.
SimonM wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 9:22 pm
I was asking Simon Bennett what his experience of receiving Daystar products was. He said that it was like most astronomy products and 95% will be (mostly) OK, with the two biggest issues being adequate power delivery (the cable) and a suitable blocking UV/IR filter.
I also have a lot of time for Simon and the Widescreen Centre, I am a regular customer too, however I do not agree with his 2 big issues with a quark. For me, the big issues with quarks is their poor field illumination and ability not to actually get on band at all, at times, in certain units. I hope yours is a 'good one' and had none of these issues, but I would implore you to test it thoroughly - use your IMX174 camera to get some images (don't rely on the subjective mark one eyeball) as everything 'looks' good when it is a fresh purchase. Post pictures here, you will get genuine and honest feedback as to whether it is a keeper or a return.

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Re: Delivery of clouds and WL wedge (h-alpha inbound)

Post by SimonM » Sun Jan 10, 2021 6:37 pm

marktownley wrote:
Thu Jan 07, 2021 7:39 pm
I also have a lot of time for Simon and the Widescreen Centre, I am a regular customer too, however I do not agree with his 2 big issues with a quark. For me, the big issues with quarks is their poor field illumination and ability not to actually get on band at all, at times, in certain units. I hope yours is a 'good one' and had none of these issues, but I would implore you to test it thoroughly - use your IMX174 camera to get some images (don't rely on the subjective mark one eyeball) as everything 'looks' good when it is a fresh purchase. Post pictures here, you will get genuine and honest feedback as to whether it is a keeper or a return.
Thanks Mark.

I will be testing it thoroughly. I have a QHY5III178M camera which is normally used for guiding. The 1/1.8-inch sensor is smaller than an IMX174 and is 2.4 micron x 3072 x 2048 e.g. about 7.2mm x 4.9mm. That might be an issue for checking for poor field illumination?

I also have colour camera (also) with only an AR coating but with a much bigger sensor. I do realise that a colour sensor isn't ideal (low sensitivity and spatial resolution) but it will provide a bigger sensor area. My ASI294MC is 4.63 micron x 4144 x 2822 e.g. about 19.1mm x 13.0mm, so about 2.5x bigger and I should be able to see any "banding" issues. I also have an unmodified DSLR which has a bigger sensor but may only offer borderline sensitivity.

The Quark manual (page 3) has two interesting points:

"The Quark is designed for use on F/4 to F/9 refractors. Combined with an integrated 4.3x telecentric barlow, this results in a F/17 to F/38 final image respectively, to provide the best performance from your filter".

"Any other USB power source you wish to use must be rated for at least 1.5 amps at 5 volts. Computer USB ports and cell phone chargers do not normally support this much power.does warn off using not be particularly sensitive".

So they are not saying that it has to be f/30 - probably best the scope is closer to f/30 than f/17. Also it suggests that not all PSU are suitable. I actually go further and say that it's the cables that are plugged into the PSU that have the issues...

Simon Bennett, at Widefield Centre said that I should try it with f/5.5 100mm scope (that's about f/24) before assuming that it needs to be stopped down to f/30. He reckoned the extra aperture (100mm vs 75mm stopped down) would produce a better result. We will see, manual suggests f/27 - f/32 is best - so not too far off their recommendation.

He may also have a point about using an inadequate PSU. I have an Anker PowerCore 5v "'brick" which I was intending to use. I ordered a 1.8m Anker Micro USB cable which promises "High Speed Sync and Charging Cable". I didn't find it worked very well with the Quark - so for now I'm stuck with using the supplied PSU (the cable is a bit short). With the Quark PSU, the unit heats up and the light moves from yellow to green without issues. With the Anker cable and a "brick" it also changes from yellow to green but with issues. The Quark LED pulsates (flickers) about once second and the Quark makes an (unhappy) noise - like a flash unit "charging". Whilst it could turn green, I also had the LED go off, so I won't be using the new cable.

The Anker cable is the issue and the conductors are probably too thin for the task, so it is going back to Amazon. I also tried the 5v "brick" with the 0.3m "certified" Anker cable that is supplied and used to charge it - the Quark heats up OK, but the cable is too short to be useful. My intention was to be able to carry the quark and PSU outside whilst it was powered up and the LED staying green, with the PSU on the ground (nowhere to fall) and so not tug the "fragile" connector on the Quark. I have to rethink this and use the supplied PSU - some users have a bag to hang it off the scope - my experience is that anything that is put on the little shelf under a tripod can (and usually) will fall off.

The Mark ONE eyeball - is that unique to Mark Townley, or can I substitute my own eyeball? :band

There is probably a learning curve to using the Quark for visual and getting the best out of it? Even so, I would have thought that I might be able to distinguish poor field illumination e.g. not flat performance across the FOV and/or banding, with my tired (old) eyes?

