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Well, after what seemed like an eternity, I finally have some semblance of a decent AP rig put together...

I nearly ran over about 5 people trying to get home from work to see my new camera and filters that arrived today. The retailer I picked the new gear up from informed me that he'd screwed the order up a little; he'd put aside 5nm filters instead of 3nm filters which I'd ordered, the latter being out of stock. Disappointing, but he assures me they'll arrive next week and instead of leaving me hanging he sent on the 5nm filters to use in the interim. A nice gesture. Now all I need is for this incessant rain to clear up in the meantime (Yeah, right!).

With the weather so depressingly bad here for most of the year, (More often getting clear nights in and around the full moon and with humidity, light pollution is a factor no matter how far you are from urban centres) I decided I'd invest in narrowband equipment. At least these factors would by heavily mitigated shooting through filters. I trawled Google reading reviews about cameras and filters and narrowband shooting in general, albeit a bit hurriedly (Thanks, Richard), and decided I'd go all out and pick up a QSI 583ws and 3nm Ha, [OIII] and [SII] Astrodon filters. Finally, they all arrived today.

So, the new camera. My first impressions obliterating all outer packaging were pure awe at the ruggedised Pelican case the camera comes in. It looks more than sturdy enough to protect the camera whilst out in the field, on a hunting trip in Iraq or enduring thermonuclear warfare. Nice touch, QSI. The camera itself, then; well, what can I say - It's about the size I expected bar a little heavier. It's a solid, compact design and even better - it fits my WO field flattener perfectly! I can't comment much more on it for the moment, I'm in the midst of configuring it in Maxim DL and I'll have to wait for a clear night before I can review it from a performance perspective. If the specs are anything to go by, it's going to blow my umodded Canon 500D to kingdom come! Roll on clear skies!


Ok, enough blathering - Pics or it didn't happen!



Finally, here's the full spec of my new rig:
William Optics 110FLT Apo Triplet
William Optics Megrez 72 Apo Doublet
William Optics Field Flattener
QSI 583ws
Astrodon 3nm Ha, [OIII] and S[II] filters
Orion SSAG Autoguider
CGEM

Also - Dew control (finally!), Bahnitov masks, and more powertanks than you can shake a stick at.

I'd also like to give a shout out to the people whose input, insights and information were invaluable getting all of this together:

The guys in ##astronomy on Freenode.
Richard Crisp - Narrowband ninja. Your insights, papers and emails still continue to educate me.
Jeff, Mark, S-Hop and Bob - Big thanks for feedback, insights, informative linkage and entertaining conversation.

Any feedback or arse-kicking is welcome in the comments i.e. if I neglected to thank you for your help along the way. That's it for now. Ready to start my journey into the art of narrowband imaging.

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

Clear skies, fellas!

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Comment by Conor on February 15, 2012 at 1:59am

It's a mixed bag, I suppose, Charles. To be honest, I wish I'd talked to Richard Crisp before buying it. It does the job and along with the NB filters, it's certainly breathed new life into this hobby for me; Irish weather not withstanding... Let me break it down into the pros and cons from my perspective (For technical shortcomings, just ask Richard):

Pros:
Compact design - Not bulky, well balanced, internal filter wheel is convenient.
Zero software compatibility issues - Works just fine with Maxim DL on windows and GoQAT on Linux.
Cooling is ok - I don't have much problem getting it down to -30/35C here from ~10C, although I'm not sure how well it'd perform in warmer climates like over there.

Cons:
Download time - Absolutely DOG SLOW. This is something they addressed in the "newer" models but I DO NOT use the camera for focusing/alignment for this reason (I was once aligning/focussing for the guts of an hour) and the fact that it's detrimental to the lifespan of the camera.
Cooling - Does not nearly perform to the same degree (pardon the pun) as the likes of FLI (Which I wished I went the extra mile for and bought instead),
Noise - I notice there is a fair amount of noise in images on the high sensitivity setting. I suspect read noise due to it's prevelance on one side of the frame (Dark frames don't do a whole lot for it)

All in all, I'm pretty happy with it. It's a massive step up from a DSLR but an expensive one too. I plan on levelling up again soon, probably after I move, but it was a nice introduction to CCDs. If I were to go again in this price range, I'd have gone with SBIG. The new package that has the OAG and filterwheel with the faster download speed is close to the same price I payed for the camera over here. I might blog a proper review of it soon. I need to get around to some PixInsight videos as well. So many things to do, so little time...

Comment by Charles Dunlop on February 11, 2012 at 8:02pm

Conor how you like that QSI camera?

Comment by Conor on August 11, 2011 at 2:47am
Thanks for the comments fellas.

Yeah, about the weights; I was just posing the gear for the photos, I wouldn't normally mount the scope without weights on there first.

That's the WO field flattener for the FLT 110 and 132 scopes. It's specially engineered for them. It performs perfectly. I'm definitely a WO fan.

I'll hopefully have some shots to show you guys when the weather clears up and the other filters arrive.

Until then, clear skies, all.
Comment by Charles Dunlop on August 10, 2011 at 8:25pm
Very nice...
Comment by Jerome Roberts on August 10, 2011 at 7:09pm
Very nice setup and on a CGEM mount to boot , I look forward to seeing images from your setup wishing you clear skies soon
Comment by Greg Marshall on August 10, 2011 at 6:21pm
Conor, that's very similar to my setup. No doubt your scope is better than my AT111EDT and I don't have an S2 filter. Which WO flattener are you using? I don't recognize it in the photos. I'm using the "Flat 4" and am very pleased with its performance.

But, seriously, put some counterweights on that thing, dude! It makes me cringe to see all that great gear up there just held by the RA clutch.

Greg

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