[AZ-Observing] Orion Solitaire Guider preliminary findings

  • From: "Paul Lind" <pulind@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <sac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>, <az-observing@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 30 Jun 2009 14:33:35 -0700

After waiting three months I received one of the first Orion StarShoot Solitare 
Autoguiders.  The guider is intended for astrophotographers who want a 
stand-alone guider like the ST-4, that is, one that doesn't require a laptop.  
It guides any equatorial mount that has an ST-4 compatible RJ-12 input jack, 
and it appears to be very useful for minimizing the amout of equipment.
Some Properties are: 
-- Lighted hand paddle, 3 cables: RJ-45 to CCD, RJ-12 to ST-4 in, Pwr.
-- Low power, 100mA, 6-14 V.
-- 2.5 inch graphical display on paddle, sort of menu driven.
-- CCD is 1/3 inch with 6 micron pixels. Head weighs only 3.8 oz
-- CCD is not cooled.  Exposure is automatic, 0.001 - 2 seconds.
-- Focus is visual using a parfocal short FL eyepiece, provided.
-- Settable aggressiveness on both axes.
-- Orion claims 1/2 pixel accuracy, or 3 um.
-- About $600, made in Italy.
-- Comes in a cute little snap-closure plastic lunchbox!

Main findings:
-- Star acquisition was easy and focus pretty good.
-- Coudn't see how to manually move star after unit "Found Star".
-- Automatic features make it slow, Total 5 min to Find, Exposure Adj, Calibr. 
-- Not sure of its usensitivity relative to other products. 
-- Seems like a winner overall.

I first tried this on a 65" FL guide scope and had startup problems, mainly my 
fault.  My cables were screwed up, and I committed "cockpit error", not 
realizing that the aggressiveness was set too high.  It tracked ok, but always 
applied maximum +/- correction because the long FL.   Lynn Blackburn came over 
and we used the guider on his 4" f/6.5 refractor and Vixen GP mount.  Setup and 
guiding were a snap, and very repeatable.  The paddle display shows moving X  & 
Y error vs time charts, sort of like the cardiac monitors on TV.  The error 
scales don't seem to be calibrated.  I prefer the ST-4's average pixel error 
readout.  Finally, I haven't used it for any long exposures yet but it looks 

That probably uses up the allowable # of text lines here.   BTW, my email 
address is changing on Sunday to:  pulind@xxxxx    
- Paul    

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