Using one or both of my cameras, I will take a "video" aiming for short exposures e.g. 1/10 - 1/100 second and not attempt to process the result to a single image or provide a warm colour "look" - to post a link here. I'm not sure I know how to setup and use a stacking program to do anything more at this stage.

No chance to try the WL or Quark out yesterday, as I was 300 miles away in Durham. Today its cloudy - described as "sunny, but partially cloudy". In my book that's 100% cloud cover and all day without a single let-up.

Is there any value in using an EP dew heater to provide some background warmth? I was thinking 25% or 50% of a 4W Dew Heater might just counteract the low temperatures our temperate (or otherwise) climate gives us. Alternatively does insulation help e.g. pipe insulation in the cold?

Simon



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Re: Delivery of clouds and WL wedge (h-alpha inbound)

Post by RodAstro » Mon Jan 11, 2021 1:11 pm

Hi Simon

Firstly I don't think the colour camera will be that good at showing field illumination. The field illumination becomes apparent when you start stacking many images, just like the image increases in resolution so does the illumination. If your QHY shows bad illumination with its small chip then that's not good.
All the quarks I have used show this problem (3) one of these is supposed to be an excellent quark. The illumination can be corrected in software by selecting the bright areas and darkening and selecting the dark areas and brightening until you get even illumination, a bit laborious at first but after a few images you get quick at it and it takes no longer than stacking. One thing to note it is not always a regular pattern, not sure why.
I have found that only by knowing the bad illumination is there can I just make it out visually, so as Mark says don't rely on your eye to decide weather it is a good quark for imaging.

Secondly yes a eyepiece heater wrapped around the base of the quark really helps in this cold weather, I just wish I could get one to fit my bino head two eyepieces is twice as cold.

I bought a 2" Baader 35nm as a ERF for my 6" scope I never use it as it absorbs so much light I just use a UV/IR.

Hope this is useful Rod



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Re: Delivery of clouds and WL wedge (h-alpha inbound)

Post by SimonM » Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:52 pm

RodAstro wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 1:11 pm
Firstly I don't think the colour camera will be that good at showing field illumination. The field illumination becomes apparent when you start stacking many images, just like the image increases in resolution so does the illumination. If your QHY shows bad illumination with its small chip then that's not good.

All the quarks I have used show this problem (3) one of these is supposed to be an excellent quark. The illumination can be corrected in software by selecting the bright areas and darkening and selecting the dark areas and brightening until you get even illumination, a bit laborious at first but after a few images you get quick at it and it takes no longer than stacking. One thing to note it is not always a regular pattern, not sure why.
I'm still waiting for some sunshine to test both the Baader Wedge for WL and the Quark for h-alpha, so everything is yet to be determined :bow2 .

The effect you describe of bright and dark areas would be similar to problems with a scope that doesn't evenly illuminate the field because of vignetting? Except that instead of an approximately circular polar plot, dark corners etc., it is band caused by the way the Etalon uses (abuses) Mica to achieve its operation?

So the solution would appear to be to use a "flat" to divide the image by the flat and create a level output. I haven't so far used the AutoStakkert program, but I have seen YouTubers applying a flat and constructing a flat using a front-mounted "filter" (the lining of a cereal packet was mentioned) to defuse the sunlight sufficiently to create a sufficiently bright source to get 20 or so "flats" and create a master flat to use with their process stack. Programs like SharpCap can apply "flats" in real-time too?

It is always mentioned that new flats have to be created if the equipment is changed - I assume that rotation of the Quark and/or the camera counts as an equipment change? It would be worrying if the Quark heater control also affected the operation or if the effect changed over time.

Simon



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Re: Delivery of clouds and WL wedge (h-alpha inbound)

Post by marktownley » Mon Jan 11, 2021 6:09 pm

SimonM wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 6:37 pm

I will be testing it thoroughly. I have a QHY5III178M camera which is normally used for guiding. The 1/1.8-inch sensor is smaller than an IMX174 and is 2.4 micron x 3072 x 2048 e.g. about 7.2mm x 4.9mm. That might be an issue for checking for poor field illumination?

I also have colour camera (also) with only an AR coating but with a much bigger sensor. I do realise that a colour sensor isn't ideal (low sensitivity and spatial resolution) but it will provide a bigger sensor area. My ASI294MC is 4.63 micron x 4144 x 2822 e.g. about 19.1mm x 13.0mm, so about 2.5x bigger and I should be able to see any "banding" issues. I also have an unmodified DSLR which has a bigger sensor but may only offer borderline sensitivity.
Chip size won't be an issue in identifying poor illumination / variation in CWL over the fov.

