I think I gave manual guiding a fair try. I've been doing it for quite a few months and it hasn't been going too bad. I started out really enjoying it but as time went on I started to become conscious of the observing time that I was missing... not only that but I was eventually getting tired and achy after staring at the illuminated reticle for several minutes at a time. Also, after looking at a ton of astro images on the net I started to notice how crisp the autoguided images were compared to the manual guided ones and figured perhaps I need to try it out someday. I did a bit of research and realized that all I would need is a cheap webcam or imager. I already lug my laptop with me into the field so why not lug around one more item plus a few more cables. So I talked to Mike and he recommended the DSI because of its sensitivity to fainter stars. I bought it off of him for a pretty good price and immediately began to work on re-configuring my astrophotgraphy setup.
I had to first get my CG5-GT (ASGT) mount to communicate with my laptop via the RS232 cable and ASCOM platform (many astro programs require ASCOM in order to communicate with the ASGT mount). I then loaded a free program called PHD Guiding which was able to communicate with the DSI and my mount. A few clicks of the mouse a bit of DSI focussing and a few more clicks and I was on my way. I was surprised at how easy autoguiding was to get running after getting the initial communication bugs worked out.
Last night at Binbrook I lugged my entire setup out and after my alignment, balancing, and focusing I started the autoguiding and the rest was pretty easy. WHile I was collecting the frames I could walk around and enjoy the views through the other scopes and actually have real conversations.
I tried a few frames on M27 and since this is my first real attempt, the tracking is not yet perfect but still better than when I did it manually. There are some settings in PHD guiding that I probably should play with in order to get better results
M27 Dumbell Nebula
Canon 300D with C6S-GT and f6.3 focal reducer
3 x 5 minutes autoguided with PHD Guiding and DSI-C on the 80mm APO
2 dark frames
Stacking in Deep Sky Stacker and processed in PS
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