STi died

Well, I lasted 3 nights before the STi died. It will respond to USB to load the driver (Camera with Firmware), but will not respond to programs like Maxim or CCDOps (had to load this to convince SBig that the camera was dead). After 4 days of trying various things, mailed it in to SBig for repair.

At the same time, Maxim is hanging when I click the Cooler button to adjust the setpoint. Maxim is also randomly hanging during imaging runs. Have to kil Maxim, exit FocusMax and ACP, restart everything. Maxim people sent me a replacement couple of files (CCDMaxim.dll, CCDPlugSBig.dll) which I replaced. The Cooler hang is fixed, but still randomly hanging during runs. It may be related to showing the Guiding graph; it hung once immediately after I clicked that button. Or not, who knows.

With the STi out of commission, I wanted to use ST2K for imaging HAlpha, with the 8300 acting as the guide camera. The ST2K cannot image through the HAlpha (or OIII) filter, so I need the separate guider. To do this, I set Dome configuration in ACP to have an intermediate length to the camera. The Sky90 is at 760, the Edge is at 490. I set the value to 650 mm in an attempt to make both scopes look out the dome slit. Closer to the Sky90 because it definitely needs to be clear; I think the guider might work even if the entire Edge is not looking out. The star might be misformed or something, but maybe will work for guiding.

Tried it, and it seems to work pretty well. Targets far to the South and North may be difficult because of the oblique angle of the scope to the slit. However, the Calif Nebula works fine in this mode.

Another idea – with different configurations, I may want to guide using either the ST2K, the STi, or the STF8300. To do this I have to go out and move the guider cable to the different scope. I found a phone splitter with 6 connectors (most of them only have 4). Seems like I could plug this into the guide port on the PMX, plug in the three guider cables from the cameras, and voila! all 3 should guide depending on which I am using. Only problem I can see: the signals from the active guider will be seen on the outputs of the other 2 cameras. I don’t expect that to be a problem, but I sent a note to SBig to double check there is no problem.

6 connector phone splitter for multiple guiders

6 connector phone splitter for multiple guiders


STF8300M Installed

After playing with the Orion OAG with no success, I decided to do this right and get an STF8300M camera. Picked it up at AIC at a better price. Swapped out the Baader filters for Astrodon, with 5nm NB filters.

Of course, when I first installed it (after updating SBig drivers),  Maxim had all kinds of problems. So, I broke down and bought the 1 year software subscription for Maxim. I was at 5.15, and Bob Denny wants everyone to update to at least 5.22 for some fix for ACP. No one seems to know what the fix was:( So, now I have 5.24. One of Doug George’s selling points was that they are supposed to come out with version 6 “soon”, so this should get me that upgrade as well.

Still didn’t work. Eventually, I deleted the SBig camera driver (64 bit with firmware), powered up the camera, and it re-installed the driver. Now it seems to work fine.

Spent the evening messing with it. Ran some VCurves so I can focus it. Adjusted the Edge mirror so it is focused at 3500 on the Optec scale, halfway in the drawtube motion. Tried to focus the STi – this is very difficult to do by manually adjusting the STi in the holder. This cries out for some kind of a jig for focusing.

Got the Tak and Edge lined up so they both point at the same star. Slewed to a couple of stars, they were centered in both scopes.

Took a couple of random images for plate solving. Looks like the STF8300 is 22×16.6 arcminutes, 0.394 arcsex/pixel. The STi “should be” 5.89×4.40 arcseconds, 0.51 arcsec/pixel? Will need to try again, my test image didn’t have enough stars to plate solve.

Looks like the 8300 maxes out at 65000 adu. Need to take a series of times to see where it levels off.

Odd thing: took a series of exposures at 0.9 seconds through each filter. The max intensities for whatever random star I was looking at were:

Red  39500
green 27100
blue  13700

HA    3100
oiii   1900
sii     3100

Is this right? NB filters seem OK, but blue is WAY less than red. Don’t know why blue is so low; these are supposed to be balanced for the 8300, don’t know if this is right. I expected that balanced meant that the same amount of light comes through each filter so they combine 1:1:1.