Quick reference guide
The internal guider requires a system calibration once. Click on the calibration and select option 1 or option 2 (preferred).
Option 1, first slew the telescope manually to a point in the sky at least 45 degrees away from the celestial pole, click on the Calibration button and wait till the calibration is finished.
Option 2, calibration is fully automatic but requires a free sky view of in direction south (or north if you live at the southern hemisphere)
Once calibration is finished click on the Guide button an check if guiding is satisfactory. Tune the Gain and Hysteresis settings if required. For the best star detection sensitivity make a master dark for dark subtraction in guider tab “Camera”
The trend scale can be adjusted with the up/down button in the graph. The trend unit is default in pixels. With the checkmark “in the XY-graph you can set the unit to arcseconds. Note that the conversion factor from pixels to arcseconds is measured during calibration. See documentation below.
Trending is suspended during dithering. Dither events are marked in the trend with a sinus ∿ character.
The XY-graph numerical values indicates the standard deviation of the right ascension (α) and declination (δ) trends. At a typical seeing conditions you can expect having guiding trends around one arcseconds standard deviation equals about 0.4 pixels standard deviation at a 2.5 ”/px scale.
A guide log CCDciel_GuideLog_YY-MM-DD_HHMMSS.txt in “PHD2” format is written to the log directory (Windows: %LocalAppData%\ccdciel\log) and can be analyzed in existing log viewers. To allow open and view CCDCiel guide logs you have then enter *.txt search pattern in the log viewer file&open menu.
The internal guider is used to correct for small errors in a mount’s tracking like any guider software. This guider is build-in and doesn’t require an external program. The guider takes short exposures with the guide camera. From the star movements in the images if calculates the drift and send corrections to the mount to compensate. Note that it can not correct for the fast effects by seeing. So the right ascension and declination will always fluctuate typically about one arc seconds (or 0.4 pixels at 2.5 “/px) as indicated by the standard deviation values in the XY-graph.
Note: The tab internal guider will only be visible if you select the internal guider for guiding in preferences, auto-guiding
Prior to use the internal guider requires a system calibration. During system calibration the guider will take an image, detect stars and then send guide pulses to the mount in direction East, West, North and South. Then it takes a second image and measures the movement of the same stars. By this it knows the effectiveness of the mount guide pulses and the orientation of the guider camera. This calibration takes a few minutes maximum. Once the calibration is done no more calibration is required unless you change something in your setup like binning setting, a new camera or telescope. The calibration is saved with the CCDCiel settings.
Set in tab Camera the guider exposure time to a value between 3 and 5 seconds. Start a simple looping with the Loop button and check if the guider camera is in focus and some stars are visible. Stop the loop and go to the Guider tab and click on button Calibrate. After a few minutes maximum the calibration should be completed.
As soon the calibration is finished without errors you can start guiding.
Special calibration: Some equatorial mount software requires the use of the “special calibration” option. The software of these mounts changes the pulse guiding such that guide pulse north is always going in direction north irrespective of the pier side. For an equatorial mount normally the guide pulse direction is reversed after a meridian flip. If your mount fails to guide proper after a meridian flip, then do a calibration at both sides of the pier (East and West) to analyse the mount behavior. If you get the following two reports in the log then use the special calibration option:
Both pier sides report the same, guide pulse N goes in direction north.
A more traditional mount would show this pattern:
See the table in Tab advanced.
Guiding is started with the Guide button in the first tab Guider. Star detection is fully automatic. Even if guiding is interrupted by a cloud, the guiding software will recover automatically and continue with guiding unless an other action is programmed in a sequence.
For control there are two settings available for both right ascension and declination.
Gain. This sets the proportional corrective action in % on an offset. For right ascension typically set at 50%. For declination it is typically set at 50-70 %. If set too high the controller will overreact resulting in a oscillation. During oscillation the control action bars will show an East, West,East, West.. pattern or North, South, North, South… pattern. In this case reduce the gain.
Hysteresis. A percentage value. The controller will rely with the specified percentage on the last corrective action and reduce the new corrective action accordingly. Hysteresis is typically set at 30% for right ascension and 70% for declination.
Starting 09-2022: The declination controller has an output filter to prevent switching between North and South pulse corrections. There have to be at least three correction pulses in a different direction before they are passed unless there is a large correction pulse (>3 x min pulse duration).
In the XY-graph there is small checkmark to change the unit from pixels to arcseconds.
In this tab you can set the exposure time and binning. For guiding use exposure times around 3 to 4 seconds. Note that guiding can only compensate for mount fluctuations and not for seeing effect.
Loop button. The loop button will start a loop taking continuous exposures and is intended for adjusting the focus of the guider camera.
Stop button. Stops the looping.
Dark button. This will start taking a dark for dark subtraction and store it. During guiding the dark will be automatically subtracted from the guide image improving star detection for noisy guide cameras.
Exposure Set the guide camera exposure time. Typical set between 3 and 4 seconds.
Binning Binning of the guide camera pixels. In most cases binning set at two works best.
Gain Camera gain. Set high enough for the short exposure used for guiding. See you camera manual.
Offset Use a value high enough to prevent low level truncation, this depend on the Gain.
Temperature If the guide camera has temperature control you can set the value here.
Gamma Stretch factor for your guide camera view. Set this slider in the middle. For more stretching move the slider to the right.
Luminosity For your guide camera view. Move the slider to the right for more brightness.
The solar motion values can be imported from the connected planetarium program together with the object position. For this select “update position from planetarium program” in a sequence. Else the values have to be entered manually from MPC
Notes on guiding rate: The right ascension guiding speed is always forced at 0.5x the tracking rate. The declination guiding rate is not set and can be set by the user in the mount software. Leave the declination guiding rate at default which in most cases is also 0.5x. Guide rates below 0.5x would result in unreliable short pulses which are cut off anyhow by the shortest guide pulse setting.
The advanced tab has also two check marks. With the following functionality
These setting are overwritten after each calibration. The reported “pulse guide directions” are reported in the log during calibration. For some mount software like GS Server is is required to use the special calibration. This will simple set the option “pulse guiding is revered after meridian flip”.
The guider image is displayed similar as the images from the main camera. It is possible to zoom, save, swipe and solve the guide image.