Use the mono cam binned, don't use either colour cam, seriously get the colour cam idea out of your head :)
SimonM wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 6:37 pm

The Quark manual (page 3) has two interesting points:

"The Quark is designed for use on F/4 to F/9 refractors. Combined with an integrated 4.3x telecentric barlow, this results in a F/17 to F/38 final image respectively, to provide the best performance from your filter".

"Any other USB power source you wish to use must be rated for at least 1.5 amps at 5 volts. Computer USB ports and cell phone chargers do not normally support this much power.does warn off using not be particularly sensitive".

So they are not saying that it has to be f/30 - probably best the scope is closer to f/30 than f/17. Also it suggests that not all PSU are suitable. I actually go further and say that it's the cables that are plugged into the PSU that have the issues...

Simon Bennett, at Widefield Centre said that I should try it with f/5.5 100mm scope (that's about f/24) before assuming that it needs to be stopped down to f/30. He reckoned the extra aperture (100mm vs 75mm stopped down) would produce a better result. We will see, manual suggests f/27 - f/32 is best - so not too far off their recommendation.
The lower the focal ratio the quark is used at the lower the contrast and hence detail that will be seen.
SimonM wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 6:37 pm
He may also have a point about using an inadequate PSU. I have an Anker PowerCore 5v "'brick" which I was intending to use. I ordered a 1.8m Anker Micro USB cable which promises "High Speed Sync and Charging Cable". I didn't find it worked very well with the Quark - so for now I'm stuck with using the supplied PSU (the cable is a bit short). With the Quark PSU, the unit heats up and the light moves from yellow to green without issues. With the Anker cable and a "brick" it also changes from yellow to green but with issues. The Quark LED pulsates (flickers) about once second and the Quark makes an (unhappy) noise - like a flash unit "charging". Whilst it could turn green, I also had the LED go off, so I won't be using the new cable.

The Anker cable is the issue and the conductors are probably too thin for the task, so it is going back to Amazon. I also tried the 5v "brick" with the 0.3m "certified" Anker cable that is supplied and used to charge it - the Quark heats up OK, but the cable is too short to be useful. My intention was to be able to carry the quark and PSU outside whilst it was powered up and the LED staying green, with the PSU on the ground (nowhere to fall) and so not tug the "fragile" connector on the Quark. I have to rethink this and use the supplied PSU - some users have a bag to hang it off the scope - my experience is that anything that is put on the little shelf under a tripod can (and usually) will fall off.
I've had a few cables that don't work, it's just a case of finding one that does.

I've never heard of a Quark making a noise. Have you contacted Simon about this? I would. Big alarm bells ringing with me on this!
SimonM wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 6:37 pm
The Mark ONE eyeball - is that unique to Mark Townley, or can I substitute my own eyeball? :band

There is probably a learning curve to using the Quark for visual and getting the best out of it? Even so, I would have thought that I might be able to distinguish poor field illumination e.g. not flat performance across the FOV and/or banding, with my tired (old) eyes?
If you can see it with your eye you really do have a duff Quark!
SimonM wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 6:37 pm
Is there any value in using an EP dew heater to provide some background warmth? I was thinking 25% or 50% of a 4W Dew Heater might just counteract the low temperatures our temperate (or otherwise) climate gives us. Alternatively does insulation help e.g. pipe insulation in the cold?
If you are having to do this you have a duff Quark - send it back if that's the case. How are you going to regulate the temperature with a dew heater?

Your wedge will be absolutely fine, focus your time and efforts in testing the Quark! If it is a duffer and you can't get it back in time you have a £1k paperweight.

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Re: Delivery of clouds and WL wedge (h-alpha inbound)

Post by RodAstro » Tue Jan 12, 2021 5:45 pm

Hi Simon

Talking about the dew heater, Quarks working spec is from +5 degree C to +38 degree C and as Mark says you should not need to heat the Quark, that is if you stay within these specs.

Last week I was observing in my observatory at -2 Degree C with my very large telescope and as usual the quark takes time to come on band and change to higher temperatures, it is just very slow. Until now I have just used a hairdryer to heat the external of the quark to speed it up at these temperatures. this year I bought a camera lens dew heater, this has three settings using PWM and I run it off a 5V Li battery so it is very stable.
I just have it wrapped around the telecentric barlow black part of the quark and it works well on my scope in very low ambient.

Maybe you wont need one as most normal people wont be observing the sun at these low temperatures and will keep the quark in its operating range.
Also my big problem is my telescope, it weights in at 1 ton and my focuser is heavier than my 10" SCT (See pic) so all this mass soon absorbs any heat near by.
I am using the quark in an unusual situation to most people but the dew heater does work for me.

Cheers Rod
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